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September 06, 2006

Comments

Ah, I was trying to figure out what to say about this, but hadn't been able to, so I'm glad you got to it.

I suspect that it has to do with the elections, and wanting to be able to position themselves as just dying to bring these people to justice, but being prevented by the Supreme Court and civil libertarians, who stubbornly insist on blocking their plans for tribunals.

Like you, I don't think it means the end of the overseas sites. As far as I can tell, they have not transferred new prisoners to Guantanamo for quite a while, preferring to keep them for from any scrutiny at places like Bagram.

I commented about this here.

"I think it may just be that they were finished interrogating this group of people, and they thought the political benefits to bringing them to Guantanamo outweighed the drawbacks. Yes, they may allege that they were tortured, that they were waterboarded, but come on--we basically knew that already. And now the administration can have the debate about military commissions, about amending the war crimes act, about jurisdiction stripping and ask: you want to give rights to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad? How did he treat Daniel Pearl? You want to risk freeing Ramzi bin al Shibh? You want Hambali to be able to sue us in federal court?"

I think it's quite clear and obvious that this is correct. And obviously it's been done precisely so as to affect the debate about the Congressional debate on what bill to pass as regards responding to the previous commissions being struct down, and, of course, even more importantly, the November elections.

It's all completely transparent.

"Posted by hilzoy at 10:20 PM"

My quasi-Asperger's insistently buzzes and is bugged by this, since apparently it's not true. Couldn't please Katherine post under her own name, both at top and bottom, for the sake of my neuroses, which clearly should be the most important priority of everyone who knows me?

It's for the children.

Dahlia Lithwick calls this a request for a do-over.

It's a political event because all of this new law is his way of pushing back at a Congress that won't roll over for him. Even some Republicans are proving oddly unwilling to rubber-stamp the military tribunals he had once crafted for guys at Guantanamo guilty mostly of wearing Casio watches. After today, he'll be able to accuse Congress of dragging its feet on launching a trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed!

And Spencer Ackerman:

Now Congress will face a very unpleasant question: Unless it rejiggers the military tribunals to bless torture/coercion, KSM and other Al Qaeda figures might in fact be set free by the courts. Is Bush so cynical as to force Congress into the odious position of either setting the stage for murderers to walk out of Gitmo or blessing torture? Of course he is!

As I understand it, the Administration can bring any inhabitant of its special hells to trial any time.

What gripes the Admin is that it can't use whatever Secret Chamber tribunal it likes, and it has to follow established rules of evidence (discovery, for one; no evidence obtained under torture, for another), cross-examination, and counsel.

In other words, the only thing stopping the Administration from bringing "accused terrorists" to trial is that it refuses to obey the norms of the American justice system.

In other words, the only thing stopping the Administration from bringing "accused terrorists" to trial is that it refuses to obey the norms of the American justice system.

I was suggesting over at Ackerman's post that "George W. Bush, the man who kept us from being able to convict KSM" would be a good opposition line, if we had, you know, an opposition party.

So is this part of the same attempt to make things look better and put Congress in an awkward situation? I mean, I'm wondering where the unmentioned loopholes are. The big one, I guess, is that rules do no good unless they're enforced (and enforced against the right people) and unless the punishments for violations are serious.

One large loophole does get mentioned at the end of the sixth paragraph:

But while the policies apply to all Defense Department employees and contractors, there are no safeguards in the event a CIA employee takes custody of a detainee and moves him into a separate, nonmilitary, facility.

"...either setting the stage for murderers to walk out of Gitmo or blessing torture?"

My instant answer is that KSM walks. There must must must be consequences for blowing his prosecution and violating the conventions, and setting KSM free is the least difficult and dangerous of the options, if there are any.

Otherwise, the precedents, mulligans, do-overs, exceptions will come back to haunt us, I think as soon as 2007. They want these powers on the books, for they plan to use them again.

"So is this part of the same attempt to make things look better and put Congress in an awkward situation?"

I'd say not particularly, since we've been discussion this revision in the Manual since McCain was arguing over it, and it was a cause celebre a year ago. The precise timing might be related, though.

"So is this part of the same attempt to make things look better and put Congress in an awkward situation?"

I'd say not particularly, since we've been discussing this revision in the Manual since McCain was arguing over it, and it was a cause celebre a year ago. The precise timing might be related, though.

Since this is an open thread: there's a great headline on the BBC website:

"Speeding Swiss driver blames Canada's lack of obstructive goats"

;)

Bob McManus nails it.
The B.S. and bafflegab trying to paint the "Special Procedures" ( I can do euphamisms too ) as anything but a massive cockup will be extreme. Shoot the messenger !

Bob, I confess I'm not sure how a couple things fit together. On the one hand, respect for procedure so strong that you're willing to let this particular bad guy go free. On the other hand, the hot insistence that we can save the world only through the deaths of thousands and millions and the subjugation of millions more, in perpetuity, to appease the right-wing beast. Is it just fame that grants KSM a pass, or the apparent fact that he really is a bad guy (and hence not a provider of innocent blood, for those that like that sort of thing on their altar), or what? If your regard for KSM's fair treatment under the law is just one of those vestiges of old thinking that turns up from time to time while one is assimilating a new worldview, that's cool too, I just can't at all see how it's consistent with the principles you've been telling all the other liberals they need to adopt.

Bruce, It fits together simply.

For years, the administration has stated that Guantanamo contained the worst of the worst, and therefore we should not give them any rights.

Then it turns out that many of the folks in Guantanamo are not the worst of the worst, so a logical person would presume that perhaps due process is a reasonable course.

Then, on the eve of debate in Congress, two months before the national elections, the administration imports the worst of the worst to Guantanamo. (Hmm - I guess they were lying the first time they said it.)
Imports from secret prisions that they denied earlier.

You don't have to be paranoid to see a connection. It's a pattern as well. Remember the transfers of (Hamden? Others) right before a Supreme Court hearing which made the case moot?

"On the other hand, the hot insistence that we can save the world only through the deaths of thousands and millions and the subjugation of millions more, in perpetuity, to appease the right-wing beast."

That is not exactly my plan. If there is a plan that is not a fantasy, and quite frankly I do consider it a fantasy, it would look something like an idealized American foreign/military posture ca 1955-65, with a lot less hardware and a lot more Peace Corps.
My hope would be that 50k draftees twiddling thumbs in Italy would soothe the atavistic beast just enough, make the Carolina Cavalier feel just tough enough, that the killing could be minimized.

In those times and conditions we at least gave lip service to international conventions and consensus.

Look, I can't speak for anyone ese, but I can honestly say there are very very few people overseas I want to kill. Probably less than many on this board. I consider the Cold War an American initiated sham, even a Democrat initiated sham intended by Truman to create a favorable domestic atmosphere and in order to prevent the apocalyptic wingnuts, very similar to our current wingnuts, from genocide.

You may not think they can or would do it, I believe differently.

This is already long and complicated and maybe riddled with internal contradictions and unintended consequences. It didn't work last time, we got Vietnam. I think it could have been much much worse. LeMay during Cuban Missile crisis is instructive. But Vietnam was certainly bad enough to force humility.

And in any case what I think or want is irrelevant. I would jump for joy at withdrawal and demobilization without consequences. I won't stand in your way, if it looks likely.

As far as KSM goes, we have to signal our international citizenship. People have laughed at me for it, but I do believe that Iran has no possible assurances that we will not pre-emptively attack it. Our recent practices have destroyed our credibility. And I really think in those circumstances Iran's best move is to strike first, hard enough to make America wonder if total war would be worth the cost.

Iran is not the USSR, and does not have a deterrent. Like Saddam/Iraq, they understand that America intends regime change, and under existential threat there can be no reassurance.

If the armed bully next door threatens to kill me, shows contempt for the police, and the police can't stop him...I guess I have to sneak by his bedroom window at night. The bully is Bush.

"You don't have to be paranoid to see a connection."

Bruce was asking about the connections between Bob's ideas, not George Bush's.

Some conventional wisdom analysis. And CIA response.

I don't doubt that everything you say is true (and others have said, about why the detainees are being transferred) but Guantanamo Bay is also politically the Administration's most secure prison. If a court decides that KSM has to be released, and he's in Guantanamo Bay, then the administration doesn't have to release him, and won't, and there will be nothing in real terms that the judiciary can do.

Then the Bush administration can get points for saying "Look, those damn activist judges are saying we had to let that mass murderer go, and we didn't!"

Despair is a luxury, Steve Gilliard told Billmon. But I don't know what can be done. I get really scared of what could be done by...the opposition...and how easy it could be to fall into something irrevocable and unbearable. That would be borne.

I agree with Katherine's account. The speech was also interesting, in my opinion, for its varied menu of euphemisms for torture, and its reassurance that this won't stop any time soon.

Thanks Bob (and Bruce for asking). I think that you are a bit too into Machiavelli, but I don't accept the latter day pejorative meaning that has been assigned to him, so I'm not thinking of you as a bad person, Bob. In fact, there have been multiple times where I have longed for a return to realpolitik, even though I used to think it was evil.

I agree with Bob's take on Iran and how they have no guarantee that they aren't going to be attacked, and such an attack would set into motion a scenario like the war games done by Van Riper that we were talking about earlier (here's the Frontline 2004 interview with Van Riper and the interview from the NOVA special about the Millenium Challenge)

Jes, I'm not sure how Gitmo is the most politically secure prison. I think it is just that the Rovian move is to choose the one place where it is possible to make the whole fight as public as possible, so as to tar the Democrats with the notion that they are soft on terrorism. It's a bit like the notion in Asimov's Bicentennial Man, where the law firm that is trying to have the robot granted the rights accorded to humans goes and tries to lose every case it presents. If they had to release the worst of the worst, they would, so they could then say 'look at those damn activist judges, someone ought to do something about them'. (perhaps this is a posting rules violation, so I will stop here)

I'm not sure how Gitmo is the most politically secure prison.

I don't think we're quite disagreeing. Guantanamo Bay is a prison absolutely under the administration's control: the judiciary has no real power there. So, the administration can hold any prisoners they like there, for as long as they like.

The same, in spades, applies to the "black holes", but if a prisoner is transferred to one of those prisons, while they can be held there long-term without any fear of any interferance, it's also impossible for the administration to prove they're still holding that prisoner - and haven't released him covertly, executed him, handed him over to some other government, or he just happened to die under torture (in roughly increasing order of probability).

Thanks, Jes. Yes, it's not a disagreement. What strikes me is that the argument for using these black holes, it was to isolate them so the 'enemy' (whoever the hell it is at the moment) would not be sure of any particulars, thus potentially disrupting any plans they had. (I also thought some of the real nutty types suggested that if these folks were put with other lower level types, a prison break might be engineered or some such horse manure. It had as much validity as the flypaper thesis. I suppose)

Gary's links above are well worth a look and I await the less frothing right types explaining to us lefties that Bush took these steps to take the pressure off of the CIA (re 2nd link) and it has nothing to do with political considerations.

And on the subject of Iran, Clemons has some interesting observations about Khatami

As the White House continues to beat a drum on Iran, leaders on both sides will find ways to dehumanize the other side's key state figures.

This hasn't happened with former Iran President Mohammed Khatami quite yet, but word is out that Senator Rick Santorum and his allies are outraged about the Iranian leader's visit and out trying to serve Khatami with a subpoena regarding war crimes. But what Santorum hasn't figured out is that his party's CEO, President Bush as well as Secretary of State Rice extended Khatami a visa because he is considered to be one of the good guys in Iran -- and a potential ally in the long run.

Jes, I absolutely don't agree that the judiciary is powerless wrt Gitmo. The fact that we haven't started having habeas hearings yet is because of Congress, not the judiciary. Had Congress not tried to save the Administration's bacon last winter with Graham-Levin, judges would already be well into the thing. As it is, we're all on hold waiting for the Circuit to resolve issues related to that legislation -- but in the meantime, a host of minors issues keep coming up, and I'd say we're doing better at getting the rule of law imposed than the government is at preventing all accountability. (Although it's efforts in this direction continue).

The difference between GB and the black prisons is, if not night and day, dusk and a moonless midnight. In Northern Scotland in the depth of winter.

This new bill resolves all disputes in the government's favor, though, and is going to have to be fought.

Nota bene that I guess all that talk of shutting down Gitmo has been, ah, rendered quaint?

gotta admit - it's a pretty slick move politically.

i wonder how long Karl had to sit queitly, rubbing his hands in anticipation of the day he could spring this one...

I will not comment on the political machinations that may or may not be part of this issue. But the legal and moral issues of prisoner treatment can't be argued except from some agreed upon beginning, and it is this set of underlying assumptions that I want to address.

Missing in most of these comment threads is the acknowledgement that the detainees are NOT American citizens. The rights to an attorney, habeus corpus and others are rights possessed by American citizens in America.

There are no such rights in International Law, and in fact Americans in custody in the lands from which many of the Gitmo detainees come are treated much worse.

I'm not arguing that the detainees
should not have some kind of basic human rights and legal protections. Of course they should. But it only confuses the debate to discuss their treatment in terms that actually apply only to U.S. citizens in custody in the U.S.

Very different laws apply to accused foreign criminals held on foreign soil, and to combatants held on American soil. Let's argue rationally and in good faith, based on those realities, that is all I am saying. The overwhelming majority of Gitmo detainees are not Americans and were never on American soil, or if they were, they were not here legally. To argue about their civil - meaning citizens' - rights is meaningless. And in cases where accused terrorists have been U.S. citizens, such as John Walker Lindt, they have been tried in the U.S. under Constitutional due process. And that is as it should be.

AskMom, as you are no doubt about to learn from others more knowledgeable than I, the debate has nothing to do with whether Gitmo prisoners get all the bells and whistles that U.S. citizens are entitled to.

It's whether they get the bedrock protections of Common Article 3, which prohibits any special tribunal (= "kangaroo court") and which guarantees basic civilized procedures, such as being present at your own trial and getting to see or hear all the evidence against you so that you can challenge any of it you believe to be false.

AskMom: Aren't we engaged in an effort, however poorly executed, to 'democratize' the Middle East? If so, why the insistence on keeping the fruits of democracy all to ourselves?

For the lawyers among us: I've been reading through the pdf in Charleycarp's link and not making much headway in determining what stinks about the proposal (other than its author). The definition of "Unlawful Combatant" looked unAmerican. And the Hearsay evidence thing looked fishy. Right about there I realized I am not equipped to make a determination on my own.

If this thing must be fought, then we're going to need a shorthand version of the bill's flaws. Any takers?

Er, I guess I was reading the pdf of the bill in Katherine's link, not CharleyCarp's.

AskMom. where in the Consitution does it say that the inalienable rights listed therein apply only to American citizens?

OT: Mark Leon Goldberg reports that the renomination hearings for UN Ambassador John Bolton appear to have stalled.

Notice, everyone is talking about how tough Bush wants to get with dark heathens, while Bin Laden goes into one of the most expensive Federal Witness Protection Programs in history.

and in fact Americans in custody in the lands from which many of the Gitmo detainees come are treated much worse.

'scuse me while i quote this guy:

    There's an easy question that provides some moral clarity here: If someone else did this to American prisoners, would you consider it torture? If you would, then it's torture when we do it too.

AskMom, I have no idea what you are talking about. The rights of persons in US custody do not depend on the citizenship of the prisoner. Habeas is not and has never been solely restricted to citizens.

How people are treated in Yemen -- whether American or not -- tells us exactly nothing about what the US Constitution means, or what rights are available at common law.

None of the Guantanamo prisoners are US citizens. None are detained in connection with conduct in the United states (sfaik). This says nothing at all about whether the US government can deprive them of liberty without due process, as the Constitution says it cannot deny "any person" of such rights. (Yeah, I'm saying that Eisentrager -- what's left of it after n.15 of the Rasul decision -- is wrongly decided).

while Bin Laden goes into one of the most expensive Federal Witness Protection Programs in history

that we have outsourced to Pakistan, to boot.

liberal japonicus wrote:

that we have outsourced to Pakistan, to boot.

He would have some problems hiding out within the polygamists communities of Northern Nevada.

AskMom, another bedrock problem with the US's treatment of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere is that, even though all were claimed to be combatants, none of them have received the treatment they are entitled to under the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

...Americans in custody in the lands from which many of the Gitmo detainees come are treated much worse.
Others have responded to the rest of your comment, AskMom, but this bit undermines your credibility for whatever other points you want to make.

It should be completely irrelevant how others treat their prisoners. It shows how far we have sunk in the last five years that people regularly defend the behavior of the Bush administration by saying that it's not as bad as Saddam Hussein's Iraq or some other totalitarian state with no regard for human rights. The stain on our nation is going to take a long time to remove, whenever we get started on doing that.


Justice and law are liberal feminine values.

Mental and physical molestation are brave & bold nationalistic values.

And now the administration can have the debate about military commissions, about amending the war crimes act, about jurisdiction stripping and ask: you want to give rights to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad? How did he treat Daniel Pearl?

Do we admire the way he treated Pearl so much that we have to emulate it? Or try to do worse to prove that no one can outdo Americans at anything, including torture?

Huh, so just now there appears a video of OSB with some of the 9/11 hijackers...

a video of OSB with some of the 9/11 hijackers

all signs point to OBL showing up in custody before November. (just as they always do before elections)

all signs point to OBL showing up in custody before November.

And sh!t, its still early September. I predict an unprecedented nationwide red alert in October.

Yeah, Ugh, if I were a conspiracy-minded person -- and I'm not, by nature -- I would question how and why a tape showing Osama Bin Laden conversing with 9/11 planners and hijackers just happens to show up the day after this prisoner transfer announcement by the US.

"all signs point to OBL showing up in custody before November. (just as they always do before elections)"

All signs point to people making this assertion each election year, just as they always do, and have since leading up to 2002.

Some day the stopped clock may be right.

The other clock are all the people who consistently argue, in the face of absolutely no supporting evidence whatever, and much contrary evidence, that bin Laden is dead.

People engage in an awful lot of assertion based on the voices in their head. And they loves them their conspiracy theories, because they explain the world so simply and nicely.

"I predict an unprecedented nationwide red alert in October."

Y'know, I do get pissed off sometimes by the complacent apathy most Americans bring to political matters, and I'm still mystified how 59 million Americans could have brought themselves to give The Idiots In Charge another four years, but surely - surely? - there's a limit to how long the electorate will jump like frogs every time Bush and the GOP say "Look! Terrorists! Be very afraid, and vote for us!"

Other than Bush's Braindead 30-something Percent, to most people a red alert now can only mean one of two things:

1. Bush and the GOP have had 6 years to "make America safe," and they've had unprecedented authority to do so. Clearly, they're not up to the job.

2. When's the last time there was an orange or red alert every other week? Why, I believe that was during the 2004 campaign. What happened afterwards? Why, it went right back down to yellow. Gosh, you don't think going red now has something to do with the upcoming election, do you?

"Gosh, you don't think going red now has something to do with the upcoming election, do you?"

Have you noticed that in the space of a single blog comment you've gone from someone's speculation to asserting a fact that isn't a fact?

It hasn't gone red. You're making that up. (Or being utterly careless in what you wrote, which is more likely.)

Gary- I don't think CaseyL is asserting that we've gone red now, I think he's speculating on what people would think if all of a sudden we went red nationwide (per my speculation/conspiracy theory mongering). His predicate to 1. and 2. could have been a little more carefully worded, but I still read it as speculation on a hypothetical, not asserting that the terror level is red nationwide now. I mean, we haven't all been arrested have we?

"I think he's speculating"

I don't think "he" is. Though CaseyL may have intended to speculate, it's true. :-)

I mean, we haven't all been arrested have we?

That's only because we use sock puppets...

Yes, I am perfectly aware there is at this time no red alert.

Yes, I was speaking in the hypothetical future tense; i.e., I was responding to ugh's comment about foreseeing a red alert in October, just in time for elections.

Yes, I was putting hypothetical thoughts in the heads of hypothetical Americans in that hypothetical future tense, as a way of demonstrating a hypothetical reaction to the hypothetical use of a red alert as a campaign gimmick - which the Bush Admin, not hypothetically at all, has in fact done before.

So I was using actual history, and combining it with hypothetical future events, in response to ugh's comment.

I was not so much making a prediction that Bush and the GOP will absolutely for sure resort to using a red alert as a campaign gimmick - heavens, I'd never do something as dishonest as predict future actions based on a straight-line projection from known past actions! - as expressing my hopes that voters (in a hypothetical situation as hinted at by ugh) would, in fact, not fall for it again.

Hope this clears things up.

Via a comment at Balkinization...here's one thing that Abraham Lincoln said about slavery that seems applicable:

"I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world -- enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites -- causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty -- criticising the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest."

"Yes, I was putting hypothetical thoughts in the heads of hypothetical Americans in that hypothetical future tense"

I don't want to be annoyingly nit-picky, but that's clearly what you meant to do.

What you actually wrote didn't do any of those things, which is why I responded to what you wrote, and not your intentions and thoughts.

I get antsy when people assert that they did something that they didn't do, when what they mean is that they meant to do something else. Nothing personal. And no biggie, either in the initial error, or the misdiscription.

"misdiscription"

Misdescription, since people think it's reasonable to point out typos.

I get antsy when people insist that their own misreading is the proper reading. To wit:

Other than Bush's Braindead 30-something Percent, to most people a red alert now can only mean one of two things:

2. . . . Gosh, you don't think going red now has something to do with the upcoming election, do you?

Other than the fact that " . . . a read alert now can mean only . . . " might have been more clearly written " . . . a read alert can now mean only . . . , " everyone who didn't understand what Casey wrote to mean exactly what Casey intended, raise your hand.

OK, I see . . Gary and . . . nobody else? OK then.

Gary, if you're the only one who misread it -- and at this moment in time it appears that you are -- perhaps the problem was not with what Casey wrote, but your own personal manner of reading.

All signs point to people making this assertion each election year, just as they always do, and have since leading up to 2002

i hope you know i was kidding.

"Gary, if you're the only one who misread it"

I didn't misread it; as I said, I responded to what she wrote, not what she meant. Were I copyediting it, I'd have to note it and query it and so on.

"Gosh, you don't think going red now has something to do with the upcoming election, do you?" is present tense, not "hypothetical future tense." Authorial intent wouldn't save it from query, but would be the reason for the query.

cleek: "i hope you know i was kidding."

Not until now, no.

Gary--
That CaseyL was speaking in the voice of a hypothetical voter was perfectly clear to me. I think you're conflating the norms of different registers more than is appropriate, for what it's worth.

I didn't have any problems with CaseyL's post either, just as a data point.

As someone with a fair amount of editing experience of my own - though not as much as Gary's, I hasten to acknowledge - let me contribute to this brouhaha as follows:

1) GF: Were I copyediting it, I'd have to note it and query it and so on.

Fair enough. As editor, I always tried to be alert to any ambiguity and queried such with my authors: "Are you sure you want to say it that way? Wouldn't it be better if you rephrased it [like this] so as to preempt misreading of this point?"

But we're not editors here. It's not our job to save our fellow commentators from the folly of their own prose. Unless I already have reason to doubt the good faith of another writer (NB: I have no idea of your own history with CaseyL), I assume that my role is, when in doubt, to seek the most sensible interpretation of any ambiguous passage. If I can't find one - and if I care enough, which I usually don't - I might proceed to ask the writer what s/he intended to say.

In this case several others have already indicated they "got" CaseyL's point, as originally (if perhaps sloppily) written. I presume that this should not have been beyond your (quite considerable) literary capacity, if you had been charitably inclined.

2) If I did feel obliged to question someone's prose - someone, I repeat, whom I had no previous reason to mistrust - whether I was their editor or a fellow contributor, I wouldn't do it like this:

Have you noticed that in the space of a single blog comment you've gone from someone's speculation to asserting a fact that isn't a fact?

It hasn't gone red. You're making that up. (Or being utterly careless in what you wrote, which is more likely.)

This is not helpful copyediting. It is not "querying." It is abuse. It is based on your insistence that your way, and your way alone, is the right way of interpreting the text.

In many religious traditions (including both yours and mine) there are scholars who spend their lives obsessing with such interpretive "correctness," but I would have thought here at Obsidian Wings we could have afforded to be a little more flexible (secular?), especially when the interpretation that seems to you wrong is both explained by the author and accepted by other readers.

Shorter Dr Ngo: Lighten up, Gary.

"It is abuse."

Cranky, anyway. I plead guilty to that.

I could also point out that the context of the remark I quoted, which you quote, was CaseyL saying this: "to most people a red alert now can only mean one of two thing," and that it was that context that made me react so strongly, but it's definitely not worth further arguing about, as it wasn't worth much argument about it the first place. I plead guilty to having responded crankily.

"Gosh, you don't think going red now has something to do with the upcoming election, do you?" is present tense, not "hypothetical future tense."

Well, no, because the statement was predicated on the idea of the alert level being raised at some point after today. Specifically, it was posted in response to Ugh's post, ""I predict an unprecedented nationwide red alert in October." As was clear to everyone else.

To come back to the point, after yesterday's events, it seems to me that the question ought to be 'who knows better how to run a war (including things like deciding how to handle war criminals from the other side), the military, or George Bush?'

George W. Bush isn't fit to handle a spoon.

Ugh: George W. Bush isn't fit to handle a spoon.

I think that's unfair. I'd be very happy to let George W. Bush handle a spoon. A plastic one, anyway. On a paper tablecloth, which could be thrown away afterwards.

But he couldn't find his arse with both hands and a flashlight.

Related news:

The Center for Constitutional Rights and our client Maher Arar (a victim of “extraordinary rendition,” the government’s policy of outsourcing torture) will be featured prominently in The Price of Security, Ted Koppel’s premiere documentary on the Discovery Channel.

When:
Sunday, 10 September, 8:00pm ET/PT

Following the documentary, the Discovery Channel will air a live Town Hall meeting hosted by Koppel and featuring, among other guests, CCR President Michael Ratner.

The Town Hall meeting promises to be an exceptional discussion of how to protect our civil liberties against the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration. Koppel will be accepting questions online for the discussion. We encourage you to help shape this debate by submitting your question or comment to:
koppeltownmeeting@discovery.com

Please be as succinct as possible, and make sure to include your name and location.

Katherine, have you seen the Eric Umansky CJR article I linked to here?

I appreciate Katherine's link to the draft bill, and CCarp's timely reminder of the reasoning between Eisentrager and Rasul. As usual, if one reads many thread comments closely, an initial gathering of materials for study yields yet further items to complete the set. I am looking at Kinsella again. And happened upon a link to a full chapter on Wiley Rutledge's reasoning on habeas, in html about 40pp; usually one sees these kinds of things in pdf, but it downloads very legibly. The balkinization site has a separate area now aggregating links to JB's own detainee materials.
I want to parallel read Specter's draft FISA remake, to understand the fit of these two elements. After the March and July readings, I had the sense it is inadequately addressing separation of powers issues; but it is a wide world out there once one embarks on the habeas caselaw as applied in international areas or to citizens of other countries.
It is probably time for me to review Hamdan again, as it gets specific about statelessness as a novel conundrum.
As for the color paradox some discussants, above, have mentioned, I understood the moment in the repartee when it assumed the vividness of present tense verb syntax. In anthropology and some kinds of ethnology, and linguistics, one finds a predilection of that form for many reasons; one certainly is to energize the rhetoric.
And, to Nell, nice to hear CCR is working with Koppel then; my guess now would be his fast intellect will outdistance the live blog questions. I have seen a few of those at WaPo. We will try, though.

Gary--yes. Thanks. Umansky's very good. I actually kvetched to him briefly about the Graham amendment coverage for this story, though not in a particularly useful way.

See also this much shorter piece.

"See also this much shorter piece."

Thanks. Is there anything anywhere resembling a comprehensive -- as comprehensive as we have, that is -- list of Guantanamo prisoners either released, or declared eligible to be released, or of whom there is little reason to believe they are a serious threat?

You've listed many in the past, and there have been many articles about specific cases, but I'm wondering what would be the most comprehensive list.

Gary:

that's a great question. Unfortunately I'm not sure there is a comprehensive list of individual cases. There's reports on the whole system, like Corinne Hegland's and the Denbauxs', and there's individual reports on specific cases, but I don't think there's a list of individual cases.

Someone should make one, but I lack the resources.

Gary:

I just found a new source--but of course, it's nowhere near exhaustive; none of the cases that I've been researching even appears on it.

Gary, we don't even have one.

The government refuses to tell a prisoner's lawyer if the prisoner is one of the cleared but waiting for transfer people. It may tell prisoners, but a great many of them are still precluded from communicating with their lawyers, and doing so is much more complicated now that the government claims the right (and has exercised it) to seize from prisoners all correspondence with their lawyers, and read even those items stamped 'attorney-client privileged.'

It's totally lawless, of course. The gov't has asked each of the judges to sign off on this, and most of these requests have been consolidated before Judge Robertson. We'll see what he does. (Judge Leon opted out and ruled that because of the DTA he doesn't have jurisdiction to grant the government the blessing it wants -- and warned them that they act at their peril. This from the government's best friend . . .)

So there's no list of cleared prisoners, and no easy way to construct one.

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