Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tainted Trials

By Cernig

I personally believe that the six terror suspects to be tried before a military commision are guilty of their alleged crimes. But that they are guilty and will be found guilty doesn't matter any more.

I also personally believe, for instance, that Bush, Cheney and others are guilty of war crimes. Do you think if George or Dick or Donnie was waterboarded, subjected to sleep deprivation or hypothermia that they would confess? You betcha. And I'm also sure they'd confirm their confessions to some nice folks who came along later and asked them to do so - because they'd already know what would happen if they didn't play ball.

In all conscience, I wouldn't support their conviction under such circumstances. That they'd be guilty and found guilty wouldn't matter anymore because torture taints everything it touches.

So does illegal rendition and secret detention. So does a lack of proper due process. So does a system of unequal justice without the consent of the accused. These trials are in violation of international law to which America is party, and thus U.S. law.

Instead of putting some very nasty people cleanly behind bars or in their graves, the Bush administration opted for the worst possible path of tainted trials. It is now impossible to cleanly convict and sentence these men.

The trial will not begin for at least four months, possible far longer, which means the trial itself will be a major news item as the U.S. goes to polls in November. It will be far from over, inviting candidates to take stances on the trial's legality and applicability. If Dems do as they should and condemn it's method while also condemning the evil of those on trial, they are suddenly open to a new round of rightwing sloganeering and hounding for being 'soft on terror". In such circumstances, the White House's claim that it had no influence over who would be tried or when begins to sound thin to the breaking point.

Nor will this trial likely be over by the time the next president is inaugurated. Bush has left his legacy for the next incumbent - become complicit in perpetuating Bush's mistakes and crimes or restore America's honor and justice at the price of allowing these evil people to walk free. The latter is political suicide at home, the former is diplomatic suicide abroad. What a fine mess the George W. Laurel and Dick Hardy years have gotten America into.

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