One might be inclined to read something into the unusually strong statements by Great Britain's Attorney General calling for the (apparently immediate) closure of the American extra-legal extra-constitutional
gulag detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Lord Goldsmith observed that Guantanamo had become a universal symbol of injustice-- a stark living source of cognitive dissonance from the usual American image as a beacon of freedom. For his part, George Bush's Pet Poodle U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair usually notes that it might be "premature" to release "dangerous people" from Gitmo... Lord Goldsmith's statements were noteworthy for evading that usual weasel qualification. (Readers of this blog have long ago figured out that the dangerous people held at Gitmo have long since been released; most still held now were picked up by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance for the bounties, and are simply unfortunate schmucks in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only ten out of the almost 500 still detained are even charged with "war crimes", and most of those with the dubious "conspiracy to commit war crimes" with the lone alleged homicide having been committed by a 15-year old in combat.)
Well, well. As the President's approval ratings at 31% have now dipped to levels unseen before save by Presidents named Nixon, Carter... and someone named Bush... and given a probable slap from the Supreme Court next month when it hands down its decision in Hamdan, this might well be a time to try to cut its losses from Gitmo, as that "9-11 9-11 9-11" mojo seems to be wearing off... Perhaps the Administration will do what it did to the Uighurs recently, but on steroids... to wit, close all of Guantanamo Bay (perhaps building a small to medium size village in Albania capable of holding all of the detainees)... and then argue that "the whole thing is moot."
Or, perhaps as with everything else, the Bush Administration will simply ignore laws or court decisions it doesn't like (not to mention statements by furriner attorneys general), or otherwise figure out other games to continue "selling" its brazen lawlessness... Don't know. Contrary to the wishes of many Britons, Mr. Blair shows no signs of going anywhere. As such, if it's going to require pressure from him personally for the Bushmen to do anything about Gitmo, than we can safely view Lord Goldsmith's statements today as more "unhappy talk" of the kind that will be duly ignored by the White House.
Gitmo continues to be an albatross around the American Government's neck that desperately requires some kind of remedial action. There is no indication that the Bush Government, however, is even capable of noticing...
With a 31% (at best) approval rating, odd time for W to be floating his brother Jeb as his successor, no?
Posted by Just Wondering at May 11, 2006 4:05 PM
TD- What is the legal angle here? While Gitmo should no doubt be closed, some people seem to argue that the prisoners are stuck in some sort of legal limbo, and it is unclear how they should be dealt with. From my point of view, I don't understand why these people aren't tried as simple common criminals in US courts.
Posted by Ben at May 11, 2006 5:06 PM
Funny, that! I was just thinking exactly the same thing! I'm reminded of the old Welch thing back at the McCarthy hearings ("Have you NO SENSE OF DECENCY, SIR!")
I think no one has been more clear on this point than me. Scroll down a bit and you'll see the former UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR FOR WAR CRIMES tell us that the means used for determining "combatant status" are not in conformance with our treaty obligations. Something like 98% of the nearly 500 still detained AREN'T EVEN CHARGED with anything; hence, why would we try them? THEY DIDN'T DO ANYTHING (in case you haven't figured it out.) They might be "prisoners of war"... but what war is that? The war against the Taliban WE SUPPOSEDLY WON HANDILY FOUR YEARS AGO? Or the made up "war on terror" that ends whenever it is politically opportune for it to end (probably never.) Of the 10 charged, the Ambassador confirms for us that only ONE even ARGUABLY committed what MIGHT be a war crime as a matter of established international law.
Gitmo was set up as an evasion, to supposedly be beyond the reach of American courts. US courts haven't bit on that little fiction, but the Government still behaves as if it is still beyond the law. Lawyer after lawyer I interview on this subject comes to the same conclusion: the Government is playing every game it can to avoid complying with any rule, court decision or law it doesn't like. Simple as that. And the bipartisan silence on this lawlessness is deafening, btw... the courageous "opposition party" fearful of being perceived as "soft on terrorism" choses instead to be soft on presidential lawlessness and dictatorial behavior.
This is the President who has his minions read your phone records and listens to your conversations and tells you "its only Al Qaeda..." even as it becomes clearer and clearer we're talking millions of people... The President who locks up citizens, legal residents and aliens alike at his whim, and uses a compliant Congress and court system who value their partisan interests over their oaths of office to uphold and defend the Constitution...
As threats to the United States go, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, hell, the entire Moslem world, even if lined up against us (which it is not, though not for want of trying by the Bush Administration) would be pretty minor compared to ten states in rebellion, or the World War I or II Axis powers, let alone a Soviet Union with thousands of nuclear ICBMs aimed at us.
But as long as the public and an ever compliant media have their heads up their ass and believe the horseshit about "these are terrorists"... as opposed to poor schmucks handed over for bounties... then nothing's going to change.
Posted by the talking dog at May 11, 2006 7:36 PM