Friday, November 28, 2008

Roger Cohen: Gitmo detainees released with sneaky, infuriating language.

Well, with the most recent administration who believed that inalienable rights don't apply to non-Americans on its way out, what of those being released from Guantanamo Bay? Roger Cohen of the godless, koolaid pinko left rag The New York Times gives a wonderful rundown on the collapse of due process under the Bush Administration and the smug, self-righteous confidence that led to abominations like Gitmo. If there's anything that gets me excited about Obama, it's his already manifest desire to appoint some of his critics to high positions in the next cabinet to keep him in touch with reality:

"But back to the law, which is what defines the United States, for it is a nation of laws. Or was until Bush, in the aftermath of 9/11, unfurled what the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called 'the most dramatic, sustained and radical challenge to the rule of law in American history.'

There is no need to rehearse here the whole sordid history of the Bush administration’s work on Vice President Dick Cheney’s 'dark side:' the 'enhanced' interrogation techniques in 'black sites' outside the United States justified by invocation of a 'new paradigm' that rendered the Geneva Conventions 'quaint.'


Of the 770 detainees grabbed here and there and flown to Guantánamo, only 23 have ever been charged with a crime. Of the more than 500 so far released, many traumatized by those “enhanced” techniques, not one has received an apology or compensation for their season in hell.

What they got on release was a single piece of paper from the American government. A U.S. official met one of the dozens of Afghans now released from Guantánamo and was so appalled by this document that he forwarded me a copy.

Dated Oct. 7, 2006, it reads as follows:

'An Administrative Review Board has reviewed the information about you that was talked about at the meeting on 02 December 2005 and the deciding official in the United States has made a decision about what will happen to you. You will be sent to the country of Afghanistan. Your departure will occur as soon as possible.'

That’s it, the one and only record on paper of protracted U.S. incarceration: three sentences for four years of a young Afghan’s life, written in language Orwell would have recognized.

We have 'the deciding official,' not an officer, general or judge. We have 'the information about you,' not allegations, or accusations, let alone charges. We have 'a decision about what will happen to you,' not a judgment, ruling or verdict. This is the lexicon of totalitarianism. It is acutely embarrassing to the United States."

I'll go on the record that I care more about civil liberties (meaning the Bill of Rights) and our country's moral track record and attitude than higher taxes and reduced financial freedom under Obama. Here's hoping our country gets back on track in that regard over the next four or eight years. I'll have more than my share of disagreements with Obama's policies but I doubt I'll have that same sick feeling in my heart while having them.

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