November 10, 2008

The End of an Era and All That Jazz

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Keegan Wenkman


Can we put a moratorium on the phrase change we can believe in. Particularly when in question form: is that change we can believe in?, etc. The proliferation of this unbelievably obnoxious device in political columns and blogs can no doubt be blamed on President-Elect Obama, but, that doesn’t make it any better. It’s friggin’ obnoxious.

With my hatred of that phrase in mind, read this article in Time (via Digby at Hullabaloo via Spencer Ackerman…):

President-elect Obama’s advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials, a plan that would make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but could require creation of a controversial new system of justice. […]

Under plans being put together in Obama’s camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.

A third group of detainees — the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information — might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks. Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans aren’t final.

This is hopeful. And it certainly is a break from Bush II’s policy. I’m not wild about the “controversial” new system of justice. But I do understand there are some different standards that have to be accepted when dealing with some of the Guantanamo detainees. For example, we can’t have undercover CIA agents appearing in court to give testimony.

So, while I have some doubts, I’m relieved that we can actually have an honest talk about balancing necessary secrecy with open justice. I doubt, after all, that a President Obama will go around questioning people’s patriotism for wanting to have a real debate about these important issues. Having a debate with the Bush administration was like talking to a wall, except the wall might call you unpatriotic every once and a while.

So let’s have a real talk about how we can fairly prosecute these detainees. In other words, let’s talk about how we can clean up yet another mess made by last, disastrous administration.

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The End of an Era and All That Jazz