Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Another good GWB speech (or two)

I don’t have much time to blog on this right now, but yesterday the President delivered another strong speech, detailing how intelligence efforts have paid off in the apprehension of terrorists and outlining a proposal for the organization and conduct of military commissions to try those who are allegedly attempting to kill as many of us as possible.

Today, he was up the road from me delivering this speech on lessons learned from 9/11 and calling for Congress to update FISA. Here’s the conclusion of today’s speech:

In the early days after 9/11, I told the American people that this would be a long war -- a war that would look different from others we have fought, with difficulties and setbacks along the way. The past five years have proven that to be true. The past five years have also shown what we can achieve when our nation acts with confidence and resolve and clear purpose. We’ve learned the lessons of 9/11, and we have addressed the gaps in our defenses exposed by that attack. We’ve gone on the offense against our enemies, and transformed former adversaries into allies. We have put in place the institutions needed to win this war. Five years after September the 11th, 2001, America is safer -- and America is winning the war on terror. With vigilance, determination, courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom, and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren.

The White House also released this White Paper, offering its view of the successes and challenges in the five years since 9/11.

Here’s the Democrats’ alternative.

For coverage, you can go here, here, and here. A useful passage:

By challenging Congress to immediately give the administration authority to try notorious al-Qaeda figures such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed by military commissions, he shifted the argument with Democratic critics of national security policies and competence. As Bush framed the choice, anyone against his proposal would be denying him necessary tools to protect American security.

His success in catching much of Washington by surprise showed that a president who polls show has his political back to the wall still has formidable tools: the ability to make well-timed course corrections on policy, dominate the news and shape the capital’s agenda in the weeks before Election Day.

Here’s the nub of the Democratic response:

As the president was speaking, Senate Democrats were holding a news conference on Capitol Hill to denounce his anti-terrorism policies as “tough but empty rhetoric” and offer a package of proposals of their own.

“Republicans have ignored the lessons of 9/11 and failed to make America as safe as we can and should be,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader. “They want to ‘stay the course’ in the face of failure. We won’t.”

Unless I miss my guess, Harry Reid has walked into the trap, accepting the identification of the was on terror with the war in Iraq by using the Democratic characterization of the latter and applying it to the former. And however one describes "the facts on the ground" in Iraq, it’s hard to redescribe the fact that there haven’t been any terror attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. If I had to bet, I’d bet that GWB will be seen to have won this round politically.

And it’s important that he win it politically because his continued poltiical success is essential for our security.

If you want to see what really exercises President Bush’s predecessors, read this and this.

Discussions - 8 Comments

With his recent speeches and his bold move yesterday, Bush is looking like a president. That can only help. For one thing, it makes us Republicans feel like we have some leadership again. For another, it’s nice to know that national security, not only the democratic crusade, is a Bush priority.

But he’ll need to keep it up, not
falter and backtrack and apologize. And the Bush family is famous for faltering and backtracking and apologizing.

It would also help if W. let the Republican leadership in Congress force votes on a border fence. He may need to choose between his cherished grade-school cliches about immigration and keeping Congress in Republican hands. A Senate or House controlled by the Democrats can destroy his administration by pursuing phony "investigations" 24/7, with full media complicity.

the Democrats’ alternative.

Washington Republicans have still failed to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Democrats will implement those recommendations by providing adequate resources for first responders.... Translation: The Democrats will throw money at...the agencies which will do everything within their powers to help with the recovery AFTER THE FACT of the next attack.

...distributing homeland security funding based on risk.... Translation: Throw money at organizations with the most powerful lobbies.

...improving intelligence oversight, strengthening Congressional oversight of homeland security.... Translation: keep a better eye on the intelligence agencies, to make sure they are politically correct.

...strengthening public diplomacy Translation: You’ve got me. What’s "public" diplomacy? Relations with the NYT, etc., the left wing propaganda machine?

...and improving our tracking of nuclear weapon material. Translation: We’re going to ask Maddie Albright to ask Kim Jung Il, nicely, while she’s dancing with him, where he put those nukes we set him up with.

increase our Special Operations forces to kill and capture the terrorists where they are.... Translation: the terrorists are in Okinawa.

and to better protect Americans here at home.... working with our allies, reigning in the spread of nuclear material and improving our communication with the Islamic world....increasing screenings, better assisting foreign ports, increasing security of containers and radiation screenings. Democrats will increase rail security by providing new technology upgrades, creating new grant programs and improving the tracking of hazardous materials. Translation: Now why didn’t we think of that?

Democrats know that it takes the most effective intelligence gathering.... Translation: Sandy Berger’s socks are empty and ready for a new load of intelligence.

...strong Congressional oversight to protect Americans from terrorism. Translation: strong Congressional oversight to protect terrorism from Americans.

It’s time to give our intelligence community the tools they need to fight terror effectively. Translation: We’ll rebuild that nice, tastefully ornate, wall those nasty Republicans tore down with the unpatriotic Patriot Act.

...redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq Translation: Cucucut and rurururun.

...revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Translation: Now why didn’t we think of that either? Oh, wait. We did.

not a single terrorist or detainee in Guantanamo Bay has been brought to justice.... Translation: Prisoners of War deserve a fair trial!

U.G., That was funny. But as to the Guantanamo Bay complaint, the question is, how? Do we, or the world as per the Geneva Convention, have any way TO bring prisoners of the War on Terror to justice?


Here is a link to the Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. I read these words:

It bears emphasizing that Hamdan does not challenge, and we do not today address, the Government’s power to detain him for the duration of active hostilities in order to prevent such harm.

to mean that there is no obligation to take prisoners of war to trial at all and we can detain them for the duration of the war without trials, but if we choose to take them to trial, we must conduct the trial in a procedurally acceptable manner and in an acceptable forum. The manner and forum chosen for Hamdan was not acceptable. Of course, when the war ends, we have to let them go if they have not been tried. The problem for them is that the war will not end during their life-times.

Yes, and this, if we choose to take them to trial, we must conduct the trial in a procedurally acceptable manner and in an acceptable forum. was the point of my question. This, I called on the United States Congress to pass legislation creating military commissions to bring these people to justice. from the President’s speech is what bothered me enough to ask the question. Why do we want to get into that mess? We are detaining them and what further justice would we bring to the situation with military commissions?

Gen. Conv. Article 84:
"A prisoner of war shall be tried only by a military court, unless the existing laws of the Detaining Power expressly permit the civil courts to try a member of the armed forces of the Detaining Power in respect of the particular offence alleged to have been committed by the prisoner of war.

In no circumstances whatever shall a prisoner of war be tried by a court of any kind which does not offer the essential guarantees of independence and impartiality as generally recognized, and, in particular, the procedure of which does not afford the accused the rights and means of defence provided for in Article 105." (which is about legal advocacy)

That last part is just going to bugger the whole deal. "guarantees of independence and impartiality as generally recognized". What does that mean? Or maybe my question is, what can it be made to mean? None of it will happen till after the mid-term election, anyway, and what kind of Congress we will have by then is a worry, too.

You, or someone, had commented before that we do not ever have to take the "detainees" to trial, and that seemed just fine. What will prove to be an
procedurally acceptable manner and in an acceptable forum and how that will all play out just seems like endless fodder for future media frenzy, as does David Frisk’s worry, last sentence, #1 above.

Why do we want to get into that mess?

My mind is reeling off on another tangent: The wording of the Democrats’ talking is ...not a single terrorist or detainee....The word, terrorist requires definition. In addition to the usual cast of characters, the actual killers and maimers, those who recruit others to kill, maim and do other jihady things, those who teach them the delicate art of bomb making and those who finance such atrocities are also terrorists. I would imagine that most of these types of terrorists have day jobs and will universally claim not to be terrorists, but good Allah fearing family men, simply misunderstood, "I didn’t say jihad, I said gee Hod, which in Arabic means wow Hod, Hod being a nickname for a person who loves peace," or "I wasn’t teaching them to make bombs, I was teaching them to make something to drink to cure cancer," or, "That which you call an explosive vest, I call a fashion statement," etc., etc. I would also imagine the President was referring to these types of enemies, the recruiters, financiers and other enablers, when he said he was asking Congress to pass legislation to bring these people to military justice.

Oh, and by the way, IF I’m right and IF this legislation passes, we may be seeing many MANY imams, CAIR package dealers and black market cigarette traffickers in Dearbornistan, Tucsonistan, Irvinistan and elsewhere in the U.S. whisked off to Gitmo at breathtaking speed.

Another word: What does that mean? Or maybe my question is, what can it be made to mean? None of it will happen till after the mid-term election, anyway, and what kind of Congress we will have by then is a worry, too. Exactly right. The wording of the Gen. Conv. Articles are incredibly vague and subject to interpretation. The President is asking Congress to interpret those articles and you are right to be concerned with the possibility that the Dems will control one, the other or both branches. However, I REALLY do not share your concern about the Dems taking over either branch.


Alfred E. Newman

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