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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Scott Brown Has Learned His Free Press Lessons Well

Yes, our shiny new Senator for Massachusetts has learned his lessons well.

When called on a questionable piece of bluster, the best thing to do is to GO HARDER!

Crossposted, with puzzling formating issues, at The Suicidal Cactus Hour…

Senator Brown got his national spotlight in an election that was, at best, laughable in itsineptitude on the part of the Democratic Party.  In part, the handling of the empty Kennedy seat is one of the reasons why I simply cannot see myself ever joining the Democrats, even when my own party is embracing the Wing Nut Brigade harder and harder.  Odder, is that no matter how you feel about the GOP and its current leadership, or the way the seat was ceded over to the Republicans, Senator Brown is still a Massachusetts Republican, which means as far as the Wing Nut Brigade is concerned, he is perhaps two steps away from being a Democrat himself, and possibly a Commie-Papist-Muslim in disguise as well.  Well, to be fair, in the eyes of many of the Wing Nut Brigade,Democrat and Commie-Papist-Gay-Raping Muslim are well neigh interchangeable…

But the tiff with the Vice President about lawyers illustrates a divide of fear that Brown has quickly learned to hop upon.  Vice President Biden passed the bar a bit better than 40 years ago.  Brown himself has been with the National Guard, and has served as a lead defense attorney with the Guard.  Both are accomplished legal tacticians, but I find it interesting that a defense attorney for the military would advocate military tribunals–though, to be fair, his argument was against spending money on a criminal trial attorney, which is a bit less damning than the usual rants to try terrorists away from the eye of the criminal courts.  Still, the argument that we shouldn’t try folks in our criminal courts seems odd, when we’ve been fairly successful with doing exactly that.

Here’s a list of folks that are currently serving in ADX Florence, our Go To SuperMax in Colorado that seems to be a repository for Ebbil.

Ramzi Yousef-Captured in Pakistan, convicted for role in Bojinka plot in 1996, convicted for role in 1993 WTC bombing.

Wali Khan Amin Shah-Captured in Manila, convicted for role in Bojinka plot.

Abdul Hakim Ali Hashim Murad – Captured in Manila, convicted for role in Bojinka plot.

Eyad Ismoil – Captured in Amman, extradited to US, convicted of role in 1993 WTC bombing.

Khalfan Khamis Mohamed-Captured in Cape Town, convicted of 1998 Embassy bombings.

Mahmud Abouhalima-Captured in Egypt, convicted of 1993 WTC bombings.

Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali-Convicted of 1998 Embassy bombings.

Mohammed Odeh-Captured in Karachi, convicted of 1998 Embassy bombings.

Mohammed A. Salameh-Convicted of involvement in 1993 WTC bombing.

Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad-Captured in Germany, convicted of federal crimes related to funding Hamas.

Even the Shoe Bomber got his day in a civilian court.

This move to classify terrorists as something more than regular criminals is an odd thing. Especially when advocated by my own party, because it plays directly into their hands. By abandoning our legal principles, and making these criminals into something special, we allow these asshats to succeed. They have wanted to cause us fear, and they have wanted to show that we will abandon principle when faced with terror.  I am tired of our elected officials doing exactly that.  Not just falling for the fear, but using that fear themselves to borrow political ooomph.  Which, is what Brown is doing. It is an attempt to borrow gravitas and appear tough and unbending, but by abandoning our legal system, to try folks who have NO military ties in such courts, because it’s easier in some minds, is preposterous.  Worse, it is insulting to the hard working folks who have toiled on these cases.  We have created special categories of criminal and “enemy combatants” as a legal fiction to protect those who flouted the legalities in capturing, and interrogating, and holding folks for years.  It had to be done because these folks were just THAT evil, is the argument.

The problem is, that the law doesn’t recognize Evil.  And last I checked, we were a nation of laws.

I understand why the last Administration built scaffolds of legal fiction.  They handed over what should have been a law enforcement investigation matter, and gave it to the military and our own CIA and other intelligence branches.  Very good organizations when you want people dead, people destroyed, things burned to the ground, or wrecked beyond use.  Not so good at getting people into court though.  And if we had simply decided on the Scorched Earth sort of policy that Israel adopts, that would have been fine enough–lots of dead Taliban and Al Qaida.  Hit them hard, hit them quiet and loud, and dismantle their organizations by blowing pieces off of them until they cannot operate any longer.  The CIA and US military would have been precisely the tools to use for those sorts of operations.

The problem is, somewhere along the line, someone got the bright idea to claim that we wanted to capture and try folks.  As soon as that got into the pipe, things got muddy.  Because when you use the CIA and US military to try to do dual duty as ass kickers AND law enforcement, you run into problems.  Neither are particularly adept at preserving chains of evidence. Neither are particularly adept at preserving the rights of those apprehended–and the change over to a capture and try strategy, when you’ve already rolled in with a military strategy, it didn’t go well.

Those who argue against trials, they are essentially trying to cover the mistake that was made by the previous Administration, and that was the confused strategy that wanted to straddle both legal and military success.   More, Senator Brown has staked his territory as being “tough” on terrorists.  Which is ultimately what most of the folks who posture on the issue are doing.  They aren’t actually involved in the trials, they have only a tangential stake in the trials as citizens themselves, and in continued polarization of issues that are less about party, but dammit, they’ll try to shoehorn some in.  In that, Senator Brown is assuming a role–less about principle, than looking good for the cameras and in the press…


  1. It is frustrating that so many people don’t see that we are only playing into al Queda’s hands. The use of terror has two goals – to terrorize the population and to provoke a response from the authorities. The American politicians who keep fear-mongering are helping the terrorists achieve their first goal. The response by our elected officials played right into their hands on the second goal. It baffles me how so many supposedly smart people can seem so blind to this.

  2. HappyinVT

    has been the one area Republicans have been consistently viewed as being better at than Dems.  Somehow former Bush Administration officials can get away with saying that their policies kept us safe when anyone with a functioning brain would say 9/11, Richard Reid, the still-unsolved anthrax attacks, etc did not exactly mean we were safe.

    That tide may be changing.  Despite Cheney, Cheney & Co.’s best efforts the Obama Administration actually polls better at handling national security than it does the economy or health care.  The recent Washington Post poll had it 56%, 46, and 43 respectively.

    Unfortunately, there are signs that the administration may be backing down from a civilian trial for KSM due to pressure from Mayor Bloomberg among others.  Instead of backing down they should reiterate how doing so is the right thing to do.

    Brown might want to enjoy his perhaps brief stint in the Senate.  I would like to think Dems won’t be so lax in campaigning in 2012 and Brown, who has already said he may buck his own party if he thinks it is the right thing to do for MA, will be fighting the far Right should he seek re-election.  

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