Book 'Em, Holder

It’s Farthammer Friday, everybody!

Today, Charles discusses the handling of attempted underpants bomber Umar Farouk Hubbadubbadingdong and the pending trial of Khalil Sheikh Mohammed. He is annoyed that the underpants bomber was eventually Mirandized and is of course frothing at the mouth at the notion of trying Mohammed in a criminal court.

I think that Charles Farthammer and the other hysterical conservagoats who can’t fathom why such by-the-book measures are necessary need to start a ginko biloba regimen. They’ve forgotten so much.

Let’s remember, for instance, the case of José Padilla. Shall we?

Padilla was an American citizen arrested on May 8, 2002 in Chicago. On June 9, 2002—two days before a district court judge was to issue a ruling on the validity of continuing to hold him—Gorge Dubya Busch ordered Donnie Rumsfeld to declare him an “enemy combatant” and he was sent to a South Carolina brig without any notice to his family or to his attorney. After 3.5 years of court decisions, many of which were decided on technicalities, Padilla was suddenly indicted in civil court—likely to avoid a pending decision on his case by SCROTUS. Padilla was charged on three criminal counts, two of them, including a terrorism charge were thrown out. Padilla was charged with “conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim” and sentenced to 17 years.

Should we…remember the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi?

Hamdi, born in Baton Rouge in 1980, was captured in Konduz, Afghanistan, in November 2001, said to be fighting alongside the Taliban. He was sent to a prison near Mazri Sharif, where there was a three-day prison riot and fighting. Hamdi surrendered and identified himself as an American citizen. He was denied legal counsel until December 2003. Hamdi’s father petitioned a federal court to charge Hamdi and to give him a trial. On June 28, 2004, the Supreme Court decided in Rumsfeld v. Hamdi that “the Executive Branch does not have the power to hold indefinitely a U.S. citizen without basic due process protections enforceable through judicial review.” This was a decision with eight out of nine justices on board.

Should we…remember Abu Ghraib?

One reason there’s a need to do things more “by the book” is because the previous administration insisted on flouting the law so egregiously, and that, as a result, justice was severely denied to some people. Again, Busch and his crazy Republigoat bruthas screwed it up, and now we gotta fix it. But, there is a more compelling case to be made for the American criminal system versus the kangaroo courts that are being argued for by Farthammer and his ilk.

Let’s look at the recent history of military tribunals and wonder to ourselves why in the wide wide world of sports do right-wang bobble-heads have such a raging hard-on for them, shall we?

In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (Donnie sure spent a lot of time in court, didn’t he?), the Supreme Court held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay lacked “the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949” and that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions had been violated. Dig?

However, the Court did say that Congressional approval could allow the commissions, and thus was passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni captured during the American incursion into Afghanistan, had all charges dropped in June 2007 on what sounds like a very odd technicality: He was only an enemy combatant, he wasn’t an “unlawful enemy combatant.” Then, in December, the same judge heard new arguments and determined that, oh yes, Hamdan WAS unlawful after all. On Aug. 7, 2008, Hamdan was sentenced to 66 months in prison, including time served. In November 2008, he was returned to Yemen.

Here’s an interesting contrast: “The American Taliban” versus “The Australian Taliban.”

John Walker Lindh, the Silver Spring, Md. native captured during the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi, was indicted by a federal grand jury on ten charges. Lindh, who could have received up to three life sentences and 90 additional years in prison, pled not guilty. But prosecutors had a problem: Lindh’s confession might not have been admissible because it was made under duress. So, get this:

To forestall this possibility, Michael Chertoff, then-head of the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, directed the prosecutors to offer Lindh a plea bargain, to which, Lindh would plead guilty to two charges: — serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons. He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his 20-year sentence, and he would have to drop any claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002. In return, all other charges would be dropped.

Despite the fact that the key piece of evidence in his trial was pooped upon because he was roughed up, Lindh is locked up in the slam, and it was the American criminal courts that threw the book at him.

David Hicks, the “Australian Taliban,” who was captured by a “Northern Alliance warlord” near Kunduz, Afghanistanin early December 2001 and turned over to US Special Forces for $1,000, was tried by a military tribunal.

He presently lives in Abbotsford, New South Wales with his new wife.

As we sit, Ali al-Bahlul, the only Gitmo detainee who has ever been convicted by military tribunal, is launching his appeal.

Meanwhile, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others convicted with him of plotting to bomb bridges, tunnels, and buildings in Manhattan and kidnap key political figures, rot in jail, thanks to sentences issued in federal court.

Justice in the hands of sloppy practitioners threatens justice in an immense fashion. It has led to the reality that American citizens have been whisked away and held without access to justice, and if Joey Padilla can be, my friends, there’s no reason why you can’t. Justice in the hands of sloppy practitioners led to the bizarre and cruel treatment of people in an Iraqi prison, which left an enormous brown stain on America’s ass and probably created thousands more Islamic extremists.

Moreover, tribunals have have not forged the justice that even the most wing-nuttiest nut-job froths at the mouth for. Justice—and even its uglier cousin, vengance—seem to get served up in bigger juicier scoops by the long-established criminal justice system rather than the toddler that is the military tribunal system. And every time a conservagoat asshole opens up his or her pie-hole about to defend tribunals over criminal courts, they’re actually defending an ineffectual system that has only produced ONE conviction and that has released at least several people thought to be dangerous terrorists back into the wild.

Why are the right-wang nutties so soft on terrorists?