By Wes Walker
Remember when Joe Biden, ever the jokester, promised to serve as the president of all Americans, adding with a wink and a grin “and not just Republicans”?
For those who have forgotten, here is left-wing blog Slate lamenting that Biden was being too gracious to the Right and protesting that he wasn’t running as a hard leftist.
The central theme of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has been that he is uniquely capable of uniting our politically polarized country around some semblance of common values. But in recent months, he’s leaned heavily on one specific variation of that message, telling voters: “I’ll be a president for all Americans. Not just the ones who vote for me.” He’s repeated the line, or versions of it, on social media, during town halls, and in his addresses. He included a riff on it in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, during which he said it was a president’s job “to represent all of us, not just our base or our party.” In his speech last week commemorating the anniversary of Gettysburg, he said: “I am running as a proud Democrat. But I will govern as an American president.”
… But we shouldn’t overlook the fact that when Biden says he will be a “president for all Americans,” he is in effect also making a very specific public policy promise. Namely, voters won’t have to worry about being punished just because their state didn’t happen to vote for him.
Slate had nothing to worry about. Biden has been more than happy to serve as the vindictive hard-left authoritarian their shriveled little hearts so desperately craved.
For one thing, his policies were never going to be the moderate, inoffensive policies that they were afraid he would take up. On his first day in office, he signed several executive orders that would be absolutely devastating to several red states because they advanced an aggressively leftist agenda.
Adopting an absolute reversal of Trump’s America First priorities, he has taken an America Last approach in which even tepid expressions of pro-American sentiment are treated as suspect.
Biden’s administration is taking early steps toward making good on Obama’s promise of shutting down Gitmo. According to Roll Call:
“The Administration is dedicated to following a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population of the Guantanamo facility while also safeguarding the security of the United States and its allies,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
After the Pentagon and State Department made their announcement, a senior administration official told reporters the administration was committed to “ultimately closing” the Guantanamo facility.
The official didn’t get into specifics when asked whether Monday’s announcement represented the beginning of a broader acceleration, with 39 detainees remaining at the military prison camp that was established to hold detainees captured on the battlefield after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
But has Biden, who so enjoys throwing around the “2.0” tag on ideas he dislikes turned a blind eye to another kind of prison of war camp — one that routinely violates the rights of Americans whose innocence must legally be presumed until a court of law convicts them?
Is there a “Gitmo 2.0” on the outskirts of D.C. itself?
The answer is an unequivocal yes according to attorneys representing those accused of staging an insurrection on Jan. 6. The lawyers submit that untried and unconvicted Americans are indeed suffering torture, including Joseph McBride, the legal counsel for Paul Hodgkins, best remembered as the man whose feet were on Pelosi’s desk in that now-famous photo.
CNN host John Avlon was working very hard in his interview with McBride to push his favorite “insurrectionist” narrative, despite no charges of insurrection having yet been filed, and he was obviously more concerned about someone paying a price for events he has a strong emotional response to than he was in the mistreatment of citizens who have not yet been convicted of a crime.
Reactions like Avlon’s are a strong reminder why we need a robust and unbiased legal system to protect citizens from the dangerous “make him pay” emotional response that motivated lynchings and other violent attacks by lawless rioters in bygone days — or even last summer.
But McBride wasn’t letting Avalon get off so easily. He hit him with facts. He claimed that American citizens who have been convicted of no crime were being tortured just five miles from D.C. At minimum, we know that many of the accused from Jan. 6 have been kept in solitary confinement. They have been in solitary for months.
Does that qualify as “torture”? Judge for yourself. From a 2012 NewScientist story:
John McCain, probably America’s most famous victim of solitary confinement, described his two years alone in a North Vietnamese cell thus: “It’s an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.”
This month, the first-ever US congressional hearing on solitary confinement considered whether the use of this technique in US prisons constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and is therefore in breach of the Eighth Amendment, as human rights advocates have long maintained.
… [R]esearch on the effects of social isolation stretches back several decades. Recent reviews of the literature highlight a daunting range of harmful psychological consequences in prisoners held in isolation for more than 10 days. They include panic attacks, anxiety, loss of control, excessive anger, paranoia, hallucinations, depression, insomnia, self-mutilation and psychosis (Crime and Justice, vol 34, p 441 and Criminal Justice and Behavior, vol 33, p 760).
From the interview:
“Look, let’s leave Nazis out of this conversation,” McBride protested.
“You brought them into it,” Avlon pointed out.
“Fair enough,” McBride conceded, adding, “Like the Nazis, and the Soviets, innocent men and women are being held in D.C. Guantanamo Bay, pretrial, absent any finding of fact. They’re being held for hundreds of days in solitary confinement, they’re being beaten, starved, denied medical care, denied the right to worship, they’re being cut off from their attorneys —”
…“People are being tortured. Tortured! Are you OK with people being tortured five miles from the White House?” he asked.
“You’re saying people are being tortured by the White House?” Avlon asked. “I just want to be clear because that’s an extraordinary statement that would seem to be utterly un-based in fact.”
Could it be that CNN staffers are only able to see what they want to see?
Do skull fractures and detached retinas count as “torture”? Or is the following news story from back in April a “fact” according to CNN?
During a court appearance via Zoom on Tuesday, an inmate named Ronald Sandlin told U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich that guards at the Correctional Treatment Facility in Washington, D.C., were allegedly subjecting those held in connection to the Jan. 6 attack to violence, threats and verbal harassment. Sandlin described an attack that allegedly happened last month to another defendant charged in the Jan. 6 event, Ryan Samsel, while held at the facility operated by the D.C. Department of Corrections.
He told the judge that Samsel, “was severely beaten by correctional officers, [is now] blind in one eye, has a skull fracture and detached retina,” Politico reported. Richard Barnett, also charged in connection to the riot, was tackled “to the ground” by guards, Sandlin said.
… The lawyer said his client has since suffered seizures for the first time in his life. The attack allegedly left him with a broken nose, dislocated jaw and damaged vision in one eye.
… ”I have seen Ryan. He has two black eyes to this day, two weeks later. All the skin is ripped off both wrists, which shows the zip ties and how tight they were,” Metcalf said in a separate interview with Politico. “Other inmates said his face looked like a tomato that was stomped on.”
Biden likes to blame things on systemic racism. In this one instance, he could be on to something.
Sandlin, meanwhile, says there is racial tension between the jail guards and the mostly white suspects being held at the prison.
He told the judge that one guard announced, “I hate all white people and your honky religion.”
If Gitmo Joe really was intent on being the president of “all Americans,” he (and his running mate) would apply the law equally to all people regardless of party affiliation. But the difference in how his team is handling Jan. 6 as compared to an entire summer of riots, murder, and civil unrest (for which they actively helped raise bail) is telling.
Cross-posted at ClashDaily