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Tilting at Windmills

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February 20, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

JUSTICE AT GUANTANAMO....A couple of months ago Col. Morris Davis, chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, wrote an op-ed in the LA Times explaining that he had resigned his post after he was placed in the chain of command under Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes. Today he sheds some further light on his decision in an interview with Ross Tuttle of The Nation:

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes — the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. "[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, something that had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.'"

Davis submitted his resignation on October 4, 2007, just hours after he was informed that Haynes had been put above him in the commissions' chain of command. "Everyone has opinions," Davis says. "But when he was put above me, his opinions became orders."

The analogy to Nuremberg, of course, is pretty inexact. Nobody in 1946 was worried about whether a few acquitted Nazis were going to continue the war if they were released. But Davis's interview nonetheless highlights the fact that not only haven't we figured out what to do in cases like this, but the Bush administration isn't even interested in seriously thinking about the questions. What do you do with prisoners captured in a war where there are no uniforms, no fixed field of battle, no beginning, and no end? How do you make sure you treat them fairly? How do you gather evidence and whose testimony do you trust? What's more important in the long run: the moral high ground gained by fair trials — as in Nuremberg — or the possibility that a small number of the guilty will go free and continue to plan acts of terrorism?

These aren't trivial issues, but Haynes's approach — torture is OK, kangaroo trials are OK, just make sure everyone is convicted and locked up forever — is better suited to a banana republic dictatorship than it is to the foremost democracy on the planet. Even Colin Powell has figured that out by now; why can't George Bush?

Kevin Drum 2:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Even Colin Powell has figured that out by now; why can't George Bush?

Great question Kevin! Most unfathomable of all the questions of life.

Posted by: gregor on February 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Even Colin Powell has figured that out by now; why can't George Bush?

Because Prezidentin' is hard work, and thinking's even harder work, and boring work too. Much more fun to strut around all macho-like and pretend to be doing something important to keep America safe.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 20, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

there are a lot of ways a democracy can be destroyed. eroding the right to fair trials is one of them.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on February 20, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

There are Bad Guys, Kevin. Bad Guys that scare people like Al and Cheney. So we must be just like them to defeat them. But that is OK, 'cause we are Good Guys.

Got it?

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 20, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

A handful of rich patrons being waited on by comely wenches with fruit baskets on their heads and protected by private armies as they force the thousands of peasants to work their plantations for coconuts. Isn't turning our great nation into a banana republic the Republican dream for America? All of their policies for the last 8 years seem to indicate that's what they want America to become. Well maybe not the comely wenches part. As Larry Craig et al have taught us lots and lots of Republicans are not really interested in the opposite sex.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 20, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

There's a really great movie called "Repentance" (link is to IMDB listing), which incorporates a mordant parody of totalitarian methods of repression. This takes place in Georgia in the late 1920's when the intellectuals have been sacked and the secret police are illiterate lumpen. At one point the feeble minded police inspector for the town rounds up hundreds of men with the same first name as that of the guy the despot wants. The despot is furious with his halfwit henchman, but eventually takes pity on him and keeps the detainees in jail.


BTW, "exiled without permission to correspond" was an official euphemism for "executed."

Posted by: James R MacLean on February 20, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

You seem to have the assumption that everyone in Guantanamo is guilty--we somehow "know" that--so if we set any of them free we'll be endangering ourselves. A great many of the prisoners were arrested on the basis of dubious evidence that met no objective standard for truth. They've never been formally charged. Department General Counsel Haynes isn't worried about letting terrorists go. He's worried about exposing the Bush Administration's shameful record of deceit and injustice to the light of day.

Posted by: Alan Vanneman on February 20, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

As Larry Craig et al have taught us lots and lots of Republicans are not really interested in the opposite sex.

Yes, I think so too. The reason, IMHO, is that we are talking about the establishment of a banana republic, not its decadence. In the latter days of a banana republic's slid into pre-capitalistic, pre-feudalistic torpor, the scions are connoisseurs of feminine pulchritude.

Posted by: James R MacLean on February 20, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

because idiot son is a thuggish little turd who gets his jollies lording it over people.

Posted by: linda on February 20, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Haynes the guy tasked with timing these trials for the fall elections? Yes, I'm sure it's all good faith debate about what to do with the Very Bad Men.

Posted by: Rebecca on February 20, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

There's no mystery about George Bush. America elected a frat boy president, and he has behaved as expected: shallow, mean, and stupid.

However, there is a significant mystery about people with legal and military training, people who can easily recall the WW2 trials that included Nuremberg as well as more recent trials like Pinochet and Milosevic. Why aren't they envisioning themselves in the docks of a future war crimes trial? Because I can, and I'm not alone.

Posted by: travis on February 20, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

When did Colin Powell get it ?

Posted by: ed_finnerty on February 20, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

These aren't trivial issues, but Haynes's approach — torture is OK, kangaroo trials are OK, just make sure everyone is convicted and locked up forever — is better suited to a banana republic dictatorship than it is to the foremost democracy on the planet.

Given a choice between those two, do you really think these folks are going to reach for your foremost democracy? This isn't about the rule of law. This is about control.

And lest we forget, this isn't Haynes's approach. Absolute control is this administration's raison d'être.

Posted by: junebug on February 20, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's even so much about throwing labels like 'kangaroo court' and 'banana republic' and 'not for our democracy' on things. Some people don't understand those phrases too well. I think it's more that our usual procedures for investigating crime and proving guilt of crime work well enough. Lots of people in America get convicted and we basically have lots of pretty safe areas. To throw out our usual rules then has to be just an effort to make certain people look good- it's politics getting control of the crime-investigating process.

Posted by: Swan on February 20, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is really depressing. I had always thought that the "everybody at Guantanamo must be a bad guy" world view was restricted to hacks enlisted with the 102nd Fighting Keyboarders. You never want to hear that highly placed people in the justice system think it also.

Look, I could believe that everyone in Guantanamo was a bad guy - if we proved it out in the open like a democracy is supposed to do. Too bad Mr. Haynes doesn't want to do that.

Posted by: mmy on February 20, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

torture is OK, kangaroo trials are OK, just make sure everyone is convicted and locked up forever..... Even Colin Powell has figured that out by now; why can't George Bush?

Becuase even before becoming President, he had never met an execution that he didn't like.....

Consideration of other viewpoints OR admission of the possibilty of error simply isn't in the behavioral repertiore.....


Posted by: Paul Dirks on February 20, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK
This is really depressing. I had always thought that the "everybody at Guantanamo must be a bad guy" world view was restricted to hacks enlisted with the 102nd Fighting Keyboarders. You never want to hear that highly placed people in the justice system think it also.

We already knew that it was shared with people at the highest ranks of the Executive Branch, including the President, Vice President, and at least the former Secretary of Defense. Finding that lower-ranking people in the Executive Branch, who were selected by those who we know already hold that view, share that view should not be surprising.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 20, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK
However, there is a significant mystery about people with legal and military training, people who can easily recall the WW2 trials that included Nuremberg as well as more recent trials like Pinochet and Milosevic. Why aren't they envisioning themselves in the docks of a future war crimes trial?

My guess is that, by this time, they can and have been able to for quite some time (why they didn't earlier is another question); at this point, though, that mostly just reinforces their desire to assure that the facts of the conduct of this administration never come to light, no matter how much of what America supposedly stands for has to be sacrificed to assure that.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 20, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"What do you do with prisoners captured in a war where there are no uniforms, no fixed field of battle, no beginning, and no end?"

Umm . . . acknowledge that it's not a war? Treat attacks on civilians by civilians as what they are -- crimes? Investigate, detect, and prevent attacks using proven methods of law enforcement?

Or, start a ground war against an unrelated state in the Middle East.

Posted by: Kyron Huigens on February 20, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

The way Kevin words things is so completely screwed up.

...or the possibility that a small number of the guilty will go free and continue to plan acts of terrorism?

Oh, Col. Davis was PLANNING on letting some terrorist go JUST to "lent credibility to the proceedings". I'm positive Col. Morris Davis had such intentions.

Instead, there is a very real probability that the innocent will be incarcerated indefinitely, thus no evidences needs to be applied, and thus, really the practice of law need not apply either. This is NOT even remotely comparable to Nuremberg. Bush and Cheney have no interest in a democratic government, no interest in laws, only complete fabrications.

It's just too bad that people like Col. Morris Davis AND Colin Powell simply resign and thus feel they have washed their collective hands of all the illegal things they have seen and what they have witnessed this administration doing, the anti-democratic proceedings, and laws this administration lay waste too. These man pretending they didn't see it and were not a big part of it, but they were a big part of it, and it doesn't make it go away or decrease the fault of these men for having stood by and done nothing.


Posted by: me-again on February 20, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

er, that should be: I'm positive Col. Morris Davis had NO such intentions.

Posted by: me-again on February 20, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

What do you do with prisoners captured in a war where there are no uniforms, no fixed field of battle, no beginning, and no end?

I reject the premise of the question, as this question accepts the Bush regime framing that we are in a "war". We're not at war with al Qaeda -- they're a criminal terrorist organization, and they should be dealt with as we've successfully dealt with criminal terrorists ranging from the KKK to the Weathermen to the 1933 WTC bombers to Tim McVeigh, by trying them for their crimes and convicting them if found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For Christ's sake, stop lapping up the pablum they're trying to feed you.

Posted by: Stefan on February 20, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

What's more important in the long run: the moral high ground gained by fair trials — as in Nuremberg — or the possibility that a small number of the guilty will go free and continue to plan acts of terrorism?

Again, I reject your framing. "Moral high ground"? This isn't some airy-fairy moral high ground -- it's the very base and structure upon which we build our criminal justice system.
This is the same question faced by the courts every day, and it's one that's been decisively answered -- it's preferable to let ten guilty men go rather than to send one innocent man to jail. If you wanted to be sure, of course, we could just simply lock up forever anyone even accused of rape, murder, robbery, kidnapping, drug dealing, purse snatching, etc. -- that would certainly eliminate the possibility that a small number of the guilty might be acquitted....

Posted by: Stefan on February 20, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Even Colin Powell has figured that out by now; why can't George Bush?

Bush can figure it out, but to admit it would be to admit error, something the Decider in Chief is incapable of.

Posted by: David Bailey on February 20, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK
…. Lots of people in America get convicted and we basically have lots of pretty safe areas….. Swan at 2:43 PM

Well enough is not good enough for a country that still embraces the barbarism of the death penalty and which often sends minor children to trial and prison as adults.

Lots of people in America get falsely convicted: the poor, the brown, the downtrodden. There are a lot of safe areas, not only gated communities with private security. The notion that crime is rampant is part of Republican Law 'N Order election campaign fearmongering

It is obvious that politics, the politics of hate, fear and prejudice, are a large part of the American judicial system already.

Posted by: Mike on February 20, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

"[Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.'"
_______________________

If this is a true reflection of Haynes's understanding of the situation, then he's an idiot. The very nature of how and where most of these prisoners came into our custody means that the chain of custody for evidence was very often broken or missing. Under such circumstances it should be expected that "not guilty" is often going to be the verdict no matter what the prisoner has actually done and no matter what court venue is used.

Military campaigns are not designed to provide courts with evidence, they are designed to remove the enemy from the field. If the desired goal was the conviction of criminals, they should have sent in the FBI. Unfortunately, the criminals were imbedded in groups that were much too strong for any combination of law enforcement agencies to handle.

This Administration, or the next one, will have to become reconciled to the fact that many of these trials, perhaps most of them, will result in verdicts of "not guilty," even if the defendants remain mortally dangerous.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 20, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Even Colin Powell has figured that out by now; why can't George Bush?"

Because George Bush is a dangerous imbecile, that's why.

Posted by: CT on February 20, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Nuremberg-like trials are for war-time political and military leaders. When a member of the W. Bush military leadership uses Nuremberg as an analogy for the trials of non-state combatants, that is worse than just a poor choice of examples; it is a deliberate obfuscation of both Nuremberg and the seriousness of the 'crimes' of the alleged combatants. Nuremberg-like trials are for people like W. Bush and Rumsfeld, in order to hold them responsible for the millions of people they have killed or displaced. I hope someday W. Bush and his generals will have to face such trials and punishments that their analogous counterparts faced in 1946.

Posted by: Brojo on February 20, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 20, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK
Haynes's approach- torture is OK, kangaroo trials are OK, just make sure everyone is convicted and locked up forever- is better suited to a banana republic dictatorship than it is to the foremost democracy on the planet.

Sadly enough, I think that the US ceased to be any sort of democracy with Bush v. Gore in 2000.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on February 20, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Even Colin Powell has figured that out by now; why can't George Bush?" he said, as if he there was ever any doubt about why.

Grrr. This is how you sometimes annoy the fsck out of me, Kevin.

Posted by: s9 on February 20, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Given the fact that many of the detainees were grabbed off the streets and given over to the US military for bounty makes the whole Guantanamo mess even more absurd and increases the likelihood of many being innocent bystanders. Remember the horrific treatment of some detainees, being stuffed into 'containers' and left for days in the sun. How much testimony was coerced from detainees through harsh treatment or torture? Even a rudimentary notion of justice requires free and open trials, with no 'evidence' of torture, mistreatment, etc. being withheld from defense counsel.

Posted by: nepeta on February 20, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

At least half of the original 800 or so Gitmo detainees---all alleged to be the "worst of the worst"---have already been released. The one "trial" of the Australian would be---a pretty pathetic guy---ended up with a sentence of time-served plus 7-9 months---provided he did not talk to the press. So the track record is not so hot. The high value prisoners are a different lot, of course. If some of those cases are as tainted as Col. Davis thinks they may be (he resigned over it, remember, not something a career officer does lightly), this could be a real embarrassment. I predict it will drag past the election, and moreover, that this was planned so as to keep the heat of the present administration and pass the buck. Something that W seems to good at.

Posted by: jhh112 on February 20, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

If this is a true reflection of Haynes's understanding of the situation, then he's an idiot.

Yes, he is, and his idiocy is a direct product of the views of his political superiors in the White House.

It's this kind of thinking that we're been trying to make you aware of over the past few years. Starting to capiche now?

The very nature of how and where most of these prisoners came into our custody means that the chain of custody for evidence was very often broken or missing...Military campaigns are not designed to provide courts with evidence, they are designed to remove the enemy from the field.

Particularly when many prisoners in Guantanamo WERE NEVER EVEN ON THE BATTEFIELD. They were rounded up in security sweeps and turned in by personal enemies under dubious circumstances.

By definition there is no "chain of evidence" for turning some guy you don't like over to Americans who don't require it and are all too happy to pay you.

Under such circumstances it should be expected that "not guilty" is often going to be the verdict no matter what the prisoner has actually done and no matter what court venue is used.

Yes, when people are not guilty it is unsurprising that they deserve a verdict that reflects that.

Also: Afghanis taking up arms against an invading American army aren't "terrorists." They are, at worst, guilty of defending their homeland.

Posted by: trex on February 20, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

>We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.

Uh...Hello dumb humans. Haynes just told everyone why the entire U.S. military should be wiped off the face of the earth.

I'll approve any method; We don't need Haynes, or anyone like him; or any organization like the U.S. military, or any system like it, in the world.

I'll see what I can do. It won't be pretty but getting rid of evil never is.

Posted by: James on February 20, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Kevin, what makes the whole thing absurd, and thus rendering any indicments from the tribunal is that Haynes admittedly prejudiced himself prior to the hearings.
Hence, the whole thing is either...

A: A farce which will be exposed from the getgo, and thus a hue and a cry will end it because of some technical issue of law that undermines the commission and Hayne's "hang'em all!" mentality.

or

B: Any conviction handed down will automatically be appealed due to the prejudicidal nature of the presiding commissioner which is now writ in the public record.

Either way, this pretty much delegitimizes anything this commission is set up to do.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 20, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

What do you do with prisoners captured in a war where there are no uniforms, no fixed field of battle, no beginning, and no end? How do you make sure you treat them fairly? How do you gather evidence and whose testimony do you trust? What's more important in the long run: the moral high ground gained by fair trials — as in Nuremberg — or the possibility that a small number of the guilty will go free and continue to plan acts of terrorism?

There's a lot of confusion in the above section in that it conflates two very different concepts, i.e. that of prisoners taken in an armed conflict with that of criminal suspects. If they're prisoners captured in a war, then they have to be treated under applicable international and US law governing the treatment of such prisoners, i.e. the Geneva Conventions, etc., and can't be charged with a crime for the mere act of being combatants (even if they're fighting out of uniform).

On the other hand, if you're charging these people with a crime, then the fact that they're also combatants in a war is kind of irrelevant, because by charging them with a crime you're putting them in the criminal justice system, and therefore affording them the rights (due process, presumption of innocence, right to counsel, etc. etc.) attendant to that. And if you want to treat them as criminals, then yes, you do have to observe certain niceties like actually, you know, having evidence of such.

The Bush regime, of course, has created and fostered this confusion by having it both ways whenever it suits their purpose (it's a war, except when the Geneva Conventions are supposed to apply, which they suddenly don't because these guys are criminals, except that they're suddenly not entitled to a trial because they're not criminals but fighters in a war, except when the Geneva Conventions should apply, round and round in an endless Escher loop of illogic). But it's disheartening to see even our liberal commentators getting gulled by this nonsense.

Posted by: Stefan on February 20, 2008 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

I told you, they're a bunch of goddam Banana Republicans. That's who's in charge right now, that's who's running their party and our nation.

Posted by: anonymous on February 20, 2008 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

The very nature of how and where most of these prisoners came into our custody means that the chain of custody for evidence was very often broken or missing. Under such circumstances it should be expected that "not guilty" is often going to be the verdict no matter what the prisoner has actually done and no matter what court venue is used.

Yes, indeed, if you don't have any credible evidence that the person you're charging with a crime actually committed the crime you shouldn't be too surprised to get a not guilty verdict.

This should not be a very controversial position, and yet once again the Bush regime has suceeded in debasing us so that it seems to be so....

Posted by: Stefan on February 20, 2008 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has ever dealt with a county sheriff recognizes this. The absolute infallibility of the police and prosecutors must be maintained at all costs; any crack in that facade and the whole system disintegrates.

At one point a few years ago it was fashionable to suggest that Mr. Bush thought of himself as a king. In fact, it appears that he thinks of himself as something much worse than a king: a county sheriff.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on February 20, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Nobody in 1946 was worried about whether a few acquitted Nazis were going to continue the war if they were released"

Weren't there Germans during WWII caught on the mainland US plotting terrorist acts? Surely, there was always a possibility of Germans wanting revenge, and with the Japanese in the Pacific, even after the end of WWII.

And there are guilty criminals released after fair trials, who then go on to commit crimes again, everyday. It's something we live with.

The only thing that is different now is the simpering cowardice from the "everything is different now" crowd. Strange, how often Mr. Drum repeats this garbage. I know he's a liberal hawk and all. But still.

Posted by: luci on February 20, 2008 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

How do you make sure you treat them fairly? How do you gather evidence and whose testimony do you trust?

Oh, if only we had long-standing and well-established statutes, procedures and precedent going back hundreds of years governing the rules of evidence in criminal trials! Why did we never think to establish such until now, when it's too late.....!

Posted by: Stefan on February 20, 2008 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

The analogy to Nuremberg, of course, is pretty inexact.

No, the analogy to Nuremberg is pretty exact.

Nobody in 1946 was worried about whether a few acquitted Nazis were going to continue the war if they were released.

What??? Perhaps nobody was worried that they wouldn't continue the war at that exact moment, but they were certainly worried that any acquitted Nazis would literally have gotten away with genocide and assorted other war crimes on a vast scale, and that they would then have a destabilizing influence on attempts to create a democratic German state that would not be tempted again towards Nazism and would not invade its neighbors. And yet even so, the trials were conducted in a fair and even-handed manner.

Posted by: Stefan on February 20, 2008 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK
What's more important in the long run: the moral high ground gained by fair trials — as in Nuremberg — or the possibility that a small number of the guilty will go free and continue to plan acts of terrorism?

Doesn't the loss of the moral high ground help future terrorists to justify their actions? Thus, isn't it possible that the lack of fair trials will actually create more terrorists than the potential acquittal of a "small number of guilty"?

Posted by: Edo on February 20, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly, Edo. But I'm cynical enough to believe that this is exactly what the Bush administration wants. More terrorists lead to more excuses to keep a large military presence in an area of the globe that the Bushies view as strategic, i.e., oil and natural gas and pipelines. That's one of the reasons they're so unwilling to change their strategy, the other reason being that most of them are abysmally stupid.

Posted by: nepeta on February 20, 2008 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Guantanamo's cells are filled with the slowest runners in Afghanistan.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 20, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

"These aren't trivial issues, but Haynes's approach � torture is OK, kangaroo trials are OK, just make sure everyone is convicted and locked up forever � is better suited to a banana republic dictatorship than it is to the foremost democracy on the planet."

That's very true, but Kevin's inference that the US is "the foremost democracy on earth" is highly debatable. It certainly isn't the first, the largest, the best or the fairest. Voter suppression, the 2000 debacle, the galloping obscenity of campaign finance & costs, the absence of uniform national standards in electoral procedure, the corruptability of electronic voting machines, "caging" and the archaic Electoral College, among other things, make the American practice of democracy somewhat less than the planet's "foremost".

Posted by: DanJoaquinOz on February 21, 2008 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, we did think about it...at Nuremberg. And the consensus from that was that some Nazis might be innocent of war crimes under legal jurisdiction at the time. Why some alleged terrorists might not be innocent of the crimes they are accused of by the Bush regime is a question that that same regime apparently fears answering.

Posted by: parrot on February 21, 2008 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

We shouldn't be worrying about acquitting some of these guys, "because then they might go out and commit more terrorist acts."

The pool of willing jihadis is in the millions. A few more will make exactly no difference. Any terrorist act that Osama or anybody else may be planning will be easily staffed, with or without any ex-Guantanamo inmates. It's not like letting loose a serial killer.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on February 21, 2008 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

"Nobody in 1946 was worried about whether a few acquitted Nazis were going to continue the war if they were released."
=================================================
That was a whole different situation. The Nuremberg prosecutors SHOULD have been concerned, as history has shown, because many of the acquitted Nazis did in fact continue the war after they were released. Their legacy is, indirectly, our current regime.

A major difference between then and now is that those held at Gitmo are foot soldiers, not the financiers, scientists and spooks of the supposed terrorist network. Actually, most of them apparently aren't even foot-soldiers, just victims of sloppy police-work.

Posted by: JeremiadJones on February 21, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK
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