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Subject: The US's quandary of Gitmo rss

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Moshe Callen
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First, I was in the States in grad school when 9/11 happened. I remember that Bush's speech on 12 Sept 2001 which I watched in fascinated horror scared the heck out of me to the point I was thinking, "I have GOT to leave this country and go home." The Dept of Homeland Security struck me then as a recipe for the future Secret Police cum HUAC resurrected. As for who the US should have attacked in response, I had no question in my mind it ought be Saudi Arabia-- not Afghanistan or Iraq. The idea of denying even military due process to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay ["Gitmo"] also disturbs me greatly. As for torture, I think it unacceptable under any circumstances even if it did unquestionably work, and yes I don't think any genuine question exists that waterboarding is a form of torture.

Yet, at the same time, the US has got some seriously evil people locked up at Gitmo. From news reports over here [which I admit may be mistaken] I get the idea that Obama has ordered the facility shut down and as many as possible released, some into the US.

Wouldn't giving them their day in court-- even a military court--be a better idea? Of course the US gov't has engaged in misconduct [torture] so that any question of fair and reasonable prosecution is out the window, but the danger remains.

So, seriously, what options remain?

edit: typos
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Stay home.
 
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I wish I had a clue. Here's something related that I found interesting.
Obama's al-Marri memo



 
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49xjohn wrote:

Stay home.

Warm and friendly as the sentiment is, I have friends and loved ones in theUS.
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Koldfoot wrote:

Edit: And prisoners of war do not need trials. Never did. You can legally hold them until the end of the war to aid in your war effort.


If only we were legally at war.

-MMM
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whac3 wrote:
Yet, at the same time, the US has got some seriously evil people locked up at Gitmo. From news reports over here [which I admit may be mistaken] I get the idea that Obama has ordered the facility shut down and as many as possible released, some into the US.


It depends what you mean by "as many as possible". He says he wants to release anyone who is not (or never was) a threat to the US. Presumably we all want that.

For once, I agree with Koldfoot, I don't see the closure of Guantanamo as having much to do with who gets released. The original motivation for putting them at Guantanamo was to give them fewer rights than if they were held in the US, under the fiction that they were on foreign soil. The US Supreme Court has pretty much shot down that whole school of thought, the Obama administration is going to have the same problems with those detainees at Guantanamo as if it brings them to the US in military custody, so there's really no remaining advantage to keeping them there, and a huge symbolic/PR cost. So they are going to have to move many of them to some US facility.

There is a separate question as to what kind of hearings they will be entitled to. Personally, I think putting them on trial in US criminal courts is mostly a ridiculous idea. On the other hand, having some sort of truly impartial arbiter look at the evidence against them is becoming essential since so many have been held for so long with no real right to examine the evidence against them, at all, and some undoubtedly did nothing at all wrong in the first place, which should trouble just about anyone.

My hope is that the Obama administration will propose a replacement for the Military Commissions Act and get it passed later this year, that will provide for a sensible process for dealing with the detainees. Congress has never been all that ardent about civil rights and due process (they passed the MCA, after all), so it wouldn't be hard for the administration to be as tough as they want in terms of the limitations on the rights of detainees, in such a law.

I do worry that the administration will go too far in terms of "due process" that leads to releasing people who are obviously guilty and dangerous, based on some sort of notion of "corruption" of the evidence against them (I don't even believe in the exclusionary rule for evidence in ordinary criminal trials). As a practical, political matter, though, they have got to be hugely concerned about releasing people who then plot and attempt large-scale terrorist attacks against the US, so this will undoubtedly moderate any idealism they suffer from. I'm cautiously hopeful that the balance will come out about right.
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Koldfoot wrote:
David, I think you've bought into the rhetoric that prisoners at Gitmo need to have charges brought against them in order to legally detain them.


It's hard to imagine how you came up with that since I said the opposite. In fact, I said that bringing them up on charges is "mostly ridiculous".

What I said is that as a matter of justice and fairness there should be some impartial reviewer who will determine if there is good reason to hold them.

Quote:
In this instance if we really don't think they are combatants, release them. If we are unsure, err on the side of caution.


I doubt you would feel the same way if you were one of the detainees and had been picked up at random and held for eight years because no one could really tell whether you're dangerous or not.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Yet, at the same time, the US has got some seriously evil people locked up at Gitmo. From news reports over here [which I admit may be mistaken] I get the idea that Obama has ordered the facility shut down and as many as possible released, some into the US.


It depends what you mean by "as many as possible". He says he wants to release anyone who is not (or never was) a threat to the US. Presumably we all want that.

For once, I agree with Koldfoot, I don't see the closure of Guantanamo as having much to do with who gets released. The original motivation for putting them at Guantanamo was to give them fewer rights than if they were held in the US, under the fiction that they were on foreign soil. The US Supreme Court has pretty much shot down that whole school of thought, the Obama administration is going to have the same problems with those detainees at Guantanamo as if it brings them to the US in military custody, so there's really no remaining advantage to keeping them there, and a huge symbolic/PR cost. So they are going to have to move many of them to some US facility.

There is a separate question as to what kind of hearings they will be entitled to. Personally, I think putting them on trial in US criminal courts is mostly a ridiculous idea. On the other hand, having some sort of truly impartial arbiter look at the evidence against them is becoming essential since so many have been held for so long with no real right to examine the evidence against them, at all, and some undoubtedly did nothing at all wrong in the first place, which should trouble just about anyone.

My hope is that the Obama administration will propose a replacement for the Military Commissions Act and get it passed later this year, that will provide for a sensible process for dealing with the detainees. Congress has never been all that ardent about civil rights and due process (they passed the MCA, after all), so it wouldn't be hard for the administration to be as tough as they want in terms of the limitations on the rights of detainees, in such a law.

I do worry that the administration will go too far in terms of "due process" that leads to releasing people who are obviously guilty and dangerous, based on some sort of notion of "corruption" of the evidence against them (I don't even believe in the exclusionary rule for evidence in ordinary criminal trials). As a practical, political matter, though, they have got to be hugely concerned about releasing people who then plot and attempt large-scale terrorist attacks against the US, so this will undoubtedly moderate any idealism they suffer from. I'm cautiously hopeful that the balance will come out about right.


For once I agree with David except that I have no basis for hopes that the Obama administration will get it right. My experience is that Americans know squat about realistic security and I dearly hope they never have to learn the hard way as we have. Horrific as 9/11 was, we've suffered countless such incidents.

Yet a key point brought up by others is who specifically is the US supposed to be at war with? How will the US know when it's over?

I don't want friends and loved ones in the UShurt by terrorists, especially ones who havebeen released from custody. Yet I don't want those friends and loved ones to see the freedoms of the US slowly whittled away or made meaningless either.
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whac3 wrote:
My experience is that Americans know squat about realistic security.


That is because the US isn't founded upon "Security", it's founded upon "Liberty" at all costs.

And sometimes that cost is pricey, but a necessary risk to maintain that "Liberty". We are an open society, and that in itself create gaps in the walls.
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MWChapel wrote:
whac3 wrote:
My experience is that Americans know squat about realistic security.


That is because the US isn't founded upon "Security", it's founded upon "Liberty" at all costs.

And sometimes that cost is pricey, but a necessary risk to maintain that "Liberty". We are an open society, and that in itself create gaps in the walls.

No, you whittle away your liberties in ways that do nothing to promote security.
 
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whac3 wrote:

No, you whittle away your liberties in ways that do nothing to promote security.


Yes, but we have a new president now.
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MWChapel wrote:
whac3 wrote:

No, you whittle away your liberties in ways that do nothing to promote security.


Yes, but we have a new president now.

Ahyes. When exactly does Obama sign the executive order repealing the PatrioAct? Oh, wait....
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whac3 wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
whac3 wrote:

No, you whittle away your liberties in ways that do nothing to promote security.


Yes, but we have a new president now.

Ahyes. When exactly does Obama sign the executive order repealing the PatrioAct? Oh, wait....


The guy has been in office for like 3 months. Give him a little time to undo 8 years of damage here. Throwing away the Patriot Act wholesale, would be like throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Closing the scab that is Gitmo is a great first start. At the moment, we have to deal with the pressing issues of the economy.
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Koldfoot wrote:
Picked up at random? Who's alleging that?


Have you read about some of the cases of people who we know were detained by the US? Wrong place at the wrong time is enough. Or perhaps a similar name to someone who's wanted. Then you're stuck for years. If this happened to you, I think you would think it awfully fair to have a chance to convince someone other than your captors that it's all a misunderstanding. Surely you've got to agree that there's something wrong with detaining people for their entire natural lives because they might be enemies of the US and we really can't tell.
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whac3 wrote:
First, I was in the States in grad school when 9/11 happened. I remember that Bush's speech on 12 Sept 2001 which I watched in fascinated horror scared the heck out of me to the point I was thinking, "I have GOT to leave this country and go home." The Dept of Homeland Security struck me then as a recipe for the future Secret Police cum HUAC resurrected. As for who the US should have attacked in response, I had no question in my mind it ought be Saudi Arabia-- not Afghanistan or Iraq. The idea of denying even military due process to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay ["Gitmo"] also disturbs me greatly. As for torture, I think it unacceptable under any circumstances even if it did unquestionably work, and yes I don't think any genuine question exists that waterboarding is a form of torture.

Yet, at the same time, the US has got some seriously evil people locked up at Gitmo. From news reports over here [which I admit may be mistaken] I get the idea that Obama has ordered the facility shut down and as many as possible released, some into the US.

Wouldn't giving them their day in court-- even a military court--be a better idea? Of course the US gov't has engaged in misconduct [torture] so that any question of fair and reasonable prosecution is out the window, but the danger remains.

So, seriously, what options remain?

edit: typos


MOshe, as Koldfoot mentioned, there is no intention to release the Gitmo prisoners. They will be transferred to Afghanistan and/or other US facilities. Whatever expertise dealing with such prisoners will be lost.

As for torture, its supposed ineffectiveness and wrongness, you know how Israel regularly pinpoints the location of Hamas combattants and leaders; knows every detail of their movements; and thus minimizes as best she can collateral civilian casualties among Palestinians, and simultaneously prevents further attacks on Israelis, as those combattants are targeted and taken out; I wonder where all that detailed information comes from?
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isaacc wrote:
As for torture, its supposed ineffectiveness and wrongness, you know how Israel regularly pinpoints the location of Hamas combattants and leaders; knows every detail of their movements; and thus minimizes as best she can collateral civilian casualties among Palestinians, and simultaneously prevents further attacks on Israelis, as those combattants are targeted and taken out; I wonder where all that detailed information comes from?


It must be from pulling out fingernails. I saw it on 24.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
isaacc wrote:
As for torture, its supposed ineffectiveness and wrongness, you know how Israel regularly pinpoints the location of Hamas combattants and leaders; knows every detail of their movements; and thus minimizes as best she can collateral civilian casualties among Palestinians, and simultaneously prevents further attacks on Israelis, as those combattants are targeted and taken out; I wonder where all that detailed information comes from?


It must be from pulling out fingernails. I saw it on 24.


I vote for long term covert operatives that infiltrate the organization for 8+ years. They let anything minor get through, but call the intelligence service every time there's something really major going on.

It works for ETA, and I'm sure Israel has little trouble finding potential operatives that are hard to distinguish ethnically from the terrorists.
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Koldfoot wrote:
Is this a new take on the old you-can't-have-a-justice-system-if-it-isn't-perfect routine?


No. It's a take on "you can't have a justice system if there's no justice."

I haven't advocated releasing everyone if there is any doubt. What I have advocated is that there should be an impartial, independent arbiter of the facts who will decide whether the standard for detention has been met. I even emphasized that Obama and the Congress can and should enact legislation to determine what the standard should be. And then they should apply that standard objectively.

The problem with the present system is that some people have been, and probably still are being, and likely will continue to be, held in circumstances where any independent arbiter would decide there is no real evidence, of any sort, that they did anything to deserve that. That's a much bigger problem than just "not perfect".

Quote:
How do we tweak it within the confines of the real world?


I'm not going to write an entire bill of several hundred pages in my BGG posts. I'm not even a lawyer. I emphasize the principles above because I think most reasonable people will agree (1) that they are valid and reasonable and (2) that we haven't met them in the present system. Barack Obama isn't going to write the legislation, either. He's going to give guidance to the people who work for him as to what kinds of goals and principles he wants to achieve, and then they are going to try to create a system that achieves them. Sounds right to me.
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hibikir wrote:
I vote for long term covert operatives that infiltrate the organization for 8+ years. They let anything minor get through, but call the intelligence service every time there's something really major going on.

It works for ETA, and I'm sure Israel has little trouble finding potential operatives that are hard to distinguish ethnically from the terrorists.


If it was a serious question, I think they also pay out lots of cash.
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MWChapel wrote:
whac3 wrote:
My experience is that Americans know squat about realistic security.


That is because the US isn't founded upon "Security", it's founded upon "Liberty" at all costs.

And sometimes that cost is pricey, but a necessary risk to maintain that "Liberty". We are an open society, and that in itself create gaps in the walls.


That's very quaint, yet untrue. Your liberties are always in balance with security. This is the basis, for example, of gun permits. Both Presidents Adams and F.D.R., as just two examples, curtailed liberties on the freedom of press.

The Left's hero, Jefferson, fought America's first war, the First Barbary War against Morocco et. al. Surprisingly, the history there pretty much follows what President Bush did. Congress did not formally decalre war on the Barbary States, though they authorized Jefferson to act. The following year Jefferson increased military spending.

Moreover, Jefferson's adherance to the strictures of the US constitution never applied to Blacks nor Native Americans; hmmm...exceptions.

My point is that this notion of liberty sans any thought to practical concerns of security--which is actually what is paramount, whether to a leaf or a nation--is at best a slogan. If the Right is accused of being jingoistic, this is how and why the Left is accused of being naive and useful idiots.


Moshe, one of the smartest things the Israeli government has done is to bar reporters from Gaza in the recent fighting, even contrary to the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court. We both know that all that would have been on TV 24/7 is dead Palestinian children. That's not to imply that that is a desirable occurence. But, 3 million Israelis are not going to not go to school and not engage in commerce indefinitely. The rockets have been halted, the Army did it's job, the protesters worldwide have temporarily gone on to the next thing to protest, and it was the right move to bar reporters from Gaza.


As we have learned in Iraq with a slap in the face, Liberty is as a result of security. You can't have liberty despite security except in academia and on Internet forums.
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"The left's hero?" If you seriously believe that the left's hero, out of all the Presidents the United States has thus far had, is not Abraham Lincoln, then you're an idiot. It's one thing to write about equality, and another thing to actually work to enable it.
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isaacc wrote:
Moshe, one of the smartest things the Israeli government has done is to bar reporters from Gaza in the recent fighting, even contrary to the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court.


I seriously wish the CIA would kidnap you from your home and lock you up for a few years. I think it might change your perspective on the importance of the rule of law.
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Drew1365 wrote:
Quote:
The guy has been in office for like 3 months. Give him a little time to undo 8 years of damage here.


The campaign slogan for 2012: "I've only been in office for 4 years! Give me a little time to undo 8 years of damage here!"


It has always been easier to destroy than to create.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
isaacc wrote:
Moshe, one of the smartest things the Israeli government has done is to bar reporters from Gaza in the recent fighting, even contrary to the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court.


I seriously wish the CIA would kidnap you from your home and lock you up for a few years. I think it might change your perspective on the importance of the rule of law.


As I have no plans of taking my "vacation" in the hills around Kandahar, I'm totally not worried. I don't lose a moment's sleep over it. Do you? Is it something you worry about that you feel might even remotely by accident happen to you?


I'll let you know what does occupy my thinking if only a tad. Growing up in the 1970s, I went through several bomb scares at school. Sure, we kids thought it was a whole lot of fun and excitement. My parents were less impressed.

A bomb was exploded at the Golden Age Centre exactly 3 blocks from me about 3 years ago. The library of my high school was firebombed also a few years go.

[Side Note: Russell Crowe happened to be in Toronto when that happened. He took it to heart and immediately sent a cheque for $50,000 to my high school in order to help pay to rebuild the library.]

That the CIA will kidnap me is not even on my mind's horizon.
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My NEW hero:


 
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