«

»

Nov 02 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Ed Note: Today we are deviating from our usual format of excerpts from several pundits and featuring just one.

Charles P. Pierce: The Fatal Flaw of America’s ‘Forever’ War on Terror

It’s right there in the name.

Never underestimate the redemptive power of a Halloween parade. Only a few hours after Sayfullo Saipov drove a truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring a dozen more, people in New York dressed up in silly costumes and marched through the streets and performing the ultimate act of defiance in the face of murderous terror—they had fun.

Now, though, we are going through the rituals of the Forever War, which demand that this act of violence is somehow different from the other acts of violence—even acts of mass violence—that drift through the news cycle. We are only a month distant from the night that Stephen Paddock killed 59 people and wounded almost 600 more when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas. Paddock was able to commit his act of mass slaughter because he availed himself of something called a “bump stock.” There was a brief spasm of brave talk about banning this lethal gimcrack, which has faded from the public consciousness as talk like that always does. Stephen Paddock’s name is out of the news.

Acts of violence are acts of violence, whether they come from DIY jihadists, or from people driven mad by their gambling debts, or from trigger-happy police. (This would be a good time to note that Saipov got out of his truck after having killed eight people and attempted martyrdom by cop by waving a pellet gun around. He failed even at that. He’s alive. Three years ago this month, Tamir Rice, a 12-year old, was waving a pellet gun around at nobody in particular and was shot dead where he stood by a cop named Timothy Loehmann. The eight people killed in New York on Tuesday are regularly referred to as “innocent victims,” which they undoubtedly are. But so was Tamir Rice.)

Partly because of its unseemly devotion to its firearms, this is still a very violent country, and it really doesn’t have the right to distinguish one act of violence from the others. But it does, because the Forever War has been manipulated into a machine that manufactures a new kind of American innocence—a replica of something that, frankly, never was very authentic in the first place. The Forever War has become a medieval morality play for the 21st century, something akin to the Paternoster Cycle from York, with the United States in the role of the petitions from the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a kind of national Halloween parade in which the country puts on a costume in an attempt to fool its enemies.

That the dramatic cycle is being led this time by President* Trump is proof that history has a dark and weird sense of humor. The president* leapt onto the electric Twitter machine on Wednesday morning to try and pin the blame of Senator Chuck Schumer with his customary disrespect for truth and common sense. The president* has yet to blame anyone for the radicalization of Stephen Paddock.

Some day, the annals of the Forever War against “terror” are going to have to be stored in a complex containing hundreds of airplane hangars, several of them devoted only to the various absurdities—including the current one—that have proceeded from the Forever War and at least one of them devoted only to the doings at our extra-special prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where, apparently, according to The Miami Herald’s indefatigable Carol Rosenberg, the last of the 9/11 legal proceedings are rapidly descending into farce and violence.

In rapid succession Tuesday, a Marine general refused to testify and refused to rescind an order releasing three civilian defense lawyers, a Navy defense attorney refused to file pleadings and a military judge scheduled a contempt hearing in the USS Cole death-penalty case. All were firsts at the war court created after the Sept. 11 attacks to handle national security cases, as judge Air Force Col. Vance Spath sought to stabilize a collapsed defense team in the case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri. The 52-year-old Saudi is accused of orchestrating al-Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 warship bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors, and could be executed if convicted.

So what in the hell happened? It all stems from the refusal of the prosecution to give the defendant a chance to hire a lawyer who specializes in death-penalty cases which, since the defendant is facing the death penalty, doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request. Except, well, you know, national security and all that, boogedy-boogedy. But there’s even more going on among the people in the kangaroo suits.

But the larger drama was driven by a decision by three civilian attorneys to quit the case over a secret ethical issue involving, they say, compromised attorney-client privacy at the war-on-terror prison where the alleged terrorists are held. The chief defense counsel, Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, released attorneys Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears from the case in mid-October based on secret information the public cannot know. Spath ruled that only a judge, not Baker, had the authority to excuse lawyers of record — and ordered the general to swear an oath and answer questions about the episode.

Once again, we have even more proof that justice would have been much better served had Lindsey Graham and the rest of the Republicans in the Congress not wet themselves in fear and allowed these guys to be tried in civilian federal courts on the mainland. This jerry-rigged hybrid at Gitmo has about 350 inherent defects that will cause it to fail. And, right on cue, with a bike path in lower Manhattan still an active crime scene, Lindsay Graham demanded that Sayfullo Saipov be thrown into this improvised legal circus.

And it is here where we should point out that Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in a conventional civilian trial in a federal court in Boston, and the sky did not fall, and jihadis with their magic Muslim powers did not cause the Moakley Courthouse to fall into the sea.

That may not matter because absurdity is an essential part of The Forever War, and never more so than it is under the present administration. I mean, Jesus H. Christ on the D train, the guy was live-tweeting Wednesday morning’s episode of Three Dolts On A Divan as his response to a terror attack. The absurdity is forever because The Forever War is forever. I wish there was as much simple courage in it as you could find in a Halloween Parade in Manhattan on a chilly autumn night.

Leave a Reply