Middle Way

Tim over at Balloon Juice:

We cannot justify holding on to virtually any of our detainees without charging them in a legitimate court. However, as the Hamdi case illustrates, fairly charging tortured and illegally kept detainees is essentially the same as freeing them. Then the liberated detainees can file lawsuits. If the new government shows a few scruples about using the State Secrets card more honorably then, like the pending suit by Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian tortured for a year in Syria, the civil suits alone could be catastrophic.

We already know that discovery will uncover prosecutable crimes in practically every case. Ergo, prepare for the greatest fletchering ever seen by man. If levied honestly, damages could collectively rank in legal history with the tobacco settlement. I do not have the training to guess how much one year of a life is worth, or five years. If those five years included relentless abuse that left you physically scarred and psychologically damaged, how much would you ask for?

As far as I can tell we will either geld Geneva or else we will release the vast majority of our muslim prisoners (possibly all of them, innocent and otherwise), pay them for their time and prosecute the torturers whom the president fails to pardon. If a middle way exists I fail to see it.

There is no middle way. That’s the point, really. The point of this was that there is no middle ground. This is the With Us or Against Us strategy; there’s no way out of this that doesn’t involve being the asshole, and in fact the whole system is predicated on the idea that politicians are too cowardly to ever accept that somebody’s just gonna have to be the asshole.

The war worked the same way; if we leave things will be bad and we’ll have screwed the Iraqis over and killed lots of them for no good reason. Things are bad anyway, not likely to get any better, and we broke this country and screwed it all up, and I hate as much as anybody being the asshole who says, “Nothing we can do to unbreak it, let’s get the hell out” because thatsucks, but there’s no way to stop it anymore. Same with this, our “detainees.” Somebody’s gonna have to be the guy who says okay, and opens the prison doors.

Somebody’s gonna have to be the asshole here. It’s why the Republicans name things like No Child Left Behind and The Protect America Act and Operation Iraqi Freedom; so that by raising your hand and going, “Erm, ‘scuse” you’re the jerk. Not them, for filling a bag full of crap and handing it to you to hold while they raid the global convenience store, but you, for dropping it on the doorstep rather than standing there with it in your hands, hoping they come out of the 7-Eleven and take it back.


3 thoughts on “Middle Way

  1. For sure, there is no middle ground. But, there are still alternatives available. One is to turn over the people who ordered this vast crime against humanity to the world court for them to prosecute. Of course Bush will pardon almost everyone involved in the decision making process, but that pardon only prevents US prosecution, not world court prosecution.
    When you consider that we spend about $10 billion per day in Iraq now, paying even astronomical reparations to the GITMO “detainees” is a bargain. That is another alternative.
    One more point: Many people say, “some of the detainees are hardened terrorists who can’t be released”. Well, that is only true after those “detainees” have been tried and convicted, and that isn’t possible because of the torture and illegal detention. So, we still have to release them. And, we might have to pay them reparations also, which they can turn around and use to finance another attack on us. That is just one of the consequences of our condoning the crimes of the Bush administration. We have to accept that consequence.

  2. I agree that trials are problematic at best and that we almost certainly owe reparations to a bunch of people and their families, but…
    I think we need to crawl through all the cases involved here with a fine toothed comb. How did these detainees get turned over to us? Was there any investigation before they were detained? At what point were they determined to be “hardened terrorists” and why? If we don’t examine–publicly–the details of these people, who they are and how they got here, Rush and friends will simply blather on about how those traitorous Democrats released hardened terrorists because they’ve been collaborating all along, just like we’ve been saying for the past 8 years.
    Until we shatter the myth that everyone in Gitmo is clearly a terrorist, we won’t break the hold that fearmongers have over our society. And we could easily end up here again.

  3. Let’s face it, the use of torture has thoroughly destroyed the ability to even put those who are guilty on trial.
    But could someone explain to me why the possibility that those who were falsely detained and tortured may file a lawsuit could possibly be considered a rationale for detaining them without even basic rights?
    Next time someone sues me, it is good to know that I can kidnap them.

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