June 28th, 2009


Kicking the Nuclear Habit

This article does an excellent job of explaining the drawbacks of nuclear weapons, their general uselessness, and why they should be abolished.

Lawrence S. Wittner | Kicking the Nuclear Habit
Lawrence S. Wittner, Truthout: "With President Barack Obama and other world leaders now talking about building a nuclear-free world, it is time to consider whether that would be a good idea. Six reasons for supporting nuclear abolition are particularly cogent."

It does not, however, tackle the issue of nuclear power plants and the importance of also closing those if we're really going to break this bad habit. Nor does it bring up the problems that nuclear science is already causing, such as the massive amounts of extremely dangerous waste that we don't know how to unmake or to store safely for the thousands of years it will remain deadly. We just have stopgap measures. And some of the waste winds up in things like depleted uranium bullets, which when fired produce uranium powder that gets into the environment and sends birth defect rates skyrocketing. If you think that only affects people in countries we don't care about, check the heatlh problems experienced by U.S. soldiers and their families. Gruesome stuff.

Detainee Ups and Downs

Today this article crossed my desk, somewhat contradicting an earlier one:

White House denies indefinite detention order
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House dismissed reports that it has drafted an executive order allowing indefinite detention in the United States of some of the top terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.</p>

An administration official told AFP that no such draft order existed, though internal deliberations were taking place on how to deal with those inmates who could not be released or tried in civilian courts.

It is somewhat encouraging that the White House has not actually ordered indefinite detention. However, this conclusion to the article worries me:

But the other half of the remaining detainees, the Post noted, "present the greatest difficulty" because they cannot be prosecuted in either a federal court or a military trial.

Evidence against these detainees is either classified, was provided by foreign intelligence services or was obtained through harsh interrogation techniques approved by former president George W. Bush.

Several officials involved in the Justice Department's reviews told the newspaper they had agreed with the Bush administration's conclusion that up to 90 detainees can be neither charged nor released.

Regardless of what the accused have done or are alleged to have done: it is unacceptable to imprison persons indefinitely without charge or conviction. If a crime has been committed, charges must be laid and either proven or disproven in a court of law, and the accused sentenced or released accordingly. The practice of indefinite detention allows governments to lock away persons they find inconvenient without any obligation to prove that those persons have broken any law. History demonstrates the destructive and oppressive results of such policies. Civilized nations follow legal practices which ensure that nobody is imprisoned without charges, that accused persons have a right to a fair trial, and that specific sentences are handed down for crimes proven.