Saturday, May 16, 2009

Secret Military Tribunals: If It Was Good Enough For Stalin, It's Good Enough For Us!

President McCain announced this week that another one of the Bush policies that would continue during his administration was the practice of taking people from other countries, kidnapping and torturing them, holding them in secret prisons around the world operated by the CIA murdering thugs and barbarians and their friends, the dictators and despots of the world and, for any prisoner who actually survives years of this, they will be "tried" before secret military tribunals which will hand down a "guilty" sentence, then order these prisoners be murdered. (Sorry about that President McCain bit -- it's getting harder to remember that "we" won).

And, consistent with a secret state police, military, and death-squad criminal enterprise committing state-sponsored kidnapping, torture, and murder, the evidence of those activities by our government will remain secret, probably shredded, to protect the worst criminals in our country from eventual prosecution for war crimes.

Any questions?

We've all heard how Stalin controlled the Soviet Union with an iron hand, staging what we call show trials and mass executions, re-writing history to eradicate evidence of his crimes. But who knew that the United States would choose to follow some of the most reprehensible practices of Comrade Stalin.

For example, in order to get legal authority for arresting and executing anyone he wanted, Stalin passed a law relating to "terrorist organizations and terrorist acts." Really. There were special laws which applied to anyone accused of belonging to a "terrorist organization," or accused of having committed a "terrorist act." One of the most important provisions of these new laws against "terrorism" was a speedy, abbreviated investigation and trial without the benefit of counsel or any appeal, and speedy executions. Just like we do.

Anybody who caught the eye of authorities could be labeled an "enemy of the people," subject to the show trials and mass executions. Of course the people arrested were also tortured. Does any of this sound familiar?

At the same time that the nation and its institutions were under attack from within, with purges against some, including certain ethnic minorities inside the country, the Stalinist regime also began rewriting the history books, and preparing propaganda materials to cover up and/or justify their conduct. Does any of this sound familiar? Not only is Dick Cheney doing his comeback Tour of America, but he's got an entire staff in the Congress promoting the view that international war crimes "Keeps Us Safe," and torture is good. If they weren't guilty, they wouldn't confess. Or if they weren't witches, they wouldn't drown.

Murder by the state is not just being supported by the Republican party, but the Democrats are also now in it up to their eyeballs, covering it up, refusing to allow the citizens their right to have hearings and prosecutions, to have the laws enforced.

What do we call it when the government refuses to enforce the laws? Isn't that a dictatorship?

Historians estimate that as many as 700,000 citizens of the Soviet Union were executed during the Stalinist reign. How many people will die because of the U.S. international war crimes in the middle east?

Assuming we had legitimate grounds to invade Afghanistan, to stop anyone inside that country from attacking us again, we had no grounds to invade Iraq. We had no legal reason to be in Iraq, so obviously have no legal grounds to have kidnapped or imprisoned or tortured or mudered any person from Iraq. And we have no legal grounds to invade Pakistan, although it appears we've already done so.

At least Stalin stayed mostly within his own boundaries. How far will the American Empire go?

If we have kidnapped someone who is not a "prisoner of war," and we do not have legitimate and sufficient evidence to prosecute this person for any alleged crime in a court, with an attorney, with due process, with equal protection of the laws, then we must let that person go. "Permanent detention," another thing President Obama ratified this week, is a tool of dictators. It's what England did to the Irish. It's completely inconsistent with any theory of law.

We had no grounds under any circumstances to move people from one country and drag them to another one. If we kidnapped somebody in Iraq, they should be returned to Iraq and should be tried in Iraq in front of a jury of Iraqis if we claim they committed some "crime." An Iraqi who fought against the U.S. invasion did not commit a crime in the traditional sense of the word. Doesn't everyone have the right to fight against an invader? In that circumstances, it seems to me they should have been considered prisoners of war and held subject to all the rights of the Geneva Convention for prisoners of war -- no torture, no abuse.

If we have legitimate grounds to charge someone with a crime, then do so, and have a public trial in the country where the alleged crime occurred. If we do not have grounds to charge someone, and we still take the position the person is not a prisoner of war, then they must be released. Those are the only two choices of a civilized nation, a nation of laws. Secret trials, and detention forever without charges or trials, are the tools of dictatorships, not a democracy.

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