Thursday, June 19, 2008

Heartland Redux

I have a bunch of griping to do, but this was just a little too stupid to pass up.

A 12-YEAR-old American girl and her friends were astounded when a man walked up to their lemonade stand and demanded their takings.

"The guy came up and was, like, 'Give me your money,''' said 12-year-old Dominique Morefield of Terre Haute, Indiana, who was running the lemonade stand with her friends.

"I was shocked. It was just my immediate reaction to chase after him.''

She chased the man, who made off with $US17.50 ($18.50), to a nearby house before calling police, the Associated Press repported.

It took police 45 minutes to persuade Steve Tryon, 18, to come out of the house, where he was arrested and charged with robbery, the AP said.

He is being held in jail on a $US50,000 bond.

"I didn't think anyone would come up to a lemonade stand and steal. That's really low,'' 12-year-old Fred Erstine said.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

John Yoo is Evil's Bitch

That was kind of fun to write.

I have been reading a great deal about the torture memo and the additional revelation of Evil from the executive branch. Best one line summary:
"No civilian laws bar us from torturing prisoners because this is a war; the law of war doesn't apply to bar us from torturing prisoners because this isn't the kind of war where the law of war applies."
I started this back in April and it has sat in the 'Edit Posts' pile for some time now. There was some hope of examining the tension that the academic world seemed to be expressing about the tenure of John Yoo. Perhaps it is my lack of sophistication when it comes to matters of right and wrong, but when you build the legal framework that is used to torture and murder people there is something gods dammed wrong with you. Evil I think they call it?

Unable to leave well enough alone, our stalwart anti-hero jumped to the attack on the restoration of habeas to the detainees in Guantanamo by the Supreme Court this week. A brief aside:

(1) Our society is such a collection of lamer couch potato sheeple that the debate and decision of a 900 year old right goes un-noticed by the singular majority of the population. We ought to be out with pitch forks and torches. Mumble mumble mumble - I couldn't get child care either...
(2) We are discussing rights for the smallest minority of people illegally held by the US. What about the other 99% that are locked up in prison ships and in other countries?

In the article - a WSJ Op-Ed - he accuses the court of "judicial imperialism of the highest order". Imperialism. That's rich. The argument follows where he suggests that "an alien who was captured fighting against the U.S. to use our courts to challenge his detention." While this is hypothetically true, we need to pause and examine how the vast majority of the people who find themselves under lock and key in US held Cuba get there. Give you a hint - it has little to do with people fighting. Perhaps some examples would be most illuminating?
Canadian citizen Maher Arar was also detained at the airport -- on a stop-over at JFK Airport on his way back from a family vacation to his Ottawa home -- and then sent to Syria to be tortured for 10 months, only for it to be discovered thereafter that he was completely innocent, that U.S. officials apprehended the wrong man. German citizen Khaled El-Masri was snatched up while on vacation in Macedonia, accused of being a Terrorist, shipped around to multiple countries, denied access to the outside world, tortured by the CIA for months, only to be released once they realized it was a case of "mistaken identity." And the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, Lakhdar Boumediene, was a Bosnia citizen, living in Bosnia, who was arrested by Bosnian authorities at the request of the Bush administration, investigated, and determined by the Bosnian Supreme Court to be innocent. But upon his being released, U.S. forces inside Bosnia immediately seized him and shipped him to Guantanamo.
This argument embodies such a transparent attempt at fear mongering and outright lying that we once again stand gape jawed at the heartlessness of it all. As I have mentioned once or twice, this group of scoundrels deserve the sort of Justice that they have so aggressively denied so many others. It is the only way that we as a nation can begin to look one another in the eye again.

I leave my gentle audience (all three of you!) with this sequence from Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons" which sums it up nicely:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

decaf freedom

While puttering about the internets, I ran across an interesting factoid. At The Guantanamo Blog there was a a quesion brought up regarding the remaining 99% of US prisoners. This referenced an original article by Chris Floyd which discussed the disposition of the remaining majority.
The United States government is holding some 27,000 human beings in secret prisons around the world. The overwhelming majority of them are being held indefinitely, without charges, without rights, cut off from the outside world, and subject to "harsh interrogation techniques" (to use the prim locution for "torture" used by the Bush Administration and universally adopted by the American media).
27,000 human beings. A line of people 12 miles long, shoulder to shoulder.

As an interesting foil, we have the DOJ Inspectors General report on U.S. complicity in torture.

“These were not random acts,” The New York Times editorialized. “It is clear from the inspector general’s report that this was organized behavior by both civilian and military interrogators following the specific orders of top officials. The report shows what happens when an American president, his secretary of defense, his Justice Department and other top officials corrupt American law to rationalize and authorize the abuse, humiliation and torture of prisoners.”

One of those top officials, who stands revealed in the inspector general’s report as approving the torture policy, is Condoleezza Rice, who in her capacity as White House national security adviser turned away the concerns of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft as to the severe interrogation measures being employed. Rice, as ABC-TV reported in April, chaired the top-level meetings in 2002 in the White House Situation Room that signed off on the CIA treatment of prisoners—“whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called water boarding. ...” According to the report, the former academic provost of Stanford University came down on the side of simulated drowning.

You draw your own conclusions.