Monday, November 27, 2006

Op-Ed: The Fix: Front-Row Seats at the Terror Show

By Jen Kolic
      When you’re living on little more than C-SPAN, whiskey and strong coffee, you tend to be a little uppity to begin with, but three very interesting pieces of news have recently surfaced that have made me more excitable than usual…
      First of all, a civil rights group and a dozen detainees are suing Donald Rumsfeld over treatment in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, in a German court. The lawsuit names Rummy and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, among others, as the main architects of U.S. policies that have essentially legalized torture. Why Germany? Ironically, they have universal jurisdiction over human rights abuses…
      Prosecution says that if they fail there, they may try courts in other countries. The Germans already turned them down last year, saying it would be better to try the case in the United States—which is crap. Held here, the trial would be so highly politicized and lengthy that the public would lose interest halfway through. I’m sure Bush could whip up some legal acrobatics that would put him indirectly in charge of the whole show, anyway…
      (Remember: here, being right doesn’t count unless you have the muscle to back it up.)
      The second exciting story is that the C.I.A. acknowledged the existence of two classified documents: a directive, signed by President Bush, outlining C.I.A. detention and interrogation methods and an analysis from the Justice Department detailing acceptable interrogation methods. The Agency is still crying “national security,” insisting it can’t actually release the documents, but even the admission of their existence is a big step toward a return to Hope and Decency…
      And finally, Jose Padilla is back in the news. You might not remember him, because he’s been rotting in a military prison for over 3 years, waiting for the government to decide what exactly he’s done wrong. First he was planning a dirty bomb attack, then he was just generally conspiring with those wily “al-Qaeda types.” Now, they say, he’s at least been sending them money…
      The case is on shaky ground. Padilla’s been detained and “interrogated” according to those new and improved methods outlined in the CIA documents, which are allowed in the new military tribunals. But Padilla’s being tried in plain old criminal court, where evidence obtained that way (i.e. hearsay and coercion) can’t be used.
      This could go both ways at once. Padilla may get something resembling a fair trial. But whether or not they actually have enough evidence to convict, the feds could use the case to “prove” that regular criminal courts are too restrictive for terrorism cases…and so the Wheels of Justice turn, and the Terror Show goes on…When you’re living on little more than C-SPAN, whiskey and strong coffee, you tend to be a little uppity to begin with, but three very interesting pieces of news have recently surfaced that have made me more excitable than usual…
      First of all, a civil rights group and a dozen detainees are suing Donald Rumsfeld over treatment in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, in a German court. The lawsuit names Rummy and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, among others, as the main architects of U.S. policies that have essentially legalized torture. Why Germany? Ironically, they have universal jurisdiction over human rights abuses…
      Prosecution says that if they fail there, they may try courts in other countries. The Germans already turned them down last year, saying it would be better to try the case in the United States—which is crap. Held here, the trial would be so highly politicized and lengthy that the public would lose interest halfway through. I’m sure Bush could whip up some legal acrobatics that would put him indirectly in charge of the whole show, anyway…
      (Remember: here, being right doesn’t count unless you have the muscle to back it up.)
      The second exciting story is that the C.I.A. acknowledged the existence of two classified documents: a directive, signed by President Bush, outlining C.I.A. detention and interrogation methods and an analysis from the Justice Department detailing acceptable interrogation methods. The Agency is still crying “national security,” insisting it can’t actually release the documents, but even the admission of their existence is a big step toward a return to Hope and Decency…
      And finally, Jose Padilla is back in the news. You might not remember him, because he’s been rotting in a military prison for over 3 years, waiting for the government to decide what exactly he’s done wrong. First he was planning a dirty bomb attack, then he was just generally conspiring with those wily “al-Qaeda types.” Now, they say, he’s at least been sending them money…
      The case is on shaky ground. Padilla’s been detained and “interrogated” according to those new and improved methods outlined in the CIA documents, which are allowed in the new military tribunals. But Padilla’s being tried in plain old criminal court, where evidence obtained that way (i.e. hearsay and coercion) can’t be used.
      This could go both ways at once. Padilla may get something resembling a fair trial. But whether or not they actually have enough evidence to convict, the feds could use the case to “prove” that regular criminal courts are too restrictive for terrorism cases…and so the Wheels of Justice turn, and the Terror Show goes on…

No comments: