Removing The Impediments

by digby

Bmaz, pinch hitting over at Emptywheel, writes about the latest atrocity at the Gitmo show trials. It's amazing they are getting away with this, but we are all so obsessed with campaign minutia that we are missing an historic injustice taking place in our names.

I'm sure you all heard that Khalid Sheik Mohammed demanded that he be put to death. But that was about all you heard, I'll bet. There was something very, very strange going on in that courtroom. After years of being held in solitary confinement, suddenly the prisoners were all allowed to talk to each other in the courtroom and "KSM" was acting as their leader. Bmaz writes about how the media reported it:
Here is how I described it at the time in an email to Marcy and some other friends you all know:

Usual junk except for what I am sure he thought were a couple of throwaway lines that I found real interesting. The first was the report we already heard about KSM in the courtroom yesterday at the arraignment being the leader and speaking to the other detainees there as a group, clearly exhibiting his authority. But then the reporter relates how a couple of the other detainees seemed hesitant to give up their military lawyers and be martyrs, but how KSM was explicit in commanding the others, and how the government is not necessarily unhappy with this because the more the military lawyers are out of the picture, the easier the detainees all will be to convict (and administer the death penalty to by extension).

Doesn't seem that earth shattering at first; however, think through the dynamics to date and the blaring significance sets in. The US has assiduously kept the detainees separated and isolated all this time so that they could not communicate and have structural control from the top down and, then, out of the blue, viola! Right in the middle of the courtroom, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is blithely allowed to huddle them up like Favre does the Packers. When they break huddle, all of them, even the hesitant ones, suddenly want to dismiss their JAG/military lawyers that have been doing such commendable work under impossible conditions. Exactly at the point it is useful to help the US rid themselves of those meddlesome military lawyers that have been beating up their dog and pony shows.

First the Cheney Administration sacked the military judge that had the gall to allow even a shred of due process to the detainees, and now they have effectively sacked the military lawyers that had the temerity to seek it. This was a knowing and intentional play to deny counsel. The US Administration knew what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would do, and they knew that, given the opportunity, he would command the other detainees to do the same. So the US made sure it happened, so as to suit their demented self serving convenience

I would guess they are planning to schedule executions at a politically propitious time for John McCain. (It's right out of the Saddam "spidey hole" playbook.) Remind everyone that we are at war and more importantly, that we are "winning," which is what John McCain needs desperately to convince the American people of if he wants to become president. (otherwise, he sounds like a desperate, warmongering fool. Which is what he is.)

I don't think it will work. That show is so 2004. But they don't have much else, and on some level they really believe it.

Meanwhile, this week 60 members of the House urged Attorney General Michael Mukasey to appoint a special counsel to investigate torture. I'm sure he'll move very quickly on that. And among the neocons, it's become an article of faith the Bush will attack Iran if McCain isn't elected. So it goes.

Update: Now we know why they need to get rid of the lawyers. They get all antsy about destroyng evidence and stuff:

The Pentagon urged interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to destroy handwritten notes in case they were called to testify about potentially harsh treatment of detainees, a military defense lawyer said Sunday.

The lawyer for Toronto-born Omar Khadr, Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, said the instructions were included in an operations manual shown to him by prosecutors and suggest the U.S. deliberately thwarted evidence that could help terror suspects defend themselves at trial.

Kuebler said the apparent destruction of evidence prevents him from challenging the reliability of any alleged confessions. He said he will use the document to seek a dismissal of charges against Khadr.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, said he was reviewing the matter Sunday evening.