what we've become

Today, the ever-insightful Glenn Greenwald points out something that those of us on the left who value civil liberties and the rule of law (which should, of course, include all of us, left or right) have recognized for some time. But he does it in terms that should make even those on the right (at least those not cowering under their beds in fear that the terrorists are heading to their house with atomic box cutters) take pause.

Noting that (emphasis mine):
In the wake of extreme political pressure, mostly from Democrats, the White House just forced Eric Holder to retreat on his decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, and numerous Democrats now appear prepared to join with the GOP to cut-off funding for civilian trials altogether, forcing the administration to try all Terrorists in military commissions or just hold them indefinitely. The administration has created a warped multi-tiered justice system where only a select few even get civilian trials -- those whom they know in advance they can convict -- yet there are growing signs that the President will abandon even that symbolic, piecemeal nod to due process.
Greenwald goes on to compare the current President's terrorism policy with that of Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the American Right, celebrated as the last "real" conservative president. As documented in this post by Larry Johnson (well worth reading in its own right), back in the mid-1980s the issue of terrorism by Islamic radicals was as hot or hotter than it is today, with more terrorist attacks worldwide in 1984 than in 2008. And more yet in 1985. In that context, this was the Reagan administration policy, as articulated by L. Paul Bremer, the top Reagan State Department official in charge of terrorism policies, in a speech entitled "Counter-Terrorism: Strategies and Tactics" (emphasis Greenwald's):
Another important measure we have developed in our overall strategy is applying the rule of law to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals. They commit criminal actions like murder, kidnapping, and arson, and countries have laws to punish criminals. So 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.
And, as Greenwald reminds us, it was Ronald Reagan who:
... signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988 -- after many years of countless, horrific Terrorist attacks -- which not only declared that there are "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" justifying torture, but also required all signatory countries to "ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law" and -- and Reagan put it -- "either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution." And, of course, even George W. Bush -- at the height of 9/11-induced Terrorism hysteria -- charged attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid with actual crimes and processed him through our civilian courts.
So, that's where we are. In a country where the policies of what is arguably the most right-wing administration in American history are now considered the crazed rantings of the terrorist-supporting fringe of the far Left.

So much for change we can believe in.

Bonus Crap

As a coda to his post, Greenwald points out that in claiming that terrorists are not entitled to trials within our civilian legal system, and may be detained indefinitely without being convicted of a crime (or even charged with one), we are aligning ourselves not with other countries like Britain, Spain, India, and Indonesia that have recently suffered terrible attacks and tried and convicted the terrorists in their civilian legal system, but with countries like Libya, which the U.S. has criticized as "one of the most tyrannical and uncivilized regimes on the planet."

You shall know us by the company we keep.

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