Michael Dorf asks "If the Government Plans to Hold Salim Hamdan Indefinitely, What Was the Point of Putting Him on Trial?"
It's a good question. Unfortunately, Dorf isn't cynical enough to give us what I suspect is the real answer.
It's quite simple. If Hamdan was found guilty, and given a long sentence, then the Bush administration could a) do what it had always wanted to do, but now with a greater veneer of legitimacy and b) retroactively claim that the results justified their original due process-free determinations under which Hamdan was held in the first place.
But Hamdan was not given a long sentence, and was acquitted of the most serious charges. So where does that leave the Bush administration? In the same position it was before we started: defending extra-legal indefinite detention. It's not really any loss, except now they have the advantage of being able to call Hamdan a convicted war criminal and the disadvantage of having a determinate metric (a timeline!) that can be waved in their face.