Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How incompetent are Dick Cheney and George Bush?

The dark shadow over the US Constitution

One of the utterly forseeable consequences of the attempt by Cheney and Bush to create a parallel universe of Cheney "justice" has been that once established legal processes were blown off for the "war on terrorism" POW's, aka, "unlawful combatants", you have to recreate some kind of system from the bottom up. And if it goes wrong, what do you do?

So the US wound up with a bunch of detainees, many of whom the military knew from the start were anything but Al Qa'ida terrorism experts. After violating their rights in various ways, including torturing them and creating evidence against them derived from interrogations of others using torture, they can't return them to the established legal systems without risking having all charges dropped because of official misconduct. Because that's the only real way established systems of law have to handle prosecutions based on torture and manufactured evidence. But if you let some of them go and they get involved in terrorist activities subsequently, will the politicians and generals involved be accused of letting it happen?

Once you substitute artitrary police-state measures for the rule of law, there's no easy way to get those cases back on a legal track. If Cheney and Bush had operated under international legal requirements, they would have had to place the cases of the Afghanistan captives before an impartial tribunal to determine whether they should legitimately be considered prisoners of war. And if those detained had been allowed any semblance of due process, many of them would have been released very soon for complete lack of evidence against them.

In fact, some former American prisoners are becoming violent Islamic activists after being released. But the pro-police-state partisans only pointed to that risk as a possible consequence of not applying the rule of law to them. Like Bush partisans generally, they try to pretend that the only risks lay in not doing what the administration wants and ignore the risks of the administration's actions.

And part of the risk was that the extra-legal processes themselves would motivate people to become terrorists. Tom Lasseter reports for McClatchy in Militants found recruits among Guantanamo's wrongly detained 06/17/08 on some instances of that actually happening:

A McClatchy investigation found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam — thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them — and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists.

The radicals were quick to exploit the flaws in the U.S. detention system.

Soldiers, guards or interrogators at the U.S. bases at Bagram or Kandahar in Afghanistan had abused many of the detainees, and they arrived at Guantanamo enraged at America.

The Taliban and al Qaida leaders in the cells around them were ready to preach their firebrand interpretation of Islam and the need to wage jihad, Islamic holy war, against the West. Guantanamo became a school for jihad, complete with a council of elders who issued fatwas, binding religious instructions, to the other detainees. (my emphasis)
The debate over such measures is often cast as liberty-vs.-safety. What doesn't get emphasized prominently enough is such discussions is that police state measures may be brutally efficient in suppressing domestic opposition. But they go hand-in-hand with secrecy, incompetence, and corruption.

If Lasseter's report is correct - and he has a far better record than most of the talking heads who appear of television as Serious Experts and mainstream icons like the recently deceased and newly-canonized Tim Russert - then that model of Cheney-Bush "toughness", the torture prison in Guantánamo became an important training ground for terrorist leaders.

Remember just after 9/11, when then-Attorney General and torture support John Ashcroft warned that there could be thousands of Al Qa'ida "sleeper" agents in the US? Those thousands never turned up. In fact, of the terrorist cases prosecuted under the war-on-terror administration in the United States, most of them were cases of people like the Lackwanna crew in New York who had, at best, tangential contacts to actual terrorist groups.

It could well turn out to be that the most the Guantánamo torture prison, the crown jewel of Dick Cheney's effort to replace the US Constitution with Republican Party police-state rule.

This is how the tough, hard, manly Republican Party protects your security, people. And at the same time, their torture policy lets all those Muslims and Arabs in the world see what the "superior values" of good Christian American white people look like and how much better they are than those inferior Islamic values.

Lasseter's article is well worth reading. If Congress had paid more serious attention to the articles from McClatchy (then Knight-Ridder), they might well have blocked the invasion of Iraq to begin with. The A********* P**** doesn't want bloggers to even link to their articles. And it made me think, why are we linking to them anyway? Shouldn't we give priority to news services and reporters who actually showed they can do real journalism when most of the Establishment press willingly became war cheerleaders and conduits for crass war propaganda?

This is really pretty amazing to me. Lasseter interviewed - real journalists do real research! - Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, who was "until recently" was the commander of the Guantánamo torture center. And Buzby acknowledged that his facility had a terrorist cell operating from there! ""We have that full range of (Taliban and al Qaida) leadership here, why would they not continue to be functional as an organization? I must make the assumption that there's a fully functional al Qaida cell here at Guantanamo." (my emphasis)

One of the two official reasons we invaded Aghanistan was the Iraqi regime's links to Al Qa'ida, which turned out to be non-existent. But in Cheney's ultra-secure Guantánamo facility which has existed outside the normal legal framework of American law subject to the arbitrary will of Cheney and Bush, "a fully functional al Qaida cell" is operating?

Issa Khan, a former prisoner there interviewed by McClatchy in Pakistan, points out the painfully obvious. "A lot of our friends are working against the Americans now, because if you torture someone without any reason, what do you expect?"

Real journalism is still done at American news services. There's just far too little of it.

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