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Archive for the ‘Guantánamo’ Category

Crowder on Gitmo

Don’t agree with everything he says by a long shot, but near the end he makes a good point: that almost everyone who’s been opposed to the prison who has actually visited has changed their mind about it.

Funniest part is when he’s looking at the rafts that Cubans have made and wonders where the ones are made by Americans to get Cuban healthcare!

HT: Patterico, who’s RSS feed is completely screwed.

Geneva Conventions’ myths strike again

Seems that the left is never going to understand what the Geneva Conventions actually say. They’ve got this fantasy that George W. Bush decided to throw them out, and by golly they’re going to stick with it.

In February 2002, following extensive discussions about what to do with prisoners captured in the US’s (then) new war in Afghanistan,

Well, the US’s involvement was new. Afghanistan was in about the 20th year of war.

President Bush issued an order [PDF] declaring that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to captured Taliban soldiers on the grounds [PDF] that Afghanistan was a “failed state” and the Taliban was “not a government but a militant, terrorist-like group”.

All of which were perfectly correct statements.

It then proceeded to detain Afghan prisoners without trial, render them to Guantanamo and its network of “black sites”, photograph them for the purposes of public humiliation, and torture them.

Ah, “Afghan prisoners” were “rendered” to Gitmo and “tortured”. Top marks for maximum use of weasel words.

In reality, suspected Taliban and  leaders were taken to Guantanamo and subject to interrogation and detention.

Which makes the US’s current complaint that the Taliban parading a captured US soldier on camera violates international law just a bit rich. Having denied the protection of international law to their opponents, they can hardly claim it for themselves.

Actually, it’s futile but not rich at all. The Taliban are operating as a terrorist group and aren’t (as previously mentioned) protected by international law. The US (believe it or not) does operate within international law in the sense that it’s solders are wearing uniforms that identify them as solders so are entitled to be treated as POW when captured. But since the  Taliban don’t respect the law in the first place they’re not about to start following it when they capture someone.

The US has every right to demand their solders rights be respected, and every right to deny those same rights to the Taliban. But whether or not the US grants those rights, the Taliban are going to be as brutal as they want.

Obama Changing a lot Less than You’d Think

Obama says he’s going to restore America’s place in the world. It doesn’t sound like his plan for Gitmo is going to do that.

Mr Obama, who is due to be inaugurated as US president on 20 January, has repeatedly promised to close the camp, where some 250 inmates remain.

Well, even Bush wanted to close it.

President Bush said today that he would like to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp on Cuba, but for the fact that some of the terror suspects held there were too “darned dangerous” to release.

Speaking at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden the day after returning from a surprise trip to Baghdad, Mr Bush said that he realised the detention centre was an “excuse” for critics to claim that American was guilty of hypocrisy over its core values.

“I’d like to close Guantanamo,” Mr Bush said. “But I also recognise that we’re holding some people that are darned dangerous, and that we’d better have a plan to deal with them in our courts.

So what is Obama going to do?

The signing of the order is unlikely to be followed by immediate closure.

On Sunday, Mr Obama indicated that closing Guantanamo was a “challenge” and would take time.

“It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realise,” Mr Obama told the ABC TV network.

“We’re going to get it done, but part of the challenge that you have is that you have got a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication.”

I have no doubt that Obama will be different, but let’s not pretend that he’s just going to thrown open the gates. Remember: even Bush released many detainees, even (unfortunately) people committed to terrorism as witnessed by their returning to the fight.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said 18 former detainees are confirmed as “returning to the fight” and 43 are suspected of having done in a report issued late in December by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

But he’s going to end torture, right?

“President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to prohibit the use of waterboarding and harsh interrogation techniques by ordering the CIA to follow military rules for questioning prisoners, according to two U.S. officials familiar with drafts of the plans. Still under debate is whether to include a loophole that would allow exceptions in extraordinary cases.”

How is this different from President Bush’s policy?

Answer: it’s not.

Then we have this today.

During the Presidential campaign, Obama promised to “have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States government personnel and contractors.” Thus, Obama implied he would reject the more aggressive interrogation tactics like waterboarding that had been considered and, in rare cases, used by the Bush Administration.

Now that he’s President, it appears Obama will implement his campaign promise to have the military guidelines govern interrogation techniques. However, he is also considering expanding the military guidelines to permit more aggressive techniques:

“At least two more executive orders are expected in coming days, according to two Obama officials.

One official said the first will require all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while questioning detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, which creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture by critics.

The second order will set up a study of interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual, including some that may be more aggressive than those currently permitted.”

So what about Iraq? Obama opposed the war, opposed the surge and wants out ASAP. That’s what he said during the election.

Seems that now that he’s got the votes, some things might have changed.

A key adviser to Senator Obama’s campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

The differences between Obama and Bush were always going to be a lot more subtle than 99% of his supporters expected.

We’re now starting to find out just how subtle.

Update: One more.

While Obama calls for transparency, Pelosi is doing the opposite.

After decades of Democrat control of the House of Representatives, gross abuses to the legislative process and several high-profile scandals contributed to an overwhelming Republican House Congressional landslide victory in 1994. Reforms to the House Rules as part of the Contract with America were designed to open up to public scrutiny what had become under this decades-long Democrat majority a dangerously secretive House legislative process. The Republican reform of the way the House did business included opening committee meetings to the public and media, making Congress actually subject to federal law, term limits for committee chairmen ending decades-long committee fiefdoms, truth in budgeting, elimination of the committee proxy vote, authorization of a House audit, specific requirements for blanket rules waivers, and guarantees to the then-Democrat minority party to offer amendments to pieces of legislation.

Pelosi’s proposed repeal of decades-long House accountability reforms exposes a tyrannical Democrat leadership poised to assemble legislation in secret, then goose-step it through Congress by the elimination of debate and amendment procedures as part of America’s governing legislative process.

Defending the War On Terror

Patterico has an excellent letter written by Attorney General Mukasey to John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It’s good.

I understand that you and some of your colleagues disagree with the interrogation policies that the Executive Branch has chosen to use in defending our Nation fiom another terrorist attack in the six and one-half years following September 11,2001. I also appreciate the public interest in, and debate over, the wisdom and value of these policies, as well as the fidelity of those policies to our Nation’s laws; indeed, I believe that such debate reflects the strength of our Constitution. But I strongly disagree with your suggestion that such debate should be resolved through a criminal investigation into the actions of government officials who formulated and carried out those policies. I believe such a request is unfair to those who have been charged with making the difficult decisions in protecting our Nation in the War on Terror, and to those who will be so charged in the future, and therefore is seriously short-sighted.

Your letter requests the appointment of a special counsel to launch a criminal investigation into the actions of the President, members of his cabinet, and other national security lawyers and intelligence professionals in the approval and employment by the CIA of interrogation techniques against captured members of a1 Qaeda. However, you offer no evidence that these government officials acted pursuant to any motive other than a good-faith desire to protect the citizens of our Nation from a future terrorist attack. Nor have you provided any evidence or indication that these government officials believed they were authorizing any policy contrary to the laws of the United States. Quite the contrary: Before the CIA employed these interrogation techniques, government officials sought advice from the Department of Justice as to the lawfulness of the proposed course of conduct. The Department of Justice attorneys, in turn, provided that legal advice. I am aware of no evidence that in providing advice concerning the CIA program those attorneys acted in anything other than good faith based on their best judgment of what the law required.

Your request for a criminal investigation into the actions Executive Branch policymakers and national security lawyers undertook to defend the Nation reflects a broader trend whose institutional effects may outlast the present Administration and harm our national security well into the future. I spoke in more detail about this problematic trend in a speech at Boston College Law School on May 23, 2008, which in turn drew substantially from former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith’s recent book, The Terror Presidency. In his book, Professor Goldsmith describes what he calls “cycles of timidity and aggression” among political leaders and commentators in their attitudes towards the intelligence community. As I pointed out in my speech, the message sent to our national security policymakers and lawyers in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was clear, it was bipartisan, and it was all but unanimous. As Professor Goldsmith explains, “The consistent refrain from the [9/11] Commission, Congress, and pundits of all stripes was that the government must be more forward-leaning against the terrorist threat: more imaginative, more aggressive, less risk-averse.”

Another Republician with Balls found!

Pity the previous guy wasn’t so forthright in defending what was a completely legal firing of people who refused to prosecute criminals on the same side of the political divide as themselves.

No suspension of Habeas Corpus

From Patterico, a post on Justice Scalia’s dissent in the recent Guantanamo detainees case.

But here is a starting taste, along with the ending paragraph (note how Scalia conspicuously declines to write “I respectfully dissent” as is the usual custom for Justices):

“Today, for the first time in our Nation’s history, the Court confers a constitutional right to habeas corpus on alien enemies detained abroad by our military forces in the course of an ongoing war. THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s dissent, which I join, shows that the procedures prescribed by Congress in the Detainee Treatment Act provide the essential protections that habeas corpus guarantees; there has thus been no suspension of the writ, and no basis exists for judicial intervention beyond what the Act allows. My problem with today’s opinion is more fundamental still: The writ of habeas corpus does not, and never has, run in favor of aliens abroad; the Suspension Clause thus has no application, and the Court’s intervention in this military matter is entirely ultra vires. [emphasis here mine – S1]

I shall devote most of what will be a lengthy opinion to the legal errors contained in the opinion of the Court. Contrary to my usual practice, however, I think it appropriate to begin with a description of the disastrous consequences of what the Court has done today.

We witnessed the ridiculous sight of TV One News’ saying that this judgment meant the constitution could not be “turned off or on like a tap”. Sorry, the US constitution applies to the US and it’s citizens, it does not and never has applied to foreigners, particularly those engaged in war against it.

The Left Sure Does Have ’em

And the myth continues

The Associated Press is up to their usual tricks with this one. According to our post back on March 20, 2004, Yee was certainly not exonerated or cleared; the charges were dropped, according to Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, because there were “national security concerns that would arise from the release of the evidence” if the case proceeded.

Recently, James Yee appeared on Syrian television to describe the horrors of Guantanamo Bay, even though he never actually witnessed any horrors: Video: Former Gitmo Muslim Chaplain on Koran Desecration.

The scary thing is that this guy is probably one of the better sources for the “kill Bush” crowd.

Never mind, even if there were evidence that those guys in gitmo were so well cared for they’re getting fat, they’d complain about that too.

The Solution to the Ahmed Zaoui Problem

Just send him to Guantanamo!

Zachary Katznelson, senior counsel with the human rights lawyers Reprieve and Mr Belbacha’s lawyer, has asked the US courts to block any transfer. “Ahmed is being held in camp six, the harshest part of Guantanamo,” he said. “His cell is all steel, there are no windows, he is not allowed to communicate with other prisoners and he gets just two hours exercise each day in a metal cage.

“He says his cell in Guantanamo is like a grave and that although it sounds crazy he would rather stay in those conditions than go back to Algeria. The fact is that he is really, really scared about what might happen to him in Algeria.”

If we ask Bush really nicely…

It’s In the Constitution!

The ACLU is now fighting for your right to get infected.

As with terrorism cases, the whole “held without charge” bollocks is applied by the irrational left.

Guantanamo – Even the Left thinks they’re pushovers

No Right Turn publishes a letter from someone in Guantanamo.

Oops.  That sound you hear is the “gulag” claim flying out the window. See, in a real gulag there are no letters. No attorneys, no visitors of any kind. You work from before dawn to after dusk under constant beatings and little food. But I digress.

So in summary, the list is:
* assaulted me/beaten me unconscious
This is a serious allegation, and I will deal with it shortly.

* threatened to kill me/daughter
See above.

* placed me in solitary confinement,
* and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life.
* deprived me of sleep,
* forced me to listen to extremely loud music
* shined intense lights in my face
* They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food & drink
* or the ability to go to the bathroom
* or wash for prayers
* wrapped me in the Israeli flag
* told me there is a holy war…

Here we have the bulk of the published claims. It makes rather unremarkable reading.

I’d frankly have been surprised if he hadn’t claimed to have been in solitary confinement. Depriving someone of sleep is hardly torture, and most teenagers would regard loud music as a human right.

Bright lights are not exactly going to kill anyone either. Not washing for prayers would be quite common on the battlefield, where we would presume this fellow was picked up.

But then we have a claim that he was wrapped in the Israeli flag. Wow. This makes a list that includes being beaten unconscious.  “What I write here is not what my imagination fancies or my insanity dictates” – so he quite sanely believes that being wrapped in the flag of a democratic nation is a incredible insult to his humanity. One wonders why his attorneys kept this in, it clearly degrades his credibility.

Actually, that claim goes:

They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag and told me there is a holy war between the Cross and the Star of David on one hand and the Crescent on the other.

So there’s a war between Israel and Arabs? Good gracious! Who knew? Someone should tell Israel that all those rockets, terrorist attacks and invasions over their history were because of a war –  I don’t think they know that.

Note that the key paragraph begins and ends in what may well be the same claim – assault, or being beaten unconscious. This is a serious claim, as is threatening to kill. However, the letter makes it plain that this is not army policy. It it more thank likely that if these things did happen, the perpetrators have been found and punished. More likely than in Iraq or Afghanistan under their respective despotic regimes that is.

But the most interesting thing about this letter is what is not there. There is no suggestion that people are being worked to death. There is no suggestion that people are denied Korans or pray time. There is no suggestion that people are being starved. There is no suggestion that people are unable to visit him. There is no proof supplied that he is innocent – the LA Times should be able to provide something, but choose not to. There is nothing to suggest that this man should not be held as a prisoner of war, and the Israeli flag claim to suggest he should be.

And that is what he is.  A prisoner of war, who is alleged to have fought a war outside the protection of the Geneva convention.

Gitmo Reporting – “Alice in Wonderland”

Newsbusters writer Mark Finkelstein interviews Charles “Cully” Stimson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs:

Observed Stimson: “We’ve had over 2,000 journalists visit Gitmo. People who go and see it for themselves realize it’s almost Alice in Wonderland – down is up and up is down. The caricature of Guantanamo is exactly the opposite of the reality of Guantanamo.

Stimson’s experience has been that people who had been harsh critics prior to their visit typically change their opinion after they leave. Among the examples cited by Stimson is that of James Ellis, a Brit who had been very critical of conditions at Gitmo. After his visit, he adopted the position that closing Gitmo would in fact make the world a more dangerous place.

Funny how you never hear of anyone saying “I’ve been there, and we must close it immediately.” Let’s face it – if there was someone like that, they’d be all over the news.

(Of course, the left’s excuse is the ususal conspiracy of “oh, we/they weren’t allowed to see the whole thing…”)

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