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Monday, July 21, 2003

Throwing Tone a Bone May Cost Bush his Fascist Dream:
I suggested on Friday that the Bush administration's announcement that they were going to try six Guantanamo Bay "detainees," including two British citizens, followed shortly thereafter by a willingness to listen to Tony Blair's arguments that the Brits should be tried in Britain, was basically a setup to toss Tony a bone without really costing Bush anything.

LA Times columnist Jonathan Turley suggests that Bush may actually be giving up something--his desire to be a despot:

If the British courts are adequate to try these two men, many in this country will ask why our courts are inadequate particularly after convicting more than a dozen such terrorists (including Al Qaeda members).

Moreover, other countries will now presumably renew their requests for their own citizens. Some officials also are concerned that there is little real evidence against these men and that a civilian criminal trial in Britain could result in acquittals.

The British share the overwhelming worldview that the Bush tribunals are an affront to the rule of law: denying basic rules of evidence, allowing indefinite detention of suspects, barring access to the federal courts, permitting the introduction of statements derived from torture, barring the application of constitutional and federal laws and limiting the grounds for appeal.

...

The president has repeatedly acted like an American Caesar, sending some accused terrorists to federal court while others are sent for tribunal justice. In the case of these two men, Bush will allow them a fair trial in Britain as a gift to a friend in political need while he arbitrarily denies such trials to others.

The message is clear and simple: Bush alone will decide the meaning and the means of justice. Ironically, in his actions since 9/11, Bush may have handed these defendants a victory that they could not have achieved alone. The terrorists sought to destroy the American system and to show that we are hypocrites who refuse to comply with rules that we apply to others.

It takes little to destroy buildings and to sacrifice innocent people. It takes a president to destroy a legal system and its underlying values. Like those he seeks to execute, Bush wants justice by his own definition and by his own hand.