January 29, 2010

Book 'Em, Holder

By Brady Bonk

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?

May 14, 2009

The Torchum Never Stops

By Brady Bonk

I know we are months and months from the holiday season, (follow Zappadan) but am offering up a relevant Zappa quote, from some fanzine of April 1977 called “Nuggets,” his interviewer being some fellow named Jim Ladd:

JL: What’s the title of the new album?
FZ: Zoot Allures.
JL: “Zoot Allures”? What’s that mean? Is there some story behind the title?
FZ: Probably.
JL: Are you going to tell it to us?
FZ: No.
JL: Give me a break here. Give me some words on the new material.
FZ: Well, it used to be a double album, but I cut it down to a single album. Line-up on the album is, Side One—”Black Napkins” which was recorded live in Osaka and then it goes into a song called “The Torture Never Stops.”
JL: Which is about what?
FZ: Er, it’s about torture not stopping.

Duh.

With the way things are going, it appears Frank may be borne out yet again as being a damned Nostradamus. Imagine, President Obama spitting in the eye of the appellate court in the matter of the photographs requested released by the ACLU? And sayin’ it’s, well, uh, cuz it was only a few bad apples anyways?

I tried, yesterday, I tried, I really did, to think of a way to be with the Prez on this one. But it can’t be done. It flies directly in the face of an appellate court decision, period, and with any hope it will end up in front of the Supremes. Obama’s “Pentagon Papers” might be a picture of a pyramid of naked dudes? A-Mazing.

As Mr. Turley points out, the Obama record on this issue is becoming more abyssmal every day. He is doing a lot of good, but not working more aggressively to correct this egregious situation, that is just not right.

Meanwhile, Nance Pelosi’s story gets a little more slippier each day as well, no? Should have impeached when you had the chance, Nance…

May 13, 2009

And Another Thing…

By Brady Bonk

As I watch SERE expert Malcolm Nance calmly explain yet again why torture doesn’t “work,” it occurs to me that there’s another reason that it doesn’t “work” that nobody’s mentioning.

I assume that when you bring in an “enemy combatant,” you do not read him Miranda rights. I also assume that you do not immediately inform him of the charges against him. I assume that you might stuff him into the back of a vehicle, perhaps blindfolded and/or bound, and that you take him to a central location and deposit him into some bare room with a table and a stool. Bear in mind, I am merely speculating and may be drawing that scene from too much television, including the scenes with Cavel dragging that damned steel chair across the floor. Perhaps you actually take him to Disneyland and buy him a nice pot pie. But, assuming my speculation is somewhat:

To this point, you have not told the lad why his liberty has been temporarily denied. You have not told him who you are or what agency or force or, perhaps, even what nation you represent. He does not know that you suspect that he knows something. For all he knows, you may just have a really strict issue with jaywalking. All he knows is that someone with a gun has bested him, and, hell, now what?

Doesn’t that give you, the interrogator, kind of an upper hand?

And don’t you lose that advantage the minute you whip out the buckets and rags and smelling salts?

Once you do that shit, he knows who you are; he knows what you are; he knows what you want; and I’ll bet you twenty-six cents that he will immediately begin working on the very challenging project of biting off his own tongue.

Hell no it doesn’t work.

May 12, 2009

Jackass: The Torture

By Brady Bonk

You know, if we’re going to be a nation of torturers, I don’t see why we can’t have a bit of fun with it.

I mean, gah. Waterboarding? I’ve seen the tape. There’s nothing fun about that. At least, not for me as a viewer at home. And those kids in Abu Ghraib, now, they were getting closer. Still, not zany and creepily homoerotic about it.

No, friends. Our interregators need to sit down and watch the “Jackass” movies.

C’mon. Finger-web paper-cuts? Toe-web paper cuts? Forcing a guy to walk into a hardware store and take a dump in the floor model terlet? Ass bottle rockets? Butt-cheek piercing? Waxing? Taking a paintball shot right in the gut? Dancing in others’ personal space in briefs and a superhero cape? Various experiments with gravity and ball-bearing-wheeled vehicles, sans brakes? Ball-beating? Tattoo-gunning off-road?

Johnny Knoxville should be training our guys. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Fcuk yeah!

April 24, 2009

'It's Just Hazing'

By Brady Bonk

A common line among “conservative” bobbling heads insists that what has come to light as torture as now most assuredly approved directly by the Immediate Past White House Administration is just as harmless as a fraternity hazing.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind them that, in my college days, fraternity hazing became frowned upon because men not yet 20 years old were ending up dead.

The landmark case of hazing deaths was that of Chuck Stenzel, who died in 1978 of alcohol poisoning. He had been driven to the house with two other pledges in the trunk of a car and forced to consume alcohol with the goal being to fill up a bucket to a mark with vomit. He eventually passed out and was laid on a matress until one of these geniuses noticed that his fingernails were turning blue. “Chuck’s blood alcohol content at the time of death was .46 a four fold increase from the legal definition of intoxication.”

But this kind of shit isn’t just past history.

On April 1, 2009, in Geneseo, N.Y., three frat douchebags were charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of a pledge. Arman Partamian, 19, died during a multi-day initiation after, like Stenzel, having consumed too much booze. His blood level was at .55.

On Nov. 21, 2008, 18-year-old Michael Starks, a Utah State University student, died from alcohol poisoning related to a fraternity initiation.

Hazing is not a breezy issue. Hazing kills people. Those who liken torture to it hoping to lessen the gravity of these charges do themselves no service.

April 23, 2009

The Bush Torture Regime: Both Cruel AND Ineffective

By Brady Bonk

Bob Cesca NAILS it.

But if it’s nothing more than slapstick and some splashy water antics then how effective can it really be, Rush? How could something so innocuous (as described by Limbaugh and others) be even the slightest bit effective—not to mention a crucial weapon in America’s anti-terrorist arsenal? It can’t be both. Either the torture methods described in the Bush Office of Legal Counsel memos were harsh enough to create adequate anguish so as to elicit actionable intelligence (as is falsely claimed by Bush Republicans) or the techniques were nothing more than comfy chairs and soft cushions.

Sorry to spoiler Cesca’s keystone paragraph. But I think Cesca not only encapsulates the sheer madness of not only the Bush torture regime but of the administration as a whole: Not only was it clearly cruel, but it had the added bonus of being entirely ineffective to boot.

That may be the most frustrating part of reviewing the Bush legacy. Not only was his regime cruel and stupid, but it was utterly feckless as well. Apologists, including the Immediate Past Vice President, argue this with the flimsy “we weren’t attacked after 9/11,”—which is really just another way toward his cynical gambit, doubling down on us getting hit again. To which it must be argued: But. We did get hit ON 9/11. And the Bush administration ignored the guy who was running around with his hair on fire about it and was all set on 9/10 to half counter-terrorism munny, and President Bush did get served a briefing on Aug. 6 titled “BL Determined to Attack,” and Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to speak ON 9/11 in support of Star Wars.

To me, it’s simple and clear what happened. Bush got caught with his pants down on 9/11, and he’s felt compelled since to vastly overcompensate. And did so in part by approving torture techniques that we’ve prosecuted soldiers from other countries for. And that’s what’s stunning about the past few days. It’s no longer just conjecture. It’s clear public record now that these orders came from on high.

I think it’s rapidly approaching the point where whether to do something about this is no longer a question of opinion or politics. These powers-that-be now, they will have no choice but to do something about this. If it’s not our government, it may be some other, and that would be downright embarrassing, though somewhat satisfying. Regardless, this thing is in the barrel and speeding through the rapids, soon to be dumped headlong in to the grand Niagara River—with no brakes.

April 22, 2009

Potpourri Wednesday

By Brady Bonk
  • Norm Coleman is not a good American. He is thwarting small-d democracy by dragging his feet on a conclusion to this ridiculous Senate race (He’s asked the state supreme court to give him more time for his appeal. That’s horseshit. He’s just biding time to keep us from 60 and to raise munny. Norm. Buddy. You lost.) Prior to The Immediate Former President’s outright theft of the office with the help of the Untied States Supreme Court, there was at least a veneer of gentlemanly behavior to be observed. One would realize that the jig was probably up and concede. Now, it’s just how can you sue your way to office. Talk about overly-litigious weenies. It’s not the trial lawyers. It’s the politicians.
  • Dick Cheney is not an American at all. He is a simple fascist. No good American as prominent as he would be standing up and saying the things he’s saying about the Obama-led America. Fortunately, Mr. Obama is a genius at rising above. I am not worried one iota about Obama. Cheney’s soul, or what’s left of it, now, that’s an entirely different question.
  • Bernie Sanders is awesome.
  • Greenwald points out something sad: It’s become referred to generically now as “the torture debate.” This is sad and stupid. There’s no debate on “torture.” You’re not supposed to do it. Period. Next question.
  • “Torture” is only utilized for two reasons. One, you are a government keen on terrorizing your own people and keeping them in line. Two, to make people say what you want them to say. New word out of an Armed Services Committee report that, indeed, what The Immediate Past President wanted them to say was that Saddam did it. Say it with me one more time: The War Is Stupid.
  • New category, what the hell, named of course after a Frank Zappa song. “The Torture Never Stops.”
  • Here’s an interesting idea. Nominate a guy to head FEMA who was the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, as opposed to the former head of the Arabian Horsey Association.