Guantanamo Terror

Quote of the Day     “We can only trust that the next subjects … will include cooks, tailors, and cobblers without whose support terrorist leaders would be left unfed, unclothed, and unshod, and therefore rendered incapable of planning or executing their attacks.”         –Army Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a former Guantanamo official who has since become critical of the legal process

One of Osama Bin Laden’s drivers was convicted today in a mockery of a trial held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  First things first–Osama has a car?  I thought he used a donkey or something.

With that out of the way, I’ll assume the allegation that this man was Osama’s driver is true.  I’ll also assume its true that to be his driver, one must demonstrate fealty to Bin Laden.  Those facts are enough to convince me this man is terrorist and an enemy of the United States.  But compared to the harm done to our justice system, not just during this trial but for the last 7 1/2 years, he is but a pimple on a pig’s ass.

Just because someone is guilty does not mean you don’t give them a fair trial.  Notice I did not say they deserved one.  The public is who deserves a fair trial.  Because when a criminal is convicted based on a flawed process it sets a precedent.  The same process will be used again and again and eventually it will ensnare the innocent. In the driver’s trial, the Judge allowed hearsay evidence, evidence obtained through tortured interrogations, and most shocking of all–secret testimony.

It is beyond debate that the trial would be unconstitutional if the defendant were an American.  It is debatable whether it is constitutional for foreign nationals, but that is not the point of my argument.  If America cannot be relied upon to give a fair trial to everyone, who can?  If terrorists cannot be convicted using the 1000 years of Anglo-American jurisprudence that has developed to ensure fair trials, they should not be convicted at all.  After all, American civilian defendants have all of the rights denied to these detainees, yet are still convicted at a rate of around 99%.

The Republicans are responsible for this.  You may not care and you may even cheer them.  But remember they are also responsible for the paltry sum your dead grandmother will be worth if she’s mutilated by an out of control vehicle.  They are also responsible for the lowball settlement of your beachfront home leveled by a hurricane.  They are the Big Business funded and elected state Supreme Court Justices who sit as a last line of defense for corporations who have committed torts and crimes. They are also responsible for turning the Justice Department in to a political organization. All of this is tied together.  They have damaged the process systematically and they won’t stop until they own it.  

Maybe you like the way the Cons have handled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, their approach to gas prices and energy, their opposition to making health care available to poor kids, their stance against protecting the environment, or their vigorous defense (of the idea) of marriage, and maybe those issues are more important to you than the legal system.  But know this, when you vote Republican you are voting to put power in the hands of government and corporations and to take away power from individuals, even wealthy ones.   

Bonus Quotes of the Day

Those who would give up liberty for safety deserve neither.”     –Benjamin Franklin

You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can be free only if I am free.”     –Clarence Darrow

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About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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11 Responses to Guantanamo Terror

  1. Madd Dawg says:

    TB,
    Although I have enjoyed some of your posts over the past couple of weeks, I must say that I am disappointed that your well-reasoned, fair and keen insights on other topics completely evaporates on the issue of politics. I have not heard such a partisan, unfair and misguided rant of liberal dribble since suffering through Ann Richards’ speech at the 1988 DNC convention.
    The effort that would have to be expended by me to fully debate/refute the wild accusations stated in your blog would exceed the usefulness of doing so, but I will briefly respond as follows:
    -the guys in Guantanamo are terrorists—not American citizens–and they do not deserve the protections of the Constitutional freedoms for which our ancestors died—especially during a war; if you say it is not a declared “war”, then tell that to the families of the victims of 9-11 or the 4100 US soldiers who have died in the Middle East. If it is not a “war”, then why has the Democraticlaly-controlled Congress funded it with hundreds of billions of dollars? Lincoln suspended Constitutional rights for US citizens during the Civil War, but I don’t hear you ranting about him. War is hell.
    -I much prefer a stable, fair and predictable judicial system where all parties can weigh their risks and benefits and make good decisions based upon those factors to one of jackpot justice where businesses are scared to come to our State, where plaintiffs, greedy lawyers, and corrupt juries and judges work together to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from businesses knowing that a results-oriented justice in Jackson will overturn precedent on a daily basis in order to protect his buddies’ courtroom “victories”;
    -“opposition to making health care available to poor kids”—there is already a massive governmental program for doing so, like everything else these days. what about health care for eveyone? housing, food, clothes, etc for everyone? are you a socialist now? what ever happened to free market capitalism and parents taking care of themselves and their kids? are we to rely totally on the government to solve every problem and satisfy our every need? If so, this country is doomed;
    -“against protecting the environment”—there are more environmental protection laws/regs in the US today than ever before. Some people don’t want to totally sacrifice all economic growth and prosperity in order to push environmental laws/regs even further. Instead of considering their viewpoint, you simply paint those people to be evil. If individuals understood the personal sacrifices that they would have had to make for the US to comply with the mandates of Kyoto, then support for it would have dropped to a few hippies in San Francisco and possibly you.
    -Madd Dawg comments will appear hereon when he is outraged by future posts smelling of injustice/hypocrisy on the TB site

  2. Madd dawg, welcome and thanks for your post.

    I do wish you had addressed the main point of my post, though maybe you didn’t because of my own failure to adequately communicate it. That point is the USA and our legal system should be fair, all the time. A fair system convicts criminals and can be relied upon to convict terrorists. To me it is Anti-American to be for secret trials that employ methods deemed unfair by conservatives and liberals alike for much longer than any of us have been alive.

    As to your other points, I do believe more should be done to provide adequate health care by our government. If that means I get called a Socialist, so be it. I find the current system to be Jackpot Medicine and the Insurance Companies’ profits bear that out.

    As to so called Jackpot justice in Mississippi, there is a fair argument that the system was unfairly biased against big business in the 1990’s. For the last 6 years the pendulum has not just swung, its stuck to the far far right. Mississippi’s civil justice system today is completely biased to favor big out of state businesses. I would love a “stable, fair, predictable justice system” but unfortunately right now it is only predictable.

    Iraq has nothing to do with 9-11 and nothing to do with my post.

    I don’t know what Lincoln has to do with anything, but I think his constitutional violations are a stain on his record.

    I’m not sure which wild accusations you think I’ve made, but everything I wrote about the trial, and more is in published AP reports all over the web.

    TB is very sensitive to allegations of hypocrisy. Please be specific and I’ll address them. If my logic reaks of hypocrisy, I’ll be the first to admit it.

    I said nothing about us not being in a war so I don’t understand this portion of your post. The Billions the President has caused to be spent on the needless Iraq war have severely damaged our country’s economy and undermined what I used to think were core conservative values of fiscal responsibility. And the damage he’s done to the military in the form of lost lives, inadequate equipment, lower acceptance standards, inadequate care for veterans and a strained National Guard should disabuse anyone of the notion that a Republican is necessarily “pro-military.”

    As for the environment, all I hear from Republicans is that either global warming doesn’t exist or that its a completely natural phenomena. Until they recognize there is a problem, they are against the environment according to my personal standards.

    TB will concede the last paragraph of my post was partisan and overly generalized and added little to opening meaningful debate and because of that I won’t point out the meaningless cliches you used to rebut since they were somewhat asked for.

    Though I have no illusions about changing people’s minds, I hope you will continue to post your point of view on my politics and my other posts, because I always enjoy a civil debate.

  3. MD, I just got the reference in your name. Now I can appreciate that you have added value to the site beyond your display of radical politics. Sometimes TB is slow. Bravo.

  4. supercynic says:

    Madd Dawg — where is that stable and fair judicial system? It’s not here in Mississippi. Check out the facts instead of the Chamber of Commerce’s propaganda. It is not possible that practically every consumer has been wrong for the past 6 years and every corporation has been right. It is not possible that those same jury pools practically always get it right when they convict someone of a crime. In all sincerity, do you really think that juries are cool-headed and unbiased when it comes to criminal trials, but they totally lose their ability to think rationally when it comes to corporations? That just doesn’t make sense. We’re the only state in the country without class actions and without joinder of claims. Is that not “pro-business enough”?

    Tennessee has no caps on damages, a strong consumer protection statute, and class actions and it was recently ranked as the fifth best state in the country to do business. The notion that a state’s judicial system is a strong indicator of economic growth was, is, and always will be complete bunk. Chamber propaganda.

    You can repeat it until the end of the earth and it will never be true. You can gets thousands of people to believe it and it will not be true. You can get our legislature to pass laws based on it, but that does not make it true. You can buy a nice supreme court that will squash consumers’ rights over and over again and it still will not be true.

    I’m not a rich lawyer. I’m not a greedy lawyer. I’ve never extorted money from any corporation. And I’m like the vast majority of lawyers in this state. Any excesses of the ’90s have been overly compensated by the current Reign of Terror.

  5. Madd Dawg says:

    SC, I am no longer in the daily legal trenches as you fellas are, but when any part of society goes to excess/extreme as the legal community did in the mid to late 1990’s, I think that it is natural for that segment of society to recoil to the other extreme as a reaction, so maybe the pendulum has swung too far to the right in the courtroom–I cannot say for sure. But “Reign of Terror”?? C’mon. Things naturally move to the middle over time, so just hold out a little longer, and maybe things will be back to the good ole days when everyone agreed that our legal system was fair and pure (was there ever such a time?).

    I do recall the general counsels of the companies that I used to represent constantly discussing the unfairness and unpredictability of the legal environment of our State and that being one of dozens of factors in deciding whether or not to continue to do business here or bring new business here. One of my clients shut down a bunch of offices across the State and pulled out completely in about 2001 solely because of the thousands of frivilous claims on file against them in bastions of high-minded jurisprudence such as Holmes County. Perhaps TN features other assets that make it a better place for a business to locate–like a better educational system or better BBQ restaurants.

    In response to your comments TB, I referred to war merely to state that lots of bad things happen in war, and people are generally willing to overlook them because of the high stakes involved—and I don’t really have a problem with that to a limited extent. I agree generally with what you said about our criminal justice system as it applies to people in America. However, I think that we can lower our standards for trials of the fellas at Guantanamo for a couple of reasons: 1. they are not US citizens, not arrested in the US and not a POW as they were not fighting for a country. Treatment of a POA would be subject to the protocols of the Geneva Convention. 2. One who claims a country is bound by the laws of that country and receives certain protections as a result thereof (you give up some freedom and receive some benefit from that). The Guantanamo boys are guys without a country. They abandoned all notions of loyalty to a country for loyalty to a terrorist group, so they lose the benifits of belonging to a society including those protections. 3. See previous comments on war and their stated goal of destroying us. The confluence of these 3 factors allows me to accept somewhat lower standards for conviction of these thugs who would gladly slit our throats in the middle of Market Street for no other reason than because we are American. They are receiving a trial 100 times fairer than a US soldier captured by Osama’s boys would receive. To assume that they will be convicted no matter what is an insult to the military tribunals overseeing the cases.

    My comments on hypocrisy were perhaps mislabeled. My “wild accusations” assertion was really refering to your rant against Republicans. I could, of course, detail a long list of “issues” that I have with various Democrats also, starting with all of the Clintons’ well-known ethical issues. But that would be a bore as I think that everyone knows that they are both devoid of morality all together. You seem to just want to blame Republicans for everthing bad that has happened over the last few years without (a) giving them credit for anything, and/or (b) passing along some blame to the Dems; and that is simply not the type of fair and balanced reporting that I would hope to read on this site.

    As for the military comment, Clinton made no effort to disguise his hated of the military, and when Bush took over, the morale of the troops was very low along with equipment and spare parts. This is the military that he took to the middle east, and the soldiers have done a pretty good job I think, despite some poor initial planning by their superiors. I have been privy to numerous anecdotes demonstrating Bush’s respect and admiration for the military, a quality that I don’t believe is shared by Pelosi, et.al.

    On the enviornment, I am one of those “the earth’s temperature dropped in the 60’s and 70’s, rose in the 80’s and 90’s and appears to be cooling now” and “its all part of a natural cycle, and there ain’t a damn thing any of us can do about it” kind guys. I am all for conservation, recycling and economically-feasible alternative energy sources. Question: how can the Democrats stop US oil companies from drilling here, prevent the construction of new refineries through regulations, oppose nuclear power and then blame the oil companies when the demand for oil goes up and the price follows?

    Good luck with your candidate of “hope and change” (whatever the hell that means) who recently stated: “America is no longer what it could be, what it once was.” That is the kind of genuine leadership that we need!!! (NOT)

  6. When you conduct a trial in the manner the Guantanamo trial was, you might as well just go back to the Dark Ages and reinstitute “trial by ordeal”, load the defendant up with stones, throw him in a river and if he doesn’t sink he’s innocent.

    I don’t expect the masses to understand the importance of process, but I do expect MD to.

    I have been in the past and will be in the future hard on dems too. All politicians get drunk with power. When they abuse it they should be called out. I voted for Bush the first time, and supported much of his early policy. I was wrong. I find his administration shockingly intellectually dishonest from scientific issues to the wars to the economy and the legal system. I think the Cons need to be punished so they can hit bottom and rebuild based on their old principles. I’ll vote against them until they become the minority, at which time it will undoubtedly be time to punish the dems.
    It’s sort of like pulling for the Washington Generals until they trade for all the Globetrotters, then switching teams so my side can continue to lose.

  7. Madd Dawg says:

    There are few greater American traditions than always rooting for the underdawg!

    Note: If I am to to intellectually honest here, I must admit that the procedural methods used by the trials bother me more than I have let on (I have always liked your two bonus quotes associated with this post), but I have basically supressed those thoughts. In order to craft a logical argument to support the views expressed in my first post, I was forced to invent the “confluence of 3 factors” analysis—sort of like policy-minded Supreme Court Justices do when they desire a certain result in a case, but existing precedent doesn’t allow for it.

  8. supercynic says:

    MD — in the light of day, I now realize that while the facts/opinions stated in my post last night are true and I believe in them 100%, I probably could have stated them less stridently. I will try to be more measured in this comment.

    You’re right. I am in the trenches, which is exactly why I can see that this present supreme court is way out of line. Let’s assume that the ’90s were too plaintiff oriented. How does the court cure that? It stops the abuses that are present, that’s how. If a defendant should have won on summary judgment, then you reverse and render. If a jury trial has rendered “jackpot justice,” then you reverse and remand for either a completely new trial or one in which damages should be reconsidered in accordance with the opinion. BUT, you don’t say, “Some corporations got the screw job in the latter half of the ’90s, so for 6 years (and still counting), we’re going to give the screw job to consumers — consumers who had nothing to do with the abuses of the ’90s.” That’s two-wrongs-make-a-right type thinking. All I ever want is a fair shot. That’s it. But this court isn’t allowing that. Plaintiffs today are being punished for the supposed wrongdoings of “plaintiff-friendly courts” of the ’90s.

    Apparently you’re a lawyer. Therefore, you know that to end what abuses there were in the ’90s, all it would have taken is for the supreme court to make a couple of specific phone calls to trial judges stating that they need to make sure they enforce the MS Rules of Civil Procedure or some reversals are going to start coming down. Instead, we have this absolute travesty of a situation in which the baby has been thrown out with the bath water and now people’s lives and damages are capped out. It’s disgusting.

    Re Gitmo, I’ve written a couple of posts/comments on my blog about this. I agree with TB — if you can’t convict a terrorist, then your evidence was pretty shaky to begin with. Further, we’re the leader of the free world. We’re that shining city on a hill. We can’t just make up designations for people and then throw out all international law as irrelevant b/c we’ve unilaterally created a new category of prisoners.

    I agree soldiers shouldn’t have to read Miranda rights to terrorists in Kabul. But we also can’t hold people for 6+ years, never charge them with anything, show no intention of charging them with anything, but then when we do, give them borderline sham trials. By doing so, we become, in part, what we’re supposedly fighting against.

    I hope these opinions were offered in a more civil way. I really am a nice guy. And real funny when I’ve been drinking. Otherwise, I’m pretty boring.

  9. Madd Dawg says:

    SC, Let me clarify: I was not agreeing that the pendulum should swing back too far to compensate for past wrongdoing; I was merely stating my opinion that it tends to do so.

    I will check out your blog.

  10. supercynic says:

    Could you write a letter to the editor or something asking that the pendulum start to swing back? It seems to be stuck. 🙂

    I appreciate your checking out my blog, but I promise I was not shamelessly plugging it…….but it can be found at http://supercynic.wordpress.com and it has all kinds of funny, insightful, interesting, and engaging posts and comments about everything under the sun. It’s a must read.

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