Monday, June 16, 2008

Questioning McCain's Judgement

Have you heard what John McCain said about the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutional right of habeas corpus? Here's McCain, in his own words, proving exactly how out of touch he really is:

"The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is oneof the worst decisions in the history of this country." (National Journal/NBC, 6/13/08)

The decision by the Supreme Court that McCain is questioning affirmed a fundamental constitutional right -- in this case, the right of a detainee to challenge the government's grounds for confining him. That sounds like a good thing to me... how about you?

So, if we take Granpa at his word, he thinks that protecting the right to be heard in court is worse than locking thousands ofAmericans in internment campsbecause they had Japanese ancestry? (Korematsu v. United States --1944)

And worse than forcing African Americans to sit at the back of the bus? (Plessy v. Ferguson -- 1896)

Even worse than slavery? (Dred Scott v. Sanford -- 1857)

Is this the type of judgement we want in a commander-in-chief? Not me!

30 comments:

coreydbarbarian said...

i was so hoping you'd mention this! nothing highlights the divide between left and right better than this habeas corpus decision. rather than acknowledge that the writ of habeas corpus dates back 800 years (to the magna carta), the right wants to create as much fear as it possibly can from this decision.

gitmo is under u.s. control (leased by the u.s. gov't), therefore it is under the u.s. judicial systems jurisdiction. it's as simple as that. you'd think they would've figured it out the first two times scotus explained it.

imo, the only reason the powers that be don't want these prisoners to have any rights at all is because at least 1/3rd of the detainees there are innocent of any crimes. can't let the world find that out, can we?

it's not just johnny, either. i encourage y'all to look at newt and fred, also.
and, if you can stomach it, check out brit hume & bill kristol, too.
they're all coming unhinged.

but back to the man of the hour, john mccain.
he also said,"We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called, quote, Habeas Corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material..."

-- since i think mccain knows what habeas corpus is, this business about diet and reading material can only be a deliberate lie. habeas does not have a thing to do with diet or reading material. (deep breaths, corey).

to your point, csm (sorry it took so long), if mccain honestly believes what he says about habeas, then he most definitely does not have the judgment necessary to lead our great nation.

but like i said, i don't think he believes any of it.

then again, judging by these highlights, maybe he does.

G said...

The use of hyberbole doesn't mean a person doesn't have the judgment to hold office. If that were the case, there would be VERY few politicians in Washington.

csm,

You have conveniently misread the statement "one of the worst" to mean "THE worst." And the issue is a little more complex than you make it sound. Yes, Habeus Corpus IS a constitutionally protected right... for USA citizens and those who are within the borders of the USA. Past court decisions have confirmed that it doesn't apply globally to anyone in the world held by the USA.

I believe that the fear of those who have criticized the decision is that it could be extended to the point where it undermines our security during times of war. It's a "slippery slope" argument, which both sides usually use as a scare tactic (particularly in election years) on issues that just don't mean as much to the general public as it does to them.

In this case, the left is making a lot more of the issue than it deserves as well. All the court has determined is that the prisoners at Guantanamo have the right to APPLY for a review of their imprisonment. The reality is that the courts can simply say "No, we won't review your case." And even if they do review cases, the standard of proof for holding them isn't very high.

As for your examples, I personally don't think this decision is as bad as any of the ones you've mentioned. But at the same time, I think that a President SHOULD think that it's worse. The primary role of the US President is Commander In Chief... of the armed forces. I believe his most important job is protecting the security and sovereignty of the USA. And I'm not really surprised when presidents (not just this one) overstep the bounds of the constitution.

The job of protecting our constitutional rights belongs to the COURTS... not the President and not Congress. Pretty much every president and every congress during my lifetime has tried to circumvent the constitution in one way or another. It isn't a Bush thing. It isn't a Neocon thing. It isn't a Republican thing. It's about power, and it permeates all of DC. It isn't limited to one party (or even two, for that matter).

Before you all start to jump all over me, I said that I "expect" the President (and Congress, too) to make efforts to circumvent my constitutional rights. I don't AGREE with it, nor do I ACCEPT it. I'm just not surprised when it happens.

coreyd,

If my understanding of previous Habeus Corpus decisions is correct, then the right for non-citizens only applies when the person is within our borders... not just an area that is "under our control." Technically, if we are at war on foreign soil, any POW camp we establish would also be "under our control." And I assume you don't want to extend HC to POWs.

Also, you claim that at least 1/3 of the people held at Gitmo are innocent. A statement like that warrants some documentation. I don't know that it's true or false. Is that just an unsubstantiated estimate that you've read somewhere, or is there actual documentation to that effect?

I do think that the government took an unacceptable "middle ground" with these prisoners by claiming that they are NOT prisoners of war, but that they also aren't protected by the constitution (at least the ones who are USA citizens or were picked up on USA soil). It's one or the other. I realize that there are "intelligence" operations that don't fall into either category, but once they've gone beyond the covert phase, the status has to be changed.

G said...

I actually just stumbled across this article on the subject from George Will for those who are interested.

The Most Fearsome Power

One of the comments toward the bottom makes some good points on the other side of the issue as well.

coreydbarbarian said...

g,
i'm glad you recognize they're trying for some unacceptable middle ground. had our gov't simply declared them pow's, we would have been obligated to follow a set of guidelines regarding their treatment. this legal blackhole stuff is abhorrent. is it really so much to ask that those acting on my behalf (and yours, of course) adhere to the rules that've been established?

you speak of past court decisions not applying to every detainee of the u.s.
what those court cases miss is the context of this case.

this admin has essentially established permanent war footing by declaring war on "terror" instead of the specific group that actually attacked us. further, these detainees are being picked up from all sorts of places, not just the battlefield. this specific case involves a man abducted from bosnia, fer cryin out loud. these two facts alone provide the context for a different interpretation than before.

when you said, "The primary role of the US President is Commander In Chief... of the armed forces.", i cringed. this is another big difference between the political left and right. i believe the president wears more than one hat, and they are all important. commander in chief is just one.

i also believe the president swears to uphold and/or defend the constitution. whether other presidents have tried to circumvent it is irrelevant to me; i opposed them, too.

regarding the "1/3rd": i'm referencing statements from american soldiers/lawyers who have worked there (and since resigned, from disgust). i will look for a link for you after i get a cup of coffee in me. you get up 2 darn early, my friend!

you are right; this sort of claim deserves documentation. unfortunately, the gov't doesn't seem inclined to recognize the detainees rights to challenge their permanent imprisonment, making it rather difficult to sort out which ones belong behind bars and which ones don't. in other words, by denying them the writ of habeas corpus, it becomes impossible to properly document anything.

addendum: just saw your link while previewing. i'll check it out. thanks!

coreydbarbarian said...

well blow me down.

that's the first time i've ever completely agreed with george will.
the column sure didn't win him any friends on townhall.com, either.
(incidentally, townhall is where i became familiar with thomas sowell, too).

i had some trouble with the website this time, but you gave me enough info to hunt the column down.

here's your link, per your request:
digbysblog.

the "1/3rd" figure is from former sec. of the army, thomas white.

coreydbarbarian said...

be sure to follow the link to mcclatchy's report. it's powerful stuff.

here's a direct link, just in case.

G said...

Here's another well-presented opinion piece that is opposed to the decision.


America Will Regret High Court's Decision
By Ken Blackwell


coreyd,

I understand what the administration has tried to do (which is generally what those in power in the USA usually try). They get a bunch of lawyers to parse the law down to its absolute minutia (i.e. pushing the "letter" over the "spirit" of the law) in order to justify what they want to do.

This is a complicated issue, and I must admit that I don't have time to read through voluminous SCOTUS rulings. In one sense, I can understand the danger of opening the USA civilian courts to military prisoners of foreign citizenship, captured through military operations on foreign soil.

Really, either a military court or an international tribunal seems to be much more appropriate. I really have a hard time swallowing the idea of opening USA civilian courts to someone who has never set foot on American soil (Guantanamo is not American soil).

Just to be clear, I don't think Commander in Chief of the armed forces is the ONLY job of the President. I understand that he has MANY responsibilities. And I agree that he is supposed to uphold and protect the constitution. But I also understand that he will certainly try to maneuver around (again, through legal parsing) the aspects of the law that get in his way. I don't approve of it. I don't accept it. But it is reality.

My view is that his PRIMARY job is to protect and defend the security and sovereignty of the USA against all enemies, foreign & domestic. And we also have SCOTUS to jump in now and then to say, "No, you've overstepped the bounds of the Constitution here."

I don't think it's too much to ASK of our elected officials to follow the laws that have been given. But I DO think it's too much to EXPECT them to do so. I believe the whole basis behind the founding fathers' decision to put checks & balances into the Constitution is that you simply can't trust ANYONE in power.

And I don't really get up that early. Blogger just doesn't make any time zone distinctions.

G said...

Interesting article. Thanks.

Of course, it's mostly hearsay. But I do understand the difficulty getting hard evidence from a military prison.

One point worth making, though, is that there is a significant difference between the claim in the article that at least 1/3 of the prisoners "didn't belong there" and your statement that at least 1/3 of them were "innocent." It even mentions that many of them were "low level" operatives. To me, that indicates that they had enough involvement to be justifiably imprisoned, but not enough to be considered "the worst of the worst," which is what Guantanamo was supposed to be.

I also noted that 2/3 of the prisoners who have been sent there were subsequently released. I'm not trying to justify everything that was done. I don't know the exact timelines, but I think there are valid questions from both sides that need to be answered.

I think that the major problem with the Guantanamo situation is that it is practically impossible to get a reasoned view from anyone. It seems that the only positions we find are: a)It is a purely evil aspect of a purely evil President's administration, which violates every detail of what makes America great; or b)It is absolutely necessary for the security of the USA, and closing it down would bring the almost immediate fall of our country. I think that both of those views are probably partially true but mostly false.

Ceroill said...

I consider it a good principle that when extremes are presented the truth almost always lies somewhere between them.

coreydbarbarian said...

are you sure you're not a philosopher, bob?

aristotle's golden mean

maybe we all are, somewhat.

g,
it is a pleasure conversing with a rational conservative like yourself. :)

G said...

There are lots of us. We just can't get jobs on TV because we haven't been to the Wally George school of debate skills =0)

Or maybe I'm just able to be more rational because I'm not tied to a party line.

I'm actually surprised we haven't heard from Bawdy. This seems like just the kind of thing that would get him going. Where is our resident Libertarian curmudgeon? (meant in a positive sense)

BAWDYSCOT said...

Curmudgeon huh? Well if the shoe fits.

This subject touches on many thing I have posted in the past. The impression the President and his crew didn't plan too very well when it came to capturing enemies. The fact he proposed a "War on Terror"; a war with no end. The very disdain Bushy has for the Constitution he took an oath to uphold. His attempts to circumvent the Constitution, though not surprising after awhile, should have been met with the full force of Congress and the Supreme Court. It looks like the Court is at least trying.

I cringed too corey. My opinion is that the President's most important responsibility is the security of the nation, but I also believe his PRIMARY responsibility is to uphold our civil rights. The Supreme Court is just the last bastion of individual freedom, the President should be the front lines of such. We don't have a nation worth living in if we don't have the freedom we fought for time and again. When the Framers were around, the idea was to stay OUT of conflicts around the world. We don't think that way anymore. We don't like some leader here, we don't like the crops they grow there, we think our needs trump others so we will just force our will around the world. World's policeman, my ass! Even when we are "in the right" as in the Balkan War; we are using our military for reasons beyond the protection of our Union. This is the problem. This gets us into the legal and social jams we now find ourselves in.

The mistake our current administration makes time after time is the underestimating of the intelligence of some of our citizenry. And thank goodness these people have balls and can speak out. This(habeus corpus and the administrations take on it) also is another bit of evidence to the rest of the world that we have troubles following our own muses.

Ceroill said...

corey, thanks for that. I don't pretend to be anywhere in the vicinity of the greats, but I like to imagine I approach my life thoughtfully.

Now for a completely different topic for a moment: I saw an editorial recently that I agree with, to the point that with the series of contaminated foods in the last few years it has become obvious that the food industries are either incapable or unwilling to properly supervise their own processes, and therefore we need to put teeth back into the FDA. Regulation can be a good thing.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Well, bob, since our consumer society demands all kinds of foods all year long, much of our food comes from places other than our own. The FDA or other federal trade agencies would have to embed themselves in other country's proccessing entities(which they actually do now). I would actually propose there be an international agency, maybe tied to the UN or WTO or WHO which would handle this. It would get us out of the World's Policeman role and it would keep us from looking like the heavy in certain situations. Food is an international issue, especially lately, and we already have institutions regulating the trade of foodstuffs, I can't see why it couldn't include the food itself.

Ceroill said...

Bawdy, In particular I was referring to the problems we've been having with purely American produced produce, beef, etc. The problem does of course amplify a bit when you get international. I agree that there should be international standards for food, and a body for overseeing them. Note: I did not say a U.S. agency, whether old or new. I'd think it would fall under the purview of the U.N.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Well in that case, if you consider we have, what, 330 million people in this country who like to eat a variety of foods and when food problem do occur only hundreds are affected, I don't think we do a bad job here in the US. This is a problem which will never go totally away. We are all humans and humans are error prone(oh, shit I just dumped the grade Z taters in the Potato Buds!). I also think this is one area, scaring the shit out of us over a little salmonella, in which the media excels. If only they were better at ferreting out political ne'er-do-wells.

G said...

I hope you aren't seriously suggesting allowing the UN to be in charge of another program. Every time a new rock is turned over there, we find new depths of the corruption in that organization.

coreydbarbarian said...

i agree with bob: regulation can be a good thang. er, thing.

i also agree w/ bawdy: the traditional media is prone to sensationalize these matters, not always to our benefit.

personally i have misgivings about the fda, but i would still support a new and comprehensive approach to regulating domestic food supply.

as for imported/exported foodstuff, i agree again. somebody besides us needs to oversee the whole shebang, and it should be an international institution.

i don't think the u.n. is any more corrupt than the u.s., but my mind is open as to who (or WHO) regulates it.

to tie it all together, i DON'T believe that any detained foodstuff has the right to habeas corpus, either. their owners prolly do, though...sort of. ;)

BAWDYSCOT said...

g,

I am not a big fan of the UN, but one thing I am coming around to is the fact the world is getting smaller every day. And we are only one country on this planet; maybe the most powerful at this time in history, but only one of many countries. At some point we WILL become a world population with many of the same problems to solve. I think we need to start thinking more like this at the beginning of this phenomenom so that we can influence any international governing body to become more like our system of relatively free markets and individual freedoms. We should get in on the ground floor so to speak. This would be best for the majority of world citizens; better than central-planning China or paranoid(and not necessarily unjustified)Russia or the smug Europeans taking control of the whole shebang. We better get into this game and loosen up our arrogance or we won't have any influence on this unstoppable process.

coreydbarbarian said...

g,
i was thinking about this tonight at work, and i believe (one of) the reason(s) it is a pleasure conversing with you is your conversational style. meaning, you don't force a debate, you engage in meaningful dialogue.
i for one appreciate your voice.
not that i'm kissing up or anything. just wanted to share my new insight. :)

G said...

I appreciate your comments. I've noticed that in the blogging world (as in the cable news industry and op-ed pages), there is far too much of the "I'm right, and I'm going to prove you wrong" attitude... which invariably leads to shoutdown matches. When it gets to that point, minds are closed off and nobody learns anything.

Most issues are complex, but the tendency these days is to break it down to one point and dig your heels in. It is unfortunate, but we live in an age where soundbites are more important to people than substance. I try to consider the issue (rather than just listen to the well-paid shills) before jumping into a discussion.

I also try to respect the fact that people have differing opinions. And I respect those who express those opinions and conduct themselves in a respectful, mature manner. As an example, my home state of California has two Democratic senators. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Diane Feinstein, even though I disagree with her political views more often than not. But I have no respect at all for Barbara Boxer, who is an example (to me) of one of the major problems we have in DC these days.

I'm glad that you enjoy having me here. There seems to be a lot less vitriol here than at most of the other political and anti-Christian blogs I've seen.

BAWDYSCOT said...

corey,

You suck up.;)

coreydbarbarian said...

dearest bawdy,
how do i love thee? let me count the ways...ya cuddly curmudgeon, you. ;D

one of the hardest things about being me is just how oblivious i am to social niceties, like handshakes, smiles, eye contact and simple acts of sincere praise.

but one of the great things about the internet (and blogs) is how it gives me a chance to come back and make things right. our conversations span greater periods of time, giving me a chance to realize what others normally "get", and make amends. consequentally, i can be a fuller, better human being online than i can be in person.

and i suppose, to be perfectly honest, i do love you guys, in a safe and hetero/platonic way.
you all make me a better me.


quick, somebody say something manly. ;)

BAWDYSCOT said...

How the fuck did we allow someone with shit running out of his ears to take the controls of a complicated machine such as this country!!! This mighty rock of a society deserves better, hell he even fucked up the Texas Rangers!!!

That manly enough?

Ceroill said...

I think the stereotypical 'manly thing to say' is something like, "How about them Dodgers?" (or Mets, Rangers, etc)

BAWDYSCOT said...

bob,

Have you seen the Dodger's record lately? I am sorry you brought it up.

Actually, I would like to tell all the regulars and semi-regulars to the site that I sense the love we have for each other, a love based on respect for the intelligence, personality, individualism giving us the sense of belonging that many search for.

And g is right, this site is less acrimonious than many others(if you can get past our fearless blog leader and his foul keyboard strokes)and I feel this is based on the aforementioned respect. And the best compliment of all, this blog and the previous site have made me see things in a different light from whence I started blogging. It may have crystalized some of my beliefs, but it has also given me different views to keep me growing intellectually.

Thanks to all.

csm said...

You paint a powerful image there Bawdy... won't be able to watch the prez without envisioning excrement oozing out his aural cavities.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Hey, if you put shit in the cranium(or if it occurs naturally as in Bushwacker's case) and apply the extreme pressure of the Presidency(self-induced), physics and logic dictate it will flow from the path of least resistance, no?

csm said...

In that case it'd be flowing out he ears, nose, and mouth wouldn't it?

BAWDYSCOT said...

Even without undue pressure it flowed from his mouth. Just the natural course of things.