Saturday, May 22, 2004

The usual lies and worse
Everyday we get a new proof that our “leaders” are serial liars and probably wouldn’t know the truth if they stepped in it. The revelations are becoming so routine that those of us who try to pay attention and care run the risk of outrage burnout. The rest of the great unwashed are so accustomed the conservative relativist message of “they all do it” that they do not notice when corruption and outrageous behavior rise above the background noise.
Presented last fall with a detailed catalog of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the American military responded on Dec. 24 with a confidential letter asserting that many Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions.

The letter, drafted by military lawyers and signed by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, emphasized the "military necessity" of isolating some inmates at the prison for interrogation because of their "significant intelligence value," and said that prisoners held as security risks could legally be treated differently from prisoners of war or ordinary criminals.

The idea that the administration can, by executive diktat, declare new categories of people that are exempt form any rights or protections is surely the most corrosive legacy of this extraordinarily corrosive administration. Most of the Patriot Act abuses are, at their heart, the usual sort of wartime undermining of rights by scared people willing to trade liberty for security. This argument is something new. This argument will produce a legacy that we will have to deal with for decades unless the Supreme Court unambiguously squashes it. And what are the odds of this court doing that?

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