On this Friday the 13th (that we wish Andy a happy return to the Mother Country; we were delighted to host him at Stately Dog Manor as he brought his wonderful film “Outside the Law” to its North American debuts), we’ll start with news of Andy’s appearance on Democracy Now! which fortuitously coincided with the day’s big news, that Ron Jeremy Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four others allegedly implicated in master-minding the 9-11 attacks will be tried in federal court in New York City.
Unfortunately, the announcement coincides with plans to try five others in the rightly much maligned kangaroo courts military commissions, and, just to add to the large scale news-burial on a Friday (Greenwald has more)… perhaps something is being signaled in that White House Counsel Greg Craig resigned today… I can only surmise that he was asked to fall on his sword and will doubtless be the public face of having dared suggest that Obama promise that he would close GTMO within a year of inauguration… I, and many others, felt that a month might have been workable to close GTMO, but a year was out of the question, as it would permit the forces of totalitarianism otherwise known as “Congress” to be their usual dimwitted and fascistic selves… and, well, you know the rest…
The thing with today’s announcement is that there is something in it to infuriate just about everyone. Many Americans of the true-fascist variety want to know why we’re bothering with “trials” at all, and don’t just move right into executions… after all, we’ve been told these guys are all guilty for so long that it must be true, right? Some of the squeamish are upset that our Holy City of New York will have to dredge up difficult feelings of 9-11 (such people have obviously never heard Rudy Giuliani give a speech). And sticklers for “the law” like me are appalled that the military commissions are still part of the equation: why must some detainees get a recognized set of due process protections, and another group gets the arbitrary, made-up “justice” of the military commissions… or perhaps, one could ask why do some detainees get the possibility of the rather lenient sentencing of the commissions while others face the harsh sentences in the federal courts? Either way… why not one consistent method of adjudication, say, either the federal courts or military courts marital (not military commissions), which are internationally recognized as procedurally fair?
The unspoken premise is that federal court protections might result in some unwanted acquittals… but if the problem is releasing people we don’t want to release, international and American law already give us the expedient of simply calling the detainees… wait for it… “Prisoners of War.” We can justifiably hold them until the end of hostilities– for Taliban, when Mullah Omar surrenders or signs a peace treaty, for A.Q., when OBL and Zawahiri turn themselves in and renounce jihad. Since some of you will rightly note that neither of those events is very likely, that hostilities against the Taliban and A.Q. may go on for decades if not generations… I’ve answered the issue with a lawful, recognized basis to hold Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters for a long, long time without the insidious and dictatorial prospect of codified “indefinite detention” whose real purpose is to silence our nation’s house-guests lest they reveal the full extent of the torture and abuse they have suffered under our hospitality. Let’s just say that’s not a very good reason to undermine our international standing and jeopardize our own troops in harm’s way… not to mention shred the Bill of Rights and quite literally risk our own fundamental liberties with a “by-pass” provision handed to the Government to “protect us” by locking any of us up indefinitely at executive whim… but hey, that’s just me.
Enjoy the remainder of your Friday the 13th folks… and let’s be careful out there!