Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
The Obama administration has gone over to the dark side with stretching the “terrorist” category, going far further that Bush or Cheney would ever had dreamed. They have now compared an uprising in 1818 by the Seminole tribes in Florida to Al Qaeda to justify prosecutions of detainees at Guantanamo
Bitter analogy in war crime case: Indians, al Qaeda
By Carol Rosenberg
Seminoles in 1818 similar to al Qaeda in 2001? Some Pentagon prosecutors appeared to make this analogy to support a Guantánamo war crimes conviction, then clarified in a war court filing.
Pentagon prosecutors touched off a protest – and issued an apology this week – for likening the Seminole Indians in Spanish Florida to al Qaeda in documents defending Guantánamo’s military commissions.
Citing precedents, prosecutors reached back into the Indian Wars in arguments at an appeals panel in Washington D.C. Specifically, they invoked an 1818 military commission convened by Gen. Andrew Jackson after U.S. forces invaded then-Spanish Florida to stop black slaves from fleeing through a porous border – then executed two British men for helping the Seminole Indians.
Navy Capt. Edward S. White also wrote this in a prosecution brief:
“Not only was the Seminole belligerency unlawful, but, much like modern-day al Qaeda, the very way in which the Seminoles waged war against U.S. targets itself violate the customs and usages of war.”
A native American advocacy group complained to the military court. Defense lawyers for two Yemenis convicted of war crimes at Guantánamo countered that the behavior of Jackson, the future U.S. president now on the $20 bill, was no shining example of American military justice.
A politically ambitious Jackson, defense lawyers wrote, waged “an illegal war” that set fire to entire Indian villages “in a campaign of extermination.”
In the legal precedent, U.S. troops convicted two British traders, Alexander Arbuthnot and Robert Ambrister, for helping the Seminoles and escaped slaves and sentenced them to a whipping. Jackson, a slave owner, declared the punishment too soft. He had them executed.
Florida historians are familiar with the episode.
“Arbuthnot was hanged from the yard arm of his own ship,” said University of Florida history professor Jack Davis. “Ambrister was killed by firing squad.”
At issue in the Court of Military Commissions Review is whether a newly minted post 9/11 war court crime – providing material support for terror – is legitimate for prosecution at a war crimes tribunal.
Marcy Wheeler at FDL comments that “our government is siding with slavery, genocide of Native Americans, and Andrew Jackson’s illegal belligerency, it is citing our own country’s illegal behavior-to find some support for the claim that material support is a military crime.”
Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson sent a letter of apology to the Seminole tribe but didn’t back away from the analogy.
But Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson made clear in the single-page letter that the U.S. government was standing by its precedent from Gen. Andrew Jackson’s Indian Wars in its bid to uphold the life-time conviction of Osama bin Laden’s media secretary at Guantánamo’s Camp Justice.
Johnson delivered a speech at the Pentagon in commemoration of Martin Luther King day that twisted Dr. King’s antiwar philosophy into support for the Afghan and Iraq wars.
What Marcy said:
And so it is that our government clings desperately to one of the darkest chapters of our history to legitimize its current actions. Rather than reflect on what that means-how damning it is that we can point only to Andrew Jackson’s illegal treatment of Native Americans to justify our current conduct-the government says simply, “a precedent is a precedent!”
Obama’s boys have now thrown Native Americans under the bus. Welcome, my friends, you have lots of company.