Torturing the rule of law

I don’t want to detract from the abuse/torture reports coming out of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., or even claim some sort of direct comparison. In fact, I am beginning to believe these scandals may turn out to be the most likely things to topple the Bush Administration. But, unfortunately, physical abuse is just one sign of the lawlessness of the Bush administration. They continue to systematicaly abuse and torture the rule of law.

Striking my attention this morning was several paragraphs from a Seattle Times story about the detention and upcoming “trial” before a military tribunal of a man who was supposedly bin Laden’s driver. The following excerpt is actually from the Argus-Leader’s edited version of the story:

But using his broad wartime powers, here’s how the president has set up the tribunals: The administration selects those to try and oversees their judges. Officials under the president’s supervision come up with a list of eligible crimes as well as the rules under which the tribunals operate. There are no time limits, and no oversight by Congress or the judicial branch.

The government said Hamdan will be charged with a crime, but he still hasn’t been told what it is. He was transferred to solitary confinement in December in preparation for trial, but no trial date has been set.

He has been told the trial will be fair but that evidence may be withheld from him, and his lawyer must ask the government’s permission before revealing any facts of the case. He can seek redress only up the chain of command — in other words, to the people who decided he should be charged in the first place.

Last year, Hamdan was told he would remain in solitary until he agreed to plead guilty to an unspecified offense, according to the pleadings.

Hamdan is not a US citizen and, thus, not entitled to the protection of the US Constitution. Still, our claims of bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq as a starter for the rest of the Middle East certainly rings hollow if this is the due process lesson we are teaching in the process. It certainly seems that a cavalier approach to legal process would contribute to the ensuing physical treatment of detainees and prisoners.

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