Thursday, November 18, 2010

Short Attention Span Musing

...Not sure what it means, but why is it that many of the same Republicans who pontificated that Congressional Democrats messed up big-time when they re-elected Nancy Pelosi as leader in the House after the ugly results from November 2, yet they are gleeful now that they have deposed the GOP state and Maricopa County chairs after the buttkicking that was inflicted on the Democrats (and the rest of the state) because of those same results.

Apparently, they are replacing the GOP symbol of an elephant with a circular firing squad...

...I am probably one of the few on this side of this particular issue, but I've got very little sympathy for the people who are all up in arms about new airport security procedures.  Too many of them, such as certain Republican congressmen, were all in favor of things like a secret "no-fly" list, data mining, and racial and ethnic profiling, pooh-poohing any civil rights concerns as subordinate to security concerns.

Yet now that some of the enhanced security procedures are things that they find concerning, they want to subordinate everybody else's security to their own tender sensibilities. 

I don't like the new procedures, but I don't like getting blown up, either.

And I really don't like hypocrites.

...Republicans, like Arizona's own embarrassment "Congressman" Trent Franks are furious that the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court was acquitted on all but one of the hundreds of charges he faced.  Terms like "travesty of justice" are being thrown around, along with calls for the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and demands that all other trials be held in front of military tribunals, which have a different (lower?) burden of proof for the prosecution to meet.

No matter how this goes forward, there are certain to be cries of outrage from *somebody* - either the Obama Administration backs away from treating the detainees like common criminals and its pledge to try the cases in civilian courts (annoying Democrats and other civil libertarians) or it goes forward with civilian court trials (annoying Republicans to no end). 

In addition, backing away from civilian trials could undermine the credibility of the Obama Administration internationally, yet losing too many of the cases could accomplish the same thing.

Thank the Bush Administration for this mess, and that's not a partisan zinger (don't get used to it :) ).

By having the primary responsibility to gather the evidence and build the cases against the detainees fall to the military, he all but guaranteed the cases would never survive real scrutiny.  He (and his administration) should have allowed the professional investigators and prosecutors of the FBI and DOJ to take the lead in this area, and left the military to do what they do best.

However, people can say "woulda, coulda, shoulda" all that they want, but reality is what it is, and that's what we have to deal with.

Perhaps we should remember one fundamental principle of the American system of justice -
The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.

Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432 (1895)
While the possible acquittal of guilty people would be ("will be"?) frustrating, being seen as rigging the trials of accused terrorists will be worse.

If the cases are now referred to military courts (to unruffle domestic political feathers) and it turns out that an innocent bystander was imprisoned and convicted by a military tribunal (not exactly out of the realm of probability), the U.S. will have zero credibility in the Middle East and across the world.

Credibility it will need the next time that the U.S. needs to do something there, whether it is work on brokering a peace deal between Israel and whoever is trying to destroy them this week, searching for terrorists, or just looking for a place to vacation over the holidays.

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