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May 14, 2009


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I think there's info not being disclosed that's probably relevant. Probably something that'd make EVERYONE look really bad. And I do mean EVERYONE. Just a hunch.

I didn't know they used "verga" in Venezuela. Call me adolescent, but that's hilarious. I'd buy a m----------- in a heartbeat.

Because the Congressional Democrats are a pack of cowards, fools, and drooling idiots? (I mostly hate the house, but there are large swathes of the Senate that I'd leave undefended)

More accurately, this is another really foolish learned behavior problem, which the Administration and the Congress keep running into. The overall case, the para-government of DC/the Media is excepting messaging and information to run on a template of the Republican Ascendancy (1968-2008) and keeps having problems when things don't match up.

What the Democrats see when the Gitmo issue comes up is "Law and Order" and "Soft on Crime" for which they're so used to getting whupped that they just demure; this is the same problem that they're having with a broad bundle of national security issues, the environment, and healthcare.

If we're actually to see the oh-so-hoped for Realignment, despite the fact that the GOP is less popular than Hu Jintao, and irrelevant to national policy-making, it's clear that the Democratic Party is going to take some time to figure itself out (this is also why the Majority Leader can't find enough votes for Johnsen, or get the hold off Harvey--or because Reid is a weak-willed incompetent).

Not sure how you'd make a case of that, really.

As for the Verga thing, Heh.

Eh. The Dems don't care about the issue, and don't see it worth even a small risk of backlash?

That's a good point, Scott. It seems stupidly obvious now that you've said it, unless we're both missing something. Are we?

Perhaps they knew more of what was going on than they were letting on and are fearing a full airing of the ddirty laundry of those in Gitmo get brought into the US Court system.

Thinking about this some more, the hesitancy fits very nicely with the fact that:

1) Obama is reinstating military tribunals for the chaps at Guantanamo. Since unlike Bush, Obama was a respected constitutiona law scholar, this is kinda amusing.

2) The Obama trying to do everything he can to forbid the release of photos of military abuse of prisoners, despite having lost the court battles on the issue repeatedly.

Put all of this together, and it's fairly clear that neither Obama nor the Congressional Dems don't care about the issue.

Scott and Luke: I think you're both probably correct. The congressional Democrats are irrationally frightened of being branded as soft on whatever, but I also suspect that they'd take a stand even so if they actually cared. After all, the cost is /really/ low. But as Scott says, really low is still greater than zero.

Scott: I have to say that I don't understand why the tribunal decision is ironic. In fact, the initial decision to set them up was relatively noncontroversial and fit with precedent. (Which is not to say that I agree with it, but I don't find it an egregious violation of the constitution either.) The problem was always in the way the Bush administration first set up ridiculous procedures and then tried to undercut its own system.

Will: Who is the "they" in that sentence?

Hrmm, this kept getting eaten by the net, so let's see if it goes through.

I guess I don't view this in isolation. Sure, he closed Guantanamo. But the Obama administration is now arguing that the guys up at Bagram have no right to habeus corpus. Leaving us with President Obama, who was proud to issue an executive order closing Guantanamo, having his DOJ defend the right to imprison people indefinitely in Afghanistan.

And it's not like Bagram contains people who were only captured in Afghanistan. The petitioners in the actual case that went before the district court were taken from countries around the world. This does not bespeak a presidency concerned with protection of constitutional liberties. This bespeaks a government that shows as little respect for the constitution as the Republicans he criticized, using a sleight of hand to argue that what made the plaintiffs in Boumediene special, and entitled to habeus corpus, was that they were in Guantanamo.

Now let's turn to the release of photographs of Americans torturing prisoners, which Obama is seeking to block despite both the district court and 2nd Circuit ordering their release. Does he have a valid justification? Maybe, maybe not. But the fact remains that, once again, it doesn't seem like an administration upholding the law.

Luke calls the Guantanamo indecision, and, I may presume, calls the above actions, the actions of "a pack of cowards, fools, and drooling idiots?", a "foolish and learned behavior." This is neither. This is the intentional decision of a government that frankly seems to sympathize with the goals and policies of the Bush administration.

I wouldn't go that far. Congress is holding up the administration in closing Guanatanamo, which has forced the administration to run back to the tribunal idea. (Which I'd forgotten that Obama panned during the campaign, although Holder supported them during his confirmation hearings.) Craven politics, yes, but I don't see the sympathy with the goals and policies of the past administration.

The photos are something different, but AFAIK the president hasn't broken any laws by not releasing them. Again, I don't agree with the reasoning, but I also don't see how it shows any support for the past administrations policies. It does show a desire to minimize the fallout from those policies, but that is an entirely different thing.

Which leaves us with Bagram. Here you have a point, but I don't think it's as dramatic as you make it out. Bagram is in a war zone, and the U.S. does not exercise judicial extraterritoriality there the way we do at Guantanamo. Denying the prisoners held there full constitutional rights as long as the rebellion continues is fairly standard practice. Doing so, of course, shows support for the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan ... but that's something that Obama said he supported during the campaign.

Since the previous administration also supported that counterinsurgency, you've got a point. But it isn't anything that wasn't said on the campaign.

(As I understand it, a judge ruled against the administration in April, when he declared that non-Afghans could appeal their detentions in Bagram.)

It's a problem. Extending habeus corpus to prisoners taken outside the U.S. and held in a war zone (I saw the aftermath of a suicide bombing outside Bagram) is a troublesome precedent. (No?) But so is holding them indefinitely.

Bringing them to the U.S., where you could try them in federal courts without setting the precedent that prisoners-of-war have full constitutional rights, is sadly a political non-starter. We could turn them over to the Afghan government, but that wouldn't improve anyone's human rights situation.

What's that leave? The Administration can't make the detentions not have happened. Nor can it force Congress to fly all 550 back to the U.S. for trial. Nor should it (IMHO, although I can be convinced otherwise) set the precedent that federal courts have jurisdiction inside active combat zones. So ... tribunals.

Unless, of course, a judge rules otherwise and extends habeus corpus. Which, to be honest, wouldn't bother me that much.

What does bother me is the idea that we might hold people in inhumane conditions forever without any trials. That was Bush Administration policy. I don't see the Obama Administration continuing that, even at Bagram.

If no tribunals open there in the next year, I'll change my opinion on that.

Hmm. I can't tell from your post if you're aware the Obama administration was arguing that people taken outside of Afghanistan should not be entitled to Habeus Corpus, so long as they were brought straight to Bagram.

Your post reads as saying that non-Afghans caught in Afghanistan were not given habeus corpus, which isn't what was going down.
Here's an interesting look at it: http://washingtonindependent.com/24052/bagram-detainees

Your argument seems to be the tribunals are necessary because Congrses is freaking out; Obama is opposing court orders demanding the release of photographs because of efforts to hide the actions of the past administration for justifiable policy reasons, etc. etc.

I have no doubt that he has policy reasons for his decisions. But then it's merely a question of whether his policy reasons are better than Bush's, isn't it?

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