This absurdly cold Saturday (it started around 20 F here in NYC, but with 25-35 mph winds swirling...felt colder), we treat you to two items that, if you think that having a Bill of Rights is "a good thing," might just may make your blood run colder still.
The first (h/t Candace) concerns a sudden "controversy" over what heretofore hadn't been particularly "controversial," that being, the seemingly routine release of two Guantanamo detainees who have been determined to have done nothing wrong (and hence, have been wrongly held for eight years), said release now being "controversial" for no reason other than Congressman Pete Hoekstra (Fasc. - Mich.) says so in light of the underpants bomber. Once again, the Obama Administration's inexplicable insistence that it can gain support from people who oppose it for no other reason than it is not of their party (or, of course, that its titular head is not of their complexion) can somehow be won over by selling out (and outright back-stabbing) his own supporters and, of course, going 180 degrees against what he campaigned on... pays dividends. And so here we are. Any "threat" posed by men at Guantanamo is magnified not by releasing them (even to Yemen... "we have always been at war with
Eastasia Eurasia Yemen") but by keeping them there as an ongoing symbol of American contempt for the rest of the world and hypocrisy as to our own stated "principles"... a hypocrisy only magnified when we specifically hold men that either the executive, the courts, or both have determined shouldn't be in custody. After a year of this nonsense, where, despite advancing Dick Cheney's policies more creatively than Cheney himself ever did, only to have Dick himself continually blast the Administration for the reasons set forth above, you'd think they'd learn... but, I see no evidence of that... Anyway, those of us who follow this issue closely are duly appalled and concerned... we'll just have to wait for the current hysteria over the underpants bomber to pass... it might be a while.
And speaking of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underpants bomber (a name apparently too hard to type into the appropriate database necessary to keep him off of airplanes... and which should remind us that any technical fix will never get around the fact that the undereducated, overworked, minimum wage technicians we employ to "keep us safe" simply can't possibly do the job under the current insane way things are set up, no matter how many expensive full-body scanners we buy)... naturally, a group of Republican legislators has written a letter to the President demanding that Abdulmutallab be denied a civilian trial so that he can be tortured in military custody. We told you so, Mr. President: your bullshit policy of having it both ways with federal trials where you thought you had a slam dunk case and military commissions where you were more doubtful really does make us all ask the question: why aren't military commission tribunals good enough for everyone... including, say, drug dealers or money launderers, two groups who might somehow be linked to terrorism, somewhere?
The thing is, of course, the Republicans have a point. While Obama can point out that the Bush Administration chose to bring shoe-bomber Richard Reid and "20th highjacker" Zaccarias Moussaoui to civilian justice, the fact is, another supposed "20th highjacker," Mohammad al-Qatani, was held at Guantanamo (still is, IIRC) and tortured mercilessly. Any particular reason for the disparate treatment? None has ever been publicly offered, as far as I am aware. Once you open the door to arbitrary second-string "justice" and "enhanced interrogation"... how do you justify not going through that door? (Hint: that's why you don't open that door.)
And so, here we are. Just as post-9-11 and pre-Iraq War (and before the'04 election with the OBL videotape... and before the '06 election with the announced Saddam execution), we have the politics of mob rule based on hyperbolic fear of terrorism (maniacs are always going to try to kill us; we have to keep our heads, or the terrorists will win... not vice versa). As always... it ain't pretty. This has been... "Rule of Gnaw."