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May 30, 2005

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DaveC: There really is a general hatred of the USA on this web site. DQ is just one example.

I protest. DonQ, with his belief that all Americans deserve to be killed or raped, is hardly an example of anything except his own twisted beliefs.

DaveC,

If you have a problem with my broad narrative, please feel free to point out where I am inaccurate.

It just happens that Chrles believes that US foreign policy is driven by good & wholesome motivations, I just believe that US Foreign Policy is driven by pure Commercial Interest & Realpolitik.

And Jes,
If the US population & it's elites was actually put at risk due to the pursuit of our policy, I have no doubt that our policies would change real fast!

DonQ: If the US population & it's elites was actually put at risk due to the pursuit of our policy, I have no doubt that our policies would change real fast!

I have not forgotten your repellent argument in an earlier thread that if a country engages in aggressive warfare and is then invaded, women there deserve to be raped. It disgusted me then, and it disgusts me now. I do not recall your ever taking back your comment or apologising for it, though the thread went on for some time, and until you take it back and acknowledge yourself ashamed for even thinking it, I shall continue to regard you as someone who has put himself beyond the pale of human decency, just as much as I regard Dale Franks as having put himself beyond that pale for advocating murder of helpless prisoners because they deserve it.

jes,

if country X invades country Y and in the process loot, pillage & rapes it's way thru the countryside, when country Y get's the upperhand, X should expect the favors to be returned.

I don't think, DQ, that anyone disagrees that such a thing is to be expected. The question is whether it's OK. I'm thinking there was a hilzoy thread a while back on the two meanings of 'understandable' -- comprehensible and justified. I favor the first as a default position, and never assume without other context that someone means the second. Others apparently go the other way (which, in my experience leads to endless satellite argument).

You've earned a reputation from your comments on this subject that is quite understandable. You have it within your power to indicate that indisputable statement of fact, is true as to only the former meaning, or may be comprehended as covering both. I understand that you might not feel like you owe anything to anyone by way of explanation. On the other hand, you might find that your contributions are more likely to be dealt with on their merits, rather than in a context tainted by misunderstanding, if you offered clarification.

DaveC, I think your remark about general hatred is out of line. It is also a hiding place, and avoidance tactic.
The commonality between the detractors of Bush and his administration (which is not America) is a sense of responisibility. We are carrying out our civic duty. We appreciate that we have the opportunity to do so. It is a true act of patriotism to involve oneself in the decision making of the county. . We are the winter soldiers.
I hate Bush but Bush is not America. In this country we don't equate our elected officials with the country itself.

"We are carrying out our civic duty. We appreciate that we have the opportunity to do so. It is a true act of patriotism to involve oneself in the decision making of the county. . We are the winter soldiers."

Respectfully, I'm in opposition to a vast number of President Bush's actions and policies, but I think that I'd have a lot of gall comparing myself on that basis to the "winter soldiers" of 1776 who stayed on past their enlistment terms, suffering in ragged clothing and sometimes barefeet in the cold. I tend to think I have it about 1000 times easier sitting in my chair at my computer.

Further, I, myself, only speak for myself. Could you name the organization that appointed you spokesperson for your use of the plural "we," Lily, so as to clarify whom precisely you are speaking for other than yourself? Personally, I like to think that I make some efforts to carry out my civic duty, I like to think that I appreciate that we have the opportunity to do so, and I like to think that I'm involved as much as the next blog commenter in involve oneself in the decision making of the county. However, and with all due respect, I'm reasonably sure I didn't elect you to speak on my behalf; could you clarify who did, please?

(The shorter, traditional Usenet way of responding to people who begin suddenly speaking in plural form has generally been to ask them if a) they've suddenly developed multiple personality disorder, or b) have a mouse in their pocket; these seem overly harsh to deploy where they might be unfamiliar as ancient jokes, though.)

You're still not answering these questions.

Jes and Anarch, I answer questions to my satisfaction, not yours or anyone else's. Take it or leave it. I do agree that military tribunals are necessary for those detainees who were handed over to us from other nations, and for those who were extraordinarily rendered. The reason is that there is doubt as to their status and a tribunal is necessary to determine whether they're enemy combatants (hilzoy, hopefully this answers your comment at 7:03). For those in this subset who have not faced tribunals, there is insufficient evidence to confirm whether or not they are enemy combatants. The rest are.

Negative effect," right there in the quote.

And that was my point, Phil, which apparently flew right by you.

"I, Charles Bird, publicly support the convening of show trials in which all detainees at Guantanamo Bay are declared by a three-man tribunal to be unlawful combatants, then summarily executed."

Yes, or no?

If you read my update, Phil, you would not have asked that silly question.

LJ, a response.
Corroboration of examples of koran desecration seem to be numerous, but one statement by Pentagon spokesman DiRita seems to negate any and all corroboration, so for Chas, there is no corroboration.

That is false. DiRita corroborated five incidents of Koran mistreatment, based on the FBI investigative reports, not just on DiRita's say so. The ICRC brought incidents to light and they were appropriately investigated and corrective measures were taken, which the ICRC also acknowledged.

Again, remarkably unreflective. AI is arguing that everyone should have a certain measure of human rights.

The problem is that that is not the AI vision, which is that "every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards." By calling Gitmo a gulag of our times and prioritizing the transgressions of the United States over far worse players, the human rights of a few have become more important than the human rights of a multitude of others. Where is the evenhandedness? Where is the balance? This is a non-partisan organization? Not anymore. Their perspective is quite plainly whacked and they are in dire need of real and substantive quantitative measures. If Khan and Schulz were serious about spotlighting the worst human rights offenders (after all, this is an international organization), the US would not have been targeted and attacked in such a manner. You may think that's OK, but to me it's offensive and irresponsible. Again, I am not excusing our own violations, and there have been way too many. I wrote this post on Redstate because conservatives need to pressure the administration to make real changes. We cannot abide by the mistreatment that has taken place. Does the US bear a larger responsibility? Yes, especially because we are fully promoting freedom and democracy and respect for human rights for all nations. We hold ourselves to a higher standard and I fully agree with our doing so. If AI agrees with that as well, then they better go back and rewrite their mission statement.

I wrote this post on Redstate because conservatives need to pressure the administration to make real changes.
Charles, could you explain how attacking Amnesty International on RedState will encourage conservatives to pressure the administration, rather than (as those who have observed similar situations before might expect) use your post as yet more evidence that criticisms of US torture and prisoner abuse can all be written off as creations of Bush haters and the liberal MSM?

Charles: Jes and Anarch, I answer questions to my satisfaction, not yours or anyone else's.

Making fact-free assertions and claiming that those are answers that satisfy you does not constitute an answer, in my book, from anyone. If you are saying your fact-free assertions are all we're going to get from you, I can finally conclude that you do not intend, ever, to explain how you have judged all of the Guantanamo Bay detainees to be guilty. Which, to be fair, puts you on exactly the same level as George W. Bush.

I do agree that military tribunals are necessary for those detainees who were handed over to us from other nations, and for those who were extraordinarily rendered.

Ah. Okay, so you admit that where detainees were handed over by other nations (Afghanistan - the warlords and the Northern Alliance were great suppliers of Guantanamo Bay: Pakistan, likewise: Bosnia: the Gambia: and quite possibly others whose histories have not come to us with clarity) are prisoners whom you do not know, in fact, to be either illegal combatants, or terrorists. This is rather different from your original and repeated sweeping claims that you just knew, absent any kind of evidence or procedure, that all of the prisoners in Guantanao Bay were illegal combatants and al-Qaeda.

So, we can move on to the question that sparked this question which you repeatedly refused to answer:

Why assume that the direct evidence of a witness is automatically to be discounted and assumed to be a lie? Please note, you cannot now claim "because they're terrorists/they're illegal combatants" - you have just acknowledged, though by God I thought it was going to take forever, that in fact you have no reason to believe that any of them, except those captured directly by US soldiers, are illegal combatants: and no evidence at all that any of them are al-Qaeda*. You have, therefore, no rational reason to automatically discount their evidence.

*Some of them may be, of course. I prefer not to make sweeping claims of guilt or innocence without evidence.

We hold ourselves to a higher standard

Who is the "we" in that statement? Dick Cheney and George W. Bush don't; you don't; Von doesn't; indeed, none of the right-wing Americans attacking the AI report can possibly claim that they hold the US to a higher standard. If they did, they would have been outraged at the actions documented by AI, not outraged at AI for reporting them.

Amnesty International certainly holds the US to a higher standard. Their Secretary General says so. Unfortunately, the present administration, and many of its supporters, plainly don't think AI should. That's exactly what you are complaining about.

The problem is that that is not the AI vision, which is that "every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards." By calling Gitmo a gulag of our times and prioritizing the transgressions of the United States over far worse players, the human rights of a few have become more important than the human rights of a multitude of others.

If the US, the beacon of freedom, the shining light up on the hill, the guarantor of human liberties, cannot be counted on to uphold such rights, then we might as well back up shop and go home.

I wrote this post on Redstate because conservatives need to pressure the administration to make real changes. We cannot abide by the mistreatment that has taken place. Does the US bear a larger responsibility? Yes, especially because we are fully promoting freedom and democracy and respect for human rights for all nations.

I don't want to accuse you all sorts of mean things, but if we go by the number of paragraphs, or the number of words, as seems to be popular of late, your protestations of writing this for Redstate because you are worried about the US are not true, regardless whether or not you believe them. In fact, the post at Redstate does not carry your update. Perhaps you believe that you are directing your rhetorical fire to both AI and the admin, but your actions suggest that you are deluding yourself.

Negative effect," right there in the quote.

And that was my point, Phil, which apparently flew right by you.

No, I submit that you just got caught and don't actually have any idea what your own point was supposed to be. Do you surmise that nothing that the United States does can have an effect at all on the rights of Cubans because we don't "control" them? That's ludicrous.

If you read my update, Phil, you would not have asked that silly question.

I suppose it's possible that I wrote my question before you posted your update, since it wasn't there when I typed the question. Not that I expect you to bother yourself with niggling details like that. And given what Franks actually wrote, and your prior, unqualified and unequivocal agreement with it, it's hardly a silly question at all. Just because you don't like what the potential answer says about you -- which obviously bothered you enough to post your update --doesn't render the question "silly."

I do agree that military tribunals are necessary for those detainees who were handed over to us from other nations, and for those who were extraordinarily rendered. The reason is that there is doubt as to their status...

Ah. So the answer to the first question was: no, you don't know that all those in Gitmo and Bagram are "members of al Qaeda" or those "who have raised arms against the US military", despite your repeated assertions to the contrary. Thank you.

For those in this subset who have not faced tribunals, there is insufficient evidence to confirm whether or not they are enemy combatants.

Fair enough. Now, could you please answer the question of relative proportion? Approximately speaking, what percentage of those in Gitmo and Bagram fall into the distinguished subset -- namely, that they were handed over from other nations, or were extraordinarily rendered, or in other way have an unclear status -- and how many do not? Does the subset, for example, comprise only 1% of the prison population? 10%? 50%? 99%? And again, since you still have not done so: could you please provide facts to ground your response?

The rest are.

Could you be a little more precise about what group, exactly, you're referring to here as "the rest"? It's a little unclear from context.

Charles: "I do agree that military tribunals are necessary for those detainees who were handed over to us from other nations, and for those who were extraordinarily rendered."

And since those tribunals haven't been convened for most who are imprisoned, so far as we know, and since we know of no tribunals that have been convened for those who were "rendered," is it your view that anyone should be punished for these failures? If so, whom? If so, with what measures and by what means?

I'd be interested to know what exactly the tribunal is that CB says ought to be convened. Will there be rules of evidence? Will the hearsay rule, and its exceptions, be applied? Will there be Confrontation?

These are very important and, in my opinion, are among the elements that make the difference between Franks' show trials and real adjudications. The UCMJ has many provisions that safeguard the rights of defendants, and if you are suggesting in your update that it provides the minimum standard for tribunals, and I think you are, then you are way, way out in front of the government. (Out there with Judge Robertson in Hamdan).

Welcome.

Charley,

Perhaps you could clarify a point for me. Apparently unlawful combatants may be tried as criminals simply for participating in combat and fighting in a way that is perfectly legal for a uniformed soldier. However, there seem to be those who think that the only legitimate charges that can be brought are those arising directly from acts being committed when the individual was captured. This is more or less the rule with respect to spies, as I understand it.

This would suggest that people handed over to the US by others cannot be so charged, at least by the US.

Have I understood this correctly, and if so does this accurately describe current rules, or is it a controversial and not widely accepted interpretation?

Again, what evidence do you have that the detainees are al-Qaeda? And two, what evidence do you have that the detainees were "trained at giving out misinformation"?

I was interested in the "trained to give misinformation" theory myself. Long story short, the USDOJ published a translation of a captured manual which said something like that, which was then reported in a press briefing and a couple other places with varying degrees of fidelity to the original.

Bernard, I don't know the answer.

It's an interesting article, and I look forward to reading it more carefully. It strikes me as unlikely that a US court would apply Dinstein's opinion that a UC can be charged only with acts committed during the mission the UC was on when captured. Suppose a member of some goon squad killed a group of nuns, and was arrested 6 months later in the course of stealing the contents of parking meters. I just don't see a court requiring that only the latter crime be charged. Nor would I imagine that a US court would preclude charging a UC just because the UC was apprehended by an ally, not by the US.

Long story short, the USDOJ published a translation of a captured manual which said something like that...

"Something like that" being the operative term. There are a few references in there that might refer to disinformation practices or might not, they're kind of unclear -- if memory serves, it's at the beginning of section 17 on the third-last page of the final chunk of excerpts -- and that's partly because there appear to be a number of missing sections (12 - 16, IIRC?) to which the key passages refer.

FWIW, my read of those passages wasn't so much that an Al Qaeda operative should lie about having been tortured, but rather that the authors of the manual were assuming that the operatives would be tortured and that they should make damn sure everyone else knew about it. I'm not in the slightest bit confident of that analysis, however, seeing as it turns on both a) missing references and b) the precise way in which certain pronouns and anaphors were translated into English, so YMMV.

Anarch,

I read what was made available of the manual at the DoJ's site and I think your assesment sounds right. "[T]he authors of the manual were assuming that the operatives would be tortured and that they should make damn sure everyone else knew about it." That's what I got out of it as well.

Kyle: I was interested in the "trained to give misinformation" theory myself. Long story short, the USDOJ published a translation of a captured manual which said something like that, which was then reported in a press briefing and a couple other places with varying degrees of fidelity to the original.

Actually, I was aware of the existence of this manual. My question to Charles Bird was how he "knew" the detainees had been "trained to give misinformation" - in short, the persistent question that we ask and he doesn't answer: How do you know that all detainees who have been held in Guantanamo Bay are al-Qaeda? (pertinent, since Charles considers he need not believe any testimony from any detainees or former detainees because they are all al-Qaeda).

Charley,

Thanks. I see your point about the courts. Perhaps the issue is evidence of specific wrongdoing. If you catch a bunch of guys with guns hiding in a cave, assuming they surrender peacefully, it's not going to be easy, absent a confession, to prove that they were fighting at such and such a place on such and such a day.

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