Friday, September 29, 2006
On spluttering at the news. posted by Richard SeymourA couple of stories yield the increasingly common and idiotic astonishment and internal dialogue. Take this:
Included in the bill, passed by Republican majorities in the Senate yesterday and the House on Wednesday, are unique rules that bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment through traditional habeas corpus petitions. They allow prosecutors, under certain conditions, to use evidence collected through hearsay or coercion to seek criminal convictions.
The bill rejects the right to a speedy trial and limits the traditional right to self-representation by requiring that defendants accept military defense attorneys. Panels of military officers need not reach unanimous agreement to win convictions, except in death penalty cases, and appeals must go through a second military panel before reaching a federal civilian court.
By writing into law for the first time the definition of an "unlawful enemy combatant," the bill empowers the executive branch to detain indefinitely anyone it determines to have "purposefully and materially" supported anti-U.S. hostilities. Only foreign nationals among those detainees can be tried by the military commissions, as they are known, and sentenced to decades in jail or put to death.
At the same time, the bill immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. It gives the president a dominant but not exclusive role in setting the rules for future interrogations of terrorism suspects.
Additionally, take that:
Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.
Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.
Click on the link and notice the matter of death threats. Now, because these threats were not issued to racist Danish cartoonists, they seem not to have galvanised a March for Free Speech. The 'Viking Jihad' does not particularly mind curtailments of free speech in Iraq.
The first story simply illustrates a point I have made before: the sharp turn to the right among the US ruling class and its political wings after 9/11. This bill passed with the support of a rump of right-wing Democrats - I think they and a number of 'moderate' Republicans would have been much more reluctant to sign up to this a decade ago. I do not forget that the US congress voted to exempt US officials from prosecution under the ICC, nor that the UN approved this. What the US Congress has done in this case is to retroactively legalise Bush's actions - this means that the American political class expect terrorist attempts to use such archaic measures as habeus corpus to subvert the United States, and are especially worried that US officials might be denied access to measures that they evidently will need to sustain 'full spectrum dominance' through the coming crisis. The second story expresses the embedding in a legal form of what has been the reality in Iraq for some time. It is another (much deserved) opportunity to sneer at the word 'liberation', but it is also an indication that the US-affiliated elite in Iraq expects to need to broadest possible terms for detaining and executing individuals, since the bulk of Iraqis now support the resistance alongside the removal of the occupiers.
A bit of eugenics humour. The comedian Jimmy Carr, whose talents know no beginning, is regaling BBC audiences with gags about introducing chlorine into the gene pool. Cleaning out the dreck, that is, getting rid of the untermenschen. Is it a coincidence that he is one of the foremost exponents of 'chav' 'humour' in this country?