February 23rd, 2012

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Afghanistan is up in arms about the burning of copies of the Koran in a trash pit on a US military base. The books had been relegated to the trash because of things that had been written in their margins by Afghani prisoners. The Afghan government is asking for prosecution of those involved.

This is an unfortunate incident that is not nearly as egregious as some of the other atrocities we have seen committed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The violent reaction on the part of protesters reflects the poor handling of the incident. Obama has apologized. (I cannot wait to see how the Republican candidates exploit that apology.)

Myths surrounding NDAA12.

First, let's clearly define what it is we're discussing.

Full text.
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s1867pcs/pdf/BILLS-112s1867pcs.pdf

Debunking of the myth many people keep repeating.
http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/ndaa.asp

Note that Obama put in a signing statement (another long standing Presidential tool, and one that Bush used more than any before or since) that invalidates the relevant section for the duration of his term or terms. What is disturbing, aside from that it made it to his desk and he didn't reject it completely instead, is that this signing statement expires at the end of his term or terms.

Imagine President Santorum using this to round up atheists and libertarians. Yeah.

So. Bush.

During the Bush years, despite massive public and press attention to the administration’s detention policies, Congress remained largely out of the picture. While the USA PATRIOT Act contained some provisions on detention, they were never put to use; the Bush administration preferred to create a detention system that was, it assumed, largely free of legal constraints and judicial oversight.

The military prison at Guantanamo and the CIA’s secret prison system were therefore created by executive fiat, without congressional input or restriction. When cases challenging Guantanamo and the military detention of US citizens on US soil got to court, however, the administration claimed that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a joint resolution passed by Congress in September 2001, gave congressional approval for those detentions.

The AUMF, which authorizes the president to use “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11 attacks, or who harbored such persons or groups, is silent on the issue of detention. A plurality of the US Supreme Court agreed with the administration, nonetheless, that the power to detain is necessarily implied by the power to use military force.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the 2004 ruling that upheld the US government’s detention power, left many questions unanswered. Because it involved a prisoner who was captured during the armed conflict in Afghanistan, it did not raise the Bush administration’s broad claims of a “global war on terror,” in which terrorism suspects far from any battlefield were treated like enemy soldiers. It did not even give much guidance regarding the scope of the armed conflict, geographic or temporal, although it included, in dicta, a skeptical reference to the administration’s broadest claims.

Congress maintained its hands-off approach to detention during the entirety of President Bush’s two terms in office, even as it legislated on closely related issues like minimum standards of humane treatment and the rules for military commission proceedings. When Obama took office in January 2009, however, Congress’s attitude changed. Many members of Congress reacted negatively to Obama’s stated goal of closing Guantanamo, and, since that time, Congress has imposed various ever tighter restrictions on the release and transfer of detainees.

One last historical fact that is important to remember, when considering the scope of the NDAA, is that the Bush administration held two American citizens in indefinite military detention, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla. While Hamdi was picked up as a combatant in Afghanistan in 2002, Padilla was arrested in a civilian setting in Chicago that same year. The Padilla case was never definitively adjudicated—Padilla was finally moved to the civilian justice system in 2006 — but it underscores the Bush administration’s claim of power to hold even American citizens picked up in the United States indefinitely without trial.

So:

a) NDAA12 is not as bad as people claim, because;
b) It was already as bad before NDAA12, because:
c) Bush was already doing all of what NDAA12 allegedly makes policy, despite:
d) NDAA12 not actually making it policy due to a signing statement

The situation is no less disturbing, but the facts simply aren't what they're simplified down to being, with the end result that blame is misplaced.
The TRIAD!

Social Issue conversation

It looks like the Virginia state Legislature is pulling back on its Person-hood bill:



As this comes on the heals of the trans-vaginal ultrasound re-write, one might think it is the beginning of a trend. Do you think these backpedals are a response to local sentiment alone, or do you think the national GOP might be rethinking some tactics?

Others have pointed out why the national party should be concerned about the effects on the General Election if the national debate is monopolized by such social issues, to the detriment of economic ones.

Also of interest to the GOP is that such a focus on social issues does not effect the Candidates equally. Specifically, Romney's "Electability" arguments against Santorum (and perhaps Gingrich) become more salient as that conversation leaves economics for social issues.