Sunday, March 26, 2006

Inflammatory Opinion:
The Clear and Compelling Case for a Truth Commission

Newsweek magazine is reporting in its online edition with dateline April 3, 2006, that U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, in unpublished remarks on March 8 before an audience at the University of Freiberg, Switzerland, declared that "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them [sic] a jury trial in your civil courts... Give me a break." This week, the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld of a detainee from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Associate Justice Scalia has made no offer to recuse himself because of his prejudicial remarks on the merits of cases like the one to be presented to him and the other eight Justices.

Mr. Scalia's remarks drew "quite an uproar," according to a member of the law faculty of the University of Freiburg. Apparently, at one point during Mr. Scalia's talk, he was challenged by a member of the audience who reminded him of applicable U.S. treaty obligations, a counterpoint that caused the Associate Justice to rant, "If [a detainee] was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs," a stunning statement (aside from Mr. Scalia's description of 'my army'):

  • many of the Gitmo detainees were in fact not captured in any combat situation;
  • the Geneva Conventions protocols to which the United States is a signatory explicitly set forth the matters regarding battlefield captures;
  • and the United States was the aggressor nation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where most of the current detainees were originally found, although neither nation yielded the principal target for which the assaults were justified prior to action, which was the top leadership al-Qa'ida.
Because of the virtual blanket immunity of Supreme Court Justices to consequences from the decisions they render and the conditions of personal belief and professional conduct under which they render those decisions, Mr. Scalia will likely face no material sanction should he proceed with what is now his apparent intention to participate in the adjudication of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

This becomes further evidence that the United States Congress, President, and Judiciary are in no way prepared to once and for all come to grips with the legacy of the Bush Administration and the neo-conservative radicals who have taken over the halls of the legislature, the executive branch, and the federal courts. At this point, nothing short of the appointment by the next President of the United States of a Truth Commission with nearly absolute subpoena powers will serve to extract from the participants in this degradation of the Republic the details of and truth about the actions they committed, the decisions they made, and the extent of the harm they caused.

It is to the end of the eventual establishment of such an independent investigatory body that I shall in the months ahead ask others to join me in demanding of any candidate running for the Office of the President of the United States in 2008 that he or she commit to the establishment of a Truth Commission of the United States of America within 90 days of assuming office, and that this Truth Commission comprise independent members without any connection whatsoever to those who have been the architects and engineers of the policies of the Bush Administration. As suggested, this Truth Commission must be vested of full powers to subpoena any person deemed necessary, be he or she a politician, a military official, or a member of the judiciary; and the Commission must be charged with having no duty to negotiate any terms upon which testimony will be rendered by any person so subpoenaed. In other words, with regard to this second point, the results of the Truth Commission of the United States will not be suspect and thoroughly tainted as were the results of the 9/11 Commission or the criminal investigation by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of the outing for political revenge of non-official cover operative Valerie Plame.

In the months ahead, I shall more fully and formally press this demand upon candidates, and I shall make it the first requirement of any candidate seeking my assistance, financial support, and/or endorsement. No less than a Truth Commission will right what has happened during the Bush Administration, and no less than harsh, swift, and certain justice of retribution rendered upon the neo-conservatives and their social and political allies will ensure that this era is not soon repeated.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

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