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Obama and Bush

March 9th, 2011

The announcement that military show trials are to recommence at Guantanamo Bay, combined with the brutal and vindictive treatment of Bradley Manning, make it clear that, as regards willing to suppress basic human and civil rights in the name of security, there is no fundamental difference between the Obama and Bush Administrations. The first obvious question is, why? The second is, how to respond?

A natural starting hypothesis would be that Americans, or the American ruling class, benefit from the abandonment of the rule of law. It’s certainly true that the suppression of basic rights has gone hand in hand with the development of a culture of impunity for the ruling class, particularly in relation to crimes committed in the name of security. But there’s very little evidence to suggest that Gitmo, military commissions and so on have done anything to promote security. Most obviously, after nearly a decade, they have yet to secure any genuine convictions, just a couple of squalid (on the government side) plea bargains, and one case where the defendant boycotted proceedings. Prosecutions of accused terrorists in criminal courts in the US and elsewhere have produced far more convictions and prison sentences, although of course they have also produced some acquittals and releases, outcomes that seem unthinkable in the US context.

A second hypothesis, which seems more plausible, is that Americans generally support these measures, and that Obama either shares their views or is acting out of political expediency. There’s plenty of opinion poll evidence to support this hypothesis. On the other hand, Obama easily beat Bush running on a platform based on the traditional rule of law. Moreover, you could probably get similar opinion poll responses in other countries, but restrictions on civil liberties have faced far more resistance nearly everywhere outside the US, even in countries that have historically been less interested in individual rights than the US.

A third possibility is that Obama has been captured by the national security apparatus within the US state, either through access to secret information (reliable or not) about the magnitude of the terrorist menace, or through the hidden exercise of political power. Certainly, the military-industrial complex seems only to have gained in power, despite its manifest incapacity to deliver on its promises in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc, and despite the absence of any apparent capacity on the part of the CIA and similar bodies to predict the course of international events.

As regards a response, this depends on where you stand. In the short run, and within US politics, there is little choice but to support Obama and the Dems as the lesser evil, at least as regards domestic policy. Presumably there must be a political path back towards the rule of law, but it’s hard to see it at present.

Internationally, the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and his actions has not yet attracted a lot of attention. For the moment, the public image of the US is still improving as a lagged response to Obama’s early actions. But it’s hard to see this being sustained indefinitely. In particular, the Wikileaks case has the potential for grave damage, especially given the recognition that Wikileaks (and, more generally, the capacity of the Internet to undermine censorship and secrecy) has done more to promote the cause of freedom than the rhetoric and actions of successive US Administrations.

Overall, though, it’s hard to avoid a feeling of fatalism when we contrast the hopes aroused by Obama’s inauguration with the reality of his administration.

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  1. jquiggin
    March 10th, 2011 at 16:21 | #1

    testing

  2. Chris Warren
    March 10th, 2011 at 16:40 | #2

    Back online ?????

    Hmm, three possibilities

    • Americans, or the American ruling class, benefit from the abandonment of the rule of law.

    • Americans generally support these measures (political expediency).

    • Obama has been captured by the national security apparatus.

    These are just symptoms. The extra-judicial psychological smashing of Manning and public jingoism represents a deeper alienation that must always arise from a false existence (illegitimacy).

    This has been explored at great length by Satre, Camus, Habermas, Marx, and less appealingly, Foucault (he blames or indicts institutions).

    American wealth is extracted from the rest of the world – in fact all OECD wealth is extracted from the rest of the world. This requires a particular set of political, economic, and military mores and institutions that reflect this fact.

    Once you take Manning out of the context of OECD world politics, the American response flip-flops. For instance, if Manning was Chinese and the files he released concerned Chinese military operations in Tibet, America and our commentariat would be nominating him for a Nobel Peace prize. In this case, the rhetoric coming out of Clinton would come from the other side of her forked tongue.

    As long as American corporates rely on cheap offshore imports and the associated global consensus, any disturbance will be massacred, by the American state – Democrat or Republican, of course supported by a cringing Australia.

    As long as your mode of existance is based on exploiting others, then the resulting false values flowing through your civilisation will always lead to infamy, illegality, jingoism, and violence.

    Plus, it would seem, distracted academics asking, why is the law abandoned? why is there jingoism? why is there security apparatus etc etc. Such questions are part of the problem.

    It is all, bad faith, alienation, illegitimacy, and rancid institutions that necessarily arise from expropriated wealth to defend the system of expropriation.

    I do not blame politicians for hitting “the reality of their administration” after winning an electoin. But they are to blame for pretending otherwise during an election campaign.

  3. Hermit
    March 10th, 2011 at 17:51 | #3

    I suspect Assange will go to Gitmo if they can get their hands on him. It doesn’t seem likely that Obama’s new best mate Julia will make much of a protest. Strangely enough in the past week I see strengths in the PM and weakness in Obama. I’m not sure where US health care stands but it must be well short of the developed world model. Remember at one time we thought Obama would get an ETS going but now he is mute on the subject. Therefore Obama has not delivered.

    From a broader perspective the US seems doomed to make it hard for themselves. Reading about desalination I see they use acre-feet for water volume not the simpler and widely used unit megalitres. Even Sheldon in ‘Big Bang Theory’ ridicules their arcane measurement units. They won’t change because they think the world must come to them. I think they’re wrong; the world will leave them behind. The US has 5% of world population yet they use 20% of the oil. Could be why they want to intervene in yet another Middle East skirmish. The glory days of WW2 must seem like yesterday.

  4. Uncle Milton
    March 10th, 2011 at 19:20 | #4

    “Obama easily beat Bush running on a platform based on the traditional rule of law.”

    Obama beat John McCain. Was McCain running to continue Bush’s policies? I don’t remember.

  5. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2011 at 19:35 | #5

    @Chris Warren

    Correct Chris, but has there ever been a successful tribe, band, culture or nation which has not been based on violence, expropriation and exploitation? The answer is no. Hence, all human existence is false existence.

    NB: I intend no irony here. I do in fact hold that ALL human existence is false existence, illegitimate existence, in the sense that Chris Warren writes about.

  6. Dean
    March 10th, 2011 at 19:55 | #6

    Imagine Obama let the guard down (stopped torturing, shut Gitmo etc) and a terrorist attack were to occur. The Democrats would never be elected again. I suspect things aren’t all they appear and there is a lot more scrutiny of human rights. Things are bad in the US now (socially/politically, economically and environmentally) and will be for some time because the Bush Administration was THAT BAD. The political mood is of great concern, and given the mid term elections, I fear the pendulum hasn’t been able to swing at all to the left and this will ultimately cause a seismic shift in coming years culminating in their second civil war. The US Constitution, that has held the country together for so many years, will likely form the basis of its destruction.

  7. Monkey’s Uncle
    March 10th, 2011 at 19:55 | #7

    I think part of the explanation may be political expediency. A lot of Democrats in office have a tendency to move to the right on certain issues (like national security, gay marriage, drug liberalization) in part because they assume that their liberal base vote is largely ‘rusted on’ and is not going to vote Republican, so they devote more effort to trying to appeal to culturally conservative swing constituencies and interest groups. And the Dems don’t want to be seen as soft on crime or terrorism.

    That Obama has changed his position somewhat since before he was in office, in some ways reflects the fact that it is easier to run on civil liberties, human rights, and due process when out of government than when in office. Once one is in power oneself, it is always easier and more tempting to believe that increased state powers are safe in one’s own hands.

  8. Christopher Dobbie
    March 11th, 2011 at 00:06 | #8

    @Ikonoclast

    So all autotrophs suffer an illegitimate existence?!

    The US suffers it’s moral failings like all good empires as they don’t practice what they preach in the strive to sustain their living standards.

    The giveaway with Obama is his lack of action. I would hazard that he was all three of your hypothesises prior to his election to presidency and as such I wouldn’t choose the lessor of two evils but let nature take it’s course.

  9. paul walter
    March 11th, 2011 at 09:52 | #9

    A definitive reply from Chris warren, as far as I am concerned.
    Add Hillary Clinton’s denial of Egyptian rights and we discover that the well is indeed empty.

  10. quokka
    March 11th, 2011 at 12:04 | #10

    I recall watching a speech by Obama shortly after his election where he said quite clearly that US prosperity was dependent on US military power. Important as the dollar standard has been to US supremacy never forget the importance of the F16 standard. Or as Chomsky put it, step outside the family and you get whacked.

    Issues of intelligence briefings, political expediency and political pressure all play themselves out in a historical context.

  11. Scott
    March 11th, 2011 at 13:13 | #11

    I guess the harder question is, from an Australian point of view, how to respond?

    The Anzus treaty is proving to be a millstone around our necks. It seems to me Australia’s doomed to sink with the US ship; we’re like a teenage girl stuck in a car with a very drunk driver. If the likes of Prof Q feel ‘fatalistic’ then there isn’t much hope at all, is there?

  12. Ikonoclast
    March 11th, 2011 at 15:50 | #12

    @Christopher Dobbie

    I spoke not about autotrophs but homo sapiens. Why drag the autotrophs in? Hmmmm, is a triffid an autotroph? ;)

  13. may
    March 11th, 2011 at 15:54 | #13

    the worry for me is the copycat conservatism on display here.

    “great big tax”,”serious” as something desirable in itself,mutterings of the need for a home grown tea party,out-of-whack presentations of fact in the news,brainless subjects presented as news,etc etc.

    off topic.
    has any-one else noticed what has happened to the clarion call of the ABC radio news?
    it sounds as if it has been slowed down to a screeling whine.
    what gives?
    sound engineering is not something the ABC has no expertise in.

  14. daggett
    March 11th, 2011 at 16:59 | #14

    This may not be much of a revelation to some, but according to Wikipedia the term “military industrial complex” used in Professor Quiggin’s article, originated in former President Eisenhower’s final Presidential speech in January 1961. This speech was featured at the start of Oliver Stone’s JFK of 1991. The film showed what I thought was a convincing and moving account of the fight by Eisenhower’s successor, President John F Kennedy, against that “military industrial complex” which ended tragically with Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 after which “military industrial complex” escalated the Vietnam War to its full horrific scale.

    Curiously, however, Frank Mankiewciz, a former confidante of both John and Robert Kennedy, who was hired as the publicist for the movie JFK (page 394 of David Talbot’s Brothers of 2007), worked as a Vice President for the public relations company, Hill and Knowlton, which infamously created the fictional account of how the cruel invading Iraqi soldiers had supposedly murdered Kuwaiti new-born babies by hurling them out onto the floor. The number of babies alleged, by the 15 year old supposed nurse Nayiraha al-Sabah, to have been murdered, varied between 15 and 312, the latter figure being being way in excess of the total number of incubators in Kuwait at the time.

    It was later revealed that the 5 year old ‘nurse’ Nayiraha al-Sabah was in fact, the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US and had been coached by Hill and Knowlton staff to present the “incubator baby” lie to the world media, the the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and other investigators.

    This lie helped swing American, Australian and other world public opinion behind supporting the 1991 war against Iraq. That war of course paved the way for the subsequent 2003 invasion of Iraq as well as the ongoing current war in Afghanistan, which begain in 2001, including the current human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay.

    Although it was not easy for me to find, there is evidence in the Washington Post article Kuwaitgate – killing of Kuwaiti babies by Iraqi soldiers exaggerated that Frank Mankiewicz played a direct role in this fraud:

    “Hill and Knowlton vice chairman (and former president of NPR) Frank Mankiewicz sent Schorr the Gnehm cable and some news clippings, including a Reuters dispatch from January 1992, appearing to confirm Nayirah’s charges.”

    It is curious that a person, who was so much at the centre of promoting the propaganda interest of the “military industrial complex” in October 1991 could only months later be promoting what seemed to me to be a powerful film againt the US military industrial complex”. Has anyone else any thoughts or information about this?

  15. fred
    March 11th, 2011 at 17:17 | #15

    “The second [question] is, how to respond?”

    The same way we did, I hope, during the Bush era.
    By condemning the practices at issue.
    Its the ‘what’, not the ‘who,’ that is important.

  16. rog
    March 11th, 2011 at 17:29 | #16

    One possibility is that the US is in a state of perpetual war. They invaded Panama (one of the pretexts was that the US citizens resident in Panama were under threat, another was that democracy was also threatened) and kidnapped Noriega who then became a POW. He was then jailed for breaking a US law whilst residing in Panama.

    We had an echo of this with JH who said that Australia would invade another country if that country was posing a threat to Australia’s security.

    The US is a great country to visit and Americans are warm, generous, polite etc. etc. But I wonder if the American dream has distorted their perception of what the rest of the world is like.

  17. Freelander
    March 11th, 2011 at 20:59 | #17

    @rog

    A shared enemy can be essential for national cohesion. Demagogues current and past have long recognised this. Some even call the process of enemy creation nation building. A common enemy is a way to get everyone into the ‘broad church’. The enemy can be real, or better still, imaginary. Children overboard, a white South Africa, Reds under the bed, Julian Assange, terrorism, a great big tax, they all serve their purpose.

  18. Freelander
    March 11th, 2011 at 21:01 | #18

    In case it is misinterpreted, ‘a white South Africa’ refers to the creation of the white state out of the ‘threat’ of non-whites.

  19. SJ
    March 11th, 2011 at 21:58 | #19

    The Anzus treaty is proving to be a millstone around our necks. It seems to me Australia’s doomed to sink with the US ship; we’re like a teenage girl stuck in a car with a very drunk driver. If the likes of Prof Q feel ‘fatalistic’ then there isn’t much hope at all, is there?

    NZ had the balls to stand up to the US, and who exactly has invaded NZ or committed any terrorism there so far? Canada (although obviously not a party to ANZUS) doesn’t go along with US wars either. Same result. The ANZUS treaty is of no benefit to Australia at all.

    Australia isn’t a colonialist country any more. The only reason that people in, say, Indonesia are trying to kill Australians is because of our syncophancy with the US.

    Julia’s speech in the US is just another proof of Labor’s tone-deafness. They seem to think that they were elected to be John Howard lite. That won’t get them any votes at all. Right leaners will go for John Howard on steroids (Mr Rabbit), and Lefties will dump them, just like they’re going to do to Keneally in NSW.

  20. Freelander
    March 12th, 2011 at 08:06 | #20

    @SJ

    As far as I know only the French have ‘invaded NZ’ and committed terrorism acts. In that case the French bullied NZ to release the culprits who they then gave medals to. The ANZUS treaty did do NZ any good, nor the colonial ties to the ‘mother country’. Neither the US or the UK made a squeak against the terrorism that resulted in a death and the sinking of a ship, or the French government’s bullying that lead to the terrorists’ release.

  21. Scott
    March 12th, 2011 at 08:22 | #21

    @SJ

    It is the political class, of course, that chain us to the US trainwreck; at least the Greens have come out for Australia to leave ANZUS but I doubt that will get into the ALP platform soon enough.

    Canada, I am afraid to say, does go along with some of the US wars- over 150 Canadians have died in Afghanistan so far, and that war committment is not causing the government any political damage.

  22. March 12th, 2011 at 17:32 | #22

    Pr Q said:

    The announcement that military show trials are to recommence at Guantanamo Bay

    Try to dial down the hyperbole to eleven.

    Rooseveldt instituted military tribunals in WWII. THe military commission trials are not “show trials”, no more than the Nuremburg trials, which were presided over by military tribunals, were “show trials”. There is no witch hunt here, all those charged are reasonably suspected of terrorist war crimes in one way or another.

    Comparing the string of rag-tag losers (David Hicks fer crissake!) rounded up by US forces as un-uniformed combatants or in terrorist cells to those persecuted by Vyshinsky in the Moscow Show trials and Freisler in the bomb plot show trials is an insult to the heroism of dissidents from totalitarianism. There is room for debate on the status of those suspected of terrorist war-crimes, but not if one side of the debate is caricatured as Bolshevik or Nazis.

    IMHO those non-citizens reasonably suspected of terrorist war-crimes should not be given the status of civilians entitled to full civil rights. If the Supreme Court regards these trials as a mockery of justice and unlawful then it should say so, rather than uhmming and ahhing. Until then we could do with fewer lawyered-up perps playing the civil rights violin.

    Pr Q said:

    as regards willing to suppress basic human and civil rights in the name of security, there is no fundamental difference between the Obama and Bush Administrations

    .

    The Obama admin is substantially more liberal than the Bush admin, given the less tolerant nature of the post-911 US polity and the thorny policy problem of what to do with threats to national security that fall outside the standard legal paradigm. In JAN 09 the NYT reported that Obama admin had officially curbed the worst abuses of the Bush admins US security forces, in particular kidnapping (“extraordinary rendition”) and torture (“enhanced interrogation techniques”) and disappearance:


    Mr. Obama signed executive orders closing the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within a year; ending the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prisons; and requiring all interrogations to follow the noncoercive methods of the Army Field Manual.

    Sure Gitmo is back on-line and the military tribunals will now sit in judgement. I think this is simply a case of NIMBY. But two out of four gets a satisfactory pass in these darker times.

    In any case after 911 there is no going back to liberal business-as-usual when it comes to dealing with political violence. That ship left port long ago.

  23. Freelander
    March 12th, 2011 at 18:54 | #23

    @Jack Strocchi

    The gitmo ‘trials’ are show trials. The process of the Nuremberg trials was also dubious, although nowhere near as dubious as the gitmo ‘trials’. Amongst those who considered the Nuremberg process questionable was JFK. In the case of Nuremberg it wasn’t any great doubt about the guilt of many of the accused; the doubt was about the whole process and the extent to which it could be characterised as winner’s justice. Unfortunately, the International Criminal Court has rapidly become a judicial laughing stock, again not due to great doubts about many of the defendant’s guilt, but because those who are in the dock find themselves there for political reasons rather than simply for allegedly committing crimes against humanity. War crimes against humanity are fine. Getting offside with a big power is a different matter as Julian Assange has found.

    The David Hicks ‘trial’ was a complete joke. He was given the choice of pleading guilty and getting the prospect of a relatively quick release. Going on trial with the outcomes being that he would be found guilty and possibly murdered or, if found not-guilty (although only a hypothetical possibility) he would be held indefinitely (as they had stated that if a court found these dangerous individuals not guilty they would still need to be held indefinitely).

    In those circumstances a guilty plea has as much validity as the same plea made under torture.

    Given that Hicks hasn’t been convicted by a competent court of law, surely he should be allowed to retain his earnings from his book.

    Anyway, the interest in his book is not sourced in his alleged crimes so they are not the proceeds of crime; rather, that interest is sourced in the very real crimes that were committed against him. If anyone should have their book earnings taken away from them because they are the proceeds of crime it is Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    As for 9/11, there was no reason why any rules should have changed. 9/11 offended US pride. The numbers killed were small relative to something like the 2004 Tsunami, or those who die in the US every year from gun shots. The post 9/11 hysteria which has resulted in magnitudes greater numbers of innocent deaths has been nothing but obscene.

    As for gitmo, isn’t it about time they handed that piece of real estate which they stole from Cuba in their war of aggression against Spain, back to Cuba?

  24. March 12th, 2011 at 19:29 | #24

    Freelander @ http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2011/03/09/obama-and-bush/comment-page-1/#comment-275722“>#23 said:

    The gitmo ‘trials’ are show trials. The process of the Nuremberg trials was also dubious, although nowhere near as dubious as the gitmo ‘trials’….
    The David Hicks ‘trial’ was a complete joke

    Your placement of military tribunals & Gitmo on a par with Moscow show trials & Gulag, nit-picking about the Nuremburg trials and delusional nonsense about the terrorist-traitor Hicks is an existence proof for why the general public has no time for knee-jerk liberals.

    Obama knows this because his job depends on it and he has more important fish to fry (health care, financial regulation, cap-and-trade) than pandering to the tired refrains of clapped-out liberals,

  25. daggett
    March 12th, 2011 at 19:30 | #25

    Jack Strocchi:

    “IMHO those non-citizens reasonably suspected of terrorist war-crimes should not be given the status of civilians entitled to full civil rights.”

    Can you name any Guantanamo Bay detainees who are “reasonably suspected” of perpetrating the most infamous terrorist atrocity of all, that is, 9/11? I believe that there is only one person at Guantanamo Bay accused of having helped to perpetrate 9/11, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed. Can you name any others?

    According to a New York Times article of13 Nov 2009, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed was going to (finally) be put on trial by the Obama administrarion, but we have yet to see any progress. It will be interesting, if that trial is ever to occur, to compare the quality of evidence presented against Khaled Sheikh Mohammed with that presented against the accused at Nuremburg.

  26. March 12th, 2011 at 19:53 | #26

    Pr Q said:

    A natural starting hypothesis would be that Americans, or the American ruling class, benefit from the abandonment of the rule of law.

    There is no great mystery about Obama’s national security policy and therefore no need to spin hypotheses about his supposed deviation from the right-and-true path. Unless one assumes the null hypothesis that all terrorist suspects/perps deserve the full suite of civil rights. But this presumption does not hold in the post-911 world.

    In the US the political elites are far more legalistically liberal than the general populus. So scratch the crypto-marxist hypothesis.

    It is not axiomatic the “Rule of Law” is identical to post-cultural revolution ultra-liberal notions of civil rights. Once one moves out of the hermetically sealed liberal media-academia complex one tends to get a much more hard-headed approach to those who would set off bombs in public places. The “bleeding heart” liberal elites tend to bend over backwards to mollycoddle terrorist suspects whilst the more draconian “law & order” general public are more inclined to an unsympathetic view.

    More generally, the political movement away from what I call post-modern liberalism in the legal sphere tracks the political movement away from post-modern liberalism in the financial and cultural spheres. In all cases the public is fed up with individuals thumbing their noses at legitimate authority and acceptable norms of civic behaviour.

    BTW, if only there were such a thing as an “American ruling class” we would all be alot better off. The long-vanished WASPs were a ruling class alright and tended to manage civic problems pretty much to the satisfaction of all parties. Nowadays there is just a top-dog stratum continually flushed with rapidly circulating elites. The endless churn is part of the problem, a properly established ruling class would be more like a solution.

    Pr Q said:

    A second hypothesis, which seems more plausible, is that Americans generally support these measures, and that Obama either shares their views or is acting out of political expediency. There’s plenty of opinion poll evidence to support this hypothesis. On the other hand, Obama easily beat Bush running on a platform based on the traditional rule of law…
    A third possibility is that Obama has been captured by the national security apparatus within the US state, either through access to secret information (reliable or not) about the magnitude of the terrorist menace, or through the hidden exercise of political power.

    Occam’s razor suggest that Obama is tacking a tricky course between the contingencies of politics and the exigencies of policy. He cannot risk appearing too liberal lest he alienate the substantial proportion of the US public that has lost patience with those who constantly bang the civil rights drum whilst terrorist nut-jobs occasionally go on the rampage. And he cannot risk being to liberal lest he expose himself to the charge of being “soft on terrorism” if, or when, another mass-casualty terrorist attack does eventuate.

    The Gallup poll reports that US citizens support sending terrorist prisoners and suspects to Gitmo by massive margin and that they feel strongly about this:

    By a better than 2-to-1 margin, Americans are opposed to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison that houses terror suspects and moving some of those prisoners to the United States. Americans express even more widespread opposition to the idea of moving the prisoners to prisons in their own states if Guantanamo is closed.

    The poll indicates that Americans tend to be emotionally invested in the outcome of the policy — 7 in 10 say they would be “upset” if Obama does not follow their preferred course of action on the issue. However, most of the highly charged sentiment comes from those who oppose closing the prison.

    Obama’s moderately tough line on homeland security is fair and reasonable. As I stated on this blog back in NOV 2008, Obama is a “canny centrist politician, Clinton without the sleaze”. He never was the champion of ultra-liberal civil rights that his more misty eyed supporter based dreamed him to be. OTOH nor is he Bush. So the politically equivalent premise of this blog post is silly.

    And I doubt that Obama can attribute the size of his 2006 victory to his opposition to the excesses of the Bush Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defence. In fact Bush campaigned in 2000 on a platform that was more liberal (in these matters) than Gore. In both cases the experience of governing forced both politicians to become more authoritarian than their campaign rhetoric suggested. If you are looking for some general explanation this is an instance of Conquests First Law of Politics – “everyone is conservative about what they know best”.

  27. March 12th, 2011 at 20:06 | #27

    daggett @ #25 said:

    Can you name any Guantanamo Bay detainees who are “reasonably suspected” of perpetrating the most infamous terrorist atrocity of all, that is, 9/11?

    No. But since the 911 mission was formally defined as a “martyrdom operation”, with all the perps dying at the war-crime scene, I do not see this as a critical flaw in my argument.

    In any case there is plenty of room at Gitmo for the rapidly expanding members of the terrorist gang who couldn’t shoot straight, even at themselves.

  28. Freelander
    March 12th, 2011 at 20:18 | #28

    “Your placement of military tribunals & Gitmo on a par with Moscow show trials & Gulag”

    Interesting, can’t remember any talk of Moscow or Gulag (except, of course, that gitmo is a gulag). Show trials are show trials regardless of location. Of course, some show trials are a greater travesty than others. For travesty, how about the House Un American Activities Committee? An appearance there, always a good precursor to a ‘fair’ trial. Surely a crime that they never held their hearings on Broadway, or charged exorbitant prices for tickets?

  29. Freelander
    March 12th, 2011 at 20:19 | #29

    What the hell is an “Un American Activity” anyway?

  30. daggett
    March 12th, 2011 at 21:03 | #30

    Jack Strocchi wrote:

    No. But since the 911 mission was formally defined as a “martyrdom operation”, with all the perps dying at the war-crime scene, I do not see this as a critical flaw in my argument.

    At least two perps are still alive today, according to the US Government, Osama bin Laden and the abovementioned Khaled Sheikh Mohammed. I am not aware of where anyone has claimed until now that all the perpetrators of 9/11, even except for those two, died on 11 September 2001. My understanding was that it was supposed to have been organised from Al Qaeda’s bases in Afghanistan.

    I find it incnceivable that such a massive terrorist operation, requiring such tight co-ordination could have been organised entirely by the 19 suicide hijackers, even if we in add the still living OBL and KSM. Can you tell me where such a claim was made?

  31. Glenn Condell
    March 16th, 2011 at 17:05 | #31

    Strocchi says:

    ‘There is no witch hunt here, all those charged are reasonably suspected of terrorist war crimes in one way or another’

    You might ‘reasonably suspect’ them Jack, because people in American military uniforms and they’re pinstriped media flacks tell you they’re dead-enders or something equally damning, but some of the rest of us will take leave to reasonably doubt it. Everything else they have told us is bullshit, why not that? If one of the closer Strocchis happened to be collected in that no doubt scientifically precise sweep thru the relevant districts after 911 I reckon we might be hearing a different song, but as per usual if there’s no skin off your nose you’ll get with the strength. You’re so predictable.

    ‘IMHO those non-citizens reasonably suspected of terrorist war-crimes should not be given the status of civilians entitled to full civil rights… we could do with fewer lawyered-up perps playing the civil rights violin’

    Whatever happened until innocent until proven guilty Jack? A bit too bleedin’ art for you?

    ‘the terrorist-traitor Hicks’

    You really should have been born in the USSR circa 1890. You’d have fitted right in, as a vicious pamphleteer of great vigour but precious little originality.

    ‘Obama knows this because his job depends on it and he has more important fish to fry (health care, financial regulation, cap-and-trade) than pandering to the tired refrains of clapped-out liberals’

    It doesn’t matter what the issue, Obama NEVER sides with liberals, clapped out or otherwise. He has obediently hewed to the agenda of the American ruling class in all matters, big and small. He’s either a coward or a dreadful knave, and it is depressingly instructive that you Jack are supportive of him. It is an awful index of just how bad he is.

    ‘BTW, if only there were such a thing as an “American ruling class” we would all be alot better off… The endless churn is part of the problem, a properly established ruling class would be more like a solution.’

    That’s the problem in the US is it? Too much democracy? !! Why not go the whole hog and bring back kings?

    ‘whilst terrorist nut-jobs occasionally go on the rampage’

    Very occasionally and most often aided and abetted, if not set-up outright by the FBI or one of the other alphabet soup agencies who employ well over a million individuals to accomplish this sort of thing. It’s meant to fool the rubes so that the police state can keep turning the US into 30s Germany, but hey you like being one of the rubes don’t you? One of ‘the general populus’.

    ‘No. But since the 911 mission was formally defined as a “martyrdom operation”, with all the perps dying at the war-crime scene, I do not see this as a critical flaw in my argument’

    If all the ‘perps’ died at the scene, then just what did those perps you’re happy to abandon to US military justice perpetrate, apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time? If that is not a flaw in your argument, whatever could be?

    Like Obama the needle in your compass Jack always points to power and diagonally away from truth. Many of us suffer the reverse of that syndrome. You will accept any argument from authority, and have a breathless, pants-wetting love of power. Truth, not so much.

    You will recall having to accede a few years ago to my demand that you admit you were catastrophically wrong on Iraq, because your power-goggles precluded you from observing the truth. You haven’t changed a bit.

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