‘only really really bad Muslims will get a fair trial’

on 25 Comments

He rocks. This is an awesome observation. From Loewenstein/ [and lawyer] Greenwald:

The news that Washington will try some of the alleged 9/11 masterminds in New York is welcome news and yet, writes Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, don’t buy the spin:

…We’re now formally creating a multi-tiered justice system for accused Muslim terrorists where they only get the level of due process consistent with the State’s certainty that it will win.  Mohammed gets a real trial because he confessed and we’re thus certain we can win in court; since we’re less certain about al-Nashiri, he’ll be denied a trial and will only get a military commission; others will be denied any process entirely and imprisoned indefinitely.

25 Responses

  1. potsherd
    November 15, 2009, 11:14 am

    Stalinist justice all over again! Show trials and secret tribunals.

  2. Citizen
    November 15, 2009, 12:10 pm

    I read that the rational for the distinction is that those who directly killed American civilians will be
    tried civilly here, while those who attacted USA military installations/troops will be given a military trial–Al-Nashiri’s target was the USS Cole.

    • Citizen
      November 15, 2009, 12:12 pm

      And Mohammed was a key figure in 9/11, attacking USA civilians.

    • Chaos4700
      November 15, 2009, 12:18 pm

      I suppose that is a valid rationale. I wish the government and/or the news agencies were a bit more clear about spelling that out.

      • Citizen
        November 15, 2009, 12:33 pm

        However, I just read the AG’s friday press announcement:
        “In each case, my decision as to whether to proceed in federal courts or military commissions was based on a protocol that the Departments of Justice and Defense developed and that was announced in July. Because many cases could be prosecuted in either federal courts or military commissions, that protocol sets forth a number of factors – including the nature of the offense, the location in which the offense occurred, the identity of the victims, and the manner in which the case was investigated – that must be considered. In consultation with the Secretary of Defense, I looked at all the relevant factors and made case by case decisions for each detainee.”

        This clearly means that Greenwald’s observation is correct. Obama, who went to a top law school and taught constitutional law at U of C, has approved his AG’s
        three tiered system of justice–we will be getting a civilian show trial where the outcome
        is already predetermined; those defendants who just might win if tried by a jury and with hearsay evidence verboten, etc, will be tried by a military without such procedural safeguards; and those where the evidence against them is really flimsy will just be detained indefinitely. Surely this is a joke? What’s left of our country?

      • potsherd
        November 15, 2009, 2:46 pm

        No one seems to have ever mentioned the word “jurisdiction.”

        No one seems to have managed to get the US to address the most fundamental question, where does the US get the right to try or hold these people at all?

  3. VR
    November 15, 2009, 12:14 pm

    Whether one considers it Stalinist or Fascist (I prefer describing it as Nazi like, because we have a fascist twist more than a Stalinist one) they both had their kangaroo courts. What really surprises me is that suddenly everyone is just now becoming aware of this? I was writing about this in 2008 either before Obama took office or right after. To be frank, I just get awfully tired regarding these “sudden surprises.”

  4. potsherd
    November 15, 2009, 12:24 pm

    The civilian trials brings it all up again.

  5. VR
    November 15, 2009, 12:41 pm

    Here is the difference between the Obama use of these tiered “trials” and Israel, it is just size and scope. Israel does it to the Palestinians with it occupational military courts, the US does it with military courts as it occupies the world. You can bet that in the background Zionists have been saying – “hey, Israel does it and continues to do so with impunity, why not the USA?”

  6. VR
    November 15, 2009, 2:42 pm

    The same could be said for “indefinite detention,” between the US and Israel. I guess one is supposed to conclude that this is the option of “democracies.”

  7. lyn117
    November 15, 2009, 6:30 pm

    Israel gave a very fair trial to Eichmann.

    Of course, a large number of Palestinians under occupation are deliberately killed in “targetted assassinations” without any pretend trial at all. Not even a pretense of attempt to arrest, although Israel is the ultimate authority and could do so.

    • potsherd
      November 15, 2009, 7:11 pm

      Eichmann was a white guy. As was John Demjanjuk.

    • Nolan
      November 15, 2009, 7:49 pm

      The difference between the so-called “detainees” at Guantanamo Bay, Eichmann and those killed by “targeted assassination” – extrajudicial execution – is the role each of those actors play in the political arena.

      Israel tried Eichmann in a court of law because it served a political purpose. The specter of a Nazi war criminal being treated with dignity and humanity by the people he helped ethnically cleanse earned Israel the respect of many countries and people in the western world. It helped perpetuate the image that the victims were able to rise above their victimizer and his crimes and show their respect for international law. All this, of course, took place in 1961, that is to say, after the genocide Israel had carried out in 1948 against Palestinians.

      In contrast, targeted assassinations are a clear violation of international law, and the collateral damage often incurred by such actions is a public relations nightmare. But, targeted assassinations enable Israel to kill anyone it perceives to be a threat, whether that perception is well founded or not. And since such action often takes place far from TV cameras it makes it all the more lucrative for Israel to use.

      The main difference between Eichmann and the prisoners at Guantanamo is the so-called War on Terror. In the current climate, having those “enemy combatants” tucked away on some remote island is good PR capital for the US government. The mere existence of the prison at Guantanamo Bay helps the government perpetuate the image that these are the worst of the worst criminals, possessing special skills and powers, so vicious that they pose a mortal danger even when they are locked away in a concrete cell surrounded by armed guard and steel bars.

      At the same time, it helps the government justify the cracking down on civil liberties here at home. Eichmann, besides being tried for his crimes, served to further legitimize Israel’s legal standing in the eyes of the world. But, should the same be done with Guantanamo prisoners, the government stands a chance of having its own lies exposed and the perceived threat of an off-shore prison lost as a propaganda tool.

      As far as justice and jurisprudence go, Eichmann’s case is ideal. There was solid evidence to convict him. The same can’t be said about the “enemy combatant” prisoners. One would think that the lack of evidence against them would have been enough for the government to simply “target assassinate” them as is currently done using drones. But, then they would cease to serve as a propaganda tool.

      • potsherd
        November 15, 2009, 7:58 pm

        The assassinations don’t always serve Israeli interest. The assassination of Imad Mughniyah (an act of blatant terrorism) did no particular good to Israel, and they now have to keep on a state of alert in case Hezbollah retaliates. Which Israel, of course, will call an act of terrorism and use as an excuse to kill thousand of innocent Lebanese.

      • Nolan
        November 15, 2009, 8:17 pm

        But that’s the difference, potsherd. Targeted assassinations against Hamas or other Palestinians in the area are usually carried out by aircraft, from a helicopter hovering overhead. It’s clearly within the airspace under Israel’s immediate control.

        In Mughniyah’s case, he was assassinated in Syria. Israel never admitted to actually assassinating him. So we still don’t know for sure. And, Syria did not say who they suspected to have carried out the assassination.

      • potsherd
        November 15, 2009, 8:43 pm

        Israel has certainly carried out extraterritorial assassinations previously. And while they haven’t officially admitted responsibility for Mughniyah, their constant statements of worry about retaliation don’t really leave any doubt.

        The fact that these acts are not more vigorously denounced is just more evidence of the corruption of the process.

      • Nolan
        November 15, 2009, 9:03 pm

        Israel has certainly carried out extraterritorial assassinations previously.

        Yup. A practice that dates back at least four decades.

  8. VR
    November 15, 2009, 7:56 pm

    The way some are carrying on in here you would think that you really believe that there is a “rule of law.” When everyone knows instinctively and factually that this is not true, that there is merely the “law of rule.” I do not mean that there is not plenty of law for you and I, or for oppressed peoples – there is just none for those who think they rule the world, or are the leading either ruling or moneyed elites or both. So you can ignore the elephant in the living room and continue on with the conversation.

    • potsherd
      November 15, 2009, 8:01 pm

      But the lawbreakers do need to keep their violations hidden and pretend they never took place.

      One reason there is nervousness over the proposed civil trials of Gitmo prisoners is that this may thrust the evidence of Bush administration crimes so far out into the open that they can no longer be officially ignored.

  9. edwin
    November 15, 2009, 8:12 pm

    One of the issues about confession is that not only is the evidence tainted because of torture, the judiciary is tainted as well. No fair trial can take place in any venue.

    As part of the torture process, the lives of children have been threatened. Now, any confession made could be said to have been coerced – ie:

    If you value the lives of your children, you will make sure that you are found guilty of terrorism.

    At this point, if the US actually valued the concept of justice, it would release all prisoners whether it thought they were guilty or not. A confession is meaningless under the current circumstances.

  10. VR
    November 15, 2009, 8:18 pm

    ” The mere existence of the prison at Guantanamo Bay helps the government perpetuate the image that these are the worst of the worst criminals, possessing special skills and powers, so vicious that they pose a mortal danger even when they are locked away in a concrete cell surrounded by armed guard and steel bars.”

    Nolan, this is certainly true, but there is more to it than this. It is also originally was supposed to give the impression of some large contingency of terrorists. The use of the process of torture is always to get the confession that the perpetrators want, it is a tool that is used to amass confessions of a large conspiracy that does not exist in this instance. All, of course, supposed to be the “legitimate” credentials of launching the so-called war on terror.

    • Nolan
      November 15, 2009, 8:31 pm

      Absolutely. I was trying to keep my post short without going into too many details and tangents. But, the point you brought up is certainly valid and bears repeating.

  11. VR
    November 15, 2009, 8:32 pm

    As an example, part of the “evidence” elicited to launch the war on Iraq was done by the means of torture, the confession being that Saddam has links with terrorists. This is just one example of what even one use of this methodology of torture produces, and it has always been used for this purpose. Sometimes it is used as a method of denial, to make the prisoner renounce what he knows to be true, or for humiliation, and to say to any given individual or community that the person using it is depraved enough to even use this methodology invoking fear, and say they have the power over you, the power of life and death – whatever the perpetrator of the torture desires.


    • Nolan
      November 15, 2009, 9:00 pm

      Thanks for the link. I’ll have to watch that.

      Have you seen Frontline’s expose on torture and Taxi to the Dark Side?

      They’re both good documentaries regarding this issue.

      link to pbs.org
      link to imdb.com

      • VR
        November 15, 2009, 11:34 pm

        I have seen the PBS but not the Taxi one

Leave a Reply