Posted tagged ‘George W Bush’

Politics Due Process?

August 24, 2016

Abu Zubaydah appeared before a US Government hearing at Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility and asked to be released. Zubaydah has been at Guantanamo since 2006 after first being detained by the US in 2002. Described as a high official in al Qaeda, Zubaydah has never been charged nor has he had a “day in court” in the 14 years since his arrest.

Zubaydah’s Alice in Wonderland experience, of course, is similar to most other Guantanamo detainees. The US has found it easier to detain and lock suspect terrorists up in Guantanamo and near impossible to process the detainees in a legitimately recognized judicial system.

The way into Guantanamo was straight forward, the way out was an unfathomable maze.

Zubaydah’s plight again shines a light upon the narrow thinking right and the wobbly kneed left. At stake is the reputation, if not the future health of America’s judicial system, a tradition of “innocent until proven guilty”. Guantanamo stands with the best of third world countries judicial practices.

Where has the left political world been? Why have they not demanded that Guantanamo detainees be brought to the US and processed under established civil courts?

The standard reply is that the detainees represent the worst of the worst and keeping them out of the US is a step in assuring US citizens’ safety. This answer of course is patently bogus given that the likes of Ted Kaczynski (the uni-bomber) are safely held in Super-Max prisons for years. So, what is the reason?

IMO, the answer lies in domestic politics. George W Bush’s Administration opened this can of worms when it apprehended al Qaeda operatives, tortured them for intelligence reasons, and tossed them into a detention center outside the jurisdiction of US Courts. Later the Administration even paid “bounties” to foreign countries if they turned over “suspicious” individuals to US authorities. These suspicious individuals were shortly transported to Guantanamo.  The Bush “hawks” had never thought the matter through because they were so tough on terrorists and quite frankly, they could do it.

So, where is the politics.

Domestically, the Republican Party had hijacked the “law and order” and “national security” labels for political purposes.  The GOP could not reconsider and allow the public to think Guantanamo was mistake (for fear losing political face).

Democrats, cowardly chose to say “me too” on national security and felt boxed being unable to claim national security and then support closing Guantanamo.

The GOP controlled Congress even went to the extent of denying any funds to close Guantanamo and open already existing but empty super-max facilities in the US. (Talk about digging a hole and pulling the dirt in on top of you.)

At present, in order to release a detainee from Guantanamo, the Secretary of Defense must assure Congress that the detainee represents no further risk to US interests. The argument is no longer about justifying “indefinite detainment”, but about presumed guilt and without any judicial process.

Hmmm. It seems our current lot of political leaders were absent when their law schools taught about “due process”.

America’s Neo-Patriots

April 17, 2009

The Justice Department released the so-called “torture” memos yesterday confirming what had long been suspected.  The chicken hawks, George W Bush and Dick Cheney, in despicable ways drove the American ship of state far up on to the rocky coast of human abuse.  The torture memos outlined cruel and unusual treatment that they justified by citing national security.  Without obtaining the American citizens authorization, they mortgaged America’s world reputation and endangered the lives of Americans who might in the future come under detainment by foreign powers.

Attorney General Holder announced that the Justice Department would not pursue any CIA agents who might have followed the instructions contained in the memos since they were clearly following orders.  President Obama said the country should look forward and not back.  I wonder whether the President is seeing this situation correctly?

Think about the Wall Street disaster we are now experiencing and the apparent lack of accountability to the top CEOs upon whose watch terrible risk decisions were made.  Doesn’t that seem grossly wrong?  In many regards, Bush and Cheney, like banking leaders, played both the role of instigator and responsible overseer.  The tone set by these chicken hawks was poisonous and lead directly to these excursions from our laws.  On top of that they looked the other way when it became known that torture was being committed.  I think it is time to call both of them to task for their performance.

Any investigation of former President Bush and Vice President Cheney will be painful and raise fearsome levels of partisan politics.  President Obama certainly realizes this and is trying to deflect attention so as to not go down that path.  The question is, why should a President and Vice President be immune to following the law?  If proper questions are not raised, what limits will future Presidents be expected to follow?

Right, Center, Left

April 29, 2008

The Democratic presidential nominee selection process is clear but there appears to be two problems.  (1) Most Democrats want to know who the nominee is now, and (2) it is not clear who would be the nominee should the selection process actually get to the convention in late August.  People simply do not like uncertainty and the pundits have said all that could be said about this subject and need new red meat.

Here is an idea that might be an interesting way to settle this matter.  Let all three candidates run in the fall election.  John McCain would represent the right wingers as he should.  Hillary Clinton would represent the middle (bridging both moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats) as she will if she is elected.  And, Barack Obama would represent the more progressive and change oriented elements of both parties.  In this manner the Candidates could speak to their own constituents with assured favorable response and try to appeal to other voters on the basis of fear, gender, or hope.

We would be almost certainly assured a minority elected President since there appeal is roughly 1/3rd each.  The lack of a majority would force the run off to the House of Representatives and that would keep the pundits busy for quite some time.  I wonder whether the House is ready to step up to such a task?

You may think this is a silly proposal but from my perspective each of the candidates presents some real concerns.  The final decision is likely to be the choice of the least worst candidate.  While it is true that all three candidates would be more equip for the role of President than George w Bush, each carries some heavy baggage.  For me, any choice must not be a Bush III person which generally means:

    • fiscal and monetary responsibiltiy
    • a new and saner Middle East foreign policy
    • a sincere effort to balance the budget
    • closure of Guantanamo, full repsect of the Geneva Conventions, and an end to domestic spying without court orders.
    • an embrace of science
    • a respect for the rights of all people

From my perspective John McCain will fail this test and both Obama and Clinton will pass.  The House could then choose between these two and I would be willing to accept their choice.