Monday, June 16, 2008

The Gitmo Farce

Republicans are going crazy in response to the Supreme Court's ruling that military detainees have a right to challenge their confinement in federal court. You would think that life as we know it has ended, that the reinforcement of an ancient right of people to challenge their incarceration's validity is something new under the sun. You will die in your bed because a right a common rapist has is afforded to people swept up by the law enforcement professionals in the ranks of soldiers in foreign lands. You are to believe that because they are held that they constitute the worst of the worst. Maybe some are, but that isn't all inclusive.

McClatchy has conducted an unprecedented compilation of interviews of released detainees, foreign officials, and US officials regarding the value and risk posed by detainees. The results are stomach churning. People have been held for years and subjected to mistreatment for little more than tribal grudges or as low ranking Taliban grunts. It is a horror show of self-reinforcing attitudes and perceptions fostered by the Bush Administration and its lackeys in Congress. It is an offense against the concept of marginally civilized behavior enshrined in the Magna Carta, AD 1215. The fates of over 770 individuals became political footballs for the Republican fear machine, it is the oldest game in politics, these people are bad and a threat because it pleases us to say so and scare you into supporting us.

It is instructive to look at the case of Mohammed Akhtiar, per McClatchy whom I quote at length to make this clear:

The militants crept up behind Mohammed Akhtiar as he squatted at the spigot to wash his hands before evening prayers at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

They shouted "Allahu Akbar" — God is great — as one of them hefted a metal mop squeezer into the air, slammed it into Akhtiar's head and sent thick streams of blood running down his face.

Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as "the worst of the worst."

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo's Camp Four who hissed "infidel" and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn't: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

"He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government," a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.
This man spent three years in brutal conditions at the hands of the United States with no ability to do anything about it. He was not a POW taken in conflict, he was BushCo's shadow criminal, one with no rights afforded to criminals or those accused of being criminal. He was bad, simply because BushCo said so. What reaction would you expect from people held in such a manner by our government? Uncritical love? Why should the world at large or even ourselves regard us as better than common thugs?
An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.
Lindsey Graham wants to amend the Constitution to protect us from this? We are protected by our government's adherence to laws and the limitations set upon it and its laws, not by kidnapping and abusing people.
One former administration official said the White House's initial policy and legal decisions "probably made instances of abuse more likely. ... My sense is that decisions taken at the top probably sent a signal that the old rules don't apply ... certainly some people read what was coming out of Washington: The gloves are off, this isn't a Geneva world anymore."
Try to wrap your head around this, no rules, just the word of a man, the President is now supposed to be the law. Even the Soviets in the Cold War made a pretense of acting under the color of law and yet George II isn't to be held to even that weak standard. The people who ratified the Constitution would have hung him from a tree. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are supposed to be a brake on the impulse of government to accrue power to itself at the expense of the people.

I am an ardent opponent of capital punishment but the actions of BushCo lead me to question that stance. The behavior of an individual acting in defiance of our laws to perpetrate horrid crimes arouses many to to blood lust, but I cannot see how that is more despicable than the behavior of these people acting under cover of governmental force to deny basic human rights to people taken at gun point in a foreign land. The fact that the people of the US have tolerated this is a blot on our national character that will be a long time stain. The fact that our legislators aided and abetted this calls into question the oaths they swore. The fact that this was a 5-4 decision says quite a bit about activist judges. Those who are not shamed by this should be shunned by all conscious individuals - fact is they'll get re-elected. We're a damn mess. A bunch of knee quaking pussies. Pah. I spit on them and George II better never get within that range of me or he'll get wet.


ThePoliticalCat said...


Bpaul said...

Makes me sick too, very much so.

The complacency with which people accepted the stripping of habeas corpus just stunned me.

There is precious little protecting us from our government, and the last 8 years have damaged all of it: search warrants, right to privacy, habeas corpus -- gah.



Paul said...

Hey Chuck - Well said. Well said.
The GOP reaction to this is so out of bounds that it's actually hard for me to wrap my head around. It's almost like the conclusion the supreme court came to is so self-evident that it's sad they even had to adjudicate on the issue in the first place. how dare somebody have the right to question their imprisonment? cheers.