micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

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Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Friday, June 27, 2003
The impact of a war that isn't always on

On June 17 the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that U.S. Justice Department does not have to reveal the names of foreign nationals who were detained as part of anti-terrorist investigations after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks because doing so might, as the Justice Department argued, risk "national security." (Thanks to Jim Henley for the link.)

Two days later U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that Iyman Faris, a/k/a Mohammad Rauf "had pleaded guilty to providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and conspiracy for providing the terrorist organization with information about possible U.S. targets for attack." In an official statement issued that day on the plea, the Justice Department describes Faris as "a senior operational leader in al Qaeda" and says Faris has admitted to meeting Osama bin Laden and giving assistance to al Qaeda for the purpose of potential terrorist acts. Faris is reportedly a U.S. citizen.

On Monday the Justice Department changed the status of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al Marri, a citizen of Qatar, from that of a person facing criminal charges to that of "enemy combatant" because he is alleged to be tied with al Qaeda.

"The FBI Friday issued a 41-count indictment against 11 men charged with conspiracy to train for and participate in a violent jihad overseas," CNN reported today. " Nine of the defendants, who are ages 23 to 35, are U.S. citizens, and the others are a Yemeni and a non-resident alien from Pakistan, said Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia." Actually it was a grand jury that issued the indictment.)

These cases are representative of an inconsistency in how the U.S. is waging the "war on terror." Although the U.S. has been, for all intents and purposes, at war since September 11, 2001, the U.S., by which I mean the Bush Administration, has been unwilling to apply the "enemy combatant" status, under which a person would have to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention and can not be tried criminally, to all who are captured in the "war on terror." After all, what is a person like Faris who has met with Osama and plotted terrorist actions against the U.S. if not the "enemy" in the "war on terror"?

So far in the "war on terror" we have seen that U.S. citizen captured in a foreign country can be treated as an alleged criminal or an "enemy combatant." If captured in the U.S., a U.S. citizen can also be tried as an alleged criminal or an "enemy combatant." The same is true of foreign nationals captured in the U.S.; they can be treated a alleged criminal or an "enemy combatant." Foreign nationals captured outside the U.S. have so far been treated as "enemy combatants" but Ashcroft indicated that this could change in his June 5 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary that followed his prepared statement.

Unfortunately Ashcroft's full testimony does not appear to be available online but, according to my memory of watching the hearing the following day on C-Span, Ashcroft said that the reason for this discrepancy in the use of criminal trials and "enemy combatant" status was that some allied countries were not willing to release alleged terrorists to the U.S. if these individuals were not guaranteed due process. This is laughable as an explanation since it does nothing to explain why al Qaeda members captured in the U.S. have received each treatment but it does get at an important point; rather than being a statement of fact, the status of "enemy combatant" has become a political tool for the Bush Administration. Figuring out why which status was used in each and every case is likely an impossible task, but it remains possible to see how the ability of the Bush Administration to vacillate on this matter benefits Team Bush.

Few words have greater sting in the U.S. than "criminal." A regular feature of the "war on terror" has been the Bush Administration's desire to label the enemies in the "war on terror" as being "criminal." By trying some of enemies in the "war on terror" in criminal courts, the Bush Administration is able to further this claim and, both implicitly and explicitly, label the "terrorists" -whoever they are deemed to be at the moment- as evil. But by having the option of not going to criminal trial, the Bush Administration is able to only pursue criminal cases it believes it can win and thus avoid the potential embarrassment of losing a case. (It arguably would do quite a bit to discredit the "war on terror" if a group a U.S. citizens said it wasn't convinced "beyond a reasonable doubt" that those deemed as "terrorists" are in fact deserving of that label.) Even if a concern about secrets getting out and harming national security are valid, and they very well may be, this political consideration should not be discounted.

Ultimately this matter reflects an incongruity in the larger "war on terror," which has been conceived so broadly that it could go forever but where, besides al Qaeda, which has clearly been shown to be unsatisfactory to the Bush Administration as the sole enemy, there is no clear opponent and any potential opponent has to be built up before they can be taken down. To ignore the "war" part is to give up the ghost. To play the "war" card too heavily is make the imperial ambitions all too known.