Defendants' Lawyers Fear Loss of Potential Evidence at Guantanamo Bay
By Josh White Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, February 14, 2008; A19
Lawyers representing military detainees at Guantanamo Bay have expressed concern that the government has violated a federal court order by losing or erasing several years' worth of digital video recordings that could shed light on the legality of detainee treatment.
The concerns are based in part on a recent court filing by Guantanamo's commander, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, who said video surveillance recordings in several areas of the facility have been automatically overwritten and no longer exist.
. . . Noting that the CIA has admitted destroying videotapes of aggressive interrogations of two detainees, the authors of the Seton Hall report said the military and other government agencies present at Guantanamo have "identical motives to destroy taped investigations." They added: "The taped interrogations recorded at Guantanamo Bay are equally important to evaluating the reliability of the evidence against a detainee."
. . . David H. Remes, a Washington lawyer who represents Guantanamo detainees, said the overwriting of video recordings is a clear violation of the court's order.
Ummm . . . shocking news, simply shocking.
There are places in the world, countries that operate by rule of law, where an item like this would accompany indictments of those responsible for ignoring the orders of the court. Unfortunately, America is no longer among them.
An 18 minute erasure of a presidential tape once brought down a presidency. Now everything is gone missing, withheld as 'secret,' unrevealed due to 'national security.'
We have willingly surrendered the rule of law to the rule of demagoguery.
Elsewhere in today's paper, urging the House to rubber stamp the Senate legislation that provides retroactive cover for the illegalities committed by the nation's telecoms, President Bush declared,
"Terrorists are planning new attacks on our country...that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison"
The Washington Post accepts that outrageous demagoguery without comment, thereby blessing upon it an authenticity in the minds of readers (presuming there is anyone left that actually reads the Post).
One needn't look far for a comprehensive list of enablers to those who would take our nation of laws and give us a nation of innuendo. Media is most often cited, because media is our daily dose of whatever serves as the thread of human continuity. We are thus shielded from the brutal reality of;
A presidency no longer required to obey the laws
An Attorney General who abets those executive illegalities
An FBI and CIA complicit in the commission of illegal acts
A House and Senate that no longer check or balance, advise or consent
A public disinterest in the breaking of law and tolerance of stonewalling elected officials
Add to this the cruel fact of 'yesterday's news' fading in the public mind. Who pursues Roberto Gonzales for his criminal contempt? Who holds the resigned feet of a Don Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Colin Powell or Karl Rove to the fire? It's as if we allowed Enron executives to avoid prosecution by the simple expedient of resignation.
Professional media handlers know that a Britney Spears or Paris Hilton needs constant and unrelenting media exposure to remain in the public mind--and newspapers and TV respond willingly to that constant celebrity character assessment.
What disinterests media is the character of American government. It is as if the indifference toward truth displayed by our president were no more than a passing inconvenience between hard reality and easy escapism.
The man said "America does not torture" and got away with it.
Allowing America to become a soap-opera or (un)reality-show is dereliction on the part of media in all forms, a turning over of governance to the talk-show mentality of the Bill O'Reillys, Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters. Put in a call to Charles Darwin--survival of the fittest is newly endangered by the hate-mongering of the loudest.
This is not a partisan issue. We are only just now becoming aware that our newly arrived Democratic cavalry is no better suited, nor morally honest than the Republican majority they recently chased over the horizon.
The bugle simply no longer sounds. The America of bi-partisan governance lies flopping on the deck like a gutted fish. Gingrich, DeLay, K-Street and the religious right have won and the media stands by--playing the daily chaos of no longer functioning government as if it were the prelude to an Emmys broadcast.
There is simply no longer a functioning fourth estate.