July 1, 2006

"It would be good politics to have a debate about this if Democrats are going to argue for additional rights for terrorists."

The post-Hamdan political game.


Bruce Hayden said...

Pelosi opened this line of attack up with her statement that 'the court decision "affirms the American ideal that all are entitled to the basic guarantees of our justice system."'

There are a lot of people, esp. in Red America, who frankly don't buy this. Al Qaeda lost this when they crashed those four planes on 9/11.

So, we have Blue America saying that we can't have what we cherish here if we don't grant these rights to those trying to destroy our way of life, and we have Red America saying that we can't have this if we lose to the terrorists on the new battlefields of Islamoterrorism.

The question then becomes, what vision ultimately wins for the middle? - because that is what obviously will determine which party and philosphy wins in the political arena.

I think that this was a strategic mistake by Pelosi. Yes, a lot of people buy into what she is saying. Indeed, I had just that discussion last night with a family member. But, in the end, it is, I think, going to lose votes. All that has to be done is to show the planes crashing into the twin towers whenever this argument is brought up.

Ross said...

Yep, nothing like seeing the video of the planes hitting the WTC to shut down the American people's brains. It sure worked on me for a couple years.

Look, as far as I'm concerned Osama's driver can rot in a cell for the rest of his life. The problem is with the Pakistani chicken farmers we picked up thanks to Afghan warlord bounty hunters. Due process is about finding out which is which, and stories like this -- www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,,1809981,00.html -- don't make me confident that the Guantanamo tribunals are anything other than a kangaroo court.

I mean, even several of the military prosecutors quit rather than participate in such a sham. (www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200508/s1428749.htm)

But John Boehner says Nancy Pelosi is in favor of protecting terrorists, and the sad thing is he probably will win votes with that pandering BS.

Bruce Hayden said...

How many of those "chicken farmers" are still in Gitmo? And how do you know that? The official line is that those who appear to be harmless, and can safely have been sent back, have been. There have been a lot sent back, and there shouldn't be any real worry about sending Afgani chicken farmers back. The big problem with those who appear harmless, who remain, seems to be that many, if not most, of them are from countries that are not very good on human rights - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc. And we can't really send them back there to their country of origin to be executed, and we can't send them back to Afganistan where they were caught, because they didn't belong there in the first place.

Besides, the real debate isn't about the Afgani chicken farmers. They aren't the ones that the Administration wanted to try. Ditto for those who were considered harmless, but couldn't be sent back because there was no place to send them safely. Rather, it was all about those who the Administration wanted to try for, essentially, war crimes.

Jacques Cuze said...

Is Ann the coolster jazzter hipster blogger going to neutral on this and pretend it is just a game that she is above?

Is Ann the coolster jazzter hipster blogger going to play her usual shameless game (learned at the knee of Glenn Reynolds and taught in the halls of the law school) of affirmation with plausible deniability?

Don't lawyers and professors stand for ethical, straight up, responsibility?

Eli Blake said...

Uh, due process is a good idea at any time.

The reason why, I blogged on here last December.

It's about a muslim man from Germany who is not a terrorist, but was determined by the CIA to be one, then subject to 'rendition' to a camp in Afghanistan, where he was kept without counsel for several months while his family had no idea what had happened to him.

If the White House is going to have tribunals (and nothing in the Supreme Court decision prevents it, as long as they are approved by Congress) then there needs to be a way to spell out who determines that someone is a terrorist (and using what criteria) and then what legal standards apply.

But having the same group of people essentially in charge of deciding who is a terrorist, detaining them, providing them with counsel, trying them and sentencing them starts to resemble the way the legal system was set up under, say, Josef Stalin.

And yes, (see last sentence) if people want to throw unfair rhetoric about 'Democrats wanting additional rights for terrorists' around in response to these legitimate concerns, then we can throw it right back.

AJD said...

Bruce says: "Al Qaeda lost this when they crashed those four planes on 9/11."

So I guess you know an Al Qaeda member when you see one, eh Brucey?

I'd be most interested to know how you do this trick -- identifying terrorists with certainty, but without actually having pesky things like evidence presented and cross-examined.

Or maybe certainty doesn't matter.

Well hey, I've heard that people named Bruce are likely to be Al Qaeda members. And since Al Qeda gave up its due process rights, you won't mind if we send you to Gitmo for the indefinite future, will you?

It's all part of the great thinking to come out the Red States. Remember that in Gitmo, Brucey!

Bruce Hayden said...

We really have a couple of different issues here and it is important to keep them straight. The first is whether someone is/was an enemy, and the second is how to try those who are determined to have committed war crimes. Hamdan really only addressed the second one.

Part of the reason that this distinction is important is that the military has, over the last 200+ years, routinely decided whether or not someone was an enemy, and held those so determined. This hasn't changed here - the military has used the procedures that it has in place for such determinations.

Remember, during previous wars, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of enemy soldiers have been held by us as POWs. Most often, of course, the determination has been simple - for example, they were caught wearing the uniform of an enemy. And, yes, that is a bit harder here.

What Hamdan addressed was how to try those who went beyond being mere enemies. Remember, it was never a question of whether we could try them, but rather how. And note that this doesn't apply to the vast majority of Gitmo detainees for the simple reason that there has not been any move to try them. Rather, they are being held either because we don't want to find them again fighting us in Afganistan, or because we can't send them back anywhere (often because of the human rights record of their native country).

Bruce Hayden said...

That all said, I should note that Ann's original post was about the politics of the situation, and in particular, that WaPo article on that. Before you jump into the fray, you should be sure that you have read the article.

My original post essentially said that strategically, from a political point of view, Pelosi's comments were ill advised. Not that they were wrong. But that they opened up her, and because of her leadership position, the Democratic party, to the charge that they were more interested in civil liberties than in security. I was not saying that is the case, I was just commenting on the potential appearance, and how it would more likly than not play with swing voters.

Think of it this way, which side ended up with the better sound bites? I would suggest that the Republicans did.

Zeldazot said...

None of you read the New Yorker? Good article in this weeks issue about how even the Pentagon thinks these are kangaroo courts. Oh, but I forgot, people in New York didn't notice that little episode you call 9/11.

Chris said...

Look, herrenvolk, half the Left blogosphere is calling for Bush's impeachment as a result of Hamdan. We're just going to hand the Democrats the rope they will use to hang themselves. The Democrats' base will be all out during a midterm cycle: that means that it's Moonbat Country out there. All Impeachment, All The Time. Send Bushhitler to the Hague for War Crimes Trials and All That.

This is not what a mature political party that claims that it can unite the nation and lead it in a time of war does when it is in opposition. I don't care how well received Peter Beinart's book was; he's still peddling snake oil. The Democrats are still at the Michael Foot/Red Ken/Militant Tendency Old Labour Party stage of opposition. They're nowhere near the Tony Blair stage yet. They're too dominated by the haters.

And so, we'll use this court decision, which Ann rightfully calls a Mulligan for the Administration, to gleefully cut the liberals' balls off, and rightly so. Base Democrats don't change their stripes. They will be insistent on full Geneva Convention Rights for Al Qaeda Beheaders and Serial Killers, up to and including Swiss Francs and the right to conduct "Science Experiments". At the same time, they will also insist that George Bush is a War Criminal and must be Tried at the Hague.

Think there'll be some cognitive dissonance going on with the electorate? Mmmhmmm....

Natch, we'll makes sure that the swing voters hear the differences between the two parties. Wait till Karl gets his hands on this...

Democrats=Cushy fluff pillows and Movie Night at Gitmo for Al Qaeda. War On Terror=War On Drugs.

Republicans=Exterminate the Islamic Fascist Scum.

Yah, we definitely want to debate this issue, Democrats.