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S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

From behind walls -

Building walls does not insure safety. Many of us live in "gated communities" here in the United States. What keeps us safe there is the rule of law, not the walls. And no matter how many miles of walls we build along our borders, we will never be "safe" from immigrants. The immigration question must be settled around the rule of law, because building walls permits only the illusion of safety.

Aljazeera photo: [AFP]
Today's headlines make it clear that walls do not keep people out of harm's way. There are inevitably a ways around the barriers. And the breaches are getting more brazen. Fortified government buildings in Iraq are not secure, and the rule of law is incredibly thin in their country. Yesterday's story about the kidnapping of 5 British contractors in Baghdad illustrates the point. Aljazeera carried a (5-30-07) follow-up piece about the U.S. response to the incident. It was headlined, "US forces in Sadr City raids." To quote,

US forces have raided Shia militia strongholds in eastern Baghdad after the daylight kidnapping of five British contractors from a finance ministry building.
. . . The Britons - a consultant and his four armed bodyguards - were snatched on Tuesday by a large group of armed men in Iraqi police uniforms, with the finger being pointed at Shia militias.
. . . Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister, said: "We are pursuing this case very vigorously, I would say, because the nature of this kidnapping is very strange.
"The location of this finance ministry computer centre and the nature of the operation and the number of people involved, I think all indicate more a militia than a terrorist group, let's say."
Being in U.S. detention does not assure the safety of prisoners. There is no more clear example of what happens when we operate outside the rule of law than the U.S. policy regarding detainees from the so-called war on terror. The costs have been horrendous, for us and for our enemies. A number of detainees have successfully committed suicide behind the walls at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And it has happened again. A BBC News headline of (5/31/07) reads - "Guantanamo Saudi 'kills himself'." Quoting from the story:

A Saudi Arabian prisoner has died in an apparent suicide at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the US military has said.
. . . The president of the US Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, told the Associated Press news agency the death was likely an act of desperation.
. . . There are about 380 prisoners at the camp, some held for five years.
. . . Inmates at the Guantanamo Bay facility are not protected by the Geneva Conventions covering prisoners of war, the US says, as it describes them as "unlawful enemy combatants".
Being in the custody of authorities does not assure the safety of suspects in Israel. Torture is outside of the rule of international law. Many countries, including the United States and Israel, seem to have trouble with that idea. The Supreme Courts of both nations have gotten involved, with varying degrees of success. The current story is about Israel and the headline comes from Haarretz.com - "Report: Shin Bet, police severly tortured Palestinian suspects," by Nir Hasson (5/30/07). To quote,
In a harsh report released yesterday, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel accuses the Shin Bet security service and police of severely torturing Palestinian security suspects.
The report includes the testimonies of nine Palestinians who were arrested by the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet between 2004 and 2005, including one that charged police investigators with severe sexual abuse.
. . . The Shin Bet responded that its methods were "legal" in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling.
Article 2 of the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which Israel is a signatory, allows "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever," including a state of war or any emergency, as a justification of torture.
The walls of mistrust had to be breached for the United States and Iran to have direct talks, the first since 1980, which have now begun, according to Dr. Juan Cole at Informed Comment. The case of jailed Iranian-American Haleh Esfandiari has been particularly noteworthy. Many are hoping that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will have success with U.S. diplomatic efforts to make things better along an entire range of differences between the two countrries. She recently spoke out about the importance of the rule of law. The headline comes from the UK's Financial Times - "Iran spying charges ‘pervert rule of law’ ,"by Guy Dinmore, May 30 2007. Quoting the story,
Iran charged three Iranian-American dual-national citizens with espionage and endangering national security on Tuesday, prompting Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, to brand the move “a perversion of the rule of law”.
The charges against an academic, Haleh Esfandiari, a social scientist, Kian Tajbakhsh, and a journalist, Parnaz Azima, came just a day after Iran and the US held their first talks on the security crisis in Iraq for the first time since the 2003 invasion.
There is a wall of mistrust between many of us and the current administration. It is high for good reason, a few of which are carried in today's news. Much of the mistrust centers around the ineptitude of the players, bringing us to a note of irony upon which to conclude. The State Department has a section on its current website headed, "The Rule of Law." The current subsections include only these, very badly out of date. It is a perfect illustration of why we lack confidence in the current wall-building, outside of the rule of law, behind-the-power-curve administration. :
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1 comment:

betmo said...

it is my thought that the walls exist to keep people in- not out. hence the berlin wall.