Friday, January 23, 2009


The "lefty smugfest," as one of my friends described it in the comments, is unpleasant. But the right isn't wasting any time peddling its own brand of idiocy in response. There's been a lot of heated rhetoric about Obama's (predictable) decision to begin the process of closing Gitmo and dealing with suspected terrorists domestically. One commentator, former Bush speechwriter and aide Marc Thiessen, claims that Obama is "the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office." Pretty impressive for less than a week's work!

(As always, I will look for opportunities to roast both sides and, as always, opportunities should be plentiful. I've never had any use for the "Bush=Hitler" brand of sloganeering, but you don't hear many actual insiders saying stuff like that. Bush's main speechwriter calling Obama "dangerous" on Day Three is perfectly in keeping with the past administration's tone. It's not a dangerous or misguided policy; he's a "dangerous man.")

The argument put forth by Thiessen and others is, in part, that bringing terrorists inside our borders for purposes of trying them places Americans in greater danger. As someone who supports Obama's policy, I obviously don't agree with this, and I recommend reading Glenn Greenwald's recent piece in its entirety. Excerpt:
All of this is pure fear-mongering . . . Both before and after 9/11, the U.S. has repeatedly and successfully tried alleged high-level Al Qaeda operatives and other accused Islamic Terrorists in our normal federal courts -- in fact, the record is far more successful than the series of debacles that has taken place in the military commissions system at Guantanamo. Moreover, those convicted Terrorists have been housed in U.S. prisons, inside the U.S., for years without a hint of a problem.
(Via Patrick Appel, sitting in for Andrew Sullivan)


Blogger Matt said...

Totally agree with you. I'm actually in favor of keeping Gitmo open, and I think it's a terrible idea to try the detainees in criminal court, but that type of rhetoric is just dumb. It's not like he's just setting them free. In fact, he issued an Executive Order that said Gitmo should be closed in a year. That leaves plenty of time for him to change his mind, review individual cases, and make an informed decision.

I disagree with Obama's over-arching decision, but I applaud the way he's going about his business.

-- MattM

1:30 AM  
Blogger Jamal said...

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here." This is mindless political rancor. He's been talking about shutting this down all campaign and, gasp, he's followed through on his promise. Perhaps the shock from the right is that a politician followed through on a campaign promise within hours. Perhaps? And as far as the "danger." I wonder why Republicans fear our constiutional system of jurisprudence so much. If it's so bad that we can't trust it, then let's just amend the 6th and 7th amendments. And why are states fine with housing murderers, rapists, and such in their states but not terrorists? I didn't know the moral curve was so steep. I don't seem to remember such an uproar when Timothy McVeigh was housed in a federal prison and subject to our "dangerous" constitutional system of law. But what do I know. I'm just a lawyer who regularly reads the constitution.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

One of the differences is that the evidence that generally is necessary for open court is classified in these cases and its publication in open court could jeopardize sensitive operations. These cases necessarily have to be treated differently than your run of the mill murder or rape case. If we treat these like regular cases, then the government is confronted with risking that these dangerous terrorists go free or revealing classified information that jeopardizes our intelligence operations and gives the enemy valuable information about what we know and don't know. I'm a lawyer too.

But if we do keep them in U.S. prisons, I'm not so worried. Just house them with general population in a place like San Quentin and tell their fellow inmates that these are child killers. I hear those are always the most popular inmates in prisons.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Jamal said...


I generally agree with most of your points. And think that high security prisons like you speak of would be just fine. I would like to point out that part of the constitutional crises that the Bush administration visited upon us is that not all imprisoned are terrorists. It is a flawed assumption. That is the problem. We have to have a level of transparency, presentation and trustworthiness of evidence because it is beyond dispute that we have imprisoned, tortured and ruined innocent people. I am all for a middle ground and understand security concerns. But not at the price of our constiutional system or humanity. Many CIVIL trial in the U.S. (some of which I have tried) involve confidential in camera review of evidence that never sees the "light" of public disclosure but sees the "light" of an independent fact finder (judge or jury). That seems to me to be a much better compromise involving both protection of sensitive evidence, protection of our constitutional system, and protection of innocents.

3:58 PM  

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