Friday, July 02, 2004

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Supreme Court demonstrated a great deal of wisdom and foresight in Rasul v. Bush. Initially the decision did not appear to be as strong as I had hoped, guaranteeing access to legal representation without ordering all prisoners charged or released. But but handling the case in this manner, the court has done several things. First, by allowing the initial dententions, it has preserved the right of the government to take the necessary steps to prevent an impending terrorist attack, even at the risk of inconveniencing innocent people. However, by preserving the right to counsel, the court not only preserves basic civil liberties, it creates an incentive for the government to be cautious and to restrict the use of these detentions, as a pattern of mistaken detentions has the potential to cause a great deal of Weng Ho Lee style embarassment. In the same vein, the decision seems to be provoking rapid rethinking of the entire Gulag Archipeligo. The understanding that these people are going to sue seems to finally have alerted the Administration to the counterproductive nature of their policies. It seems likely they will soon be shutting down Camp X-Ray and moving the Gitmo detainees to the US - the rest of our "secret prisons" may soon vanish as well, as angry family members start filling up Johnny Cochran's voice mailbox. As a flabbergasted Scalia says in his dissent, "the court boldly extends the scope of the habeas statute to the four corners of the earth." The more I think about this, the more I like it.

I'd love to comment about F911 but it's been sold out all week, so I haven't seen it. Instead, I'll leave you with an oldie but goody - Senator Fullbright from 1966 (look him up yourself, ya bum):
The attitude above all others which I feel sure is no longer valid is the arrogance of power, the tendency of great nations to equate power with virtue and major responsibilities with a universal mission. … I have not the slightest doubt of the sincerity of the President and the Vice President and the Secretaries of State and Defense in propounding these aims. What I do doubt -- and doubt very much -- is the ability of the United States to achieve these aims by the means being used. I do not question the power of our weapons and the efficiency of our logistics; I cannot say these things delight me as the y seem to delight some of our officials, but they are certainly impressive. What I do question is the ability of the United States, or France or any other Western nation, to go into a small, alien, undeveloped Asian nation and create stability where there is chaos, the will to fight where there is defeatism, democracy racy where there is no tradition of it and honest government where corruption is almost a way of life. Our handicap is well expressed in the pungent Chinese proverb: "In shallow waters dragons become the sport of shrimps."

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