DO THEY WEAR YELLOW ROBES?
It appears that the Bush administration can continue to count on cowards in the judicial branch to keep carrying their legal water for them. According to a Chicago Tribune report, two out of three judges on a District of Columbia U.S. appeals court decided to help the Bushies maintain the Orwellian legal fiction of ‘Gitmo.’
“Cuba–not the United States–has sovereignty over Guantanamo Bay,” wrote Judge Raymond Randolph.
Bullshit, Raymond; Guantánamo Bay is clearly under U.S. control. Either your knowledge of history is cartoonishly spare, or you are a craven tool of the Bushies’ imperial designs.
Guantánamo Bay was ceded to the U.S. under duress as part of the nakedly imperialist and backstabbing Platt Amendment of 1901. This historical bit of gunboat diplomacy is not only legally relevant to the case of the illegally detained persons at Guantánamo Bay; it has a moral connection, as well. The U.S. naval base at Guantánamo, including the illegal detainment camp within, is a lasting symbol of the U.S. government’s long-standing, anti-Jeffersonian foreign policy principle of “We’ll Do Whatever the Fuck We Want, and We Dare You to Stop Us.”
In the case of both the Platt Amendment and the opening of the illegal prison camp, the U.S. executive handed an immoral, overreaching concept to the legislative, which promptly signed off on it. (In the latter case, of course, the concept was more general; the illegal prison camp is merely an aspect of the larger concept.) Today, we have the privilege of watching the third branch of our federal government take its place in the imperialist conga line.
In Tuesday’s decision, Judges Randolph and David Sentelle said the right to habeas corpus is limited to sovereign U.S. territory.
“We are aware of no case” in the past that says habeas corpus is “available to aliens held at an overseas military base leased from a foreign government,” they said.
Of course not, you chickenshits; that’s why the Bushies built that gulag there. As usual, though, the dissenting opinion has enough logic and backbone to demonstrate the utter turpitude of the majority:
Judge Judith Rogers, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, dissented and said it was unconstitutional for Congress to deny habeas corpus to the detained men. In her view, the Constitution presumes habeas corpus exists for all persons in U.S. custody, and Congress’ power to suspend this right is “strictly limited to circumstances where the peace and security of the nation were jeopardized.”
Judge Rogers rejects the convenient legal fiction espoused by the Republican appointees; she apparently agrees with my reasoning, which, simply put, is that any person in U.S. custody anywhere is entitled to our legal protections (or in the case of captured soldiers, subject to the Geneva Conventions). She likely understands the danger of throwing out our nation’s laws under any circumstances. She seems to take to heart the words of Thomas Paine, who contended that “in America the law is king.” Whenever any branch of our government places itself above or outside of the law, the health of the entire republic is dealt a severe blow.
Supporters of the Bush plan– including certain pusillanimous jurists– often ape the Bushie line about the ‘dangers’ of exposing ‘ dangerous terrorists’ to the light of day. The facts, which are rarely in support of right-wing positions, give the lie to that spurious reasoning. There is no credible evidence that even suggests that the overwhelming majority of detainees at Guantánamo are guilty of anything related to ‘terrorism,’ much less of taking up arms against the United States. Most of the illegal prisoners are most likely innocent. That means the only thing being ‘protected’ is the Bush administration’s legally and morally indefensible position. Rather, their position is defensible only if cowards and self-serving hacks are its only potential censors.
It may seem that I am being excessively harsh on the Republican jurists. I hope so. However, their stain is shared by the federal legislative, which has, by turns, enthusiastically endorsed (more often) and tepidly facilitated (less so) the Bush administration’s escapades. Even now, with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, defunding the Iraq debacle or– dare I say!– impeachment for the Bush administration’s numerous crimes are both regarded as untouchable prospects.
Also deserving of a white feather is the intellectual Borg Collective known as the corporate media. They have given short shrift to the most damning facts of matters great and small, while they have provided a dependable platform for all levels and classes of warmongers, neocons, and Wingnut Welfare recipients. In the process, the corporate media have forsaken their role as the Fourth Estate, and have settled cozily into the role of fourth branch of government.
Sadly, the most fundamental and important cowardice has been displayed by us, the electorate. We should have learned our lesson, at long last, after the moral train wreck that was the Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon era. We watched as the executive ran rampant at home and abroad, and we let that executive get away with it. We watched as Gerald Ford ‘pardoned’ Nixon of crimes for which he had yet to be indicted. We failed to muster the appropriate level of dissatisfaction, and we watched silently as our government destroyed those who did. I guess it is only fitting that both Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford were recently eulogized, and that the corporate media watched it all with a straight face (and hyped it shamelessly in the case of the former). I guess they knew that we’d rather watch “American Idol” than spend time and energy delving into the history of just why Nixon needed a preemptive presidential pardon.
We should have known better after Nixon, but we elected Reagan. We elected Bush the First. We elected Clinton, and we sat by while Congress put him on the impeachment hot seat– not for Mogadishu; not for the abuse of Wen Ho Lee; not for Bosnia; but for lying about a blow job. So I guess we deserve the election thefts of 2000 and 2004; we deserve 9/11; we deserve Iraq; we deserve the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; and we deserve the karmic whirlwind that awaits us just around the cosmic bend. We even remain quiescent in the face of these and other horrors– and some of us even chide those with the moral decency to physically get up and protest– as long as the Big Macs, beer, and gasoline remain cheap.
Flashback to 1787:
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Damn you, Dr. Franklin, you smart-ass. I’ll bet you’re laughing at us now, and I can’t blame you. We all look ridiculous in our yellow robes.