Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bin Laden Tape, Guantanamo Legacy

Supposedly, Osama bin Laden issued a taped statement yesterday condemning Israel and exhorting all Arabs to support jihads, with the youth to form new jihads like cattle to be slaughtered. From the New York Times: The statement came a day after Israel conceded that despite its relentless bombardment of Gaza, it had yet to cripple the military wing of Hamas or destroy the group’s ability to launch rockets. The concession suggested that despite heavy air and ground assaults Israel’s main goals in the conflict remain unfulfilled after more than two weeks of war.

Meanwhile, bickering Hamas factions in Cairo ended a round of talks on a possible cease-fire agreement. A senior Egyptian official said that some progress had been made, and representatives of the Syrian-based political wing headed back to Damascus, while their Gaza-based counterparts remained in Cairo.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two factions had agreed to a monitoring force composed of Europeans to prevent smuggling of weapons from Egypt through tunnels under the border. They also agreed in principle, the official said, on a two-phased cease-fire, that would halt fighting for one week, followed by a year-long truce. But the Gaza faction was more flexible about the timing of halting rocket fire into Israel, while the Syrian faction remained intent on gaining concessions from Israel first."

The US responded that, if it is Mr bin Laden, that he has been living isolated in a cave for too long, that his diet of bugs has made him crazier than ever, and he is totally irrelevant to what is currently going on in the world, just not in those exact words... What do you think, can Hillary Clinton find Osama where Bush and all the drones at his fingertips came up empty?

Raul Castro admitted that Cuba liked having the Guantanamo facility where it is because it gave an excuse for US and Cuban officials to meet at least once a year, and over the many years some have become friends.

The closing of Guantanamo will bring up a few problems. One of the current ones is that many allied countries are refusing to take some of the prisoners, Australia has refused at least twice. Many of the prisoners have been kept there just to keep them out of circulation, the argument is that if they are released they may go back and join in killing our soldiers. So, its better to keep them locked up even if there isn't enough evidence to give them a fair or even unfair trial.

This drives the people who believe in fair trials, and human rights up the wall. If you don't have enough evidence to try someone in a kangaroo court, how do you even know that you have a terrorist at all? The military officers who have been drafted to be the defense for detainees are saying what a farce it has become, and one of the major prosecutors resigned in a fit of conscience.

And then there's the item of torturing prisoners, which is against the Geneva Convention that the US signed after WW11. Both of our chatty President and Vice President have admitted to the use of water boarding as a tool for obtaining information. If water boarding is considered torture legally, then they have admitted to knowingly condoning what is considered a war crime, and may be grounds for criminal prosecution. Dick Cheney may have alluded that he has many old scores to settle by writing his memoirs, but first those in the new administration may try to drag him into court to at least publicly humiliate him for his many sins, if not have him jailed for a taste of his own medicine.

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