Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A clean, safe and humane place for enemy combatants

On his last full day in office, Tony Blair held a press conference with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator and the Terminated, the British press uniformly called it.

(As I write, Blair’s last Prime Minister’s Questions is going on. Someone just asked him, apropos of that meeting, what Blair would do, if he came back from the future, to save the planet. Blair, as was his wont, ignored the question.)

It wasn’t enough that Gordon Brown will become prime minister tomorrow, he had to bring a trophy: MP Quentin Davies has defected from the Tories to the Labour party. And is there a single British newspaper able to resist mentioning that Davies was once fined for cruelty to sheep?

That was a rhetorical question.

Military Moron of the week, Col. Morris D. Davis, chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions, for his op-ed piece in yesterday’s NYT, entitled, “The Guantánamo I Know and Love.” Evidently Guantanamo “is a clean, safe and humane place for enemy combatants”. It’s a clean, safe and humane place for them to be tortured and driven slowly insane, but hey, it’s clean. Glenn Greenwald has already effectively dealt with my favorite part, where he proves that Gitmo is nothing like Soviet gulags because David Hicks, the Australian captured in Afghanistan, “stipulated he was treated properly.” As Davis knows full well, because either he or one of his underlings negotiated the plea agreement, they required Hicks deny his earlier claims to have been tortured as part of that agreement, without which he’d never have gotten out of Guantanamo. This is Col. Davis’s gold standard for evidence. Did I mention that he is the chief prosecutor at the military commissions?

In fact, he says that hearsay and other forms of evidence considered too unreliable to be used in US courts can be used because “the Constitution does not extend to alien unlawful enemy combatants.” Whoa! Alien unlawful enemy combatants, wouldn’t want to meet one of those in a dark alley! He could beat you to death with the adjectives alone!

Davis says, “Some imply that if a defendant does not get a trial that looks like Martha Stewart’s and ends like O. J. Simpson’s, then military commissions are flawed.” Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the standard we were going for. Conversely, if Martha Stewart and O.J. Simpson were waterboarded, I think I could live with that.

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