Sunday, November 27, 2005

The important thing is for someone not to come away thinking this whole process is arbitrary, which it is not


Adam Liptak in the NYT writes that the Bush admin “sets its own rules” as to whether prisoners in The War Against Terror (TWAT) are charged with a crime or held forever as an enemy combatant, although even that gives them too much credit, since there is no evidence that rules actually exist. A Justice Dept spokesmodel says, “The important thing is for someone not to come away thinking this whole process is arbitrary, which it is not,” but if we go by my computer dictionary’s definition of arbitrary, “2. (of power or authority) used without constraint; autocratic”, then that is exactly what we’re talking about. The factors the spokesmodel cites for how someone will be treated are:
national security interests, the need to gather intelligence and the best and quickest way to obtain it, the concern about protecting intelligence sources and methods and ongoing information gathering, the ability to use information as evidence in a criminal proceeding, the circumstances of the manner in which the individual was detained, the applicable criminal charges, and classified-evidence issues.
And evil lawyer John Yoo adds,
The main factors that will determine how you will be charged are, one, how strong your link to Al Qaeda is and, two, whether you have any actionable intelligence that will prevent an attack on the United States.
What’s missing from these lists? Human and civil rights, the rule of law, fair trials, justice. Every factor they cite is about the convenience of the state, and the state alone.

Speaking of the rule of law, Singapore has fired its long-serving hangman, Darshan Singh, after his name (and most of his body) were revealed in The Australian. Singh has hanged more than 850 people, as many as 18 in a single day. Singapore is scrambling to import a new executioner in time for the scheduled hanging of an Australian drug-smuggler. Singh will miss the extra cash, but says, “In a way I am happy.” And that’s the important thing.

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