Friday, December 17, 2004

Strong leadership

In Britain, the Law Lords, the highest judicial body, ruled 8-1 that the law allowing indefinite detention of terrorism suspects violates their civil rights. No duh. The ruling is not binding, given parliamentary supremacy, so those locked up without trial under the law (12 of them) will not be released, although the British gov is thinking about reducing the standard of evidence, or making up new crimes, like “acts preparatory to terrorism” that these people could be tried for. Foreign Minister Jack Straw calls the decision “strident” and “simply wrong” and throws away Britain’s moral right to criticize the human rights record of any other country by adding, “On this dilemma of how to balance liberty and order, the most important liberty is the right to life. If that liberty is taken away by the terrorists, then we have not met our prime obligation as a government.”

And in the US, a federal district judge ruled that American courts have jurisdiction when the US has convinced foreign governments, in this case Saudi Arabia, to lock up Americans in their own prisons and torture them for information. The US government, in arguing the case, did not deny that it had done that, just that the legal system had no sway in such cases, or, in the words of the judge, “the United States is, in effect, arguing for nothing less than the unreviewable powers to separate an American citizen from the most fundamental of his constitutional rights merely by choosing where he will be detained or who will detain him.”

The US State Dept has designated al-Manar television, the Lebanese Hezbollah station France just banned, a terrorist organization. That’s right, a tv station = a terrorist organization. Insert obvious Fox News or Lifetime joke here. The real-life consequences of this designation is that any foreigner supporting it or associated with it can be banned from the US. The State Dept is using the word “incitement” to describe al-Manar’s nefarious, um, programming.

Hitler was a tax dodger. The bastard!

Earlier this month, I mentioned that Bush, whenever he meets a foreign leader, goes out of his way to describe him or her as a “strong leader.” He did the same with Berlusconi this week. But here’s a picture of “Comical” Allawi opening the election campaign with a bunch of candidates on the “Iraqi List,” keffiyah guys on the left, ill-fitting business suits and right-hand-holding-left-wrist guys on the right, with a big brotherish picture of Allawi behind them and the words “strong leadership” in Arabic.

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