Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Sheesh! What Do You Want? Our Lawyers Said It Was Legal...
The Bush administration works sooo hard to circumvent the checks and balances of the US governmental system that the shambles being created will take years to resolve.
I believe this is deliberate. I believe the movers and shakers in this administration (and their allies in Congress) are so focused on achieving their goals in spite of the legal and structural restrictions, that the aftermath will drag at the government for a long time.
Take the current "Military Commissions Act of 2006" (pdf) (please!) It was introduced after the Supreme Court (SC) handed down rulings against the current US policy of detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the use of secret CIA prisons to hold people without any rights. The administration's response? Create a law which seems destined for challenge up to the Supreme Court. The buying of six months to two years before the SC actually hands down a ruling? Priceless.
I think the actors of the administration construct blatantly shaky legal rationales and arguments as ways to circumvent the law. While these are challenged and being appealed (and I doubt all of them are challenged), these policies can be carried out. They can say things like "Of course we'll abide by the SC's decision when it's handed down." Meanwhile, X amount of time has passed, X number of prisoners have been detained, X number of people have been subjected to "stress positions."
This is a calculated tactic. They aggressively use the law as a means of furthering their goals despite their legal and moral turpitude. I don't use a term like "turpitude" lightly. Under Section 948b. Military commissions generally (pdf) is this nugget:
(g) GENEVA CONVENTIONS NOT ESTABLISHING SOURCE OF RIGHTS. -No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights.And of course we trust our government to treat these "alien unlawful enemy combatants" fairly because the USA always treats people around the world humanely, right? I doubt the military would abuse people accused of "unlawfully" shooting and bombing them. (I'm not questioning the military code of honor but, rather, how the military would treat people specifically defined (by this law) as being outside the considerations of the code of honor.)
Despite the Bush administration's claim that the "War on Terror" is a new kind of war against a new kind of enemy, these kinds of attacks and combatants are not new. This ad campaign is designed to paint our government-designated enemies as subhuman savages, undeserving of civilized treatment accorded "legitimate" adversaries. This is the newest version of "Asians don't value life like we [non-Asians] do." (attributed to General William C. Westmoreland) Prez Bush even said the same thing in at least one speech:
These are the folks who hijacked a great religion, and take innocent life without any hesitation. See, they don't value life like we do. In America, everybody counts. Every life has worth, every life is precious. That's not the way the enemy thinks. The enemy doesn't care. They've got these designs on America, because we love freedom.I see this as typical demonizing of the "enemy," a sophism designed to allow dehumanizing treatment of prisoners. The underlying postulate is "Our enemies are less-than-human therefore we have no responsibility to treat them as human."
Perhaps you think me a soft-headed liberal fool, incapable of grasping the hard and necessary acts needed to prevail in this war. Perhaps I am. But my view is that the US government has, for the last 60 years,consistentlyy and aggressively gone after the wrong people in the wrong countries for the wrong reasons. I can't think of a single exception. So you'll excuse me if I am less than sanguine about this administration's current military adventures.
I go along with Smedley Butler's book title: War is a Racket.