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They taught me in school that as a Nation we are a Nation of Laws and not Men.

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Attorney General Eric Holder is leaving open the possibility of trying professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a military commission instead of the civilian trial originally planned for New York City.

This would be a serious error.  The original Reagan policy, "A major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are -- criminals -- and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them." From a speech by Paul Bremer, Reagan's official overseer of the policy.

Reagan was a staunch opponent of torture by Americans, signing in 1988 the International Convention Against Torture, which said that, "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

The Bush administration instead of enlisting worldwide support in hunting down maniacal criminals, went it alone, misinterpreting it as an attack on America rather than an attack on the entire modern world.  Bush abolished a system that had worked in the first World Trade Center attack and later with the Shoe Bomber and in hundreds of other cases.  With deaths on 9/11 of citizens from 75 countries, Bin Ladin had lost most of the members of his group in 3 plane crashes and had no where to turn.  Until Bush Cheney granted him warrior status.  Reversing long standing American Justice System policies and turning what would have been a quick and effective and probably cost effective  worldwide hunt into no less than two  immensely costly wars.  As it is no one in the world has helped the promotion of the Bin Ladin brand than Bush Cheney.  I am sure Bin Ladin has a warm place in his heart for his two BFFs.

The bluster from the neocons now is about covering up actions by the Bush administration that are contrary to international law.  Specifically the UN Convention on Torture and the Geneva Convention.  Both of those have the power of law of the land due to the Sixth Amendments recognition of treaties as law.

The first two water torture victims occurred before the "Legal" efforts by "lawyers" like Yoo.  Zubuyda was tortured 86 times in March of 1982 which interrupted an ongoing and successful FBI interrogation and experienced agent.  They tortured him for a while and then the FBI reestablished its effort only to be interrupted by another round of torture.  The FBI was withdrawn at that point due to concerns in the bureau over the legality of the methods brought on by the amateur hour guys Cheney found by scraped the bottom of the barrel at SERE.  A year later KM was captured in March and was water tortured 183 times in that month or an average of 6 times a day without involvement by the experienced FBI agents. All this info is in NY Times articles and the FBI agent has been on John Stewart

Water torture was a court marshal offense by the Spanish American War and resulted in 15 year sentences for certain Japanese guards after WWII.  Current international law does not allow any of the techniques used by the Bush administration including water torture, beatings, biting insects, nudity, temperature abuse, walling, slapping.  A guest on Stewart said torture was ineffective and all the reasons given for its abuse falls into the realm of the lazy, the stupid and the pseudo tough.  Other than being ineffective the main reason not to use torture as a national policy is that according to international law anyone participating in torture or complicit to torture is a war criminal and subject to international prosecution with no statute of limitations.  It has been advised for those involved to avoid foreign travel except to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

To remove KSM from the legal system  grants him special status as a warrior.  Remember even Sadam looked heroic at his botched execution.  The reaction around the world would be far less harsh if the trial is in court.  Courts which do not have TV and are hardly threats as sources of propaganda from the defendants.  Sure KSM and his lawyer might have something to say about all that torture but what they say is true as uncomfortable for our heroic self image as it is.

Superman on TV in the 50s used to fight for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way."  The American Way is justice by a trial in open court in which the truth is revealed.  The Bush Way is not the American Way.  We need to end military tribunals and any other holdover abuses from the Bush administration.  Also since there are serious allegations about international war crimes and treaty violations and illegal wars of aggression and other activities in violation of their oath of office, I think Bush and Cheney should be given the opportunity to defend their actions in open court.  Indeed with the seriousness of the allegations I would think that they would insist on it.  Only then will I know if this is truly a Nation of Laws and not Men.

Originally posted to J Edward on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:13 AM PST.

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