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January 20, 2010

Comments

" I'd love to watch a politician try to defend, against the charges of a demagogue, the consistency of a position that allows for the treatment of terror suspects one way, but rapists another."

I believe, for better or worse, Scott Brown answered this question last night. To paraphrase (someone else can read through that speech again) "Our laws are made to protect OUR citizens" caps mine, emphasis his.

Just so you know it has been answered.

I parphrased it so badly I did go find it:

"And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation - they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them."

If only Nixon had given up his Veep slot instead of giving that damn Checkers speech, things might have turned out different for the US of A.

Marty,

A few problems:

1. Our citizens were not granted such rights under the Bush legal regime (see, ie, Lindh and Padilla).

2. By calling suspects "enemies in wartime" and "terrorists" Brown is, again, assuming the guilt of the accused. How do we know if someone turned in by a bounty hunter in Afghanistan in exchange for cash is an "enemy in wartime" or a "terrorist"? We don't. And yet...

So Marty, answer not satisfactory.

Eric,

I assumed it wouldn't be, although it didn't address Bush. If you would quit citing Bush and listen to what others are saying today the discussion would be more productive. Many people think Bush/Cheney went too far without conceding full Constitutional rights to every terrorist.

Like many things, the easy argument is to say that Bush did it, he is raising money for Haiti, so I don't care a lot what he did in discussing what we should do. My response is so what, doesn't mean I would do it. I might not give that guy in Afghanistan a trial in NYC though. That would not be a domestic crime by any stretch.

Not only that, but don't our laws and Constitution allow us to sign treaties, such as those under the Geneva Conventions, that do grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime? Isn't the whole point of that to protect this nation, as much as any other? Might the same reasoning apply to lawyers to protect (accused) terrorits? WTF? Way to miss the point entirely...

If you would quit citing Bush and listen to what others are saying today the discussion would be more productive.

Um, like Gingrich? Even Brown citing "new rights" is ridiculous. I quoted him.

But why don't you provide some quotes and links to GOP leaders that are taking a better position. Help me to break out of my Bush blinders. Please, and I say that sincerely. I want to believe!

Just so you know it has been answered.

Yeah, Marty, that attitude towards non-citizens is why I won't go to the US any more. Neither Bush's nor Obama's DoJ has acknowledged that what the US government did to Mahar Arar was a crime.

I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation - they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime.

Marty, I recognise you're just quoting Scott Brown. But I am so effin' tired of this creepy, repeating meme we keep hearing that the US only kidnaps, subjects to extra-judicial indefinite imprisonment, and torture, "enemies in wartime".

The US has been claiming defensively that the prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Airbase and the other oubliettes around the world, are all "the worst of the worst" ever since December 2001.

And over and over and over and over again, this claim has been proved a lie.

So why is it that, in 2010, over nine years since the US first told this lie to cover their illegal activity, Marty can quote a Republican Senator repeating this tired old lie, and claim that this repeatedly disproved lie "answers the question"?

Why, Marty? Why would you quote this tired old lie at us as an "answer" to a serious question? Why do you suppose Scott Brown thinks he can repeat this dirty stinking lie in public and not be cried down for displaying Palin levels of ignorance about Guantanamo Bay and the prisoners held therein?

Because claiming that the prisoners there are being denied their rights as accused criminals because they are "enemies in wartime" is either a lie or an ignorance of current affairs so complete that Scott Brown is no more able to be a Senator than Sarah Palin was to be President.

And Marty, I specifically argued with Brown's statement:

By calling suspects "enemies in wartime" and "terrorists" Brown is, again, assuming the guilt of the accused. How do we know if someone turned in by a bounty hunter in Afghanistan in exchange for cash is an "enemy in wartime" or a "terrorist"? We don't. And yet...

Also: what HSH said about Geneva.

Eric, He is not providing them the full protection of the constitution. That doesn't preclude an appropriate hearing in a military tribunal or appropriate treatment under the Geneva Convention. It just doen't require us to afford them the same protections as a citizen. It also recognizes that any method of dealing with them may end up imperfect, as our internal system is, and to the extent we try to meet the fundamentals of our principles we should place the protection of the country first.

Many people think Bush/Cheney went too far without conceding full Constitutional rights to every terrorist.

Who, exactly, is proposing giving full Constitutional rights to terrorists?

But it's still all based on a tired old dirty filthy disgusting lie.

Why are you repeating an argument that depends on a lie?

Marty,

That's a nice narrative, but you're reading your own beliefs into Brown's statement. He doesn't actually say the things you claim that he says.

Many people think Bush/Cheney went too far without conceding full Constitutional rights to every terrorist.

Aside from the fact that no one is suggesting giving full Constitutional rights to terrorists, and again you beg the question by labeling "the accused" as "the guilty," I repeat my request for links to prominent Republican leaders that claim that Bush/Cheney went too far.

Do you have those links?

I repeat:

Help me to break out of my Bush blinders. Please, and I say that sincerely. I want to believe!

"That's a nice narrative, but you're reading your own beliefs into Brown's statement."

Yes I am, as you are, I believe most of these folks wouldn't get elected, Scott Brown as a good example, if they believed what you accuse them of. The voters in their states are smarter than that.

I believe most of these folks wouldn't get elected, Scott Brown as a good example, if they believed what you accuse them of.

Not sure I follow. Which of my accusations does he disagree with? Which of my accusations do other GOP leaders disagree with? Why would Gingrich say that if he actually agreed with Obama?

This request still stands:

I repeat my request for links to prominent Republican leaders that claim that Bush/Cheney went too far.

Do you have those links?

I repeat:

Help me to break out of my Bush blinders. Please, and I say that sincerely. I want to believe!

Honestly, Marty, between these claims and the claims that the GOP wants to negotiate HCR with the Dems in good faith, I can't help but admiring you and also thinking that you are a bit naive. I admire that your heart is in the right place, and I agree with you a lot more than I agree with the GOP leadership.

But you don't seem to have a good grasp of that GOP leadership.

"Did Stalin Care More About Protecting the Lives of the USSR's Citizens than the Founding Fathers?"

Given that the US barely aspired to killing as many of Stalin's subjects, should we go to war with the USSR, as Stalin DID go out of his way to kill? That would be a big "Nope!".

I mean, really, why even ask such a silly question? It just detracts from the serious nature of the very real problems with US policy to compare us to one of histories greatest mass murderers.

We're not as good as we should, or could be. But we're not remotely in the same league as Stalin.

Brett,

It was intentional hyperbole.

However, the talk is of adopting his version of criminal justice as opposed to the founding fathers' version. So, sadly appropos in some respects.

Love the Drudge Report title - you go guy!

Should the US torture - No! Does torture work - Yes! What should we, the US, do with enemy combatants in a current war - any war? Let me know, you get the Nobel Prize in law & philosophy for that one!

When John Woo tried to make a coherent legal construct out of the mess of overreaction to 911 the loonies on the left want him tried as a war criminal. No matter that you agree or disagree with him, at least he tried something in the law.

What should we do, kill all the POWs? Try them all under American law in New York and put them in US prisons - which presupposes guilt and not release under rules of evidence? Release them in Yemen?

Post 2001 the CIA and FBI had joint teams working on chasing people and groups inside the US proper. That is needed. The NSA was making headway doing keyword filtering of telecom streams from US shores. We need that too. Good national intelligence and cooperation among agencies. (Most of it gone now.) Which presupposes a strong rights enforcement and court system check. Which we need too, and still have for those with the time and money to make it work for them. And this scares the loons to death - on both sides. Too much police or too much courts, oh my.

What a delightful dilemma it is.

Which leads to the end of your post. You assume that only Democrats or Republicans can postulate the solutions and frame the debate. I just wrote a bit on my blog about the alternative. http://shootyoureyeout.net/?p=435 I have hope that the way forward rests with the dangerous and horrifying 3-rail of politics in America - “We The People.”

Keep that kitten stocked with ammo!

If you break the law on US soil, you're a criminal, and are entitled to due process of law.

If you're bearing arms against the US in any manner consistent with the law of war, you're entitled to the protections due a POW.

If you fall between the above cracks and are captured by by the US, and you are a national of a signatory to Geneva IV, you are (with some exceptions) entitled to the treatment due protected persons under Geneva IV.

If you fall through all of those cracks, you are entitled to the following under Geneva IV:

such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.

Being waterboarded does not comply with these requirements.

Being murdered by having rags stuffed down your throat does not comply with these requirements.

Being beaten to death, having your legs pulped, having dogs sicked on you, being held naked and doused with water in cold rooms, being hung by strappado, etc etc etc.

None of those things comply with the treatment of individuals held hors de combat by the various treaties and conventions that this nation is a signatory to.

Scott Brown says waterboarding is not torture. Folks who are in a position to try, convict, and imprison or hang US intelligence and military actors disagree with him.

So, f**k Scott Brown on that topic. And the horse he rode in on. And the citizens of the great state of MA who voted for him.

They are god-damned wrong.

It boggles my mind that we're still having this damned conversation. It is, actually, pretty freaking black and white.

You're not allowed to torture people. N-O no.

When John Woo tried to make a coherent legal construct out of the mess of overreaction to 911 the loonies on the left want him tried as a war criminal. No matter that you agree or disagree with him, at least he tried something in the law.

That's what you get when you cede your constitutional analysis to an action film director with an predeliction for hyper-violence ;)

But more seriously, "at least he tried something in the law" is a ridiculously low standard for handing out merit badges. Come on, the guy argued that the POTUS was unfettered in matters of national security, which includes the ability to detain anyone (US Citizens included) for eternity without trial, with torture of any kind, including, and I quote, "crushing the testicles of children."

We can do better "in the law."

What should we, the US, do with enemy combatants in a current war - any war?

Hold them as prisoners. Present and evaluate evidence as to whether they are combatants at all and, if combatants, of what kind. Afford them the treatment that belongs to their status, which in no case includes torture.

It's really not rocket science.

When John Woo tried to make a coherent legal construct out of the mess of overreaction to 911 the loonies on the left want him tried as a war criminal.

Yoo actually is under investigation as a possible war criminal, but not by loonie US lefties. He shouldn't plan on international travel anytime soon.

OMG, John Woo crushes children's testicles! What happened to just drugging them in the hot tub! Is he hiding in Switzerland? Send him back here right now! :0>>

I wonder if this discussion about prison suicides would have traction if Bernie was the subject? Charlie M? The head of La Familia in San Quentin? Wasn't Jeffery the cannibal murdered in prison? (Just had to throw that in!)

I commend you for continuing to stir up the complex mess of contradictions, religion, politics, revenge, nationalism emotions, and reason that tries to makes sense of war, power that makes humans so dangerous. god help the Borg if they ever come to this planet and try to "assimilate" us!

Of course I realize it's hyperbole. But, you know what? There's hyperbole. There's over the top hyperbole. There's freaky hyperbole. And then there's why would it occur to any sane individual to go there hyperbole. And comparing the US, (Which, while we're certainly not as good as we ought to be, we compare favorably to, say, most members of the UN human rights council.) is well into WWIOTASITGTH hyperbole.

As well, there's the left's historic infatuation with Stalin, which you'd think would make members of the left a little antsy about making US/Stalin comparisons even humorously.

I just don't think it's constructive, and indeed, why WOULD any sane individual go there?

The inanity of the previous two comments brought on this wave of apathy that nearly succeeded in overwhelming my desire to respond to the substance of the post, rather than picking at nits, or, more likely, just throwing my hands up and walking away. So, reasonably well played, if that was your goal...


Can anyone link me to authors espousing moral or legal arguments against the prosecution as war criminals the leaders who ordered these procedures or the prosecution as torturers or murderers those who carried out said orders?

I'm dismissing as obvious but ultimately irrelevant arguments about how _untidy_ it would be for us to attempt to unsh!t our bed.

While I agree with russell more than most anyone posting on the interwebs, I don't want us to hold travel abroad and the threat that a court in say, Spain, might hold suspected U.S. war criminals accountable for their crimes over the heads of said suspects. I want them tried, and either convicted or acquitted, here, with our verdict on their actions offered up plainly to the verdict of history.

To paraphrase Feingold (re. warrantless surveillance), we have to deal with the fact that we're harboring war criminals.

I still want to know why Marty thinks that quoting Scott Brown repeating a tired ancient dirty nasty lie is in any way "answering a question".

What should we, the US, do with enemy combatants in a current war - any war?

Avoid things which would condemn us to hell, I think.

believe most of these folks wouldn't get elected, Scott Brown as a good example, if they believed what you accuse them of.

Of course they would and have. You're simply reading something into the text of Scott Brown that isn't there. He means what he said he meant and has said when it comes to torture: he supports it, and so do many voters. If you offer people tax cuts and show them how wonderful war is, they will willingly support torture, if only because they are themselves implicated in the initial misjudgments of the war and feel they have to go "all in." Brown was a big torture supporter and Iraq war supporter. To repudiate Bush now would be an implicit confession that his life was a waste and would result in his neighbors thinking that he was weak.

we're not remotely in the same league as Stalin.

True. As the post points out, Stalin was willing to go to lengths to protect the USSR that we apparently aren't. It does make you wonder what's wrong with us, doesn't it?

I just don't think it's constructive, and indeed, why WOULD any sane individual go there?

Why are people who claim to be sane individuals complaining that we are apparently reluctant to go where Stalin went when it came to getting information out of his nation's enemies? Was it because Stalin cared more about his country than we do?

The problem, Brett, is that the right wing has diabolically decided that they will cast their lot with torture and declare that "torture is patriotic." That's like calling Stalin a patriot, and for that matter, making it look like Stalin cares more about his country than you do or I do. And the American right is going to have to carry that stigma for the rest of their lives.

"Why would Gingrich say that if he actually agreed with Obama?"

The answer to this is both political and, in some cases, legal. Pretty much the saame reasons Pelosi doesn't have much to say about it.

Marty, still wanting you to explain to me why you thought it was worth quoting Scott Brown's repetition of the lie about the prisoners in Guantanamo as a answer to the question.

This notion, revolutionary at the time, represented a major break from the unchecked police power afforded monarchs and other absolute rulers that preceded the founding of our nation.
Eric, the idea that the provisions of the US constitution calling for due process represented any kind of break from British practice before the revolution ignores at least 500 years of British history, from Magna Carta to the English Civil War. The American Revolution broke away from a ruthless colonial empire, but it also rejected the most humane and liberal government in the world at that time, and several of the grievances that led to the revolution, such as the Quebec Act (allowing francophone Catholics to vote and serve on juries), and the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (requiring respect for First Nations land rights) actually arose because the respect for human rights shown by the British government affronted the religious prejudices and commercial interests of influential Americans.

I point this out because the American founding fathers did not invent human rights and democracy. They didn't invent federalism, either; they cribbed that bit from the Haunenoshonee Great Law of Peace. When you concede the historical claims of American exceptionalism, and buy into the notion that the United States arose, miraculously, from a sea of tyranny and absolute government, then you end up half way to the conservative position, which draws much of its power from the notion that you must at all costs protect, and never change, the rare and fragile flower called American democracy.

Can everyone please stick to comparing the US government to the Mafia and to serial killers so that poor Brett can avoid the fainting couch? Thanks!

The argument, that “citizens” are the only “individuals” worthy of rights, is an old traditional argument in the US. The US Government and its “citizens” have killed more people than Stalin could have ever dreamed of. And the greatest justification for this genocide was built on the notion that Native Americans and Africans were not citizens.

... the Jewish Holocaust-the inhuman destruction of 6,000,000 people-was not an abominably unique event.(It was.) So, too, for reasons of its own, was the mass murder of about 1,000,000 Armenians in Turkey a few decades prior to the Holocaust. So, too, was the deliberately caused "terror-famine" in Stalin's Soviet Union in the 1930s, which killed more than 14,000,000 people. So, too, have been each of the genocidal slaughters of many millions more, decades after the Holocaust, in Burundi, Bangladesh, Kampuchea, East Timor, the Brazilian Amazon, and elsewhere. Additionally, within the framework of the Holocaust itself, there were aspects that were unique in the campaign of genocide conducted by the Nazis against Europe's Romani (Gypsy) people, which resulted in the mass murder of perhaps 1,500,000 men, women, and children. Of course, there also were the unique horrors of the African slave trade, during the course of which at least 30,000,000-and possibly as many as 40,000,000 to 60,000,000-Africans were killed, most of them in the prime of their lives, before they even had a chance to begin working as human chattel on plantations in the Indies and the Americas. And finally, there is the unique subject of this book, the total extermination of many American Indian peoples and the near-extermination of others, in numbers that eventually totaled close to 100,000,000.

From Sex, Race and Holy War from American Holocaust by David Stannard

Morality is only for US citizens. (Or at least the right type of citizen, of course)

I point this out because the American founding fathers did not invent human rights and democracy.

I didn't say they invented it.

They didn't invent federalism, either; they cribbed that bit from the Haunenoshonee Great Law of Peace.

See above.

...buy into the notion that the United States arose, miraculously, from a sea of tyranny and absolute government, then you end up half way to the conservative position

No, but it was a revolutionary compact at the time. The concepts weren't invented here, but they were put into practice here as never before.

Still, you are right about the history, and so I appreciate the comment.

And comparing the US...

Brett, let me break this down for you:

One of the two major political parties in this country is arguing that, with respect to terrorist suspects, implementing a Stalinesque justice system evinces more care for the lives of US citizens than does implementing the justice system envisioned by our founding fathers.

If that makes you uncomfortable, I'm the last person you should be blaming.

I never said the US = Stalin. I never said the US was close to Stalin. I never compared the US to Stalin. Not at all.

Please re-read if that's what you thought, and provide quotes showing that argument.

What I said was, to repeat myself: the GOP is arguing that implementing a Stalinesque approach to criminal justice with respect to terrorist suspects would show more care for the lives of US citizens.

That's all.

"the notion of granting the accused due process rights and exempting the accused from certain punishments until guilt is proven (and other punishments even for the guilty)" was _not_ revolutionary at the time. It was, in fact, established in law.

There were, no doubt, revolutionary aspects to the US constitution - i.e. features that represented a dramatic or even unprecedented break from existing practice, like "electing a head of state" - but this wasn't one of them.
Neither was George III an absolute monarch, nor did he have unchecked police power. I mean, really.

It's also worth noting, of course, that the US constitution didn't guarantee due process to _everyone_. A significant share of the population could be imprisoned, tortured or killed at will with no legal sanction.

Ajay,

Perhaps some sloppy wording on my part, but the Bill of Rights? That was standard fare at the time? Really?

And I never actually said that George the III himself was an absolute monarch, or that he had unchecked police power. Just that limiting these powers was still a relatively new notion. In practice, the entirety of the rights granted citizens was revolutionary in some respects.

(Slaves and women notwithstanding)

at least he tried something in the law.

What? He didn't try to get legislation passed. He didn't bring a court case. He wrote a freakin memo. That we were never supposed to see.

I wonder if this discussion about prison suicides would have traction if Bernie was the subject? Charlie M? The head of La Familia in San Quentin? Wasn't Jeffery the cannibal murdered in prison?

Two thoughts:

1. The "suicide" victims were suspects, not convicted criminals. In fact, the evidence indicates they were innocent of any crimes.

2. Even still, if prison officials or law enforcement are killing convicted criminals, they should be prosecuted. Whether or not such behavior gains traction does not change the injustice involved.

I agree you can put the statements I questioned down to a matter of wording, but I think wording matters. From reading the hard-line nationalists in the Republican party, I think a the justifications they use for a substantial portion of their policies, from adventurism to opposition to change, depend on the view of the United States as a unique and unparalleled achievement in human freedom. Given this, I think that clarity about what the American founding fathers really did (and did not) achieve matters a great deal.

The US Constitution did represent a revolutionary synthesis; every single feature, from religious freedom to due process to a written constitution existed elsewhere. The American constitutional convention brought them all together in a new way.

An innocent person is more likely to be tortured to death than a guilty one. The guilty can end the torture by cooperating with the torturer. The innocent cannot because they do not have the information the torturer wants, and the longer they last under torture without providing the information the more convinced the torturer becomes that he is dealing with an especially hardened and committed enemy.

F-Book: I don't disagree. But also note that I never implied that the US version was the end point, or culmination, of democracy, freedom, egalitarianism.

Magna Carta, 1215.

(from Wikipedia)
"Magna Carta required King John of England to proclaim certain rights (pertaining to freemen), respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law. It explicitly protected certain rights of the King's subjects, whether free or fettered — and implicitly supported what became the writ of habeas corpus, allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment."

Not exactly recent.

Eric, I do indeed note that you did not, indeed, ever refer to US as an end-point or culmination of freedom. And I agree, American exceptionalism does depend partly on the claim that the American constitution definitively and exclusively establishes the nature of freedom.

By the way, the facebook link refers to John Spragge. I hope to find a way to make that link work better (typepad wanted me to set up my own micro-blog).

Not exactly recent

Right. We've established that.

Marty quotes Scott Brown: "And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation - they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them."

and claims that "for better or worse" this answers the question about why people who have been accused of terrorism ought not to receive the same legal rights as people accused of any other crime.

Here's one of the "enemies in wartime": Omar Deghayes, a refugee from Gadaffi (his father was executed in Libya in 1980) who was a legal British resident since age 10, whose wife and son are British citizens, who was taken in Pakistan when he took his family there to escape the war in Afghanistan after "the Americans began paying large amounts of money to find Arabs who had been in Afghanistan".

In Guantanmo Bay:

It is not hot stabbing pain that Omar Deghayes remembers from the day a Guantánamo guard blinded him, but the cool sen­sation of fingers being stabbed deep into his eyeballs. He had joined other prisoners in protesting against a new humiliation – inmates ­being forced to take off their trousers and walk round in their pants – and a group of guards had entered his cell to punish him. He was held down and bound with chains.

"I didn't realise what was going on until the guy had pushed his fingers ­inside my eyes and I could feel the coldness of his fingers. Then I realised he was trying to gouge out my eyes," Deghayes says. He wanted to scream in agony, but was determined not to give his torturers the satisfaction. Then the officer standing over him instructed the eye-stabber to push harder. "When he pulled his hands out, I remember I couldn't see anything – I'd lost sight completely in both eyes." Deghayes was dumped in a cell, fluid streaming from his eyes.

The sight in his left eye returned over the following days, but he is still blind in his right eye. He also has a crooked nose (from being punched by the guards, he says) and a scar across his forefinger (slammed in a prison door), but otherwise this resident of Saltdean, near Brighton, appears ­relatively ­unscarred from the more than five years he spent locked in Guantánamo Bay.

read the rest

The "evidence" against Omar Deghayes, aside from the US having paid the Pakistani authorities a lot of money for him (apparently the Libyans and the Americans were competing in the auction) is that someone spotted someone who looked like him in an "Islamic terrorist" videotape: a Chechnyan rebel called Abu Walid, who is dead. His lawyers were denied access to the videotape by the American authorities: they eventually obtained a copy via the BBC and were able to show that the tape was of a different person.

Omar Deghayes is one of at least eight hundred of the US's kidnap victims who suffered illegal imprisonment for years. He's one of eight hundred people that Scott Brown claims are "enemies in wartime". He's a legal British resident whose brutal treatment Scott Brown defends because he's not a US citizen and so was not entitled to any of the legal rights of a US citizen - including the right not to have your guards stick their fingers in your eyes and half-blind you: including the right for your lawyers to be able to see the evidence for the charges alleged against you.

Omar Deghayes did not take up arms against the US: he did not engage in criminal activity: he went to Afghanistan to do charitable work for some of the poorest people on Earth, and he fled to Pakistan to save his family when the US attacked. Yet Marty repeats this lie - that Omar Deghayes is an "enemy in wartime" and so this brutal treatment is justified - and will not explain why he thinks the lie answers the question.

Why is that?

And of course, Marty, I could keep repeating this. There are a thousand prisoners who were held in Guantanamo Bay: 800 have been released after years of illegal imprisonment and torture because even the Stalinist regime instituted by the Bush government could not find any evidence of their guilt. How many times does it have to be repeated that "enemies in wartime!" isn't a justification or an answer: it's a lie.

This is one of the few areas where Jesurgislac and I agree at least partially, although it took a little while for me to come around to the truth of it: "prisoner" and "terrorist" are not interchangeable.

So this notion that Guantanamo prisoners can (and possibly even should) be treated differently and less humanely than, well, someone arrested and awaiting trial ("humanely" includes, to me, the right to a speedy trial, among other things), doesn't sit well with me. And it shouldn't sit well with you, either, Marty. Anyone that even pauses to consider whether FDR's internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry was constitutional (or the broader case of general internment of ANY resident of Japanese ancestry) should be looking askance at Guantanamo. There's a huge difference between the popular prison-for-terrorists function that Guantanamo represents to lots of people, and what it actually is, that merits consideration.

What we have there is a quasi-legal oubliette. Which would be nearly ok with me, if it contained only a bunch of AQ and other terrorists, but it doesn't.

Slart, I am in complete agreement that the intent is better than the execution(realized yet unintended not funny pun). I simply believe we could improve how we use it, better limit who goes there and more aggressively put them in front of a tribunal. I disgree that we have to be right about who we take there every time to justify the system. We just need to make sure for those that shouldn't be there it doesn't become a long stay. And, oh yeah, we shouldn't toture them. Since we don't anymore, we are assured by the President, then it shuold be a lower priority and less pressing to sort out the execution
parameters. And since every time someone comes up with a new accusation over the last two or three years the DOJs answer is we investigated and founf no evidence to support prosecution, I am more interested in what we are doing now.

Perhaps some sloppy wording on my part, but the Bill of Rights? That was standard fare at the time? Really?

Sorry, by the Bill of Rights do you mean the US Bill of Rights, or the UK Bill of Rights which laid out many of the same principles exactly a century earlier, and parts of which were copied almost word for word by the authors of the US Bill? (Freedom of speech, right to bear arms, prohibition of a standing army, free and fair elections, trial by jury, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments).

In other words: yes, it was indeed standard fare.

Marty: I disgree that we have to be right about who we take there every time to justify the system.

The current situation is that the US has had to publicly admit it has been wrong about who they took to Guantanamo Bay at least 80% of the time.

I'm so angry at your casual attitude to kidnapping innocent people that I'm actually finding it hard to type.

So let me blockquote instead, another victim of the American attitude that it's okay to violate those accused of terrorism: this is the (former) British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, a 20-year veteran of the British Foreign Service, speaking of what he witnessed at the show trial of a man accused of being an al-Qaeda terrorist - "a big event put on partly for the benefit of the American embassy to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Uzbek alliance against terrorism".

When I got there, to call the trial unconvincing would be an underestimate. There was one moment when this old man [who] had given evidence that his nephew was a member of al-Qaeda and had personally met Osama bin Laden. And like everybody else in that court he was absolutely terrified.

But suddenly as he was giving his evidence, he seemed from somewhere to find an inner strength. He was a very old man but he stood taller and said in a stronger voice, he said, “This is not true. This is not true. They tortured my children in front of me until I signed this. I had never heard of al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.

He was then hustled out of the court and we never did find out what had happened to him. He was almost certainly killed. But as it happens I was within touching distance of him when he said that and I can’t explain it. It’s not entirely rational. But you could just feel it was true. You could tell he was speaking the truth when he said that.

When I hear the lazy, dirty, filthy lies of the US establishment defending the practice of kidnapping and torturing people accused of terrorism, that this is all A-OK because hey, they're "enemies in wartime" - and you think all the system needs is to "improve how we use it, better limit who goes there and more aggressively put them in front of a tribunal"?

Really, Marty? You think the practice of kidnapping innocent people, shipping them off to be tortured and imprisoned, just needs to be "improved" to work just fine?

I simply believe we could improve how we use it

I agree with you on that, but I think "improve" sort of understates the nature of the change, while implicitly overstating the current state of things.

I disgree that we have to be right about who we take there every time to justify the system.

In general, that's a fine idea. But how long can we be wrong, before we even consider acknowledging having been wrong? There don't seem to be any rules in place.

There are prisoners in Gitmo that at this point have been interned over two times longer than any person of Japanese ancestry was interned during WWII, without having done anything wrong at all.

Which is not so bad, if they're Islamic terrorists, but bad if they happened not to have done anything wrong.

In other words: yes, it was indeed standard fare.

OK, I clearly did not account for the British precedent. But when you say "standard fare" do you mean it was standard fare for many or most European states at the time, or you mean there was one precedent - the UK? I ask in earnest.

Torture loopholes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/opinion/21alexander.html

Oh, and apparently Obama's just declared final surrender to the forces of evil: at least fifty of the US's kidnap victims will continue to be indefinitely imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay without trial, on the basis that the US is totes sure they're humungously dangerous but can't actually prove it even given a tribunal.

Marty claims the US has stopped torturing prisoners. This is both directly and indirectly false.

It's directly false because indefinite imprisonment in a cage is torture.

It's indirectly false because the US is evidently still using torture - the chief reason for being sure a prisoner is dangerous without any means of proving it in public, is that the evidence you have against the prisoner was obtained by torture.

Sorry to belabor the point.

Marty claims the US has stopped torturing prisoners. This is both directly and indirectly false.

It's directly false because indefinite imprisonment in a cage is torture.

Additionally, last I heard (Obamian platitudes not withstanding), we were still torturing. Unless there's no hunger strikes going ATM, or we've had a massive policy shift and are no longer trying to break them with force-feeding. That is by any reasonable standard torture, especially when it is done in such a way as to accentuate discomfort for the "patient", and as much to break their will to continue their strike as to keep them alive. Which has been the SOP for US military force-feeding for quite some time.

Sorry to belabor the point.

No need to apologize. My bad. Just me being prickly and defensive. I blame the three month old and the sleep deprivation ;)

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