Civil Liberties

Josef K, Attorney at Law

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Doron Taussig at the Philadelphia City Paper spends a few days with Thomas Bogar, an attorney assigned to represent a prisoner at Gitmo.

Bogar once ran for school board as a Republican, because he believes, he says, in the "Reagan ideal" of small government. And from the delicate, diplomatic way he treats political questions, he may have greater ambitions. But since visiting Zahir, he has not voiced opinions that would be acceptable in the National Review. He says he's concerned about torture, about showing the world we can give the detainees a fair trial. And he questions the government's decision to prosecute his guy.

"I like to use the analogy (of) organized crime," the attorney, whose cell phone rings with the theme from The Godfather, says. "[The 10 who have been charged] are not the captains. They're more like the guys [who] can't even be made, because they're not even Italian. [Zahir] was serving as an interpreter."

It's an interesting look at the struggle of representing a client who doesn't have… what do you call them? Rights.

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  1. that is right. Terrorism is just that. Crime. The big terrorist attacks are crimes committed by rich people.

    The central mistake made by the US military and its supporters has been to treat terrorism like a military attack. Upshot: the criminals go free (well the major ones) and the army makes more and more work for itself.

    Time to cast our minds back to 1 October 2001 and erase all the bad learning.

  2. And sadly the debate on fair trials and human rights is often hijacked by pie-in-the-sky discussions of whether we should torture Osama Bin Laden if we catch him.

    In AlterNet I recently discussed the sham of one pro-torture talking head who has been passing himself off as a reasonable atheist but is pushing cheesy pseudoscience.

  3. The mob/Italian analogy doesn’t work to well given that Zahir was acting as an Afghani interpreter for a Taliban leader. Whether this was innocent business as he claims or he was more involved is the question at hand. Given that his wife wouldn’t have been interviewed without a female interpreter, it’s fair to say his clans is still following some of the Taliban doctrine. In short, in the mob analogy, there’s nothing here to rule out his being made.

    As for his gee whiz boy scout attorney (the military one, not the civilian one from Vermont he also has, I’m guessing pro bono, given that his clan is still living in mud shacks, “like Muhammed.”), you gave a rather cherry picked background on the man. What about these two gems.

    “…a couple of years later, he was mobilized again, this time to Fort Stewart, where by raising questions about prosecutorial tactics, he persuaded a judge to sentence a man facing over 30 years for allegedly molesting his own daughter to just six.”

    Clever defender, I’m sure any attempts to question the place and procedure here wouldn’t be clever defending, it would be because of the humanity.

    And this:

    “Bogar prefers not to discuss legal strategy. But should he successfully challenge this position in a lower court, the name “Zahir” could be the next “Hamdan.” This is an appealing thought for Bogar: Hamdan’s lead counsel was Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, who was stationed in Guam in the Navy and went to the same law school at the same time as Bogar, and Bogar seems amicably envious of his peer.”

    Amicably envious. Hmmm.

    And while he is concerned about the torture, there’s no mention of anything of that nature in the piece. The closest is when his client is moved from the communal facility to solitary (no reason, or whther there was a reason, was mentioned in the story) where he now only has his door opened two hours a day for prayer time and exercise time, where there’s no guarantee on any given day that he will even see talk to another Afghani (good thing he’s fluent in… what was it again he was interpreting for and to and in what language?).

    Odd that if this poor guy is getting steam rolled by the US military torture machine, they saw fit to release his brother, who was intially held with him in Afghanistan but then cleared and released. Maybe he’s even more diminutive.

  4. “…a couple of years later, he was mobilized again, this time to Fort Stewart, where by raising questions about prosecutorial tactics, he persuaded a judge to sentence a man facing over 30 years for allegedly molesting his own daughter to just six.”

    Clever defender, I’m sure any attempts to question the place and procedure here wouldn’t be clever defending, it would be because of the humanity.

    Everybody knows that every case of child molestation should draw a 30 year sentence, not a six year. And to use the prosecutor’s tactics as a ground for convincing the court to reduce the penalty! My gawd, we are thru the looking glass now people!/sarc

    cinabuns is a funny poster. him try think’ums hard.

  5. The guy is right. When your star defendent is the chauffer, it defies credulity to claim that your tribunal is all that stands between civilization and chaos. The problem is that they never took the really high profile guys like KSM and turned them over to the tribunals. If they weren’t going to do that, the tribunals are a waste of time that just gives the get the U.S. out of North America types something to whine about. Declare mere membership in Al Quad or the Taliban to be a crime, sentence these guys and be done with it and then either move on to more important people or shut the whole thing down and just send them back to their native countries and probably grim fates.

  6. Declare mere membership in Al Quad or the Taliban to be a crime, sentence these guys and be done with it and then either move on to more important people or shut the whole thing down and just send them back to their native countries and probably grim fates.

    How would they prove AQ or Taliban membership? Do they have to carry cards? Maybe we can just convince them to admit to it with physically rigorous questioning? Send them to people who will torture them so the US doesn’t have to? Did we learn anything from the Arar case (those extraordinary renditions will just be redeployed against the US in the most embarrassing way possible and they will be motivated)? Ex post facto laws?

  7. “How would they prove AQ or Taliban membership?”

    by where they were and what they were doing mostly and also by testimony of their comrads. If we can’t prove by at least a propoderance of the evidence that they were, then let them go. If they really are we will catch them sooner or later again and then have them and if they are important or dangerous, it shouldn’t be that hard to prove membership.

  8. Ex post facto laws?

    We did ex post facto with the Nazis. The Nuremburg tribunals declared membership in certian organizations, the SS for example to be a crime. The only issues in many of the lesser known Nuremburg trials were how high were you in the organization and how much mitigation could you give by showing that you liked your dog and your mother loved you.

  9. by where they were and what they were doing mostly

    Oh, you mean the way I can tell if someone is a Democrat or a Republican by which bars they hang out at? Bumperstickers are often a good clue. Yeah, that’ll work.

  10. “Oh, you mean the way I can tell if someone is a Democrat or a Republican by which bars they hang out at? Bumperstickers are often a good clue. Yeah, that’ll work.”

    Oh come on Sam. Being in the Taliban or Al Quada is not like being a Democrat. If someone is on the battlefield in civilian clothes shooting at us, that is a good indication of what side they are on. If someone spends most of their time driving OBL around, it is safe to say they are a made member of Al Quada. If you are caught in a safe house with other known members of the organization, unless you were the milkman making a delivery, you are probably a member. Things like that.

  11. Oh come on Sam.

    well, anybody who actively helped hide Osama Bin Laden from legitimate authorities is guilty of something.

    With the chaffeur, it would really depend on whether he continued to work for the Osama after he became an officially wanted man (whenever that was).

    So we may not be very far apart on these issues, John.

  12. “As for his gee whiz boy scout attorney…”

    the “aw shucks” strategy instead of “shock and awe”?

  13. I was raised by a cup of coffee.

  14. may he be afforded all the rights of a muslim woman who’s had sex.

  15. Ex post facto laws are unconstitutional.

  16. Ex post facto laws are unconstitutional

    Allowing a 34 year old to be president is unconstitutional.

    I think you are putting it a bit mildly.

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