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December 19, 2005


While agreeing in general with this piece, I have two points to make about one sentence.

While I have a lot of concerns about Guantanamo, I do not fundamentally object to the fact that our government held Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu al-Hakim while it believed that they were enemy combatants.

One: your government believed that Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu al-Hakim were enemy combatants for no good reason. Your government knew - had known since at least 2002 - that many of the detainees were "Mickey Mouse". You should fundamentally object to the fact that your government continued to assume, for no particularly good reason, that so many detainees were "enemy combatants" for so many years.

Two: The invention of the category "enemy combatant", as someone who was not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions, was illegal. Anyone captured in war who is not immediately determined to be a civilian and entitled to the rights of a civilian in time of war, is entitled to be assumed to be a prisoner of war, with all the rights under that Geneva Convention, until the detaining power can by means of a competent tribunal prove them not to be so entitled. When Bush declared that his government had a right to hold "enemy combatants" without treating them as prisoners of war, he broke the law.

In the Washington Monthly recently, you asserted: "for a President to order violations of the law meets my criteria for impeachment."

That's exactly what Bush did. In declaring Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu al-Hakim enemy combatants and holding them in Guantanamo Bay without any of the rights of a prisoner of war (including the right to communicate with family) he broke the law. So, if you have such fundamental objections to Bush breaking the law in one instance, why do you have "no fundamental objections" to Bush breaking the law in this other instance?

The "he might be a terrorist" argument just doesn't cut it. Not because terrorists should be allowed to go free, but because as a rationale for suspending constitutional rights it is subject to abuse. Just like these two men, just like FISA, just like torture.

Men (and women) in power cannot be trusted with that power unsupervised and unchecked. If there is ANYTHING history teaches us, it is the truth of that statement.


agree with jesurgislac. To be called an "enemy combattant" and sent to Gitmo is about the same as beeing sent to Siberia for "contra-revolutionary activities".

Or worse; at least the chekists had show trials.

I'm still waiting for any evidence that passing a law against something will stop this administration from doing it. Even if the judge rules in favor of Qassim and al-Hakim, what incentive does the government have to actually let them go?

This is not to say that there's no point in opposing the Graham amendment -- there's always the chance that our next administration will be more law-abiding. But I'm not holding out hope that it will change much over the next three years.

Stentor, I'd really like to know what intra-judicial communications have been happening.

I imagine that, in theory, it'd be easy - the judge orders their immediate release, within 24 hours. If that doesn't happen, and there's no stay by a higher court, then the judge puts out a warrant for the arrest of Donald Rumsfield, for contempt of court.
If any officer in the military, or lawyer arguing before the court attempts any BS, hit them with a contempt citation. Make sure that it includes a stiff (as in bankrupting) fine for each day that they don't comply.

So I assume that *something* is going on, but what?

Oh, are American right-wingers cheerleading authoritarians, yet?

Hilzoy, by 'next week' you mean this week, yes? I got the impression the Senate is trying to get a bunch of things done in a hurry exactly so that they don't have to be in DC the week between Christmas and New Year's.

I find it very hard to follow the Congressional doings without help from people who work on the Hill. So bear with me....

Is it the case now that McCain's amendment and the Graham (-Levin-Warner-Kyl) abomination will be attached not to the defense appropriations bill but to the authorization bill? And the approp. (spending) bill will be voted on before the authorization? God, these Republicans have trashed the process; in the "olden days" the auth. bill would always be passed first, in fact often months earlier.

So we now live in a country where a single person can strip a citizen of their constitutional rights ("enemy combatant"), detain them in secrecy (Guantanamo et al), torture them in secrecy (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, etc.), render them to other countries in secrecy ("extraordinary rendition") and never have to answer to anyone regarding their decisions (Graham amendment). How exactly is this different from a dictatorship?

the vote is probably today or tomorrow hil.

frankly we're going to lose this one but I hope that doesn't discourage people from calling their reps--some losing battles are worth fighting.

Nell, it now Title X to Div. A of Defense Appropriations (HR 2863): short title is the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.

The http://www.rules.house.gov/109/text/hr2863cr/109hr2863cr_text.htm>House Rules Committee has a link to the bill text, in pdf form. Title X, which includes the McCain anti-torture provisions, starts on p. 154 of 465.

The bill passed http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HR02863:@@@S>the House at 5:02 a.m.

The bill passed the House at 5:02 a.m.

5:02 a.m.???

This is a travesty of a mockery of a sham.

It's true. An all-night session on Sunday. Sneaking it through while we sleep -- literally.

The House voted to cut a thin slice off federal deficits and sink oil drills into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge early Monday, quelling Democratic opposition in a marathon struggle ending near dawn.

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