Saturday, September 01, 2007

"Legal Ethics" Is Not an Oxymoron

From US News and World Report:

The government's legal arguments justifying the detention of hundreds of people at the Guantánamo Bay naval base have been repudiated three times by the U.S. Supreme Court. But it's not just outsiders who take issue with the U.S. Justice Department strategy: Up to one fourth of the department's own civil appellate staff has recently opted out of handling the government's cases against detainee appeals, two sources familiar with the matter tell U.S. News.

These conscientious objectors—their exact number is not known—have decided not to take part in the government's litigation against the detainees because of disagreements with the legal approach, these sources say. They would not elaborate on the specific reasons for the objections, but critics have long objected to the government's failure to formally charge detainees and have pushed for closing Guantánamo because of allegations of torture and inhumane conditions. Defense lawyers also contend that the government has stymied their cases by withholding documents and curbing client access.

Good for them. A lawyer is more than just a mouthpiece. Sometimes, in the words of Elihu Root, his job involves "telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop." And sometimes, it involves telling a particularly insistent client, "no, I'm not going to do that. It's not right. Find yourself another lawyer if you want."

Even if that client is the government. Maybe especially then.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Fella Could Get Spoilt From All This Attention

Irish crime writer Declan Burke, author of EIGHT BALL BOOGIE and THE BIG O, interviews Your Humble Narrator at Crime Always Pays.

Topics include guilty pleasures, the Irish crime novel I'd most like to see made into a movie, and why I hate UPS.

I'm Like Visa, Y'all...

'Cause I'm everywhere you wanna be.

This week there's a new interview with Your Humble Narrator over at Word Nerd, courtesy of reporter Bethany K. Warner, who's not nerdy at all.

Thanks, Bethany, for the opportunity!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Rat Abandons the Sinking Ship

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Resigns -
Probably wants to spend more time lying to his family. Assuming Mr. "I have no memory of that" remembers who they are.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Look Who's Hating the Troops Now

Latest Newspaper Column:

For the last few months, the few remaining supporters of George W. Bush's Wacky Iraqi Adventure have been playing a game that could be dubbed "waiting for Petraeus."

"We must wait for General Petraeus' report in September," they insist, "before we can judge if the 'surge' is a success."

Well, I guess there's always someone who didn't get the memo.

In a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, a group of seven writers gave a sobering assessment of the situation on the ground. "Yes, we are militarily superior," they said, "but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. The most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably."
to say that "we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence."

Our so-called allies, they said, have their own shady agendas: "Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric."

They ended with this gloomy pronouncement: " we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are -- an army of occupation -- and force our withdrawal."

Wow. Anyone engaging in that kind of defeatist talk must really hate America. And they must really hate the troops. I mean, that had to be something written by some wild-eyed liberal like that Cindy Sheehan or that Michael Moore, right?

Well, no. The writers of the op-ed, entitled "War as We Saw It," are soldiers. Members of our own (nearly) hometown unit, in fact: four sergeants, two staff sergeants, and a specialist from the 82nd Airborne. One of them, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Murphy, was shot in the head while on a mission during the time the article was being written. He is expected to survive.

Let me tell you something, folks: When your non-commissioned officers, the backbone of your army, are starting to pipe up and say "sir, this plan of yours isn't working," then even the greenest second lieutenant would be well-advised to shut up and listen.

Not President Bush, though. The Boy King in the Plastic Bubble blithely forges ahead with the same old rhetoric. Well, mostly the same. After repeatedly bristling in the past at people who'd try to compare Iraq with Vietnam, this past week he actually managed to say the "V" word. Except that the "lesson" he seems to have learned from Vietnam is that we just didn't stay there long enough.

"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam," Bush said, "is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields.' Unlike in Vietnam ... if we were to withdraw before the job was done, this enemy would follow us home."

There's an old saying that "those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it." In Bush's case, it seems that those who cannot learn from the past are going to try desperately to rewrite it. Because I seem to remember that "if we don't fight them there, we'll have to fight them in San Francisco" was exactly the same hysterical nonsense used to justify feeding American after American into the meat grinder of Vietnam.

As you may remember, we didn't actually end up fighting Viet Cong in California. There's not a shred of evidence that staying on, year after year, killing more and more Vietnamese and losing more and more American lives, would have made one whit of difference in the final outcome other than delaying it.

The major parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is that we can achieve military victories every day, but then we have to go out and win the same victories tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that, on into the future, winning the same victories against an endless supply of new insurgents.

The major difference between Iraq and Vietnam, of course, is that Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam.

There's a famous quote (possibly apocryphal) attributed to General Giap, commander of the North Vietnamese forces in the Vietnam War. An American colonel reportedly reminded him, "You know, you never beat us in battle." Giap replied: "That is true, but it is also irrelevant."

Because the problems of Iraq, like Vietnam's, aren't military, they're political. They're the problems of a country with an ineffective and corrupt government, divided by sectarianism and seemingly unable to get their act together.

No amount of "surges" or "staying the course" is going to change that. The noncoms realize that, and the commander in chief would be wise to listen.