The Emperor Has No Clothes

Now that the alleged grounds for locking people up in Guantanamo are finally seeing, if not the light of day, at least the light of federal judges’ chambers, it looks as though the government has been bluffing all along:

With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Okay, who is surprised? Show of hands?

You can read a PDF of the actual opinion. Check out page 28, where it says:

[T]he government suggests that several of the assertions in the intelligence documents are reliable because they are made in at least three different documents. We are not persuaded. Lewis Carroll notwithstanding, the fact that the government has “said it thrice” does not make an allegation true. See LEWIS CARROLL, THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK 3 (1876) (“I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”). In fact, we have no basis for concluding that there are independent sources for the documents’ thrice-made assertions. To the contrary, as noted in Part III, many of those assertions are made in identical language, suggesting that later documents may merely be citing earlier ones, and hence that all may ultimately derive from a single source. And as we have also noted, Parhat has made a credible argument that — at least for some of the assertions — the common source is the Chinese government, which may be less than objective with respect to the Uighurs. Other assertions in the documents may ultimately rely on interview reports (not provided to the Tribunal) of Uighur detainees, who may have had no first-hand knowledge and whose speculations may have been transformed into certainties in the course of being repeated by report writers.

For years now, we’ve had propaganda coming down from on high that if we let any of those Gitmo “detainees” see blue sky, home-cooked food, or their families again, we might as well kiss our keisters goodbye—but better yet, let’s torture them! Just a couple weeks ago we had Justice Scalia freaking out—there’s really no better way to describe it—over the thought of giving these people a basic human right like habeas corpus.

And now the Bush administration has a chance to ride into court, present a smoking gun, and give the lie to its many, many detractors. So what does it do? Some kind of Jedi mind trick? “These aren’t the detainees you want to set free.” “Pay no attention to the torturers behind the curtain.” Who the hell are these people and how did they get their grubby little hands on the national steering wheel?

Oh, that’s right—a couple skyscrapers got knocked down and the American people eagerly hopped into the back seat, covered their eyes, handed the government a case of whisky, and said, “Step on it!”

It’s time to swallow the fear, climb back in the driver’s seat, and get back to the highway. Enough with with the shrill paranoia, secrecy, and fear. Security is probably impossible, but justice may be within reach.

2 thoughts on “The Emperor Has No Clothes

  1. Rob

    Why do you hate America and want to side with the terrorists? Our government would never lie to you. All our politicians ask in return is that you trust them.

    What would have happened if we hadn’t trusted the President about WMDs in Iraq? What would have happened if we hadn’t trusted that they were prepared for after the invasion of Iraq?

    The terrorists hate our freedom. If we don’t get rid of our freedoms, we’ll never be free from terrorism.

    Or something.

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