Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bush prefers his securocrats

They're back: David Rivkin and Lee Casey -- the print equivalent of Powerline -- go for the low blow in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd), responding to the recent UK government criticism of Guantanamo Bay:

For his part, Lord Goldsmith [Attorney General] might note that U.S. military commissions are at least as protective of the accused as were the British military tribunals operating in Germany after World War II, and in some respects more so than the special "Diplock Courts" the U.K. created in the 1970s for Northern Ireland. Unlike the Diplock Courts, where a single judge may try the accused, U.S. military commissions will guarantee a panel of at least three judges. As we all know by now, there have been abuses in U.S. detention operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But America's efforts to investigate and prosecute the offenders have been far more vigorous and prompt than were London's inquiries into abuses by British military, intelligence and police during "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

Their sudden embrace of Irish terrorism suspects is a perfect illustration of the Bush attack machine, in which actual causes are simply shuffled on the basis of which ever one is currently most useful for attacking opponents of George W. Bush. Because before, the 1970s British approach to Northern Ireland was being cited in support of the GWoT.

And of course it's disinenguous. Diplock courts may, frankly, suck, but if the Gitmo detainees were offered a choice between having the Pentagon as judge, jury, and executioner in bogus military tribunals in territory beyond the reach of US law, or having a single civilian judge hear their case in an actual country, we're pretty sure we know which one they'd take. [in fact, a Diplock court has been used for one Islamist terrorism suspect].

Finally, while human rights campaigners in Northern Ireland will always welcome more numbers to their causes, a more honest comparison would be of the current US and UK versions of the GWoT. Compare in particular the US detention of "enemy combatants" -- not PoWs -- with Britain's use of control orders on terrorism suspects, who are released into the community. Note: this is not a defence of control orders. But the idea that Rivkin and Casey have, that you can defend Bush's GWoT by slamming the British version of it, is not going to hold up.

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