Thursday, May 17, 2007

Slick Dancing Mitt fights the War on Terror

Via Think Progress, Slick Dancing Mitt spoke about some topic vaguely related to torturing terrorists at the Republican debate earlier in the week. Here's the man who would be leader of the free world:

ROMNEY: I am glad [detainees] are at Guantanamo. I don’t want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo.

Since Slick Dancing Mitt makes 2000-era Bush look like the sort of deeply conscientious genius any party should be proud to call its nominee, I don't want to ascribe too much weight to his comments. Still, I wonder if Candidate Romney was referring obliquely and signalling his support for the ongoing efforts by the Bush Justice Department to get all the lawyers out of Gitmo for good? Sort of like, by saying it, he can make it a done deal? Maybe not though. To be fair, Romney is right that access to lawyers at Gitmo has always been dicey. Dahlia Lithwick summarized last year what tended to happen when Gitmo detainees didn't get those lawyers at their initial hearings:

But weren't [the detainees] all proved guilty of something at their status review hearings? Calling these proceedings "hearings" does violence to that word. Detainees are assumed guilty until proven innocent, provided no lawyers, and never told what the evidence against them consists of. That evidence, according to another report by Hegland, often consists of little beyond admissions or accusations by other detainees that follow hundreds of hours of interrogations. (A single prisoner at Guantanamo, following repeated interrogation, accused over 60 of his fellow inmates—or more than 10 percent of the prison's population. Some of his accounts are factual impossibilities.) Another detainee "confessed" following an interminable interrogation, shouting: "Fine, you got me; I'm a terrorist." When the government tried to list this as a confession, his own interrogators were forced to break the outrageous game of telephone and explain it as sarcasm. A Yemeni accused of being a Bin Laden bodyguard eventually "admitted" to having seen Bin Laden five times: "Three times on Al Jazeera and twice on Yemeni news." His file: "Detainee admitted to knowing Osama Bin Laden."

More of this please! On the other hand, this could all be much ado about nothing. After all, it's not clear that "doubling" Gitmo in a physical sense (which is what I assume Romney means) would really be necessary, even under the grandest designs. As SDM surely knows, even after Congress overrode the Supreme Court's decision to forbid trials by military tribunals, it has still proved so impossible to actually make cases against the detainees, that the Administration has been forced to simply release hundreds of them, bringing the total number of inmates from an initial 700 down to about 380. That leaves plenty of room for whoever it is that President Romney wants to stick in there without needing to "double" anything. Bin Laden could have his own private room! I think it's safe to say Castro can breathe easy.

Anyway, I'm waiting for Romney to get back to the things that really matter, like trashing his home state and fighting the War on French Debauchery.

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