Monday, September 20, 2004

Washington's Belfast follies

There are at least two bad ways to run the War on Terror. One is to make up strategy as you go along. The other is to repeatedly draw the worst of strategies from previous Wars on Terror. There's already ample evidence of the first approach from Dubya but now -- as we warned months ago -- Northern Ireland is coming along to bolster the second. And in case the Northern Ireland musings to which we draw your attention seem outside the mainstream media and policy circles, don't expect it to stay that way; remember that flypaper began a piece of warblogger rubbish (that the war in Iraq was good because it was attracting the world's super-terrorists to Iraq to be killed) but before long was showing up as respectable mainsteam opinion.

And so it is with Northern Ireland. We drew your attention before to how the infamous "torture memos" drafted by Dubya's lawyers relied on the human rights cases brought against the British government in the European Court of Justice in the 1970s. Now comes internment. It's all so predictable. Michelle Malkin puts it into circulation with a book tied in with cable news channel appearances. The book is analytically shoddy, but that doesn't matter -- the idea is now in play. So for instance, the Crooked Timber blog catches someone seeing Michelle's analysis of internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII, and upping the ante with Northern Ireland in the 1970s:

[Crooked Timber excerpt from a linked article] Great Britain's [sic] indefinite internment policy, formalized in 1973 following the recommendations of a famous report authored by Lord Diplock on the situation in Northern Ireland, was allowed to lapse in 1980...Though his reform [sic] proposal...made preventive detention a matter of administrative, not judicial, oversight, the new policy reasserted civilian control and included due process safeguards. No less a figure than the secretary of state for Northern Ireland made initial detention determinations. Within a period of 28 days, an administrative official would then review each case with the option to extend the detention.

This account is so pathetic that it has us wondering if the author is actually a Sinn Fein plant so skillfully does it embarrass the kind of policies than the Shinners would oppose. If you know anything about the north, try to contain your laughter as you see the glowing references to Diplock (whose name is normally associated with the use of non-jury trials in the north), and the idea that internment had safeguards because it was placed in the hands of administrative officials. Yes folks, the original Securocrats.

And we're supposed to be impressed that the Secretary of State had to sign off on these things. Technically, Dubya and Rummy had to sign off on a whole bunch of stuff related to the Gitmo and Abu Ghraib detainees, but of course they were nowhere to be found in the chain of responsibility when things went pear-shaped. But when you're done laughing, remember: this kind of idiocy is influential in the US right now.

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