Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.


- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, July 23, 2007

Unlikely Guantanamo whistleblower

Anyone can have a conscience. And these days, people of conscience are coming forward in unprecedented numbers.

According to today's article in the New York Times, Colonel Abraham is one of the strongest voices against the Pentagon's process for determining the guilt or innocence of detainees at the Guantánamo prison in Cuba:

In June, Colonel Abraham became the first military insider to criticize publicly the Guantánamo hearings, which determine whether detainees should be held indefinitely as enemy combatants. Just days after detainees’ lawyers submitted an affidavit containing his criticisms, the United States Supreme Court reversed itself and agreed to hear an appeal arguing that the hearings are unjust and that detainees have a right to contest their detentions in federal court.

Some lawyers say Colonel Abraham’s account — of a hearing procedure that he described as deeply flawed and largely a tool for commanders to rubber-stamp decisions they had already made — may have played an important role in the justices’ highly unusual reversal. That decision once again brought the administration face to face with the vexing legal, political and diplomatic questions about the fate of Guantánamo and the roughly 360 men still held there.


Former Nixon supporter and long time conservative Colonel Stephen E. Abraham came forward in June and expressed deep misgivings about the Guantánamo hearings, and questioned whether justice was being served.

The Pentagon is denying his charges and trying to minimize his role in the process by calling him a 'database manager,' but the fact remains that his voice and experience are quite credible, and his accusations profound:

“What disturbed me most was the willingness to use very small fragments of information,” he said, recounting how, over his six-month tour, he grew increasingly uneasy at what he saw. In the interviews, he often spoke coolly, with the detachment of a lawyer, but as time wore on grew agitated as he described his experiences.

Often, he said, intelligence reports relied only on accusations that a detainee had been found in a suspect area or was associated with a suspect organization. Some, he said, described detainees as jihadist without detail.


Apparently his words are making a difference. If he had not spoken out, the fate of these mysterious detainees - of which we know little or nothing, and whose guilt has never been proven in a court of law - would no doubt be languishing there still.

But after Abraham's testimony in June, the Supreme Court actually reversed itself and agreed to hear an appeal by the detainee's lawyers.

“Nobody stood up and said the emperor’s wearing no clothes,” Colonel Abraham said in an interview. “The prevailing attitude was, ‘If they’re in Guantánamo, they’re there for a reason.’ ”


Actually quite a few of us have noticed the emperor's very obvious lack of clothing. But it's nice to hear it from a former Nixon man.

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