Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Camelot, Not

I cant stand this indecision
Married with a lack of vision

Everybody wants to rule the world

--Everybody Wants to Rule the World,

Tears for Fears

Our so-called leaders speak

With words they try to jail you

They subjugate the meek

But its the rhetoric of failure

--Spirits in the Material World
The Police


A week has passed since the Presidential election, and not being a fan of either major party's candidate, Ranger suffers none of the post-election effects which have stricken many.

What follows is a post-partisan essay, applicable regardless of who would occupy the highest seat in the land. It is aimed at the expectations of America versus the capabilities of any particular candidate.

Much of the electorate is pumped up on a
Nuevo Camelot, but they fail to remember that America's Camelot I failed to deliver a performance equal to the rhetoric. Change does not arrive by Fed Ex.

Aside from the overly indulgent lifestyle of the average individual and the rapacious behavior of the new robber barons, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) has exacted a tremendous toll on the nations' economic health. The bleeding must be staunched, and the new president must conclude U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if it seems a little Basil Fawlty ("Sorry folks, an error, apologies all the way 'round. Let's help you build some schools now.")

There will be no successful outcome to these phony wars. Nothing will change this fact. The project can be remolded, but it is a loser in any guise. There comes a time when a nation must admit that goals and policies are unachievable and unacceptable both morally, financially and militarily.

Afghanistan and Iraq will never be beacons of democracy, therefore, the U.S. must throw them under the bus before the brakes fail and the engine melts down.

There is discussion that Bush will pardon all PWOT torturers before leaving office. This move is being heralded as a healing balm which would free the Obama administration of one thorny issue. The idea is inappropriate as a pardon can not be issued prior to trial, just as a law cannot absolve torturers from prosecution. Not only the torturer proper must stand trail, but his enablers and the National Command Authority are also guilty -- the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense and CIA director who authorized the torture.

President Bush should also stand trial at the World Court, even if pardoned by a future president. Being president does not protect one from prosecution for criminal behavior.

The "worst of the worst" in Gitmo will also be released if and when they are bound over to the civilian federal court system. If they do not walk, then the court system has crossed over into fanaticism and fascism, much as the PWOT has done.

Bottom line: the chain of evidence is produced from a poisoned tree. Denial of
habeas corpus along with a myriad of other abuses demands nothing short of release. The bravest act of morality would be for Obama to issue pardons to all the Gitmo prisoners, with the exception of the Top 12.

However, even the Top 12 should be thrown out of court in an ideal world due to government malfeasance. This is in recognition that these 12 will be dangerous people, but also realizing 12 people can never bring the U.S. to its knees.

No doubt characters like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are lethal scumbags, but even in his case, evidence gotten from torture session should not be admissible as court's evidence. Just because one is dealing with scum, does not mean we must become scum to deal with them. That is why we have always abided by the rule of law to guide us to a higher ground.

America's legitimacy and dignity died as a result of post 9-11 governmental policies. Recognition of the unconstitutional behavior will demand the release of the prisoners.

There must be a reckoning at the National Security Agency for the domestic warrantless spying on U.S. citizens. The NSA must be brought back to operation within the legal parameters of its charter. This extends to the entire Department of Defense, Department of State and all intelligence operations of the government.

The Department of Homeland Security needs to be evaluated concerning threat analysis and cost effectiveness.

America must get real about its place in the world. The U.S. is but a part of the whole, and the President is not elected to rule the world. The President is responsible to The People to support the Constitution and espouse liberty within our borders.

Neither the U.S. nor its president can force democracy on alien cultures and countries.

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Blogger BadTux said...

Yes, the President *can* pardon someone before a trial even happens. Actually, the Supremes danced on this one back in the 1800's. The President can pardon someone even before the crime is *charged*. Yep. In 1866, the Supreme Court ruled in Ex parte Garland that the pardon power "extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment." (In that case, a former Confederate senator successfully petitioned the court to uphold a pardon that prevented him from being disbarred.) Generally speaking, once an act has been committed, the president can issue a pardon at any time—regardless of whether charges have even been filed.

Sorry, the Supremes have danced on this one, and the notion that a U.S. Supreme Court mostly appointed by Republicans will change a 140-year-old ruling is not one worthy considering.

- Badtux the Law Penguin

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 7:33:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

One huge obstacle to some of this, Jim, is the reality that a whole bunch of the Congressional Dems up to and including Pelosi and Reid are - have to be - part of the problem. They have been briefed on Gitmo and the NSA programs by the Bush people, so they have to know about the torture and the spying, if not all of it enough to make them criminally culpable if any of this stuff ever gets public. So they and their cronies are gonna fight like demons to keep this stuff, if not going, at least shoved under a rug until the statutes of limitations have run out...

As far as wars and rumors of wars, the problem will be evading the "surrender" tag the GOP has hung on any attempt to solve the ME Rubik's Cube using any other means that brute force...

So, no Camelot, no. But with any luck we'll at least see some sort of beginning of the return of the rule of law, a rollback of the imperial Presidency and some sort of adult oversight of diplomacy, war and espionage...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 7:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Serving Patriot said...


Thanks for this post. Straightforward and principled. The way it has to be.

Let's hope that our new President has the courage and skill to adopt even one of your recommendations. My money is on him.

As for Congressional enablers of both parties, there's no question that holding them accountable will be difficult. At least one of them (Feingold) has stated that he holds contemporaneous memoranda for the record laying out his objections to Administration policies - objections that could not be discussed publicly because to do so would violate security classifications. Until some sunshine reaches down into the dark depths we're in, we can't expect to begin cleaning the mess.

And, if there is one thing this election should tell us, the rightful owners of our nation, the citizens, must stay involved and hold their leaders accountable. Its the only way to let the sunshine break in.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 8:15:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Just because one is dealing with scum, does not mean we must become scum to deal with them.

may i suggest to you, that not only must you not become the scum you claim to fight, you must always gaurd against the temptation.

it's often a very fine line. warfare, by its very nature, can be brutal. it does not have to be barbaric, or descend into cruelty.

ruthlessness? sure. violent? absolutely.

it doesn't have to be cruel. it takes constant attention and effort though. and it's not nearly as sexy as the guys who like to hang around the dungeons inflicting pain on the helpless.

it takes work, countless hours of training and conditioning.

dilletantes need not apply.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 11:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Mad Celt said...

Amen and Hooah. I wonder why it is that President-elect Obama is more concerned with stem cells, than the repeal of the USA Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act...the blatant abrogation of OUR Constitution? I suspect a VERY dressed up version of business-as-usual. Call me a cynic.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 2:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mad celt,
I do not call anybody a cynic when they are being reasoned and informed. If what you say is cynicism then sign me up. jim

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 10:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Thanks for the update. I think i slept thru that class., I just can't remember 1866 at all.

What you say is certain but what I espouse is only logical and correct. If Congress can pass a phoney law to retroactively absolve torturers then they can pass a law to close the Garland loophole.Taking Garland to it's logical extreme and following FDChiefs arguments about Congressional complicity in PWOT war crimes then why not just have Bush issue a blanket pardon to all /every US agent/soldier/Congressman/Senator. That should redeem our morality.

Please remember that we can fuck with legality in our corrupt PWOT but theres still a World Court and legality beyond our borders.I believe Nuremburg proves this point.The US is real cute and legal -NOT.Theres still such a thing as world opinion.
Thanks for your input, it's appreciated. jim

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 10:32:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The Pope , sorry , I meant the president should sell get out of jail free cards and pass them out prior to the investiture of the new pope-damn . I mean the new president.
As for the imperial presidency- why are there so maaaany aircraft dedicated to Presidential use?

It's rather bironic using the word surrender. We in America don't even understand the term.How can we surrender anything?It's all phoniness . jim
PS today i plan to smell a flower:)

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 10:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Serving Patriot,
I'm just trying to serve up a dose of reality. The detainees are going to walk at some point and the American people must wrap their minds around this fact.Decency and reality demand this.My mantra is- you are either a POW or a criminal.Both must be treated accordingly.The disconnect is the PWOT is so corrupt- possibly Ranger should start calling the majority of the detainees PPOW's. jim
PS - do you belong to the MOPH?They call themselves Patriots.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 10:41:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

What we both say about scum and our fighting the impulse reminds me of a bobsled.Once you go over the tip point you just can't come back.You must ride that baby to the bottom.And that's where US policy has taken this nation.A lot of us didn't step aboard but the result is the same.
Thank you for your continued support and insights. jim

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 10:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Jim: On the way to the flower bed, I can honestly say that I am growing increasingly disgusted with the political and pundit classes that we have allowed to assume the role of running our nation. As you point out, if we cannot wrench this bobsled out of the track we're on a hard ride to the bottom. And at a time when our economy is looking more and more like a Nigerian bank scam, this would not be a good time to continue further down the road to international leperdom...

I honestly believe that we are, or will soon be, at the tipping point where we either water the roots of the Tree of Liberty with patriot blood (to coin a phrase) or accept our new status as subjects in the final stages of the Decline and Fall of the Empire. I don't believe that reform can come from within - too many people already on the inside are dirty; dirty with money, dirty with secrets, dirty with greed for more of everything.

I think we'll see in the first Hundred Days. One very simple, very revealing thing will be if the incoming Adminstration yanks the blanket of secrecy off the rendition and clandestine prison system. They may not be able to close Gitmo and the "black sites", but they can, if they have the political balls, open them and expose them for what they are, the American version of the Bloody Assizes and the Star Chamber, and make sure that they are watched and monitored to ensure that the rule of law returns.

Needless to say, I'm not hopeful.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 1:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

So far i haven't found any fucking flowers.Maybe the disappearing bees have stolen them.Where indeed have the flowers gone.
Yes indeed , it does seem like a Nigerian banking scheme. Thanks for so clearly defining it.I personally cannot grasp the concept of stimulus programs that are designed to address overspending, greed and overconsumption.In other words-lets spend more to solve our over spending. I must be the dumbest bastard that ever shit between combat boots b/c I just can't follow the logic.
IF Bush had an ounce of decency and logic about him then he'd pardon the detainees and close Gitmo before the changeover. But we know that won't happen- he'll pass his mess along .Obama will not be able to dig out from this hole even tho he didn't dig it.This is a true national problem that is not being given the thought that should be going into it.The problem is that the nature of the problem is not properly defined and is based in emotion rather than logic.There i go again:)
The blanket of secrecy will not lift even if the sites are closed. It'll be denials as always.And let's don't forget the ole standby-national security demands it all stay secret.It's all so tiresome and onerous.
Personally I believe we are totering right on the balance point.A fart will push the sled over the edge.
As i constantly preach-all of our assumptions in the PWOT and economy are false.All that follows is the same.God damn i'm a cheery guy. jim

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 3:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I,ve been pondering my previous reply.

A pardon after being tried is legitimate b/c it's at least a nod and a wink to legality.A pardon b/f a trial is in effect a tacit and legal approval of the crime.It's snubbing one's nose at the rule of law.This is not my idea of what Amurica is about.When legality becomes bullshit then democracy is a bygone failure. jim

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 3:12:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

Ranger, the "Garland loophole" as you put it is a matter of Constitutional law, not Congressional law. Congress can pass any laws they want and it does not affect Presidential pardon power. Only changing the Constitution could do that. Or changing the Supreme Court so that it ruled differently, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

And yes, the courts do agree that accepting a Presidential pardon is admission of guilt. Some people have refused to accept Presidential pardons because of that, while others (such as Richard Nixon and various within his administration) happily accepted their pardons and thereby admitted they were guilty of the crimes of which they were accused. As for the notion of democracy being a failure, well, yes. The only problem is, everything else that's been tried has been an even bigger failure...

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 5:45:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Serving Patriot said...


Concur that reality and a clear view of our predicament are desperately needed.

Nonetheless, I think last week's vote demonstrates that the People are ready to face that reality and willing to shoulder the burden they will be given. They simply need leadership and voted for "the one" they think will provide it. (Perhaps my previous cynicism regarding our fellow citizens has fallen to a dangerously low level? Time will tell.)

As for the "worst of the worst" we are holding in GTMO, their "walking" has been a reality I've accepted from day one. The whole nonsense Rummy and his crew dreamed up about non-combatant combatants was a dodge from the real problem of fighting a "nonstate". Another component of the PWOT as you call it. So long as there were the worst of the worst and so-called enemy combatants, then the crew in DC was able to scare Americans, demand huge budgets, reap the corresponding huge profits and build their "permanent majority." And like everything else, our consumer citizen lapped it up until his tummy hurt and he actually thought about what he was eating.

Closing and releasing the goat herders and shanghaied taxi drivers we're holding in Cuba should be a simple and easy decision. In reality, I expect it will be PAINFUL in execution. Since we've poisoned the worldwide well for these folks, we either have to truly and completely fess up ("see, they really aren't bad guys at all, please take them back now") or man up and offer these poor bastards a home here (somehow, I don't think that will go over well in the midwestern "red" crescent).

For those of us who complained, worried and frustrated since GTMO opened, now is not the time to just sit back and say "I told you so, this is why we treat POWs as POWs and criminals as criminals" (as much as I'd like too). This is the time to get more involved and hold our congresscritters and gov't officials to task, to get the light into the dark places, to bring to trial our own (potential) criminals and to help end the saga in a (any) positive way. To learn from the mistakes and ensure it cannot happen again.

This is but one of the "tests" the new administration faces right out of the blocks. I, for one, hope they will pass it since it certainly sets the precedent for the next four years. I remain hopeful.


And no, not in the MOPH.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 9:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Bad tux, Re your cmts on constitutional law.
Isn't the passage of ex post facto laws unconstitutional? But yet the exeption from prosecution for torture seems to be exactly that.
My point is that the constitution has become OBE-overcome by events.It's all smoke and mirrors now.

Friday, November 14, 2008 at 11:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

Ranger, the Constitution has always been smoke and mirrors. When the Supreme Court made its decision that the Cherokee could not be removed to Oklahoma, President Andrew Jackson said "The court has made their decision, now let them enforce it" and did it anyhow. This incident dictated Supreme Court rulings for the next 150 years -- the Supremes realized they needed support from either the Executive or from Congress to enforce their rulings, and refrained from ruling in any case where they would be opposed by both.

Ex post facto laws are a different thing from what is essentially a Congressional pardon. Ex post facto laws make things illegal retroactively. For example, if I gave money to Hamas before the passage of the Support for Terrorism Act, and the Support for Terrorism Act says that if I gave money to Hamas before its passage then I have committed a crime, that would be an ex post facto law. Congress passing a law, on the other hand, that says that crime X is now legal and nobody who committed crime X in the past will be prosecuted, is not an ex post facto law because it is dictating current actions rather than ruling on whether crime X was a crime at some point in the past.

In the end, all law is useful fiction. The hope is that rule of law provides an avenue via which the people can participate in their governance and resolve their differences and thus will not resort to rule of gun, said rule of gun being toxic to commerce (unless you're a pirate -- see Somalia). This nation was founded by merchants, not by gun-toting rebels (they had people for that). Unfortunately today's American public is by and large so cowed, docile, and placid that our merchant class has forgotten the whole reason for rule of law and started destroying it in in broad swathes with things like "tort reform" (which destroys the court system option for resolving conflicts involving the merchant class). THey are setting themselves up for the destruction of the nation, and therefore of their wealth, but our present-day merchant class appears to be, well, idiots about any subject other than making money. Not like back in our Founding Father's day when any well-educated merchant had studied the classics and had a keen grasp of political philosophy...

- Badtux the Law Penguin

Friday, November 14, 2008 at 12:06:00 PM GMT-5  

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