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Tilting at Windmills

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April 1, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DAVID HICKS....Andrew Sullivan has about the pithiest take I've seen yet on the "confession" and plea deal that recently got David Hicks transferred from Guantanamo to an Australian prison. To say that it stinks is to do a disservice to rotten garbage.

Apropos of nothing in particular, this case is a good demonstration of what the Bush administration has cost us. The fact is that the whole issue of enemy combatants in an age of transnational terrorism is a really difficult one. This isn't a conventional war where we can just release prisoners after it's over, nor is it like domestic crime, where the state has the power to coercively collect evidence and demand testimony. It's a helluva hard problem, and under normal circumstances we'd all be well advised to cut the administration some slack as they try to figure out how to deal with it.

And we might, if it weren't for what this administration has done. But the combination of torture and "coercive interrogation," including rendition of high-value prisoners; widespread imprisonment based on evidence the Pentagon knows to be blatantly fabricated; and the adminstration's almost fanatical resistance to even minimal standards of review, has convinced even sympathetic observers that the Bush administration isn't struggling to find a solution to a hard problem. They just want to keep people locked up forever — unless it happens to be politically inconvenient, of course. Is it any wonder virtually no one trusts us on this subject any longer?

Kevin Drum 6:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (72)

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Comments

sucks to be an American travelling abroad anymore. We used to have respect, now it's like you just don't want to be noticed.

Posted by: haha on April 1, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't you heard, haha? Real 'mericans don't travel abroad.

Posted by: Disputo on April 1, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be that some of this "lack of trust" is due to the flagrant exaggerations which people like Kevin have been spreading?

Posted by: am on April 1, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

"...the adminstration's almost fanatical resistance to even minimal standards of review..."

"almost"?

Posted by: Kenji on April 1, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be that some of this "lack of trust" is due to the flagrant exaggerations which people like Kevin have been spreading?

nope.

Next question.

Posted by: haha on April 1, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, am. all negative views are entirely substanceless and Kevin's fault. There's no reason for anyone anywhere to be suspicious of anything, for anyreason.

Why are you here?

Posted by: A different Matt on April 1, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

"The extent to which the dominant factions of the Republican Party are hostile to our most basic constitutional traditions and defining political principles really cannot be overstated. They simply do not believe in them." GlennGreenwald

Posted by: consider wisely always on April 1, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Kevin, when it comes to my civil liberties I don't want to cut anyone any slack. It used to be that that attitude was common in this country, but there are a lot of "used to bes" like that. There are problems here that run much deeper than Bush, and you are pretending (it's even more frightening if you really believe it) that it's all because of him. Bush wouldn't have been able to do the things he's done if the country didn't let him.

Posted by: Steppen on April 1, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Bush wouldn't have been able to do the things he's done if the country didn't let him."

This is the most frightening aspect of what has happened in the past 6 years, and I'm not sure that we will be able to dig our way out of the moral morass that Bush, and his minions, have driven us into.

We only need look at what has become the politicization of the justice department to see just how dire our straits are and I'm not at all sure that we, as a nation, will ever be able to recover!

How sad!

Posted by: Fred on April 1, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Am, and people like Am:

"Could it be that some of this "lack of trust" is due to the flagrant exaggerations which people like Kevin have been spreading?"

that's moronic. You're admitting perception and repetition play an influential role in politics, then get defensive when people try to look past that facade.

Posted by: Matt on April 1, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

What gets me going about George and Alberto
is their record number of executions of convicted felons in the LoneStar state.

Life was so much easier for them then.

Remember George mimmicing one woman "i don't want to die.?" (he pursed his lips and said what she said before being executed).

I guess that's compassionate conservatism?

And, for a person who says he's "been saved by the L J", he sure doesn't have a clue about turning the other cheek.

In JC's world, "bring 'em on," was never meant to
include violence or death.

I drank a beer the other night with a jailer.

He said he couldn't wait for retirement (13 years away) and that it was hard to go to work, that he hated life and was saddened by the prison scene.

A jailer, working for a pension, saddened by life.

Go figure. We spend way to much money locking people up. We build prisons faster than schools.

"I don't wanna die." (GWB with pursed lips and a smirk.)

The Texas death count will be (is!) part of his legacy.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on April 1, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is hardly a new problem, and it's not as though the writers of the Constitution weren't aware of it. They had, after all, just concluded a war that forced Loyalist Americans to become Canadians at the conclusion, but not before a substantial amount of terrorism had been committed by both sides, and a substantial effort invested by both sides into determing just who were friends or enemies.

And this was hardly the first time- the reign of Elizabeth I in England was semi-hysterical in the constant alarums and confusions about Papist Plots, with Papist agents being smuggled in and out of the country, and rich Catholics building houses with special escape tunnels and 'priest holes' where people could hide.

But even this was an improvement on the feudal society that had gone before, in which it might be said there was no national government, and anyone wealthy enough to build a castle felt themselves free to revolt against the king if they thought they could get away with it.

The one constant thread in the amelioration of those worlds of terrorism and unlawful combatents has been the advance of the rule of law. The law today may not be perfect but is a tremendous advance on what went before. It's kinda like clothing- your neighbor may be poorly dressed, but, believe me, you don't want to see them naked.

Obviously, yes, we do need a world government that can gather evidence and demand testimony. It is simply childish to imagine the problems of our future world can be met without such a government. It may, in fact, be said that our survival as a species depends on the formation of such a government.

Ironically, in 1945 many leaders such as Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tsung thought our government might lead such an effort, and our form of government might offer a model. Shows how wrong a guy can be.

Posted by: serial catowner on April 1, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

nor is it like a domestic crime, where the state has the power to coercively demand evidence and collect testimony.

Why on earth not? For one thing, we're hardly the first society to deal with terrorism -- just ask Japan, the UK, Germany and France, for example, and they generally managed to address their terrorism problem without constructing an extra-legal off-shore gulag of secret prison camps.

For another, why can't we demand evidence and collect testimony? We've certainly been doing exactly that for the past six years. And if we don't have any evidence and testimony, just exactly on what basis are we accusing, imprisoning and trying these people?

Posted by: Stefan on April 1, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

The fact is that the whole issue of enemy combatants in an age of transnational terrorism is a really difficult one. This isn't a conventional war where we can just release prisoners after it's over, nor is it like domestic crime, where the state has the power to coercively collect evidence and demand testimony. It's a helluva hard problem, and under normal circumstances we'd all be well advised to cut the administration some slack as they try to figure out how to deal with it.

The question of "enemy combatants" engaged in "transnational terrorism" would be easily solved by treating them as "defendants" in a "criminal prosecution."

It is only because the Bush people framed bringing the people responsible for the 9/11 hijackings to justice as a "war" that we are faced with what you see as a hard problem. It wouldn't be a hard problem if al Qaeda's conspirators were given fair trials: some would be convicted and jailed; others acquitted and released.

By using the Bush people's framing of the issue, Kevin, you are carrying their water for them. Don't do that.

Posted by: Alan Bostick on April 1, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

To back up what Alan Bostick said above, by not treating al Qaeda as criminals we're giving them exactly what they want. They want to be seen as holy warrriors engaged in a jihad against the West, and by treating this as a "war" on terror we're merely feeding their self-image.

Let's, instead, treat them as exactly what they are: shabby common criminals, engaged in the common crimes of murder, assault, and conspiracy. It will make it easy to try them in court without this elaborate charade and it will also undercut their status and refuse them the status of romantic soldiers in a glorious war that they want for themselves.

Posted by: Stefan on April 1, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with AB here. The issues are complicated but not new or incomprehensible. There's no reason to echo Dubya's all-war, all-the-time definition of crime, politics, or even terrorism.

Posted by: Kenji on April 1, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

and under normal circumstances we'd all be well advised to cut the administration some slack

I'm curious: just how drunk are you right now?

Posted by: Stefan on April 1, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is the best article on the web about it:
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 by Truthdig.org
American Kangaroo Court Claims Its First Victim
by Amy Goodman
"It is appropriate that a person from Australia, home of the kangaroo, should be the first one dragged before the kangaroo court at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. David Hicks, imprisoned there for more than five years, pleaded guilty Monday to providing material support for terrorism.

The case of Hicks offers us a glimpse into the Kafkaesque netherworld of detentions, kidnappings, torture and show trials that is now, internationally, the shameful signature of the Bush administration. Hicks’ passage through this sham process affords us all an opportunity to demand the closure of Guantanamo and an end to these heinous policies. Conditions may soon exist to shutter the prison, with George Bush’s lame-duck status, the Democratic takeover of Congress, the possible departure of Guantanamo’s arch-defender and architect, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and, if recent reports are true, a desire to close the prison on the part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. These bogus military commission trials amplify global contempt for the Guantanamo prison..."


Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
You (and your readers) might be interested in this eyewitness blogging from an ACLU observer at Gitmo; a lot to say about the Hicks plea, and other aspects of life in America's Gulag:

http://blog.aclu.org/index.php?/authors/10-Ben-Wizner,-ACLU

Posted by: Z on April 1, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Give Kevin some slack. He is trying very hard to retain his reputation as a dispassionate moderate.

Posted by: gregor on April 1, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

"...transfer to U.S. military control, he was moved around various detention facilities and, he says, brutally beaten and sodomized. By January 2002 he was in Guantanamo. He was subjected to repeated interrogations. He witnessed other prisoners being beaten and terrorized with dogs. He was at times kept in total darkness, at times in continual bright light (he has grown his hair to chest length so he can cover his eyes to allow him to sleep). He had no access to a lawyer for more than a year or knowledge of the charges against him. Others, those lucky enough to have lawyers or to have actually gotten out, tell similar tales of continual cold, of desecration of the Quran and of sexual humiliation designed specifically to torture Muslim men." Amy Goodman


Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm also baffled by Kevin's statement that, "The fact is that the whole issue of enemy combatants in an age of transnational terrorism is a really difficult one." Come again? Why Kevin? Because Bush says so? Is this another manifestation of your well-known and well-groomed moderation?

As several other smart commenters have pointed out already, terrorism is nothing new. Sure, it's can be more lethal now because of powerful and easily transportable explosives, and mass communication and transportation has made it easier to reach pretty much anywhere. But there's nothing about terrorism that makes it a unique threat -- Nazism, Communism, etc. were far more serious threats to civilization.

Bottom line: Anyone who's fanatical enough about any cause, and demented enough to think he can change the world by blowing up a few thousand people, can do it. You don't need airplanes, a Budget truck and lots of fertilizer can do it. Have we really forgotten that before 9/11 there was Oklahoma City? You catch the fuckers and you prosecuted them under the rule of law, with due process, and you get them out of circulation.

If instead of Bush we had a President who wasn't a veritable idiot, we would have destroyed Al Qaeda in Afghanistan by now. That doesn't mean there wouldn't be other terrorist attacks by other Al Qaeda-like groups or other fanatics, but you take them one at a time. Total security is impossible, even if we give up all our freedoms thinking we'll live for ever.

Kevin, it pains me to say this, but this is one case where Andrew Sullivan's comment that, "...we live in a banana republic. It certainly isn't a country ruled by law. It is ruled by one man and his accomplice" is far more valid and brave than your acceptance of Bush's GWOT framing.

Posted by: Aris on April 1, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Even the Supreme Court, the body that appointed Bush president in 2000, agreed that the prisoners must have some access to habeas corpus, the right to challenge one’s imprisonment.
This central tenet of Western law, established in the Magna Carta in 1215, has been thrown out the window, along with the Geneva Conventions, by Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Gonzales and others...

Even in Hicks’ brief moment in the controversial “trial,” the government did what it could to strip him of the few rights it claims he has. The presiding military judge, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, dismissed his civilian lawyer, Joshua Dratel, and a Navy reservist attorney, Rebecca Snyder, who was assisting Hicks’ government-appointed attorney. Hicks was stunned, and at first refused to plead. Hours later, after the trial was reconvened, he pleaded guilty to his one remaining charge. Having no hope for a fair trial, he reportedly believed that pleading guilty would allow him to serve his sentence in Australia—his only hope of escaping Guantanamo.

There are still more than 380 prisoners at Guantanamo. Almost none have been charged. Those ultimately charged with murder could be sentenced to death by the military commission. The decider of the death penalty after appeals are exhausted is none other than George Bush, who as governor of Texas oversaw the most active death chamber in the United States. Back then his lawyer was Alberto Gonzales.
The U.S. attorney scandal is threatening to take down Gonzales. But it is his condoning of torture from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib that should seal his fate.

The grim Guantanamo experiment is reaching its climax. The house of cards that has been erected to support this immoral, criminal enterprise is poised to collapse. Call, shout, sit down, march, donate, write, protest … demand that Guantanamo be closed."
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.



Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Once Hicks is safe in Australia, can the gag order be enforced since both the confession and plea-bargain negotiation fell outside of normally accepted conditions (i.e. coerced), commonly internationally accepted as illegal conditions and procedures, and outside of a formally and legally established and recognized process? Surely it's all a sham?

Anybody?

Knowledgeable that is, egbert/al/chickenheart.

Posted by: notthere on April 1, 2007 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

This is truly horrifing. You are carrying water for Al Qeada with your defense of this depraved, cold blooded America hater. Don't you know he hates you and your way of life. That if you gave him even a smidgen of daylight he'll use it to cut your head off?

Maybe they should close down Guantamano. And open an even bigger one, one away from the eye of the liberal media, where we can horde the evil elements of the world and save all our a***es, yours included.

These people do not deserve our understanding Kevin. They declared war on us. Now we must finish the job.

Posted by: egbert on April 1, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

1. I thought we won the cold war.

2. So a Cheney crony made the plea bargain.

Looks like what they are trying to do with the Justice Department and the US Attorneys is Gitmoize them.

Posted by: Boronx on April 1, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans try to distance themselves from the word 'Republican',

Scan any right-wing blog these days and it's hard not to notice that something is missing.

Namely, the word "Republican."

As he so often does these days, Rush Limbaugh sets the trends in the right-wing noise chamber. If you've listened to Limbaugh's radio show lately, you'll notice that he has rarely mentioned the word "Republican" since November. Indeed, he goes out of his way every 30 seconds to mention that he's actually a "conservative."

Posted by: cld on April 1, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

egsmell: "These people do not deserve our understanding Kevin."

Apparently, everyone and everything on this planet are beyond your understanding. Do you have any idea what a childish fool you come across as? Go read a book or something and then come back when you can talk like an adult. BTW, your patronizing "ah" is one of the most misplaced rhetorical devices I've ever encountered. Go ahead and look that up: it's under "R--right after Retarded.

Posted by: Kenji on April 1, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert, you scrambled-eggs-for-brains, Bush-fellating little twerp

Click on this link or, conversely, you could just -

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on April 1, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

As one pundit so aptly put it, "Guantanamo is filled with the slowest runners in Afghanistan".

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 1, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

1. I thought we won the cold war.

We did. I was there, and I still have the T-Shirt.

However, I did not dedicate a lifetime to supporting the men in my life who wore the uniform in the ideological struggle to defeat authoritarianism, just to have an even more insidious brand ushered in at home.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on April 1, 2007 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert - just for the record, I hate your little fuzzy yellow ass so much because I have spent my life around real men, who would probably do you an injury if you were so foolish as to open that fetid hole you call a mouth anywhere near them.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on April 1, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Marg: "Revenge never solved anything."

Homer: "Then what are we doing in Iraq?"

Posted by: Disputo on April 1, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Show's over.

Tommy Thompson declares for president.

At last we have someone running who has less charisma than boiled lettuce, someone who can show up the rest of the candidates as telegenic pretty boys.

Posted by: cld on April 1, 2007 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my GOD!!! Is anyone else watching the Simpsons?!!?!?!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on April 1, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

I see Disputo is watching.

I had latte come out my nose.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on April 1, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

...Maybe they should close down Guantamano. And open an even bigger one, one away from the eye of the liberal media....

Posted by: egbert on April 1, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Talk about carrying water.

There have occasionally been some pretty disgusting periods in the 230 year history of the Constitution but I can't think of anything as odious as now.

What you basically propose is nationalist laws in the best tradition of the German Nazi party. This does not come as a shock to most here but might have escaped your pin-sized brain stem. Like BGRS, I have known too many who gave too much to save us from this condition.

You can't buy experience and maturity. I suggest you get out in the real world and learn something before you opine again.

Never going to happen though. You're not interested in learning anything. Too smug happy in your fictional world.

Posted by: notthere on April 1, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

An interesting Australian living in US contends about Hicks:

"They’d better get him back to Australia quick-smart, or face electoral oblivion. Howard’s mean-spirited, nasty, deceptive, back-stabbing, spin-doctored, two-faced, gutless approach to the Hicks case so far couldn’t withstand too many more knocks.

Secondly, I’m wondering whether it’s possible for Hicks’ lawyers to spring him from the Australian jail he’s expected to serve his sentence in on the basis that his conviction was manifestly unfair. Given the bolshie state of most Australian lawyers on the Hicks case, I should think this one has a chance..." roadtosurfdom.com

Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Marge: "You spent so much time plotting your revenge that you lost everything that really matters."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on April 1, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin blogged this in Feb. 2006"
...."The one thing we were never clear of was where they came from," [Michael] Scheuer said of the Guantanamo detainees. "DOD picked them up somewhere." When National Journal told Scheuer that the largest group came from Pakistani custody, he chuckled. "Then they were probably people the Pakistanis thought were dangerous to Pakistan," he said. "We absolutely got the wrong people."

That's Michael Scheuer speaking, the man who headed the CIA's bin Laden unit through 1999 and worked for the agency up through 2004."

Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

"This isn't a conventional war where we can just release prisoners after it's over, nor is it like domestic crime, where the state has the power to coercively collect evidence and demand testimony"

Unless one wants to enter the deep dark world of covert "wet work" it has to fall into one or the other (although the criminal category ought to be expanded to include international law). This is where people like Colin Powell committed grave errors by not blowing the whistle and resigning in protest.

Acting as if David Hicks was part of some huge terrorist conspiracy is like grabbing a street level lookout during the 1980s and claiming he was a key part of Pablo Escobar's organization.

The only thing they had on Hick's was being there and "guarding a tank for two hours".

BGRS has it right, most of the Gitmo inhabitants were the slowest runners.

Someone should look back at Bush's swearing-in and see if there was some kind of signing statement we all missed. Isn't there something in that oath about upholding the US Constitution?

Slack given NONE! R.I.C.O. 4 BCF (Bush Crime Family).

Posted by: RickG on April 1, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a helluva hard problem, and under normal circumstances we'd all be well advised to cut the administration some slack as they try to figure out how to deal with it."

Sigh. Sorry, Kevin, you may think you're being all moderate and fair, but sentiments like these just put us on the slippery slope that led to...well, Bush, Gonzalez on the "quaint" Hague convention, Rumsevel, Gitmo, and Abu Ghraib. The moment you find room for compromise and "slack" in basic civil libertes, that is where you end up. It's sort like being a little bit pregnant. Some advice Kevin--when you type something that David Broder might well type, take a little liedown for consideration before hitting enter.

Posted by: Marlowe on April 1, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

They forgot Queen Amygdala.

Posted by: cld on April 1, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

The Australian press has an interesting take on Hick’s conviction and plea bargain here. If he was such a threat to Western civilization, why did he get a sentence more appropriate for a two-time drunk driver, like Dick Cheney?

By the way, Alan Bostick nailed it above. We need to treat al-Qaeda as criminals, not political prisoners. Framing them as prisoners in a mythical war between “good and evil” plays into their hands. The American criminal justice system has worked just fine for 220+ years, without mental midgets like George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales rweaking it to suit their fancy.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 1, 2007 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

And, so, there sits that ridiculous man in the White House who so many Americans claim is a Christian. It seems to me the last seven years have proven them wrong. He does not keep the one great commandment:

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:1

Of course, he may not be smart enough to understand King James' Version of the Bible, but his librarian wife could and should be able to explain it to him.

Posted by: Mazurka on April 1, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, I meant to say "tweaking", not "rweaking". Always preview...

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 1, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK
This isn't a conventional war where we can just release prisoners after it's over,

Yes, it is. It is a war against a specific, organized armed enemy; the fact that we have failed to officially recognize and specify the exact enemy in the acts creating the war and are needlessly complicating the effort by pretending that there is no specific enemy doesn't change the reality that there is a specific, organized, enemy.

nor is it like domestic crime, where the state has the power to coercively collect evidence and demand testimony.

I question the degree to which that is true, too; supposedly, the U.S. government, either on its own or working with other governments, as it often does in the case of international crime even when the "war on terrorism" isn't involved, has coercively collected quite a bit of evidence and witnesses. Certainly, the executive would not like to have those witnesses or evidence subjected to the kind of review, examination by the defense, and contradiction that it would be subject to in a regular criminal court, but the executive would, given its druthers, dispense with that expense and trouble in regular criminal cases as well.

It's a helluva hard problem, and under normal circumstances we'd all be well advised to cut the administration some slack as they try to figure out how to deal with it.

Not much we wouldn't. If, as has often been said, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, conversely, the price of cutting the executive slack on matters like this is tyranny and unaccountable government.

And we might, if it weren't for what this administration has done. But the combination of torture and "coercive interrogation," including rendition of high-value prisoners; widespread imprisonment based on evidence the Pentagon knows to be blatantly fabricated; and the adminstration's almost fanatical resistance to even minimal standards of review, has convinced even sympathetic observers that the Bush administration isn't struggling to find a solution to a hard problem.

But that's all what was enabled by the fact that nearly everyone did cut this administration a vast degree of slack, slack that, contrary to your suggestion, it should not have been cut. Experience has shown, again and again, that given the leeway to do so, governments will abuse the power to use force without safeguards, and that the only way to make sure that the government is using its power against the people it should be (rather than people it merely claims it should be) and is not going beyond reasonable limits in so doing is to have effective oversight and accountability.

They just want to keep people locked up forever — unless it happens to be politically inconvenient, of course. It it any wonder virtually no one trusts us on this subject any longer?

What's surprising is that people are still claiming that this was particularly surprising to start with, that we should have cut the administration considerable slack, and it is surprising that that leeway would be abused. Clearly, some people haven't learned the clear and obvious lesson here.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 1, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

serial catowner: "Ironically, in 1945 many leaders such as Ho Chi Minh and Mao [Tse Tung] thought our government might lead such an effort, and our form of government might offer a model."

Hindsight's always 20 / 20, of course -- but it's interesting to ponder how different subsequent events might have been had the United States supported Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam back in early 1946, when he formally requested American assistance in opposing the coersive reinstatement by the French military of white colonial rule in Indochina.

Our government's abject refusal in the mid-20th century to discern and exploit the now-obvious differences between communism and anti-colonialism -- coupled with our stubborn propensity throughout the entire Cold War to paint Third World nationalism with the same broad brush that we used to color public perception of our Soviet adversaries -- now haunts our current struggle to understand the world as it really is, and not as we might wish it used to be.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 1, 2007 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin blogged this in Feb. 2006"
...."The one thing we were never clear of was where they came from," [Michael] Scheuer said of the Guantanamo detainees. "DOD picked them up somewhere." When National Journal told Scheuer that the largest group came from Pakistani custody, he chuckled. "Then they were probably people the Pakistanis thought were dangerous to Pakistan," he said. "We absolutely got the wrong people."

That's Michael Scheuer speaking, the man who headed the CIA's bin Laden unit through 1999 and worked for the agency up through 2004."


Most likely it's worse than that. They may have been picked by the Pakistani law enforcement officials in order to make some dollars offerred by our forces for 'terrorists'.

Lack of corruption is not something that Pakistani government officials are noted for.

Posted by: gregor on April 1, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Great thread. You might want to check out:

http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/2007/04/01/spot-the-terrorist/

and

http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/2007/03/27/hicks-guilty-howard-convicted/

for some Australian perspectives on the issue.

Posted by: nasking on April 1, 2007 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

from letterfromhere.blogspot.com--Sunday, April 01, 2007
"Bush calls for immediate Iraq withdrawal
President Bush last night fired most of his top advisors and announced he would immediately pull U.S. forces out of Iraq. The Wshington Post quotes the President:
"I don't know how I ever let myself be talked into it," he said. "There were no WMDs, just a bunch of neocon talking points. They took me for quite a ride, but they're gone now.

"We will be withdrawing all of our troops as soon as physically possible and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center, as well as all U.S. bases in Iraq. I will personally devote the remainder of my term to making restitution to the people of Iraq for the destruction we caused in their country.

"Oh, and Gonzales and Rove? I don't know what they were trying to pull with that U.S. attorney thing, but it wasn't right. They're history. "
If only. HAPPY APRIL FOOL's DAY

In the real news: U.S. Toll in March Is Twice Iraq Forces. Bush: Gonzales 'Honorable and Honest'.
posted by Madison Guy at 9:07 AM

Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

egbert writes: This is truly horrifing. You are carrying water for Al Qeada with your defense of this depraved, cold blooded America hater.

egbert, do you actually read the news? The Bush administration is letting Hicks go as a favor to Howard Blair. If you are right, that he is a cold blooded America hater and deserves no consideration, why are they letting him off with a mere six-month term?

At this point, being a Bush defender is an indication that you are either a scoundrel or an idiot.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on April 1, 2007 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Italians, Germans and Americans did not have to recreate their justice systems to accomodate the crimes of terrorists like the Red Brigade, Baeder Meinhoff Gang, the SLA and Weathermen. Police methods, not military and torture, would have stoped al Queda and brought many of its members to justice without the costs and deadly errors of what W. Bush has done.

Posted by: Brojo on April 1, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, don't kid yourself. Bush and co. do not intend to keep these folks locked up forever. Only until January 20, 2009. At that point they simply do not give a shit. Someone else will have to clean up their rubbish, and then these clowns will likely sit back and criticize each and every step taken to clean up the mess. The only action that can be taken is to make sure sufficient evidence is collected to prosecute these folks criminally so that hopefully this sort of shit will not ever happen again.

Posted by: bubba on April 1, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

And if we don't have any evidence and testimony, just exactly on what basis are we accusing, imprisoning and trying these people?

Swarthiness? Sagging poll numbers? Divine Right?

Posted by: trex on April 1, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

That if you gave him even a smidgen of daylight he'll use it to cut your head off?

Egbert, the accidental Marx Brother.

I agree with those who have noted that it's likely this is just a deal between two cynical governments who have been trying to build up this pathetic John Walker Lindh-type as some kind of supremo terrorist, only to back down once they got him to save face with a guilty plea. Howard desperately needed this issue to be resolved by the election later this year, and I guess Bush figures he owed a friend a favor.

The whole affair has been a farce, though I will say I have been impressed by Hicks' Guantanamo lawyer, Major Michael Mori, who has taken a real lead in keeping the embarassing episode in Howard's face here in Australia.

Posted by: sweaty guy on April 2, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Heres the shipping news.
No one should trust either you or 'Anthrax' Andy Sullivan on the illegal aggressive invasion of SW Asia.
Not until you do some more work on the Yellowgate road. The cover-up is ongoing K-Drum.
So don't be a political parsnip all yr miserablist, state worshiping life.

'Play the game Harding'

Posted by: professor rat on April 2, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly right, sweaty guy.

While the Bush Administration has become the wretched embodiment of ugly-Americanism & presided over the greatest loss of credibility, respect for & belief in the American nation in history, Major Michael Mori has done the reverse. This jug-eared, affable Marine, in his tireless, impassioned & ethical advocacy of Hicks, has reminded a great many Australians of the humanity, integrity & bravery that once seemed to underpin American values. Major Mori has become so widely admired & respected here in Australia that there were repeated calls in letters & the media for him to be made Australian of the Year. Unsurprisingly, the loathsome PM John Howard, desperate to please Bush & to save his own political skin, thought otherwise.

Howards whining to Bush about Mori, & the US military's own considerable displeasure with such an enthusiastic, intelligent defense of Hicks, have resulted in repeated threats of court martial for the good Major. I believe the latest reason was for "dishonouring the Presidency" (as if Bush needed any help with that!) While these threats may come to nothing now that the thorn of Hicks is to be removed from the diseased hide of Gitmo, it seems certain that Mori's career with the military is now effectively at a standstill, or over. If so, this is a further crime in the travesty of justice that has surrounded Hicks' torture, rendition & 5+ years of brutal detention. For daring to tell the truth about the illegitimacy of the military commissions, for in fact doing his job as a defense counsel too well, Mori will almost certainly be punished, if the experience of previous Gitmo military defense lawyers is anything to go by.

I'd appeal to fair-minded, Constitution loving Americans to do whatever's in their power to ensure that this doesn't happen. When the history of this entire wretched episode is written, Major Michael Mori will be one of its' very heroes.

Posted by: DanJoaquinOz on April 2, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

uh...that last line should read "Major Michel Mori will be on of its' very FEW heroes."

Posted by: DanJoaquinOz on April 2, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

DJO - I believe that the other Officer you refer to is former Navy Lt. Commander Charles Swift.

He was the attorney who successfully defended the Hammdan case.

I will always believe that Rumsfailed himself had a hand in the undoing of Swift's career.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on April 2, 2007 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

I read about truth, justice and the American way in a comic a long time ago.
"The cavalry rode
the Indians Died"
When are Mori and Swift to be dragged before the Committee investigating Un-American Activity. How about we Aussies trade them for Howard.

Posted by: Monty Anderson on April 2, 2007 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

I can't agree more with sweat guy and danj regarding Hicks' lawyer Major Mori. (I thought Hicks' old man deserved the Australian of the Year award BTW)

But, as Rumsfeld would say, Mori is "Old American"

Posted by: voda on April 2, 2007 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

Even with a gag Hick's presence back in Australia will be a nightmare for Howard, who is already unpopular with union busting legislation and support for Bush. When Howard campaigns for the next election on his anti-terror stance it will look like Hicks is some kind of big game trophy, whereas the public thinks he is small fry. His likely prison companions include guys who killed a dozen people and pickled their bodies in acid to claim their social security. This story is far from over.

Posted by: Johnno on April 2, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

nor is it like domestic crime, where the state has the power to coercively collect evidence and demand testimony.

Bullshit. When did Kevin go into the business of recycling wingnut talking points? Whether you kill somebody in a terrorist attack or in a robbery, you're a murderer. You should be caught, convicted after due process of law, and jailed for a long, long time. Period. Why is this difficult for right-wing bedwetters to grasp? (I don't address the same question to the cynical politicians who pander to the bedwetters, since their motivations are transparent.)

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 2, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

And the same goes by the way for those conspiring to commit terrorist attacks- we already have conspiracy laws on the books for just such occasions, there is no need (other than the cynical political one)for extraordinary Constitution-shredding procedures.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 2, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I guess Mr. Hicks is just a misunderstood idealist who got mixed up with the wrong crowd?
We had one of those here is Seattle, the young lady who tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer. There is a nice play about her life running in Seattle, if you are ever here. If you agree with John Edwards that Israel is the source of true danger in the world, you will eat up this propaganda vehicle.

Posted by: mike cook on April 2, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

No. No. No.

After you capture them, and then find after 90 days you can't find any evidence of a crime, then you let them go. Then -- you follow them -- to find out with whom they associate. It's called "spying." It's something we used to do before we decided conventional warfare was our first resort.

If, after 9/11, the U.S. had invested its resources in fixing and enhancing its human intelligence capabilities, we would be handling this more efficiently. Instead, we are in the throes of losing two land wars in Asia, and looking to start a third.

Posted by: lina on April 2, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

What lina said.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 2, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

I guess Mr. Hicks is just a misunderstood idealist who got mixed up...yadda, yadda, yadda... Pancake Corrie.

What Mr. Hicks is or is not has nothing whatsover to do with the demand that he receive a trial that is fair, that can be seen to be fair. This is what freer countries do. We do not slink fearfully away from our principles.

Mike Cook, you have some serious issues.

Posted by: snicker-snack on April 2, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

WTF Kevin? This makes no sense at all.

Posted by: aaron on April 2, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

"WTF Kevin? This makes no sense at all."

Just what, in particular, are you having trouble understanding?

Posted by: PaulB on April 2, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"I guess Mr. Hicks is just a misunderstood idealist who got mixed up with the wrong crowd?"

LOL.... Congratulations! Kevin was making just a few really simple points in his post and you missed them all, preferring to respond instead with a completely irrelevant non sequitur and strawman argument that addresses, well, nothing at all. It's rare to see such stupidity presented so forthrightly.

"If you agree with John Edwards that Israel is the source of true danger in the world, you will eat up this propaganda vehicle."

And here we have strikes two and three, since a) John Edwards has never said anything even remotely resembling that, and b) even if he had, it would have absolutely nothing to do with Kevin's post or with anyone here. Congratulations again on such convincing proof that you're an idiot.

Posted by: PaulB on April 2, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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