Uighurs At Gitmo

From Other Lisa, cross-posted at the paper tiger

“Ironic” doesn’t really begin to cover it. Read this Washington Post article about the plight of some Chinese detainees in detention at Guantanamo:

In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China’s communist government — not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.

More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive.

They are men without a country. The Bush administration has chosen not to send them home for fear China will imprison, persecute or torture them, as the United States charges has happened to other members of China’s Muslim minority. But the State Department has also been unable to find another country to take them in, according to U.S. officials and recently filed court documents.

This is a horrific story. These men are from all accounts innocent of any terrorist or illegal activity, and yet they are locked up indefinitely in Guantanamo, kept as prisoners, at times chained to the floor. They were not even informed by US officials that they’d been cleared of any wrongdoing against the US for several months after the fact.

And, in spite of all this, the Bush Administration refuses to grant these men asylum in the United States:

This month, lawyers and human rights groups appealed to the United States to take in the stranded Uighurs. “It’s not like these people were once considered to be a threat and now are not,” said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. “These people need to be released, either in another country or the U.S. They’re America’s responsibility.”

But the Bush administration has balked at allowing them to enter the United States, even under restricted supervision, or to appear in a court that is hearing two of the men’s cases, according to U.S. officials and court documents.

The Discussion: 59 Comments

This story is a true shocker, and brings back all sorts of reminders of the Abu Ghraib detainees, so many of them also put through hell simply for being on the wrong street corner when the liberators swept through.

And no one’s going to give a damn. China’s Uighers never managed to win the hearts of Americans, and the world’s indifference to their plight is heartbreaking.

August 25, 2005 @ 7:09 am | Comment

So true. The Uighers clearly need some serious PR action. Richard? Will? ๐Ÿ™‚

Kidding aside, this is a disgraceful situation, but alas, not surprising given the current yahoos running the US gov’t.

August 25, 2005 @ 8:44 am | Comment

Perhaps you need to look up horrific in the dictionary, because you either don’t know what it means, or your using it emotively ala Amnesty International.

Unfortunate, yes, but horrific? Please. Look to the Chinese government for that, not Guantanamo. There are worse things than being shackled to a floor.

August 25, 2005 @ 11:51 am | Comment

Their country is China and they should be returned to China.

August 25, 2005 @ 11:54 am | Comment

By the way, if anyone actually bothered to *read* the article, it states that there were a total of 22 Uighur’s captured, and 7 remain detained for being enemy combatants. It also says that 5 of the 15 were ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time .. picked up by bounty hunters’, but doesn’t specify about the other 10, who were probably training to fight China, ergo they are ‘low risk’. So of 22 total, 17 were involved in nefarious activities of some kind, and ONE guy had his leg shackled to the floor. Cry me a river.

But of course there’s always the whiner who has to say ‘Abu Ghraib’, like Richard.

August 25, 2005 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

Rupert, you see the commenting policy on top? Calling the site owner a “whiner” falls into the “blatant disrespect” category, at least as far as I, his stand-in, am concerned.

I’ll let your comment stand, but I’m not going to tolerate another.

August 25, 2005 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

Sorry, didn’t know *that* Richard was the one who posted the original topic( Richard TPD ).

But then that begs the question Why is Richard commenting on his own posts?

August 25, 2005 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

Rupert, I am posting for TPD in Richard’s absence. He’s had the time to comment now and again but isn’t posting at present. I don’t want to mess with the format of his blog, so it still says “baked by Richard” at the end of each post. The post’s actual author is noted at the beginning of each post, however.

August 25, 2005 @ 1:41 pm | Comment

And regardless, Rupert. 15 of these men were cleared for release by our own military. Some of them are clearly innocent of any wrongdoing. Is it acceptable for a component of the American justice system to keep innocent people in prison? Isn’t a cornerstone of our system innocent until proven guilty? Isn’t that important any more?

As for Abu Ghraib, well, call me a whiner, but torturing people, sexually abusing them (including rape and sodomy) and beating them to death strike me as worthy of condemnation. These kinds of crimes violate our deepest held principles of justice, and it certainly hasn’t helped win the “hearts and minds” of the people we supposedly liberated.

Oh, and please do me a favor, and don’t come back with “what we did isn’t as bad as what the terrorists who cut off Nick Berg’s head did, ” or some variation of same. That’s setting the bar awfully low, don’t you think? Our torture’s not as bad as their torture?

August 25, 2005 @ 1:55 pm | Comment

This is military justice, not American civilian court, therefore the rules are different, just as they have been before in times of war. The Supreme court has upheld the validity of Guantanamo, so I would refer you to them.

I feel for the 5 guys that are truly innocent, but as I said, the other 10 are only innocent of fighting Americans, not necessarily anyone else. They admit to fighting the Chinese government and given the climate of the day and their religion, that probably includes Chinese civilians. Or does your moral compass not include them?

And I never said I thought Abu Ghraib was a good thing. Simply saying that the comparison is absurd. But of course someone will always pull it out at the slightest provication, which of course lessens the seriousness of the original act. Chaining someones leg to the floor is not torture.

And America *is* acting moraly by not sending them back to China, where *real* torture would take place. And if these guys are such angels, why will no one else take them, especially their Turkmen cousins?

August 25, 2005 @ 2:19 pm | Comment

Rupert, I suggest you read this article for some interesting points of comparison between Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. And also, exactly what sorts of “techniques” have been systematically employed at Guantanamo. Yes, I know. Our torture isn’t as bad as their torture…

I agree that sending them to China is impossible and would be morally wrong. Why haven’t other countries taken them? I can’t answer that question. But whose responsibility is it to take them? That one is pretty clear-cut, I think. These men were taken into American custody when they didn’t commit any crimes against the US.

You feel sorry for these guys? That’s magnanimous of you. They’ve been stuck in prison for three years with no release date in sight. I don’t know what kind of lives they had before this, but they sure don’t have much of ones now. You think being chained to a floor isn’t so bad? Well, you’re not the one who’s living it, are you?

There are millions of cases of cruelty and injustice ocurring every day in every part of this world, and don’t think I don’t realize that. But it’s just plain wrong not to address the ones that are our own responsibility.

August 25, 2005 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

Well, they have been addressed. But some people including judges and the vast majority of the American public disagree with you and your perceptions.

And no, I haven’t been chained to a floor. But if you want the opinion of someone who’s ‘lived it’ and much worse, read Pavel Litvinov.

August 25, 2005 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

btw, the article says one man was chained to the floor, which the lawyer noticed when he went to visit him, but the article in no way explains why, and I would expect no less from the WP. Perhaps he was violent or needed to be restrained in some way. Fact is we don’t know that, because the post didn’t tell us, but surely they were given an explanation.

Are you now going to tell me that handcuffs are torture?

August 25, 2005 @ 3:13 pm | Comment

Iโ€™m glad that the American system of detention developed for the โ€œWar on Terrorโ€ (or, excuse me, the โ€œGlobal Struggle Against Violent Extremismโ€) doesnโ€™t really compare to the Soviet gulag. Again, however, when you are making a comparison to a system that swallowed up millions of lives for decades, where there was no legal recourse nor any tradition of same, you are setting the bar awfully low.

Mr. Litvinov can speak of his own imprisonment. He can compare this to what he knows of Guantanamo and find that Guantanamo doesnโ€™t measure up to the horrors of his experience. But canโ€™t you see that isnโ€™t the point? The point is whether these facilities, these actions, measure up to our own standards of morality and justice, not those of the height of Soviet oppression.

Besides, Mr. Litvinov did not witness what happened at Guantanamo. Instead we have the testimony of FBI agents who visited Guantanamo: In August of that year, an F.B.I. agent who visited Guantรกnamo sent an e-mail to his superiors. โ€œOn a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water,โ€ he wrote. โ€œMost times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more.โ€ The agent related that he had also visited an โ€œalmost unconsciousโ€ prisoner in a room where the temperature was โ€œprobably well above 100 degrees.โ€ There was a โ€œpile of hair next to him.โ€ (He seemed to have pulled out his own hair.)
(from the New Yorker article referenced in my comment earlier)

Are these really practices that you want to defend?

And as for the โ€œrealโ€ torture, the beating people to death, boiling them alive, that kind of thing, no, we donโ€™t do that. Instead we outsource it to countries that do, beacons of human rights like Uzbekistan and Syria.

Though you might want to ask that Afghan taxi driver who was taken to Baghram Airforce base about that latter point. Oh, wait. You canโ€™t. Because he was beaten to death by his American guards, his legs โ€œpulpified,โ€ as though heโ€™d been run over by a bus, according to the medical examiner. He was not a bad guy. He hadnโ€™t done anything wrong other than give a ride to some bad guys. He hadnโ€™t tried to resist or fight back or mouth off. He was just a young, frail taxi driver who was killed in American custody.

Sorry, Iโ€™ll have to hunt down a link on that one later. Itโ€™s not obscure, however.

August 25, 2005 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

The point is whether these facilities, these actions, measure up to our own standards of morality and justice, not those of the height of Soviet oppression.

Indeed! I’ve clearly addressed that. The Supreme Court has ruled on the validity of Guantanamo as a detention facility and the rights of the prisoners therein. Why you keep ignoring this fact and claiming your standards of ‘morality and justice’ is beyond me. Maybe you’ll explain.

And your being sloppy. I have no doubt that occasional acts of brutality go on there and in every prison in the world, but does it go on all the time? Is it the norm?

And your the one lowering the bar( or raising it to absurd levels, depending on your viewpoint). You go from chaining a man’s leg to the floor, to chaining his legs and arm’s into a fetal position on the floor, to beating a man’s legs into pulp. All these are in your opinion torture, which they are , in mine, clearly *not*. So maybe you’ll answer my other question. Is handcuffing torture? Putting a bra on someones head? Having them listen to Megadeath?

Your simply claiming, or at the least impying that all of Guantanamo is unjust, and that is patently false.

August 25, 2005 @ 4:32 pm | Comment

Handcuffing can be torture if it involves being placed in stress positions for extended periods of time or if the cuffs are applied too tightly. Practices that are used to deliberately inflict pain are torture.

I guess you’re one of those folks who only considers it torture if it “leads to organ failure” or whatever Yoo’s legalistic definition was. Though I don’t see how chaining someonet to a ceiling and beating someone to death would not qualify.

But fine. I think I can see exactly where you’re coming from. And it’s not a place I ever want to be.

August 25, 2005 @ 4:38 pm | Comment

I don’t understand this definitiion of ‘military justice’some see as an excuse for this situation. Is decimating a vilage out of reprisals for a shot officer an example of this? Or in this case, no trial, no legal representation, no contact with the outside world or recourse to the army’s own country’s justice system etc etc etc ALL WHILE NO WAR HAS BEEN DECLARED. And we thought interning people in Northern Ireland was beyond the pale…

August 25, 2005 @ 4:56 pm | Comment

I guess you’re one of those folks who only considers it torture if it “leads to organ failure” or whatever Yoo’s legalistic definition was. Though I don’t see how chaining someonet to a ceiling and beating someone to death would not qualify.

I’ve made it pretty clear that I think beating someone to death is torture. But I don’t think the act of simply shackling someones foot to the floor is torture. And your definition doesn’t fit it either. Torture is defined as ‘severe’ pain or anguish. All your doing in the above paragraph is muddying the waters to fit your rather narrow view and simply ignoring what I’ve been saying.

Your opinion is both childish and naive and disregards not only human nature but history as well. Furthermore, you simply ignore the questions I’m asking. You keep framing this as a moral question while refusing to acknowlege that it’s your morals, not the public at large, nor the American legal system. In essence, your argument boils down to ‘I think its bad.’

But after reading posts from your blog, you surely must realize how outside of mainstream America you are and even how you contradict your own thought and elastic morality. For instance, this post, in which you claim Hiroshima was justified but Nagasaki was not, which you don’t bother to prove. And you can even get your facts straight on the bombing itself( it was 3 days later, not 2 and plenty of time to surrender) . Nor can you help injecting ‘racism’ into it. So your ‘place’ is illogical, emotional, and irrational. I would expect nothing less from a ‘Entertainment Industry Bureaucrat’ living in California( hope you don’t say that with pride ๐Ÿ™‚ )

August 25, 2005 @ 6:01 pm | Comment

Rupert, you are an ass. As this site’s owner, I can state that definitively.

Lisa, I suggest you not bother engaging. I’m sure he can justify Abu Ghraib and the scores (hundreds?) of imprisoned brown people who have died terrible deaths simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time since our McWar on Terror started.

August 25, 2005 @ 6:13 pm | Comment

In addition to being an ass, Rupert, you are also rather irony-impaired.

And you can’t even write sensible sentences.

“But after reading posts from your blog, you surely must realize how outside of mainstream America you are and even how you contradict your own thought and elastic morality.”

Um, what? Like, I’m reading posts from my own blog, after which I realize I’m outside of mainstream America?

Maybe I’m not responding to your questions because you can’t phrase them in any sensible way. But to clarify, yeah – I think Guantanamo is bad. I think it’s counter-productive. I think it’s an affront to the American justice system. And I think it’s part of a system that includes extraordinary rendition, Abu Ghraib and various secret American detention centers across the globe. I think those things are bad for reasons which are nicely laid out in those two New Yorker articles I cited. And I notice that you haven’t engaged in this larger issue at all. Only whether I think handcuffing is torture or not. Please.

As for the whole Hiroshima/Nagasaki post, wow…you completely missed the point. Other commenters did not, as they left some interesting arguments as to why Nagasaki was justified.

Rupert, I would suggest that you are the person who is far outside of the mainstream of America. At least, I want to hope so.

August 25, 2005 @ 6:59 pm | Comment

Last night’s and tonight’s Nightline programs (ABC, U.S. television) are must-see television for all who can. A U.S. Navy veteran and U.S. citizen was detained — by the U.S. military — almost entirely in solitary confinement for 55 days in Iraq, without review of his case, access to counsel, or any opportunity to contact the U.S. embassy. If you can’t see Nightline, look up his story. His name is Cyrus Kar. BBC has an excellent story on his case.

Sadly, we have a lot of amateurs, some of them made crude and cruel by power (see Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University, prison experiment), running these prison facilities, and we have almost no control at the top of our government over how prisoners are treated or what rights they are given. That’s because there is a moral and legal vacuum at the top. The problems — including torture, false imprisonment, and murder — extend to every prison facility run by the U.S. government worldwide, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Guantanamo Bay.

THAT said, I am worried about the Uighur. Some nation should kindly reach out to them and offer them sanctuary. It seems that China is NOT the place to return them. They also must be afforded IMMEDIATE access to communications with their families.

August 25, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

And, wouldn’t this be a fine instance in which the Dept. of State, through Condi Rice, could step in and perform a high-minded diplomatic, and humanitarianm, act in finding sanctuary for these people — either in a culturaly compatible community in the U.S. or in another country — also as a way to counter the constant barrage of criticisms of detainee treatment?

August 25, 2005 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

Susan, don’t hold your breath. The government that ran on the matra of “compassionate conservatism” reserves its compassion for the super-rich. Not impoverished Chinese Muslims.

August 25, 2005 @ 7:23 pm | Comment

Rupert, I’m going to request that you stop spamming my comments. You broke the rules and you’re obviously trolling. You made your points, and I’m letting those comments stand. But your efforts to embarrass my guest bloggers isn’t allowed. So please, be an adult and find another place to hang out. Thanks for your cooperation.

August 25, 2005 @ 7:27 pm | Comment

I’ve made it pretty clear that I think beating someone to death is torture.

That is a typical “Neocon Wet Dream” response…

Say that torture isn’t torture at all, and blame another country for being even more efficient at it. “Look how they slit throats! Why can’t we do that?”

Why can’t we sink that low rupert? Because when we do it, well, it risks the lives of our soldiers. As a Vet (hey… Can you say that?) I kindof like the fact that there WERE the laws of the Geneva Convention that civilized countries follow. You know what CIVILIZED is don’t you? Like the US used to be considered on the world stage? (AS FOR A DEFINITION OF HORROR? TO A VET, RUPERT, YOU ARE IT!)

And when it comes to MURDER… Well, to you and only you rupert, that is crossing the line into torture? Way to go when it comes to endangering soldiers lives… And exposing your truely vile opinions.

Why not just say to the enemy “Bring it on!” so soldiers can despise you and your attitude even more…

Iraq Dispatches: “What Have We Done?”:
When asked what he would say to Mr. Bush if he had the chance to speak to him, Abdul Henderson, a corporal in the Marines who served in Iraq from March until May, 2003, took a deep breath and said, โ€œIt would be two hits-me hitting him and him hitting the floor. I see this guy in the most prestigious office in the world, and this guy says โ€˜bring it on.โ€™ A guy who ainโ€™t never been shot at, never seen anyone suffering, saying โ€˜bring it on?โ€™ He gets to act like a cowboy in a western movieโ€ฆitโ€™s sickening to me.โ€

The other vets with him nod in agreement as he speaks somberlyโ€ฆhis anger seething.

One of them, Alex Ryabov, a corporal in an artillery unit which was in Iraq the first three months of the invasion, asked for some time to formulate his response to the same question.

“I don’t think Bush will ever realize how many millions of lives he and his lackeys have ruined on their quest for money, greed and power,” he says, “To take the patriotism of the American people for granted…the fact that people (his administration) are willing to lie and make excuses for you while you continue to kill and maim the youth of America and ruin countless families …and still manage to do so with a smile on your face.”

August 25, 2005 @ 8:27 pm | Comment

Two words, Stephen: Thank you.

August 26, 2005 @ 2:42 am | Comment

I often wonder what it takes to be sent to Guantanamo. I’ve heard these “totally innocent, sold by a bounty hunter” claims before, but they strike me as hollow. Not that I don’t think it can happen, just that it’s extremely unlikely.

The military in Afghanistan is sent thousands of prisoners. Very few are sent on to Guantanamo. For men to be sent there, they must strike the intelligence officers as Very Bad Men. And given the range of people that are sent to them, I imagine these VBM are extremely unlikely to be “totally innocent.” That is, I doubt spitting anti-American rants alone is going to get them sent to Guantanamo. They must have satisfied several requirements, as the cost of sending them on is quite high.

Granted, they may still be innocent VBM, but I tend to think of them as OJ-innocent. I.e, they were known to be in a traning camp, were known to have associations with known terrorists (as opposed to other VBM), gave interesting intelligence… but aren’t known to have actually DONE anything.

This isn’t to say holding them indefintely is okay, just that I can see the value of studying them a bit further.

August 26, 2005 @ 3:02 am | Comment

Sean, it’s a matter of fact, not conjecture, that some of those placed in Guantanamo — and maybe MOST of those in Abu Ghraib — were put there by mistake, wrong place wrong time. Of that there is no question – otherwise, we would never have released so many of those originally imprisoned in Gitmo. Why does it ring hollow to you? I think it’s completely in line with the way our McWar on Terror has been waged. Not a single person involved in 911 has been convicted yet, but lots of innocent lives have been ruined and lots of American principles have been spit upon.

August 26, 2005 @ 3:21 am | Comment

Richard,

Yes, I would agree that most of those in Abu Ghraib were innocent. It was one of the primary site for processing prisoners. (However you might interpret “processing”). But Guantanamo is in a different league.

Are there any sites that give decent descriptions of some of the innocent Guantanamo detainee’s backgrounds? Were there any comments from the military about them (“Whoops, our bad!”)?

Again, I’m not contending that the men weren’t innocent. And by definition, if we let them free, they were assumed innocent.

My claim is that those sent to Guantanamo provided SOME intelligence, or the officers were near certain of their links to training camps/terrorists/etc. at the time they were sent off (as opposed to when they were captured).

If these aren’t true, I’d be pretty appalled. I’d also wonder why Guantanamo isn’t full to the brim. Basically, I’m saying that the intelligence officers aren’t all evil (“Send the ragheads to Cuba!”), but are rational decision makers. Mistakes are made, but they would be rational mistakes.

August 26, 2005 @ 3:45 am | Comment

I am sure there are many very nasty, dangerous, evil bastards in Guantanmo, true threats to our national security. What bothers me is how we’ve been told time and again that this description applies to most if not all of the detainees. But then, every few weeks or so it seems more are quietly – very, very quietly – released on late Friday afternoons because, well, they weren’t that dangerous after all and should never have been sent there to begin with. So while I don’t doubt the very serious threat some of these men pose, I do have to question the camp’s admission anddetention processes, which have been proven to be deeply flawed. When you are playing with mens’ lives and futures, not to mention the reputation of our country, you have to be a tad more responsible.

August 26, 2005 @ 4:01 am | Comment

It is amazing:

the mistake is the proper course,
suggestions to solve it are subversion,
and the original mission was to maintain an extreme emergency.

This administration, in its public service, dwells in a self-inflicted hydochondriac heaven, with every affliction a welcome excuse to dodge responsibilty.

They don’t want Uighurs problem to go away.

Is this the first time we’ve encountered mis-identified prisoners like this?

Are there not reams of planning documents dealing with the options?

In real war, or at least in its aftermath, are there not tens of thousands of such problems?

The challenge isn’t: what to do?

The challenge is pursuading the administration that it doesn’t need this problem.

Rupert’s remarks helpfully illustrate the conservative recklessness in anticipating consequences, and hauteur in disregarding the consequences inflicted on others. (Empathy doesn’t count. Torturers express empathy.) It is not their duty to solve problems, just to own them. Failures affect other people.

That is why they complain, like a someone in car dealership, that liberals don’t know how to fix — name it: Social Security. The War for Fun in Iraq. This one.

Until we make clear to them that they will endure consequences for the wild trashing of this country and its institutions, consequences that will matter to them personally, they will continue to neglect and hurt, on a larger scales and more absurd missions.

This is not a big problem. It’s just our problem to fret about, and theirs to control. They cannot change course without undermining their stance of infallible rigidity, which derives from their control of crises.

August 26, 2005 @ 4:07 am | Comment

As a former US Marine Corps officer I can assure you that if Corporal Abdul Henderson were in my outfit, he’d be — at the very least — receiving an ass chewing that he would never forget and possible referal for discipline under article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Speech contemptuous of the President (any president) is never appropriate from a member of the armed forces and, in the case of officers, is expressly a violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ punishable by court-martial.

During the Clinton administration an airforce general was disciplined, fined and forced to retire for calling the President a “draft-dodging, pot-smoking, womanizer” (proof that truth is no defense). Another general was reprimanded for telling an inappropriate joke about President Clinton and two Marine Corps officers were administratively punished for inappropriate comments about Clinton in letters to newspapers.

The Corporal’s comments, threatening violence against the President, were unacceptable and, if his officers are doing their jobs, he has already been made to regret his unmilitary conduct.

August 26, 2005 @ 4:21 am | Comment

Yeah, but Clinton was a real president…

August 26, 2005 @ 4:26 am | Comment

Richard writes:

Every few weeks or so it seems [detainees are released because] they weren’t that dangerous after all and should never have been sent there to begin with.

And then it turns out that some of those harmless mistakenly detained fellows weren’t so harmless and mistakenly detained after all. From the Washington Post:

Released Detainees Rejoining The Fight

At least 10 detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay prison after U.S. officials concluded they posed little threat have been recaptured or killed fighting U.S. or coalition forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon officials.

One of the repatriated prisoners, who took up a leadership position with al Qaeda . . . has bragged that he tricked his U.S. interrogators into believing he was someone else.

[Another] resumed his post as a top Taliban commander, and ambushed and killed a U.N. engineer and three Afghan soldiers, Afghan officials said, according to news accounts.

Mark Jacobson, a former special assistant for detainee policy in the Defense Department who now teaches at Ohio State University, estimated that as many as 25 former detainees have taken up arms again.

It’s very easy to sit on our asses and criticize when there is nothing at stake. It’s a hell of a lot harder for the people making the actual decisions, when human lives ore on the line.

August 26, 2005 @ 4:39 am | Comment

Yeah, but Clinton was a real president…

Having oral sex with your intern qualifies as ‘real’? Doing nothing in the face of external threats, other than lobbing a few cruise missles into the Sudan qualifies as real?

Clinton, while a brilliant man and good president, contributed as much to the situation we’re in as anyone. Only an rigid ideolog, such as one who uses rather childish words like ‘McWar’ would believe that.

Grow up.

August 26, 2005 @ 5:48 am | Comment

Richard,
ENOUGH WITH THE CANONISATION OF CLINTON! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 26, 2005 @ 6:26 am | Comment

Richard, Amen to the canonization of Clinton post above, and both were real Presidents. They merely differ in their flaws. Regarding Rupert, while a blog is by definition the domain of the owner, banning those who intelligently articulate positions you do not agree with will only detract from the excellent reputation that this blog has so long enjoyed. Food for thought.

Hope you’re enjoying your trip. We’re off to Taiwan next week where I look forward to some of the best chinese cuisine in the world. We had a recent cool spell to ameliorate the heat, and I assume Beijing did as well.

August 26, 2005 @ 9:13 am | Comment

So tired. So…very…tired.

I have nothing to add that I haven’t said ad naseum, except the next person who uses “liberals” as a pejorative is gonna get smacked.

August 26, 2005 @ 10:22 am | Comment

As a former US Marine Corps officer I can assure you that if Corporal Abdul Henderson were in my outfit, he’d be — at the very least — receiving an ass chewing that he would never forget and possible referal for discipline under article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Big whoop… He is no longer in the military, and neither are you! He took his lumps already. You support these actions? Get ready to take your lumps.

Now, what is bush going to do about this situation, another problem he created in his “one mistake after another illegal invasion”?

And don’t bother with Clinton… He did not incarcerate the innocents that were held and tortured at the various prisons. There is no tie in to previous admins. on a policy to imprison and torture people that should be protected under the Geneva Conventions.

bush called for a war, got a war, and now must be held responsible for his actions regarding all of the prisoners taken in said war (as well as his actions that led to this illegal invasion). That is the law.

Convenient of you to cite laws to stop people from expressing oppinions, but I bet you will shy away from laws that point out how murder and torture will make those that support these war “policies” criminally responsible.

It’s very easy to sit on our asses and criticize when there is nothing at stake. It’s a hell of a lot harder for the people making the actual decisions, when human lives ore on the line.

There is plenty at stake. Every day we remain there in Iraq, and every day longer that an innocent remains unjustly jailed, well, that is another day that the insurgents, and the Jihadists get to use to recruit more people to their cause. It is also another day that our soldier have to die needlessly.

AND it is a hell of a lot harder for bush, and his supporters, to admit they screwed up and pull out of a country that we should never have been in.

Life isn’t alway easy… Sometimes you have to choose the “hard right” over the “easy wrong”. Holding prisoners of war illegally and not owning up to the responsibilities to those prisoners rights under the Geneva Conventions is the easy wrong, and so is “staying the course”. And both policies are risking our soldiers lives for no gain to ours, or the worlds, freedom at all. All we are doing is creating more enemies.

bush’s only idea is that it should become an endless war just for the sake of of not admitting he was wrong, and the only ones that gain are the ones that sell the munitions.

Got “FREEP” Conrad? “Bring it on!”

Hey! The more some of you talk, well, the more it exposes the outrageous reality of your opinions.

August 26, 2005 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

Quite apart from the sheer abomination of the principle of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, I’d just say that I thought we were supposed to be fighting a global campaign specifically for the ‘Western values’ of democracy, freedom and human rights. I certainly believe that, ultimately, we should be aiming for a world of liberal democracies, but part of this campaign would presumably be a battle for hearts and minds. Detaining people without trial, trying to pretend that no law in the world covers them (neither the laws of war nor the laws of the US) and then trying to redefine torture is not obviously the best way of winning that particular battle.

Incidentally, this notion of torture being ‘a matter of opinion’ which can be interpreted at will by the US Administration of the day is pure nonsense. It’s not as though we didn’t have an idea of what was and wasn’t acceptable before the Bush Administration decided to do a bit of creative reinterpretation – it was pretty generally accepted by the democratic world that techniques such as sleep deprivation, punching and kicking were to be accounted torture, never mind sexual humiliation. The US has signed up to a whole range of international conventions banning torture and is bound by those conventions – not to mention the constitutional ban on ‘cruel and unusual punishment’. If there is dispute as to what constitutes torture, then that’s a matter for the US courts and/or the ICJ, not the Department of Defense. International law is quite clear that the deliberate infliction of physical pain – any physical pain – in the course of interrogation is either torture (if it’s severe pain) or inhuman and degrading treatment. Severe mental/psychological pain is also classed as torture. Both are unequivocally illegal.

Anyway, what does it say about us in the West – about our commitment to liberal democratic values and the rule of law – if we have to resort to this kind of defence, trying to push back the legal definition of torture, trying to deny that people we hold in custody are either POWs or prisoners, dismantling all the protections which are supposed to be the hallmark of our society? How on earth do we expect to convince the wider world that liberal democracy is the way forward if this is how we act ourselves? And what are we doing to the brave people in dictatorships around the world who are pushing for change and used to point to countries like America and Britain as exemplars of the rule of law?

Anyway, call me a soft European anti-death penalty liberal (not a description to which I’d object), but to me the right to a fair trial and the ban on torture are a fundamental part of what it means to be a fully civilised society. If groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch et al are pointing out how badly Western countries are falling foul of their own stated values, then good for them. Given the US’ own self-image as the leader of the Free World, should we not be setting our standards rather higher than the terrorist groups we’re trying to eliminate rather than just saying we’re nothing like as bad?

August 26, 2005 @ 7:33 pm | Comment

Hey! The more some of you talk, well, the more it exposes the outrageous reality of your opinions.

Oh, the irony.

Holding prisoners of war illegally and not owning up to the responsibilities to those prisoners rights under the Geneva Conventions is the easy wrong, and so is “staying the course”

Hmm. Illegal? This is surely news to the Supreme court, the final arbiter of soverign American Law, which has ruled that holding enemy combatants( there are no pow’s as war hasn’t been declared ) is perfectly legal. So, surely you’ll enlighten us as to which laws you are refering to.

Every day we remain there in Iraq, … that is another day that the insurgents, and the Jihadists get to use to recruit more people to their cause. It is also another day that our soldier have to die needlessly.

Oh yes. Just like they were recruiting in:

  • Embassy hostage crisis of 1979 in Iran( 8 Americans dead )
  • 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon.( 241 Americans Dead )
  • 1983 Embassy bombing in Kuwait( 6 people dead) and Beirut( 17 Americans Dead ).
  • 1984 Kidnapping and murder of William Buckley in Lebanon
  • 1984 in Bombing of US Embassy in Beirut.( 2 Americans, 24 people dead )
  • Kuwait Airlines Hijacking Flight 221( 2 Americans dead )
  • 1985 Hijacking TWA flight 847( 1 American dead )
  • 1985 Hijacking of the Achille Lauro( 1 American dead )
  • 1986 Bombing La Belle Discotheque( 1 American dead, 200 wounded )
  • 1993 Langley, Virginia( 2 Americans Dead )
  • 1993 WTC Bombing( 6 Americans Dead )
  • 1995 Ryiadh Bombing( 5 Americans Dead )
  • 1996 Khobar Towers ( 19 Americans Dead )
  • 1998 Nairobi, Kenyan, Tanzania, and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings( 224 people killed, 5000 wounded )
  • 2000 bombing of USS Cole( 17 Americans Dead )
  • 2001 WTC destroyed( 3030 Americans Dead, 2337 injured )
  • Okay, maybe I missed something, such as reality, but all those were before our ‘illegal’ 2003 invasion of Iraq. And surely you were aware that we were bombing Iraq for 9 years prior to George Bush’s inaguration of his ‘real’ presidency. If regularly bombing a sovereign country whilst cutting off access to 1/3 of it’s territory from it’s government doesn’t constitute a state of war, I don’t know what does.

    But acknowleging the above would mean being rational and realistic. It’s much easier to retreat to the disjointed McBushChimpyHitlerMotherSheehanKKKarlRoveRepugnantOnes absurdities of what passes for Democratic liberalism nowadays.

    August 26, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

    Two words, Stephen: Thank you.

    No sweat dude! I may not write quite as eloquently as the post above me ^^^ here from Douglas… But like him, and unlike like those that are cheerleaders for death and suffering for no apparent reasons at all, at least my head and my heart are in the right place.

    By the way… Nice Blog!

    August 26, 2005 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

    Hmm. Illegal? This is surely news to the Supreme court, the final arbiter of soverign American Law, which has ruled that holding enemy combatants( there are no pow’s as war hasn’t been declared ) is perfectly legal. So, surely you’ll enlighten us as to which laws you are refering to.

    Go ahead and tell the Hague that the SCOTUS has over ruled their authority… LMAO.

    Okay, maybe I missed something, such as reality, but all those were before our ‘illegal’ 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    Impressive list… Now which of those were performed by Iraqis? Oh yes…

    NONE!

    Now how are you going to tie that in to the the illegal invasion of Iraq and not according those being illegally held the rights of the Geneva Conventions?

    Gee, your entire argument just fell flat on the floor.

    (The maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters)

    I see freeper #3 has joined the losing side of the argument… And uses equally non-sensical logic.

    If regularly bombing a sovereign country whilst cutting off access to 1/3 of it’s territory from it’s government doesn’t constitute a state of war, I don’t know what does.

    Are you sure you want to go the “Desert Badger” and “Desert Fox” routes to lose another argument? Because in bringing up those you expose some serious Clinton successes, and expose more bush failures. But I am sure you have lost that argument before. Don’t let it stop you from losing it again…

    August 26, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

    Yes! It is all Clinton’s fault!

    And as long as I am a neocon I will tell you that all of those terrorist acts listed up there by my friend and fellow taste tester Verity are responsible for the explosion in the number of recruits for Islamofascists that is going on now. Pay no attention to the wonderful war in Iraq. It has nothing to do with it! Nor does the frat fun we have with the prisoners.

    Is that a booger in my nose?

    Excuse me whilst I verify this.
    Looks like a booger…
    Feels like a booger…
    Tastes like a booger…

    Yes! it must be a booger, and it is all Clinton’s fault!

    Care to taste this booger fellow freepers? It tastes much better than my last one did.

    August 26, 2005 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

    Go ahead and tell the Hague that the SCOTUS has over ruled their authority… LMAO.

    The Hague is a city, not an institution. As such, it hosts the International Court of Justice( no authority over American’s), the Internationl Criminal Court( No authority over Americans ) and a couple of other institutions. So I have no idea what your talking about.

    Now which of those were performed by Iraqis? Oh yes…

    NONE!

    You said ‘Every day we are in Iraq …. insurgents, and the Jihadists get to use to recruit more people to their cause. It is also another day that our soldier have to die needlessly.’

    So your argument originally rests on the fact that Americans are dying because we are in Iraq, which I’ve proven is false with that list. American’s were dying long before we set foot in Iraq. Now your changing your argument. Now it has to be Iraqi’s that are recruiting people to their cause and killing Americans. But you originally said ‘Insurgents and Jihadist’, which are composed of both Iraqi’s and Muslims from many other countries. And their reasons vary as they always do, which is why I also cited the above bombings. I have no doubt that Iraq inspires people to go fight Americans, but as proven, pretty much any reason will do( the existence of infidels ranks high ).

    Now how are you going to tie that in to the the illegal invasion of Iraq and not according those being illegally held the rights of the Geneva Conventions?

    You are a case study in circular logic. As the dog chases it’s tail, so Stephen runs in circles. But, as I’ve already pointed out, neither the Iraqi invasion nor the Guantanamo detentions are illegal.

    I’m not interested in ‘winning’ and I know that no amount of reason can persuade you to think rationaly. I just like to watch old, crazy people get agitated.

    August 26, 2005 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

    YAWN… The sad part? Verity probably sat up all night cutting and pasting from red state for that “great” response…

    SMIRK

    August 26, 2005 @ 9:45 pm | Comment

    And I note that Verity doesn’t even address the torture issue and the outsourcing of torture issue and what we were discussing in the first place, which is the morality of keeping men who have been cleared of wrongdoing in indefinite detention.

    Great article about Guantanamo in the New Republic, by the way, which is not exactly a bastion of wild-eyed leftism…

    August 26, 2005 @ 10:01 pm | Comment

    We are signatories to the Geneva Conventions as well as other treaties that ban torture, murder, and illegal acts of war.

    No country is going to let the SCOTUS try those crimes. So you are using circular logic. Correction, you are actually using wasted talking points.

    And if you have never heard it refered to as “The Hague” and this is now the thrust of your argument… I truly pity your logic. (Especially since “Hague” is a city, not “The Hague”)

    So your argument originally rests on the fact that Americans are dying because we are in Iraq, which I’ve proven is false with that list.

    All you have proven is that Americans were killed by other countries terrorists. Look up at the top of the page, and relate your argument to the topic. And check your buddy Gannon’s response…

    (I just don’t know how Gannon got those classified notes on my response? But he posted the rest of the answer for me…)

    Don’t play ignorant with me… You had the right to claim ignorance if you supported bush in 2000, now you fall under a different category if you still support these failed policies.

    You are arguing for a FARRR RIGHT WING RADICAL cause… Don’t blame me if your argument has BIG HUGE GAPING holes in it.

    And you think you are thoughtful and intelligent?

    It’s much easier to retreat to the disjointed McBushChimpyHitlerMotherSheehanKKKarlRoveRepugnantOnes absurdities of what passes for Democratic liberalism nowadays.

    Sorry Jeff/Jim… That is the closest thing to logic you have used tonight.

    “I heard that too…” Karl Rove
    “I heard that too…” Scooter Libby

    Nope… No one will ever accuse the modern day pseudoconservatives of parroting disinformation. Or treason, eh?

    August 26, 2005 @ 10:10 pm | Comment

    I know you don’t realize this Stephen, but your not making any sense. And you posting as Jeff Gannon is …. odd. You truly are mad, but it’s amusing.

    And FYI, it really is know as ‘The Hague’, not simply ‘Hague.’. In English it translates into something like ‘The Hedge’ or ‘The Counts Hedge’.

    And I note that Verity doesn’t even address the torture issue and the outsourcing of torture issue

    That’s already been addressed, ad nauseam.

    August 26, 2005 @ 11:36 pm | Comment

    Yeah, by me, and by Richard and Douglas and Stephen.

    I find it appalling that none of you on the other side here seem to find anything wrong with what our government is doing in this area. There are plenty of conservatives out there in public life who’ve spoken out against these practices. Torture and due process don’t seem to me to be conservative or liberal issues. I would think as Americans that most of us could agree on such things.

    But I guess not.

    I honestly don’t understand where you are coming from on this. I really don’t.

    August 27, 2005 @ 12:07 am | Comment

    as a p.s., if I have missed any relevant posts that address the morality of torture – and I’m not talking about all that “do you think handcuffs are torture?” nonsense – my apologies. It’s been a long week for me and I am really tired.

    August 27, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

    Conrad,

    Thanks for that post. I had a feeling that my classification of them being “OJ”-innocent was largely true.

    Lisa,

    “I find it appalling that none of you on the other side here seem to find anything wrong with what our government is doing in this area.”

    Do I find indefinitely holding people disconcerting? Yes. Do I think what these Uighurs are going through is a shame? Yes.

    But, you must offer some skepticism about the “total innocence” of these people, no? Most people being so appalled about this seem to think that we just want to stuff more and more people into Guantanamo. Or maybe they just got thrown in because some intel officer had a grudge against them?

    Please, think of the officers doing this as being very good at their jobs. Conrad’s post shows that some very hard decisions have to be made. And it’s never one officer’s decision, I’m sure there’s a large and tedious process to finally get them to Guantanamo.

    Why do I feel that there are some people who think that the government is perfectly efficient whenever it wants to do evil, but incompetent when it wants to do good?

    August 27, 2005 @ 8:01 am | Comment

    Yea, Sean!!1! We’re incompitant at doin evrything!!>!

    August 27, 2005 @ 8:03 am | Comment

    Torture and due process don’t seem to me to be conservative or liberal issues. I would think as Americans that most of us could agree on such things.

    Your original post is only addressing the due process issue, not torture. That being said, torture definitions can run the gamut. I read an article recently where a known terrorist, a Saudi, was captured and brought to Guantanamo. Shackled to a chair, he refused to show any emotion or answer any questions. So they brought in a female interrogator, which got him agitated. They then proceeded to do things like put red ink on her finger which she then wiped across his face. The idea being that it’s menstrual blood and therefore he has become unclean. The guy snapped and in a fit of rage tried to attack the woman. Eventually he was reduced to tears. What information they gleaned from, I don’t know. But the tactic was brilliant. Some people would call that torture. I don’t. You probably do.

    So debating the morality of ‘torture’ is like debating beauty. All Americans can agree, I would think, that sadistic torture designed only to inflict pain and death is abhorrent and antithical to American society, just as there would be no debate to the hidieousness of the Elephant Man. But that tolerance is elastic, depending on the situation. If a terrorist knows the location of a nuclear bomb that will explode, is it ethical to inflict maximum pain on him till he reveals the location? Furthermore, will it actually work? Highly debateable, but as Fred Kaplan points out, under some circumstances, it does.

    So while you dismiss the definition of torture as nonsense, it is the crux of the entire argument. You can’t debate the morals of an action until it is defined.

    August 27, 2005 @ 9:35 am | Comment

    Verity, I think you’ve been watching way too many episodes of “24.” And as an “entertainment industry bureaucrat,” I’m here to tell you, 24 is not real life.

    Here’s my take. If you have an actual “ticking bomb” situation of the sort oft posited and seldom encountered, I think you do whatever you need to do, let the chips fall where they may and justify your actions after the fact. What you do not do is establish an institutional basis for torture, or redefine torture to exclude everything other than the infliction of extreme pain or action that is likely to result in death or organ failure. That leaves an awful lot of room for “techniques” that I am sorry, under any real definition are torture. Like “leg strikes” that led to the death of that Afghan detainee, or a whole other laundry list of “techniques,” some of which have been discussed here. You know what? We didn’t seem to find these things necessary in WW2. I just don’t think they are necessary now, and they do not reflect well on American values, they do not help us win “hearts and minds” in this current struggle, and finally, according to most experts in this field, they don’t work all that well. Those FBI agents I mentioned who visited Gitmo were appalled, not only by how they saw some detainees being treated, but because in their long years of experience, they knew that there are better ways of getting information.

    Beyond whether you think some of the practices at Guantanamo are torture or not (and if you are only just now getting to the “menstrual blood” scenario, my guess is that you haven’t read that much about this subject – unfortunately I’ve had to research it pretty extensively, and that is a mild example), flying prisoners (who have not been charged with anything, some of whom did not actually DO anything but had names similar to known suspects) in a CIA owned Gulfstream to countries where they practice torture unambiguously (Syria, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Egypt for example) and having these people tortured for us – beaten, whipped with cables, boiled, buried in earthen pits, cut, etc. – well, I hope we could agree there is something seriously wrong with this practice.

    I have to run, but I have articles and links to plenty of cases illustrating the above. And as I mentioned before, Stewart Ackerman in the New Republic has a very good piece up on the fallacies of the Guantanamo detention system. This is deals with the lack of useful evidence it is providing, along with some of the other issues I site above. It’s subscription only and I don’t know if I want to extract a post from it, but if anyone is interested, let me know.

    August 27, 2005 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

    While all this ineffective noise is going on, innocent people are still being illegally detained by the US government which, as our Prez never tires of telling us, is all about ‘freedom’.

    There should be a massive letter/email campaign to Congress demanding that the US give these folks refuge, housing, and whatever else they need; including a damn good apology.

    Scandalous!

    August 27, 2005 @ 2:19 pm | Comment

    Here, here!

    August 27, 2005 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

    I’m happy to see that Stephen doesn’t let the fact that he knows jack shit about international law prevent him from handing down pronouncements on the subject.

    Go ahead and tell the Hague that the SCOTUS has over ruled their authority… LMAO

    Go ahead and tell the US Supreme Court that the Hauge has overruled its authority. ROTFLMAO.

    Neither the ICJ nor the ICC have any legal authority whatsoever regading the question of US held detainees. Period. End of discussion.

    The US has not ratified the convention establishing the ICC, does not recognize the ICC’s authority and is not — as a matter of law — subject to its jurisdiction

    The International Court of Justice: (1) settles disputes voluntarily submitted to it by the states that are parties to the dispute and (2) gives advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by the UN General Assembly or UN Security Council. Advisory opinions have no legal effect.

    Jurisdiction of the court is limited only to cases where both parties have submitted their dispute to the court.

    As a matter of law, the US is not subject to the compulsory jurisidiction of the ICJ and has not submitted any dispute regarding the detention of prisoners to the ICJ. Furthermore, the Geneva Conventions do not recognize the ICJ as the arbiter of disputes thereunder. Consequently, the ICJ has no legal authority whatsoever to rule on this issue.

    Finally, for the one-thousanth time, terrorists are not covered by the Geneva Convention.

    The US federal judiciary is the only institution with the legal authority to issue any legal ruling with respect to the rights of the detainees held by the US. The US Supreme Court has done so, holding that Gitmo detainees are entitled to certain due process rights.

    August 28, 2005 @ 2:54 am | Comment

    but I have articles and links to plenty of cases illustrating the above

    Please, post them. I’ll have the week to read them

    August 28, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

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