Huckabee Supports Special Rights for Terrorists
By Cliff Kincaid on (Dec 09, 07)

Political Analysis
Huckabee’s flip-flop coincides with a massive propaganda campaign on behalf of the suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay…


Weeks ago Mike Huckabee courageously bucked the “international community” by opposing the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty and calling for the impeachment of federal judges who use foreign law in making decisions. Now he’s in favor of closing the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay because “the rest of the world” is demanding it. What’s more, the Washington Post reports that, after meeting with a delegation from a liberal “human rights” group, Huckabee has decided to join the erratic Senator John McCain in opposing the use of the effective technique known as waterboarding in getting life-saving information out of terrorists.


Huckabee’s flip-flop coincides with a massive propaganda campaign on behalf of the suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay. The George Soros-funded Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is running an ad on CNN and MSNBC featuring actor Danny Glover asserting that the Bush administration is “destroying the Constitution” by the use of renditions and “torture” against terrorists. The ad, which shows the Constitution being shredded, was rejected by Fox News.


As a result, the CCR is now calling on its supporters to “take action” and “stop Fox News censorship.” In fact, Fox News had every right to reject this irresponsible and grossly misleading political commercial.


The occasion of the ad is the Supreme Court’s hearing of a case, Boumediene vs. Bush, involving a Muslim named Lakhdar Boumediene currently being detained at the Guantanamo facility. The CCR finds Gitmo to be a terrible place. But talk-show host Rush Limbaugh jokingly calls it “Club Gitmo” since the detainees are enjoying hotel living conditions. Most of the inmates are putting on weight because of the good food and one has almost doubled in size. Back in June, Huckabee himself was saying that detainees at Gitmo enjoyed better conditions than prison inmates in the U.S. and that the facility ought to be maintained.


The CCR has some rather strange ideas about how suspected terrorists should be treated. It has been critical of the practice of “forced grooming,” or the shaving of the beard or hair. It has complained that interrogators at Gitmo allegedly threatened to “apply lipstick to him [Boumediene] to make him look like a woman.” The CCR considers all of this to be “degrading” treatment.


CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren seized on the Fox News statement, which rejected the ad because it doesn’t prove Glover’s point that the Bush Administration is actually destroying the Constitution. “Fox’s literal interpretation of the ad is utterly ridiculous,” Warren said. “To believe we are insinuating that President Bush has destroyed one of our most treasured historical documents is foolish and emblematic of the political bias of Murdoch’s media empire. Surely there are other advertisements that Fox airs that use metaphors to express their message—political or not.”


Whether Fox objected to the word “destroying” being taken in a literal sense or not, the ad is still false. It is false in the sense of asserting, without evidence, that the Bush Administration engages in torture and that the practice of rendering terrorists somehow violates the Constitution.


The word “torture,” as groups like CCR bandy about the term, doesn’t mean what most people think it means. It has become a politically loaded term that left-wingers associate with anything that makes an accused terrorist feel uncomfortable. One of the most objectionable procedures is said to be pouring water over the face of a suspected terrorist. It is a matter of opinion whether this practice, known as waterboarding, is torture or not. Calling it torture doesn’t make it so.


Waterboarding doesn’t leave any lasting physical or psychological damage, which is usually the mark of torture. And its use cannot necessarily be considered a violation of the Constitution, U.S. laws or U.N. treaties. It has reportedly been successful in forcing confessions of terrorist plots.


Huckabee came out against waterboarding after he met with a delegation of retired generals representing the left-wing group calling itself Human Rights First. Huckabee was the only Republican presidential candidate to meet with the group, which seems to put the “rights” of terrorists above the rights of the American people.


Perhaps Huckabee’s next move will be to denounce Fox News for refusing to run the Danny Glover ad.


“Our ad is about reminding Americans of their Constitutional rights that have been chipped away by the Bush administration,” claims CCR Executive Director Warren. He said the Fox News rejection of the ad is “another example of how Americans are shielded from the truth about Guantanamo and the implications of the war on terror.”


This claim is false as well. One of the central issues in the case is whether the inmates at Gitmo are entitled to constitutional rights that Americans enjoy. The Bush Administration opposes that view and has designated them as noncitizen enemy combatants.


Jack Goldsmith’s important book, The Terror Presidency, describes how the Bush Administration came to difficult decisions involving presidential power and national security. Goldsmith, who served in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Justice Department, found fault with some of the decisions but makes it plain that one of the overriding concerns was to save American lives after 9/11.


On the matter of renditions, which have become controversial under Bush, Goldsmith notes that the OLC in the Clinton Justice Department “signed off on the CIA’s original rendition program of snatching people from one country and taking them to another for questioning, trial, and punishment.”


It is interesting to see how various law firms and domestic and foreign special interest groups have come down in the case.


Boumediene’s attorney, Seth Waxman, is a former U.S. solicitor general in the Clinton administration. His side is supported by briefs introduced by the ACLU, the American Bar Association, Amnesty International, the Cato Institute, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Republican Senator Arlen Specter, and parliamentarians from Canada, Britain and Europe. Several of these briefs insist that the administration’s detention program is a violation of international law.


Opposing Boumediene and siding with the Bush Administration are briefs submitted by the American Center for Law and Justice, the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, the Washington Legal Foundation, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. All of these legal documents can be found at the website of WilmerHale, the firm representing Boumediene.


In total, there are 23 amicus briefs in support of Boumediene and only 4 in support of the position of the Bush Administration.


The fate of Boumediene, who is demanding to be set free, is now bound up with the survival of Mike Huckabee as a viable presidential candidate.


On June 10, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN, Huckabee said that Guantanamo “was not a perfect solution” and that “The perfect solution is to get people to quit being terrorists. If we’re going to make a mistake right now, let’s make it on the side of protecting the American people.”


Now he’s been captured on tape saying it’s not in America’s interests to maintain it.


But wait: Huckabee has released a new statement on the controversy, saying, “As President, my overriding concern in dealing with the suspected terrorists will always be our national security interests. As I stated in June, my first priority will be the protection of the American people and ensuring that all suspected terrorists remain in our custody.”


In the same statement, however, he also declares, “My concern is that the facility has become a distraction from our Global War on Terror. Other facilities, like Fort Leavenworth, can serve the same purpose without the controversy.”


He adds, “As for specific procedures concerning detainee adjudication, like all Americans, I await the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Boumediene case, which will determine if detainees have habeas corpus rights.”


So his flip-flop has given way to waffling. One might think with the U.N. and foreign interests coming down on the side of the suspected terrorist, Mike Huckabee would come down on the other side. Instead, he will just wait and see. It’s hardly a profile in courage. 


Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org


More columns by Cliff Kincaid


By Cliff Kincaid on Dec 09, 07
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