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Hillary Clinton gets it right on civilian trials for accused terrorists, unlike our conservative President

[Adding... It was such a relief to hear somebody say, "Yes! Let's try them in the courts!" that I momentarily lost my skepticism. Because Clinton is, after all, arguing that we should use the civilian courts because they have a better success rate, where success is defined as putting terrorists in jail. A better definition of success, to me, would be ending the empire entirely, since it's wrong, we can't afford it, and it breeds the terrorism our elites are so... terrified of. That's off the table, unfortunately, for le tout Versailles, including Clinton. That said, it's a measure of how insane and delusional our discourse has been and still is that Clinton's statement feels to me like a ray of hope. --lambert]

[UPDATE See Hugh's comment here. I stand corrected. --lambert]

Doesn't she realize that the United States is a banana republic where the rule of law doesn't exist and the "President" can do whatever they want with impunity? What's wrong with her?


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votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

I think, similar to the argument that the death penalty is impractical because it means years on death row. That's the one that sways people who are not morally opposed to DP.

So similarly, there are people who are not morally opposed to gitmoetc, and this is the argument that could sway them. That civilian trials will mete out justice more effectively.

This is part of what makes Hillary such a good leader; she knows how to get people to agree with what she wants done.

Submitted by jm on

Like our host, I had mixed feelings about this story when I first read it yesterday. I was even prepared to eat a little crow having recently expressed critical skepticism here about Clinton's character (as in the lack of...). At the very least, any pushback on the current policy should be applauded.

However, let's put things in perspective. Clinton said, "I believe that the vast majority of the defendants can be tried in (civilian) courts, but there are some who should not be. And they should be reserved for military commission, for a variety of reasons." What exactly are those variety of reasons? Some may well be legitimate. Others undoubtedly are not. For instance, I'd like to hear Clinton's take on the cases involving the relative handful of detainees who represent a real threat but against whom there is little legitimate evidence. Does Clinton stand, unambiguously, for the rule of law or does she not?

That said, when you call Clinton a "good" leader I think the more appropriate word here would be "effective".

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

"These days, when we think of George W. Bush, we think mostly of what a horrible mess he made of the economy. But his even more tragic legacy is the loss of our moral authority, and the transformation of the United States of America from global champion of human rights into an outlaw nation."

(I know, it's HuffPoo, but it's Froomkin)
On the other hand, morality died, IMO, when Reagan kept the hostages for electoral gain, and the sh*t kept coming after that.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

The only acceptable thing she said was this:

where you can't convince an American jury, which is certainly obsessed with terrorism, maybe there's a question about the strength of the case,"

I am not entirely with Arthur on this topic, but I somewhat agree with the following sentence that he wrote:

When a State announces in advance that, even if a defendant is found not guilty, he will nonetheless be imprisoned for the rest of his life, the trial is transformed from an inquiry into the question of individual guilt or innocence and the related question of whether punishment should be imposed, to an unalloyed exercise in the glorification of State power.

Moreover, it is an especially dangerous exercise of this kind: the State offers the pretense of a trial -- thus allowing the State's defenders to laud the State's fairness, impartiality and objectivity -- at the same time the State itself has made clear beyond all question that the State will punish the defendant in notably severe fashion regardless of the trial verdict. Thus, in terms of the result, the State's power is everything and the trial process itself is nothing.

This, in fact, is precisely what the Obama Administration had stated about the then-planned trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators.

When I say "somewhat", I refer to the first paragraph and that the trial per se does not do the glorifying, it does the "justification"; the imposition/glorification of State power is ipso facto. The second paragraph is what I agree with completely, as well as the entire sentiment that these trials as show trials, performed for the political functions of both showing our "fairness" as well as the punishment the State will met out Plus, it has the added benefit of normalizing the torture dealt to these people.

Now, let's face it, many of these people are admitted mass murderers*, so my sympathy is not industrial strength on their behalf, but I guess I'm still quant enough to believe that regardless of their crimes people shouldn't be tortured by government agents, and if they have been, that government has forfeit it's "right" to try them.

So that at least is why I am heartened (marginally) by Clinton's statement above. It does admit that the government may have made mistakes and there may be innocent people there. So any process that will set them free is better than the status quo. But (and I have no illusions it will happen), I would prefer someone say "Anybody who has been tortured by our government, can't be tried by our government. Maybe they can be tried by someone else for their crimes (if they have committed any), but not by us. Those we have no legitimate evidence against should be freed immediately and given restitution for their suffering. Those who we have evidence of crimes against should be tried immediately in a court of law just like any other accused criminal. If found innocent, set free, and if found guilty, punished accordingly just like every other criminal".

Wake me when someone says that.

*So I'm trying to imagine other mass murderers in their place (like many of our political "leaders", George W. Bush or Dick Cheney for example) and how I would feel in that similar case.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

That said, when you call Clinton a "good" leader I think the more appropriate word here would be "effective".

Agreed. That fits better.

Submitted by Hugh on

It's an example of rotating heroes. X says something less insane than Y, and everyone applauds X, forgetting, as in this case, that X is really as a big a warmongering neocon as Y.

BTW either "tout Versailles" or "le tout Versailles" would be correct. The first means everyone at Versailles. The second, everyone important at Versailles.

Submitted by lambert on

Excellent point on the rotating villains. I stand corrected on that, and also on the French.

The nice thing about "rotating villains" -- besides its truth -- is that it's dynamic and systemic. It takes us out of the realm of personalities and celebrities.

UPDATE Rotating villains implies rotating heroes as well. As Stirling remarks somewhere, the natural partner of 2% less evil is evil...

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

we'd have to take a look at how she voted on such issues, and what her platform as a candidate was. I mean, a little actually history might be a worthwhile thing....

Submitted by lambert on

As I wrote in the initial post:

A better definition of success, to me, would be ending the empire entirely, since it's wrong, we can't afford it, and it breeds the terrorism our elites are so... terrified of. That's off the table, unfortunately, for le tout Versailles, including Clinton.

If there's something I don't know about in Clinton's history that shows I'm wrong here, I'd very much like to hear that.

I'm happy to concede that within the bounds of policy options that Versailles permits, Clinton is the better choice, and certainly better than Obama, and her platform and record show that. It's the bounds themselves that I'm questioning. And it's within those bounds that the rotating heroes and villains do their dance, while the dimensions of the dance floor remain unchanging.