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Tilting at Windmills

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June 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

POWELL ON GITMO....From the "better late than never" file, here is Colin Powell on Meet the Press this morning:

"If it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo. Not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I'd close it," he said.

"And I would not let any of those people go," he said. "I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system. The concern was, well then they'll have access to lawyers, then they'll have access to writs of habeas corpus. So what? Let them. Isn't that what our system is all about?"

That was simple enough, wasn't it?

Kevin Drum 6:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (102)

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Comments

Powell grew cajones rather late in life.

Posted by: Joel on June 10, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

When did Powell start hating America?

Posted by: bob on June 10, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, Mr. Powell is no longer reading the Dick Cheney's memos. But why didn't he just stop five years earlier?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 10, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

If we allow the terrorists access to our justice system, we run the risk that they are found not guilty and are set free. But of course liberals don't think of things like that.

Posted by: Al on June 10, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

I have ambivalent feeling about Powell because I’m pretty sure he has some admirable qualities. But it’s the old question of when are moderate people at fault for doing nothing about their out of control brethren.

Now days, every time I think of Powell, I can’t help but recall that day he was upon the stage of history selling the invasion of Iraq and his soul along with it.

A tragic figure.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on June 10, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe whatever dirt they had on him has expired? Is there a statute of limitations on blackmail photos?

Posted by: bungholio on June 10, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

yes, Al, as opposed to the zero-conviction rate we currently enjoy. Are you really this big an idiot, or do you just play one on the "internets"?

Anyway, back on planet earth, Powell gets it exactly right with the line: "So what. Let them."

Posted by: Kenji on June 10, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, Al. Bush and Gonzales took care of what used to be the Justice System. If they don't nail the terrorists for being terrorists, they can charge them with election fraud.

Posted by: reino on June 10, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine the Paris Hilton circus times fifty, with leftist lawyers diving in, big-time defense funds, protest marches, "Free Khalid" T-shirts, wall-to-wall TV coverage, and canny terrorists playing the useful idiots like a fine violin. Maybe Khalid Sheik Mohammed can get his own radio show like Mumia.

In no other war I know of have prisoners of war been given access to domestic legal procedures. And non-uniformed saboteurs and killers were typically shot.

Anybody out there dim enough to think this is really only about concern for the prisoners?

Posted by: monkeybone on June 10, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

If we allow these right wing idiots access to our justice system, we run the risk that they are found not guilty and are set free. But of course liberals don't think of things like that.

Posted by: red on June 10, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

That's one of the more unsound comments I've read here recently.

Posted by: Devic on June 10, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

--> Monkeybone's, that is.

Posted by: Devic on June 10, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine the Paris Hilton circus times fifty...

Wow, sounds just like the right-wing masturbation over Scooter Libby.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on June 10, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Colin "The Enabler" Powell even on Meet the Press? While I agree with what he said, his lack of honor and integrity makes his viewpoint meaningless.

Gotta love Huckabee's logic. Apparently, we should incarcerate people for some possible future crime they might commit, rather than for anything they've actually done in the past. And he also perpetuates the "Club Gitmo" meme.

Posted by: josef on June 10, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Monkeybone:

I believe that the prisoners of war in the "War on Drugs" have received lawyers.

Calling something a war doesn't give you the right to strip away the basic principles of the nation.

Posted by: Just a Thought on June 10, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

"If we allow the terrorists access to our justice system, we run the risk that they are found not guilty and are set free. But of course liberals don't think of things like that."

You know somehow I miss the real Al, fake Al just can't duplicate the "foaming at the mouth" feel.

Posted by: raptor on June 10, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's nice that Al has someone like monkeybone around, so that he can say, "I look like a human being compared with that freak-show".

Posted by: Kenji on June 10, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that people like Powell suddenly find themselves able to speak the truth once they're far from power? This is mostly a rhetorical question, but if someone took a shot at a real answer I'd be interested.

Posted by: thersites on June 10, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

After 5 years Colin Powell has announced a simple solution to a simple problem.

If we have evidence against people, try them. If not send them back to their home countries. Let the home folk know they are coming, I am sure the guys who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time will be treated well. The others, well, they will have to deal with their homeland's idea of justice.

As to the real bad guys, we have been horsing around with this "war" for 5 years. We have spent billions on intelligence. We ought to have come up with some real evidence by now--assuming we even looked.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 10, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

In no other war I know of have prisoners of war been given access to domestic legal procedures.

Wingnuts still too stupid to realize that Bush refuse to recognize the Gitmo prisoners as POWs?

And non-uniformed saboteurs and killers were typically shot.

After a trial, you meathead.

Habeas corpus, you muddle-headed dreamers of the pre-Runnymede dark ages. Habeas corpus, jack!

Posted by: Disputo on June 10, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow, I always knew that Powell had it in him. And that's what I hated him even more for.

We all know the rest of the bush/cheney cabal are soul-eating ghouls. So just what did Powell have to gain by lying for them?

P.S. Al and Monkeybone are funny. I mean, the "if we don't just execute them all, some might go free" is hilarious. I love you two.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on June 10, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone writes:

In no other war I know of have prisoners of war been given access to domestic legal procedures.

If they're POWs, shouldn't they be afforded the protections of the Geneva Conventions?

Posted by: Andy on June 10, 2007 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

If we have evidence against people, try them. If not send them back to their home countries.

Unfortunately we have caused many of these guys to be de facto men without countries, and I don't think Albania is interested in taking them all in.

Posted by: Disputo on June 10, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

OK, once we've emptied Gitmo, what about the secret prisons in Poland and Romania? Do we keep those around to test Abu Gonzo's theories about torture? Or can the defendants there see a lawyer, too?

And once we have the gitmo population in the U.S. system, do those defendants get the right to talk about their past treatment? Can we (at last) get an accurate picture of what the U.S. government did in our collective name?

I think that this proposal is a lot of things (including "absolutely necessary" and "long overdue"), but "simple" isn't one of them.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 10, 2007 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

If they're POWs, shouldn't they be afforded the protections of the Geneva Conventions?

Even if they are not POWs, they are to be afforded the protections of Art 3 of the GC.

Yet one of the many crimes to include in Bush's articles of impeachment.

Posted by: Disputo on June 10, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating.

What it means is this:

The smartest republicans are 4 years behind the opinions expressed in comments to Kevin's blog.

The dumbest republicans?

You couldn't beat sense into their monkey brains with a femur from a dinosaur from the Ark. We should just export them to Iraq. It is the best thing for America.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on June 10, 2007 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

And once we have the gitmo population in the U.S. system, do those defendants get the right to talk about their past treatment?

I waiting impatiently for the first detainee tell-all book to knock The Secret off the NYT's best-sellers list.

Posted by: Disputo on June 10, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

I like how my typos make me sound unedumacated.

Posted by: Disputo on June 10, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Better late than never"...well, but is it?

I'm more than a little tired of Colin "Look How Reasonable I Am" Powell and his too little/too late attempts to do what he should have done years ago.

He couldn't seem to speak out while he was still on the Dark Side's paycheck. Fine. He's been off it for years now. Only when it becomes utterly safe to criticize the vile machinery of Bush's state does he open his mouth to do so. More to the point, only when it's become completely clear that speaking out against Bushco won't cut off Powell's future access to cash, power and perks does he do so. Bandwagon, anyone?

And more than almost anyone, this man could see the cost in human lives, suffering, American reputation and treasure of his continuing to protect these bastards with his silence or his slippery non-comments.

This is not a man of integrity and courage.

Posted by: shortstop on June 10, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Powell has spent the last two years flying around the country trying to persuade America that somehow he wasn't to blame for Iraq and the other screwups of Bush's first term.

Dude, it was you at the UN. You're not fooling me, you're not fooling America, and you're not going to fool history. You fscked up big time, you did not do the right thing, and your beloved military and country are going to be suffering for a long time. When your GOP friends are ranting away in 2012 about how no-one respects the US and how demoralized the military is, I hope you realize it's you they are talking about.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on June 10, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

You couldn't beat sense into their monkey brains with a femur from a dinosaur from the Ark. We should just export them to Iraq. It is the best thing for America.

That was beautiful.

Posted by: shortstop on June 10, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Who among us has the tiniest doubt that some of these innocent people, treated so unjustly, will one day commit an act of terror? To them, it will be revenge.

The mistreated pit bull will one day break free and attack the owner. Everybody knows who the owner is.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on June 10, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Good on Colin. However, he still is an accessory before the fact to mass murder, after his farcical performance at the United Nations, waving vials of baby powder around and asserting falsely, knowingly, that Saddam had nukes, anthrax, nipple piercing equipment and all manner of horrific gear. He should still stand trial for war crimes in a just world.

I wish one of the major bloggers would pick up the story of the British government concealing the theft of $1 billion by Saudi Prince Bandar. Joshua Micah Marshall picked it up briefly on TPM and let it drop. More evidence of the depth of corruption among Saudi leaders and Bush and Blair's complicity in it. This could be the big news story that finally opens people's eyes to the filth in the White House and at 10 Downing Street.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 10, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

I don't blame Powell.

United States works because it does not require some people to make herioc sacrifices.

GOP has managed to bring our country to a state that requires nothing less than heroism from people like Powell for the country to work. That I think is too much to expect of mere mortals.

Posted by: gregor on June 10, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with the "too little, too late" contingent. So what if he's saying that now that he's a private citizen? Plenty of private citizens have been saying it all along, and it doesn't mean a damn thing. Maybe if he'd said it when he was Secretary of State, it might have meant something.

Posted by: Sheldon on June 10, 2007 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

I wish one of the major bloggers would pick up the story of the British government concealing the theft of $1 billion by Saudi Prince Bandar. Joshua Micah Marshall picked it up briefly on TPM and let it drop. More evidence of the depth of corruption among Saudi leaders and Bush and Blair's complicity in it.

You know, what I've always wondered is what is W getting out of all of this? We're pretty sure Cheney is still collecting from Halliburton, but does anyone ever check up on Bush? What extras does he get out of the deal? What companies is he associated with? Does anyone know what his holdings are -- not that we'd be able to find out. It's just that, he certainly can't be satisfied drawing the salary of POTUS, which is about $400k annually.

Posted by: pol on June 10, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

I have always thought that the real reason BushCo wants to suppress habeus corpus for the detainees at Gitmo and in the secret rendition prisons is that the Administration's actions and policies in those places will not bear exposure to the light of day. BushCo fears for its continued power if their routine horrific abuses of powerless brown people were to become the subject of actual media attention. They cannot afford to admit or defend what they've done; they started out with barbarity, and now can't back down.

Further, they want to keep doing it.
Cheney in particular seems to believe that savagery is the correct and proper response of a responsible executive to the world situation.

It's not that "terrorists" would go free.
It's what they'd say in public in court and after being released that frightens our monarch George II, and his hench.

Abu Ghraib was a fluke: not the treatment of the people there, but that accurate and politically-damaging information about what was going on was allowed to get out. They lost control of information for a moment.

They're already in trouble with Padilla and Hamdan, and with the DOJ/Abramoff tangle. They will stonewall in every possible way to prevent exposure, on every possible front, until the clock runs out late next year and king George II pardons everyone in sight.

Posted by: joel hanes on June 10, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Let's get real here. Powell sold out years ago, about the time he helped orchestrate the My Lai coverup. And NOW he thinks we should close Guantanamo? Where's he been for the last 6 years? Where was he when the news about Abu Ghraib came out?

He's just another rat jumping off the sinking ship.

Posted by: Slideguy on June 10, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to be easy to make the wrong decision when you haven't the power to enforce it. The democrats
were all for ending the war before they came into power and now they vote to keep on funding it. If Colin Powell were still in power I think he would have the intelligence to keep the radical terrorists
locked up.

Ah but politics is politics.

And last a note to Karl Rove, Contact Cindi Sheehan I think she would make a darn good Republican.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on June 10, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

what I've always wondered is what is W getting out of all of this

He got to strut around in a flight suit and pretend he won a war. Christ, what a pitiful little excuse for a human.

Posted by: thersites on June 10, 2007 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

"And non-uniformed saboteurs and killers were typically shot."

After a trial, you meathead.

Look up the actual "trial" procedures for this process during war. Do they still teach history in schools? Ignorant people don't make themselves look any better by spouting middle school insults.

Posted by: monkeybone on June 10, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Powell needs to return the Jaguar that Bandar "Bush" gave him!!
He should also STFU after doing that disgusting spiel at the UN ... Have they no shame, at long last?
The answer seems to be a resounding NO.

Posted by: jay boilswater on June 10, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

What Powell isn't saying is that, since there is zero evidence against something like 3/4 of the Guantanamo captives, a real court system would free them in large numbers.

Posted by: Joe Buck on June 10, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

In no other war I know of have prisoners of war been given access to domestic legal procedures. And non-uniformed saboteurs and killers were typically shot.

No, I think Disputo pretty much nailed you dead to rights with the meathead comment.

There are so many things wrong with your generalization it would be hard to catalogue them all, not the least of which is the fact that the Bush maladministration came up with a pretend category for the detainees to try and skirt both domestic and international law at the same time. The Pentagon does NOT consider the prisoners at Guantanamo prisoners of war:

However, the Pentagon says the detainees are not prisoners of war (POWs) protected by the Geneva Conventions and describes them as "unlawful combatants" instead.

Then we could get into the fact that that non-uniformed guerillas were routinely afforded Geneva protections, that over 80% of the Gitmo detainees weren't captured on the battlefield but turned in by neighbors or rounded up in security sweeps, that they're as young as ten (!) and as old as eighty, and the reason that hundreds of them have been released without charge after false imprisonment and in many cases torture is because they were, in fact -- innocent.

Keep up those paranoid fantasies, though. Utterly fantastic.

Posted by: trex on June 10, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

As to what the Bushes get out of it: They don't call him Bandar Bush for nothing.

to echo what an above poster said: Way to catch up to this poor comment board, Powell...circa half a decade ago.

Has anybody asked him what he thought of Guantanamo when he was Secretary of State?

Posted by: Boronx on June 10, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone: "Ignorant people don't make themselves look any better by spouting middle school insults."

Which is why you stick to the grade-school stuff, torture-lover.

Posted by: Kenji on June 10, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

What shortstop said. I agree completely.

I used to admire Powell. Had he ran for president, I may have voted for him. Thank goodness he didn't, as his true colors came out - starting with lying about WMD.

Posted by: Jackie on June 10, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Did you ever notice that when Democrats say something like this, the MSM yawns and doesn't even report it. But when a Republican says it--because it means they're breaking ranks with partisan dogma and the Worst President Ever--suddenly it's News! And astonishingly, the Republican gets credit for calling on Gitmo to close!

When the Democrats are criticized for not showing leadership, it's not because there's a lack of leadership. It's because the MSM doesn't REPORT on leadership, or issues.

The MSM reports one thing: partisan soap opera.

In today's newsrooms, the partisan soap opera beats everything. No spin is too ridiculous, no lie is too bald-faced, and the traditions of investigative reporting that affirmed the role of the fourth estate during Watergate have simply disappeared.

Curious.

P.S. Joe Lieberman won't become a Republican. As a Repub, he would get ZERO press.

Posted by: curious on June 10, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

A number of measures to restore the US Constitutional "rights of the accused" are before Congress. In particular, Senator Patrick Leahy is sponsoring a Habeas Corpus Restoration Act.

Also, a vote on confidence in our Attorney General Roberto Gonzales is near. Placing your views on these matters with Senators is easy.

Try the following: http://ga3.org/campaign/restore_habeas/forward/8swu3bdrqextbkt

Posted by: deejaays on June 10, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin! Come on! These brown people will destroy America and her freedoms if we let them!

They are much more dangerous than, say the Nazis, who only had a whole country, and tanks and infrastructure and slave labor and money and weapons. The Soviets merely had nukes and a huge army and lots of territory and really fast planes and bombs and stuff.

But these brown people! They have box cutters and sandals! They must be stopped at all costs! Including self-immolation! Oh look - I wet the bed again! I better vote GOP!

Posted by: craigie on June 10, 2007 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

next thing you know, he'll be apologizing for all those hundreds of thousands who died because he was complicit in the invasion of a sovereign nation.

feh. he's a war criminal.

i'm with shortstop.

Posted by: sara toga on June 10, 2007 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

As of the now, Colin Powell is the only Republican I can imagine ever voting for in a national election. In fact, were he to run, I would vote for him over all of the Democratic contenders as well. It’s a shame he doesn’t have such ambitions.

The old adage is true. The qualified person who least wants the mantle of leadership is probably the one that should have it.

Posted by: Thomas on June 11, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas, you've got to be kidding. The man stood up in front of the UN, and the world, and flat-out lied. And over 20,000 American soldiers are dead or wounded. At least half a million Iraqi civilians are dead. You'd vote for this schmuck for president?

Posted by: Slideguy on June 11, 2007 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

The negative comments posted re: Powell seem interesting in light of the news that Powell is advising Obama on foreign policy.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070610/D8PM08A00.html

Posted by: pencarrow on June 11, 2007 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

It would be foolish to give suspected foreign terrorists and combatants the same rights as we give criminal defendants in America for several reasons:

1. These people are not accused of violating American laws.

2. The trials are likely to require evidence that would be impossible to use under normal domestic criminal rules. E.g., it might be impossible to bring to the US key witnesses from far off countries.

3. Some of the evidence might involve military secrets that cannot safely be revealed, so guilty terrorists might have to be released.

4. The downside of turning loose a guilty terrorist is greater than the downside of turning loose a guilty criminal. A released criminal may commit more crimes; a released terrorist is apt to commit mass murder.

5. The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no legal or Consitutional obligation to give these prisoners ordinary criminal trials.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 11, 2007 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Yup, so might as well convict them and be done with it, eh?

Golly, justice is so hard

It's a new low, even for you.

Posted by: craigie on June 11, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

You hit the nail on the head, craigie. I do think perfect justice is less important than winning the war on Islamic terrorism.

FDR put winning WW2 ahead of justice when he imprisoned thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent. Abraham Lincoln put winning ahead of justice when he imprisoned people who had done nothing more than speak out agaisnt the Civil War. We should follow the example of these two great Presidents.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 11, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Imagine how much more seriously Powell's comments about closing Guantanamo might have been taken had Powell also not repeated on this morning's Meet The Press his support and defense of the Bush administration's decision to launch a war against Iraq.

People are far too generous to Powell, giving him alibis and the benefit of doubt, for "certainly he was used and duped by Bush and Cheney," lending his credibility to their plan for war.

Like his best friend and second-in-command at the State Department (Richard Armitage), Powell was a willing and witting accomplice to the crimes committed by the Bush administration.

Powell has chosen to go down with the ship. So be it.

Posted by: Maeven on June 11, 2007 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

ex-lib: "FDR put winning WW2 ahead of justice when he imprisoned thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent."

Wow, you picked the single, most boneheaded thing FDR ever signed off on—something that advanced the war not one iota and remains the cause of continuing shame within the U.S. How inspiring!

Posted by: Kenji on June 11, 2007 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

Kenji: Wow, you picked the single, most boneheaded thing FDR ever signed off on—something that advanced the war not one iota and remains the cause of continuing shame within the U.S. How inspiring!

Hindsight is 20-20. Kenji is probably right in retrospect that the internment was a mistake. Nevertheless, FDR and his team were neither dumb nor amoral. They knew that internment camps were alien to American values, yet they went ahead with them. Why? Because their #1 aim was winning the war, and properly so.

If FDR and Churchill had treated winning as a secondary objective, many of us might be exterminated; the rest would be speaking German. If the United States and our western allies treat the war on radical Islam as secondary, we infidels may be slaughtered or we may have to learn to pray to Mecca five times a day.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 11, 2007 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

You can only make that appraisal because FDR and Churchill were right about s very many things in a time of far more crisis than we face today that we forgive them their blind spots.

On the face of what we know today, not what historians will hypothetically conclude "when we're all dead" (in Dubya's famous locution), Bush and Cheney have got precisely zero correct, as well as enough demonstrably wrong that it will take several lifetimes to undo the damage—if the planet is freakin' lucky.

Posted by: Kenji on June 11, 2007 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

.From the "better late than never" file

INSTEAD, don't you mean...

"From the 'too little, too late' file"?

or

"From the 'shutting the barn door after the cows have been slaughtered, butchered, barbecued and devoured' file".

or

"From the 'desperate 11th hour attempt to disassociate yourself from the crimes you willingly cooperated in' file".

If Powell wants to redeem himself (if that is even possible at this point), he should run for the GOP nomination and use the national stage to admit his wrongdoing and excoriate other members of the administration and the GOP house/senate leadership who are even more deserving of blame.

I'm guessing he won't - which really suggests, sadly, that he's more interested in rehabilitating his reputation than he is setting things right.

I had a lot of respect for Mr. Powell before the war. The only way he can restore it, IMO, is to set the entire record straight (about his mistakes, and the mistakes of this administration and the GOP itself) BEFORE the 2008 election. Otherwise, don't bother.

Posted by: Augustus on June 11, 2007 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, how come I'm not in ex-liberal's pantheon? I mean it was really me that won that war. And if you think Guantanamo is the route to victory, you'd die for my Gulag system. It's really gratifying to see you Americsns moving round to my point of view (and Colin Powell should be doing hard labor by now). I was appalled by the namby-pamby way you treated German POW's in your camps in Texas.

Posted by: Uncle Joe on June 11, 2007 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder why only 2000 Japanese-Americans in Hawaii were interned. If FDR was really committed to winning WWII you would think he would have interned all the Japs to protect the Pacific fleet and naval intelligence. It appears by interning so few, Roosevelt was giving in to hysteria about workers and domestic politics.

Posted by: Read Orcinus on June 11, 2007 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

Kenji is probably right in retrospect that the internment was a mistake.

Still, why not let's just mistake our way to victory!!

...

If we make enough mistakes, we cannot fail to win!!

...

If we're going to err, let's err on the side of mistakes. It's the only prudent thing to do.

...

If hitting an innocent man in the face with a frying pan is a mistake, so be it. I feel safer that way.

Posted by: obscure on June 11, 2007 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

pencarrow: The negative comments posted re: Powell seem interesting in light of the news that Powell is advising Obama on foreign policy.

Interesting why? Because you think we do (or should) approve of every campaign staffing and consulting choice made by each Democratic candidate?

New here, are you?

Posted by: shortstop on June 11, 2007 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Add Colin Powell's name to the list of former administration officials who had the power to make the right decision(s) when they actually were cabinet members who now only look to promote themselves and/or their book by offering completely contradictory policy statements AFTER the fact. Talk about closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.

Big balls

Posted by: ny patriot on June 11, 2007 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

kenji, obscure, Read Orcinus -- I am not proposing that we put Muslim-Americans in internment camps. I am proposing that we give hearings to people who have been put in Gitmo because they were believed to be terrorists. The Supreme Court has ruled that military-type hearings will satisfy the prisoners' Consitutional rights. Let's follow the Supreme Court.

U.S. criminal procedures can create muddles and incorrect results. Murderers can tie up the legal system with years of appeals. O. J. Simpson was unjustly acquitted.

Why should we give these particular prisoners more than their Constitutional rights?

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 11, 2007 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

These are some very interesting statements, ex-liberal! (your handle takes too long to type - mind if I call you Janus?)

the same rights as we give criminal defendants in America for several reasons:
1. These people are not accused of violating American laws.

So, I'd just like to follow your thoughts to their logical conclusion.
Given that many members of the Bush administration, and of the US military are suspected of violating the Geneva Conventions and other aspects of international law, you are saying that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, and others shouldn't be afforded their rights under US law? So we can dispense with their 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Amendment rights?
That will simplify things quite a bit!

And, it segues nicely into this:

I do think perfect justice is less important than winning the war on Islamic terrorism.

See, if I had known you felt this way a few years back, I'd have left a comment on my opinion of the most effective way to limit the harm caused to our efforts in Iraq, and to combat extremist Islamist groups internationally by our detention practices. I think, as a tactic, it's gruesome, cold-blooded, and inhumane but its effectiveness would have been hard to challenge.
Anyone with a functioning brain can see that Abu Ghraib, and our secret prisons, have had a negative impact on opinions about the US worldwide - that in turn has made radical Islamists more credible and increased their numbers of committed recruits. (Not that it's the only deleterious practice in use, by any means.)
At the time, we could have taken steps that would have demonstrated that the US government and people take such abuses very very seriously and would take affirmative and direct steps to punish those abuses and to deter others similar.
It would have been relatively inexpensive, in materials, requiring just a few thousand board feet of 2x4s, several dozens of plywood sheets and a few hundred yards of rope.
It's probably obvious where this is headed, but to be clear, this tactic would not have simply executed the personnel directly involved, and their immediate C.O.s - it would have gone right up the chain of command, and put SecDef Rumsfeld on the gallows next to the pregnant Lynndie England. All told, some couple hundred US service personnel and a small number of civilians in positions of authority over same, executed on the grounds of Abu Ghraib - immediately thereafter to be interred, while the prison complex, after being emptied of the living, is destroyed around their graves and capped in concrete to remain forever as a stern warning to all tyrants and liberators who would defile others humanity in pursuit of selfish ends.
Gruesome, cold-blooded, inhumane, un-Constitutional, unjust, cruel, immoral, and just plain wrong are all adjectives I'd use to describe that tactic, if ever used, by anyone. But not ineffective.

Combine the two and you've provided us a strong argument for shuffling the entire Bush administration off this mortal coil, because it will abrogate perfect justice in favor of victory!
I rather doubt you'd consider that a reasonable application of your assertions.
You corporatist jackal, you.

Posted by: kenga on June 11, 2007 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I believe Powell is a smart man or King George would not have picked him in the first place, and I also believe that Powell is correct for calling for the close of Gitmo, that way Halliburton cannot steal anymore of our money and turn the proceeds over to Cheney and Bush.

Posted by: Al on June 11, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Respect for Powell? How can anyone have respect for a toady who tried to cover up My Lai? An affirmative action fast tracker with no sense of morals. The fellow was purely interested in being a get along, go along Yes Man in order to be promoted. Ah, but he could show such Gravitas.

And, kenga, for more brevity in spelling FAUX's name, you could drop the J. Of course, there are still two esses in Dumbass. However, your points were spot on.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 11, 2007 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

If the United States and our western allies treat the war on radical Islam as secondary, we infidels may be slaughtered or we may have to learn to pray to Mecca five times a day.

Who the fuck really believes this? We have the most powerful military in history by an enormous margin, and a heavily armed citizenry. What, exactly, makes you think that Islamic extremists will be able to take over the US, repeal the Constitution, and establish sharia - or alternately, just kill us all? Imagine San Francisco turning into Fallujah, except this time the invaders don't have air support and tanks. They might kill a lot of Americans early on, but none of them would make it out of here alive. There are about 800 rounds of .223 ammo in my house alone. (Not mine - the owner of the AR-15 lives an hour away; unfortunately, I'm not allowed to buy my own, thank-you-very-much CA legislature.)

Nukes, that's a different story, but invading Iraq sure did nothing to help that, and going out of our way to alienate Iran was worse.

Posted by: anonymous on June 11, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

What, exactly, makes you think that Islamic extremists will be able to take over the US, repeal the Constitution, and establish sharia - or alternately, just kill us all?

Brain damage and/or congenital dimmwittery makes him think it.

Good on you for pointing it out.

And Kenga, great post. "Imperfect justice" opens the door to all sorts of horrible expediencies, doesn't it?

Posted by: trex on June 11, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

There have been two opposing opinions in the history of human rights and the power of the state. One party, we will call them the royalists, has held that human beings do not possess natural rights separate from the administration of power. Security is the central concern of these thinkers and violence is the basis for social order. The most vocal denunciations of human rights have come from such dark angels as Thomas Hobbes, Joseph de Maistre and the enemies of the French Revolution, and the totalitarian dictators of left and right. The other group has a much more sunny view of human nature. They are British Parliamentarians and the fathers of the American revolution, which in many ways was a continuation of Parliament’s assertion of rights above the power of the executive, the French Enlightenment thinkers and a legion of liberal philosophers and anti-totalitarians from John Stuart Mill to Hannah Arendt, and in our own time, Giorgio Agamben.

The Bush administration’s crude assertion of executive power, their arguments, their sense of crisis, their abuse of power- none of this is unique or surprising. Yoo and Addington have made arguments that would be familiar to Charles I- arguments that were violently repudiated in the British Civil Wars. That the authoritarian cultists in the White House have tried to set up a parallel system where executive power can act beyond the normal system of checks and balances has been shockingly anticipated by Ernst Fraenkel’s 1941 reflections on the functions of the National Socialist state in Germany. Guantanamo and its sister prisons is an undistinguished example of totalitarian power.

We should be disturbed that the political elites in the United States have been so insensitive to a classic authoritarian assertion of power in time of crisis. Just the kind of power the Republic was set up to limit.

Posted by: bellumregio on June 11, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

It's good Powell believes in the American system and wants to demonstrate democracy, justice, and our belief in freedom (innocent until proven guilty), I only wish he could've done more to push these ideals when he worked in the White House.

I'm sad to read many of the comments here. There are so many Americans that want their cake and smear it in the faces of the rest of the world too. We can't expect to promote the ideals of democracy and freedom when we continue to act like the dictators we want to remove from power. Maybe it's time we stand up and become the example instead of the hypocrite?

(And for those who'd like to brand me unpatriotic or some other nonsense for my beliefs, please know that I served honorably in Iraq and daily visited detention centers. I've looking into the faces of terrorist and the mistakenly detained.)

Posted by: Bryan Catherman on June 11, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK
... I do think perfect justice is less important than winning the war on Islamic terrorism...ex-laxat 2:05 AM ....U.S. criminal procedures can create muddles and incorrect results....ex-lax at 9:20 AM
There is nothing so clear as allowing the state to label anyone it chooses criminal, then declaring them guilty. No appeals, no muddying of the water, no problems. It worked so well for Stalin that now it's recommended for the US. In fact, Bush loyalists demand it. The disappeared and corpses tell no tales.

The rest of us realize that placing people into unknown gulags and torturing them is not right.
All those analogies to WWII are wrong and so wrong as to be silly. Militant Islam is not an existential threat to the US. It is only a reaction to US policies in the Middle East. If this is a war, the Bush regime and its supporters are doing everything possible to lose it by their extra-Constitutional and extra-judicial actions.

If you allow the likes of Bush and his minions to retain power, the Islamists win because that is the only way that the US can be destroyed.

Here is a chilling BBC Two program on the US rendition and torture policy by the Bush regime.

(These war crimes brought to you by your friendly neighborhood government. They're the essence of Republicanism.)

Posted by: Mike on June 11, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

We have the most powerful military in history by an enormous margin, and a heavily armed citizenry. What, exactly, makes you think that Islamic extremists will be able to take over the US, repeal the Constitution, and establish sharia - or alternately, just kill us all?

For one thing, look at all the success Islamic extremists have had in the last few years.

-- Sixty years ago Lebanon was a stable democracy where Christians and Muslims lived together in harmony. It was a lovely peaceful country. Now it's tottering on the brink of being run by Hezbollah, a group of Islamic extremists.

-- Iran was once a secular ally. Now it's run by Islamic extremists.

-- Saudi Arabia is an ally in which wahabi, an extreme form of Islam, has gained more power.

-- Pakistan, another ally, is in danger of being taken over by Islamic extremists.

-- Israel is facing a daily barrage of rockets aimed at its civilians.

Second, it's difficult to use our military when there's an idiginous group who are happy to use ruthless methods.

-- France can't stop Islamic immigrant youths from torching cars nightly. They can't just bomb the suburbs where these people live.

-- Israel couln't defeat Hezbollah in Lebanon, because Hezbollah was spread out among the populace. In effect, Hezbollah used the entire population as human shields.

-- The US may be unable to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq, because they are dispersed throughout the country. We can't just bomb the entire country to smithereens.

Third, it's not clear that the west is willing to fight full out againt Islamic extremism

-- After the Danish cartoon mess, Muslims were incited in burning churches and murdering a nun. Did the west use its powerful military to attack the arsonists and murderers? No, we didn't even have the courage to reprint the cartoons.

-- Our western allies have shown limited appetite for fighting Islamic extremism

-- George Bush is the only leader vigorous committed to fighting Islamic extremism, and he's vilified for it. It's likely that his successor will do less than he did.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 11, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Hindsight is 20-20. Kenji is probably right in retrospect that the internment was a mistake.

And I'm a Republican who never learns from mistakes or history. Which is why I'm calling for the US to make this same mistake over and over again. And why I'm a Bush apologist.

-Ex-liberal

Posted by: ckelly on June 11, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

"For one thing, look at all the success Islamic extremists have had in the last few years."

Dear heart, not one of those examples actually applies to the question you were asked. Moreover, your last four paragraphs are clearly and unequivocally false.

Nice try.

Posted by: PaulB on June 11, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

"If we have evidence against people, try them. If not send them back to their home countries."
_____________________

As the military judge who ruled that the court had no jurisdiction in the first two detainee trials pointed out, it isn't against the law for a legal combatant to kill an American soldier. And, of course, even if they are ruled to be illegal combatants, the chain of evidence problem will still exist. It's been long enough that there will be few trials that will not be tied into knots over the status of evidence.

Release might be the most reasonable option if Guantanamo is closed. At least that will give us the chance to kill them next time they engage our forces. Or their own governments might save us the trouble.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 11, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

"We have the most powerful military in history by an enormous margin, and a heavily armed citizenry. What, exactly, makes you think that Islamic extremists will be able to take over the US, repeal the Constitution, and establish sharia - or alternately, just kill us all?"
__________________

The above is correct - they can damage us but they cannot conquer us. The same inability to "take over" the US applies to Christian fundamentalists even more, given that the vast majority of them understand and agree with the rule of law and democracy in our society.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 11, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Authoritarian personalities perceive every threat to security, no matter how small or marginal, as an epochal struggle for survival. Proportionality is never part of their strategy nor is a careful description of the nature of the threat. In their world the Nazi war machine and the Soviet Union are analogous to gangs of terrorists. For them it is always 1938, Hitler is poised to attack and everyone who does not see it is a Neville Chamberlain.

The leaders of authoritarians understand the views of their followers and share them to some degree, but they are also amoral and ambitious and will exaggerate any threat to consolidate their own power. It was the case in ancient Greece and under Charles I and when Hitler became the absolute authority in Germany. Good patriots, friends of the American Republic, will be well advised to denounce the frightened people who so easily cast off rights for themselves and their enemies.

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: bellumregio on June 11, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

France can't stop Islamic immigrant youths from torching cars nightly

ex-liberal, France can't stop French Catholic youths from torching cars nightly, either. If anything, the French-arab riots were just a sign that they learned to express their displeasure with the government in an authentically, assimilated "French" fashion.

Posted by: Tyro on June 11, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

In a painful rebuke to ex-liberal and other shaking-in-their-boots proponents of the "Democracy is a Luxury We Can't Afford" school of thought, a U.S. federal appeals court has just smashed Bush's "enemy combatant" policy to smithereens.

It's a good day so far.

Posted by: shortstop on June 11, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lax at 11:49 AM For one thing, look at all the success Islamic extremists have had in the last few years
What successes? Attacks on civilians are not successes, they unify people against the perpetrators.

Sixty years ago Lebanon was a stable democracy where Christians and Muslims lived together in harmony...
That was before Israel declared itself a state and expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. You should note that the attacks on Lebanon were Israeli sponsored and that Hezbollah worked to defend the country when Israel attacked and killed Lebanese civilians.

Iran was once a secular ally. Now it's run by Islamic extremists.
Gee, do you think that the US overthrowing the government and re-installing the Shah had anything to do with that?

Saudi Arabia is an ally in which wahabi...
It is supported by the same Saudi officials that Bush supports.

Pakistan, another ally, is in danger of being taken over by Islamic extremists.
The democratically elected government was overthrown by a military coup that Bush now supports.

Israel is facing a daily barrage of rockets aimed at its civilians.
Israeli has committed daily military strikes into Palestinian territory. Do you expect them to roll over and play dead while Israel steals their land and kills their kin? The continued acts of terrorism by Israelis against Palestinians and others in the Middle East is the cause of Islamic extremism.

... it's difficult to use our military when there's an idiginous group who are happy to use ruthless methods
The US has used ruthless methods at Abu Ghraib and committed other horrible acts.

France can't stop Islamic immigrant youths from torching cars nightly...
Nonsense. There aren't nightly riots. Wake up and read LeMonde

Israel couln't defeat Hezbollah in Lebanon, because Hezbollah was spread out among the populace...
The populace supported Hezbollah and Israel bombed innocent civilians anyway.

The US may be unable to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq
Well, no shit, Sherlock. You just figured that out? It's too bad your policies enabled them, but we have seen, once the they and the Sunni lose their common enemy, Bush, the Sunni will kick the Islamists out.

it's not clear that the west is willing to fight full out againt Islamic extremism
It is clear Bush doesn't know how.

After the Danish cartoon mess...
And every insult to Christianity is condemned by Christian groups. The problem is that was taken as a state sponsored deliberate affront.

Our western allies have shown limited appetite for fighting Islamic extremism
Not true. They realize that Bush doesn't know what he's doing.

George Bush is the only leader vigorous committed to fighting Islamic extremism...
That is a pantload. He is using the excuse of extremism to overthrow constitutional protections at home.

.... The same inability to "take over" the US applies to Christian fundamentalists even more...Trashhauler at 12:15 PM

Those Christian fundamentalists who wish to see a theocratic state in the US have neither respect not interest in maintaining the separation of church and state.

Posted by: Mike on June 11, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"If we allow the terrorists access to our justice system, we run the risk that they are found not guilty and are set free. But of course liberals don't think of things like that."
Posted by: Al on June 10, 2007 at 7:23 PM

Al, is your presence here what they mean by 'alternative interrogation techniques'. Man, you're torturing us.

Posted by: MarkH on June 11, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, that Anti-American American justice system strikes again:
Bush cannot strip US citizen of his constitutional rights.

The Bush administration cannot legally detain a U.S. resident it believes is an al-Qaida sleeper agent without charging him, a divided federal appeals court ruled Monday. The court said sanctioning the indefinite detention of civilians would have "disastrous consequences for the constitution and the country."
...It ruled the government must allow al-Marri to be released from military detention.
Al-Marri has been held in solitary confinement in the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., since June 2003. The Qatar native has been detained since his December 2001 arrest at his home in Peoria, Ill., where he moved with his wife and five children a day before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to study for a master's degree.
"To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the President calls them 'enemy combatants,' would have disastrous consequences for the constitution and the country," the court panel said...

Who was the one idiot on the court voting for Bush, who has has committed actions worse then high crimes and misdemeanors against this country?

Posted by: Mike on June 11, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Mike wrote:

"Those Christian fundamentalists who wish to see a theocratic state in the US have neither respect not interest in maintaining the separation of church and state."
_____________________

It rather depends on how one defines that separation, doesn't it, Mike? Few people would go so far as to say a person's religion is not a fit philosophy to illuminate their participation in government.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 11, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Few people would go so far as to say a person's religion is not a fit philosophy to illuminate their participation in government.

And yet, a solid majority of Christians consistently say the absence of a candidate's belief in god would prevent them from voting for him or her. Hmmmm.

(I had a long post in response to sportsfan's weeping and wailing about his need to be "protected" by George W. Bush, but saw no point in putting it through after the moderator inexplicably saved sportsfan the embarrassment of having his post widely read. Suffice it to say, sportsfan, that you may be the biggest candyass these threads have ever seen. Are you posting from under the bed where you're once again cowering? Get a spine, man, and act like a grownup for one day.)

Posted by: shortstop on June 11, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop wrote:

"And yet, a solid majority of Christians consistently say the absence of a candidate's belief in god would prevent them from voting for him or her. Hmmmm."
__________________

Hmmmm, indeed. There is no contradiction there, naturally. The mere disagreement with someone in no way inhibits that person's rights. The action of voting necessarily involves the use of one's own judgment. A non-believer is similarly empowered to not vote for a Christian. Or a woman. Or a Republican. Or whatever.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 11, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

No, Trashhauler, I don't think I'll let you move those goalposts. I never suggested that anyone's rights were being inhibited in this scenario. I was responding specifically to your statement:

Few people would go so far as to say a person's religion is not a fit philosophy to illuminate their participation in government.

In fact, refusing to vote for someone solely because of his or her religious beliefs, or lack thereof, is a statement of the very kind you describe in this sentence.

Now, if you want to argue that fundamentalist Christians (getting back to your original example) who make this statement may nonetheless be fierce protectors of the separation of church and state, go to it (some illustrations would be instructive, not to say entertaining), but I was responding to what you actually said, not what you may have been thinking.

Posted by: shortstop on June 11, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

You're correct, Shortstop: this is a shifty one.

...It rather depends on how one defines that separation... Trashhauler at 3:28 PM
The First Amendment defines it adequately: no state support of religion. Along the way we picked up the concept of no religious test for office. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

However, many Christian fundamentalists want a "Christian" nation

...Indeed, one of the primary goals of the fundamentalist movement in the US has been to go far beyond merely modifying the legal tests which are used to adjudicate the boundary between church and state -- they openly declare that they want to dismantle that wall completely. And in support of that goal, they have attempted to re-write history by declaring that the Constitution was intended by the Founding Fathers to set up a "Christian Nation", and that it was only after the secular humanists and atheists seized control of the Supreme Court that the concept of "separation of church and state" was allowed to interfere with the original wishes of the Framers.

Posted by: Mike on June 11, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that this just now is news. I heard Powell speak in Santa Barbara in February of 2006 and he said the same thing then.

Posted by: Campesino on June 11, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, as you probably know, the words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the Constitution. I think the framers didn't intend to require full SOCAS or they would have said so. Instead they prohibited "establishment of religion". That is, the Constitution prohibited an official United States church, comparable to Anglican in England or Greek Orthodox in Greece.

BTW it's not even clear that the founders meant the prohibition of establishment to apply to the states, although the Supreme Court has now ruled that way.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 11, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

The First Amendment defines it adequately: no state support of religion. Along the way we picked up the concept of no religious test for office.

Constitutionally, the religious test clause precedes the First Amendment, and (given the history of England), understandably so.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 11, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK
Mike, as you probably know, the words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the Constitution.

So?

I think the framers didn't intend to require full SOCAS or they would have said so.

They did say so. In fact, the same person who wrote the words which are interpreted as erecting the separation of church and state described them as doing just that.

Instead they prohibited "establishment of religion".

Actually, they prohibited Congress from making any law "respecting an establishment of religioun, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Both the free exercise and establishment components are important to the separation.

That is, the Constitution prohibited an official United States church, comparable to Anglican in England or Greek Orthodox in Greece.

It also prohibits (not "prohibited") restrictions on the free exercise of religion, which would includes restricting or directing particular modes of exercise through government action.

BTW it's not even clear that the founders meant the prohibition of establishment to apply to the states, although the Supreme Court has now ruled that way.

Its quite clear that the framers of the first amendment did not. Nor has the Supreme Court ruled that the first amendment on its own applies to the States. The Supreme Court has ruled that the protections of the First Amendment in this regard are applied to the states by the Fourteenth amendment, drafted by entirely different people are ratified several generations after the earlier provision.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 11, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop wrote:

"In fact, refusing to vote for someone solely because of his or her religious beliefs, or lack thereof, is a statement of the very kind you describe in this sentence."
___________________

No, it is not. Note that the refusal to vote for someone who has no belief in God says nothing about that person's right to use whatever philosophy he wishes to use in his own political activities. One is free to use something other than religion as a political guide, certainly. But let's not conflate toleration with agreement. The Christians who say that they would not vote for someone who doesn't believe in God are not saying that his or her disbelief is illegitimate and that he or she should not believe so. They are saying they know what they would like to see in their public servants.

It's somewhat like saying that most Democrats would not vote for someone who doesn't believe that abortions are good. If there are such Democrats, they aren't saying that the person running cannot hold such anti-abortion beliefs - they're just using their judgment to not vote for him because their world views are too conflicted.

In any case, both of these Western examples are worlds different from those of fundamentalist Islamic jihadists. For them, holding a supposedly heretical belief is proof that the person in question deserves death. That's a horse of a different hue altogther.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 11, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

"'BTW it's not even clear that the founders meant the prohibition of establishment to apply to the states, although the Supreme Court has now ruled that way.'

It's quite clear that the framers of the first amendment did not."
___________________

It is a much more settled question juridically, rather than historically, despite such declarative opinions.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 11, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK
It is a much more settled question juridically, rather than historically, despite such declarative opinions.

I've yet to see any serious—or even less-than-serious, other than this single post of yours—historical argument that any of the founders, much less the general consensus of the founders, intended "the states or Congress" by "the Congress" in the first Amendment. Certainly, many of the founders believed no government should do the things Congress was denied by the first amendment—indeed, several state constitutions had similar provisions already, at the time—but that rather undisputed historical fact is quite different from your claim of a ongoing controversy over what was really intended about the first amendment with regard to the states.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 11, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Christians who say that they would not vote for someone who doesn't believe in God are not saying that his or her disbelief is illegitimate and that he or she should not believe so. They are saying they know what they would like to see in their public servants.

If your assertion were true, then everybody would be happy extending the same positive rights to atheists as everyone else, they just wouldn't vote for them. The problem is that discrimination against atheists is written into a number of state constitutions in the form of barring them from public office, showing that atheism qua atheism is considered illegitimate by theists in this country and that the issue extends far past mere disagreement.

In fact, there could hardly be stronger evidence that refutes your ill-considered generalization than the fact that discrimination against atheists has been routinely codified into law.

Posted by: tRex on June 11, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote:

"I've yet to see any seriousor even less-than-serious, other than this single post of yourshistorical argument that any of the founders, much less the general consensus of the founders, intended 'the states or Congress' by 'the Congress' in the first Amendment."
______________________

cm, you made the definite historical statement, I did not. And you made it equally without any historical citations. I simply demurred at your dismissal of routine historiography, not your legal argument. The lawyer always seeks more evidence for his argument; the historian always seeks countervailing evidence.

From Federalist #10:

"The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source."

Certainly Madison felt strongly about it:

"A Constitutional negative on the laws of the States seems equally necessary to secure individuals against encroachments on their rights."

Nevertheless, the First Amendment is clearly an injunction against action by Congress, not the States:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The fact that Madison's view prevails today does not necessarily mean all the Founding Fathers agreed that the States' could not differ. The very fact that much correspondence between the Founding Fathers dealt with exactly this subject shows that opinions were far from completely unanimous at the time.

At the Virginia State Ratifying Convention, William Williams stated:

"When the clause in the 6th Article, which provides that "no religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any office Or trust, etc." came under consideration, I observed I should have chose that sentence, and anything relating to a religious test, had been totally omitted rather than stand as it did; but still more wished something of the kind should have been inserted, but with a reverse sense so far as to require an explicit acknowledgment of the being of a God, His perfections, and His providence, and to have been prefixed to, and stand as, the first introductory words of the Constitution in the following or similar terms...

I thought it was my duty to make the observations in this behalf, which I did, and to bear my testimony for God. And that it was also my duty to say the Constitution, with this and some other faults of another kind, was yet too wise and too necessary to be rejected."

In other words, at least some Founding Fathers disagreed on the subject, but accepted the Constitution as a whole, for the better good.

I could continue further but this little bit should allow you to exercise your obvious hostility toward me. Just let me end with this: I agree with Madison. I just disagree with making flat, unnuanced statements about History. That way leads to greater ignorance, not more enlightenment.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 12, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

tRex wrote:

"The problem is that discrimination against atheists is written into a number of state constitutions in the form of barring them from public office, showing that atheism qua atheism is considered illegitimate by theists in this country and that the issue extends far past mere disagreement.

In fact, there could hardly be stronger evidence that refutes your ill-considered generalization than the fact that discrimination against atheists has been routinely codified into law."
_____________________

tRex, you are conflating two separate issues. My contention in the sentence you cited was that the mere refusal to vote for someone does not constitute a belief that the refusal to believe in God should be a formal restriction on holding office.

That is considerably different from restrictions in State's constitutions which predate the current situation. In fact, the presence of such lingering restrictions argues against the idea that current political activity by fundamentalist Christians is somehow new or more threatening. Back when those restrictions found their way into States' constitutions, the idea that religion should influence public policy was unquestioned. Not so today, obviously.

Such restrictions are also a counter to cmdicely's contention that the Founding Fathers considered the First Amendment to be directed at the States. They and their successors wouldn't have put such restrictions (or left them) in their State constitutions if that belief had been the consensus opinion at the time of ratification of the US Constitution.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 12, 2007 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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