Wednesday, November 18, 2009

War Party tries to draw to an inside straight

Now that my desktop machine is a Mac, I've discovered the joys of online poker. Those of you who play will recognize the phenomenon I'm about to describe.

Every time I sit down for a "no limit" game, there's at least one nimrod at the table who goes "all in" (i.e. bets every dime he has) on every hand of cards, until he's eliminated. It's easy and tempting to do this at the site I play on (PokerStars.Net), because the money is "play money" and the player can draw up to $1000 of it up to three times in any one-hour period. Sometimes one of these idiots will run up a pretty good take before another player draws a really good hand and takes him down hard.

This is about as closely analogous as it's possible to get to the War Party's policy methodology. Their approach is to take a really bad position, back it to the hilt, occasionally get their way because their bluff isn't called, and then whine for more political capital when their prescription turns out -- as it always does -- to be horribly, destructively stupid.

The latest War Party cause celebre is opposition to trying Khalid Sheik Mohammad, alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in a regular court of law.

Yes, doing so is problematic, mostly because prior neoconservative genius moves have polluted the case against KSM. Instead of either treating him as a prisoner of war and according him the protections due him under the Geneva Convention on that topic, or charging him and trying him for his crimes and according him the protections due him under the US Constitution and the UN Convention Against Torture, the War Party -- acting through the Bush administration -- worked at every turn to make it impossible to bring him to justice under any reasonable standard of any type of law. Their idea of "rule of law" is something along the lines of Sharia combined with Russian Roulette.

They went all-in in defense of conducting multiple wars without getting the constitutionally required declarations of war.

They went all-in in defense of unconstitutionally suppressing habeas corpus and promoting "indefinite detention" without charge or trial.

They went all-in in defense of the use of extra-legal "military tribunals" instead of real courts.

They went all-in in defense of using torture, in secret "black" foreign prisons, to extract information from abductees.

They kept bluffing, and they kept laying down garbage whenever their bluffs were called -- at which point they'd demand that the house provide them another stake, hoping that if they could just sit in for a few more hands they'd draw four of a kind or at least a straight flush.

Now, when it comes to the subject of justice versus KSM, they're whining that their stake should be replenished so that they can go all in again.

They're the ones who declined to go to Congress for a legal basis -- a declaration of war -- for treating KSM as an enemy combatant, legal or illegal.

They're the ones who stuck KSM in a secret prison and waterboarded him nearly 200 times, making criminals of themselves and making any confessional evidence so obtained inadmissible in the courts of any civilized nation.

They're the ones who dicked around for six years trying to find a way to get around the law -- effectively sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming "DON'T WANNA DON'T HAFTA LA LA LA LA LA SCREW THE CONSTITUTION!" at the tops of their lungs -- instead of delivering him for a speedy public trial.

They're the ones whose approach reduced the US government's legal options with respect to KSM to precisely two:

- Try him in US District Court and attempt to get a conviction even though most of the evidence will likely not be legally admissible and much of the admissible evidence will likely be stuff that the prosecution won't want to introduce because it's "classified information," i.e. incriminating of KSM's abductors rather than of KSM himself; or

- Let him go.

My suggestion is that those who favor real justice and the American way accommodate the War Party's demand for a re-stake and then go all-in ourselves. Their hand, as usual, is garbage. They're sitting on 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 off-suit. Give them some chips, then take those chips away on the showdown.

Hopefully, KSM can be convicted of his crimes and sentenced to life in ADX Florence. That would be at least Queens full of sevens.

No, no death penalty -- that's what he wants. That would just make him a martyr and encourage other Islamists to follow his example. Stick him in a cell and occasionally release camera stills of him sitting on his steel toilet. Make his fate as dull and unglamorous as possible. Executing him would at best be two pair.

And if he's acquitted? Unlikely in the extreme, but even that's a split pot, as if we drew the same hand as the War Party's. Yes, he goes free and that's a bad thing (although I won't be surprised if he runs into a drone or a car bomb or something shortly after), but it's the nimrod neocons who stacked the deck for that hand, and they're the ones who'll rightfully get the blame.

Re-raise, all-in, call ... and this time when they lose, kick them out of their seat and give it to someone familiar with concepts like "check" and "fold."

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