Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday Odds ‘n Ends (tm)

Spot's favorite—well one of his favorites, anyway—pants pissers, Jonah Goldberg, is at it again. In today' Strib, Jonah has a column playfully suggesting that maybe the Democrats should win the presidency in 2008; it would serve them right!

There is an idea out there. Perhaps not a fully formed one. Perhaps more like the whisper of one gusting like a sudden draft through the rafters of the conservative house, causing some to look toward the attic and ask fearfully, "What was that?"

This wisp of a notion is simply this: Maybe a Democrat should win in 2008.

Personally, I don't believe in this poltergeist, at least not yet. But every now and then, I must confess, I do shiver from its touch.

The key phrase here, boys and girls, is "look toward the attic and ask fearfully". That's something that Jonah's crowd is really good at. Jonah is actually trying to scare two groups: Democrats and Republicans.

He'd like to scare Democrats into being, well, more scared.

The idea goes something like this: If you believe that the war on terror is real, then you think it is inevitable that more and bloodier conflicts with radical Islam are on the way, regardless of who is in the White House. If the clash of civilizations is afoot, then the issues separating Democrats and Republicans are as pressing as whether the captain of the Titanic is going to have fish or chicken for dinner. There's a showdown coming. Period. My task isn't to convince you that this view is correct, but merely that it is honestly and firmly held by many on the right and by a comparative handful on the left.

And that's the problem: Only a handful of people on the left -- and far too few liberals -- see radical Islamists as a bigger threat than George W. Bush. Which is why if you really think that we are in an existential conflict with a deadly enemy, there's a good case for the Democrats to take the reins. Not because Democrats are better, wiser or more responsible about foreign policy, but, just the opposite, because the Democrats have been such irresponsible backseat drivers that they have to be forced to take the wheel to grasp how treacherous the road ahead is.

That's right! Be careful what you wish for Democrats. You'll see what a burden leadership of the free world is! Getting the rest of the planet to do our bidding is not an easy job! Just ask the President.

And of course Jonah is trying to scare Republican into working hard to keep the Democrats out of the White House.

For hawks who believe that the Bush White House either hasn't been hawkish enough or has done a much better job than the conventional wisdom holds (remember, no terrorist attacks on our soil since 9/11), counting on Democrats to learn on the job is a chilling thought. Which is why it remains a whisper, for now.

As though the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with the lack of further "attacks" on the United States. Jonah is a reliable Republican factotum, and he is part of the Greek chorus that continuously sings "War in Iraq = War on Terror" when it is pretty clear from objective evidence that the invasion of Iraq has been massively counterproductive in the terrorism department.


Some of you, boys and girls, have no doubt read about the indictment of a number of American citizens for their role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan and "rendering" him to Egypt, where he apparently had quite a time:

Prosecutors allege that five Italian intelligence officials worked with the Americans to abduct Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

Nasr was allegedly taken to Aviano Air Base near Venice, Ramstein Air Base in southern Germany, and then to Egypt, where he was held for four years and, according to his lawyer, tortured. He was freed earlier this week by an Egyptian court that ruled his detention was "unfounded."

Here's a description from the linked article of the Americans:

The Americans have all left Italy, and it is unlikely that they would be turned over for prosecution, even if Italy requests their extradition - a move that would strain relations between Rome and Washington.

All but one of the Americans have been identified as CIA agents, including the former Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady and former Rome station chief Jeffrey Castelli. The other is Air Force Lt.-Col. Joseph Romano, who was stationed at the time at Aviano.

Prosecutors believe that many of the American names in the indictment are aliases.

Aliases? You think?

Spotty will bet, boys and girls, that you think that Spot is going to rail about the US conduct in the rendition. Nope. Here's what troubles Spot the most:

It is not clear whether Italy will seek the extradition of the Americans, and it is highly unlikely the U.S. government would comply. In fact, it is all but guaranteed that none of the Americans will ever appear in court.

Still, the trial could proceed because Italian law allows for the prosecution of defendants in absentia. Arrest warrants for the 26 men and women — 25 CIA operatives, including two station chiefs, and an American Air Force colonel — have been issued and apply throughout the European Union.

You know, boys and girls, there are a lot of places where you can get tried—and convicted—in absentia, including perhaps Guantanamo Bay. Ordinarily, we dislike in absentia trials in the United States. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution frowns on it:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. [italics are Spot's]

Some of you, boys and girls, may remember reading in the papers recently about a "terrorist suspect" in Minnesota who recently won the right to be told by the government what it believed that he did. But it is unclear how much access the Guantanamo detainees will have to the witnesses and the evidence against them Spot will post more about this later.

By the way, happy birthday Marbury v. Madison!

Tags: , , ,

No comments: