Explaining Guantanamo

Some readers asked me about Guantanamo. I told them that it is not one of my issues. Nobody has opinions on everything, not even me, but today I heard a good explanation by John Bellinger on the Dianne Rehm Show. Sound bites do not apply. I summarize the U.S. position below or you can listen at the link above.

Catching the Right People

The U.S. does not want to be the world jailor. We have released more than 300 and there are just under 400 remaining. These guys were picked up by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. It was difficult to hold them there during the war in Afghanistan. Guantanamo had the facilities. Of the many thousands of fighters, we brought only around 700 to Guantanamo at great expense. It was neither a general round up nor a random grap.

POW Status

Al Qaeda & Taliban fighters are not parties to the Geneva Convention so the Geneva Convention could not be applied. The Supreme Court decided that Common Article #3 did apply. Article #3 states that prisoners must be treated humanely. Prisoners were already being treated consistent with this. The prisoners at Guantanamo are being held as combatants, although not POWs, for example. In a war you do not have to have evidence and proof as we have in a civilian situation. We did not have sufficient evidence against German or Japanese POWs, for example. This was not a police action. They were not arrested; they were detained in a combat situation. How do you make sure you have the right people? The fighters did not have uniforms or dog tags and they could not be expected to tell the truth when asked if they were Al Qaeda or Taliban. Out of the many thousands, U.S. forces took around 700. Everybody in Guantanamo has had a review and the opportunity to bring habeas cases in the courts. German and Japanese prisoners in WWII could not appeal to U.S. courts.

Charging with a Crime

Everybody being held does not have to be charged with crimes. We did not do that in WWII. All of these guys were captured outside the U.S. Imagine the problems with the chain of evidence, witnesses etc. Even if we forget about the problems of trying terrorists or combatants in terms of evidence etc, trying the detainees under American law is difficult because some U.S. law is not applicable to what many of them did. For example, training for terrorism in Afghanistan is not a violation of law over which the U.S. has jurisdiction.

Closing Guantanamo

How can it be closed? Most of the countries where these guys came from do not want them back or they want them back but would mistreat them. The U.S. can hold these detainees until the end of the conflict. Many of the Taliban released have gone back to fighting. Concerns raised by international community are serious, but we need to do something with these people and options are limited.

My summary may not be perferct. Please listen for yourself. I also found a transcript from an earlier webchat that covers some of the same ground.

Posted by Jack at January 18, 2007 11:10 PM
Comments
Comment #203932

Jack, I think most people understand and accept that terrorists need to be jailed, tried and either released or punished appropiately. Most people accept that interrogation should occur.

Many Americans, like me, don’t think this is a reason to subvert the constitution, undermine the geneva conventions, endorse torture, or allow rendition as a sleazy means of backdoor torture.

Posted by: gergle at January 19, 2007 4:29 AM
Comment #203937

I’ll echo gergle’s thoughts. When the government breaks its own laws to get the bad guys, bad guys take control of government.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 19, 2007 4:56 AM
Comment #203944

Jack,

Closing Guantanamo How can it be closed?

Easy: the same way it was opened in the first place: *one* president order is enough.

Most of the countries where these guys came from do not want them back or they want them back but would mistreat them. The U.S. can hold these detainees until the end of the conflict.

You mean until the end of terrorism???
Isn’t a synomim for “forever” then?

Many of the Taliban released have gone back to fighting.

If *no* charge could be found before they were released free of *all* charge, how one could have *now* evidence they were and still are taliban fighters?

Concerns raised by international community are serious, but we need to do something with these people and options are limited.

These “limited” options seem good enough for the ~40% of the 700 detainees released.
Or are you saying the U.S. keep them in Gitmo to “protect” them from the rest of the world?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 19, 2007 5:52 AM
Comment #203947

I say that each prominent opponent to Gitmo should have the opportunity to do the right thing, and take-in one of these greatly mistreated and gentle human beings into their own home. Adopt-A-Jihadist day, or something fancy with ribbons and balloons.

Posted by: Matt at January 19, 2007 9:14 AM
Comment #203948

Gergle

I may not have made the point as well as Bellinger (that is why I suggested you all listen to the program), but we DO NOT agree that they need to be either tried or released or punished. In the case of enemy fighters (as was the case in WWII etc) they can be held until the end of the conflict. Some may be released w/o further punishment when it is determined that they are no longer a threat, even if they were “guilty” of being a threat before.

Philippe

See above. The guys could well be guilty of being Taliban, but that is not a crime over which the U.S. has jurisdiction. In the case of a war, such things are different. After WWII, we released captured members of the Waffen SS. They all had been fighters, and needed to be detained until they were no longer a threat, but not all had committed war crimes. Their threat and “crime” was conditional on circumstances. When those circumstances changed the reason for their detention disappeared, but that does not mean there was no initial reason.

Re letting them go. There have been significant problems with sending them somewhere else. Many times their home countries do not want them or their home countries would do something worse to them. Sometimes Guantanamo is the safest place they can be. We had the famous case of Chinese Uighurs. U.S. authorities decided the 15 could be release way back in 2003, but they naturally did not want to go back to China, where they would face torture or death. European countries, even those who called for the closing of Guantanamo, refused to take them. As I understand, they finally ended up in Albania.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2007 9:19 AM
Comment #203958

A good commentary Jack. The terrorists we have there need to remain there. This is not a question of subverting the constitution or the laws of war. They are not entitled to constitutional protections, nor are they protected under the geneva convention. They are not POWs. They are enemy combatants who are afforded better treatment than required under the geneva convention.

Posted by: Seminole 6i at January 19, 2007 10:20 AM
Comment #203962

Jack,

Your statement that the Geneva conventions only apply to soldiers of war is grossly false. In fact, though the Third Geneva Convention defines a category of detainees called “prisoners of war” (POWs) and lays out specific protections for them, the Fourth Geneva Convention (“Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”) lays out separate protections for civilians, including so-called “unlawful combatants.” The Geneva conventions were designed to define and get agreement within the civilized world on basic humane treatment of any human being to any other human being. I refer you to the decision of the US Court.

Posted by: Max at January 19, 2007 10:31 AM
Comment #203966

The real question is whether the people we hold are really terrorists.

If you don’t have the evidence to charge, what’s your evidence to hold? We’re spending millions, perhaps billions of taxpayer dollars to hold these guys. If we can’t factually establish terrorist links, there’s really no point in having people in that prison, for what it costs for us to care for them.

The very designation of enemy combatant is a political copout, a way to avoid giving them the rights of POWs, while at the same time avoiding the rather brutal treatment prescribed for those who fight out of uniform: summary execution. It wouldn’t, of course, do to see Americans lining up al-Qaeda and shooting them, especially if some of them turn out not to be al-Qaeda. Gitmo thus serves a way for Bush to take the easy way out by holding people he has little evidence for indefinitely.

What’s more, it’s not even clear that Bush has the power under international law to make this declaration himself. The approach that Bush seems to take to international and domestic law seems to be making things up as he goes along. Compliance to international law is essential. Where Bush fails to adhere to it, others have their excuse, too.

Torture (or coercive techniques) are better able to break the victim’s will than they are to gain credible information. Torture can easily yield false positives which forever contaminate the clarity of our picture of the enemy, wasting time money and other resources for not a great deal of benefit.

In short, as bold and beneficial to our security as some say Gitmo is, the reality is that it’s a liability, and it either needs to be closed down, or reformed into a facility that actually does us some good.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 19, 2007 11:11 AM
Comment #203968

Max

Did you read the post and maybe listen to the Bellinger talk?

I specifically mentioned article #3 and the Supreme Court. Bellinger explained it even better than my meager notes.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2007 11:12 AM
Comment #203969

Jack, you seem to be sidestepping certain questions. The most important one is this: at what point would circumstances have changed sufficiently for people believed to be terrorists to no longer be considered a threat and let go? This isn’t like fighting a country, where the opposing sides can surrender and sue for peace. Nobody can declare the war over, and lone individuals can themselves be considered threats.

Also, some of your facts are just plain wrong… if prisoners at Guantanamo were already being treated humanely, how do you explain the treatment of Sean Baker, the MP who was given brain damage while posing as an uncooperative inmate at Guantanamo in an unannounced training exercise by having his head beaten on a concrete floor? We’ve talked about this incident before on Watchblog: http://www.watchblog.com/democrats/archives/002374.html

Then there’s your claim that the inmates at Guantanamo were all arrested fighting in Afghanistan. This is false.

MYTH: All the Guantanamo detainees are combatants who fought against the United States. FACT: Many of them were not picked up on or anywhere near the battlefield. Detainees were taken into custody from 14 different countries, including Gambia, Bosnia, and Thailand. About half were taken into custody in Pakistan – and, as noted above, the thousands of dollars offered by the US to bounty hunters encouraged false arrests. According to US military records, the US has not even accused the majority of them of fighting US or coalition forces.
http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/guantanamo/2007/myths.htm

Also, though the President does not recognize the Taliban as a legitimate Afghani government, Afghanistan is in fact a party to the geneva convention.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2007 11:15 AM
Comment #203973

Err, that last post should have been from me, not Jack. I’m not sure what happened with the signature, I know I entered my email address before…

Posted by: Jarandhel at January 19, 2007 11:43 AM
Comment #203979

Jack,

The video did not work for me. The Fourth Geneva Convention (“Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”) lays out separate protections for civilians, including so-called “unlawful combatants.”

The ICRC made clear in a 2003 report titled “The legal situation of ‘unlawful/unprivileged combatants’” that the group acknowledges a distinction between POWs and unlawful combatants and does not demand POW status for detainees captured in Afghanistan.

Rather, the ICRC asserts that while these detainees may not be POWs as defined by the Third Geneva Convention (“Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War”), they still deserve more limited protections under the Fourth Geneva Convention (“Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”) and the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

I quote the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 5:

Where, in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.

In each case, 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.

The Geneva conventions were designed, again, to be the STANDARD OF BASIC HUMANE TREATMENT FOR ANY HUMAN BEING. Playing semantic word games like, “we call them combatants, not persons” is shameful children’s con game.

Posted by: Max at January 19, 2007 12:11 PM
Comment #203983
Al Qaeda & Taliban fighters are not parties to the Geneva Convention so the Geneva Convention could not be applied.

Jack, the Japanese weren’t parties to the Geneva Convention either. They tortured, massacred and beheaded thousands of allied soldiers during WWII. Yet we treated Japanese prisoners as if they were and the current relationship between Japan and the United States is better for it.

If the men and boys held in Gitmo are terrorists, try ‘em and fry ‘em. If they’re not, let ‘em go. It’s absolutely unAmerican to hold them for decades without trial.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 19, 2007 12:29 PM
Comment #203988

AP: likewise, the Vietcong… they were “unlawful combatants” but were treated as POWs.

Posted by: Jarandhel at January 19, 2007 1:08 PM
Comment #203989

We also treated the VietCong according to the Geneva conventions, as McCain has repeatedly pointed out. Again, the argument for torture being legal is all a silly, stupid, word game.

Posted by: Max at January 19, 2007 1:08 PM
Comment #203990

To refute some of your other points I refer you to this article in the National Journal by Stuart Taylor:

http://nationaljournal.com/taylor.htm

SUMMARY:
* A high percentage, perhaps the majority, of the 500-odd men now held at Guantanamo were not captured on any battlefield, let alone on “the battlefield in Afghanistan” (as Bush asserted) while “trying to kill American forces” (as McClellan claimed).

* Fewer than 20 percent of the Guantanamo detainees, the best available evidence suggests, have ever been Qaeda members.

* Many scores, and perhaps hundreds, of the detainees were not even Taliban foot soldiers, let alone Qaeda terrorists. They were innocent, wrongly seized noncombatants with no intention of joining the Qaeda campaign to murder Americans.

* The majority were not captured by U.S. forces but rather handed over by reward-seeking Pakistanis and Afghan warlords and by villagers of highly doubtful reliability.

And how have these innocent men been treated?

Detainees who had no information - because they had no involvement in or knowledge of terrorism - have been put through “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions” in a systematic effort to break their wills that is “tantamount to torture,” the International Committee of the Red Cross complained in a confidential report to the government, excerpts of which The New York Times obtained in November 2004. The Pentagon responded then that Guantanamo was an oasis of “humane” treatment.
Posted by: Max at January 19, 2007 1:14 PM
Comment #203991

Max,

Good post, but I believe your conclusion is incorrect. The section of the fourth Geneva convention you quote does NOT say that a trial is required nor that they be released before the end of the conflict. My reading of that passage says simply that they must be treated as protected persons (treated humanely under the third convention), and IN CASE of TRIAL, it needs to be administered fairly. If the occupying force chooses not to bring them to trial, it may be that their only crime was activity against the security of the occupying force & NOT a war crime. In which case a trial is not warranted, but they may still be detained indefinitely. This is essentially the decision of SCOTUS, although they said it in a LOT more words.

Steve,

The designation as an enemy combatant is not a cop-out, it is a correct identification of status. Just as calling my local hamburger-flipper an “illegal alien” is not a racial slur, but a statement of fact. As I said above, if they have not committed war crimes, or if prosecuting them for them would require the exposure of intelligence, intelligence-gatherers, soldiers, or civilians to danger, then there is no requirement to bring them to trial…ever.

This is a war, not a police action. Our treatment of prisoners in WWII, Korea & Vietnam was consistent. Including the Viet Cong in with uniformed NVA was for OUR CONVENIENCE and not required by the Geneva Conventions. It was deemed easier and better for morale to maintain a single class of prisoner in Nam.

BTW, I had to keep water trickling in the sink to prevent global warming from freezing my pipes here in SoCal this week. First time ever!

Posted by: Martian at January 19, 2007 1:34 PM
Comment #203992

Jack,
It’s not “explaining”, it’s “excusing”. IMO there is no excuse for the systemic approval and legalization of torture.

Stephen said “The real question is whether the people we hold are really terrorists.” I would say the more pertinent question today is “Have we become terrorists too?”

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at January 19, 2007 1:36 PM
Comment #204002

Dave

There was no systematic torture.

Ask yourself a simple set of questions. Even if you assume Bush is just bad. Does that mean that the whole military is just bad? If they are bad, are they just insane, i.e. do they do things for no purpose. What would be the purpose of bringing 700 randomly chosen individuals to Guantanamo at great expense and considerable PR cost?

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2007 2:54 PM
Comment #204004

Jack:

If they are bad, are they just insane, i.e. do they do things for no purpose. What would be the purpose of bringing 700 randomly chosen individuals to Guantanamo at great expense and considerable PR cost?

That’s a great question. Let’s examine it for a moment: according to your own claims, out of many thousands of fighters, we picked 700 for Guantanamo. Why these 700? Were they the worst of the worst? No, in fact less than 10 percent are considered high-value detainees, and among the detained were enough children to warrant a seperate holding area at Guantanamo where they could have schooling. Was there clear evidence of terrorist acts by these individuals? No, in fact the US has not even accused the majority of fighting against US or coalition forces. It does appear that, out of those many thousands, these 700 MUST have been randomly chosen. Or else how were they picked? Even ignoring the evidence that the majority of them were not, in fact, even picked up near the battlefield, but in neighboring countries by non-us forces and turned over to us for substantial cash bounties.

By your own definition, bringing 700 randomly chosen individuals to Guantanamo at significant expense and considerable PR cost would be insane. Thus, the administration which carried out these acts is insane. QED.

Posted by: Jarandhel at January 19, 2007 3:09 PM
Comment #204015

Sorry Jack but that rationalization is simply wishful thinking. If what I said was untrue then why make laws justifying what everyone else defines as torture? BTW, Bush and the CIA and it’s contractors don’t view it as “bad”, they view it as “justified if distasteful”.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at January 19, 2007 4:17 PM
Comment #204016

Jarandhel

Not only the administration, but the career military & various members of the congress (D&R) and journalists who have visited there.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2007 4:28 PM
Comment #204025

Jack:

The career military answers to the commander in chief. “The Buck Stops Here”, remember? Congress made well-announced tours and were shown a Guantanamo where “conditions were improving”, but still some members of congress have called for it to be shut down. As for journalists, what journalists? The ones that keep getting ordered out whenever there’s a scandal?

Sorry, but trying to spread the blame around just doesn’t wash.

Posted by: Jarandhel at January 19, 2007 4:56 PM
Comment #204027

Jack,

OK, here’s a fer-instance:

Fidel Castro declares “war on capitalism”, and sends a small army to invade Miami Beach. American prisoners are taken “on the battlefield” by Cuban military personnel. Fidel transports them to a secret prison in China and they never see they light of day.


If we accept your logic, we have no legal standing to ask for our prisoners back. They weren’t part of a uniformed army that is party to the Geneva convention, so it doesn’t apply. They were, however, “taken in battle”. Fidel (and his brother) say it isn’t safe to release them until the War on Capitalism is over. He has no jurisdiction to charge them with crimes, and the evidence is all in Florida. Besides, in your words, “They were not arrested; they were detained in a combat situation”

Posted by: Woody Mena at January 19, 2007 4:59 PM
Comment #204070


Athough the circumstances under which these people were captured is different and so to their classification under the Gevena Convention, the results for their families is the same as those of the families of our POW’s and MIA’s. Are these prisoners allowed to write their families to at least let them know where they are and what has happened to them?

Posted by: jlw at January 19, 2007 8:47 PM
Comment #204073

Woody, in your scenario, what if we DID have “legal standing” to ask for our prisoners back? Would we get them?

Hell no.

ONations like Cuba and China trample the rights of their own citizens underfoot as it is, much less give any credence to so called “international law” when it comes to foreigners, and both run prisons and have for generations now which make Guantanomo look like a health spa.

The fact is that nobody except the United States is held to account over the Geneva Conventions. There is absolutely no enforcement of those rules, and for all the appetite for slamming the US over them, there’s no appetite whatsover internationally for doing anything about the worst abusers.

In fact, much of the world finds it too “provocative” to call out those like China, North Korea or Iran who engage in wholesale human rights abuses. God forbid calling one of them anything like an axis of evil! It’s perfectly safe, though, to attack America over things which may or may not be occuring on a much smaller scale.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 19, 2007 9:02 PM
Comment #204089

jarendhel

I am not trying to spread the blame. I was merely trying to show how absurd your statement was. I guess you do not see it that way. You know that a person’s view of the world is a reflection of his character.

Woody

I presume if the Chinese kept the prisoners we would make life difficult for them right after we converted Fidel to a burning heap of old tobacco.

Our current crop of enemies has no respect for law. Our behavior has no effect on them. We have managed to at least maintain a perfect head to body ratio. I am sure the many hostages murdered would be happy to get those three meals etc.

We are just much better than they are.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2007 10:29 PM
Comment #204097

Jack,
You cannot debate those that let their hatred of Bush cloud reality. They cannot accept that our enemy is at war with us and really want to kill us. Where is the outrage at the treatment of our troops when they are beheaded and tortured? The blame America first and believe our enemy first will not open thier eyes unfortunatly untill we have another 9/11.

Posted by: dolan at January 19, 2007 11:04 PM
Comment #204100

Jack,

So even you admit that we are supposed to be treating these prisoners decently, but are not? I guess that’s something, though I still do not believe the Geneva conventions condone holding prisoners indefinitely without trial.

So - are they crazy? You tell me, Jack. Dozens of Gitmo detainees have been released with no charges brought against them, just as the U.S. concedes that up to 90 percent of those jailed at Abu Ghraib were innocent.
“>Read this Op Ed from the Washington Post about a man held in Gitmo for four years, who the military knew and acknowledged was innocent of any crime whatsoever.

Or, consider that the National Journal undertook a detailed review of the unclassified files to develop profiles of the 132 men. NJ separately reviewed transcripts for 314 prisoners who pleaded their cases before Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Guantanamo. Taken together, the information provides a picture of who, exactly, has been taken prisoner in the war on terror and is being held in an anomalous U.S. military prison on an island belonging to one of America’s bitterest enemies …

The National Journal examined court documents relating to 132 “enemy combatants” at Gitmo. Seventy-five of the 132 men, or more than half the group, are … not accused of taking part in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners … Just 57 of the 132 men, or 43 percent, are accused of being on a battlefield in post-9/11 Afghanistan. The government’s documents tie only eight of the 132 men directly to plans for terrorist attacks outside of Afghanistan.

Here’s another interesting detail from the report:

Much of the evidence against the detainees is weak. One prisoner at Guantanamo, for example, has made accusations against more than 60 of his fellow inmates; that’s more than 10 percent of Guantanamo’s entire prison population. The veracity of this prisoner’s accusations is in doubt after a Syrian prisoner, Mohammed al-Tumani, 19, who was arrested in Pakistan, flatly denied to his Combatant Status Review Tribunal that he’d attended the jihadist training camp that the tribunal record said he did.
Tumani’s denial was bolstered by his American “personal representative,” one of the U.S. military officers - not lawyers - who are tasked with helping prisoners navigate the tribunals. Tumani’s enterprising representative looked at the classified evidence against the Syrian youth and found that just one man - the aforementioned accuser - had placed Tumani at the terrorist training camp. And he had placed Tumani there three months before the teenager had even entered Afghanistan. The curious U.S. officer pulled the classified file of the accuser, saw that he had accused 60 men, and, suddenly skeptical, pulled the files of every detainee the accuser had placed at the one training camp. None of the men had been in Afghanistan at the time the accuser said he saw them at the camp.

So - why are they jailing and torturing people without any kind of rigorous vetting process for identifying real terrorists? I don’t know, you’re guess is as good as mine. Absolutely depraved desperation for information? How about just to look tough and impress people who cheerlead torturing our enemy regardless of whether or not they are innocent or the policy humane or even remotely useful to gather information?

Posted by: Max at January 19, 2007 11:13 PM
Comment #204101

Jack said:

Our current crop of enemies has no respect for law.
Neither does Bush.
We are just much better than they are.
Under Bush that gap narrowed considerably. It’s time to take the high road again and W is the impediment.

Face it, your team blew it and blew it big. It used to be that Daddy’s old money buddys would pull juniors ass out of the fire, but this too big for that.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at January 19, 2007 11:33 PM
Comment #204103

Dave

Do not let your hatred of your president make you compromise your principles.

If you believe the President has not respect for the law, why are you so foolish to write anything about it.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2007 11:53 PM
Comment #204110

Jack,

You are the one who wrote that we are better than the terrorists, yet you don’t want us to act it. We earn being better, and we can never take that for granted. We should never take for granted our rights either.

Posted by: Max at January 20, 2007 12:47 AM
Comment #204119
Our current crop of enemies has no respect for law. Our behavior has no effect on them.

We are doing a pretty good imitation of a country that has no respect for the law, and unlike Al Qaeda we actually have (or had) something to lose.

We have managed to at least maintain a perfect head to body ratio.

I always thought this was a pretty silly point, but now that the US-installed Iraqi government has actually beheaded someone on camera I think you need to come up with another specious argument for absolute moral superiority.

Posted by: Woody Mena at January 20, 2007 4:43 AM
Comment #204121

The Republicans in this column seem to forget that the only governments who have Gitmo-like prisons are Syria, Argentina during Pinoche, Iraq during and after Saddam, etc.

They too justified their actions as “legal”. I have always wondered if Conservatives would be happier moving to Syria rather than staying here. They share common values, afterall.

Posted by: Juan dela Cruz at January 20, 2007 5:33 AM
Comment #204134

Who cares about facts when one is being rhetorical. I thought Pinoche(sic) was the head of government in Chile. But what do I know. And what do you really know about prisons in those countries? Is it because the NYT printed some rant about them? Or maybe Amnesty International?

Posted by: tomh at January 20, 2007 10:35 AM
Comment #204139

Martian-
The status of “enemy combatant” has no real meaning under the convention. It’s Bush’s attempt to split the difference between blowing them away as unlawful combatants and treating them like POWs, which requires Americans to treat them humanely.

Of course, you can say its a statement of fact, but as with that burger-flipper, your claims may be out of order. He may be there under a legal naturalization process, or may be a citizen from birth.

To be a threat to national security, they’d have to be actual terrorists. To claim, absent that, that releasing them would expose people to danger is silly, unless we’ve been telling them things they shouldn’t be knowing.

As for prisoners of war, our conduct reflects on our claims of moral superiority to the enemy. If we are just as ruthless as them, then the conflict becomes nothing more than amoral power struggle, which is not to our advantage, because then it stops being a moral contradiction to support forces against us.

America does not need to confirm the worst defamations that our enemies inflict on us. We don’t need to step into the roles they have prepared for us: Enemies of Islam, Torturers, invaders of Arab lands, lawless barbarians, etc. We need to gain the sympathies and the alliance of those who might, given the right situation, help us fight back against our enemy in their own homeland. America may be a great country, but our sovereignty only extends so far.

As for Global Warming, nobody every said winter would be called off, or winter storms would be a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, since winter storms are a product of the collision of warm air masses and cold, and global warming creates more warm air and uptake of moisture, we can expect winter storms to get worse!

Climate is more complex than mere air temperature.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 20, 2007 11:03 AM
Comment #204143

Yeah, Juan

We have 400 people who are getting regualar meals and better medical care than they ever had before. Thousands of journalists, congressmen etc have visited the place. Nobody has been killed. It is a real Gulag.

Posted by: Jack at January 20, 2007 11:35 AM
Comment #204165
Nobody has been killed.

I suppose this is technically true, but there were three suicides. (I guess all that comfort was too much to take.) There were also homicides at other US detention centers, just not at Gitmo.

Posted by: Woody Mena at January 20, 2007 4:03 PM
Comment #204203

Woody,

You assume that we would know of the deaths.

Jack,

You didn’t respond to my conclusions nor deny them. And, the CIA is now operating domestically, but I’m willing to take my chances.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at January 20, 2007 7:21 PM
Comment #204307

Dave

How can I respond? Okay, I think Bush does respect the law & while I agree that Iraq is currently a mess, I think the policy in Afghanistan (the origin of Guantanamo) as well as things like cutting terror funding and disrupting terror networks is working very well.

You are a brave man to face the fierce CIA, if that is really what you believe, or maybe you just figure they do not care what you say.

I would certainly be intimidated by all those suffering for what they wrote, if there were any.

Posted by: Jack at January 21, 2007 4:27 PM
Comment #204309

Woody

Do they still get all those virgins if they just kill themselves w/o murdering anybody else? I sure hope so. That could solve this whole suicide bomber problem. They could just do it in the comfort of their own homes or back yards, maybe yelling a slogan just before setting off he blast.

Posted by: Jack at January 21, 2007 4:30 PM
Comment #204351

Jack,

The CIA is operating domestically (at least I’m pretty sure it was in the news, no time to double check, licking the wounds from the Pats loss tonight) I just don’t think they’re interested in me. Probably not you either but your picture does seem to how up a lot in those leftist rallies, (old guy running, lol).
We’ll have to disagree on whether Bush respects the law, I think he tries hard to cover his butt while disregarding the intent. I also think he has always defined the peter principle and I guess I’m just wondering where you think he actually succeded where the cost didn’t exceed the benefit.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at January 21, 2007 10:46 PM
Comment #204372

Some guy on YouTube who puts it pretty well…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK9BCcwrbYk&eurl=

And from Gonazales’ Nov. 30, 2001 op ed in the NYT:

“Anyone arrested, detained or tried in the United States by a military commission will be able to challenge the lawfulness of the commission’s jurisdiction through a habeas corpus proceeding in a federal court.”

I guess he didn’t have the forethought to realize how low he could sink, and knew that what he said earlier wouldn’t be coming back to bite him through the “liberal controlled media”.

Posted by: Max at January 22, 2007 2:50 AM
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