Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An Enemy That Obeys No Laws 

Congress is eagerly contriving to gut the age-old right of habeas corpus in order that the President may imprison American citizens (and others) at his pleasure, for as long as he wishes, without formal charges, without so much as the dimmest prospect of an eventual trial. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been interrogating suspected al Qaeda members at a network of secret prison facilities in Eastern Europe, a development that has led EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini to threaten "very severe" sanctions against member states "if the reports were confirmed." Douglas Johnson of the Minneapolis-based Center for Victims of Torture, writing on the all-but-universally-acknowledged ineffectiveness of torture in extracting useful intelligence, reminds us that "At the time the photos were taken at Abu Ghraib, the Red Cross estimated that at least 80 percent of those imprisoned should never have been arrested, but were there because it was easier to arrest persons than to let them go." Elsewhere, CIA director Porter Goss argues that torture is not torture when we do it -- how could it be, when everyone knows that we do not torture? -- while Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a former aide to Colin Powell, accuses Dick Cheney of war crimes for his advocacy of the executive right to do exactly what we do not do.

All of which had us in a bit of a funk until we read the extremely soothing words of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who, like Alexander hacking through the Gordian Knot, approaches even the thorniest of Constitutional dilemmas with the single-minded clarity and resolve of the congenital moral retardate:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the unlimited detention of suspected terrorists saying, in an interview published on Tuesday, that it benefited the United States and the entire world.

“You can’t allow somebody to commit the crime before you detain them, because if they commit the crime, thousands of innocent people die,” she told the USA Today daily . . . .

Faced with European demands that the United States explain a Washington Post report that secret detention centres to interrogate terrorism suspects were located in two unnamed Eastern European countries, Rice intends to remind the Europeans that they are in a joint fight against an enemy that she says obeys no laws.

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