Tag Archives: politics

Rant about “enemy combatants”

geekymary wrote a great entry regarding Guantanamo Bay, to which I responded, and I wanted to repost my response here. The original entry is a lot more detailed and well-researched… my contribution is clearly just a rant by comparison. (Thanks to rmjwell for the link.)

The tone of the Geneva Conventions is one of respect for the other entity, despite the fact that you’re at war with them. Do terrorist groups deserve that respect? I’d say not. However, there’s another entity – humanity.

I think this points to the problem I have had with the treatment of “enemy combatants” since I first heard about Guantanamo. Humanity.

We don’t grant civil liberties to criminals because they have done something to deserve it. We refer to robbers as innocent until proven guilty. We give rapists a hearing before a judge. We protect extortionists against unreasonable search and seizure. We grant murderers a jury trial.

Do we do these things because they did something to deserve such special treatment? No. We grant civil liberties to everyone, not because of who *they* are, but because of who *we* are, and who we strive to be. We are Americans, from the United States, and above all, we are Humans and that is how our society believes we should treat other Humans. (That includes not just our citizens but illegal aliens as well.)

I believe the whole idea behind the Geneva Convention was to extend Human Rights to a group that may not otherwise get them, especially given the nature of war and the widely varying governments and regimes that we might be at war with, very few of which have a Bill of Rights. I think whether or not someone meets the definition of “prisoner of war”, that shouldn’t determine whether they are entitled to human rights.

The whole word game the administration plays is a subtle but effective device to dehumanize the people they believe are beneath our notice. “Enemy combantants” – they are careful not to use the term “prisoners of war”, but it’s pretty clear that they are prisoners and that we are at war. But, that doesn’t even get to the heart of the matter. Even if they are not entitled to protection of Geneva, they should be entitled to something. If they aren’t “prisoners of war” should we not treat them with the same care we would be required to use if they were arrested on our own soil for the same crime?

If they are not prisoners of war, and they aren’t criminals, why are we holding them?

In 2001 I heard from a number of sources, that if we start to live in fear, then the terrorists have won. This seems to have morphed into something closer to: if we don’t go to the mall and buy big-screen TVs, the terrorists have one. Now with zero percent interest. But there is an important point close to being lost here. If we give in to our fears, and allow our fears to take control such that we are driven to strip others of their human rights when it’s convenient for us, we have surrendered something we all hold dear. We then cease to live in a country that is all about liberty and justice for all. We have started down the path of Us vs. Them.

Moral Values

Would someone good at making icons and banners make some of these sentiments into pictures? I’m thinking it would be appropriate to have them on a red, white and blue background, looking a lot like “I Voted” stickers.

Honesty is a Moral Value
Love is a Moral Value
Hatred is Not a Moral Value
War is Not a Moral Value

Get Out The Vote

Radio reports say that the race is still too close to call. But, while Kerry seems to have a slight lead among all registered voters, Bush currently has a slight lead among “likely” voters. That means that higher voter turnout will probably benefit Kerry.

Remind friends to vote, and remind them that they are allowed to take time off from work to do so. Offer rides if necessary. Walk around at work and remind your co-workers to vote.

go team!

Senior Bush adviser: “… we create our own reality.”

Also, thanks to senatorhatty for pointing me to this NY Times Article by Ron Suskind. (Registration is free and in this case quite worth it)

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend – but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

This provides a clue as to why Bush supporters believe things that Bush did not say, but wants them to believe, and why most of those people believe Bush said those things when he didn’t. Apparently Leadership means that they Lead you to believe things that aren’t true.

Bush supporters: Are you voting for the Real Bush or the Fictional Bush?

I know you have probably seen this on your friends page already, but it deserves to be linked more.

Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, and Supported al Qaeda

  • 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%).
  • 56% assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD
  • 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.
  • 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda
  • 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found.
  • 60% of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts
  • 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission.

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, “One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree.” Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%).

The article goes on to say that Bush supporters “have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda.”

“To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq.”

It looks like most of the folks voting for Bush will be voting for the fictional “Made For TV” version.

Debate reactions

Gah! Is it just me, or does Bush seem like just an angry, bitter man? Also I don’t believe he’s a “good steward of the environment”.

Overall I think Kerry came across as calmer and more composed and Bush seemed angry and flustered for most of the time.

Anyway, this NPR article has a link to the audio and a link to the full transcript a little further down. The text transcript is pretty complete (and faster to read) but doesn’t give you the tone of voice. (I listened to the whole thing and I think I got a feeling for the voices, emotions, sincerity, etc… but I didn’t see the video so I have no idea who was walking around or what facial expressions were made.

My opinions and interpretations follow.

1. To Kerry, are you or aren’t you wishy washy?
Strong and direct answer from Kerry.
Laundry list from Bush about the same supposed inconsistencies, along with some rhetorical questions that sound like accusations but technically aren’t, like “I don’t see how you can lead this country in a time of war, in a time of uncertainty if you change your mind because of politics.”
Continue reading

high crimes and misdemeanors

I find it ironic that a large number of people who voted for Bush over Gore did so because Something was Wrong in the White House if Clinton could lie about having shagged someone and not get impeached for it.

Now Bush is found to have basically lied about reasons for going to war and sending 1000+ soldiers to their death and arranging for 22,000+ to be wounded badly enough to be airlifted out of Iraq to US or European hospitals.

I have my own ideas about which is the greater “crime or misdemeanor”. Not only has discussion of impeachment never been brought up in the House or Senate (as a Republican majority exists there), people still give W high marks in the approval column. Amazing.