Thursday, June 29, 2006

We Don't want to Win

I want to win. I'm fairly sure that Sim wants to win. I know for certain that the President prioritizes winning the War on Terror. Many other people all across the country want to win. Sadly though, it seems that our Government does not. Not when mid-level bureaucrats wish to act as legal experts and make decisions way beyond their pay-grade; not when Congress hasn't the fortitude to name much less prosecute people and organizations that knowingly expose classified information to the public. No, we don't want to win.

It's not been a banner week in the War on Terror. First, a highly-effective and secret financial counter-terrorism tool is exposed, potentially putting citizens of large US cities such as New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles at greater risk of terror attacks.

For good measure, the US Supreme Court today made plain for all to see that it does not want to win this fight. The 5-3 decision makes it clearly more difficult to conduct a war against a state-less, irregular force by forcing America to extend--for all intents and purposes--Constitutional protections to detainees in Gitmo and other places. Additionally, the ruling calls for Geneva Convention protections to be extended to all detainees, despite the fact that they fight for no national state and do not wear a recognizable uniform.

Many have roundups on this. Here are select quotes:

Make no mistake: if this happens, the Supreme Court will have dictated that we now have a treaty with al Qaeda--which no President, no Senate, and no vote of the American people would ever countenance. (Compare this.) The Constitution consigns treaty-making to the political branches, not the courts, but a conclusion that Geneva protects Hamdan (and, by extension, his fellow savages) would ominously mean that the courts, under the conveniently malleable guise of "customary international law" can rewrite treaties to mean whatever they like them to mean.

Anyone want to bet against me that this won't come to mean criminal trials with virtually all the protections required to be given to U.S. citizens under the Constitution?


Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva applies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"--including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. See my further discussion here.

This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administration has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).

If I'm right about this, it's enormously significant.


Guest mil-blogger Oakleaf at PoliPundit offers the most scathing commentary of all:

I only wish that this was sarcasm. These individuals have no idea what they have done.

I wasted 12 months of my life in Afgahnistan for this.

Support by the military in the GWOT is going to collapse.

UPDATE: This opinion will go from a ripple to a wave throughout the uniformed military. We were slapped by John McCain last December. Today, we are slapped by the Supreme Court. This afternoon, I am removing myself from the volunteer list at Human Resources Command-St. Louis to re-deploy. I will not be the only one.

UPDATE: I have received three e mails so far from guys in Afgahnistan on my “.mil” e mail. The sentiment is as follows:

$%^& the supreme court. They have no idea what we are going through. Major xxxxxxxxx

My third tour for what? SHIT!!! Captain xxxxxxxxxx

I want to go home to my family now. Master Sergeant xxxxxxxxx

We do not want to win. We're making it increasingly clear to anyone who is watching. We're taking a knife to a gunfight and it's going to ultimately get people killed, whether it be soldiers overseas or innocent Americans living life at home when the next 9/11-like attack finally hits.

I hope we remember then that we can't blame any but ourselves.

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