Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

After several months of obsessively studying American politics, it’s my carefully considered opinion that this country is run by worthless assholes. I never thought Bush was remotely in charge of things, I don’t know why I thought things would be any different with Obama.  They’re both pitchmen for the new fascism. Obama’s a hell of a lot better at it than W, which is in many ways terribly depressing.  

Was anyone else disturbed by yesterday’s speeches? Talk about your false dichotomy. Obama brilliantly explains all the ways we have to continue Bush Administration policy, then before you can object, here comes a fat slab of Cheney to make you count your blessings.  You tell me which one of them had this to say:

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here—this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We’re going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who’ve received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. 

This preventive detention shit is intended to be the new policy. Here’s Diane Feinstein telling Andrea Mitchell all about it:

The laws of war very clearly say that you can keep a combatant in detention for the length of the conflict. Now this is a bit of an unusual war in that sense, but it is, in fact, a war and it is going to go on. 

Therefore, if somebody is judged to be an unlawful combatant, and they remain a threat to our national security, what needs to be evolved is a process whereby their detention is periodically reviewed, either by a court, which I would prefer, or by a military panel and a determination made as to whether the threat still continues.

Now this would happen, I would think, annually, in a lengthy detention, but there is no question in my mind that somebody who is classified as an unlawful combatant can, in fact, be kept in detention until the end of this conflict, which means terrorism, against the United States, against her allies, and in the world abates.

Oh, I see! So these guys who can’t be convicted of any crimes unless it’s in a kangaroo court, get to be released when the War Against Terror is officially over? When will that be? When the threat level drops to green?

UPDATE: Greenwald with (lots) more, natcherly.

If you really think about the argument Obama made yesterday — when he described the five categories of detainees and the procedures to which each will be subjected — it becomes manifest just how profound a violation of Western conceptions of justice this is.  What Obama is saying is this:  we’ll give real trials only to those detainees we know in advance we will convict.  For those we don’t think we can convict in a real court, we’ll get convictions in the military commissions I’m creating.  For those we can’t convict even in my military commissions, we’ll just imprison them anyway with no charges (“preventively detain” them). 

Giving trials to people only when you know for sure, in advance, that you’ll get convictions is not due process.  Those are called “show trials.”  In a healthy system of justice, the Government gives everyone it wants to imprison a trial and then imprisons only those whom it can convict. 

UPDATE II: Maddow with solid coverage too!