Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Captains Kangaroo-Courts-R-Us

Boing, boing, boing.

That's the sound of military "justice" in Bushco’s proposed Brave New World.

Hang on to your hats. Much as Demon Princess gets really tired of bad news with regard to this Administration’s neglect of the rule of law, she can’t in good conscience let this go by unremarked. News today (WaPo, title bar) that the Administration has floated legislation responding to the Hamdan decision, which said that the way Bushco has so far been treating detainees--indefinite detention without trial, among other things--is illegal. The Court sent Bushco back to Congress with instructions to cobble together something that's not. Bushco has masterfully seized the initiative to tell Congress what it should do--we cannot any longer imagine Congress seizing the initiative & telling Bushco how it's going to be, can we?

The result is, as you might have guessed, every bit as ludicrous as the "legislation" Arlen Specter proposed regarding warrantless spying, and so, so secret that the Administration was reluctant to even brief the people who would be passing it in detail regarding its provisions. All this extreme cloak 'n dagger drama is wearing a bit thin, is it not?

Demon Princess, with her usual prescience, predicts that, like Arlen's bill, Bushco's maneuver here is designed to be set up & sold to the stupid American public as a hard-won compromise when it definitely is not. Thus, they've set the game up so as to demand everything they wish the legislation would contain, no matter how beyond the pale it is.

"Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

"Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals.

"An early draft of the new measure prepared by civilian political appointees and leaked to the media last week has been modified in response to criticism from uniformed military lawyers. But the provisions allowing a future expansion of the courts to cover new crimes and more prisoners were retained, according to government officials familiar with the deliberations.

"The military lawyers received the draft after the rest of the government had agreed on it. They have argued in recent days for retaining some routine protections for defendants that the political appointees sought to jettison, an administration official said.

"They objected in particular to the provision allowing defendants to be tried in absentia, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to describe the deliberations. Another source in contact with top military lawyers said, 'Their initial impression is that the draft was unacceptable and sloppy.' The source added that 'it did not have enough due-process rights' and could further tarnish America's image.

"The military lawyers nonetheless supported extending the jurisdiction of the commissions to cover those accused of joining or associating with terrorist groups engaged in anti-U.S. hostilities, and of committing or aiding hostile acts by such groups, whether or not they are part of al-Qaeda, two U.S. officials said.

"That language gives the commissions broader reach than anticipated in a November 2001 executive order from President Bush that focused only on members of al-Qaeda, those who commit international terrorist acts and those who harbor such individuals.

"Some independent experts say the new procedures diverge inappropriately from existing criminal procedures and provide no more protections than the ones struck down by the Supreme Court as inadequate. John D. Hutson, the Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: 'We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty.'

"Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration, said after reviewing the leaked draft that 'the theme of the government seems to be 'They are guilty anyway, and therefore due process can be slighted.' " With these procedures, Fein said, 'there is a real danger of getting a wrong verdict' that would let a lower-echelon detainee 'rot for 30 years' at Guantanamo Bay because of evidence contrived by personal enemies.'"

Seeing's that a number of detainees were sold to rival factions & subsequently ended up in Gitmo, & the increasing intensity of the civil war in Iraq (that all the rest of the world seems to realize is well underway despite our denial), the inability of a detainee to confront his accuser & the lax rules regarding hearsay evidence are a guarantee that no real justice will be served, & the United States will end up running gulags indefinitely. Which, BTW, will only radicalize more people in the Middle East against us.

And, in case you're of the opinion that none of this will affect anybody in America unless they have ties to terrorists, think again. This miserably drafted piece of legislation would also allow Bushco to designate Americans as "enemies of the state," as is made clear in this article appearing in Tom Paine Common Sense today.

"Who, precisely, can be considered an 'enemy combatant' and how the designation is made remains ambiguous. 'Enemy combatant' is a phrase unanchored in international law.

"Government lawyers plucked it from the folds of a 1942 Supreme Court case concerning German saboteurs caught in the United States. Neither the Supreme Court, nor subsequent international law, clearly defined the term. And to date, the administration has declined to issue a final and conclusive definition.

"The Bush administration’s adoption of the term has been gradual. In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued a military order in which he stated that anyone who 'is or was a member of the organization known as al-Qaida' or who 'knowingly harbored' an al-Qaida member could be tried in a military commission. By June 2002, the administration took the further step of invoking the term to justify the indefinite detention of a U.S. citizen initially seized on American soil.

"In 2004, then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz issued a definition of 'enemy combatant'—but only for Guantánamo detainees, who are believed to be all non-citizens. Under the Wolfowitz definition, the government has conceded in the course of district court hearings for Guantánamo detainees, 'a person who teaches English to the son of an al-Qaida member' and a 'little old lady in Switzerland who writes checks to what she thinks is a charity that helps orphans in Afghanistan” would both be subject to detention as 'enemy combatants.'
And with carte blanche to define the overly broad term “enemy combatant,” might that designation also include American citizens who dare to disagree with Bushco policy in the Mid East in general, journalists who publish information that Bushco rather be kept secret, and any person or organization that they just don’t like? We're willing to bet that it does.


Anonymous FluffandSharon said...


3:56 PM  

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