Posts tagged ‘George Bush’

Two Myths about Paul Ryan

Only forty-eight hours into his anointment as Mitt Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan is enjoying the riches of the legend making machine known as the politically skewed media. I think that Ryan Lizza’s profile of Paul Ryan in the New Yorker earlier this month should be required reading for folks of all political stripes. In it, two myths are busted, one that might gain traction if folks don’t know the facts and the other which is already a talking point for Democrats.

Paul Ryan Pulled Himself Up By His Bootstraps

Saturday night on a special edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews floated a notion of a middle class Ryan to centrist Michelle Bernard of the Bernard Center for Women. Michelle shot back how appealing it is to Americans to see someone who has “pulled himself up by his bootstraps”. According to the Lizza article, this is total nonsense.

Janesville, Wisconsin, where Ryan was born and still lives, is a riverfront city of sixty-four thousand people in the southeast corner of the state, between Madison and Chicago. Three families, the Ryans, the Fitzgeralds, and the Cullens, sometimes called the Irish Mafia, helped develop the town, especially in the postwar era. The Ryans were major road builders, and today Ryan, Inc., started in 1884 by Paul’s great-grandfather, is a national construction firm. The historic Courthouse section of Janesville is still thick with members of the Ryan clan. At last count, there were eight other Ryan households within a six-block radius of his house, a large Georgian Revival with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“I grew up on the block I now live on,” Ryan told me recently. We were sitting in his new, more spacious Capitol Hill office, one of the spoils of being in the majority after the 2010 elections. “My aunt and uncle live across the street from me,” he said. “My cousin is next door, my brother is a block away.” Ryan’s line of the family strayed from the construction business, which is now run by his cousin Adam. His grandfather and father became lawyers instead. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/06/120806fa_fact_lizza#ixzz23ROrOJTj)

Ryan grew up in a prestigious Janesville family, the inheritor of their influence and wealth. What feeds into the false myth is the tragedy that struck Ryan at age 16 when he went to wake his father up and discovered him dead. (Ryan’s grandfather and great-grandfather also died before age 60, leading Ryan to pursue an almost fanatic health regimen.) Clearly Ryan may have had to pull himself up by his bootstraps emotionally. He did not have to do so economically. When we look at the mansion that Ryan calls home, we realize the GOP is running two very rich guys for office. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Ryan, the Deficit Hawk

Although Ryan championed the privatization of Social Security during the Bush administration, in almost every other way he resembles your average Tea Partier. He only found economic-Jesus when Barack Obama entered the White House. Every big-ticket item responsible for the huge deficit that Obama inherited received a thumbs up from “fiscally conservative” Ryan:

Bush Tax cuts for the rich — Ryan says yeah!
War in Iraq with no way to pay for it — Ryan says yeah!
War in Afghanistan with no way to pay for it — Ryan says yeah!
Medicare Part D — Ryan says yeah!
TARP — Ryan says yeah!

Given the opportunity to oppose any of these items, Ryan passed. He now talks about how disappointed he was with the Bush spending and that he was frustrated at the time. His disappointment is certainly not reflected in his voting record. If Romney becomes President and the GOP spends like crazy, the same way it did from 2001 through 2008, will Ryan attempt to stop the tide of reckless spending or give up the fight in frustration?

Ryan says he has deeply held libertarian, Ayn Rand influenced economic beliefs. I take him at his word. The question is will he adhere to principle or cave to party pressure when the chips are down?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Photo credit: Adapted from The White House from Washington, DC (P022510PS-0748) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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August 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm 220 comments

The Marshall Plan Has Worked (aka Enough Already)

We as Americans seem to have a hard time knowing when the mission is truly accomplished.  Whether it’s George Bush’s premature “joculation” on the aircraft carrier or Obama’s failure to see we’ve done all we can do in Afghanistan, we just don’t seem to know when to quit.

To wit, in a commencement speech at Harvard University Wednesday, Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank spoke about the Marshall Plan and the fact that we still have troops overseas protecting Europe when the threat is long since passed.

For you deficit hawks out there, just think of how much of the debt we could pay down if we stopped policing crime free neighborhoods overseas.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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May 25, 2012 at 2:28 am 247 comments

Justice for Thousands of American Families

Last night at 11:30pm Eastern time, President Barack H. Obama announced that almost ten years after al Qaeda attacked the United States, its leader Osama bin Laden had been located and killed. There will be much time and many blog posts for analyzing the consequences of this act but for today I wanted to highlight the positive.

When we count the folks killed in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the four hijacked airliners and the still ongoing war in Afghanistan that followed we are looking at thousands of families who have suffered an unspeakable loss. While it is true that many al Qaeda operatives have been captured or killed since September 11,  2001, none of them carried the symbolic impact of Osama bin Laden. No matter what successes we might have achieved over the years, there was always this nagging feeling that the man most responsible for our misery got away with murder. With bin Laden’s death, this contingent of the perpetually mourning may finally reach some sense of closure. For the war widows and children, there may now be some sense that their loved one did not die in vain.

On my Internet radio show last night I wondered aloud what this might mean for the Bush legacy. After a night’s reflection and some reporting from the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, at least for now I come to a positive conclusion. First, Ignatius reports that the intelligence that put us on the labyrinthine trail to Osama was first obtained by the Bush administration between 2002 and 2004. So on a very practical level, bringing bin Laden to justice was an accomplishment for both Bush and Obama.

On a more emotional note, as I watched the coverage last night, I could not help but remember Bush in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy promising that justice would be done.

Last night, Obama and our courageous Navy SEALs delivered justice not only for the thousands of grieving but also for the man who was our leader at the time of the attacks. If I allow my mind to go bipartisan for a moment, I can picture Barack’s phone conversation with Bush last night going something like this:

George, this is Barack.  Osama bin Laden is dead. You can rest easy now. Your work is done and your goal was accomplished.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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May 2, 2011 at 11:52 am 483 comments

Barack Obama: Pragmatic Man of Principle or Just Another Neocon?

A note from the blog owner: Today I was planning to write a blog post entitled, “The Obama Doctrine: Practical Idealism” but before I could put virtual pen to virtual paper, I received a guest post from one of my regular readers and a former blogger in his own right, Hucking Fypocrites. Huck, no particular fan of President Obama, fairly captures the surprising situation the President finds himself in. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is becoming one of the most bellicose of Presidents, taking his predecessors two wars and upping the ante with a third one in Libya. And as I’ve said before, let’s not fool ourselves. We are at war with Libya and the turnover of responsibility to NATO today is next to meaningless as we are the prime mover and shaker in NATO. While I think it can be stated that Obama deliberates more than his predecessor and builds alliances faster, there is no doubt that the similarities in foreign policy between Obama and Bush cannot be ignored. Huck does an excellent job of spelling these out. Read and enjoy!

Respectfully,
Rutherford


The term “Neocon” has been tossed around for the last ten years as an insult toward what was perceived to be an exclusively conservative republican ideology. Its subscribers include former Vice President Dick Cheney, political columnist Bill Kristol, and, if the rhetoric is to be believed, Adolph Hitler, himself. However, a seemingly new generation of Neoconservatives are emerging, led by none other than President Barack Obama, suggesting that the rhetoric of the past decade against Neoconservativism has been nothing more than partisan hypocrisy solely intended to paint the foreign policies of former President George W. Bush in a negative light.

While having been around for decades, the current Neoconservative ideology has been largely attributed to the policy think-tank known as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Its core principles are that American military might should be used in a preemptive fashion in order to propagate American values and strengthen American interests throughout the world. According to the PNAC:

“American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America’s role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.

We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.

As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?”

Many in the old Neoconservative camp believed that was a good question, and believed that they had an equally good answer—“yes!” By contrast, many outside of the Neocon fold preached that American military might should not be used in a preemptive fashion, and that the United States had no business sticking its nose into the affairs of others in imperialistic attempts to tell them people how to live.

Just how did the Neocons propose to enact their “New American Century?” According to their website [Note the bold portions]:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
• we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

So how does Barack Obama play into all of this?

As early as 2002, the then Illinois state senator was extremely critical of sitting President George W. Bush’s foreign policies, all the while calling out some of the “armchair, weekend warriors” members of the PNAC because they had “shove[d] their own ideological agendas down our throats…”

But many of the Bush-era policies that state senator Obama once spoke out against, and indeed ran his presidential campaign against, are policies that President Obama has both championed and continued. And none of them have been championed louder, or more recently, than the Neoconservative ideologies that were once touted by anti-war advocates as evil and wicked. In fact, President Obama has enacted every one of the four key prescriptions laid out by the PNAC. Every. Single. One.

Take defense spending, for example. In his first two years in office, President Obama has twice proposed an increased budget on military spending. In his 2010 budget proposal (his first as president), Obama proposed a 4% increase on defense spending of the previous year. The $533.7 billion request topped what had been the highest level of US military spending since WWII. The next year, President Obama followed up that defense budget with an even higher proposal of $708 billion; an increase of 3.4%. Admittedly, the President’s non-Iraq defense budget was a mere $549 billion. However, that is still an increase of more than $11 billion from the previous record-setting year.

But Barack Obama’s Neoconservative tendencies have shown themselves on more than just military spending. As of Monday night (3/28/11), they have actually been integrated into his stated foreign policy doctrine. In his address to the American people regarding the United States military involvement in the conflict in Libya, the Commander-in-Chief fully embraced the Neoconservative ideology as he reminded us all of America’s “unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom” and how, “when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.” Some of the very same words you read above to defend some of the very same ideas of the Neoconservative PNAC.

So what are we to make of all this? Is Barack Obama a pragmatic man of principle who can adjust his ideologies and practices as the situation calls in order to get good things done? Or is he nothing more (or less) than just another Neocon, like those he spoke out against in the past? Has he truly brought about his promise of change to American foreign policy, or has he continued the Neoconservative policies of his predecessor that he once believed had “failed?” Ultimately, the onus to answer those questions falls onto his supporters and the anti-war demonstrators who had once compared Neocons to Hitler. Thus far, their relative silence (Rutherford excluded) has been as deafening as it has been disappointing.

But there’s always hope, right? — Hucking Fypocrites (3/30/2011)

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March 31, 2011 at 1:19 am 72 comments

Iraq-Afghanistan Wars Verdict from Robert Gates

This is what Defense Secretary Robert Gates said about our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan to a bunch of West Point cadets:

In my opinion, any future Defense Secretary who advises the President to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.

The timing of this statement is fascinating in light of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s book just hitting the stands. Rummy has been all over the talk show circuit justifying his record.

So, how fast will conservatives throw Gates under the bus? Not an easy call, remember Gates is not “Obama’s man”. He was brought in by Bush. I can’t wait to see how the conservative pundocracy spins this one.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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March 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm 309 comments

Bush in 2012, Really (and a Sip of Tea)

Bush in 2012, Really

Rich Lowry’s penis has finally stopped making his decisions for him and he seems to have gotten off the Sarah Palin train. In a recent article in National Review Online, Rich offers eight reasons why Jeb Bush should run for President in 2012. I’ll paraphrase Rich’s points from a liberal perspective:

1. Nobody else worth a damn is running or as Rich puts it, it’s a wide open field.

2. By 2016, Jeb’s resume will be stale.

3. By 2016 the current crop of newbies (Christie, Rubio, etc.) will be seasoned enough to jump into the ring.

4. Brother George is enjoying a perverse sort of nostalgia right now.

5. Regardless of George’s stink, Jeb will still be a Bush in 2016 so he might as well jump now.

6. He’s not like Dad or Brother — see my additional reason #9 below!

7. Jeb might be a GOP uniter. This is where Rich throws Sarah under the bus (cue the moose death groan) saying she is too polarizing and implying that Romney is too bland.

8. Better to run too soon than too late. Of course this fails Rich’s own internal logic from reason #3. If it’s better to run too soon, why is he not advocating for Christie or Rubio now?

And now my two extra reasons for Bush in 2012:

9. Jeb was the smart one. From everything I’ve seen, read and heard, it was Jeb who should have sought the nomination back in 2000, not his dumb-ass brother. Jeb lacks George’s swagger and seems to have replaced it with some real intellect. If I’m not mistaken, he also speaks fluent Spanish.

10. It’s enough to give Presidential historians an orgasm. I’m a bit rusty now but I used to be a Presidential history buff. Jeb, if he won, would add another great first to the annals of Pres history. We have John Adams and his son John Quincy (so George 43 broke no records there), we had William Henry Harrison and his grandson Benjamin and of course we had Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin. Jeb taking the oath in 2013 would give us the first case of a President (George Herbert Walker) having TWO sons in the White House.

Honestly, I’d like to see a worthy adversary go against Barack in 2012 for one simple reason. I don’t trust this country not to throw Obama out for a knucklehead so if Obama has to lose to someone (and I don’t think that is a foregone conclusion), I’d like it to be someone I could minimally respect. And speaking of respect …

A Tasty Sip of Tea

Well ever since they took the oath in January in the 112th Congress, we’ve been waiting to see what those racist fear mongering Teabaggers would do and I’m shocked to say this but I actually respect their very first major move. So much so, I shall officially retire the term “teabagger” from my vocabulary. Yesterday, Tea Party caucus members were key players in not extending three provisions of the Patriot Act including warrantless wire tapping.

Who would have thought this early in the game that Tea Party members and liberals would be on the same page regarding civil liberties and government over reach? Heck, if not being able to spell and totally misunderstanding the Constitution gets these great results I may have to completely reevaluate my Tea Party stand. I think I’ve got enough bags left in my Red Rose box in the cupboard to start working on my hat. Oh and I’ll have to buy a gun. This sounds like the start of a great relationship.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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February 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm 290 comments

George W. Bush: Delusion Points

George Bush signs copies43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush is making the rounds after two years of near silence. The occasion is his new book “Decision Points”. I decided to watch some of his TV appearances with as open a mind as possible. But watching Bush is a frustrating experience. You want to like him. He seems a nice enough sort of guy. Consistent with the popular mythology, he appears to not be the sharpest tool in the toolbox. That alone evokes a bit of sympathy for the man. However, as he discusses his eight years in the White House, you find yourself wondering is he deluded or just a liar?

I watched his interviews with NBC’s Matt Lauer and talk show goddess Oprah Winfrey. The latter interview was the more folksy. Heck he almost seemed like a standup comedian. This Bush was easier to like, even if at times you were laughing at him and not with him. The Lauer interview though, paints a different picture. Particularly when it comes to Iraq, the Bush account of things just doesn’t add up. When Lauer asks him if he thinks he missed anything that might have avoided the 9/11 attack, Bush says no, forgetting that all of us have burned into our memory the moment when Condoleezza Rice told Congress that Bush had seen a briefing with the title “Bin Laden to strike within the US”. I’m not one of those to outright blame Bush for 9/11. I do expect however, if he’s going to write a historically accurate memoir that he at least admit that the White House didn’t properly pursue the intelligence they had at their disposal. To make matters worse, Bush said that 9/11 changed his presidency in that it became his first job to protect America from another strike. He seems oblivious to the fact that that was his job in the first place. Before 9/11 it was his job to protect America.

Then there are the nonexistent WMD’s. Bush says that Saddam Hussein’s behavior was consistent with someone who was hiding WMD’s. Matt Lauer then reminds Bush that he called Hussein a “madman” and based on that, how could any reasonable conclusion be based on Hussein’s behavior alone. Bush gave a non-answer that Hussein was power-hungry. Still the point stands that a “madman” has no credibility so other forms of intelligence must be relied upon. According to Bush, the failure of those other forms of intelligence greatly troubled him but he insists that the invasion of Iraq prevented another 9/11. His strange circular, self-fulfilling logic leads me to believe Bush to be more deluded than simply a liar. However, according to David Corn and Michael Isikoff in their book “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War” Bush was not the least bit troubled by the failure to find WMD’s. By that time, the excuse was bought hook line and sinker by the American public and we were knee-deep in war … the mission to attack Iraq was indeed accomplished, even if victory there was uncertain.

It also makes it a bit hard to like Bush when his biggest self-admitted mistakes all involve optics. He says he should have landed in Louisiana during Katrina so it didn’t look like he didn’t care. (Kanye West’s accusation that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” was, according to Bush, one of his low points.) He says he should never have appeared in front a “Mission Accomplished” banner when the war was far from over.  Both of these are true but when you preside over an unnecessary war and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, these mea culpa’s hardly pass for deep introspection.

Perhaps the most alarming story to come out of “Decision Points” as told by Bush in the Lauer interview is his mother’s request that he (a very young man at the time)  take her to the hospital following a miscarriage and that he transport with her, a glass jar containing the remains of his “brother or sister”. This incident helped to inform his pro-life stance. While it is a compelling experience that would shape anyone’s view of abortion it is also …. let’s be honest … a bit creepy. You have to wonder what Barbara Bush was thinking. It’s hard not to conjecture how that event impacted him psychologically.

Bush’s book will have no impact on history. It has re-opened old wounds and resurrected old debates. History will judge Bush based on his deeds and their consequences. The story of Iraq is not yet fully written. I have always said, if democracy flourishes in the region, history will vindicate George W. Bush and he will be viewed among our more accomplished Presidents. If the more likely scenario of an immutably chaotic region persists, the Bush presidency will never rise above the level of mediocrity.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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November 10, 2010 at 1:03 am 121 comments

It’s Now Time for Bush Vindication

I’ve spent some of tonight watching the live coverage of our last combat troops leaving Iraq. Of course, we are leaving about 50,000 soldiers there (“military consultants” … kinda reminds me of the “military adviser” jargon in the early days of Vietnam) but I can accept that. It’s an acknowledgment that terrorism is still a problem there and some anti-terrorist presence is called for.

I didn’t like this war. Many didn’t. Iraq is still far from ideal. However, we’ve got some indisputable facts to celebrate tonight. First, the “surge” turned things around. It did not achieve its stated goal of giving the Iraqi government breathing room to clean up their act. The government is still shaky at best. But the mere increase in troops smacked down the enemy and allowed Iraqi forces to get a bit better at protecting their own. Without the surge, we wouldn’t be able to leave today.

Second, working with the Iraqi government, Bush committed to get us out of there. He agreed to a timetable of sorts, one which Barack Obama has made good on. One might go so far as to say Bush fought the wrong war the right way.

So now we wait and see what happens next. If in the next five to ten years Iraq emerges as a democracy it will be a grand victory directly traceable to George W. Bush. We will probably all acknowledge that the false pretense that got us into the war mattered less than the outcome, a democracy in a region badly in need of democracy.

I would hate to think the past seven years were a complete waste. So let’s hope that Iraq can keep its act together. And regardless of what happens, let’s pause to welcome our troops back home and honor the memory of those who were not so lucky to see this day of withdrawal.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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August 19, 2010 at 12:41 am 75 comments

Whatever Happened to Facts

Am I a romantic or was there a time when there were such things as facts? Seems to me there was a time when I was much younger when you could say things that were simply not disputable.

The Earth is round.
Water is a liquid.
Rain falls out of the sky.

Then things got a bit more sophisticated but facts were still facts.

George Washington was our first President.
The Civil War was fought between North and South over the central issue of slavery.
The Great Depression started in 1929.

Even if we go a bit deeper, still a fact, our country was founded on separation of church and state to protect religious freedom and prevent the establishment of a state religion.

These were all things we could count on as common knowledge. We could have discussions amongst ourselves and know that folks who denied plain facts were either ignorant or crazy.

Two exchanges that I witnessed in the past 24 hours reinforce for me that facts are now dead.

The first occurred between two of my readers in the comments section.

Well, [the Obama administration] could have saved the lives of 47,000 people annually who die because they don’t have insurance [if they had passed health care reform].

To which the retort was:

I’ve done some looking on the 47k thing. You really like that number don’t you? I personally find the number to be unbelievable and a discredit to anything it is attached to.

This conclusion was backed up by its own numerical spin.

How can we debate what is at stake in health care if we cannot agree on the basic numbers? There was a time when the best way to defend an argument was to quantify it. We now live in an age where any stat I offer up will be challenged as false.

The other example was an exchange between Marc Thiessen and Daniel Freedman on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. Thiessen’s new book gets right to the point (in its title) that Barack Obama is making America less safe. Daniel Freedman, a former aide to Rudy Giuliani of all people, says Thiessen doesn’t know what he’s talking about. As I watched the back and forth I could see everyday regular people scratching their heads. Both men make credible arguments at least on the surface. When we get right down to it, both men are calling each other liars. Again, we’re left wondering, where are the indisputable facts?

These two examples are not atypical. Returning to Rudy Giuliani for a moment, he famously said recently that there were no terrorist attacks under the Bush administration (a claim also made by former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and conservative gadfly Mary Matalin).  This observation was made with a straight face and was not challenged by the so-called journalists in the discussion. It occurred to no one to remind these folks that we got attacked on 9/11/2001, during the Bush administration? Here, we have an indisputable fact that gets cast aside in the most absurd way.

I am at a point where I am almost filled with despair that we Americans will ever have sane debates about anything again. No longer can the average person listen to an authority on a subject and feel they’ve gotten the truth. Now  we must devote hours of our day scouring the Internet to research virtually everything because listening to just two people simply gets us an exchange of the Joe Wilson “you lie.” Who has the time to do that kind of research with full-time jobs and family lives? The average person therefore simply believes whomever is easiest for them to believe. Then the average person parrots this belief as fact.

We live in a world where Joe Friday’s “just the facts ma’am” has been replaced by “perception equals reality”. And then we wonder why we make so little progress in solving the major problems of our time.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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February 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm 67 comments

Hot Pants and KSM: The Difference Between Good and Bad Prosecution

The recent revelations of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab cooperating with authorities after he was read his Miranda rights was music to the ears of anyone who believes in our criminal justice system. Abdulmutallab is the would-be Christmas bomber who tried to bring a flight down over Detroit by detonating an explosive in his underpants. This, so far has been a case of beautifully executed pre-prosecution procedure. Immediately after being taken into custody, Hot Pants was interrogated for about 50 minutes until it was determined that the pain drugs he had been administered would interfere with credible information. One can only assume, unless the interrogators were completely incompetent, that this 50 minutes of questioning centered around any possible ticking time bomb scenario. Was he a one-off? Did he have partners planning to down other planes? News reports indicated that Umar was more than forthcoming in this initial round of questioning. My guess is after this first interrogation, a ticking time bomb scenario was deemed unlikely.

When the next round of interrogation began, Umar was read his Miranda rights and basically allowed to “lawyer up”, which he did. The cries of conservatives were heard across the land. A missed opportunity to get more intel. But guess what? Good prosecutors know how to get information and once they leveraged the influence of  Umar’s family and possibly took a death sentence off the table, Hot Pants began spilling the beans yet again. Not a drop of water touched Umar’s head. No loud music. No sleep deprivation. Just good old-fashioned law enforcement work.

Unfortunately, this puts the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) in sharp contrast and has forced me to revisit the arguments of conservatives and in particular my conservative readers. Back in November, I wrote about the KSM case and in my eagerness to discard eight years of Bush lawlessness I did not see the noose I was tying around my own neck.

  • I can find no evidence despite a fairly exhaustive Google search that KSM was ever read his Miranda rights.
  • KSM was not arrested in the United States nor was he arrested by foreign law enforcement and extradited here. He was captured in Pakistan as a POW.
  • KSM was tortured on at least 183 occasions.

These facts alone make this a defense attorney’s wet dream. To top this off, we have assurances from everyone from Attorney General Eric Holder to the President himself that KSM will be convicted and executed. Now every prosecutor brags about how he will secure a conviction, but in this case “innocent until proven guilty” is nothing but a farce. How can we say that we are holding up our justice system as a beacon of light to the world and in the same sentence make the verdict and punishment a forgone conclusion? We might as well summarily execute him and save the time and money. (As a side note, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s about-face on this matter based on cost is incredibly lame. Justice has no price tag.)

Back last November when I was waving my American justice flag, David Feige of Slate painted an even bleaker picture of the KSM prosecution. He stated that no matter how righteous our intentions, there is not a judge or jury in this country, even at the appellate levels, who would allow KSM to go free, no matter how prejudicial the evidence against him. This has ramifications going far beyond KSM’s conviction. It sets dangerous precedent for many prosecutions down the line:

…there is no judge in the country who will seriously endanger the prosecution. Instead, with the defense motions duly denied, the case will proceed to trial, and then (as no jury in the country is going to acquit KSM) to conviction and a series of appeals. And that’s where the ultimate effect of a vigorous defense of KSM gets really grim.

At each stage of the appellate process, a higher court will countenance the cowardly decisions made by the trial judge, ennobling them with the unfortunate force of precedent. The judicial refusal to consider KSM’s years of quasi-legal military detention as a violation of his right to a speedy trial will erode that already crippled constitutional concept. The denial of the venue motion will raise the bar even higher for defendants looking to escape from damning pretrial publicity. Ever deferential to the trial court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will affirm dozens of decisions that redact and restrict the disclosure of secret documents, prompting the government to be ever more expansive in invoking claims of national security and emboldening other judges to withhold critical evidence from future defendants. Finally, the twisted logic required to disentangle KSM’s initial torture from his subsequent “clean team” statements will provide a blueprint for the government, giving them the prize they’ve been after all this time—a legal way both to torture and to prosecute.

Hence with the inevitably corrupt prosecution of KSM, we open the door to corruption down the line in other trials, and we ultimately justify all the short cuts and indiscretions of the Bush era that we had hoped to repudiate.

This puts us between a rock and a hard place. KSM cannot get a “fair” trial in our criminal justice system. Any conviction he receives in a military tribunal is subject to Supreme Court challenge and overturn. The final alternative is to hold KSM indefinitely as a POW and release him to his home country once we defeat them at the end of the war. Oh, but wait a minute. There is no country with which we are at war. We are at war with a criminal phenomenon that will always exist. The war has no end. And so it follows that KSM’s incarceration has no end.

This brings us back to the folly of the war on terror. It reinforces what I have maintained for months now — terrorism is a crime and should be treated as a criminal matter. The reason Hot Pants will be successfully prosecuted is that he was treated like a common criminal. That is the way to achieve justice in America.

For KSM, there may be no true justice and the survivors of the victims of his crimes may never get closure. This is the true legacy of the Bush/Cheney endless war.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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February 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm 227 comments

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