On Kangaroo Courts and Dry Runs: Hamdan is Ready For His Close-Up

by matttbastard

Tomorrow marks an historic occasion: the first military commission trial of a so-called ‘enemy combatant’ in the War on Terror is scheduled to take place at beautiful, sunny Guantanamo. And Osama Bin Laden’s chauffeur–a prime example of “the worst of the worst”, IMO–is the lucky duck who’s been given the opportunity to see post-9/11 justice in action:

When Salim Ahmed Hamdan, accused of ferrying weapons for al-Qaeda, enters courtroom 01-A in a former aircraft operations center, he will face court proceedings unlike any the United States has seen in decades. They will unfold before a military commission — the first since the end of World War II — with a jury of uniformed officers and rules that give great deference to the prosecution. Evidence obtained from “cruel” and “inhuman” interrogation methods is admissible in certain circumstances, as is hearsay evidence.

Unlike a civilian trial, even if the defendant is acquitted of conspiracy and material support of terrorism charges, he probably will not be released. Hamdan has been designated an “enemy combatant” by the military, a status that prosecutors said would be unchanged by an acquittal even if international pressure mounts for his release.

According to Wikipedia,

Kangaroo courts are judicial proceedings that deny due process in the name of expediency. Such rights include the right to summon witnesses, the right of cross-examination, the right not to incriminate oneself, the right not to be tried on secret evidence, the right to control one’s own defense, the right to exclude evidence that is improperly obtained, irrelevant or inherently inadmissible (e.g. hearsay), the right to exclude judges or jurors on the grounds of partiality or conflict of interest, and the right of appeal. The outcome of a trial by “kangaroo court” is essentially determined in advance, usually for the purpose of providing a conviction, either by going through the motions of manipulated procedure or by allowing no defense at all.

Ok, so if “justice” (such a September 10th concept, that) isn’t the end result that is being sought by going the military commission route, then why waste precious time (and taxpayer dollars)?

[T]he proceedings are…something of a dry run, a way to test the long-delayed military system on an alleged low-level al-Qaeda foot soldier so it is primed for the self-confessed terrorist leaders to come. In line behind Hamdan at Guantanamo is Khalid Sheik Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and other accused planners.

“It’s the first contested war crimes trial since World War II, so it’s important,” Col. Lawrence Morris, the military commissions’ chief prosecutor, said recently. “You’re looking at it primarily and appropriately as bringing Mr. Hamdan to justice, but we’re also well aware that . . . it provides the first opportunity to test and validate this mechanism.”

Ah, so, in essence, Mr. Hamdan is, in fact, a pioneer, blazing a trail for future generations to come! Well, that more-than-pertinent fact certainly kills any unpatriotic misgivings that whole predetermined outcome thing might engender. Huh–wonder how he feels about serving such a prominent role in world history?

“There is no such thing as justice here… . America tells the world about freedom and justice… . Give me a just court … give me my human rights.”

Geez, bloodthirsty America-hatin’ terrorists sure are a hard lot to please, eh?

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Obey: Black, Gay, and Female? Talk About a Prime Target For Protection and Service.

by matttbastard

Via Renee:

Elle nails it:

What I noticed about the video (aside from the cops jerking a young woman off a public bus and injuring her for a damned finger sign) was how police brutality has led us to be always ready to assume the defense. Her mother stated over and over that her daughter was “good” and wasn’t a “criminal.” She’d never been in any trouble. She theorized that the police officers’ actions were a manifestation of the  problem” LBPD has with young, black lesbians.

[…]

What do you say when we are still at the point where we assume the defensive, have to proclaim our status as “good” and “like everyone else,” otherwise mistreating us is okay?

Renee also has it exactly right:

If the people who are supposed to be upholding the law, daily violate the law, then we have no law.  What we have is a masquerade of justice wherein certain bodies matter, and others are only considered to the extent that can be exploited, and marginalized.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, “assaulting a police officer” is an Orwellian synonym for ‘disobedience’, as manifested in this specific instance by Ms. Patton not showing appropriate fealty towards, as Elle puts it, “the power of the uniform.”  And, these days, that’s a hollow, impotent power, devoid of any earned respect or authority to bolster the legitimacy of those who wear the uniform.  I mean, really, would a goddamn bird-flip warrant such a horrifyingly disproportionate response unless the officers who got dissed didn’t feel obligated to subsequently assert and affirm their dominance–to demand obedience–by force?

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Invisibility and the ‘Double Burden’

by matttbastard

(image originally uploaded by My Hobo Soul, posted under a Creative Commons License)

Attorney Sophia A. Nelson on Michelle Obama and being an accomplished black woman in contemporary American society:

Sad to say, but what [Michelle] Obama has undergone, though it’s on a national stage and on a much more prominent scale, is nothing new to professional African American women. We endure this type of labeling all the time. We’re endlessly familiar with the problem Michelle Obama is confronting — being looked at, as black women, through a different lens from our white counterparts, who are portrayed as kinder, gentler souls who somehow deserve to be loved and valued more than we do. So many of us are hoping that Michelle — as an elegant and elusive combination of successful career woman, supportive wife and loving mother — can change that.

“Ain’t I a woman?” Sojourner Truth famously asked 157 years ago. Her ringing question, demanding why black women weren’t accorded the same privileges as their white counterparts, still sums up the African American woman’s dilemma today: How are we viewed as women, and where do we fit into American life?

“Thanks to the hip-hop industry,” one prominent black female journalist recently said to me, all black women are “deemed ‘sexually promiscuous video vixens’ not worthy of consideration. If other black women speak up, we’re considered angry black women who complain. This society can’t even see a woman like Michelle Obama. All it sees is a black woman and attaches stereotypes.

Black women have been mischaracterized and stereotyped since the days of slavery and minstrel shows. In more recent times, they’ve been portrayed onscreen and in popular culture as either sexually available bed wenches in such shows as the 2000 docudrama “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal,” ignorant and foolish servants such as Prissy from “Gone With the Wind” or ever-smiling housekeepers, workhorses who never complain and never tire, like the popular figure of Aunt Jemima.

Even in the 21st century, black women are still bombarded with media and Internet images that portray us as loud, aggressive, violent and often grossly obese and unattractive. Think of the movies “Norbit” or “Big Momma’s House,” or of the only two black female characters in “Enchanted,” an overweight, aggressive traffic cop and an angry divorcée amid all the white princesses.

On the other hand, when was the last time you saw a smart, accomplished black professional woman portrayed on mainstream television or in the movies? If Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” comes to mind, remember that she left the scene 16 years ago.

The reality is that in just a generation, many black women — who were mostly domestics, schoolteachers or nurses in the post-slavery Jim Crow era — have become astronauts, corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, engineers and PhDs. You name it, and black women have achieved it. The most popular woman on daytime television is Oprah Winfrey. Condoleezza Rice is secretary of state.

And yet my generation of African American women — we’re called, in fact, the Claire Huxtable generation — hasn’t managed to become successfully integrated into American popular culture. We’re still looking for respect in the workplace, where, more than anything else, black women feel invisible. It’s a term that comes up again and again. “In my profession, white men mentor young whites on how to succeed,” a financial executive told me, but “they’re either indifferent to or dogmatically document the mistakes black women make. Their indifference is the worst, because it means we’re invisible.”

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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