Friday, November 26, 2010

american monarchy in our midst

taken from "what to do about guantanamo?" by david cole in the new york review of books, october 14, 2010.

'even the physical design of the guantanamo courtroom is shaped by the desire to conceal our own abuses. a soundproof glass wall separates the onlookers from the trial participants, so that the only way an observer can hear what is going on is thru headphones with a 40 second delay. the reason, according to denny leboeuf, an ACLU lawyer advising on the defense of several detainees, is "the Rule: detainees are forbidden from speaking about their torture." remarkably, the US government has declared 'classified' anything that the detainees say about their torture, and has required the lawyers, as a condition of access to their clients, to keep secret all details of their clients' treatment at the hands of their interrogators. but of course, the US cannot compel the detainees themselves not to speak of the unspeakable. the only way it can keep them from telling their stories is by keeping them detained, behind bars, behind glass, silenced.'

one cannot claim to revere the founding fathers and at the same time support what has been done at guantanamo. above all else those men advocated the rule of law, a law which transcended the power of kings and princes to exercise arbitrary power. what bush accomplished in establishing guantanamo was to wield power much like the monarchs our founding fathers supposedly banished from american shores: the men interred there were to be there not based on objective evidence and legal rulings, but on the say-so of the executive branch. from the word of the king, in other words.

600 former prisoners there have been released -- without charge, without apology. what does that fact say about the judgment of our presidents-in-chief, our presumptive monarchs? supposedly, everyone put there was already judged guilty of crimes. if that is so, why were they then released? it can only be that there was no evidence against them. but there will be no apology or compensation to the innocent because that would open up the collective amnesia our power structure has decided is necessary to, in the cliche, 'move forward.' but anyone who has read history knows, there is no such thing as wiping away the past thru willful effort. it always returns.

i say, why not stick to our hundreds-year-old legal system? isn't the law smarter and fairer than bush, obama, and their lackeys? isn't the law better than any particular government? why aren't those who revere the founding fathers on the Right making these same arguments? why the silence? could it be that the founding fathers are revered merely as religious symbols, shorn of the actual legal concepts they laid down? mere decorative knick-knacks to make us feel better about our own complicity in the crimes of power?

i don't understand the contradiction of hating excessive government power ('big government') and avidly supporting the monarchical tendencies of the executive branch (guantanamo). this is an intellectual schizophrenia from which we must awaken. the sooner the better. old secrets resurface with the most pain.

so far, i have not seen encouraging signs even from so-called libertarians newly-elected. their libertarianism, apparently, is decorative in nature.

No comments: