Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

shutting it down

by the stormy present Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 06:40:14 AM EST

In case you missed it, the U.S. Supreme Court has trashed the Bush Administration's Guantanamo policy.

The Court yesterday said Guantanamo detainees have the right to habeas corpus, which means they can challenge their detention in federal court.  This is huge.  The Bush Administration, which established the prison camp at Guantanamo with the express purpose of refusing the detainees access to the U.S. justice system, was apparently rather unprepared to have the very basis of that policy overturned.


McClatchy:

Within hours of the court's decision in the combined cases known as Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States, attorneys were preparing to demand hearings for detainees long held without charges.

These habeas corpus hearings before federal judges will force the Bush administration to reveal its evidence and expose publicly how the detainees have been treated. Some attorneys think that the administration simply will start releasing detainees to avoid the potentially embarrassing hearings altogether.

New York Times:

Just last month Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who advocates closing the camp, told Congress that "we're stuck" in Guantánamo.

In his testimony to Congress last month, Secretary Gates said the Pentagon had "a serious `not in my backyard' problem" in finding a substitute for Guantánamo. He also listed other concerns that the administration says have kept it from coming up with a plan for closing the detention camp.

Among those, he said, is a Pentagon conclusion that some 8o detainees cannot be charged with war crimes, perhaps because the evidence is not strong enough, but are nonetheless considered too dangerous to release. About 80 other detainees are to be charged with war crimes, the Pentagon has said.

Ok, let's be clear about this -- these men cannot be charged with war crimes, or with any crimes, because if they ever set foot in a courtroom, the administration would have to acknowledge the conditions under which they have been held and interrogated, and because those conditions would virtually guarantee that the detainees could not be convicted.  You cannot put someone you have tortured on trial. (edit: Legally you could if you wanted to, as Marek points out in comments, but IMHO it wouldn't be a very wise idea from a prosecutor's standpoint; I doubt the people who orchestrated this policy ever intended that these men would see the light of day again, let alone the inside of a courtroom.)  And because evidence obtained by torture is inadmissible in court, you cannot call witnesses against him who have been tortured.

I've been reading all kinds of analysis of this decision, and I'm struck by something nobody's really saying.  Yes, there are dangerous men at Guantanamo, but the Bush Administration's very tactics have ensured that those men can never face trial in U.S. courts.  They have been illegally detained, and they have been tortured.  Evidence gathered through such means is inadmissible in court.  Their attempted end-run around the justice system has virtually ensured that the very people who do pose the greatest threat will go free.

And in the process, men (and boys) who present no such danger have been illegally detained and tortured alongside of them.  The Guantanamo detainees include innocent people, turned over to the United States in exchange for a bounty on the head of any foreigner in Afghanistan, and they include men (and boys) who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who held land that someone else coveted, and so on, and so on.

So, to summarize, we have violated countless international laws and the human rights of innocent people in order to accomplish nothing.  Worse than nothing.

Next, this might be minutia, but something in the Washington Post news analysis troubled me.  Emphasis mine:

Others fault the administration for not pursuing a more pragmatic detention policy that recognized the Supreme Court's clear interest in more congressional involvement and meaningful legal rights for detainees. Lawyers inside and outside the administration warned the White House that it needed to move more aggressively to placate the justices.

"The court might have upheld a statute like this five years ago," said Martin S. Lederman, an associate professor at Georgetown University Law Center and former Justice Department lawyer. Administration officials "have made the court much more hostile and skeptical of the president and his wartime judgment than they ever had to. There was incredible goodwill and deference six years ago, and they squandered it."

Uh, what?  I don't want a Supreme Court that's "deferent" to the executive branch, thankyouverymuch.  The whole point of the checks-and-balances system is not to be deferent.

So it seems the Bushies were so over-the-top that they finally succeeded in reminding the Supreme Court what its job is supposed to be.  Great.

Although apparently the new-ish Chief Justice, John Roberts, dissented, and John McCain agrees:

McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, told reporters in Boston that he had not yet read the opinion, but he expressed concerns about the rights it might impart to the people being held there. "These are unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens and I think we should pay attention to Justice [John] Roberts's opinion in this decision," he said, referring to the chief justice's dissent. "But it is a decision that the Supreme Court has made. Now we need to move forward. As you know, I always favored closing Guantanamo Bay and I still think we ought to do that."

There is something very sad and ironic about a former prisoner-of-war failing to support the legal right to due process for the indefinitely-and-illegally detained.

<shudder>

Display:
I have nothing but disdain for most of what shows up on the Washington Post op-ed pages, but I do like Eugene Robinson:

It shouldn't be necessary for the Supreme Court to tell the president that he can't have people taken into custody, spirited to a remote prison camp and held indefinitely, with no legal right to argue that they've been unjustly imprisoned -- not even on grounds of mistaken identity. But the president in question is, sigh, George W. Bush, who has taken a chainsaw to the rule of law with the same manic gusto he displays while clearing brush at his Texas ranch.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's majority opinion seems broad and definitive enough to end the Kafkaesque farce at Guantanamo once and for all.

"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times," Kennedy wrote. Again, it's amazing that any president of the United States would need to have such a basic concept spelled out for him.

I say "amazingly" because it's still hard for me to believe that arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention and torture continue to be debated, as if there were pros and cons.

"The nation will live to regret what the court has done today," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a dissent, warning that the ruling "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

Everyone hopes he's wrong, of course. But if the only thing that mattered were security, why would we bother to have an independent judiciary? Why would there be any constitutional or legal guarantees of due process for anyone? We could just lock up anyone who fit the demographic profile of the average armed robber, say, or anyone with psychological traits often displayed by embezzlers.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 06:47:40 AM EST
I note that Mr Robinson has a 25 year history with the WaPo. Given that his newspaper has been so craven in its attitude tothe activites of the White House, I am forced to ask which America he has been livng in for the last 7 years ?

Has he any trck record whatsoever in questioning what has been happening at Gitmo ?

Or has he bravely waited until it is obvious that his beloved repug party will not be there to succour him in 2009 before suddenly discovering the Constitution of the United States of America isn't an optional extra ?

I'm seeing this all over the media now. People suddenly finding their consciences under the chair where they left them 8 years ago and pretending this is what they thought all along.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:09:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Settle down, Helen.  WTF are you talking about?  Eugene Robinson is not a Republican.

Has he any trck record whatsoever in questioning what has been happening at Gitmo ?

Uh, yes. Consistently, for as long as he's been a columnist, which has only been since 2005.  He has been the paper's most reliable critic of the Bush administration since then.  A lonely voice.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:37:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A writer for the WaPo who isn't a republican schill ? The "paper's most reliable critic of the Bush administration" !! You mean there are two ?? Ah, you say a lonely voice, so no.

Which is why I thought he was a republican, I simply could not imagine any other creature being tolerated there.

But it does not stop my wider critique. I imagine the media will finally wake up from their acquiescent torpor sometime in mid-January 2009 and immediately start asking awkward questions of the new administration like it has any right whatsoever to the role of holding the administration to account. And I find it a little sickening to see all those signs of awakening and trying to pretend they've been at it all along. They weren't, they collaborated. With McCarthy it was from fear and yet some still spoke out. But this time it was from commitment and all other voices were stilled.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 09:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you might be confusing "Republican" with "conservative" and "Democrat" with "liberal" (American usage). The fact is that both of our parties are conservative, and our "liberal" columnists are, too. The voice of the left in the U.S. is hard to detect in the press...
by asdf on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 09:12:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that we have "conservatives" who don't "conserve" and liberals who don't liberate.

In what sense is the (radical right) ruling faction of the Republican party "conservative"? There is a case to be made for genuine conservatives as stabilizers of traditional social orders that have evolved features that no one fully understands. There is little that can be said for radicals who favor overturning law and a liberal social order in favor of greed, war, and authoritarian rule.

Today, Democrats are indeed conservative: The US tradition they are defending includes relatively strong support for rule of law, personal liberty, social welfare, and so on. Democrats are fighting to reverse recent erosion of these traditions. Surely this noble effort is conservative, perhaps even reactionary.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 02:20:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The editorial pages have been Bush shills, though actually  the torture issue has tended to be an exception for some reason. The op-ed pages (i.e. the columnists) tilt very heavily pro-Bush or concern trolly high centrism, but there are a couple liberal columnists there - Howard Meyerson, EJ Dionne, and Eugene Robinson. The news pages have produced some of the most important work on exposing the Bush administration abuses.
by MarekNYC on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:12:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I posted it last year when it happened, but this was interesting.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot to mention King among the columnists since so much of his work deals with DC issues (in the literal, not metaphorical sense)
by MarekNYC on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:36:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's not a Republican.  There are no black Republicans beyond Clarence Thomas.  Most of the WaPo columnists are Beltway brownshirts.  David Broder is the perfect example.

Robinson is not one of them.  He's one of the good guys and a damned good columnist.  The only one worth reading from the WaPo, actually, but I always found Dionne boring.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 01:11:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Condi Rice? Colin Powell?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 01:39:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

There are no black Republicans beyond Clarence Thomas.

HYPERBOLE ALERT

Anyone who has done business in Los Angeles can tell you that there are lots of Black Conservatives.  A friend of mine is one.  His father is a Republican and I will guess that his grandfather was also. His father was instrumental in the land deal that enabled Pepperdine University to sell its South Central L.A. campus and move to Malibu.  I was a consultant to his son for a year.  We bantered back and forth about politics all of the time.

A company I worked for had four partners.  Two of them wanted to retire.  The other two brought in two new partners, a husband and wife team of Black lawyers, both Republicans.  The woman became the CEO.  Unfortunately she did not understand contracting and ran the business into the ground within five years.  Fortunately, I had an opportunity to begin consulting for LAUSD and doubled my income the year following my departure.  One of her abilities which she touted was "managing account receivables." This bought her a couple of months of cash flow, but then we were on credit hold by all of our vendors.  But these two were exceptionally inept.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:38:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We could just lock up anyone who fit the demographic profile of the average armed robber, say, or anyone with psychological traits often displayed by embezzlers

They'd never let him say it on the WaPo pages, but let's be honest: We do that any way, as anyone familiar with criminal justice in this country knows.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 01:14:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
20 yrs as a Public Defender and I either don't understand what you are saying, or if it is the plain meaning, I disagree completely

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 10:44:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I either don't understand what you are saying, or if it is the plain meaning

The plain meaning of what I said was that people are wrongly tried and convicted in this country's criminal justice system, because they happened to fit a certain profile.  How many people have we had to take off death row after discovering through DNA research later that they didn't commit the murders they were tried for?

Others suffer harassment by the police because of their demographic profiles.  For example, you're familiar with the "crime" of DWB, I assume.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:00:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure I'm familiar with it, I had a case thrown out of court earlier this year because the judge felt the cop had stopped the guy for exactly that, suppressed the evidence and the guilty-but not of what he was allegedly stopped for-client went free.  My point was the expansive nature of your statement is absolutely incorrect, while there certainly are terrible breakdowns and injustices, you do not get tossed into prison for fitting a demographic, at least here in N. California.  You may very well get heightened scrutiny and we can't always defeat that, but you don't head off to Soledad cause you are a 19 yr. old Hispanic with baggy pants.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:05:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:06:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And definitely not if you "display the psychological traits typical of embezzlers".

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:08:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If that was true Cheney would be in jail, n'est-ce pas?

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:10:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you get sucked up by a military contracting firm, or a hedge fund, --or by the CEO of some oil company, or a K street lobbyist.
That trait package might just be pretty profitable these days.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 02:53:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the DAN evidence has exonerated people convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony, often under circumstances where one would think it would be most reliable.  Eyewitness ty is the biggest convictor of innocent people of all forms of evidence-juries seem to place great faith in it, and cops know how to rig the system to give subtle hints leading towards those whom they believe to be guilty.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:08:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DNA not DAN, its early here.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:09:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - shutting it down
I've been reading all kinds of analysis of this decision, and I'm struck by something nobody's really saying.  Yes, there are dangerous men at Guantanamo, but the Bush Administration's very tactics have ensured that those men can never face trial in U.S. courts.  They have been illegally detained, and they have been tortured.  Evidence gathered through such means is inadmissible in court.  Their attempted end-run around the justice system has virtually ensured that the very people who do pose the greatest threat will go free.
Bah, just blame the activist judges on the Supreme Court. Remember this was a 5-4 decision.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 06:54:04 AM EST
Oh right, I forgot, we can go back to judiciary-bashing now.  It all fits in the narrative.  Silly me.

The rightward shift of the Supreme Court is so troubling it makes my hands shake.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 07:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rightward shift of the Supreme Court is so troubling it makes my hands shake.

As it should. At the risk of being Godwined here, it has to be remembered that the Nazis were scrupulously legalistic when taking over the German state.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 07:52:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you can corrupt the judiciary, it is just that much easier to keep the empty shell of legal government intact, while ruling by lawless decree.  

This policy, as you say, was successfully tested by the German Nazis, and has been adopted by American neo-cons.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 11:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm amazed by the twisted logic:
"These are unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens"

Even assuming that they all are unlawful combatants (what does it even mean? Fighting for the wrong side? Is bombing civilians lawful? If not, all American soldiers are unlawful combatants), I can only ask: "so?".

They are not American citizens -well, that should not change their right to habeas corpus. Whatever you charge them with.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 07:42:13 AM EST
Cyrille:
They are not American citizens -well, that should not change their right to habeas corpus. Whatever you charge them with.
That's why even afterand if Obama get elected I'll be wary of going to the US.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 07:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As you should be.  If you are liked by the PTB, you have no problem.  Otherwise, your legal protections are zero.

Speaking practically, that is.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 12:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they are unlawful, when are we going to see the members of the CIA who fought alongside them against the rssians in the dock?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They are unlawful now, they weren't unlawful then. Don't you know anything?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:12:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

members of the CIA

They are our unlawful combatants.  There is a difference. Can't you see that?  Why do you hate Amerika first?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One could make a case that the American invaders and occupiers of Vietnam were illegal combatants - and that would include John McCain.  The war itself was illegal and so were a multitude of strategies, tactics, and individual actions.

One can make an even stronger case that the American militias that fought King George were "illegal combatants."

The alleged distinction between legal and illegal combatants is toxic.

by cambridgemac on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 09:50:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't think this is correct. There is a pretty well established definition of the differences between "combatant" and "civilian," and it includes the wearing of uniforms. So the American soldiers in Vietnam were formally combatants, while anybody (spy, irregular soldier, terrorist, innocent bystander) who is not wearing a uniform is a civilian.

The definition of illegal combatant is much more difficult to nail down, and there's a good argument that such a concept isn't valid. Basically, if you're not a soldier, then you're a civilian, and are entitled to all of the normal rights that any other civilian has. If you shoot somebody, you get tried for murder in the civilian legal system of the country you're in.

by asdf on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:03:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
-- But if a fighting force constitutes an army in every respect but the wearing of uniforms (but what is a uniform? -- red coats? -- camouflage suits? -- gang colors? -- arm bands?), does this make them not an army? -- Wouldn't prosecuting them as civilians overwhelm a system intended for a different purpose? -- Aren't there some precedents to consider (whatever they may be)? -- As a long-term question, shouldn't all this be reassessed with due consideration of the inevitable future context, that of fine-grained, universal surveillance?

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 03:09:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are precedents for that: The various resistance movements in the Axis-occupied territories during WWII. I believe that they are treated as regular combatants. But note that IANAL.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:11:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The resistance movements were considered ad hoc defencive formations by the Allies, of course. The Axis called them "terrorists."

Not to put too fine a point upon it, but there seems to be something of a similarity here...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:14:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
-- But if a fighting force constitutes an army in every respect but the wearing of uniforms (but what is a uniform? -- red coats? -- camouflage suits? -- gang colors? -- arm bands?), does this make them not an army? -- Wouldn't prosecuting them as civilians overwhelm a system intended for a different purpose? -- Aren't there some precedents to consider (whatever they may be)? -- As a long-term question, shouldn't all this be reassessed with due consideration of the inevitable future context, that of fine-grained, universal surveillance?

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, no.

The point is that there are only two categories of people, civilians and combatants. And there are legal systems to handle each case. Bush's trying to invent a new category and then a new legal system to handle it is the problem.

by asdf on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 08:23:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf:
Bush's trying to invent a new category and then a new legal system to handle it is the problem.

I don't think Bush is trying to invent a new category. I think Bush is saying 'I can do wtf I like and you can't stop me heh heh heh.' He's then leaning on the government machine to cover his ass with rationalisations - which he doesn't personally care about, and probably doesn't even understand.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 02:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IANAL, but I did read the Geneva convention's definition of combatants once, and there are a couple of provisions for non-uniformed combatants.

If non-uniformed combatants are used regularly by conventional armies, I believe that it is considered a war crime - i.o.w. they are combatants and when captured become PoWs, but can post-bellum be put on trial for war crimes.

If the non-uniformed combatants are irregulars - that is, militias, resistance groups, saboteurs and other armed groups that take up arms against an invading enemy when there is no time or opportunity to organise a conventional defence. They are combatants and thus become PoWs when captured, are subject to the laws of war, etc., etc.

To my admittedly non-lawyerly ears, the second part sounds like it fits the combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq pretty much perfectly.

The legal status of spies in wartime is somewhat unclear to me, as is the status of foreign nationals from third countries who travel to a belligerent country to throw bombs on their own private initiative.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:09:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - shutting it down
 Yes, there are dangerous men at Guantanamo, but the Bush Administration's very tactics have ensured that those men can never face trial in U.S. courts.

I'm fairly sure there really aren't any dangerous men at all in Guantanamo. Or if there are, there aren't more than a handful, and the rest are there as filler, picked up at random to pad out the numbers in Bush's grotesque gulag doll's house.

Bush and Cheney know there is no case - absolutely none at all - against most of these people. They're random you-and-mes who were in the wrong place at the wrong time - not terrorists, not masterminds, not mad and staring, just the wrong kind of brown.

They also know that if they're ever tried under due legal process, instead of some wacky-land authoritarian S&M declaration of enemy-osity, this inconvenient fact will go into the public record, and they will be so busted that not even Obama is going to be able to say 'No, let's just leave them be.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 07:56:39 AM EST
ThatBritGuy:
They also know that if they're ever tried under due legal process, instead of some wacky-land authoritarian S&M declaration of enemy-osity, this inconvenient fact will go into the public record, and they will be so busted that not even Obama is going to be able to say 'No, let's just leave them be.'
So, is this an opportunity for impeachment?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:14:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the public domain.  

All that is missing (as has been for the last few years) is for Congress to do it.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 11:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<DKos>but that would not be expedient!</DKos>

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:10:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Impeachment does have problems, and isn't the only option:

  • Impeachment would focus attention on one or two individuals (distracting attention from the others);
  • It would focus on the legalistic details of few specific, prosecutable crimes;
  • It would distract attention from the reality of broad systemic abuse;
  • It would distract from what could be a massively realigning electoral process;
  • It would distract Congressional and public attention from positive action.

What do you think of the South African option, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission? It could be implemented post-election (unlike impeachment), would avoid the problems I've listed, and could to more to discredit the radical right than any one or hundred prosecutions.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 02:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this Truth and Reconciliation Commission a hobby horse of yours, or have other people been suggesting that the US should have one? In any case, you could write a diary about it.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 04:22:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A hobby of some sort, I suppose. When I see an idea with merit that isn't being discussed, sometimes I like to give it a push, mostly using the LWLC method (that's Lazy Wikipedia Link Comment). Writing a whole diary would make my perception of my own procrastination too overwhelming, I fear.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 03:35:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Truth and reconciliation is probably good for whatever low-level apparatchiks who possess sufficiently useful skills to be retained in the absence of political patronage. But I am not sure that it would be a good idea for the highest echelons.

There has been an unfortunate history of American administrations committing crimes against humanity and walking away with barely a slap on the wrist. The truth and reconciliation committees worked in part because there was a very real threat that those involved would have been tried and convicted and lived out the rest of their lives in prison. I don't believe that anyone in the Bush regime believes that this is a realistic option when it comes to their crimes, so prosecuting a few of the end-of-level bad guys would show the rest of the gang that you mean business.

Actually prosecuting some of the bushies and putting them behind bars for a very long time would also demonstrate to the rest of the world that there are limits to the atrocities that US administrations can wreak with impunity. I should not think that I need to stress the effect this would have on the image and soft power of the US.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 05:53:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Focused criminal prosecution, to be completed post-election, has few problems that I can see. As you point out, there would be great value.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 03:31:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they will be so busted that not even Obama is going to be able to say 'No, let's just leave them be.'

I believe standard operating procedure is to issue blanket pardons for all concerned in case being tried for treason and crimes against humanity interferes with their lucrative after-dinner speaking circuit engagements.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is difficult to issue a pardon for something for which someone has not yet even been charged.  Perhaps an argument for waiting, but I'm not holding my breath.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is what Ford pardoned Nixon for, if I recall correctly.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 10:46:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't an impeachment constitute a 'charge'?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:06:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First you get threatened with impeachment, then if it looks like it's going to happen you resign from office, then your successor pardons you. The advantage of resigning is that your successor is your own appointee.
by asdf on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:12:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Once it has been voted by the House, for sure.  But the trial must occur in the Senate.  Should the Senate fail to impeach, I don't know if a subsequent criminal charge once the President has left office, would be considered double jeopardy.  Nor do I know if such post term prosecution is provided for in the U.S. Code.  Help.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 02:45:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But Nixon had been charged with high crimes and misdemeanors in the House.  Then he resigned.  Then Ford was sworn in.  Then he pardoned Nixon--before the '76 election.  I am certainly no expert on US constitutional law, so I can't say what could have been done had he not been pardoned, or even after he had been pardoned.  

I can see a certain wisdom in declining to start a tradition of prosecuting ex-presidents.  But only some of the current partisans have any concern for further debasement of the process.  Others don't seem to care, so long as they advance their agenda--undemocratic as it is. The chief accomplishment of the Clinton impeachment seems to have been to make the whole impeachment process repugnant.  I have little doubt that some who brought that impeachment expected that outcome, along with providing pay-back for Watergate.  They may be evil, but they are not fools.  Think so at your peril.

Until and unless a substantial majority of US citizens come to appreciate that we have essentially eliminated the most potent check on abuses in government and that we essentially have a vastly weakened constitutional process, we are at risk that liberty might not long endure.  I can only pray that we find the will and a way to remedy this before another conscienceless RW administration takes power, and, emboldened by the lack of consequences for Bush, et al, totally eviscerates the constitution in the name of security and seizes permanent power.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 12:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we have essentially eliminated the most potent check on abuses in government

If what Bush has done is not impeachable, what will be in the future?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 01:51:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed!  One more reason I sometimes use rather harsh terms in which to characterize the majority of "My Fellow Americans."

What is once lost cannot easily be restored.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 02:39:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To elaborate on scenarios involving a post-election Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Congress could today hold hearings to "investigate impeachable offenses", without necessarily committing to carrying through with impeachment and Senate prosecution. Establishing that the offenses are impeachable, while declining to go further (on grounds of the impending end of the administration) would seem to defend the principle well enough.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission could then be positioned as a soft compromise, well within the Overton window opened by the serious prospect of prosecution.

Keep in mind that a failed impeachment or prosecution could be spun as exoneration, even if the reasons for failure were procedural, legalistic, or simply a consequence of running out the clock.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 02:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
If what Bush has done is not impeachable, what will be in the future?

Just wait and see what the lunatic right tries to slap on Obama.

ARGeezer:

I can see a certain wisdom in declining to start a tradition of prosecuting ex-presidents.

The only thing which is protected by avoiding impeachment is America's self-serving view of itself as a meritocratic democracy. If a president is prosecuted and jailed, that mythology is torn to ribbons.

It would be traumatic in the short-term, but maturing and healthy in the longer term. The core US mythology seems to be that if you game the system with enough cunning, the law won't apply to you and you can retire rich.

A jail term would snap many people out of that fantasy, with a priceless 'Oh, shit...' moment.

It would be like the death of JFK in reverse - instead of proving that the system can be gamed, it would reinforce the fact that yes, the rules really do apply to you too.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 02:06:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Impeachment has nothing to do with jail. It simply removes someone from their office. Asking for impeachment given the current numbers in the Senate is like asking a minority party in a parliamentary system to use a vote of no-confidence to oust a government, with the difference that it takes a lot more time and effort. I doubt we could get to fifty, let alone the sixty-seven votes needed (At best one Repub vote for (Hagel) and almost certainly a number of conservative Dems against, plus Lieberman.
by MarekNYC on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 02:18:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No-confidence votes that were certain to be lost have been used to important political effect in several countries. The case I'm most familiar with is Felipe Gonz´lez in Spain in 1980, which helped convince voters that he represented a serious government alternative. In 1982 he went to win the biggest landslide we've ever had.

Bush's impeachment wouldn't be done to necessarily successfully convict (there might not be time enough before the next president's inauguration) but to get all the dirty laundry out in plain view.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 02:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The GWOT crowd has argued that the "unpleasantries" related to Guantanamo (torture, indefinite detention without trial, unjustified imprisonment of innocent people, the list goes on) are acceptable in order to keep "dangerous terrorists" locked up.  I strongly disagree with that basic premise, but even were one to accept it, it still fails.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there are currently a few folks like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The interesting question is whether there is enough evidence not tainted by torture to try them. Contra stormy, there is no rule that suspects who have been tortured can't be put on trial, simply that no evidence derived from torture or evidence derived from evidence derived from torture can be used (the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine, which incidentally doesn't exist in Germany where evidence indirectly obtained through illegal means is valid)

The Taliban members who have fought against US or Afghan forces post 2002 could also be tried by the Afghan government since from an international law point of view they're members of a violent organization fighting against a sovereign government and allied forces who are there legally. The US could also keep them as POW's without trying them beyond ascertaining that they are indeed Taliban members.

by MarekNYC on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:31:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the whole point of the "illegal combatant" doctrine was to avoid classifying these people as POWs so the US could claim the Geneva Conventions didn't apply, or as criminal to avoid habeas corpus.

It's a little too late for any of these things.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, well that and 'me tough bastard, no rules apply to me, and I get off on the idea of torturing people, makes me like those Jack Bauer guys'. Psychopathic bastards is more like it. But I was simply pointing out that there are perfectly legal ways of detaining Taliban members, our fucking assholes just prefer not to use them.
by MarekNYC on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 11:08:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Contra stormy, there is no rule that suspects who have been tortured can't be put on trial,

I didn't mean to imply that there was a rule, only that it's unlikely to happen.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:39:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have edited the story now to clarify, sorry for the confusion.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:52:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, looking at the history of the British use of Internment during the "Troubles" suggests some who weren't terrorists before they were incarcerated will leave as such; those who were have had their stance validated.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 11:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want a Supreme Court that's "deferent" to the executive branch, thankyouverymuch.  The whole point of the checks-and-balances system is not to be deferent.

If you wanted checks and balances, you wouldn't have system of political patronage underpinning the appointments system. The USSC are political appointments and are chosen for ideological conformity. Only the democrats have been dumb enough to try to be bipartizan, the rethugs understand the game and play to win.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:19:43 AM EST
Of course they are political appointments (though not patronage ones). The lifetime thing means you occasionally end up with something you weren't planning on, but that's by mistake (e.g. Bush sr.'s appointment of David Souter, and while Anthony Kennedy is pretty conservative, he isn't full on wingnut) I wouldn't say that the Dems have been particularly bipartisan in that regard - Ginsburg and Breyer were meant to be on the liberal wing of the court, and they are.
by MarekNYC on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 10:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sort of liberal, in a mainstream sort of way,

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 10:54:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there are dangerous men at Guantanamo, but the Bush Administration's very tactics have ensured that those men can never face trial in U.S. courts.  They have been illegally detained, and they have been tortured.  Evidence gathered through such means is inadmissible in court.  Their attempted end-run around the justice system has virtually ensured that the very people who do pose the greatest threat will go free.

You make it sound like you honestly expected justice, or even punishment of the guilty t obe on the agenda. Yet the enthusiasm to do this;-

men (and boys) who present no such danger have been illegally detained and tortured alongside of them.  The Guantanamo detainees include innocent people, turned over to the United States in exchange for a bounty on the head of any foreigner in Afghanistan, and they include men (and boys) who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who held land that someone else coveted, and so on, and so on.

demonstrates seomthing else that I have said before. The Bush administration were not interested in justice, they were not interested in guilt or innocence. Indeed they actively sought the demonstrably innocent to show that they were willing to hurt anybody, anytime for any reason whatsoever and that there was nothing absolutely anybody, any country, any institution could do to stop them.

It was about power. Absolute power. They had it and wanted to show everybody they would use it. Mess with us and we'll destroy you. Your family, your home, your lands and all those of your neighbours and friends.

The US Govt as Godfather IV

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:27:54 AM EST
I don't think it's unreasonable to hope for better, regardless of what one expects.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We hope Obama will be better. Can I expect him to be better ? I fear he will be a President hemmed in by such necessities that his hope of changing anything will be thwarted.

However I entertained no such hope of Bush. an enthusiastic wrecker.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 09:08:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he is going to be so goaded by circumstance that he will be forced to improvise, there is the opportunity.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 10:55:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Obama's going to be surrounded by the mainstream Democratic party establishment, and will do their corporation-funded bidding. Maybe not, though. He's pretty liberal and might have the guts to hold to that position after he gets into office. Maybe.
by asdf on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:07:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no illusions about Obama, I supported Edwards because he was the best available and could at least say "fight", but things are getting worse than even I expected and I think the handlers are going to be very busy covering their own asses and there will be significant change, some of it for the better.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:14:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]