Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It is always an unsettling sight

To see a grown man piss himself, that is. It is that much worse when it happens on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:

On the House floor last night, Media Matters points out, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) made his case against holding trials for 9/11 suspects in New York City, directing a question to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“I saw the mayor of New York said today, ‘We’re tough. We can do it.’ Well, Mayor, how are you going to feel when it’s your daughter that’s kidnapped at school by a terrorist?” Shadegg said.

The urine has been flowing down the pant legs of right blogistan, too:

At best, this will be a show trial fit not for the American Republic, but a third world kleptocratic totalitarian regime. At worse, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will gain access to classified material he can then leak to other terrorists while New York yet again becomes a target for terrorists. We have already had occasions in this country where terrorists’ sympathetic lawyers have conveyed information, orders, and plans to other terrorists.

Even the Power Line Boyz are having incontinence problems.

But, as usual, Scott Horton sheds useful light on the issue of justice:

Former Bush Administration Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey addressed the Federalist Society only hours after his successor, Eric Holder, announced his plan to bring a group of Guantánamo prisoners up on federal charges in Manhattan. He offered harsh words, claiming that the trials would prove a "circus." Such attacks on the nation's criminal justice system have become routine on the political right.

Take the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, who responded to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's promise to bring the Fort Hood shooter to justice with these words:

I was very struck also by Janet Napolitano's comment, I hadn't read it before to see her say that, that the number one priority is to bring him to justice is such a knee-jerk comment and such a stupid comment. He's going to be brought to justice. He is not going to be innocent of murder. There are a lot of eyewitnesses to that. They should just go ahead and convict him and put him to death.

This is the attitude of a lynch mob, being disseminated on Fox News. A few days later, the topic turned from Fort Hood to the trials of Guantánamo prisoners, and the language was no less hyperventilating. "Hang 'em high" tweeted Kristol acolyte Sarah Palin. Other prominent Republicans claimed that the trials offered the prospect of terrorists being acquitted and turned loose. The possibility of an acquittal can't be excluded, of course, but, believe it or not, in our system acquittal does not necessarily lead to immediate release.

One thing that emerges very quickly from a survey of these comments is a dismissive attitude to the Constitution, the criminal justice system, and the need for a careful investigation of the facts and evidence. It's clear that they're really focused on politics, not justice. This attitude is not without parallels in the world and in human history. Kristol's comments perfectly track those of another prominent political figure of the late twentieth century:

There is no reason why a criminal should be tried in the first place … Once his identity is established, he should be killed right away.

That was Ayatollah Khomeini, and the operational demonstration of this principle came in the firing squad execution of thousands of Iranians, especially during the nation's war with Iraq.

Great company for our winger friends, don’t you think, boys and girls?

Update: For those of you who won’t click through to the Scott Horton post, you should know that one of the persons wailing about trying the defendants in New York and referred to by Horton, Michael Murkasey, was George Bush’s last Attorney General. Before holding that job, Murkasey was a judge in the SDNY, and he presided over the case against “the blind sheik” and others accused to committing the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Murkasey made his bones as a judge on that case; it was hardly a “circus.” There were no war crimes allegations, certainly as far as Spot can remember, and as James has pointed out in the comments, the defendants sit in prison today, where they will remain for the rest of their lives.

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