Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Coming Clean Without Consequences?

Hi Everyone,

With all the Republican accusations about whether or not John Kerry planned to get wounded three times in Vietnam to further his political career people might be excused for missing some important news items.

Item 1: The Abu Ghraib Commission led by former Nixon Defense Secretary James Schlesinger released its report today. The report was "harshly critical" of current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but made a point of saying that his resigning would only "energize the enemy." The article I read didn't specify whether Schlesinger was referring to Al Qaida, Iraqi civilians, or the Democratic Party. The report also made clear that they had evidence that military intelligence had instructed MPs to abuse prisoners. The panel also called for additional criminal charges up the chain of command (but apparently not against any Bush appointees in the Pentagon).

Item 2: The first military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees opened with one detainee's representative (Cmdr. Charles Swift) insisting that members of the tribunal step down from their posts because they are unqualified. In particular, he said that the presiding officer of the tribunal was not a member of the Virginia Bar Association (the officer's native state) and so not qualified to practice law. Here is an instructive passage from the LA Times article I read.

" 'Are you challenging the system, or are you challenging me?' Brownback asked.

'We're challenging you, sir,' Swift replied.

But the system itself is also on trial, the defense made clear in the first of four days of military pretrials here. One by one, Swift posed legal questions designed to show that Brownback's four fellow panel members and one alternate — none of them lawyers — are unprepared to address some of the most complex issues of international law in recent years and would defer to Brownback's legal training — a flaw Swift called 'unlawful command influence.'

Questioning by Swift revealed that three commission members have what he termed 'extensive backgrounds' in dealing with detainees, intelligence and the war in Afghanistan, paving the way for a likely challenge based on conflicts of interest."

Item 3: Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby was the Bush administration official who "outed" CIA operative, Valarie Plame in retaliation against her husband's criticism of Bush Iraq policy. The reporter who was keeping Libby's name confidential has released Libby's name after Libby contacted him and released him from the confidentiality agreement. The reporter had been facing contempt of court charges. So at least Libby is an honorable a point.

I find it interesting that these stories are all coming at a time when the media is preoccupied with the Olympics and the Swift Boat Veterans "For Truth" ads. The White House had control over the timing of two of the stories: item 1 and item 3.

Comments? I'm especially interested in hearing what Law Talking Guy has to say about the Gitmo tribunals.

1 comment:

The Law Talking Guy said...

Law Talking Guy is too depressed for words over this. Due Process is not a fancy schmancy new concept. It's been elaborated since it was first spelled out in so many words in 1215. Its modern understanding is deep and textured. The Pentagon has set up this mockery of a tribunal that doesn't come close to the traditional tests for a fair hearing. In particular, the idea that tribunal members might "defer" to another member on issues of law is shocking. Almost more shocking than their complete lack of training on such issues.