A Banana Republic

Dahlia Lithwick tackles the latest, astonishing claim by the Bush administration on military detainees:

The only thing more terrifying than convictions based on secret evidence is the possibility that when it comes time to fight those convictions, the secret evidence might just disappear.

Yes, it's true:

In a petition filed last Friday in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the DoJ argues that it cannot possibly comply with the federal appeals court's order of last July to turn over this evidence. Reasoning: 1) Disclosure could "seriously disrupt the Nation's intelligence-gathering programs" and cause "exceptionally grave damage to national security." No surprise there. But it also argues that 2) the information used against the detainees at the CSRTs "is not readily available, nor can it be reasonably recompiled."

You will recall that the critical DVD that threatened to verify Jose Padilla's accusations of torture in US custody ... also was mysteriously "lost" by the government when it finally came to trial:

The missing DVD dates from March 2, 2004. It contains a video of the last interrogation session of Padilla, then a declared 'enemy combatant' under an order from President Bush, while he was being held in military custody at a U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. But in recent days, in the course of an unusual court hearing about Padilla's mental condition, a government lawyer disclosed to a surprised courtroom that the Defense Intelligence Agency which had custody of the evidence was no longer able to locate the DVD. As a result, it was not included in a packet of classified DVDs that was recently turned over to defense lawyers under orders from Judge Cooke.

Yes, this is America.