Tuesday, January 04, 2005
( 4:48 PM )
Enter the World of the Absurd...
I caught this exchange at the White House Press Briefing today and thought I was floating away on a cloud of Orwellian abusurdity. But then I remembered this is American Reality now:
Q Are we going to set up a prison for permanent detainees for whom we have no evidence to even charge or try?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, let me back up and talk about the situation that we're in. We are fighting a different kind of war, as you have heard us talk about. The enemy is unlike any we have ever seen before. They have no regard for the rule of law; they have no regard for innocent civilians.
Q But we have a regard for law.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me walk back through this. We do. The President has -- his most solemn obligation is the safety and security of the American people. The war on terrorism is a war that continues. The people you are talking about are unlawful enemy combatants who were picked up on the battlefield, and we have a responsibility to --
Q Why are they unlawful if they were defending their own country?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. We have a responsibility to protect the American people, and that includes preventing enemy combatants from returning to the battlefield or rejoining the fight once they have been captured. We also expect those detainees to be treated humanely and in accordance with our laws. So this is a new situation that we've been working to address. And maintaining security and making sure detainees continue to be treated humanely are priorities that the Pentagon continues to work to address.
Q But we are going to keep them permanently?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- the reasons they're being detained are valid reasons.
Q Scott, could you explain what is humane about detaining somebody who's not been charged with anything for the rest of their life? What is humane about that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I never said that that was the case. I said that we are at war on terrorism. And the war on terrorism continues. And as that war continues, we continue to go after those who seek to do harm to the American people. We continue to pick people up off the battlefield in the war on terrorism. These are people that have no regard for the rule of law. They have no regard for innocent civilians. They have no regard for the values we hold so dearly in the United States . We are a nation of laws and values, and we adhere to our laws and values. [...]
Q So if you're a nation of laws and values, and yet the war on terrorism is a different kind of war, does it mean then that our law is not necessarily applicable within the war on terrorism? That's what I'm hearing.
MR. McCLELLAN: I just -- and we've said repeatedly that we expect detainees to be treated humanely and in accordance with our laws, and that remains our policy and that remains the position of the United States government. And that's what we expect to be followed by these organizations.
So, in other words, we're a nation of laws and values that we adhere to, except when it comes to anything we might actually do within the context of a "war on terrorism", and we will treat detainees humanely, and imprisoning them for life with no charges doesn't count as inhumane. Did I get that right?