Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shaikhing in Their Boots

It can be difficult to keep up with the right-wing's Obama Outrage of the Day (yesterday: Obama bowed to the Emperor of Japan!), but I have a feeling this fit is going to last awhile—the plan to have trials for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others connected to the 9/11 attacks in federal court in New York is suddenly the greatest threat to civilization since the Black Plague and shows Obama is a pussy who can't keep us safe.

When, as Glenn Greenwald brilliantly explains, the opposite is true:
[T]he Right's reaction to yesterday's announcement -- we're too afraid to allow trials and due process in our country -- is the textbook definition of "surrendering to terrorists." [emphasis added] It's the same fear they've been spewing for years. As always, the Right's tough-guy leaders wallow in a combination of pitiful fear and cynical manipulation of the fear of their followers. Indeed, it's hard to find any group of people on the globe who exude this sort of weakness and fear more than the American Right.

People in capitals all over the world have hosted trials of high-level terrorist suspects using their normal justice system. They didn't allow fear to drive them to build island-prisons or create special commissions to depart from their rules of justice. Spain held an open trial in Madrid for the individuals accused of that country's 2004 train bombings. The British put those accused of perpetrating the London subway bombings on trial right in their normal courthouse in London. Indonesia gave public trials using standard court procedures to the individuals who bombed a nightclub in Bali. India used a Mumbai courtroom to try the sole surviving terrorist who participated in the 2008 massacre of hundreds of residents. In Argentina, the Israelis captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals, and brought him to Jerusalem to stand trial for his crimes.

It's only America's Right that is too scared of the Terrorists -- or which exploits the fears of their followers -- to insist that no regular trials can be held and that "the safety and security of the American people" mean that we cannot even have them in our country to give them trials. As usual, it's the weakest and most frightened among us who rely on the most flamboyant, theatrical displays of "strength" and "courage" to hide what they really are. Then again, this is the same political movement whose "leaders" -- people like John Cornyn and Pat Roberts -- cowardly insisted that we must ignore the Constitution in order to stay alive: the exact antithesis of the core value on which the nation was founded. Given that, it's hardly surprising that they exude a level of fear of Terrorists that is unmatched virtually anywhere in the world. It is, however, noteworthy that the position they advocate -- it's too scary to have normal trials in our country of Terrorists -- is as pure a surrender to the Terrorists as it gets.

The Right has been the biggest bedwetters of all when it comes to terrorism—and terrorists themselves, in particular. This particular flavor of fear-pandering has been used for years to justify a whole host of the Bush Administrations illegal and extra-legal behavior, but has found new popularity as a tool to oppose any decision by Obama to change that Unconstitutional status quo.

Whether that's habeas corpus, closing Gitmo, or trials for the accused. They act as if KSM is the equivalent of Magneto, and bringing him to U.S. soil will allow him to summon his mutant powers and escape from any prison man could possibly build [video here] and wreak havoc on the country—as if such a being couldn't do the exact same thing from Guantanamo.

At this point I'm not even sure if this is actual genuine fright on the part of the right, thinly veiled fear-mongering of their even more pathetic and Pavlovian base, or simply an involuntary partisan reaction. But i t doesn't matter. The only thing more pathetic than this display is the fact that it works on a sizable portion of the population.


steves said...

I don't understand this outrage, either. I am guessing that the people getting mad are just stupid or ignorant. They somehow view anyone that is caught as guilty...therefore, we should just dispense with any semblance of due process and go ahead and lynch them. There are concerns that sensitive materials may be leaked. I think safeguards can be set up. This isn't the first time that this kind of stuff has come up.

Another complaint is that the accused will get some kind of leniency, probably from some pinko, Carter appointee. They would prefer a military tribunal for a stronger punishment. Ironically, the feds are going for the death penalty and the last time the military executed anyone was in WWII.

Bob said...

Great post.

By holding the trial in our courts, under our constitution robs Al Qaeda of a huge piece of propaganda. Holding court by military tribunal, or worse holding them indefinitely without trial, provides these guys a recruiting and propaganda tool only surpassed by the invasion of Iraq.

This action takes real guts on Obama’s part, but no one will realize it until the trials are over.

Mr Furious said...

I'm not sure why they would think that holding a bunch of nameless, faceless Muslims in gitmo with no resolution or closure is preferable or in any way resembles justice.

I think this is mostly being done to gin up the fear factor and keep the natives restless.

It's not in the interest of the good/evil narrative to have these guys humanized in any fashion, or to have any chance of gray being introduced into what they want to be a black and white world.

It's also about protecting the Bush Administration. Which is stupid, because it's become clear that Obama is willing to aid and abet on that front, and doesn't appear willing to either relinquish all the Bush-era powers or prosecute lawbreakers.

I think more than anything, however, it is simply a blind partisan reaction. Whatever Obama decides to do is the wrong course of action. Period. No analysis required.

If these lawmakers really ARE afraid, we've got bigger problems if the Republicans ever regain control in the current environment.

Bob said...

BTW- You keep posting shit I am about to post.

Brilliant minds...

Smitty said...

I have nothing to add but to simply say: brilliant. Agreed. More of this, please.

Eric Wilde said...

I think more than anything, however, it is simply a blind partisan reaction. Whatever Obama decides to do is the wrong course of action. Period. No analysis required.

That's my read of the situation as well.

Mr Furious said...

I think it goes down something like this:

9:00 -- Obama Administration releases a statement/plan/etc...

9:15 -- Some contingent of right-wing media/online types react with an instant multiple choice statement:

a. Putting American's lives at risk!"
b. putting our soldiers at risk!"
c. socialism!"
d. giving a dark person your money!"

10:00 -- Talking points are honed and passed out to the likes of Rush, Boehner, Mitch and the staff at FOX News.

10:30 -- Joe Lieberman's mole passes him the talking points and he books himself on every talk show possible to jump on the GOP bandwagon.

12:00 -- Cowardly Blue Dog and Centrist Dems run to join the message so they won't appear "weak" like Obama. Once again failing to realize that Obama's position is the one of strength, and that joining Republicans on the fainting couches is as fucking weak as it gets.

Bob said...

Once again failing to realize that Obama's position is the one of strength, and that joining Republicans on the fainting couches is as fucking weak as it gets.

"faiting couches"...quote of the week.

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DED said...

Well, it was ok with the Republicans when they were calling all the shots. Jon Stewart pointed this out on Monday's show with help from Rudy G.

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Missives From Suburbia said...

Fainting couches... awesome.

What's that old adage about Republicans being elected by catering to people's fears while Democrats win elections by leaning on people's hopes?