Thursday, June 10, 2004

Three Strikes, You're Out
It's no exaggeration to say that the forthcoming Supreme Court rulings on the Guantanamo detainees, Jose Padilla, and Yasir Ezam Hamdi will be, taken together, the sort of one-in-a-generation civil rights decision that redirects the history of the country--Brown v. Board of Education big, Plessy v. Ferguson big, Dred Scott v. Sandford big. Do not underestimate the stakes: If the Supremes rule that the president is permitted to detain people incommunicado and without the right to counsel indefinitely and on his word alone, we'll be no better than Argentina in the 1970s, when people were "disappeared" off the streets by the thousands. Anybody who disagrees with Bush for any reason would be at risk.

So here's the good news: Newsweek is reporting that the Justice Department expects to lose all three cases. If court-watchers have it right, the vote on most of the cases will be something like 6-3: presumably Scalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist for making us a banana republic, and the swing voters, O'Connor and Kennedy, joining Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens in reminding Bush that wartime not, we're a nation of laws and not of men.

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm": A blog called Hubris posted an alleged memo from Donald Rumsfeld to various other White House officials, in which he asked them to come up with some techniques for interrogating prisoners that are not explicitly banned by the Geneva Convention: "What would constitute some really freaky shit? Do you know how many times the Geneva Conventions mention 'rimjobs' or 'daisy chains'? The answer might surprise you: zero." Obviously satire, right? Yes, but once the posting started getting notice around the Web (starting with a link at Wonkette), Hubris started getting visits from people who didn't get that it's a joke, and also from people who don't understand the blogosphere at all: "I realize this is meant to be funny, but we really don't need to cloud or make light of a serious matter with 'fake' memos. Better to stick with gossip and sex, if you're not going to seriously report/investigate real news, than try and exploit heavy political events for, what seems to be, your own attention."

Hey, this ain't the New York Times out here. We have to laugh to keep from weeping. Hubris has a followup post that makes fun of the misunderstandings.

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