by Real_PHV_Mentarch | 6/04/2008 01:00:00 PM
Behold incompetence defending itself (the 4th Principle of Incompetence in action) (emphasis added):

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended tough interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects approved by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, saying they were necessary to protect America from new attacks.

In her most extensive public comments about how the administration dealt with detainee interrogations in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed, Rice insisted the methods of questioning complied with both U.S. law and treaty obligations.

But she acknowledged that those rules had since changed and that the United States was a "different place" then, adding that the administration's top priority at the time had been preventing new attacks and not necessarily observing fine legal points.

"The fact is that after Sept. 11, whatever was legal in the face of not just the attacks of Sept. 11, but the anthrax attacks that happened, we were in an environment in which saving America from the next attack was paramount," Rice said.

"But even in that environment, President Bush made clear that we were going to live up to our obligations at home and to our treaty obligations abroad," she told an audience (...).

Rice noted that legal restrictions on the treatment of detainees had evolved significantly between 2002 and 2003, when administration officials had allowed harsh techniques, including one that some believe to be torture, and the passage in 2005 of the Detainee Treatment Act that prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

"Now, there has been a long evolution in American policy about detainees and about interrogations," she said. "We now have in place a law that was not there in 2002 and 2003."

"So the ground is different now," she said.
Oh, really?

We have gone from due process, habeas corpus, the 4th amendment and upholding the Geneva Conventions, to extraordinary renditions, indefinite detentions, loss of habeas corpus, torture, military commissions and the shredding of the Geneva Conventions.

That is not "evolution", but rather devolution pure and simple - and having made all of these savage grotesqueries legal after the fact (or through signing statements) only cemented the reality of this rapidly downward spiraling fall to perdition and utter perversion of every single tenet of morality, civil liberties and human rights.

Regardless of whatever typical double-talk, double-thinking, legalese theorycrafting-in-an-echo-chamber Madam Rice offers and which, in essence, admits on the one hand "to Hell with the law and international conventions" while, simultaneously on the other, offering disassembling platitudes regarding the respect for laws and international conventions.

To this effect, there is one, single account on which Madam Rice spoke factually: the "ground" is indeed definitely different now than before 9/11.

Let me count the ways:

1) Extraordinary renditions: Yes, now that they have been exposed and decried, that should be the end of it and we all should move along, right? Well, how about some justice for all those who were victims of such barbarous crimes (like this guy, for instance, who got Canadian justice but not American justice)? How about some trials for the perpetrators of these same crimes, including those who devised and came up with such callous disregards for basic due process, justice and civility? Oh, right - they have all been exonerated by law after the fact and if any other country in the world should decide to do the right and just thing and put such bastards on trial, well ...

Regardless, if you think that extraordinary renditions are over and done with - then guess again ...

2) Indefinite detentions: thanks to the gutting of habeas corpus, these are legal now and, apparently, retroactively at that. Why, even children and teenagers ("child soldiers") are fair game (take this one, as but one example). And if you think only "terrorists" and "unlawful combatants" constitute the sole targets of such detentions, then guess again one more time (emphasis added):
With the approval of Congress and no outcry from corporate media, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, ushered in military commission law for US citizens and non-citizens alike. While media, including a lead editorial in the New York Times October 19, have given false comfort that we, as American citizens, will not be the victims of the draconian measures legalized by this Act — such as military roundups and life-long detention with no rights or constitutional protections— Robert Parry points to text in the MCA that allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” regardless of American citizenship. The MCA effectively does away with habeas corpus rights for “any person” arbitrarily deemed to be an “enemy of the state.” The judgment on who is deemed an “enemy combatant” is solely at the discretion of President Bush.

(...) While it is true that some parts of the MCA target non-citizens, other sections clearly apply to US citizens as well, putting citizens inside the same tribunal system with non-citizen residents and foreigners. Section 950q of the MCA states that, “Any person is punishable as a principal under this chapter [of the MCA] who commits an offense punishable by this chapter, or aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures its commission.” In Section 950v, “Crimes Triable by Military Commissions” of the MCA seems to specifically target American citizens by stating that, “Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct.” “Who,” warns Parry, “has ‘an allegiance or duty to the United States’ if not an American citizen?”

Besides allowing “any person” to be swallowed up by Bush’s system, the law prohibits detainees once inside from appealing to the traditional American courts until after prosecution and sentencing, which could translate into an indefinite imprisonment since there are no timetables for Bush’s tribunal process to play out.

(...) “Under the cloak of setting up military tribunals to try al-Qaeda suspects and other so-called unlawful enemy combatants, Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress effectively created a parallel legal system for ‘any person’— American citizen or otherwise — who crosses some ill-defined line.”
And on a related note:
8 million Americans are now listed as potentially suspect;

U.S. residents in military brigs? Govt says it's war

U.S. planning big new prison in Afghanistan.
Welcome to the land of liberty and the pursuit of happiness ... but don't you fret - apparently, being a detainee is pretty much like living in a frathouse ...

3) Torture: whether you call it "frathouse pranks", "enhanced interrogation techniques", "water treatment" or "waterboarding", torture has been going on, and is still going on - even after the revelations of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. In fact, many detainees have actually been tortured to death. Even children and teenagers ("child soldiers" and civilians) have been likewise tortured. Why, torture has become so mainstream that the U.S. is now in the business of torturing for, or helping in doing so ... other countries like China! Thanks to another of Bush's signing statements, the new motto is: "torture - it's not only legal, it's all good".

There is no going deeper into the pit of savagery and perversion here, folks. This is the very bottom, the lowest of the lowest, level of inhumanity.

No civilization allowed here - when the debate is about the efficiency and validity of torture in getting solid intelligence and confessions, as things are now, instead of being about the inherent immoral nature of torture, then you know you have lost any semblance of human rationality and grace.

Case in point.

4) Military tribunals: as pretty much anyone who deals with reality suspected, if not predicted, these tribunals are nothing more than rigged, show trials held behind closed doors. Military lawyers are pressured/harassed by their superiors to either prosecute maliciously or not defend their clients to the best of their abilities - and if they chose the high road, they will suffer the consequences. Even military judges are fair game to this effect.

And even if you are lucky enough to be finally cleared of all charges, you are either stranded as a "no land's man" or kept indefinitely as a "guest" nevertheless because, well, the Bush administration feels like it.

These tribunals are about getting results and giving way to political convenience. This is not due process and definitely not justice - this is all about the rule of whim of the moment.

Banana Republic, anyone?

And I am not even getting into the gutting of FISA and all that illegal domestic spying stuff - except to strongly suggest to those who still think that "it's all good and it can't be abused" to, well, guess yet again - I offer one small example to this effect.

So yes indeed - the "ground" is definitely different now than before 9/11: America, its constitution, its republic and its moral standing have become as ruined as the ashes, dust, rubble and metal scraps of the towers of the World Trade Center.

In this respect, I wrote the following recently:
I humbly assume that I will be forgiven if I do not appreciate the "courageous" work done over the last seven years by the Bush administration and its cheerleading supporters - because from where I stand, they have spat upon and irreversibly sullied every precept of human dignity, of human respect, of Humanity, which used to be held as unassailable and uncompromising, sacrosaint values.

And it doesn't matter however much they try to justify/legalize/spin their actions - for indeed, nothing justifies indefinite detention, secret tribunals and torture.


And yet, and yet ...

It. Was. Necessary.

I think we've been handed the perfect excuse to justify *anything*, thanks to Madam Rice - just let your imagination - or inner savage, rather - run wild with it.

Because that's what has been happening with regards to human decency and human rights over the last seven years or so.

Vive la civilization, eh?

In the end, all I can do is dare to hope that the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America, Sen. Barack Obama, will seize the moment and the time to unequivocally renounce again all these affronts to, and perversions of, justice and human rights - and consequently renew his pledge to right such immoral, inhumane wrongs once and for all.

To paraphrase what he has so eloquently said:
America, this is your moment. This is your time. Your time to turn the page on the policies of the past.
Now, that is something that is truly necessary ...

(Cross-posted from APOV)

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Blogger AndrewMc on 6/05/2008 9:20 AM:

Great stuff here. I wonder how the next president will work to undo all these problems.

My sense is that there's going to have to be "Gerald Ford moment" when the next president, whoever it will be, is going to have to say "Look, the only way we can get past all this and heal is to pardon these people, and then work to make sure it doesn't happen again."

I don't like that scenario, but I can't imagine what else will get us past all the damage that's been done.


Blogger Real_PHV_Mentarch on 6/05/2008 9:24 PM:

You may have a point there ... darn it.


Blogger Unknown on 6/05/2008 10:58 PM:

I hope not. I'm still holding out hope for Nuremberg Trials.


Blogger Real_PHV_Mentarch on 6/06/2008 6:05 PM:

Same here ... however, hope is small indeed ... (sigh)