Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What Does It Say When the Only Good News Comes Out of Kansas?

Kansas has taken a step back toward the 21st century.

As Juan Cole points out today, it's a war crime when civilian areas are targeted or fired on indiscriminately -- regardless of which side is doing it.

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters thinks that it's foolish for Hezbollah to be going after civilians, because doing that only stiffens Israel's will to fight back:

Just as in Britain in 1940, the attacks on civilian populations has strengthened Israeli resolve, not diminished it.

Ed does not add that the same can be said of the British strategy of carpet bombing German cities during that same war. The point is not unassailable, but it has been argued by at least one historian that the massive air attacks on German civilians during WWII tended to strengthen, or at least not reduce, the will to resist among ordinary Germans, and did next to nothing to harm the German economy. It was the U.S. targeted bombing of German military and industrial sites that brought down Germany's economy -- ironically, given the fact that the U.S. reversed its strategy in the case of Japan, killing about 900,000 civilians in the firebombing of Japanese cities, and at least 200,000 in the combined atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (immediately and in the first five years after).

And in the instance of the current fighting between Lebanon and Israel, attacks on civilians on either side are likely to make the will to resist stronger, not weaker. It's not logical to believe that Israeli civilians will respond to Hezbollah's attacks with increased support for the Israeli military; and at the same time argue that Lebanese civilians will respond to Israel's attacks on civilians with decreased support for Hezbollah.

And the Bush administration is once again demonstrating that its ideological sympathies are closer to that of Stalinism or Nazism than to Jeffersonian democracy:

A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such "commissions" to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal.

The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, would also allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court's jurisdiction. The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said.

The draft proposed legislation, set to be discussed at two Senate hearings today, is controversial inside and outside the administration because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and traditional military criminal justice systems.

Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals.

An early draft of the new measure prepared by civilian political appointees and leaked to the media last week has been modified in response to criticism from uniformed military lawyers. But the provisions allowing a future expansion of the courts to cover new crimes and more prisoners were retained, according to government officials familiar with the deliberations.
Some independent experts say the new procedures diverge inappropriately from existing criminal procedures and provide no more protections than the ones struck down by the Supreme Court as inadequate. John D. Hutson, the Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: "We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty."

Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration, said after reviewing the leaked draft that "the theme of the government seems to be 'They are guilty anyway, and therefore due process can be slighted.' " With these procedures, Fein said, "there is a real danger of getting a wrong verdict" that would let a lower-echelon detainee "rot for 30 years" at Guantanamo Bay because of evidence contrived by personal enemies.

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