May 17, 2009

So what's he up to?

What would happen if the rule of law were to be suddenly admitted to Guantanamo? Most likely, the innocent would go free, some of the guilty would be prosecuted, but many would walk, irregardless of guilt or innocence, because the case against them was so tainted my the torture used to extract it. They might even have legal recourse to sue the people who had tortured them and the Bush officials who facilitated that torture. That will not happen of course. No sitting president can risk the possibility of freeing terrorists who later return to the battle field. Therefore, it follows, the rule of law can only be partially, or incrementally, applied. It's a little like like a drunk that is trying to get sober: sometimes, a drink is even necessary to stop someone dying of withdrawal. That's the best argument I can come up with as to why Obama has seen fit to re-instate, with modifications, the military tribunals established by Bush: the system set in place was so thoroughly corrupt, that to suddenly go cold turkey would most likely kill the patient.

I am going to have to take it on trust that were Obama to design the system himself, it would look nothing like Bush's. I am also going to assume that there exists a category of prisoner whom the government is 99% certain are dangerous terrorists, but against whom the case is so tainted that they cannot be let near a court. That puts me two assumptions away from being disappointed. It's uncomfortable.

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