Posted by: Jim | June 11, 2007

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

I just read this interview with Colin Powell here. In my mind, Powell fell from grace while he was Bush’s hand puppet, but is trying to undo his bad karma by speaking freely now.  Maybe after about 100 more speeches like this he will undo the damage he did. Keep it up Gen. Powell!

GEN. POWELL: … Guantanamo has become a major, major problem for America’s perception as it’s seen, the way the world perceives America. And if it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I’d close it. And I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system. The concern was, “Well, then they’ll have access to lawyers, then they’ll have access to writs of habeas corpus.” So what? Let them. Isn’t that what our system’s all about? And, by the way, America, unfortunately, has two million people in jail all of whom had lawyers and access to writs of habeas corpus. And so we can handle bad people in our system. And so I would get rid of Guantanamo and I’d get rid of the military commission system and use established procedures in federal law or in the manual for courts-martial. I would do that because I think it’s a more equitable way to do it and it’s more understandable in constitutional terms. I would always—I would also do it because every morning I pick up a paper and some authoritarian figure, some person somewhere is using Guantanamo to hide their own misdeeds. And so, essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission. We don’t need it, and it’s causing us far damage than any good we get for it. But, remember what I started in this discussion saying, “Don’t let any of them go.” Put them into a different system, a system that is experienced, that knows how to handle people like this.

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Responses

  1. The same system that found O.J. Simpson not guilty. These people are rich, and will buy the best lawyers money can afford. The lawyers, in true lawyer fashion, will soak up the money and care little about what these people are capable of. I think Powell is off the mark here. We are a litigious society, and we see, every day (and every time Dateline NBC is on) how justice is miscarried on a regular basis. I prefer suspected terrorists in the hands of the military. My $.02…

  2. I do not believe we should take this away from the military. My concern lies in terrrorism and the snails pace our current legal system moves at. I do not know how effective we would be if we transferred the Gitmo prisoners into the American legal system. It seems there have been some atrocities committed at Gitmo however just like our VA hospitals have seen some bad press lately for their shortcomings. I believe the correct solution and the effort put forth should be geared to fix and improve the current system and not scrap it for something else.

  3. The “current system” is very new and unproven, not to mention unconstitutional. It was introduced in 2003, and can be found here: http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2003_cr/hr1290.html

    Furthermore, the snail’s pace of our tried-and-true legal system might seem more like a 3-cylinder Yugo when compared to the pace of the Guantanamo system. There are prisoners there who have been held for 6 years without even being accused! Read this article: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/11/attack/main572608.shtml

    Then read this: http://www.dawn.com/2007/01/12/top17.htm

    Let me know what your opinion is after you read them.

  4. Took the words right out of my mouth, Jim, regarding length of trial. It is a scandal that somebody can be held for years without charges even being laid. That is not part of a justice system, that’s basically purgatory.

    As for OJ Simpson, Todd, using that one trial, that was something of an aberration, to damn the justice system, I don’t think that’s a very thorough critique.

  5. In reading the Military Tribunals Act of 2003 it seems to protect the interest of American’s well. I see that we currently have 660 detainess at this time according to the article you directed me to read. That does not seem unreasonable. I agree that being detained indefinately is hardly fair and being unable to appeal in any way and find your freedom is again, hardly fair. I suspect however that by and large, of those 660 detainess being held, they are being held for a reason. When it comes to terrorists and non US citizens I am not quite as concerned about fair. They are connected some how to the efforts of someone to kill Americans. Are they right in all 660 cases – I doubt it and this is unfortunate. I suggest Congress should work to improve this system but it appears it is being used the way Congress designed it. No doubt it should be scrutinized and modified as needed to constantly find improvements. I guess we would need to define what the goal is. In my mind it is not about terrorist or suspected terrorists rights…it is about Americans not being blown up.

  6. “When it comes to terrorists and non US citizens I am not quite as concerned about fair. They are connected some how to the efforts of someone to kill Americans.”

    This posture, that being fair, ie: being just, to those in Guatanamo is somehow not as important, due to the nature of the crimes committed (not that we know what these crimes are if charges have not been laid) is erroneous. Look at the heinous crimes that the regular justice system deals with – I am sure there are many of us who might feel that due process is something a mass-murderer or a serial sex offender, etc, somebody whose crimes we find repugnant, hardly deserves, yet that is precisely why a fair process is essential, so that an initial reaction of abhorrence to the charges laid does not distract us in the pursuit of justice for all. If we move away from these precious notions of fairness, then the innocent who are wrongly accused are ill-served. We could extend your ‘logic’ of “They are being held for a reason” to all sorts of instances where somebody is arrested on suspicion of a crime, only later to be released without charge, or brought to trial and found innocent, and these are people arrested within the orderly scenario of American society. You are trying to spread some notion of ‘reasonable detainment’ over many people who were arrested in the post 9/11 fervour, in a far-off country America hardly seems to understand, in the context of the fog of war.

    The notion that you deny people due process to stop Americans being blown up just does not compute. There is no way to measure such a contention and, as such, it is a piece of baseless emoting. That you sign off with it as if it represents the conclusion of a reasoned argument is disappointing.

  7. Apparantly Congress agreed with me. I will keep my opinion as a reasoned one.

  8. “Apparantly Congress agreed with me. I will keep my opinion as a reasoned one.”

    I do not think you grasp the principles of logic. That Congress made the decision you advocate does not mean that your opinion is reasoned, no more than it means that Congress’ opinion is reasoned. That you find an ally in a Congress that has shown itself to be timorous and hellbent on compromise since the elections, well, so? Did anybody advocate your line of ‘stopping Americans being blown up’ during the debate? Feel free to quote them!

    I prefer Powell’s view because it resolves a festering sore on America’s reputation in the world and it restores to the Guatanamo detainees the full right of access to American justice. It is also pragmatic, as the next administration may not want to inherit such a place, so ending its existence now is prudent.

  9. I understand your point Felix. The fact that my opinion is different than yours does not equate to my opinion not being reasoned. It simply means we disagree. It seems you are on the attack but fail to respect any opinion other than your own. How foolish to say I have no reasoned arguement.

  10. Guantanamo is just another reason for the other countries of the world to hate the ‘good ol USA’. This government is making enemies at an unprecidented rate. These countries have different reasons, but they are united with the same disgust/repression against/by the US.

    The greatest terrorist today are the governments of the US and China. Why? Emissions of CO2 of course. This is one of the most concerning issues shared around the world, if not the MOST. However, one gov’t is promissing to change. You see this “promise” is very intelligent, because it makes friends, not enemies. Whether or not they fullfil this promise is another story. On the other hand, the other gov’t blatantly tells the world we are not going to help save our planet/species. This is a slap in the face! Better yet, let’s double the amount of emissions by using liquid coal. Now there’s a solution. Again the whole world is trying to reduce, and one country wants to increase. It makes me ashamed to be an American. The technology exists: windmills, i.e., alternative sources of energy. Cars that run on compressed air, that’s right compressed air, http://www.aircar.com .

    Now, controlling the world with war, in the name of democracy is another story, but the result is the same, more enemies. It’s exactly these kinds of attitudes and actions that give the majority of the US population a bad name and ugly face. It’s these things that give this arrogant money throwing sterotype to Americans. For what? The Holy Economy… Can we/they be so stupid/selfish/inconsiderate, etc., etc. The answer is obvious…

    I hope I’m wrong. It seems to me that the capitalist USA is the pre-antichrist. The antichrist looks to be communist and wanting to dethrone the only superpower.

  11. Sorry, the correct address is http://www.theaircar.com

  12. “One of the most frequently asked questions is about the safety of the compressed air storage tanks. These tanks hold 90 cubic metres of air compressed to 300 bars. Many people ask whether this system is dangerous in case of an accident and if there is a risk of explosion. The answer is NO”

    I think it is irrelevent if the tanks are dangerous as the car is a glued together aluminum frame wrapped in fiberglass – you are already dead from impact in this go cart. I think it is a noble idea and think they are on the right track – free energy to power a vehicle that does not harm the environment is fantastic! The proto type now is nothing more than a flimsy go cart however and has a long way to go before I would put my family into the vehicle.

  13. Back on track. I’d like to ask three questions about Powell’s recommendation.

    1. What would represent American values more to the rest of the world? To give even our enemies a chance at freedom by providing them with a fair trial? Or to lock accused in a slammer with no hope for a trial, potentially forever?

    2. Why doesn’t President Bush fear these people using the system that he claims to be defending? If our Legal system is so broken, and thus we should not allow these alleged criminals to use it, why are we defending it so vehemently? Why aren’t we fixing it?

    3. What would be the Christian response? Jesus said, “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” So for those who feel we should represent Christian principles, why are you in favor of such an unchristian practice?

  14. 1. There is no perfect answer Jim. I agree that in an idealistic world we would like everyone to get their trial with legal representation and be home for lunch. We are at war however and in war there are prisoners. War with terrorists like we wage today is new and we are learning how to wage this war as we go. When the terrorists are religous fanatics it makes it doubly difficult to supply them a fair trial as you suggest. You suggest we should assign them rights we afford to US citizens but the fact remains they are not US citizens and they are not subject to those rights. Now we talk about representing ourselves to the world and I like that we have represented to the world that we will wage war against terrorists. We will not cower in our homes and pray it is not us blown up, no, we will hunt you down in your country and take the battle to you.

    2. Not sure I understand exactly what you are asking Jim. I will simply state that US citizens enjoy the legal system of the US and terrorists do not.

    3. I wonder if you take that out of context. I think when spoken by Jesus, and I only hazard my opinion on this, that Jesus referred to those who refused to worship false gods and were persecuted for following the teachings of Jesus. Some day we will find out the true meaning of this but somehow I do not think it applies to terrorists.

  15. Bubbagut,

    The Jews Jesus was addressing in the “Sermon on the Mount” were persecuted by the Romans. It was political persecution. He spoke the words in Aramaic, which was written in Greek and now translated into English. I’m not an expert either, but I think the gist of it the entire “Sermon on the Mount” that it’s a good thing for us humans should take the high road. Taking the high road is DIFFICULT, but GOOD. That’s why Jesus admonished us to do it. Be meek. Be merciful. Be a peacemaker. I see none of these qualities in the position that most Christians are taking.

    Torture and imprisonment without cause or justice is not the high road. I find it AMAZING that today’s Christians are able to so thoroughly pervert Christ’s message. And this is coming from an avowed agnostic: today’s Christians have truly become Pharisees.

  16. “That’s why Jesus admonished us to do it. Be meek. Be merciful. Be a peacemaker. I see none of these qualities in the position that most Christians are taking.” Look harder Jim – it is there.

    “Torture and imprisonment without cause or justice is not the high road. I find it AMAZING that today’s Christians are able to so thoroughly pervert Christ’s message. And this is coming from an avowed agnostic: today’s Christians have truly become Pharisees.” This is a very inflammatory statement you make Jim. Without cause is of course wrong. We have not claimed eenie meanie miny moe as our system to send people to Guantanamo. We have cause for doing this.

    I think you make an emotional and groundless arguement at this point. To say Christians pervert Christ’s message is silly – it is the terrorists that are being inhumane and killing innocents. Why not get off your soapbox and start pointing the finger where it belongs at the terrorists?

  17. Can’t you see? Jim hates our freedom. He LOVES the terrorists. LOVES them. As a matter of fact, he has a picture of Osama Bin Laden in his wallet. I’ve seen it. It has little glittery heart stickers all over it. It’s really kinda precious.

    * * *

  18. Bubbagut, do you know how Iraqi citizens were singled out to be put in Guantanamo prison forever, without trial, and without being charged? Among other things, all it took for some prisoners was testimony from another Iraqi. That’s all! That’s all it took. That’s our “cause.” So my argument is not groundless at all. So if you want to focus on terrorists in this manner, you will be focusing on them *forever.* All you have to do is take yourself out of your middle-American mindset for a second to figure that out. We’re creating hatred. Jesus’s message is one that short-circuits hatred and thus eliminates the NEED for terrorism.

    No matter what you think Bubba, Christians in favor of Guantanamo tactics *are* perverting Christ’s message. Here’s another example: Matthew Chapter 5: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” The “eye for an eye” philosophy makes perfect sense superficially, but in today’s world, it will ultimately lead–not to merely an eyeless and toothless world as Gandhi suggested–but to the destruction of the entire human race. But Christians applaud the “Bring it on” statement and the pre-emptive strike doctrine. They would make Jesus vomit if he were here today.

    If you refute this scripture too, and call my argument silly and inflammatory … I will show you more. Jesus was rather inflammatory himself when talking to the pharisees. Maybe I’ll actually go to heaven for acting like him. Heheh.

  19. Oh Jesus Fucking Christ, will you guys quit invoking Jesus Fucking Christ already? The guy is a mythical figure, like Paul Bunyan or the Hydra or Daffy Duck, but with a bit more symbolism. If he WERE alive today — and if he had ever lived at all — yeah, he’d be disgusted with all the crap that so-called Christians spew in his name. But luckily for ALL of you, he didn’t really exist, and neither does Hell, which should be a big relief to all the morons who take the Bible literally, because if the place actually existed, and your Bible were actually more than a bunch of prescientific and Dark Ages babble, every single one of you fuckers would be on an express elevator with no ‘up’ button.

    I can’t believe this is the twenty-first century. Please, somebody, tell me I’ve been punk’d. Ashton? Are you there?

    * * *

  20. “Do ya have to use so many swear words, Dude?”

    We are getting very side-tracked on this thread. The point is whether Guantanamo tactics are good for this country. I’m trying to show how Jesus teaching’s are good and correct in this situation. I’m not really interested in whether Jesus existed or not–his legacy exists and that’s what we’re discussing.

  21. Cheeky fucker.

    😉

    * * *


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