Monday, September 25, 2006

One Day, Two Hearings, Little New

Two separate congressional confabs today, although only one officially reached the level of "hearing." Naturally, that's the one I'm finding zero coverage of tonight on my first sweep through the online editions of the major papers. You know, the judiciary committee's hearings on whether it's okay to dispense with habeas corpus when dealing with suspected terrorists, unlawful combatants, shifty-lookin' Arabs acquired through dubious means... okay, after some digging I found a few stories. Interestingly, Specter's setting himself up as the anti-White House maverick on this one. It was certainly contentious.
Several witnesses told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the protections should be afforded all detainees.

Retired Adm. John Hutson says habeas corpus protects the innocent.

He says it would give "no comfort" to any terrorists who have fought the US.

But Texas Senator John Cornyn says "enemies of the US captured on the battlefield" shouldn't be afforded protections that are in the Constitution.

Never mind that an open-ended war on a noun makes the entire world a battlefield, to say nothing of the fact that I find it extremely curious that a man who has argued so vociferously that detainees should have no protections because they (1) don't wear a uniform or (2) fight out in the open in conventional ways should be so fixated on the no-rights detentions being okay because they were captured "on the battlefield" as if both sides were lining up in ranks and marching broadside into each other. As if they all actually had been captured with guns in their hands rather than being sold out by a rival warlord holding a grudge or maybe, just maybe, being grabbed under false pretenses on a layover in the States on their way home to Canada. Admiral Hutson summed it up best:

Rear Adm. John D. Hutson, a former judge advocate general of the Navy who is now the president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., told the senators they would be winning a “military victory’’ if they managed to preserve habeas corpus rights for detainees.

Terrorists “want to bring us down to their level,’’ he said. “Military doctrine says you have to hold the high ground.’’

The other event today was a Democrat-sponsored forum on the state of the war. This received considerable airplay and bandwidth, and featured three retired generals--all of whom served in Iraq--blasting the administration and Rumsfeld in particular.
"I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq," retired Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste told a forum conducted by Senate Democrats.

A second military leader, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, assessed Rumsfeld as "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically."

Predictably, the Republican leadership (which was not in attendance; they were too busy whinging about the considerable costs involved in giving detainees basic judicial rights) called it a pre-election stunt (with straight faces!):
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Armed Services Committee, dismissed the Democratic-sponsored event as "an election-year smoke screen aimed at obscuring the Democrats' dismal record on national security."

"Today's stunt may rile up the liberal base, but it won't kill a single terrorist or prevent a single attack," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. He called Rumsfeld an "excellent secretary of defense."

No comments were forthcoming from Sen. McConnell about the recent National Intelligence Estimate that concluded the war in Iraq has actually created more terrorists and increased the likelihood of future attacks. Nor about the news today that we have, at present, no more than three combat brigades available for emergency deployment. That's 10,000 guys, tops.

Think about the billions of dollars that have been squandered in Iraq, the thousands of lives wasted for Bush's, Rumsfeld's, Cheney's lies. Think about the couple hundred who have died in Afghanistan as their troop numbers and equipment have been inexorably drawn down, down, to the point of such ineffectiveness that the Taliban are resurgent and Osama's boys have found new digs in Pakistan. These fuckwits abandoned their first war before it was over to start a new one we can never honorably end, and in the process have left this country more vulnerable and less ready to respond to a disaster than it has ever been. And still they have the gall to stand up there and defend themselves and chide those of us who are screaming that enough is enough.

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