Charlie Brown, Lucy, Football

I’ve been somewhat remiss in not earlier mentioning the latest Bush Administration demonstration of why it feels that, seeing as its actions are unchecked by either Congress, the courts, or the voters, it can do what it wants… especially for the purpose of playing games with live cases in those occasional instances where the courts might just do something adverse to it, usually on the eve of some important court date. The latest fiasco, of course, involves a group of five ethnic Uighurs (Chinese Moslems from far west Xinxiang province, or Sinkiang back when I learned geography) who were, almost poetically, shipped off from those lemon chicken and rice pilaf dinners down at Guantanamo Bay to Albania the week before their appeal was to be heard by the D.C. Circuit Court in Washington (in an effort to have the court declare their cases “moot”)… the latest wrinkle to their plight: China wants them back.
This is more serious than it sounds. The United States deliberately refused to grant the Uighurs admittance and asylum in the United States… Washington, D.C. is apparently home to a sizeable Uighur community, btw… Instead, games were played, deals made, and aspiring NATO member Albania stepped up. But Albania, for many years, was the principal European ally of… China (an odd, isolated little place– a communist country, but unlike the sort of independent Tito’s Yugoslavia, Albania was a communist satellite… but of Beijing). As such, Albania still maintains warm relations with Beijing… serious pressure might just be a problem… The United States (irony of ironies!) feels that China would likely torture these Uighurs as suspected terrorists… of course, they’ve been branded as terrorists by the United States in the first instance… but let’s not go there. What Albania ultimately does is anybody’s guess… unclear how many cards we still hold as far as Tirana is concerned.
Albania, of course, was famously the subject of the 1997 film Wag the Dog, about a fictional president diverting attention from a sex scandal by invading Albania, made all the more… interesting… when, in 1999, President Bill Clinton, with the ink barely dry on the senate’s acquittal of him on impeachment charges arising from L’Affaire Lewinsky, undertook to invade heavily ethnically Albanian Kosovo (which at least borders Albania) to supposedly prevent genocide… and now, for good measure, we have President Bush the Younger deciding to use Albania as a dumping ground for his own unpleasantness, to wit, Gitmo detainees that even the highly flawed “Combatant Status Review Tribunals” could not determine to have any involvement with Al Qaeda, terrorist organizations or anything else and hence are not “enemy combatants”.
It would be amusing… if it were the least bit amusing. Recall the games the government kept playing with U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, including denying him counsel until just before the Supreme Court first heard his case,
and then yanking him from military custody until just before the Supreme Court heard his case (and the Supreme Court, sadly, played along and accepted the “mootness” bullshit.) Or the government’s on again, off again compliance with the Rasul case’s requirement that Gitmo detainees have an entitlement as a basic matter to challenge the legality of their detentions… the entire premise of Gitmo being the government’s original argument that it was beyond U.S. courts’ jurisdiction, and later, the government argued (to an incrredulous Supreme Court… we think) that the Graham-Levin Amendment deprives the courts of jurisdiction even in already filed cases.
So here we go again. Ahead of a most embarassing court date (having to justify why we are continuing to imprison men that the military itself says pose no threat and are completely innocent of anything while still refusing to grant them asylum stateside)… the Bush Administration does what it does best: plays games to avoid unpleasantness.
The precedent has been set, of course, and thus far, the courts (especially the Supreme Court) have been willing to play along. I have suggested that we were effectively a dictatorship when the Supreme Court played a game of its own (based on venue) to avoid giving Jose Padilla the benefit of the law back in 2004… given the lengths the Bush Administration goes to avoid affording basic due process of law to whomever it feels like screwing, and the cooperation of the courts in this little song and dance… it looks like the invisible “suspend the Constitution when the President feels like it” clause is now firmly established. Our freedom from arbitrary government detention (and you are fools if you believe any of you are immune from this… due process of law is either for everyone, or it isn’t…) is as basic as it gets, predating our own constitution by almost 600 years… Without that, all we can do is hope that the President really is a compassionate conservative… seeing as, we are now a government of men, and not of laws.
That spinning sound you hear is coming from our Founding Fathers’ graves.