Sunday, January 02, 2005

In the Year One P.C. 

We would love to tell you that the following item came from the speech delivered by Prof. Roger McBride in Cambridge, MA, on September 11, 2011, or the alternate universe in which someone stepped on a prehistoric butterfly, or the dream we had after eating the Welsh rarebit. Sad to say, it comes directly from a real newspaper, the Washington Post, published in what used to be the United States of America, on January 2, 2005:
Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries, according to intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts. The outcome of the review, which also involves the State Department, would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.

"We've been operating in the moment because that's what has been required," said a senior administration official involved in the discussions, who said the current detention system has strained relations between the United States and other countries. "Now we can take a breath. We have the ability and need to look at long-term solutions."

One proposal under review is the transfer of large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center into new U.S.-built prisons in their home countries. The prisons would be operated by those countries, but the State Department, where this idea originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights standards and would monitor compliance, the senior administration official said.

As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, plans to ask Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, according to defense officials.
The occupational hazard of the science fiction writer: sometimes life outruns art. Even the gaudiest prognostication may seem old-hat by the time it sees print. Measure the dystopian vision of "Prof. McBride," alias Richard Clarke --
The act also included funding for special federal courts (which would operate in secret, to protect the judges and lawyers involved) to determine whether U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and illegal aliens detained on suspicion of terrorist activity should be treated as POWs or as enemy combatants. Recognizing how long it would take for the government to process the increasing number of detainees, Congress authorized the detention of suspected terrorists for up to three years without a hearing, subject to review every six months by the attorney general.
-- against the new reality; it seems downright benign. Did Mr. Clarke imagine, when he sat down at his writing desk, that in a few short weeks his cautionary tale would be seen as the work of a cockeyed optimist?

* -- post-constitution

UPDATE (1/3): Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Carl Levin (D-MI) have come out against the administration's permanent-detention scheme. Our esteemed colleague MrGumby2U of It Looks Like This has the details.

UPDATE II (1/3): A number of retired admirals and generals -- among them Gen. Joseph Hoar (Ret. USMC), the former Commander of U.S. Central Command; Gen. James Cullen (Ret. USA), former Chief Judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals; and Rear Adm. John Hutson (Ret. USN), who served as the Navy's judge advocate general from 1997 to 2000 -- have drafted a letter urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee "to closely examine Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales' role in setting U.S. policy on torture. Specifically, the Admirals and Generals express concern about Gonzales' recommendation that the Geneva Conventions not be applied to the conflict in Afghanistan." A press briefing will be held tomorrow under the aegis of Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights).

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