October 18, 2006

Politics: With a Whimper... And Then a *Smack*, Then Another Whimper

In today's newspaper, in a few paragraphs on page A9, was the story of 300 million people committing suicide.

You'd think it would make a bigger noise, but apparently not.

Whatever image the United States held of itself;
Whatever ideals its people thought they had;
Whatever dream they thought the rest of the world wanted;

It's gone.

There is no ten gallon hat white enough to make the little child playing cowboy be the good guy.

Let's wander through the playing field, shall we? This is the Associated Press story as it appeared in Yahoo today (with, perhaps, a note or two of my own):

WASHINGTON - Some of the most notorious names in the war on terror are headed toward prosecution after President Bush signed a law Tuesday authorizing military trials of terrorism suspects.

Plus, of course, mystery numbers of people you've never heard of, we've never heard of, and now we hope to God we never have to.

The legislation also eliminates some of the rights defendants are usually guaranteed under U.S. law, and it authorizes continued harsh interrogations of terror suspects.

Nice little "Oh, BTW..." Note the word after "authorizes" and before "harsh".

Imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and awaiting trial are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be 9/11 hijacker, and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida cells.

Um... "was believed to be a link"? The hell do you mean "was"? Here's "was": Zubaydah is considered "insane", as in multiple personalities, by Dan Coleman, then (until 2004) the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, and was only a "link" because that's what the president Bush wanted to hear. Anyways: Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in 2003; Binalshibh was captured in Pakistan in 2002; and Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan (ignore the pattern, please) in 2002.

"With the bill I'm about to sign, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people will face justice," Bush said in a White House ceremony.

So torture is "justice", is it? Sorry, no: torture is revenge, nothing else.

The Pentagon expects to begin pre-trial motions early next year and to begin the actual trials in the summer.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that trying detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law...

What can I say? What was going on was illegal, and even with torture-loving VO5 as the Attorney General (hot oil treatment, indeed) the Supreme Court knew it.

...so Bush urged Congress to change the law during a speech on Sept. 6 in the White House East Room attended by families of the Sept. 11, 2001, victims.

Not that he'd ever, EVER politicise the event, of course!

He also insisted that the law authorize CIA agents to use tough — yet unspecified — methods to interrogate suspected terrorists.

Like the kind Syria used to get Maher Arar to confess that he took part in military combat training at an alQuaida camp in Afghanistan, despite never having been to that country? And has tried to do the same from Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin? Gosh, I feel safer already! Here, by the way, is the Arar Commission's findings: guess what they say?

Six weeks later, after a highly publicized dispute with key Republicans over the terms of the bill, Bush signed the new law "in memory of the victims of September the 11th."

Heck, signing this law is the least he could do, after how useful the "victims of September 11th" have been to him!

"It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill he knows will save American lives," Bush said. "I have that privilege this morning."

Presidents could sign bills that will save American lives at any time - one that actually produces a cleaner enviroment, for instance - it's just a matter of whether he bothers to or not. Which I suppose makes it a rare thing indeed.

Civil libertarians and leading Democrats decried the law as a violation of American values. The American Civil Liberties Union said it was "one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history." Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said, "We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation's history."

"It allows the government to seize individuals on American soil and detain them indefinitely with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court," Feingold said. "And the new law would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and even allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death."

So can you please tell me why the Hell twelve of your fellow Democrats in the Senate and thirty-four Democrats in the House voted in favour of this horrible, insane bill?

The legislation, which sets the rules for court proceedings, applies to those selected by the military for prosecution and leaves mostly unaffected the majority of the 14,000 prisoners in U.S. custody, most of whom are in Iraq. It does apply to 14 suspects who were secretly questioned by the CIA overseas and recently moved to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

For now, anyways. After them, who knows? Oh, of course: the president does!

The swift implementation of the law is a rare bit of good news for Bush as casualties mount in Iraq in daily violence. Lawmakers are increasingly calling for a change of strategy, and political anxieties are jeopardizing Republican chances of hanging onto control of Congress.

Ah, right then: tossing away habeas corpus is good news. How foolish of me to think otherwise. Well, why not? After all, North Korea having nuclear weapons is
good news to some...

Bush has been criticizing Democrats who voted against the law, called the Military Commissions Act of 2006, during campaign appearances around the country. He has suggested that votes against the law show that Democrats would not protect the country from another terrorist attack.

When asked to prove his assertion, the president grew surly and demanded candy before he would take any more questions.

Republican House leaders, in a tough battle to maintain their majority, echoed those criticisms Tuesday in an attempt to get some political points out of the legislation they supported. "The Democratic plan would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans' lives," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said.

Wow! The Republicans "echoed criticisms"? What a surprise! Why, it's almost as if they had one warped, lightly used brain between them!

Bush noted that the law came amid dispute.

File under: "No shit." Moving on.

"Over the past few months, the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex," he said. "Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously? And did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?"

And, in sixty years, the questions may be: "Why do they hate us?" and "Why are we still at war?" and "What comes after red again?"

A coalition of religious groups staged a protest against the bill outside the White House, shouting "Bush is the terrorist" and "Torture is a crime." About 15 of the protesters, standing in a light rain, refused orders to move. Police arrested them one by one.

Arrested one by one, eh? Get used to it. Fifteen people protesting this abomination. Fifteen.

The legislation says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.

Yeah, they just might - kind of like the Supreme Court of the United States did. Damn foreigners anyways.

Bush said such measures have helped the CIA gain vital information from terror suspects and have saved American lives.

Of course, they can't say what was said, or who said it, or what was stopped (national secrets, don'cha know?), but you have to wonder when this is one bust they brag about.

After Bush signed the law, CIA Director Mike Hayden sent a note to employees saying it gives them "the legal clarity and legislative support necessary to continue a program that has been one of our country's most effective tools in the fight against terrorism."

Yeah, thanks Radar. This is the same man who installed the NSA wiretapping database, citing that the executive branch of government allowed it, even if the judicial branch did not, ie. "What checks and balances? I don't see any checks and balances!" Can't imagine why Bush thought he was right for the job...

"We can be confident that our program remains — as it always has been — fully compliant with U.S. law, the Constitution and our international treaty obligations," Hayden wrote.

Uh, huh. This must be why you felt the law had to change, right? Since what you were doing was always "fully compliant" with U.S. law?

The White House has said that disclosing the techniques that are used would give the enemy information to resist those techniques. White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush would probably eventually issue an executive order that would describe his interpretation of the standards, but those documents are not usually made public.

Snow Job in action - "If we tell people we're going to waterboard them, they might grow gills!" Bush will "probably eventually" decide what the standards for interrogation should be? Tony, stop! You're killing me!

Snow rejected the idea that Americans should be able to see and judge the standards for themselves, particularly in the aftermath of illegal abuses at the Abu Ghriab prison.

"The only way accountability doesn't exist is if you believe that the military is not committed to it," Snow said.

Okay, read that last sentence again. That's right, it's up to you and you and you my darling media to believe in the military really really hard, and only then will there be accountability.

Man, that's enough. At this point, I want to thank Gazetteer for posting about this guy on his site: plug in your headphones before you go. Depending on how depressed you are after wading through this shit, maybe keep a couple tissues close by.

Yeah, I'm a softie. Fukin' deal with it.


posted by Thursday at 9:56 pm


Blogger Thursday said...

Appologies for the repost, but I HAD to fix the formatting.

Like the pirate with a steering wheel in his crotch, sometimes Blogger drives me nuts.

9:46 am  

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