Saturday, July 01, 2006

Upholding the US Constitution

The Supreme Court decision on the Guantanamo Bay tribunals is being used by the Republican noise machine to obscure the fact that Bush is doing a lousy job on the war on terror. After all, Bush let Osama bin Laden get away despite having him cornered in Afghanistan. Bush also refused to deal with the Zarqawi problem in 2002 despite being approached by the military three different times with plans to take him out; and so Zarqawi, who was laying low before the war and not doing much, was given a new lease on terror for three years. And of course right wing Republicans like to forget that even Rumsfeld has said we seem to be creating more terrorists than we're killing. That last is a fair statement given how little the Bush Administration thinks about these things. Though our president seems unable to grasp the concept, talking points from right wing radio talk shows don't win wars.

There are still too many Americans pretending that our somewhat dishonest and clearly incompetent president knows a thing or two about stopping terrorism (lesson #1 (August 6, 2001): don't go fishing when somebody comes to your home office while you're on vacation and reads a memo about the possibility of a terrorist attack inside the United States; that's the moment Bush should have kicked into gear rather than kicking back on his heels).

Fortunately, there are still people in the government who care about good government and the law. The Navy lawyer who won the Supreme Court case did his job though Rumsfeld and others are likely to make him pay with his career. Billmon has some thoughts:
...Officers who have crossed Rumsfeld and the gang have already learned that it tends to be bad for your professional health....

It is a remarkable fact -- and a credit to the institutions of the old republic -- that the man who at least temporarily knocked the legal crown off King George's head is himself an officer in his majesty's armed forces. As Swift notes, he didn't choose this job, it chose him. It's possible that his superiors selected Swift knowing full well his career prospects were on the line, and hoping he could be relied upon to defend those prospects instead of his notional client. However, it's also possible that those who picked him were enemies of the regime who realized Swift's career was already over, making him a good candidate for a legal suicide mission.

Either way, Swift surely must have understood that the guys in the E ring were expecting him to quietly take a dive ("Kid, this ain't your night.") but instead he made a fight out of it, and, with a little help from the refs, kicked David Addington's authoritarian ass out of the ring.

What the Rumfelds and the Addingtons and the Cambones continue to have a hard time dealing with is the fact that there are some odd balls in the U.S. professional officer corps --- particularly the more educated parts, like the Judge Advocate General's office -- who still take the duty, honor, country stuff seriously, and who believe their oath is still to the Constitution, not the Bush family and the Republican National Committee.

Actually, there are still more than just a few 'oddballs' and they are the wall that prevents our country drifting even further from whatever democratic values, integrity and competence that remains in these strange times. The current crop of right wing Republicans are beatable but at the moment they're desperate—desperate to hide their failures and desperate to change the subject.

The Republicans currently in control in Washington have become very cozy with a corrupt system and are very reluctant to admit how poorly their ideas and grandstanding are serving the American people. It's too bad moderate and rational Republicans in power have not spoken up more loudly; they might have saved the country, and even their party.

But I'm one of those who welcomes any Republican who will put our country first and the party second and speak out against the corruption, cronyism and incompetence that has seized control of their party. Now none of us are holding our breath, but we're still waiting to hear from people like Colin Powell. We've reached a point where Navy lawyers like Swift are serving our country better than our former Secretary of State.

In the meantime, despite the photo ops and slogans about things getting better, 66 Shiites were killed today in Iraq by Cheney's "last throes" insurgents.


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