While I often don’t agree with him (!), sometimes Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online has interesting things to say, and this piece on the Obama Administration’s brief opposing the grant of review in the Uighurs’ case is an excellent example. McCarthy does what Dick Cheney doesn’t, and lauds the Obama Administration for adopting Dick Cheney’s policies, in this case, the argument that despite three major Supreme Court cases and nearly 900 years of jurisprudence to the contrary, habeas corpus is really a dead-letter that can be thwarted by simple governmental recalcitrance. Specifically, the premise is that the 17 Uighurs still languishing at GTMO (for background, you might want to consult my interviews with attorneys George Clarke and Wells Dixon, who, together, represent six of them) cannot be admitted into the United States absent executive fiat, despite a court conclusion that (1) there is no legal reason for the U.S. to hold them, and (2) the Great Writ requires it as a remedy. McCarthy says: “Fie!” “Great Writ, my ass, these are swarthy Arab nasty Chinese terrrrrorists!” TD says “we are either governed by the rule of law, or we are not.” It’s a reasonable debate; most NRO writers will intrinsically favor tyranny, and I admire their consistency of continuing to favor it, even when the executive branch is led by a Black man. I’ll further give McCarthy his due by noting his astute observation of the rather clever timing of the announcement- “the Friday night news dump,” when news is released in the interest of burying it from most of the public.
While Dick Cheney should be happy but isn’t (and won’t be as long as there is a puppy somewhere that isn’t being kicked) and Andrew McCarthy is, the Obama Administration needs to look at what its desire to appease the right wing is doing to its overall policy goals of “closing GTMO”. Well, I’ll make it easy: the Europeans are pissed, and have all but said “We’re not taking any of these guys IF YOU DON’T.
So… what’s wrong with this picture? Well, nothing if you’re even more cynical than I am and believe that the Obama Administration is simply being duplicitous [not even I will accept that premise; I would say the President has realized that he has lots of pragmatic problems ranging from the political to the logistical to keeping an out of control defense and intel establishment under his control to who knows what?]. But if one believes that the Obama Administration wants a serious change in policy, and if for symbolic reasons if nothing else really does want to clean up the moral stain known as “Guantanamo,” [and I do] then it’s got to play well and get along with others, particularly, the Europeans and anyone else we’d like to cooperate with respect to taking GTMO residents. [And did I mention that Harry Reid can kiss my ass?]
Well… which is it going to be, Mr. President? We can appease the basest and stupidest xenophobic elements here [alas, including most Democratic Senators], or we can start to make the substance of cleaning up the mess consistent with its symbolism, and do our share to clean up the mess WE MADE, and continue to add to. This has been, “Cross-purposes.”