Saturday, March 20, 2010

Seven out of eight dentists

Chew Dentyne.

And, according to Katherine Kersten, one out of seven detainees released from Guantanamo “returned” to terrorism. Straight from the mouth of the Pentagon to Kersten’s ear. Immaculate reception.

The “statistic” was breathlessly reported by Kersten as part of her most recent column condemning lawyers who have represented Guantanamo detainees who have protested, and are protesting, the legality of their detention, often successfully.

Laying aside her poisoned broadside for just a moment, we must stop to consider that the figures she quotes are very much in dispute. In a special report for CNN, Peter Bergen and Kathine Tiedemann claim the figure is more like one in twenty five.

Moreover, it is a little hard to see how somebody released from Guantanamo is really considered a terrorist in the first place, because if there was any competent evidence of terrorism, he’d still be Guantanamo.

One also wonders whether being thrown in a hole for half a dozen years might have a, well, radicalizing effect on somebody?

But, back to Kersten’s main point! Any lawyer who would represent a Guantanamo detainee is pro-terrorist, contemptible swine. This is a line spun out recently by Karl Rove and Liz Cheney. But here’s Scott Horton, a far keener mind on matters legal than Katherine Kersten, on the subject:

[ . . . ] The first tier [of Guantanamo defense lawyers] are men and women in uniform, members of the Judge Advocate General’s corps, who provide defense for anyone called before a military court or commission. The second tier are lawyers from across the country who volunteered to support the JAG lawyers, helping to shore up their resource deficit vis-à-vis the government. These lawyers are attracted by the usual considerations that lead lawyers to perform pro bono services: the clients are indigent, and their cases raise novel or interesting legal issues which the lawyers involved will be able to test in court. In this case, they’ve been pretty successful–even an overwhelmingly Republican-appointed Supreme Court has now repeatedly found that the regime the Bush Administration created in Guantánamo was illegal.

But there’s another fact that Thiessen [a former Bush speech writer writing in the Washington Post] omits. In his world, the Gitmo prisoners these lawyers are defending are terrorists, full stop. If that’s the case, then why did the Bush Administration release fully two-thirds of them? Why do the largely conservative, Republican judges reviewing the habeas petitions of the balance keep finding that there’s no basis to call them “terrorists”? That’s been the result in about 80% of the cases heard so far. What has Thiessen and his Cheney friends in such a lather? I’d put a sharp point on it: these lawyers are putting the lie to their claims about Gitmo. [italics are mine]

And that is why Karl Rove, Liz Cheney and our very own Katherine Kersten are so upset.

Horton also linked to a funny tongue-in-cheek confession of a JAG lawyer to being an al-Qaeda operative:

The chance to actually be a U.S. government-paid spokesperson for al-Qaida under the guise of ‘promoting fairness, justice and the rule of law,’” he says, “was just too delicious an opportunity to pass up. I figured the military commissions at Guantánamo would be the perfect soapbox for me to espouse my terrorist ideology.”

At long last, Katie, have you no sense of decency?

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