Michael Mukasey urged Congress to give him a spanking new ass-cover:
Congress should explicitly declare a state of armed conflict with al Qaeda to make clear the United States can detain suspected members as long as the war on terrorism lasts, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said on Monday.
Mukasey urged Congress to make the declaration in a package of legislative proposals to establish a legal process for terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo, in response to a Supreme Court ruling last month that detainees had a constitutional right to challenge their detention.
“Any legislation should acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us,” Mukasey said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.
“Congress should reaffirm that for the duration of the conflict the United States may detain as enemy combatants those who have engaged in hostilities or purposefully supported al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations,” he said.
Meaning, of course, that up until now detentions have not been legal, so it’s bypass the Supreme Court time again. No news in that. What struck me, though, was the dead dictator upon whom this administration is patterning itself. W’s love for the “Pinochet Model” of mass privatization is well known, but it is not Agosto Pinochet whom Mukasey’s wishes evoke. No, it would be the grandaddy of cold war South American thugs,
Paraguay’s own Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled for 35 years starting with a coup in 1954. Now Paraguay had an exemplary constitution, but there was a clause that enabled the president, in times of grave national emergency, to declare a “state of siege.” To avoid abusing this special authority, if the president wished to renew the state of siege, an extension had to be approved by the legislature three months after the state of siege was declared. Stroessner was big into extensions. As his Washington Post obituary put it:
The general brought early stability and foreign investment to the Paraguayan economy. With time, he shrugged off his less savory policies as “the cost of peace” and kept his country in what he called a constant “state of siege” that overruled his democratic constitution.
There were commies in them thar hills, ya see, so for more than 30 years, exceptions had to be made. Just as Mukasey wants it now. Because there are terrorists here, there, and everywhere. As long as somebody’s mad at us. Or forever. Whichever ends sooner. The comparisons to the reign of W continue throughout Stroessner’s obituary.
“El Excelentisimo,” as he sometimes trumpeted himself, was elected every five years with near-universal approval that he took for a clear mandate. However, voting fraud was rife, and he tended to receive overwhelming support from dead constituents.
Except in Paraguay, dead constituents make voter caging, bogus and/or broken machines, etc. etc. unnecessary.
Dealing with unlawful combatants/communist threats:
With a network of informants and the backing of the military, he tortured dissidents, both real and perceived.
A Paraguyan senator, Carlos Levi Rufinelli, a member of the token opposition party, told the New York Times in 1975: “I was a prisoner 19 times, and I was tortured six times. Most of the time, I did not know what they wanted. They did not even know what they wanted. But when they put the needles under your fingernails, you tell them anything, you denounce everybody, and then they say, ‘See, you were lying to us all the time.’ “
And of course, crony capitalism:
All the while, the country became astoundingly corrupt. Payoffs were essential to all commerce, with much of the swag going to top military officers. Paraguay became a sanctuary for smugglers in arms, drugs and everyday goods such as whiskey and car parts.
Good thing about term limits. It probably takes more than eight years for a dictator to really get his act going. Stroessner’s regime was able to accomplish more than Bush, Mukasey, et. al. could ever wish. Google Joelito Filartiga.