Topic: The Law
Legislation: The guy who used to coach high school wresting has a modest proposal...
THE DRAMATIS PERSON?:
Dennis Hastert -
See September 5, 2004 - Well, it could be true... you just never know for a discussion of his hints that George Soros is supporting Kerry with money from drug cartels. Should something happen to the President, then to the Vice President, the next in line to run the whole show is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. You could look it up in the constitution. That go-to guy at present would be Representative J. Dennis 'Denny' Hastert, Republican of Illinois, graduate of Wheaton College (fundamentalist Christian) and a former high school wrestling coach at Yorkville High School (1964-1980). He's been in the House since 1986 and speaker since 1999. Between the coaching gig and the US House, he spent four years in the Illinois House of Representatives. He's been around.
Arar was the Canadian citizen we secretly deported to Syria. We don't do torture. They do. Torture is not US policy. And we thought he was a bad guy. We picked him up at the Newark airport. But, damn, it seems he wasn't a bad guy. We had bad information. His crime was that his mother's cousin had joined the Muslim Brotherhood long after Maher moved to Canada. And after ten months of torture and incarceration in a quite tiny cell in Syria, he was allowed to return to his home in Canada. Oops. Now he is suing the US government. He is not happy. (Discussed previously here (August 1, 2004) and here (December 21, 2003).
That is the term we now use for sending terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture for interrogation.
THE TRIGGERING EVENT:
That would be an item from UPI - Wednesday, September 29, 2004
See White House backs Senate 9/11 reforms
Shaun Waterman, United Press International
This is long item on the current legislation under consideration to implement the recommendations of the commission that looked into what happened back on September 11, 2001 and what we could do to make sure such a thing never happened again. Parallel bills are working their way through the House and Senate, and everyone, left and right, is trying to drop in special provisions. And the two bills now do not match up at all. It's a bit of a mess.
Buried in the article is this gem -
This is only mentioned in passing, and in passing, note that UPI is owned by that odd Reverend Moon, the madly religious conservative fellow who publishes the Washington Times - staunchly pro-administration and pretty far to the right, the newspaper of the current regime if you will.
Someone who calls herself Katherine R has some observations that are a bit unfavorable about the Republican leadership of Congress attempting to legalize extraordinary rendition. She quotes one of our intelligence officials in the Washington Post describing it this way, "We don't kick the shit out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the shit out of them." She's opposed to it. And, as she points out -
Wink, wink, nudge, nudge and all that - as we may not do torture, but we can outsource it. (Well, at Abu Ghraib and a lot of other places we did do torture, but we're sorry and know now that was wrong, and not approved, and the fault of some low-level fools who didn't understand Rumsfeld wanted them to be careful not to cross any lines, so to speak.)
Katherine R also points out one that last month one Edward Markey, a Massachusetts congressman (a finicky Democrat of course), introduced a bill (PDF format) that would clear this all up and just outlaw extraordinary rendition. But Markey only has twenty-two cosponsors as, one supposes, no one wants to appear to be soft on the bad guys.
Katherine R quotes from press release from Markey's office (her emphases) -
The part about this applying retroactively is cute, but what is Hastert up to? This former wrestling coach thinks the 9/11 Commission was kidding about offering "an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors." Yeah, Hastert thinks they were kidding, or wrong about that.
Katherine R does point out that there is no possible way for a suspect being detained in secret to prove by "clear and convincing evidence" that he will be tortured if he is deported - especially when he may be deported to a country where has never been, and "when the officials who want to deport him serve as judge, jury and executioner, and when there is never any judicial review."
Well, yeah. And she says that this bill would make what happened to Maher Arar perfectly legal, and "guarantee that it will happen again." And her friend in Markey's office told her "this bill could be on the House floor as early as next week."
You could write your congressman (or congresswoman) and tell them this is an extraordinarily bad provision and it ought to be removed from the bill - as it is counterproductive, rather immoral (or amoral or whatever), and just a really bad idea that would make us even more hated around the world, and for good reason.
Or you could assume it will never survive the conference committee where they try to reconcile the House and Senate versions, and cooler heads than Hastert's will prevail, and folks will laugh at him, and Dennis will bluster, and then the item will just get dropped.
Or you may be one of those people, like Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, who is strangely attracted to the idea of torturing those who may or may not be innocent and thinks it may be justified these days. Sometimes you just have to do it? I guess.
And you may agree with Hastert because he's resolute and firm, and you may be a former wrestling coach for all we know.
And you may be seething with anger at all these swarthy people in the Middle East making so much trouble and messing with our oil or whatever, and think with glee of scaring the crap out of anyone who looks at us funny by letting them know we play rough.
Or you may just like getting back at people and making them hurt, a lot - even if who you select as your target is perhaps the wrong person. We all have those urges now and then.
Or you may just like the concept of a police state where you're guilty and get what you deserve, unless you can prove otherwise, if we let you. Such states are, in some ways, pretty efficient.
In that case don't write your congressman (or congresswoman).