In Perpetuity, Forever and Ever, Amen:
The point yesterday when Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Wiggins told the Senate Judiciary Committee, in answer to a question from Joe Biden, that, regarding inmates at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, "It's our position that, legally, they can be held in perpetuity" was the moment that the zombie corpses of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams should have burst into the chamber and ripped the head off the government stooge who just declared the United States shits on three and a half centuries of legal precedent. Then the three Founders should have divided and eaten Wiggins's depraved brain before heading over to the increasingly misnamed Department of Justice to dine on Alberto Gonzales's intestines. Ahh, sweet vengeance of history - the government that has eaten away the Constitution will now get eaten by those who created it.
Unlike the rampaging revolutionary zombies, though, the right wing media has decided not to focus its attention not on the official policy of disappearing prisoners, but on Senator Dick Durbin's amazing, passionate statement on the floor of the Senate. Durbin was speaking out against the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo. He read quoted a statement from an FBI agent who saw horrific mistreatment of prisoners. Then Durbin said, "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."
Durbin's statement led Rush Limbaugh to bellow about Nazi atrocities and gulag conditions, as if as long as America is not as bad as Cambodia, it's all cool. Limbaugh called Democrats a "danger," and a listener labeled Durbin a "traitor" for daring to call evil by its name. White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, "What this is is a disservice to any man and woman serving in the U.S. military who's putting their life on the line each day, because they're trying to paint all military with a broad brush because of the actions of perhaps a few bad apples, who are being punished severely."
Durbin was not calling for the closing of Gitmo, but for greater Congressional oversight and for the prisoners to have a right to challenge their detentions. Arlen Specter, referring to the hearing he was chairing, made the bold statement that "It may be that it's too hot to handle for Congress, may be that it's too complex to handle for Congress, or it may be that Congress wants to sit back, as we customarily do, awaiting some action with the court no matter how long it takes."
How long it takes may be an eternity, according to the Bush administration. Or however many years before some Supreme Court decision says that the Gitmo prisoners must be freed or charged and tried. Biden's immediate follow-up to Wiggins's statment of perpetual confinement should have been, "What about Jose' Padilla?"
For wheresoever goes Padilla, so go the rest of us.
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