Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where's the Faith?

Another week, another rant. Coincidentally, this one connects to Pops's review of Franken Castle (which, by the way, makes me think of a mash-up of Al Franken and Nathan Fillion).

Why is it that the Republican Party has so little faith in the United States? Here we have the party that holds itself out as the defender of faith, so long as that faith is Christian, or at least Judeo-Christian, and sufficiently in favor of pigeon holing people in narrow classes with civil rights determined therefrom, but when it comes to the actual United States, both its people and its government, the GOP seems to be atheistic.

What brings this to my mind is the furor of the GOP at the idea of trying a select few of the Gitmo detainees in the civil courts of the US. The GOP appears to have come to the immediate conclusion that this is both a get out of jail free card to the accused and a platform for anti-American rhetoric for the same accused. To me, these seem like contradictory positions to take, for if the accused are going to get out of jail, they're going to have to keep their mouths shut. Either that or the GOP believes that NYC is such a debased Gomorrah that its citizens, in their polyglot allegiance to none, will acquit even those who come before them proclaiming their guilt and hatred of the jurors.

And that's a big part of the problem with the GOP position. Khalid Sheihk Mohammad, the best known of these defendants, has freely proclaimed his involvement in the 9/11 attacks and wants to be executed so he can be a martyr. Even Patricia Jessamy could get a conviction with a defendant like this. I don't know if the other defendants are quite as forthright in their guilt, but I'm guessing the DOJ has picked them for these trials for the obvious reason that they are such easy pickings. After all, there are many more guys still in Gitmo who aren't being brought into the civil courts.

Part of the GOP reasoning seems to be that these defendants should be tried in military courts, if at all, because this is a war on terror. Of course, this is the same GOP that argued for 7 years that this is not a war in terms that would be recognized by the Geneva Convention, so these guys weren't prisoners of war and weren't entitled to any kind of due process, military or civilian. Only grudgingly into those 7 years, and as the result of decisions by about as conservative a Supreme Court as we've seen in the last 50 years, did the GOP (and I'm making the Bush Administration synonymous with the GOP here) make the most feeble stabs at creating from wholecloth a judicial system that barely tried to ape due process.

The fact is, from the day the 9/11 attacks occurred, the plotters were criminals who should have been sought out to bring into the civil courts. These were crimes against the civilian population of the US (though the Pentagon attack could argue for concurrent military jurisdiction). I don't mean people in Gitmo who were captured solely as combatants in Afghanistan or Iraq. Those are military invasions and should be handled as POWs. I mean al-Qaeda's leaders who put together the plans for 9/11 and anyone who intenionally furthered those plans (lest anyone get on their high horse about whose fault it was that US intelligence didn't stop the attacks before they occurred, which were not intentional acts).

Just because some PR flack calls it a war on terror doesn't make it a war. If that were the case we'd be locking people up without trial for the war on poverty and the war on drugs. Hell, we're great at declaring war on things, but any declaration of war that doesn't actually involve a Congressional declaration of war shouldn't be taken any more seriously than a WWE challenge or the death of a comics superhero. No one believes either is real, and no one should believe the war on terror is an actual war.

Another GOP claim is that the trials in NYC will make NYC a target for terrorists. Why no one has called out the obvious stupidity of this statement is beyond me. Hello! NYC was already the target of terrorists. That's the whole point of the trials. NYC didn't go away with those attacks, nor did the terrorists. Ergo ipso facto, NYC is just as much a target of terrorists as it was 8 years ago. Besides, does anyone really believe that anyone in the GOP, aside from Michael Bloomberg, gives a rat's ass about NYC? This is the party whose standard bearers proclaim themselves the voices of the only real and true Americans; those who live between the coasts, the God fearing, white, small government - but lock up those at whom we look askance - good people.

Ironically, the GOP has declared war on the social degredation of such places as NYC. Why, following the logic of the GOP, many of its members should be locked up and tried for treason, or better yet, not tried at all but be held in indeterminate detention, their Bibles torn up, spat upon and defecated upon as methods to glean further information from them. Perhaps we could throw in some simulated baptisms (aka water boarding) and some objectionalbe music at high decibels. I'm thinking some AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, coincidentally objectionable to the extremists Muslims with whom they could share cell space.

Kidding aside, why doesn't the GOP like the Constitution or the values it embodies? Will they come forward and honestly proclaim that they don't believe in trial by jury? That is what their position boils down to.

Now, I can understand some family members of those killed on 9/11 not wanting the trials. First there's the issue of having to go through the evidentiary presentation of what happened to their loved ones. Second, there is that possibility that the defendants could be acquitted, though as I said, I think that remote at best. But one of the family members is quoted as saying something to the effect that the defendants took away her husband's rights when he was killed on 9/11 so she doesn't think they should be afforded those rights. Of course, that would mean all criminal defendants shouldn't be afforded due process rights because, by the mere fact of their accusation, they're guilty. This is putting the cart before the horse. If they're found guilty, then they forfeit most of their civil rights. Civil rights are not forfeited first and then a determination of guilt made. Emotional upset may play into the survivor's statement, but it's been 8 years, so I have to call for a more reasoned thought process at this point.

Not to over work the irony, but the fact that I, an atheist, have more faith in the people of the US and the Constitution than the political party that represents itself to be the party of faith certainly qualifies.

Before Pops thinks I'm attacking him at all here, let me conclude by stating I know he's not an adherent of this aspect of the GOP. No doubt Libertarians throughout the land, if they're truly Libertarians, are trying to figure out how to take their party back from the religious zealots and political fear mongers who have the helm now. I wish them luck.


  1. Wow - Thomm is on a rant roll, good job. I did not take that as a personal attack as I have as much faith in the GOP as I do the Dems. I find it amusing how the out of power side always becomes so "value oriented" and when in power just pass what is best for them. Very little difference in the parties at this point.

    Not sure I agree with trying them in Federal Court, but if the prior administration wanted to try them before in Military Court they should have.

    As a country we can't expouse certain values and then just hold people without proving our case to the rest of the world. How does the US feel about the three people Iran is holding?

  2. Very upset, naturally. At least for Obama that's consistent with trying the Gitmo guys. Now, when the Shrub was upset about his alleged Axis of Evil, it was entirely hypocritical. That's a pretty distinct difference between the parties.