13 November 2009

Kahlid Sheik Muhammed Trial to Take Place in New York

So, interesting news awaiting me this morning:

WASHINGTON — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and four other men accused in the plot will be prosecuted in federal court in New York City, the United States attorney general announced Friday.

This is good news, knuckle-dragging savages not withstanding.  The military tribunal program had a laundry list of problems, both legally and morally, not the least of which being that it violates habeas corpus:

Let us say that my wife, who is here in the gallery with us tonight, a sixth generation Oregonian, is walking by the friendly, local military base and is picked up as an unlawful enemy combatant. What is her recourse? She says, “I am a U.S. citizen”. That is a jurisdictional fact under this statute, and she will not have recourse to the courts? She can take it to Donald Rumsfeld, but she cannot take it across the street to an article 3 court.

What if the evidence they have on a suspect is flawed?  What if they're trying to continue to have me detained simply to avoid the embarrassment of admitting error.  Our system, like the people who administer it, is a fallible one.  There are, of course, other arguments.  National security is a popular one.  After all, any trial of a person like Mr. Muhammed is going to involve classified materials and intelligence, the disclosure of which would compromise one if not many ongoing investigations.  However, other high profile trials have done this without any major issues.  The trial of Manuel Noriega come to mind. 

The odds of my Kahid Sheik Muhammed being innocent are pretty low.  That being said, the most sacred part of our legal system has been the presumption that we're innocent until proven guilty.  And, frankly, when you start compromising on legal principles the line between right and wrong gets very blurred.  And our intelligence services have never been wrong on similar matters.

11 November 2009

More Realistic than I Care to Admit

Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game Features Awaiting Orders, Repairing Trucks

Blackwater and Bribery

Just when you thought Blackwater Xe was run by Scaramanga, what with the 2007 Baghdad Shootings, the arms smuggling accusations, deliberately hiding a drunken murder, and hiring people who's previous qualifications involved participating in warcrimes, we now have their latest gem. Does everybody hate you because you just fire into crowds of civilians? Tired of all that bad press from people who just want you to go away and be replaced by somebody who isn't ruthlessly bloodthirsty and incompetent? Just changing your name from something that sounded like you were some kind of Apartheid-era thugs to something that makes you should like a nightclub somehow just not sticking? Why, just throw money at the problem! From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.

I swear, these guys manage to take something that was intended to be good and pervert it. The US Army is paying Iraqi families compensation payments for accidental killings, wounding incidents, and property damage? Lets do that. But instead of giving it to the people we killed in cold blood, lets just give it to officials who are already pretty crooked and try to turn them into over enthusiastic shills. Whats next? "Oh, nobody wants to let us advertise, so lets build a gigantic death laser and carve our corporate logo into the moon!" Or how about "You know what our company needs? More puppy downing!" The quote from one of their former corporate Presidents, to me, what the best:

Reached by phone, Mr. Jackson, who resigned as president early this year, criticized The New York Times and said, “I don’t care what you write.

Hey! He doesn't care what we write! Score! Check it out, I have a quote from Mr. Jackson.

"I like wearing women's underwear and taking a bath in liquified human skin."

Or how about:

"I sleep in a coffin and find it difficult to shave because my reflection doesn't appear in a mirror."

I think I could have some fun with this! Seriously, though, do you really think your problems are going to go away by just cursing out the people who are writing the stories. Did you work for Roger Ailes?

Religious Extremism and Government Response

A lot of hay has been made in recent days over the terrorists attacks at Fort Hood. Let me first say how horrible these shootings are, and I think I speak for every American when I say my heart goes out to the individual families involved. That being said, what is worrying to me is how quickly the American right is taking up the cause as an excuse to indulge in anti-Muslim baiting.

Extremism has been a problem that the United States Department of Defense has seen and attempted to combat for years. And, frankly, its done a very good job. DA PAM 600-15 and the numerous Christian- and White Supremacist-Extremists of the 1990s come to mind. Comments made by Major Hassan (sure can't wait until THAT rank is stripped from his chest) should have been gone after long before he got to this point. The problem is hitting the threshold needed. To quote DA PAM 600-15:

2–3. Prohibitions
AR 600-20 prohibits soldiers from engaging in the following actions in support of extremist organizations or activities.
Penalties for violations of these prohibitions include the full range of statutory and regulatory sanctions, both criminal
(UCMJ) and administrative--
a. Participating in public demonstrations or rallies.
b. Attending a meeting or activity with the knowledge that the meeting or activity involves an extremist cause when
on or off duty, when in uniform, when in a foreign country (whether on or off duty or in or out of uniform), when it
constitutes a breach of law and order, when violence is likely to result, or when in violation of off-limits sanctions or a
commander’s order.
c. Fund raising activities.
d. Recruiting or training members (includes encouraging other soldiers to join).
e. Creating, organizing or taking a visible leadership role in such an organization or activity.
f. Distributing literature or other media on or off a military installation, if such literature has the primary purpose of
and content that advocates support of extremist causes, organizations, or activities that present a clear danger to the
loyalty, discipline, or morale of military

I would argue that MAJ Hassan's presentation at the now infamous Walter Reed Army Medical Center Physician's Symposium should have met threshold (f) and at least have been a matter of some concern to those involved.

The problem, of course, are many of the harpies screeching for blood are often blithely ignorant of those in their own camp that got their start in the US Military. The most obvious example would be Eric Rudolph, but also Neal Horsley (when he's not having sex with goats and/or watermelons) and Willey Drake. This tragedy isn't an excuse to lose sight of this kind of domestic extremist activities, and it certainly isn't an excuse to focus on one group over the rest. Religious extremism is a plague no matter where is strikes.

Posting Reboot

I haven't posted anything in this blog for over a year. This was in part to deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I'm back, and look forward to posting more articles.