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Last week two military judges collapsed the Bush Administration’s plans to try two Guantánamo detainees before military commissions. Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most conservative court in the United States, dealt the Bush Administration a further massive blow in its ruling that Bush could not seize civilians lawfully in the United States and put them under the custody of the military for purposes of torturing them or for any other purpose. The ruling is a strong reaffirmation of the Rule of Law and of the Constitution–and reviewing it and seeing in it a rehearsal of the dishonest and hysterical arguments advanced by the Bush Administration serves as a reminder of how obsessed this crew has become with tyrannical power.
It is significant that the Court went out of its way to shine a bright spotlight on the rule of torture in the Bush Administration’s conduct. Most of the odious conduct of this administration turns, after it is carefully deconstructed, on one simple fact: the desire to torture. This is true of the push for military commissions, special evidentiary rules which will allow torture-extracted evidence, the use of national security classifications to hide torture rules, techniques, and sworn evidence of the use of torture. In sum, this is the Bush Administration’s desperate efforts to obscure its own criminality–which now runs rampant. The rulings out of Guantánamo and the Fourth Circuit are vital steps. But the essential next step is for Congress to act to restore habeas corpus and to insure that the law of the land–which has outlawed torture since 1789–is adhered to.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”