Daily Archives: April 29, 2004

Pinochet Clement Defends Gitmo

Paul D Clement, Deputy Solicitor-General, is arguing the Administration’s case against applying standard judicial procedures to the Gitmo prisoners. In the process, he is proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that the BA is distinctly undemocratic in outlook and instinctively authoritarian in nature.

This conclusion doesn’t arise just because they’re defending a basically indefensible concept; what is far more damning are the arguments they’re using to do it. In a court of law–the highest court in the land, no less, Clement began by saying that it was “remarkable that we have to confront this question when our troops are still on the ground in Afghanistan,” an argument that pre-supposes the SCOTUS has no role during a war. But that was only the beginning.

A majority of the justices expressed some degree of concern over the breadth of the administration’s position. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor asked Mr. Clement why “a neutral decision maker of some kind” could not be provided to determine whether a detainee is being properly held. “Is that so extreme that it should not be required?” she asked.Mr. Clement said the potential detainees’ initial screening, sorting those to be held from those who need not be, met that requirement. “For all intents and purposes, that is a neutral decision maker,” he said.

Um, what initial screening would that be? Is Mr Clement talking about the confab on the battlefield where the detainees were picked up? Or the kangaroo court in Gitmo run by the military–oh, darn. THERE WASN’T ONE.

Wait, it gets better. When Justice Ginsberg didn’t see why the detainees shouldn’t have “a forum” during which they could “explain themselves”, Clement answered that they already had one: their interrogation. “The interrogation process itself provides an opportunity for an individual to explain that this has all been a mistake.”

Is that right? Doggone, we done been wastin’ a awful lot o’ money on lawyers an’ judges and courts iffen that’s true. Hell, why, we could just say a police interrogation gives a suspect every chance to state his case to the cops an’ iffen they don’t buy it, then he’s guilty, pure an’ simple. Wham! Off he goes to jail for the rest o’ his life, and we’re done. No damn dumb “appeals” or even a tee-rial to appeal about. We could save $Billions$. We don’t need all that junk. Screw it. We got our justice system–the police.

This argument has been the justification and rationalization of every dictator of the past 100 years; the Soviets even enshrined it in law. Pinochet, accused of executing prisoners without a trial, pointed to the secret police interrogation as the only “trial” that was needed. He even used the same excuse–that these people were dangerous “anti-social terrorists” (he was talking about journalists, students, labor leaders, playwrights, teachers, and priests, by the way) and that the State was in a war for its survival and couldn’t afford little luxuries, like, say, a judicial system that might decide that some of his political the State’s enemies were innocent. In the Soviet Union, Stalin argued that his pogroms were necessary for “the security of the people and the people’s state”, and used the fear of the late 30’s when Hitler and Europe were readying for war to dismantle what was left of the old Czarist legal system (not much) and embark on the greatest murder spree in history in 1938.

What’s going on here? The virulently anti-Communist Republican right takes control and turns out to be exactly like the Soviets they hated? Aping their policies, mimicking their rationalizations, copying their techniques? But Mr Clement doesn’t have any problem with that.

“Doesn’t the court have some business intervening at some point if it’s the Hundred Years’ War or something?” Justice Stephen G. Breyer asked.Mr. Clement replied, “I’m not quite sure what you have in mind that they would intervene on.”

Golly, Paul, I dunno. Maybe BEING RAILROADED BY AN ADMINISTRATION THAT WANTS TO MAINTAIN AN UNPOPULAR WAR BY SHOWING US HOW ENDANGERED WE ARE? How about the possibility that the Administration’s designation was just WRONG? How about that? Over 100 of the Gitmo prisoners were released after almost two years of confinement because of lack of evidence. The Gitmo authorities arrested Capt Jimmy Yee for sedition and espionage and then had to drop the charges when his lawyers proved there was NO evidence to back them up. How about that? I mean, a trial is asking too much?

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whose position appeared most in doubt, pressed Mr. Clement at one point for some sign of a concession. “I’m taking away from the argument the impression, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that you think there is a continuing role for the courts to examine the reasonableness of the period of detention,” he said in a hopeful tone.Mr. Clement was quick to correct him. “Well, I wouldn’t take that away, Justice Kennedy,” he said.

Translation: The Bush Admin does think that there is NO “continuing role for the courts”. As fas as they’re concerned, the Commissar-in-Chief is the one and only authority and everybody else ought to just shut up and go home like good little comrades.

Put this insane argument against the re-writing of history Seattle called our attention to, and this Admin isn’t just Orwell-like, it is Orwell brought to life. 1984 has Officially Arrived in the US, courtesy of George W Bush, First Emperor of America. Rove admires Imperial Rome? Well, Karl, your dreams have just come true. Enjoy it while you can because in November–pffffft!

Today’s Toons

Tom Toles: Cheney Lays Down the Rules

Get Your War On: Complicated times call for simple language!

Tom Meyers: Kerry’s War Record v That Other Guy

John Branch: Bush Makes a Decision

Mike Keefe: Kerry Attack!

Ben Sargent: In the Pocket