Saturday, June 14, 2008

GOP Constitutional Dishonor

Yesterday I threw rocks at John McCain over Habeas Corpus, evidently I didn't spread my net widely enough, there's plenty of discredit to go around the ranks of Republicans. Lindsey Graham and others had plenty to say on the issue. Lindsy first up:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed Thursday to do everything in his power to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision on Guantanamo Bay detainees, saying that, “if necessary,” he would push for a constitutional amendment to modify the decision.

A former military prosecutor, Graham blasted the decision as “irresponsible and outrageous,” echoing the sentiments of many congressional Republicans and President Bush.
“The American people are going to wake up tomorrow and be shocked to hear that a member of Al Qaeda has the same constitutional rights as an American citizen,” said Graham.

“[Even] the Nazis never had that right.”
George II finds the situation a bit disturbing:
“We'll abide by the Court's decision,” said Bush. “That doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It's a deeply divided Court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented, and their dissent was based upon their serious concerns about U.S. national security.”
Bush said he would study the opinion and “determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate” in order to protect the American people.
Sen. John Coryn says the Court is
"moving the goal posts on what the constitution requires" by changing the existing law regarding the rights of detainees.

"It is up to us now to try and come back and address the court's concerns," said Cornyn, who said the decision should prompt Congress to review the Military Commission Act and possibly the Detainee Treatment Act.
For real lunacy about the effects leave it to Rep Duncan Hunter,
“This decision will come at a cost.

“The Supreme Court just moved us closer to the day when U.S. Marine rifle teams will have to have lawyers read Miranda rights to terrorists captured on the battlefield.”
At some point following 9/11 some people lost their minds, the fact that simple tools like box cutters and airplanes could destroy buildings created a wave of fear in the populace which was fanned and put to use by pols. The simplicity of the terrorists' tools incited these fear mongers to make an assault on our legal system. Along with the legal system our mental facilities also were assaulted. One only need read the outraged comments to see that.

Graham's outrage pushes him to talk of amending the Constitution to take care of the problem. Evidently it never occurred to Graham previously that the Constitution wasn't an optional document over ruled by a Republican Congress. The shift in tactics was brought about by battle field conditions with irregular combatants, people fighting without a government and therefore outside the Geneva Conventions in the eyes of BushCo. Faced with the alternative of treating captured individuals as soldiers or criminals, they decided on a sort of middle course, taking them as criminals but staying out of criminal court by classifying them as enemy combatants.

Somehow Bush and his lackey Congress had the idea they could create an entirely new class of criminal without running afoul of the Constitution. The Constitution is clear about when Habeas Corpus can be suspended and none of the conditions existed. Prisoners of war do not have criminal protections as they are lawful combatants and as such can be held until the cessation of hostilities or otherwise paroled. The middle ground enabled BushCo to mistreat (read torture) detainees without violating the Geneva Conventions and yet hold the detainees as though they were criminals without going to trial. The Supreme Court repeatedly ruled narrowly against the Administration on two occasions but they evidently didn't take the hints. Finally the Supremes ruled broadly in regard to Habeas Corpus making it clear that regardless of citizenship and assertions of danger Constitutional law pertained to all held by the US.

Despite the hysteria by Republican types this scarcely portends disaster, the government now must show in a court of law that people are being held for valid reasons and bring charges against them. The only disaster is that the government is no longer under the illusion that it can disappear people or hold kangaroo courts. The Supreme Court has decided that despite the ideas of George II, the United States of America belongs to the civilized community of law. Too bad for him, I guess.

I suppose I could bring up the the issue that the whiners quoted above are disgraces to the offices they hold and bring dishonor on their constituents. Those people have recourse to the ballot to address this embarrassment, or perhaps they're not embarrassed - that would say something, wouldn't it. Years ago a psychological study showed that any mid-sized city could supply sufficient manpower to run a concentration camp from deference to authority. Sadly, there doesn't appear to have been a large improvement in the quality of people. What is truly sad is how many have migrated into positions of authority. I can remember, in the distant past, when the Republican Party actually stood for some kind of principles...well, it was a long time ago.


Kathy Jackson said...

Today McClatchy published a long article about Guantanamo detainees. Major point: most of those sent there were the wrong guys, often based on tribal feuds, neighborly grudges, bounty-hunting and sometimes just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here's the link:

Bpaul said...

There is some touting of ex-guantanamo detainees becoming suicide bombers now.

That raises a few questions:

How'd you identify the body, when it had bombs strapped all over it?

How did you know that it wasn't the treatment the person received in Guantanamo that made them want to be a suicide bomber?

The whole thing is sickening.


Kathy Jackson said...

If you want to understand something about the psychology of someone swept up by anti-terror hysteria, I suggest you read "In the Name of the Father" by Gerry Conlon, a young Irishman who spent 14 years in a British prison during the "Troubles."

On my blog I make some pertinent comments between the parallels between the British treatment of detainees in Northern Ireland and U.S. treatment of Guantanamo detainees. Here's the link:

jsg said...

Graham and his ilk are just positioning themselves to shout "I told you so!" if anything bad happens. Don't hold your breath waiting for that Constitutional amendment. Graham wouldn't recognize the Constitution if you rolled it up and whacked him on the nose with it. They'll ask DHS to move the Rainbow of Terror up to Orange and leave it at that.