At Guantanamo Bay There is No Law
Long ago my brilliant ivy lawyer sister taught me a great mental exercise: whatever policy issue or problem dealt with one must be able to state the core issue/problem in a simple declarative sentence, no commas allowed. If it’s impossible being effective in the issue environment is never going to happen, for plain reality isn’t perceived and humans won’t trust whatever incorrect tactic is chosen. People love and trust simplicity, rightly so.
Swinging our objective, internally examined gaze--implacably locked in the holy prism of the scientific method--toward the phenomena and place of Guantanamo Bay the simple declarative sentence exercise yields some fascinating answers, for Guantanamo Bay is many possible things to many different people. Citizens could easily state with valid truth that Guantanamo Bay is a prison, a detention camp, or a crazy nation-state Cuban political quirk, even a necessary tactic in the war on terror. [cough]
At Guantanamo Bay there is no law.
Oh please, white boy, how many hits of acid are in your past again? The place crawls with judge advocates and has spawned numerous boils of lawsuits and lawyerly activity, yes, but the declaration is still stoutly defended, for in all the swirl of Guantanamo Bay a central fact remains: those imprisoned there are denied the most basic of laws and rights that define American existence and human decency. It is a place where so much of what is precious to be an American is chucked out the window, even though we assume the supreme arrogance to imprison humans with alleged American law. Only the law that the President says is law works at Guantanamo Bay, not really at all the law every American lives by and with every day.
Say again? There is law that is implacable and very powerful, also entrusted with rights of the utmost importance, that dictates and affects our lives in countless ways every hour. Our powerful entrusted armed officials build prisons with it and always adhere to the law, what else could be adhered to? How else could it be so?
Yet somehow, in just one super-special amazing place, laws like the Bill of Rights vanish through the very American hands who insist everyone must live by one set of rules—the law—in the reality they live with every day as Americans. That, right there in that instant of monumental rationalization, is where the law is killed, the pistol pops and the law of America, blood to the country, fountains to the concrete when it is insisted that in just this one place the rules don’t apply.
There can never be a special place in the land of law, a land of some magical mystical other, a rule is valid to all in reality or it isn’t. If not, how, then, is the rule valid anywhere? How is it possible to decide for future application to apply the law correctly and fairly if there is no way to know when it truly is enforced/applied? It isn’t possible, the human reality of the rule spins off into an infinity of anything, nothing works.
That’s why there is no “special” or “emergency” powers in the Constitution, how is it possible to know what variables employed in the future to declare the “emergency” or “special” time truly work? There isn’t, the whole concept of law and constitution instantly falls onto its face and dies. “Emergency” constitution laws—“laws” like those in Guantanamo Bay—also leave the door wide open for a possible tyrant to abuse the definitions and deliberately use them to smash the Constitution, either for themselves or their faith of political movement.
If so-called Americans are being supreme rationalizers and actively advocating elements that in fact smash what they purport to uphold, then the law is gone in America too, the country is gone. That’s correct. The definitive historical marker for when America officially lost the law and its democracy occurred with Bush vs. Gore.
That indelibly true statement labels me a partisan can’t-get-over-it-lives-with-his-mama crank, so the truth can also be seen in two later occurrences. The first is when Bremer, Lord of Iraq, declared that tens of thousands of Americans were not bound by Iraqi law while working there.
The absurdity and total disregard for any law can be seen when possibly applying the statement to another country. “Americans living in London are not bound by UK law.” Does that sound like a healthy democratic statement coming from an official in a functioning lawful country? Not.
The second is when it was revealed that Addington, top aide to Vader Cheney, declared “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of a law.” What this means is that Addington doesn’t believe in the law—any law, it’s not a selective principle—he’s waiting for a rationalization to smash it, to utterly disrespect and befoul it. Addington is one of the highest officials in the land, and he isn’t an official of existing democracy either.
At Guantanamo Bay there is no law. That means there is no law at all, the country doesn’t have it, the country is gone. That’s correct. We currently grope forward in a tragic, pathetic dance of denial into what’s really happened to us as citizens and to our country, purposefully blind to reality with the clumsiest of lies and increasingly totally captive to whatever events and fates assail us.