Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Happy Belated Birthday --- Talking Dog!

 I just wasn't paying attention and just like that the 20th birthday of The Talking Dog blog passed me by. I met The Dog several years ago when he interviewed me about my Guantanamo work. Since then we have become good friends. The Dog has helped proof read many of my filings over the years and our families have become friends as well.

Twenty years with a blog is an important milestone - not many blogs out there that can meet that. The Dog's website evolved into a discourse on Guantanamo and the people involved in the litigation. It needs to be saved as a piece of history and I am very pleased that The Dog has managed to salvage the entire blog after a hassle with the previous holder of the blog.

Read The Dog's 20th anniversary post here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

From Roger Fitch and his friends down under at Justinian...

 Historians will rightly blame George Bush for many domestic effects that remained, e.g, an armaments industry in overdrive and a security state. 

Above all, there is a re-jigged justice system that has sanctioned the prosecution of combatants and militarised civilian crimes, epitomised by the extrajudicial detention at Guantánamo and "trials" in its kangaroo courts

Astonishingly, liberal democracies like Australia and Canada (and briefly, Britain and Germany) allowed their citizens to be caught up in proceedings that violated their own laws as well as American and international law. 

Zbigniew Brzezinski: father of the Afghan folly

Opportunistic, malleable, incompetent or merely dishonest, bad lawyers were at the heart of the Bush Administration's derailment of law. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Patrick Philbin, Robert Delahunty, Timothy Flanigan, Daniel Levin, Steven Bradbury, Jim Haynes and Alberto Gonzales joined in memos that ignored the Torture and Geneva Conventions, "authorising" practices that first-year law students would recognise as illegal. 

"National Security" brought such things before. Although it's disputed, the law professor Scott Horton believes Bush's lawyers were as culpable as Hitler's Night and Fog lawyers, tried at Nuremberg in the Altstoetter case:

"Justice Department lawyers were ... charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes arising out of the issuance and implementation of the Nacht-und-Nebel [decree]. The United States charged that as lawyers ... they must have recognized that their technical justifications for avoiding the application of the Hague and Geneva Conventions were unavailing, because these conventions were 'recognized by all civilized nations, and were regarded as being declaratory of the laws and customs of war' ... the two principal Justice Department lawyers ... were convicted and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment ...This judgment clearly established the concept of liability of the authors of bureaucratic policies that breach basic rules of the Hague and Geneva Conventions for the consequences that predictably flow therefrom."  

*   *   *

While Karen Greenberg has lamented the overall damage to America's rule of law caused by the 20-year "War on Terror", others are turning their attention to righting particular terror-war wrongs, e.g, Guantánamo, its inmates and former inhabitants, and the treatment of Detainee 001, John Walker Lindt.  

Among those speaking out have been human rights lawyers, prisoner advocates and members of the Guantanamo Bar. They point out that, following the end of hostilities in Afghanistan, there's little legal basis for military detention of "law of war" prisoners, not charged with war crimes. 

Many were non-combatants, seized outside Afghanistan, and only five percent were captured by US soldiers on the battlefield. All were presumed by George Bush to be unlawful fighters, fictional "enemy combatants".

Those who were in fact belligerents were often lawful ones, e.g, the five Taliban (see below) freed by Obama in a prisoner swap in 2014. 

They were fully entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions that the Pentagon had scrupulously provided in previous wars, e.g, PoW status hearings required under the Geneva Conventions and the US Code of Military Justice. The Vietcong received these, why not the Taliban? 

Instead, officials trying to follow the law were bullied, sacked or re-assigned (see Fitch here). 

Al Jazeera and the Times have more on the sordid history and present state of the Guantánamo project.


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Lest we forget....

 And now for my usual September 12th posting.  Stephen Biko was murder on September 12, 1977.

20 years. so much has changed and not for the better.

 I don't normally post on 9-11 and since I missed it I am staying true to form. I have a few comments and then I will do what I always do on 9-11 (when I don't miss it) and that is to turn this over to my good friend the talking dog- who was in NYC at the time of the attack and very close to the scene at the towers.

But first, let me just say that 9-11 brought out the worst in my country. Yes, we were attacked and it was horrible and sad. But our response was dismal. We threw away our constitution, we threw away whatever good will could have come our way if we acted with restraint and compassion. Instead we unleased a 20 year war, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people and locking up mostly innocent Muslim men so that we could claim we caught bad guys. And we knew very early on that the vast majority of those men were not terrorists but our government had to keep up the charade. We as a country did not care and things have only gotten worse. Just like having that monster trump in charge during the pandemic - we had different monsters for our 9-11 emergency- W and Cheney during our 9-11 emergency. Bad actors in charge during difficult times is not a recipe for hope. we have blown it big time and now we must wait and see if we can right the course.

So let us see what our friend the talking dog has to say--