12 February 2008

Are We Suprised? Terrorists to Go on Trial

As this column in The New York Times suggests, the news yesterday that a half dozen of the Guantanamo detainees will be brought to trial is no shocker. At least the timing of the move is no shocker. This sort of falls in the 'Be Careful What You Wish For' category. Opponents of the Bush fiascos (note the plural) have been asking for something like the rule of law. And now we seemingly are going to get something like it. Gee whiz, the defendants will even be able to see (most) of the evidence raised against them! According to the news report yesterday, the charges against the men are being translated into their native languages. I wonder if the transcripts of the interrogaiton sessions will be available too? That would be useful, since there will presumably be a public record and press coverage.

Obviously, though, an ongoing trial of bad guys will keep attention focused precisely where BushCo wants it to be. After all, not only will the trials put on display the "value added" they calim is generated by their repressive policies (torture, domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens, and who knows what other sorts of disregard for international and domestic law), but it is, after all, an election year and this will place the "GWOT" at the center of the political agenda. Never mind that there is no evidence at all that the men who will be on trial can so much as spell Iraq. Never mind that the presumptive Republican candidate knows virtually nothing about say, the economy. Never mind that much of what passes for evidence will have been elicited via methods perfected under the Spanish Inquisition (yes, I refer to 'the comfy chair'!) and so be just about as reliable as the confessions of heretics. A good show trial should work well to dispel any popular doubts about such matters.

Of course, the President has no say in the timing of this decision. It says so right there in the newspaper. I actually don't think there is or will be evidence to the contrary. But John McCain sure must be wondering how fortune has smiled so sweetly on him.

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