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May 22, 2009

Comments

Send them to the Hague!

Or, just send them to Congress -- apparently no one ever leaves anyway.

One of the great errors we made after 9/11 was that we were simply too afraid.

As someone said on another thread, cowardice is our national pastime. The U.S. of A. is a scared, paranoid bully, and has been for some time. We're an elephant scared of a mouse. And it's obvious to the rest of the world.

I don't know.

We had a guy in a previous thread who walks around bare-legged in his boxer shorts because Obama has scared the pants off him.

NRA members spend more time pontificating while not wearing pants, the scaredy-cats, than Milton Berle in his hey-day.

We need to round up the lot of them for indecent exposure.

Erick Erickson for example: trouserless for the next 8 years.

I'm sure the guy who posted the comment thick with the c-words and the n-words on a previous thread doesn't wear pants because he is obviously very, very afraid.

Armed, too, but quaking in his boots (pants in a puddle around them) at the thought of the c's and n's voting, and opinionating, and wearing trousers .. without fear or suspenders.

Seems to me the whole storm over Gitmo'ers Gone Wild - Vol. 2 In! Your! Back! Yard! is just a dusting off and updating to fit contemporary concerns of the hoary old script from the Nixon years about how 'Limousine Liberals' want to force something unpleasant (like say forced busing, or nuclear power plants) onto the plebes that they wouldn't tolerate in their own backyards. It's the old reverse-NIMBY trick, we just haven't gotten to the accusations of hypocrisy stage yet because they are still working on framing the fear-factor part.

Almost everything the GOP does these days can be made intelligble if you just look at what worked in the way of political attacks from say 1966-1988 and then try to figure out how it can be reused today.

Never let it be said the GOP doesn't believe in recycling trash.

For at least the last ten years we've face the puzzle: are they crazy or are they lying?

The world may never know...but my guess is that it's actually an unholy mixture of the two...they start out a little crazy, but crazy people are more prone to lie...but good liars have to believe their own lies...and when you start to believe your own lies, you get crazy...and so on...

I'm serious about that, actually. It's not just comment snark.

"...or that they will brainwash their hapless prisonmates...."

Of course, as you know, Bob, if you're in a Supermax prison, most prisoners never get to see a fellow prisonmate for even a moment.

I'm listening to Pandora Radio while reading this, and an interesting sounding song comes on, so I click over to see who it is. Listed under "Similar Artists" is a band called "Ed Gein." (Yes, I like odd music.)

I only mention this because I thought it was amusing to see that name in the middle of reading this post. There's a guy who never left our soil after the authorities found him out. How is it that he didn't infect other prisoners to create a Buffalo Bill/Hannibal Lector Army of other-people's-skin-wearing maniacs to sweep the nation in a wave of murder, mutilation and cannibalism? Better jails back then, I guess.

OK, Publius, but why are you letting so many Democratic pants crappers off the same hook in your post? Wasn't there a Senate vote of 90-6? And I have seen Harry Reid and others quaking in their dirty boots.

I have come to the conclusion that really, the danger of those it Gitmo, or anywhere else, was not the issue. Frankly, these people could have been chosen by lot.

The main purpose was to be horrible to scary brown people. A significant portion of the American population, significant enough to make electoral difference, wanted the US to horrible to some scary brown people without apology or restraint, and the GOP (and many Dems, to their everlasting shame), indulged them in this.

Keeping them in Federal prisons isn't being horrible enough in this mode of thinking. After all, we keep citizens in prisons. We need to be more horrible to them than that.

It wasn't about intelligence, it wasn't about security. The torture was the end, not the means, no matter what stories were concocted. It was about being able to be a bully without restraint, to lash out after we were struck.

And it still is.

hundredaire - fair point. we need to keep the pressure on them too. i do think that this debate caught the Obama camp by surprise (uncharacteristically).

my hope is that dems will fall in line when obama gives them the cover of an actual fleshed-out plan.

but maybe i'm being naive

I tend to think that the fear is easy to understand. Before 9/11, the idea that something like that would happen to us was ludicrous. That potent brew of manifest destiny, American exceptionalism and us being a (or maybe 'the') Christian nation makes for visions of being untouched by things that happen in other places. If the British Parliament were the target? That ole empire coming back to haunt them. The glass pyramid at the Louvre? No one really liked the French. Don't get me started on the Germans. And imagine if it had been the Russians or the Chinese. They would have had it coming.

But us? We only have the best of intentions. And when fear takes over, the limbic system shuts everything else down, including the ability to evaluate one's own courage. For individual patients, thorazine is the answer, so I'm thinking that we would probably be better off worrying about our supplies of that drug rather than tamiflu.

Lying. You've got to remember, nobody has more contempt for Republican voters than Republican officeholders. Everybody else may think Republicans are being played for fools, but they know it.

I will say, though, that while we can certainly bring terrorists here safely, (And the only reason for not doing so was to claim an excuse for not extending them any rights at all.) mixing them with the general prison population might not be smart. Too good a recruiting opportunity, I think...

"...mixing them with the general prison population might not be smart."

Which has nothing to do with what goes on as a prisoner in Florence.

Of course they'll be released...eventually. Like after their terms are up. But when you take into account how little admissible evidence there will likely be (statements given and information received under torture are out, arrest records are nonexistent, etc.), and the fact that most terror convictions post-9/11 have been for limited terms of years (such as the 5 1/2 that Hamdan received, or the 17+ for Jose Padilla). So sooner or later, these prisoners have to be released. If they're in the US, and their home countries won't take them (like China with the Uyghur detainees), then the government will either have to negotiate with a third-party state to take them (like we've unsuccessfully tried to do with Germany and the Uyghurs for many months now), or they have to let them go right here.

In many cases, big effin' deal. But in some situations that will mean people actually convicted of terrorism and related offenses will be, in fact, released into the United States, absent a legislative fix to prevent it (and even then, the Congress is limited by the Constitution in what it can authorize).

So there is a legitimate concern that a small percentage of the detainees will be able to a) receive reasonably short sentences, and b) not be repatriated to non-US countries, and hence will have to be released here. It's a molehill not a mountain, but it's not entirely incorrect.

Really, the case of the Uyghurs is quite instructive: they're being indefinitely detained, even though everyone knows they're innocent, because we really really really don't want to release them in the US for some reason. Imagine what will happen as soon as we start releasing people after their terms for conspiracy (or whatever we can prove in court) are up.

And of course, that shouldn't be taken as excusing indefinite detention in secret prisons, but rather a call for either Congress to step up and find a different plan, or for the wingnuts to get the hell over their bedwetting paranoia triggered by Muslims.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this speech inspired by the Democratic Congress' refusal to fund the closing of Gitmo?

Because it seems to me that what happened is that the GOP countered with a speech by possibly the most universally-reviled member of their party regarding a topic on which he should have absolutely no credibility whatsoever (detainee policy), and now the left is here losing their minds over something Obama didn't actually say (preventive detention) based on anonymous complaints from human rights groups who were getting a heads-up on the speech (something I imagine Bush might not have done) while no one on the right takes any flack for it at all.

Is that about the shape of things? Because I don't really see how that makes the GOP look naïve in the slightest.

Now , be fair, before you limit the options to either a.) lying or b.) brainwashed fear, you have to provide evidence for the third option you rule out. Do you know that they can't shoot laser beams from their eyes?

A propos of nothing, perhaps: the RNC (I think) has apparently made themselves a little Gitmo-scare video based on the infamous 1964 "Daisy" ad. No surprise there.

The video includes a clip of Robert Gibbs talking about "hasty decisions that we made" about Gitmo. As any fool (except Ryan Lizza on MSNBC today) can verify, and any sensible person would immediately suspect, Gibbs was talking about the hasty decision to OPEN Gitmo. His "we" was a gentlemanly and principled way of saying "the Bush Administration". It is flat impossible for the GOPers who made the video to not know that.

So, this little example illustrates as perfectly as anything could that Republican message-mongers are liars. The rank and file of their party might be fools, but its operatives are lying liars who know they are telling lies, as Senator Franken once explained at book length.

Now, back to Gibbs. I said his phrasing was gentlemanly and principled, and I meant it. It was also stupid, I think.

It was principled because American elections are not revolutions that wipe clean the slate of the ancien regime. The party in power might change, but the government (like the nation) is a continuing enterprise. If you speak for the government of the United States, you are speaking for the SAME government that the US had before the election. Good on Gibbs for honoring that principle.

But I still say it was stupid. As a purported professional talker, Gibbs ought to know that his words are being heard by morons as well as by charlatans. I'm not suggesting he should have spelled out "the cowardly and incompetent Bush administration" instead of saying "we", but he certainly could have been more careful with his pronouns.

--TP

and now the left is here losing their minds over something Obama didn't actually say (preventive detention)

Except that he did say it:

"there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who have received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States. Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people."

novakant, nowhere in that passage does it say "preventive detention". What it says is that certain people (who are already in custody) have "made it clear that they want to kill Americans", and "remain at war with the United States." These are "past crimes."

"Preventive detention" implies that people are being rounded up in the manner of the Japanese-Americans during WWII. The people at issue have allegedly ALREADY done acts in furtherance of aiding an enemy with which we are still at war.

The courts are where these matters will be decided - your opinion or my opinion of the legitimacy of Obama's plan is irrelevant to whether it is actually lawful. The fact that Obama is willing to test his system in the courts, as opposed to the Bush administration which tried to avoid jurisdiction of any court, makes a huge difference in assessing its legitimacy. If Obama's system is unconstitutional or violates a treaty, such a case can be made.

And, yes, Adam's right. As usual, circular firing squad by the left. Ghost of Nader and year 2000.

"nowhere in that passage does it say "preventive detention"".

You're now arguing at the level of Bush administration apologists, who used to insist that "xyz" was never explicitly mentioned, while it was perfectly clear that what they proposed was identical to "xyz". These people are politicians, of course they're not going to say "I propose torturing terrorists" or "I propose indefinite preventive detention", duh.


"These are "past crimes.""

No, they are not. Expressing a general intent to kill Americans or "being at war with the US", whatever that is supposed to mean exactly, are not crimes because Obama says so. A court of law, and only a court of law, determines if something amounts to a crime and until convicted the presumption of innocence is in effect.

"The people at issue have allegedly ALREADY done acts in furtherance of aiding an enemy with which we are still at war."

Again, unless convicted by a court of law, they haven't done anything that constitutes a crime. Obama wants to detain them indefinitely precisely because they cannot be convicted and he is worried about what they MIGHT do in the FUTURE. If that's not "preventive detention", then I do not know what is.

"The fact that Obama is willing to test his system in the courts, as opposed to the Bush administration which tried to avoid jurisdiction of any court, makes a huge difference in assessing its legitimacy."

What Obama proposes is in fact worse than what the Bush administration has done. He wants to incorporate preventive detention in the law and make sure that this power can be used by future presidents. Bush was "merely" exploiting loopholes and making a mockery of of the law. Obama wants to make this transgression permanent by rewriting the law, he wants to establish a parallel legal system for "enemies of the US". This is an unprecedented step of great magniutde.

"A court of law, and only a court of law, determines if something amounts to a crime and until convicted the presumption of innocence is in effect."

You're correct, novakant, but by the same token a court of law, and only a court of law, can determine the legitimacy of Obama's system. He can't "incorporate preventive detention in the law and make sure that this power is used by future presidents" if what he proposes isn't sanctioned by the already established legal system, including the court system, the Constitution, and the applicable treaties. His system will be subject to judicial review and will be tested against these things. You may not like whatever the courts determine, but just as Obama isn't the arbiter of what is a crime, you are not the arbiter of what is constitutional or consistent with treaty obligations.

Well said, publius. How do we know these people are so bloody dangerous unless we have evidence of the heinous crimes they committed that would hold up in a court of law?

Their logic doesn't work.

"mixing them with the general prison population might not be smart. Too good a recruiting opportunity, I think.."


Please, how many even speak English. The real problem with mixing with the general population is that their lives would be at risk.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed studied in the United States. My guess is that speaking English might not be uncommon.

but by the same token a court of law, and only a court of law, can determine the legitimacy of Obama's system.

Wrong.

If a court of law convicts or does not convict somebody of a crime while operating within the constraints and applying the safeguards of the current system, then I'm willing to accept that verdict, whether I like it or not, because the current system is built on legal principles that have been proven valid over time and constitute the core of the rule of law.

If, however, one of these fundamental principles should be dismissed as irrelevant by the Surpreme Court or congress should pass a law that violates such a principle, then I am well within my rights to criticize such a transgression as being incompatible with the law.

The presumption of innoncence and habeas corpus are such principles and they would be violated by a system of preventive detention.

novakant: "I am well within my rights to criticize".

Of course you are, dear. You're well within your rights to express whatever view you want, including the misguided view that Obama is worse than Bush. Unfortunately, that's the kind of view that brought about this debacle in the first place - if people hadn't made such ridiculous false equivalencies in the 2000 election, Gore might have won the presidency and we wouldn't be in this predicament. But, in fact, people like you never learn that your purism is nothing but destructive to the things you claim to support.

Obama is fighting two wars, and he's trying to recover from the last administration, which was as close to fascist as we've gotten in the United States. Although you might disagree that our tactics in Afghanistan/Pakistan are wrong, it's difficult to argue that the situation there isn't dangerous to the United States. The economy is in the tank. Obama is trying to work with a spineless Congress in order to implement some fairly dramatic domestic initiatives. Releasing from prison people who initiated the war we're fighting wouldn't be politically smart. He's trying to figure out a legal way of keeping them. I'm inclined to support his effort to do so, and if the courts determine that his plan fails to meet Constitutional standards or treaty requirements, then I can live with that too.

(Your view of the rule of law is interestingly selective. How do you think the standards that you value came to be? In large part by the creation of legislation and rules which were tested. Apparently you think the Constitutional status quo is the pinnacle?)

90-6

Really – I had no idea there were 90 Republican Senators.

Get serious. Trying to blame Republicans at this point is utter nonsense. Democrats now own this: lock, stock, and barrel. Congress can do it. Obama can do it via executive order before lunchtime.

Where’s the “action alerts”? Where are the netroots campaigns to call or descend on Congressional offices? Where are the protests with idiots in orange jumpsuits?

IMO a large part of the left (excepting many/most here) was never serious about this. It was just a convenient political cudgel. And I certainly include ranking Democrats in Congress in that list.

It really is an interesting question -- how have we as a nation, Republicans and Democrats alike, become such quivering cowards? No doubt in my mind that DeTocqueville were he to come back today would see it as a a very major change in the temperament of the American people. I think that some attribution has to be laid at the feet of the military-industrial complex system that we have allowed to take root.

It takes a huge amount of fearmongering to convince a nation to spend the kind of money that we have spent since the 1950s on military hardware. The one time in the nations cold war history that this spending might not have seemed so important was on the heels of the disaster in Vietnam. And the response of the MI complex at that time was to privatize the armed forces.

Once privatized, there was no longer any natural check on the GOPs ability to use fear without any counterbalancing reality.
The troops -- who we all "support" with our ubiquitous bumper stickers! -- are bravely sent abroad in search of monsters, who get progressively bigger and badder over time. But this "support" really just means "support deployment of the troops", "support a system that makes no personal demands on me or my children", "support for empire" to keep all these horrors far away (fight them there so we don't have to fight them here), and "support the military industrial complex". This system uses lurid fearmongering, promises to keep us absolutely safe -- at no personal cost in terms of our families and children -- if we just give into its demands. All it asks for in return is a constant stream of cash.

The lynchpin to this system is an all volunteer military. The horrible scary scenarios can be constantly played out without any pushback from reality. Does anyone really believe that we would have gone into Iraq with a draft or conscripted army? There would have been a lot more testing of the Administration's case for war, and Condi's visions of mushroom clouds would have been weighed on a very different kind of scale by a nation with some skin in the game.

So maybe we will never free ourselves from the fearmongers and our own delusions until we regain control of our military through some form of universal service to the country -- military or other forms of volunteer service on behalf of others. We are not a naturally militaristic people. Such a force would seldom leave our shores. It would be given in exchange for further educational opportunities. No longer would it be the NRA / militia types who would claim the right to speak for us for legitimate defense needs. And best of all, the entire nation would have to be consulted before we go to war. The case would have to be made
using reason, logic, and evidence to a people would constantly be weighing the fear scenario against the possibility that loved ones might die.



He's trying to figure out a legal way of keeping them.

He's trying to legalize indefinite detention without charge. Are you for it or against it? I don't care about the political mess that makes Obama think this is a good idea and it won't become any better an idea if a court signs off on it. There comes a time, when you have to rely on principles and draw a line - and that line is right here.

Releasing from prison people who initiated the war we're fighting wouldn't be politically smart

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 wasn't politically smart either, in the short run.

Do the morally smart thing, not the politically smart thing.

novakant, just out of curiosity, what's the morally smart thing that should be done now in Afghanistan? (Please don't answer "don't kill civilians", which is obvious, and with which I agree. I'm asking for your view of what policy we should pursue in Afghanistan.)

My thoughts on Afghanistan have no bearing whatsoever on this issue, and I would appreciate it if you engaged the actual arguments instead of skirting the issue.

Let me just say this:

If you want to indefinitely detain everybody in Afghanistan (or around the world for that matter) who might "pose a threat to the security of the United States", you better start building Gulags.

Of course you are, dear. You're well within your rights to express whatever view you want, including the misguided view that Obama is worse than Bush. Unfortunately, that's the kind of view that brought about this debacle in the first place - if people hadn't made such ridiculous false equivalencies in the 2000 election, Gore might have won the presidency and we wouldn't be in this predicament. But, in fact, people like you never learn that your purism is nothing but destructive to the things you claim to support.

I can't speak for noavakent, but I agree with everything they've said on this issue. And that's why I'm disappointed in you Sapient: I expected better from you. My wife and I supported Obama during the campaigns; we gave a lot of money, volunteered, etc. And he's acting exactly like we expected. This isn't a surprise. Obama is wrong here, but I expected some of that and I'd still vote for him. I don't think he's worse than Bush in general, but on this one issue, he's about the same. This circular firing squad nonsense you're spouting is nothing but an attempt to derail criticism. There is no election now. We're not hurting Obama's chances of winning office. And we don't think people like McCain are preferable to Obama even though Obama is wrong here. You need to deal with reality: the people criticizing Obama here are not fuzzy-headed Nader voters. We've proven that time and again.

I take your comments to heart, Turbulence. I merely believe that Obama is trying, in good faith, to create a satisfactory solution. I don't second guess him that the only solution is to release people who might actually be seriously dangerous. (Or maybe he just needs adequate time to do so without the din of fear mongering destroying other aspects of his agenda).

I'm not blaming the Nader squad or anyone else for this one except Dick Cheney. We got owned and it sucks.

how have we as a nation, Republicans and Democrats alike, become such quivering cowards?

1. ) One element of our political class discovered that the electorate could be reliably manipulated by inculcating overblown fears. The GOP makes a specialty of this technique, but many Democrats are far from innocent.

2. ) Our corporate media discovered that stoking fears holds eyeballs more reliably than giving viewers information and trying to provoke thought. What bleeds, leads. And this insight dovetails nicely with the corporate preference for Republican policies.

So TV is a litany of things to fear: fear that "online predators" will harm your kids, fear that terrists will bring a backpack nuke to Omaha, fear that immigrants will somehow take away our culture and drain the Treasury. Fear of stranger abduction, fear that liberals will confiscate all your guns and teach your children that the God you worship is a ridiculous fiction.

There's an interesting set of experiments in anthropology: it turns out that many primates, including humans, have an innate disposition for phobic reaction to snakes, but that it remains latent unless activated by observing phobic fear in your family members e.g. your Mom acts terrified of snakes, so you become terrified of snakes too.

I think that xenophobia works in a similar fashion : it's easy to teach people to hate those who are different. Fear/hatred : opposite sides of the same coin.


You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be carefully taught

You guys are so full of it. This week-end is a holiday in celebration and honor of those who have stood up for America in its conflicts and especially for those who have fallen. I served with some of those heroes and I am very happy to be able to say so and to honor them.

When I show up here to read posts and comments, I often wonder if any of those making such negative comments about this country have actually served as our fallen heroes have.

U.S. Army Field Artillery 1972 - 1975.
Proud of it.
Staunch liberal.
Proud of that too.

I would distinguish between two scenarios on preventive detention. First, Obama may only mean that some finite number of those already detained will be impossible to convict (perhaps because they've been tortured), but we'll continue to detain them anyway because they're too dangerous to release. That's a bad thing, but perhaps not as bad as releasing them. This is a tough call for Obama, who didn't decide to detain them or torture them or fail to gather and preserve the evidence necessary to convict them.

Second, Obama may be carving out the power to preventively detain more people on the grounds of dangerousness. I would oppose that. It's one thing to clean up the mess that Bush made, but quite another to make new messes.

There's an additional wrinkle here arising out of Obama's statement that we are at war with al Qaeda. Under the laws of war we can detain enemy combatants for as long as the war lasts. Combatants don't have to be convicted of anything, and they aren't viewed like criminals. The purpose of their detention is purely to keep them from returning to the fight. Once the war is over they get repatriated.

In a traditional war it's pretty easy to tell who the combatants are -- they're the ones in uniforms with guns. It's much trickier to figure out who's a combatant in the "war" against al Qaeda. I hope that all of those who are "preventively detained" without trial are at least granted some legitimate process to challenge their status as combatants. I also hope that there will be litigation to establish exactly what it means to be a combatant in this context.

When I show up here to read posts and comments, I often wonder if any of those making such negative comments about this country have actually served as our fallen heroes have.

You mean worked for the communist federal government?

"The people at issue have allegedly ALREADY done acts in furtherance of aiding an enemy with which we are still at war."

The key word there is "allegedly." Since they're being held purely because of allegations, it's preventive detention until such time as either a "competent tribunal" finds them to be prisoners of war, or a criminal court finds them guilty of a crime.

Meanwhile, yes, they've been rounded up and held, no matter than most were just sold to the U.S. for money, and many (obviously not all) were/are completely innocent.

William C, I appreciate your comment because it aims more at the root causes of how we have developed our current view of threats to our national security and our approaches to deal with that. I served in the Army as a conscript and in a time before the kind of divisions in popular attitudes we see today. When I grew up that service was just part of what I expected to do as an adult and if our leaders made mistakes in their decision-making we criticized them and voted them out of office but we never had to turn them into the devil incarnate.

When I show up here to read posts and comments, I often wonder if any of those making such negative comments about this country have actually served as our fallen heroes have.

I imagine you wonder all sorts of things. WTF does whether I've served in the military have to do with anything? Do you have an actual point to make here are you going to cowardly pretend like that sentence doesn't mean anything?

As to fear, let me confess my perhaps overblown fears.

I'm afraid of the situation in Afghanistan, and in Pakistan. I'm truly afraid of what might happen if someone who doesn't mind using it gets hold of a nuke. I thought the Taliban, when it had power in Afghanistan was frightening. I didn't like how it treated women. I don't like what's going on in Swat. I'm afraid of those people.

I think torture is wrong and I'm sorry and ashamed that my country was responsible for it (even though I worked hard against the guy who was in charge, I feel responsibility). I think invading Iran was a horrible crime. I'm not sure how I feel about the wisdom of having invaded Afghanistan, but since we did, it would be nice if we could establish a stable government there (although maybe we can't). I really don't want to help the Taliban or al Qaida - I don't like what they do. I know that some of our unwise foreign policy moves contributed to the havoc there, but I don't see how I can fix that other than to keep voting for the smartest candidate.

I'm not afraid of "brown people"; in fact, I like brown people. But I am afraid of those people. I don't think this is entirely irrational.

Here's what the sentence means, Turbulence. I have reviewed enough posts and comments here to conclude that many of those here would be very comfortable in the company of those 40 years ago who cut-up of burned their draft registration cards at public events or took off to Canada to avoid the draft. Some people are willing to serve, if called, and some are unwilling. That's all.

GoodOleBoy: This week-end is a holiday in celebration and honor of those who have stood up for America in its conflicts and especially for those who have fallen. I served with some of those heroes and I am very happy to be able to say so and to honor them.

Oh jeez, now it's fallen heroes we're not talking about. (We're also not talking about the basketball playoffs, the lilacs blooming in my yard, or Susan Boyle. In fact, there's an infinity of topics we're not talking about.)

Some commenters show up here mostly to disagree with whatever position the majority seems to be taking on the topic at hand.

GoodOleBoy, by contrast, seems to come here mostly to complain about the topics themselves.

Maybe he should start his own blog, where all the topics will be ones he can approve of.

I have reviewed enough posts and comments here to conclude that many of those here would be very comfortable in the company of those 40 years ago who cut-up of burned their draft registration cards at public events or took off to Canada to avoid the draft.

Some would, some wouldn't. I probably would have refused to serve. So what? Why does that make my arguments any less correct? Why is that relevant to anything? You're still refusing to make a real argument here because you don't have the guts to defend it. Instead we get more pointless insinuation.

I have to say, I think people who refused to serve in Vietnam made the right choice. We entered a pointless war that killed millions of people for no reason. That was stupid. It was a stupid thing to kill for and a stupid thing to die for. That doesn't diminish the heroism of those who served but it does mean that those who refused to serve for principled reasons were right to do so.

Why are you dumping this all on Republicans? Are there 90 Republicans and 6 Democrats in the Senate?

many of those here would be very comfortable in the company of those 40 years ago who cut-up of burned their draft registration cards at public events or took off to Canada to avoid the draft

some people had other priorities in the 60s than military service.

Whether or not the war in Vietnam made sense from a cost/benefit perspective, it wasn't exactly pointless. We were in a world-wide war with a totalitarian, genocidal ideology, and Vietnam was one of the fronts in that war.

Not pointless, at all, except in so far as it was made pointless, after the fact, by the decision to renege on the military commitments we made when we withdrew our troops.

"In a court filing this month, Darrel Vandeveld, a former military prosecutor at Guantanamo who asked to be relieved of his duties, said evidence was "strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely-labeled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks."

He said he once accidentally found "crucial physical evidence" that "had been tossed in a locker located at Guantanamo and promptly forgotten.""
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/24/AR2009012401702.html
When I see Obama using 'preventive detention' this is what comes to mind. It may take years to figure out what happened. It may take years for the DOJ to build cases. I'm not saying I agree with the preventitive detention concept, I don't. I just think the mess will take years to clean up and until the DOJ can figure out who's a bad guy and make the case and who's not so bad may take awhile.

publius: hundredaire - fair point. we need to keep the pressure on [pants-wetting Democrats] too. i do think that this debate caught the Obama camp by surprise (uncharacteristically).

Nope.

Obama created the political climate for this "debate" by feeding into the fear-mongering lies right from the start.

The Matt Lauer interview that I'm tired of citing, where he characterizes Guantanamo as currently holding "a couple hundred" people who are too dangerous to release.

His refusal to make the point, ever (including in the recent speech), that many more of those held at Guantanamo than not were completely without any connection to terror attacks.

His silence as the "debate" began.

He has failed to lead on this issue, because he doesn't actually disagree with the basic terms of the phony "war on terror". He just wants to moderate the worst effects, which he sees as having to do with our self-regard and world opinion rather than the human beings whose lives we've shattered.

I think that Nell is a national treasure.


We were in a world-wide war with a totalitarian, genocidal ideology, and Vietnam was one of the fronts in that war.

So, in order to stop a totalitarian genocidal ideology, we supported a totalitarian government and killed a few million people (but that's not genocide!). I see.

Not pointless, at all, except in so far as it was made pointless, after the fact, by the decision to renege on the military commitments we made when we withdrew our troops.

Vietnam had very little strategic value and there was no reason to believe that the Saigon government could hold out even with massive US military support after American soldiers left. The South Vietnamese government had little legitimacy and less competence and those are not the kind of problems you can fix by shipping lots of weaponry.

OCSteve: Where are the protests with idiots in orange jumpsuits?

If it weren't for the "idiots" in orange jumpsuits, there wouldn't be any fvcking accountability at all for the torture and lawless detention that's already happened.

Please stop calling the segment of the Democratic party that's going along without objection to Obama's smoothing of the edges of the Bush-Cheney detention system "the left".

You can't have it both ways, OCS. Either you want principled objection to lawless or law-bending behavior or you don't. If you do, you're going to have to face the fact that it can only be counted on to come from the actual left (in suited-lawyer and orange-jump-suited-activist versions, who have the smarts and solidarity to recognize that each other are necessary complements in working to the same goal) and principled conservatives (available only in suited-lawyer or -pundit versions only, can be counted on to distance themselves from icky activists).

Some people are willing to serve, if called, and some are unwilling

And some people base their willingness to serve on the morality of the cause for which they are asked to risk their lives. Some people feel that blindly serving in a war of choice is a moral crime and that a society in which people serve in the military just because that is what is expected is well down the road to fascism.

joel hanes: do you have any citations/sources for some of those anthropological studies? They sound quite fascinating.

Sapient: Why are you so afraid of 'those brown people' in Afghanistan & Pakistan?

I ask this seriously, because even if lets say one of them does get their hands on a nuke, it is nearly impossible that it could be detonated here in the States. The worst thing that could happen is it would blow up a bunch of soldiers in Afghanistan.

Also, perhaps one way to make sure this doesn't happen is to not make Pakistan even more unstable by forcing the gov't to wage war on the taliban, by refusing to aid and abet military personnel, supporting military dictatorships, and sending military aid. *That* would surely help a lot of people turn away from the irrationality of terrorism.

And which brown people do you get along with, specifically? Mexicans? Indians? South Americans? Or is it just the terroristy Muslim ones you fear?

"I thought the Taliban, when it had power in Afghanistan was frightening. I didn't like how it treated women. I don't like what's going on in Swat. I'm afraid of those people."

How do you feel about the way the regimes or folks in Burma, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and North Korea, to name a few off the top of my head, treat women, and treat people in general? What makes you more afraid of "those people" in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Why are they more frightening than the other people I ask about?

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (also formerly known as Zaire), the civil wars have killed over 5.4 million people in the past sixty years. Nearly 3 millions of them have been killed since 2004. Why do these folks not arouse your fear and concern?

I ask because I'm curious what your reasoning is.

"I really don't want to help the Taliban or al Qaida - I don't like what they do."

I don't think you'll find many contrary views here.

GOB: "Some people are willing to serve, if called, and some are unwilling. That's all."

Like Dick Cheney.

"Some people are willing to serve, if called, and some are unwilling."

We don't have a draft. I'm too young to have been drafted, and I'm fifty years old.

Wars also vary in wisdom and moral rightness. Many would have served willingly in World War II because it seemed a just war to them, who weren't willing to serve in Vietnam because it seemed an unjust war to them. Many believed that it didn't serve the United States, in the end, to fight in those wars. A huge proportion of veterans of Vietnam came to hold those views. I would and will defend those opinions.

But derailing this thread into a debate over who would and wouldn't be willing to serve in what wars or not is a pure derailment. You also have no right to, as is your wont, impugn the patriotism and love of country of people who don't share all of your political views.

Using Memorial Day to do that, and claiming an implicit right to speak for the views of most folks who have served in the military, or the views of those who are Truly Patriotic, is despicable.

You haven't the right.

And as regards that, and memorial day, a former blogger on this blog asked that people not use his death to support their political views. I'd generalize from that.

"We were in a world-wide war with a totalitarian, genocidal ideology, and Vietnam was one of the fronts in that war."

We hurt neither the Soviet Union nor Communist China one whit by wasting American lives, Vietnamese lives, allied lives, and treasure, while grossly harming the moral high ground of the United States all over the world, by fighting in Vietnam. On the contrary, we grossly hurt ourselves.

"Not pointless, at all, except in so far as it was made pointless, after the fact, by the decision to renege on the military commitments we made when we withdrew our troops."

The war couldn't be won, in the view of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, among others; they sought only political advantage from the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, and more Vietnamese, in prolonging the war. This is extremely well documented, including in their own words, as I link to here.

Yes, the war was completely pointless, save for the way it helped the cause of seriously damaging the United States in so many ways.

Trying to blame Republicans at this point is utter nonsense.

Not utter nonsense. Democrats are to blame too (see the 'Coward' thread), but would this plan have failed in the Senate if the GOP demagogues hadn't been flogging this NIMBY issue? I think it's unlikely, but it's at least an open question. Democrats are Hodgkins, but Republicans are pancreatic cancer.

"I served in the Army as a conscript and in a time before the kind of divisions in popular attitudes we see today."

Unless you served in WWII, the part about "divisions" is simply not true. Even Korea was controversial.

And yeah, the guy we're all pissed off at got not one, not two, but five deferments from serving in Vietnam. So if you're looking for a villain, he's probably your guy.

Sorry to enter this late, I've been away, escorting my son across stage to receive his PhD! (Actually just the diploma case, since he got the diploma itself last summer.) Rejoice with me (and Anarch).

FWIW, since people are counting sides:

1) US Army, 1967-1969. Like Cheney and Clinton and my brother and hosts of others, I would have preferred to be elsewhere, and was only in the military because I didn't plan well enough how to avoid it. Nevertheless: I served and did what was asked of me and have an Honorable Discharge to show for it. So don't come the bloody patriot with me.

2) In my expert opinion, The Vietnam War was pointless and, in its effects, harmful to us and much more to the peoples of Southeast Asia. See my previous comments on this topic (or many of Gary Farber's, which make the same points, but with actual links!).

3) Indefinite preventive detention is wrong. It is incompatible with democracy; it is is incompatible with the promise of the Obama campaign. It should be repudiated, regardless of the political cost. (The putative strategic cost is so negligible as to be risible.)

4) There's enough political blame to go around for almost everybody, except those who are actually standing up for principle. But Democrats, "progressives," pragmatists - if they join with the right in supporting this kind of detention, then screw them too.

I think that covers the main points here.

To GoodOleBoy: Get over yourself and stop pretending that you're entitled to speak for anyone but yourself. My father, who is 64 this year, served a distinguished 26-year military career. He spent part of every year from 1966-1973 in Vietnam. He was actually in Vietnam, being shot at, on the days both I and my sister were born. He took a bullet in his right calf over there and received a Purple Heart for it.

He is currently remarried, to a woman who protested the very war he fought in. He's voted for the Democratic candidate every year since 1976; he voted for Nixon in 1972, and you can see what he got for that. If you asked him about this topic, he'd pretty much give you precisely the same opinions you see from Nell, Turbulence, and others. Except his would contain a lot more profanity. He has no time for fake tough guys like Dick Cheney who sat over here on their asses while his was on the receiving end of enemy fire.

So take your self-righteousness and stuff it right where the sun doesn't shine.

To Brett, I shouldn't have to tell you this -- any libertarian with an IQ higher than room temperature should know it intuitively -- but you can't be at war with an ideology. You can only be at war with people.

I served in the Army as a conscript and in a time before the kind of divisions in popular attitudes we see today.

Keep in mind that black people weren't really allowed to vote then. Not that anyone paid much attention to what they thought about anything.

Seriously, though, are you claiming that everyone agreed on everything, then? Because I happen to know firsthand that that's a bunch of baloney.

When I grew up that service was just part of what I expected to do as an adult and if our leaders made mistakes in their decision-making we criticized them and voted them out of office but we never had to turn them into the devil incarnate.

Uh, we can go all the way back to McCarthy accusing Truman et al. of being "soft on Communism" and move forward from there if you'd like, or we can pick a starting point of your own choosing to disprove this.

if our leaders made mistakes in their decision-making we criticized them and voted them out of office but we never had to turn them into the devil incarnate.

oh sure.

"Uh, we can go all the way back to McCarthy accusing Truman et al. of being 'soft on Communism'"

I'll see you one Adlai Stevenson has a "Ph.D. from Dean Acheson's cowardly college of Communist containment" (Richard Nixon), and raise you one Dwight D. Eisenhower is a "conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy."

Of course, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was "a traitor to his class." He was "that man in the White House." He was demonized by conservatives, and still is demonized by conservatives.

Let's not even get into what Abraham Lincoln's critics said about him then and since (and now).

Or of Thomas Jefferson.

I've always been intrigued by the argument that the only proper way to celebrate our freedom is to refrain from exercising it.

Typepad made me removed all links to get that posted.

It won't let me post them even as text links now.

Cleek's link on Jefferson and Adams is better than the illustration I used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society#Robert_Welch_and_The_Politician

http://www.amazon.com/Traitor-His-Class-Privileged-Presidency/dp/0385519583

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/images/vc136.jpg

It won't let me post the link to Google at all. But you can Google for cowardly+college+acheson+communism yourself.

I hate Typepad with the passion of a thousand flaming suns.

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/images/vc136.jpg

US Air Force, pilot, 1968-1973.

As Eric can verify, one thing that can get me started is when someone confuses "support for the troops" with "support for stupid wars". The people I knew in the service were some of the finest people I've ever met, and they simply do not deserve to have their lives thrown away by scheming politicians.

dr ngo hits it about right. And Phil - thank your dad personally for his service. I don't know that we do that enough.

I understand that there are more veterans of the regular Armed Forces in the Democratic Party than there are in the GOP, and more veterans of the National Guard in the GOP than there are among the Democrats. Service in the military seems to moderate warlike rhetoric more than it cultivates a warlike disposition. One of the more sensible voices on the national scene today is the Academic Andrew Bacevich - a West Pointer and Lt. Colonel who saw service in Vietnam.

I actually tend to believe that the senior officers in our military - while no doubt conservative by disposition, are a good deal more skeptical about force and the efficacy of its use than our civilian leaders.

Universal service means we are all in this together. When I casually float the idea to friends, it is interesting to me that the greatest resistance comes from the hard core right wing types than it does from my liberal friends (who are also skeptical but for different reasons). But the Righties go berserk, it flies in the face of their Free Market Utopianism. The logical end point for them of course is security provided by Blackwater, as shameful an episode as ever a free people permitted to happen. If we do not quickly pull back from this precipice of subcontracting out our security to Big Business, our democracy is finished.

Democracy is simply incompatible with a permanent state of war. The more peaceable state of europe -- Sweden or Switzerland come to mind -- require national service. I really do believe that if we cannot wrest control of our military back to the people and away from Big Business, we will go the way of Rome. The failure to embrace the civic obligation of a common defense has consequences that we are now seeing played out in a national character that is primarily motivated by fear. We really have changed as a people. We are not who we once were.



The failure to embrace the civic obligation of a common defense has consequences that we are now seeing played out in a national character that is primarily motivated by fear.

That's an interesting idea...do you have any evidence to support it?

From what I've seen of countries in Europe that have national service systems (Germany and Sweden mostly), it doesn't seem to do much for their national character. The military in those countries doesn't need anywhere near the number of people that national service produces so most people end up doing non-military service and those that do serve in the military serve for a very short time. Having a huge pool of workers that are effectively paid very very little distorts the labor markets in Germany from what I've heard. It is not clear to me that serving for 9 months in an Army without deploying provides any benefit to one's character.

I know that many older people love the idea of forcing young people to work for the state without paying them fair wages, but I've never understood why this is a good idea.

Some who serve, by the way, have a special kind of courage.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2009/05/gates_defends_soldiers_pink_un.html?sc=fb&cc=fp

Turbulence -- Fair questions and I am unsure as to many of the specifics. But I would suggest a system where the military is but one option. Peace Corps, Americorp, Vista, etc. might be all part of the mix. And given in exchange for a college degree or some greater assistance than we give now for that.

Every country is the product of its unique circumstances and national charachter, but Sweden and Germany for all their many flaws don't seem the frightened bunch that we are. They lived in the shadow of the Russian threat for a very long time and seem far more realistic about threats than we are. At the height of the Cold War, when there was a need, the Swedes fielded a very large and capable army. The Soviets knew that they would be a tough nut and thus respected their neutrality.

My other point is that service is ultimately a political matter. Your nine month soldiers as you dismiss them -- if faced with deployment to Iraq -- are going to be a whole lot more circumspect than someone who is not facing that prospect. No longer the consequence free bravery of the current crop of young College Republicans. And if the nation truly is in peril, as we have been at times in our history, then you can better galvanize an effective force with the political will to do what must be done.

There is a huge gulf between the military and the civilian population. Universal service would go a long way in redressing this imbalance and return us to a citizen soldiery.

lightkeeper : citations/sources

The primary literature articles I found with a one-minute scan of Google results for keywords "monkey snake fear latent innate" seem to be free online only as references.

Here's science writer Matt Riddley

Re; Joels posts. Leave it to a "Cannon Cocker" to be "on target, on time". I'd say BDA is point made- mission complete.
Old Soldier
Field Artillery
30 Years

shucks.

I was just some smartass 31-B -- never humped rounds or pulled the lanyard myself, just fixed the commo gear for those who did the real work.

Got plenty muddy all the same ;-)

Best to you on Memorial Day, OS.


"Like everyone else, I've been disturbed by the political posturing surrounding Gitmo.
...
But there's actually one thing even more disturbing than Republican dishonesty ....."

Let me guess, it's not what the Democrats in charge of actual policy are doing.

Anyone reading your coverage of detention policy here could be mistake for assuming Dick Cheney was still in office. What with him and Republicans who don't make these policies tying up all your coverage of it.

I wonder just how many dishonesty-enhancing drugs you would have to shoot into your ass before you'd be able to claim that McCain taking office and spending the next 3 months talking change while adopting most of Bush's detention, executive power and secrecy policies while ruling out prosecutions or even investigations would solicit the response Obama has received.

What a pathetic joke all you fake outrage liberals have been exposed as. Principles voiced so loud, long and passionately under Bush. And now this.

Where you offer ESPN-like coverage of anything and everything you can find a Republican saying as though this is the same thing.

"Anyone reading your coverage of detention policy here could be mistake for assuming Dick Cheney was still in office. What with him and Republicans who don't make these policies tying up all your coverage of it."

I don't know who you're talking to, but bloggers and commenters here have been offering plenty of criticism of President Obama. This thread has endless amounts of criticism of Obama. So does this thread. So do lots of threads at this blog. Lots and lots of them. So does my my last post at my blog.

So wtf are you talking about? You obviously haven't read this blog at all, but are just commenting on your imaginary version of it.

No, they are not. Expressing a general intent to kill Americans or "being at war with the US", whatever that is supposed to mean exactly, are not crimes because Obama says so.
Actually, most jurisdictions recognise uttering threats as a criminal offence, and by long-standing precedent (going back to the origins of just war theory) individuals may not lawfully declare war in their private capacity. I suspect that somewhere in the US code, or in the code of laws in force in the countries where these crimes took place, or even under international law, you could find a statute that would fit the case.

You guys are so full of it. This week-end is a holiday in celebration and honor of those who have stood up for America in its conflicts and especially for those who have fallen. I served with some of those heroes and I am very happy to be able to say so and to honor them.

When I show up here to read posts and comments, I often wonder if any of those making such negative comments about this country have actually served as our fallen heroes have.

Posted by: GoodOleBoy | May 23, 2009
I'm kind of tired of people who assume that military experience eqates with superior patriotism and i am tired of people wh assume that those superior patriots will be Republicans.

My dad, who was much for radical that i am, enlisted and fought in the Philipines in WWII. He literally never voted for a Republican at any level of government.

I usually enjoy your posts, Good Ole Boy, but you were off base here.

You do realize, BTW, that both Bush and Cheney were draft avoiders? In fact Repubican politicians or radio/TV personsities with military experience are rare.

The irrationality of the fear about incarcerating terrorists in the US makes me think a kind of mythical thinking is at work. It's as though a lot of people suppose the US to be a kind of "sacred body" that would be defiled, and thus destroyed, by the mere presence of these people. It's really not a worry about them escaping from supermax prisons and running amuck -- it's the semi-conscious idea that even in their cells they would be violating our American purity of essence or something. They would be in the Heartland! And then the Heartland wouldn't really be the Heartland anymore.

I just don't see how else to explain it.

More questions for the good ole boys out there:

Can you repeat what you've been told?

Can you bite the bullet?

Can you see the enemy?

Can you point your finger?

Can you prove your loyalty?

My comment was not really about patriotism but more about sensibilities and being able to relate to those whose formative influences were quite foreign to those of today. Many from my generation question if today's shifts in views on national service, national sovereignty, and American exceptionalism and our role and place in the world as expressed by later generations will preserve this American nation far into the future.

My views are not driven by fear or cowardice as has been the focus of many of the comments here. I also do not support denying any of humanity their basic rights. But I do want my government to take the necessary steps to keep this nation the one that was established in the last quarter of the 18th century. There is an ideological component in that and our efforts to combat terrorist ventures fomented by principally radical Islamists reflects that ideological opposition.

A lot of us older folks think the task of defending what this country represents is much more difficult when we rely on only a select handful of our citizens to carry out any required military operations with little sacrifice or mission support from the rest.

So, I think a lot of those here who I take issue with are wrongheaded but I do not suggest that serving or not serving in the military affects one's patriotism in any way.

Here's a story that could be about me.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/22/AR2009052202023.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

But I do want my government to take the necessary steps to keep this nation the one that was established in the last quarter of the 18th century.

In which black people were slaves, no woman had the vote, and Native Americans were still being massacred?

A lot of us older folks think the task of defending what this country represents is much more difficult when we rely on only a select handful of our citizens to carry out any required military operations with little sacrifice or mission support from the rest.

Given "what your country represents" if what you want is that 18th-century dream of liberty and citizenship reserved for white men only, it would be just and right if only white male citizens died for it.

But, mockery aside, the most obvious reason why a citizen army can't work is because the US military is primarily intended to violently subjugate other countries in accordance with US foreign policy. That is certainly "what the US represents" - a superpower which attacks other countries aggressively, opposing democratic government where the vote went against US policy, supporting dictators who are willing to support the US. But these "American values" which you want the citizenry of the US to volunteer for, are generally of minority interest: some people may long to go kill the gooks and show them that America's the boss, but mostly it's easier to get that kind of feeling out of your system at home with the 101st Fighting Keyboarders.

Switzerland still functions with a citizen army, but Switzerland is a small neutral country in the center of Europe: the geopolitical differences between the US and Switzerland are too vast to be accounted for in a blog-comment.

Jesurgislac, the elements within your mockery have all been addressed and are within our constitutional framework now. In fact, the principles were always there even when conditions were not measuring up to them. If you like to think of yourself as progressive, then try thinking about reform as progressive steps instead of a single jump to some imagined utopia. The history of your country is not different.

I might be going in a slightly different direction with this, but I think a general draft in the US without any deferments or other cop-outs would be an excellent idea. People would think twice before supporting wars of choice if their own @ss or that of their children is on the line and those that are not needed for military service or are conscientious objectors could do all sorts of useful social services, as is the case in e.g. Germany.

I would like to back up and actually address a point from the original post, namely, that the opposition to transferring detainees to the US proper stems from fear.

My opposition, and I suspect many others, comes from my understanding of the radical Islam that spawns terrorist activities. Beliefs held within this class of people are anathema to any common view of American culture. Those beliefs and practices will not assimilate into American culture and leave that culture where we would recognize it.

Just as hardcore communists of the first half of the 20th century were unwelcome in the US because of their support for the violent overthrow of our form of government, radical Islamists are not welcomed by many here today because of their support for cultural practices (often oppressive, abusive, or violent) that are not acceptable here.

Any of those held in Gitmo who are of the radical Islamist ilk probably should stay there. For any who are not, finding them a place other than here should not be beyond resolution.

I vote for undesirable instead of fear.

"My opposition, and I suspect many others, comes from my understanding of the radical Islam that spawns terrorist activities."

Several points here:

1) No one is advocating releasing people who are actual terrorists to walk freely in the U.S.

2) The number of Uighers/Uyghurs in Guantanamo who need to find a home totals all of 16.

3) How one knows what their specific beliefs in Islam are, or that they're "radical," I don't know.

4) Endless numbers of Wahabi Saudi Arabians and other Muslims live in the U.S. without incident or harm.

5) Far larger numbers of fundamentalist Christians, and Jews, with beliefs about the subordination of women, corporal punishment, and so on, live in the U.S. than comparable Muslims.

6) Organizations representing such fundamentalist Christians and Jews are, in fact, sought after for their political support by both major U.S. political parties, and are given mainstream acceptance by innumerable prominent politicians.

7) We have freedom of belief in the United States, absent a will to engage in violence or criminal activity.

Conclusion: what sensible reason one would have to justify keeping out any harmless person from Guantanamo (this is not an advocacy of the idea that everyone at Guantanamo is harmless), beyond religious prejudice that singles out fundamentalist Muslims, and not fundamentalist Christians or Jews, remains extremely unclear.

On an earlier point: "A lot of us older folks think the task of defending what this country represents is much more difficult when we rely on only a select handful of our citizens to carry out any required military operations with little sacrifice or mission support from the rest."

That's a notion that cuts across political lines, and is shared by many folks of many political ilks.

Gary, I did not mention religion and I did include practices (actual acts) as part of the radical Islamic cultural behavior I was describing. Your comments seem to be factually correct and members of what some might see as religious sects with extreme beliefs (Christian, Muslim, or other) are indeed welcome here. Any practices or behaviors deriving from those beliefs that are unlawful here or that fall outside our cultural norms and are specifically harmful to specific individuals are likely to be unwelcome to many Americans, but not because they are fearful. I believe you can believe in communism as a social doctrine without believing in the violent overthrow of legitimately elected governments. But if one is seen as likely to act on the latter, then I don't want that one here.

So those at Gitmo probably fall in one of three groups, but maybe there are more.

1. Those about whom we have real evidence that they have planned or committed acts of terrorism, or trained with those who have. Those can stay at Gitmo.

2. Those who were captured while in the company of others involved in terrorism. Since these are a question mark, but we can't be sure, there is no reason to bring them here, but we should work to get them out of Gitmo if we cannot make abetter case.

3. Those who for all we can determine have no connection to terrorism but were turned over to us for bounty or whatever. They also have no reason to come to the US and I know, from all the comments here, that there are many places in the world more humane than the US, so they should go there.

Shorter GOB:

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddle masses yearning to breathe free
Unless they are "unwelcome to many Americans"
If they are - f**k 'em.

GoodOleBoy: The history of your country is not different.

Indeed not. But unlike you, I do not hark back to how glorious things were when they were fundamentally unequal for more people.

My opposition, and I suspect many others, comes from my understanding of the radical Islam that spawns terrorist activities. Beliefs held within this class of people are anathema to any common view of American culture. Those beliefs and practices will not assimilate into American culture and leave that culture where we would recognize it.

"Who are you calling 'we', white man?"

Islam is part of American culture. It does not have to "assimilate", any more than any other religion should have to.

As for your "three categories": BS.

Why do you keep saying religion when I speak of culture? Radical Islamic culture, as I have described it to include political terrorism, honor killings, punishing females for being raped, public stoning for accused adultresses, is commonly disavowed by people who practice the Islamic religion. Do you welcome these people to your community? Also, I do not harken to the times of two centuries ago but merely continue to honor the principles of individual liberty which really got kicked off at that time and have progressed since that time. People live in the time they are alloted and this is not the time of the white man on your street.

3. Those who for all we can determine have no connection to terrorism but were turned over to us for bounty or whatever. They also have no reason to come to the US and I know, from all the comments here, that there are many places in the world more humane than the US, so they should go there.

-- posted by GoodOleBoy

No reason?

Seriously, no reason?

We have ruined these people's lives. Or at least, it will take a series of miracles to make that statement turn out to be an exaggeration.

We owe them more than we can ever give them. If they want to come here, we should let them come, and we should give them every conceivable support. In fact, wherever they go, we should give them every conceivable support.

Funny, for a guy who cares so much about responsibility there's an appalling lack of it in GOB's notion of what we owe people we have (at best) falsely imprisoned for years.

And I have to echo Gary's response to GOB yesterday: the nasty snark of the 2nd sentence quoted above is just another in a long series of examples of GOB using the issue at hand (whatever issue it is) as a stick to beat the people "here" with.

Many from my generation question if today's shifts in views on national service, national sovereignty, and American exceptionalism and our role and place in the world as expressed by later generations will preserve this American nation far into the future.

Which is your generation? Because if it's the one I'm guessing, it's those "many from my generation" who are responsible for this goddamn trainwreck in the first place.

In fact, the principles were always there even when conditions were not measuring up to them.

Yes, we've always believed that all men are created equal, as the Three-Fifths rule so clearly demonstrates.

Any practices or behaviors deriving from those beliefs that are unlawful here or that fall outside our cultural norms and are specifically harmful to specific individuals are likely to be unwelcome to many Americans, but not because they are fearful.

Did you know that it's entirely legal in a majority of US states to deliberately withhold medical care from a sick child so long as you are engaged in what you believe to be a program of prayer to the recognized deity of your choice? I'll bet you a dollar that you didn't.

GoodOleBoy: political terrorism, honor killings, punishing females for being raped, public stoning for accused adultresses

...which crimes, if evidence shows an individual person to be guilty of them, warrant whatever civil penalty applies after due process.

They do not warrant condemnation without due process.

Also, I do not harken to the times of two centuries ago but merely continue to honor the principles of individual liberty which really got kicked off at that time and have progressed since that time.

The principles of individual liberty for white men only. If you don't want to hark back to two centuries ago, why do so?

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