It's About Power

Greenwald with the ultimate question for the "humanitarian mission" crowd:

For the reasons I identified the other day, there are major differences between the military actions in Iraq and Libya. But what is true of both -- as is true for most wars -- is that each will spawn suffering for some people even if they alleviate it for others. Dropping lots of American bombs on a country tends to kill a lot of innocent people. For that reason, indifference to suffering is often what war proponents -- not war opponents -- are guilty of. But whatever else is true, the notion that opposing a war is evidence of indifference to tyranny and suffering is equally simple-minded, propagandistic, manipulative and intellectually bankrupt in both the Iraq and Libya contexts. And, in particular, those who opposed or still oppose intervention in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, the Sudan, against Israel, in the Ivory Coast -- and/or any other similar places where there is widespread human-caused suffering -- have no business advancing that argument.

A lot separates the mission in Libya from the invasion of Iraq, and I don't think the comparisons are justified.  But this is worth recognizing.  If humanitarian concerns are the driving impetus for this mission, why not get involved everywhere there is human suffering at the hands of oppressive governments?

Because it's about power.  Humanitarian aid is a secondary concern.

 

 

 

It's About Power

Greenwald with the ultimate question for the "humanitarian mission" crowd:

For the reasons I identified the other day, there are major differences between the military actions in Iraq and Libya. But what is true of both -- as is true for most wars -- is that each will spawn suffering for some people even if they alleviate it for others. Dropping lots of American bombs on a country tends to kill a lot of innocent people. For that reason, indifference to suffering is often what war proponents -- not war opponents -- are guilty of. But whatever else is true, the notion that opposing a war is evidence of indifference to tyranny and suffering is equally simple-minded, propagandistic, manipulative and intellectually bankrupt in both the Iraq and Libya contexts. And, in particular, those who opposed or still oppose intervention in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, the Sudan, against Israel, in the Ivory Coast -- and/or any other similar places where there is widespread human-caused suffering -- have no business advancing that argument.

A lot separates the mission in Libya from the invasion of Iraq, and I don't think the comparisons are justified.  But this is worth recognizing.  If humanitarian concerns are the driving impetus for this mission, why not get involved everywhere there is human suffering at the hands of oppressive governments?

Because it's about power.  Humanitarian aid is a secondary concern.

 

 

 

Is Proxy Detention the Obama Administration's Extraordinary Rendition-Lite?

Shortly after taking office, President Obama announced he'd close CIA prisons and end abusive interrogations of terrorism suspects by U.S. officials. But the Obama administration has notably preserved the right to continue "renditions" - the abduction and transfer of suspects to U.S. allies in its "war on terror," including allies notorious for the use of torture.

Although the Obama Administration in 2009 promised to monitor more closely the treatment of suspects it turned over to foreign prisons, the disturbing case of Gulet Mohamed, an American teenager interrogated under torture in Kuwait, casts doubt on the effectiveness of those so-called "diplomatic assurances." It's also raised questions about whether the "extraordinary rendition" program conducted by the Bush administration has now been transformed into an equally abusive proxy detention program run by its successor.

There's more...

Glenn Greenwald: 'This is what the Democratic Party does; it's who they are'

In a post on Salon, Glenn Greenwald reveals to readers the essential tactic of the Democratic Party leadership.  It's not trying to get Republican support, it's not filibuster reform, it's not registering people to vote.  It's much more manipulative than that.

It is an explanation for the "lack of spine" that Democrats are often said to have - which, we can now see, is merely a convenient illusion for prominent Democrats.  It is a scapegoat that they can use so that progressives will continue voting for them even though we get nothing that we ask for, and instead have to take whatever crumbs are given to us.

So what is it?

This is what the Democratic Party does; it's who they are.  They're willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there's no chance that they can pass it

There's more...

Terrorist Prosecutions By the Numbers

 Last night on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow did a terrific segment about how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is now providing valuable information to the FBI, despite receiving those dreaded Miranda warnings that ‘tough-on-terror’ critics are complaining about. In the segment, Maddow citedthe Justice Department saying that more than 300 terrorists were convicted in the civilian U.S. court system by the Bush administration.

As many people know, Human Rights First published a thorough and widely-cited report in 2008 on those successful terrorist convictions. Yet our updated report, issued last year, cited only 195 terrorists convicted. So what accounts for the different numbers?

In fact, both are true – as is an NYU Center on Law and Security report that recently found that more than 500 suspected terrorists have been convicted in the civilian justice system since September 11, 2001. It all just depends on what you’re counting.

Human Rights First took the most conservative approach. Relying on two respected former federal prosecutors in New York with experience trying terrorism cases, we wanted to see how many cases the courts have handled specifically related to radical self-described Islamic or “Jihadist” terrorism, such as al Qaeda, since that’s where the public debate has focused. So the former prosecutors – James Benjamin, now a partner at the highly-respected law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and the other, Richard Zabel, now head of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York – analyzed just that.

But there are other violent terrorist groups out there, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC) and the Tamil Tigers. Prosecutions of their leaders and supporters raise similar concerns about the need to obtain important intelligence information and to protect classified evidence and the identity of certain witnesses. According to a Justice Department spokesman, the Department’s statement that more than 300 terrorists were convicted in U.S. courts during the Bush administration therefore includes those prosecutions, since they also represent the Justice Department’s experience and expertise in handling these complex and sensitive cases.

The NYU numbers, meanwhile, are even broader. In its recently-released report, the Center for Law and Security looked at all cases since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that the Justice Department initially described as terrorist-related. Many of those suspects were not charged under terrorism-related statutes, however, but charged with fraud or immigration violations instead. That was part of an initial post-9/11 strategy to get potential terrorists off the streets before they could attack, even if the government did not have sufficient evidence of terrorist connections to secure a conviction. Increasingly, the government has moved away from that strategy and charged suspected terrorists with terrorism-related crimes.

So the numbers just depend on what you’re counting. But the main point – regardless of how many hundreds of convictions we’re talking about – is that the Department of Justice has proven itself time and again to be well-equipped to interrogate terrorist suspects, investigate terrorism plots and prosecute complex terrorism cases. Military commissions, by contrast, have not: they’ve only convicted three terrorists so far, two of whom have already been released from prison.

The recent hysteria about how we shouldn’t be giving constitutional rights to non-U.S. citizens is a red herring. (It’s also worth noting, as Glenn Greenwald explained in an excellent post on Salon on Monday, that the Constitution requires according foreigners detained in the U.S. Constitutional rights – as the Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1886 and recently reaffirmed in its decision inBoumedienne v. Bush.)

Not only does the U.S. Constitution confer those rights, but based on the experience of our own time-tested federal justice system, sound national security policy demands it.

 

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