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"Useful Information"

By The Reverend Published: December 29, 2009

From the AP....

The leading Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee says the Nigerian man accused of attacking an airliner as it approached Detroit should be tried by a military tribunal rather than a civilian court.

Rep. Peter King of New York said Tuesday it will be more difficult for authorities to get useful information from the suspect if he is given the legal rights afforded to defendants in civilian courts, including the right to a lawyer.

Peter King is not a bad person. But what he advocated for yesterday is more evidence of the ugly results of 8 straight years of fearmongering by neo-conservative American leaders.

The U.S. has successfuly prosecuted numerous "terrorists" in American courts. Many "terrorists" are currently serving time in federal prisons on U.S. soil. None have escaped. No Islamic extremist 'rescue team' has ever tried to free any of the "terrorists" we hold in federal prison.

The argument, if that's what it is, suggesting that anyone captured on the "battlefield" should be prosecuted in some cut-from-whole-cloth "military tribunal".....a brand new U.S. system of jurisprudence.... is complicated by the fact that the whole world is now the U.S. "battlefield".....and the "war" neo-cons say we're in, will be so long that we will all be dead before it's over. Anyone detained anywhere for anything can be picked up, held indefinitely, and never tried.....as Obama has told us we must do with about 100 Guantanamo detainees left languishing in America's first gulag.

It does seem, however, like Peter King's justification for a kangaroo court process is this....

"...it will be more difficult for authorities to get useful information from the suspect if he is given the legal rights afforded to defendants in civilian courts, including the right to a lawyer."

This Cheneyesque thinking is at the root of much that has gone wrong over the last 8 years. You see, without a lawyer....the right to which used to be part of the American national fabric.....detainees can be roughed up, perhaps waterboarded, thrown against walls using a neck collar and leash, stuffed in a coffin sized box for days, deprived of sleep,......I mean, who's gonna' ever know....right?

That evil, now packaged in America, and still undoubtedly being done in places like Bagram, Afghanistan.....is rationalized using The Dick's Rules of Rationalization. The Dick's legacy will, unfortunately, be one in which a good 40% of Americans have accepted the Jack Bauer brand of justice. The ticking time clock scenario.

Any detainee believed to possess information about secret plots to kill us all while we sleep.....MUST be tortured to gain that information. All for the greater good, you understand. How it is that American detainors KNOW that a detainee possesses such information is, naturally, never questioned....like Jack Bauer....we just know.

Anyone can use their imagination and come up with scary scenarios of what COULD happen. But do we really want to scrap over 230 years of American law and tradition....change our nation structurally....all because of what COULD happen?

Peter' King's answer seems to be...yes.

And if we do change our nation structurally......wouldn't we be admitting by that action that Osama Bin Laden has successfully changed America forever? And then the follow-up question would be....how fragile is the American democracy if a small group of stateless anarchists can persuade us to change our entire system of law and order?

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