Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Comments on the Swift Update

Reddog kicks things off:

In CMDR Swift, a fighter for truth and justice has been created. More will be motivated to fight because of his treatment.

It is inexcusable that a career in the military is no longer about service to the nation but service to political expediency. Politics should play no part in the military estblishment. CMDR Swift was not making a political statement by doing the job assigned him. To fight against tyranny is also not political, but an act to preserve and protect the society in which we live.

Chap responds:


"In CMDR Smith, a fighter for Truth and Justice has been created...."
Ack. Come on. The man's a JAG who did a high profile case while on shore duty, not Superman.

Figures the NYT would screw this up this badly. And I've apparently wasted my time on addressing this; I've taken hours to clearly and specifically delineate how the promotion process works. Your commenter has presented nothing to show he has any idea what the man did before this, and most importantly how the man compares to the rest of the JAGs up for promotion. As far as I can tell he just knows one data point and doesn't even know what the scales are.

And he presumes to tell me what a military career is about from that, and tell me what to think.

Gravatar Hamdan v. Rummy is hardly any high-profile case. Andrew McCarthy of the esteemed National Review said it was "the most important case of the Court's term." Michelle Malkin said it was the "most important case on the War on Terror." For once, she and I were in agreement.

When Swift was handed the booger, W's numbers and the popularity of the War on Terra were near their zenith while the job of defending people who were portrayed (correctly or not) as wanting to blow up more Americans was described as being as unpatriotic as one could get as Matthews encapsulated perfectly:

MATTHEWS: What about the charge made recently, just a couple minutes ago by Kate O‘Beirne of the “National Review,” that people who fight us who are not in uniform, who do not represent countries who are party to the Geneva Convention shouldn‘t be free riders? They shouldn‘t get Geneva Convention treatment. They should be treated like thugs.
Swift pulled Defend the Thug duty and did it beautifully, period.

And I'm not sure what the Times "screwed up". You wanted them to write that there were, quite possibly, reasons that weren't political, or issues of comparative competence, or unknown issues such as less-than-stellar fitness reports that may have thwarted Swift's promotion.

Fair enough, maybe they should have included that but those musings don't comport with what we *do* see and what we *do* know -- that the guy took a shit job, one that he and everyone else knew would win him no friends in the Navy and in the broader body politic outside us carriers of ACLU cards, and he kicked serious ass.

Every right-wing pundit railed against the Hamdan case, basically positing that scum like Hamdan shouldn't never be given standing in an American court much less be provided zealous counsel and a victory.

But forget the pundits, it's about Rummy/W/Cheney and their running rough-shod over the UCMJ, the Geneva Conventions, and the US Constitution. It's been their position since the first prisoners were taken in Afghanistan that these guys have no rights, not even the rights accorded POWs. It's ok to torture them and then use those confessions to convict. That was the philosophy that gave a whipped-up electorate a collective erection: "Hell, yeah, waterboard their towelhead asses!"

"But what if they're not guilty, what if they were accidently scooped up, what if one of their personal enemies pointed a finger just to get a reward?"

"They're ALL guilty man -- they don't need no stinkin' trial."

That's the philosophy that Swift opposed and the Supreme Court of the US agreed with him 5-3.

Now, given the INCREDIBLE political investment that the Bushies put into their moral righteousness in running Gitmo the way they did and creating the military tribunals the way they did it, it is reasonable to expect that they were, say, less-than-thrilled with the Hamdan decision. Their surrogates, both in government and in the chattering class described the Hamdan decision as a severe blow to Western Civilization. And more importantly, to Messrs Bush and Rumsfeld, the decision made them de facto war criminals.

And we are asked to believe that those gentlemen or more likely, the fear that those gentlemen inspire *had nothing* to do with the pass-over?

You're asking too much.

You made a great case (as usual) that another reasonable explanation does indeed exist for the pass-over. But no matter how high you stack the data and how eloquently you present it, you can't negate the more-than-just-barely-possible case that Swift was torpedoed by his own success in an environment that expressly didn't want to see him succeed. And that's all the Times piece is saying: " is no denying the chilling message it sends to remaining military lawyers about the potential consequences of taking their job, and justice, seriously."

Consider the case of John Adams who had a similarly odious assignment of defending the British Redcoats charged with homicide in the famed Boston Massacre. Adams succeeded in getting the soldiers acquitted or merely branded on the thumb, winning him no friends. Adams said of the affair:

"The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right."
obloquy OB-luh-kwee, noun:
1. Strongly condemnatory or abusive language or utterance.
2. The condition of disgrace suffered as a result of public blame, abuse, or condemnation; ill repute.
Adams bounced back ok, once cooler heads than the one of his cousin Sam prevailed.

UPDATE: Chap took the ball over to his sandlot if you care to follow....