May 24, 2009

Inactions Have Consequences

Hatched by Dafydd

Oh, the dangers of sloth!

I wrote the post below at about 3:15 pm Saturday; but then I got lazy and let it sit and ferment, without getting back to it, editing and posting, until now. Alas, in the meanwhile, GW at Wolf Howling published his own take on the same story. As an object lesson of the necessity of action, action, action on the part of bloggers, please read this post (published second) first, and then read the Wolf Howling post (published first) second!



So the courts weighed in, seizing for themselves the power to wage war -- including the disposition of POWs and detainees and the collection and analysis of wartime intelligence -- and essentially ruled that henceforth, military actions would be subject to much the same rules as ordinary criminal investigations.

Thus, we can no longer hold POWs without trial; we can no longer interrogate unlawful combatants (notwithstanding long-standing standards derived from treaties); we can no longer try them by military commissions; and however we do try them, we must show them (and their terrorist attorneys) all relevant classified information and allow them to subpoena every person involved in their capture, at all levels... even to yanking top military commanders from the front lines to scurry back to the United States, be deposed, and testify under oath. (The unstated implication is that if our soldiers didn't read the terrorists their rights during capture, the terrorist must be kicked loose under the Miranda rule.)

Then came Barack H. Obama, who has reacted to this perplexing array of new court demands in his customary way: by not letting the "crisis" go to waste, using the occasion to hamstring our war effort even further, enunciating an absurdist panoply of new rights for terrorist detainees that go beyond even what the courts have enunciated... while his aides work desperately in the background, trying to mitigate their boss's reckless pronunciamentos by policies that strikingly resemble the "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" of the Bush administration. Thus, as Ted Kaczynski might put it, Obama eats his cake and has it too.

The net effect is that we simply can no longer capture, hold, and interrogate the shadowy operatives, spies, and infiltrators who spurn the laws of war, wage war upon America, and share a belly laugh at the expense of our criminal justice system: We are bound like Gulliver in Lilluput by a thousand tiny threads of asinine rulings by tiny-minded judges -- and ten thousand leftist advocates, in and out of the administration, hoping to achieve their life goal of completely disarming the United States in the midst of an existential war.

Want evidence? Let's turn to that right-wing extremist organization, the New York Times:

The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to current and former American government officials....

The current approach, which began in the last two years of the Bush administration and has gained momentum under Mr. Obama, is driven in part by court rulings and policy changes that have closed the secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency, and all but ended the transfer of prisoners from outside Iraq and Afghanistan to American military prisons.

We are now forced almost entirely to outsource terrorist detention and interrogation, leaving us at the mercy of countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia for everything we learn about al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, or any other multinational terrorist organization hell-bent on destroying America. Court rulings -- and especially the current administration's tendentious overreaction to those rulings, and its feigned outrage over "crimes against humanity" committed by the previous administration (like putting Zubaydah in a box with -- a caterpillar; will Obama secretly approve that hellish torture as well?) -- have made it impossible for us to prosecute a major part of the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis ourselves. Instead, we leave it to our dubious "allies"... and are forced to sit with a begging bowl, hoping for whatever scraps of intelligence (or propaganda) they choose to give us.

Yet even that is not humiliating enough for Obama's activist friends:

Human rights advocates say that relying on foreign governments to hold and question terrorist suspects could carry significant risks. It could increase the potential for abuse at the hands of foreign interrogators and could also yield bad intelligence, they say.

The fate of many terrorist suspects whom the Bush administration sent to foreign countries remains uncertain. One suspect, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured by the C.I.A. in late 2001 and sent to Libya, was recently reported to have died there in Libyan custody.

“As a practical matter you have to rely on partner governments, so the focus should be on pressing and assisting those governments to handle those cases professionally,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

Anyone taking bets on how long it will be before the Supreme Court, with swinging Justice Anthony Kennedy as the tie-breaker, rules that it violates habeas corpus for the CIA even to receive intelligence from other agencies -- unless we can guarantee beyond a reasonable doubt that those Middle Eastern and South Asian intelligence services extend the full protections of the American Constitution to terrorist detainees that they capture and they interrogate?

After all, why not? In for a penny, in for a sheep.


We have here two different kinds of inaction -- America's inaction in its own defense, in its own war, against the devourers of civilization; and Big Lizard's inaction in actually publishing posts, instead of leaving them languishing, twisting slowly, slowly in the wind -- each with its own unpleasant consequences: the first dire, the second droll. Ouch again.

As usual, Wolf Howling has a cool picture perfectly encapsulating the theme. I wish I had the gumption (and access to such a wonderful library of graphic images) to do the same!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 24, 2009, at the time of 10:26 AM

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