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Sunset Musings

It was a nice quiet weekend; thankfully somewhat thin on bad and/or outrageous news. Other than all the allergens that are currently thick as soup in the air, the weather here is perfect; 90 degrees and not a cloud in sight. Perfect day to get the backyard and pool ready for the summer. There are a couple of legal pieces on the various Bush atrocities of government I should probably work on, but that just seems like a little too much work as I sit here on the patio watching the sunset turn Camelback Mountain the most beautiful shades of purple, crimson, and gold that you can imagine. My wife calls sunsets like this "golden hour", they are truly stunning. The attached picture is from Flickr via Google Images, but I swear it must have been taken from my front yard; it is exactly the view I have as I write this post. Well, almost exactly, this is clearly taken at sunrise, because the view is looking to the east. It is a little hard to make out, but the pointed rock immediately underneath the sun is known as the Praying Monk. When the light is right, it really does bear a remarkable resemblance to it’s namesake.

The Casa de bmaz travelogue portion of this post thus complete, I would like to point out a recent New York Times story. It is the story of Sami al-Hajj, an individual caught up in Bush’s berserker war on terror. Often in our discussions Hannah Arendt’s phrase "the banality of evil" is applied; but it is not a metaphor, it really is the truth about our country these days. The following story is reported in national media, including the New York Times, but with a casual nonchalance that is an ox gore to our collective national soul.

Courtesy of William Glaberton at the New York Times, is the tale of Sami al-Hajj

A former cameraman for Al Jazeera who was believed to be the only journalist held at Guantánamo Bay was released on Thursday, after more than six years of detention that made him one of the best known Guantánamo detainees in the Arab world, his lawyers said.

“It is yet another case where the U.S. has held someone for years and years and years on the flimsiest of evidence” without filing charges, one of the lawyers, Zachary Katznelson, said Thursday.

The Pentagon several times changed its assertions about Mr. Hajj. But military officials have insisted recently that he carried money intended for Chechen rebels.

He had been an Al Jazeera employee for only a short time when he was captured in 2001 by Pakistani forces at the Afghan border. He was later turned over to American forces and, in 2002, sent to Guantánamo.

Bill Bennett made a cottage industry of screaming "where’s the outrage" in the late 90’s. Of course, right wing scrap hack that he is, Bennett was talking about the passivity of the nation toward a man getting a consensual blowjob from a adult woman. Screw Bill Bennett, I want to know where the outrage is over the fact that our country is effectively buying human beings in foreign countries and locking them in "enhanced interrogation" dungeons indefinitely based either on no probative evidence whatsoever, or on ever changing hoaked up bunk cobbled together on the fly as a means to their torture slave ends.

The pathetically ironic part of this story is Glaberton plowing through how journalists have not covered the story of a mistreated journalist.

The case did not draw the attention among American journalists that some of them said it deserved, in part because Mr. Hajj’s full life story was not known. As with most Guantánamo detainees, the Pentagon’s evidence against him was largely secret.

“I would have rather seen more of an outcry,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which tried to call attention Mr. Hajj’s detention. Mr. Simon said the case was part of what he called a disturbing trend of the American military to hold journalists for long periods without charges before eventually releasing them. He said his group had documented 11 such cases since 2001.

Two critical concepts of immense importance to the fundamental nature of what this country is, what it stands for, and how it’s citizens are informed by their press, and it is published with all the introspection, analysis and professionalism of a freaking high school bake sale announcement.

I started writing this post Saturday afternoon, but it kind of got put on the back burner with all the outdoor fun we have been having here the last few days. As the comments appear to have closed on the last thread, I wanted to get something up. I have several other pieces that I am working on and will start putting up tonight; looks like a busy week ahead. Be back soon…..

UPDATE: There is another recent detainee story that deserves mention in the category of Bush/US Government cravenness as well. It is the story of young Canadian Omar Khadr, now 21, but only 15 years old when captured at the side of his dying father in a firefight in Afghanistan.

A Canadian captured in Afghanistan at age 15 can be tried for murder in the Guantanamo war crimes court, a U.S. military judge ruled in rejecting claims that he was a child soldier who should be rehabilitated rather than prosecuted.

His military lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, had argued in February hearings at the Guantanamo naval base that Khadr was a child soldier illegally conscripted by his father, an al Qaeda financier. He urged the judge to drop the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Kuebler called the ruling "an embarrassment to the United States" and said Canada would share in the embarrassment if it allows its citizen to be tried at Guantanamo. He said Khadr would be the first child soldier tried for war crimes in modern history.

The United States and Canada have ratified an international treaty, the Child Soldier Protocol, that outlaws recruitment of combatants under age 18 and requires governments to help child soldiers recover and reintegrate into society.

Lovely. Bush has treated yet another seminal international human rights treaty, ratified and adopted by the United States as the law of the land, as "just a damn piece of paper". Not only are we violating the Child Soldier Protocol to prosecute young Khadr, there is a serious question as to the truthfulness of the allegations against him. As Ishmael and Skdadl have pointed out previously, the Canadians are not exactly acquitting themselves well on the Khadr case either; they should be standing up for the propriety and spirit of the law, irrespective of whether Khadr is ultimately guilty. Crickets chirping in the yard up north too.

In regards to detainee issues, when I started plumbing some depths for a couple of sub-issues, I stumbled into this dissertation that is very thorough and useful. Report On Guantanamo Detainees by Mark (Seton Hall Law Professor) and Joshua (attorney) Denbeaux. Pretty outstanding resource, check it out.

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