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Default The war on terror is over officially \o/

March 30th, 2009, 15:04
A pretty good blowoff, PJ, but you're papering over a few inconvenient truths simply because the source is biased.
Another portion of the bill talks about a "service learning" plan that will be "a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency."
Explain how that's "no change".
"Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year," the site announced.
Middle school kids aren't paying for college. You need another explanation.
The new bill specifically references the possibilities "if all individuals in the United States were expected to perform national service or were required to perform a certain amount of national service."
Legislation isn't the place for idle musing. This text is there for a reason, not just some senator having a "wouldn't it be nice" fantasy.

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March 30th, 2009, 16:40
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
A pretty good blowoff, PJ, but you're papering over a few inconvenient truths simply because the source is biased.
Very likely. The trouble is that the source blends fact, fiction, commentary, and paranoia in a way that makes it very difficult to check which is which, without individually verifying each assertion. That's too much trouble, so it's more efficient to simply disregard the whole thing.

If you can provide better sourcing for the assertions that are worrying you, I'd be happy to give them a second look.

Explain how that's "no change".
Okay, let's look up what the bill actually says — remember that you're referencing what WND says that it says, which may not be the same thing at all.

OpenCongress Summary:

The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act would dramatically increase funding for AmeriCorps and other volunteer programs, including those for seniors and veterans. It also establishes a goal of expanding from 75,000 government-supported volunteers to 250,000, and would increase education funding and establish a summer service program for students, paying $500 (which would be applied to college costs) to high-school and middle-school student who participate.

In its current form, the legislation does not include a mandate requiring service.
I'd read the actual text, but it's over 50,000 words, so I'm gonna pass on this one. And yes, I do trust OpenCongress's summary more than WorldNetDaily's. If you can provide a reference to exactly where in the bill the passage that's giving you nightmares is located, and what the context is, then I'd be happy to comment further.

Middle school kids aren't paying for college. You need another explanation.
I also don't know what, exactly, is required of middle school kids. Mandatory community service? If so, how much, and what kind? Or is it simply a mandatory addition to the curriculum that explains what volunteer programs are available, what they do, who's eligible, and how you apply? Something else?

Legislation isn't the place for idle musing. This text is there for a reason, not just some senator having a "wouldn't it be nice" fantasy.
Actually, legislation *IS* a place for idle musing, and an insane amount of verbiage gets in for that precise reason.
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March 30th, 2009, 16:52
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
I'm just hoping Obama doesn't go back to the Clinton/every pre-9/11 president policy of "terrorism is a law enforcement issue".
That would depend on what you mean by it. If you mean taking a policy that terrorism is ONLY a law enforcement issue, then yeah, that's a bad idea. Obviously terrorism is a complex set of problems with various dimensions, including social, political, ideological, historical, religious, security, military, and, yes, law enforcement.

However, I don't think characterizing Clinton's (or his predecessors') response to terrorism as ONLY law enforcement is accurate either. To point out a trivial example, he did fire cruise missiles at an aspirin factory in Sudan because he thought Al Qaeda was using it to produce biological weapons.
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March 30th, 2009, 17:16
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
That would depend on what you mean by it. If you mean taking a policy that terrorism is ONLY a law enforcement issue, then yeah, that's a bad idea. Obviously terrorism is a complex set of problems with various dimensions, including social, political, ideological, historical, religious, security, military, and, yes, law enforcement.

However, I don't think characterizing Clinton's (or his predecessors') response to terrorism as ONLY law enforcement is accurate either. To point out a trivial example, he did fire cruise missiles at an aspirin factory in Sudan because he thought Al Qaeda was using it to produce biological weapons.
Right, I'm saying the focus pre-9/11 was (to make arbitrary percentages) two-thirds law enforcement to one-third terrorism whereas the reverse is true today. I'm reading a book by a few prominent terrorism experts published in November of 2001 which talks about this. It mentions that the majority of official responses to terrorism were law enforcement as opposed to military. I'm just hoping we don't slip into trying to serve warrants against terrorists and worrying about Miranda or probable cause or other niceties we allow to criminals. Pre 9/11 we tended to capture the little guy while anyone actually involved in the planning/administration of terror networks tended to get away scott free - and while bin Laden and Al Zawahiri are on the run we've captured/killed a good deal of the al-Qaeda leadership via military means.

I'm actually pretty happy with what Obama has announced/been doing national security wise so far. Despite political campaign rhetoric/hopes from the Moveon.org crowd it seems they're willing to take things that worked under Bush and continue doing them. I am worried about the closing of Guantanamo, mainly because we still don't have any idea what to do with some of these people that are too dangerous to release but we can't try for anything.
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March 30th, 2009, 18:56
Guantanamo. The main problem with that is that you put just about anybody in there. I'm sure there are genuinely dangerous people in there, but there are also a fair number of complete bystanders, people turned in for cash or to settle a grudge, and bit players. The thing with extraordinary powers is that you have to be extraordinarily careful using them, or they'll blow up right in your face. Governments of major powers have always done "black ops" — legally highly questionable stuff. The double-oh classification isn't *all* fiction. That, like many other things, is a necessary evil.

But things blow up big-time if it stops being a rarely-used clandestine tactic, and becomes overt, official policy. That erodes the foundations of the system it's supposed to be defending. That's why Guantanamo *must* go, and the US *must* credibly disavow torture and other extraordinary measures.
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March 30th, 2009, 19:05
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Guantanamo. The main problem with that is that you put just about anybody in there. I'm sure there are genuinely dangerous people in there, but there are also a fair number of complete bystanders, people turned in for cash or to settle a grudge, and bit players. The thing with extraordinary powers is that you have to be extraordinarily careful using them, or they'll blow up right in your face. Governments of major powers have always done "black ops" — legally highly questionable stuff. The double-oh classification isn't *all* fiction. That, like many other things, is a necessary evil.

But things blow up big-time if it stops being a rarely-used clandestine tactic, and becomes overt, official policy. That erodes the foundations of the system it's supposed to be defending. That's why Guantanamo *must* go, and the US *must* credibly disavow torture and other extraordinary measures.
I'm not disagreeing with you, I just think him coming out and saying "We're going to close it by this time next year." without any idea of what we're going to do with a lot of these people (and there are people we WANT to release but no one other than Portugal will take them in) isn't a good thing. Bush wanted to close Gitmo and so did McCain. I think Obama should have waited until we have an actual clue on what to do with the detainees - because there are a good deal we CAN'T release or try, so either they're going to a Supermax or we're going to put a bullet in their heads. There needs to be a clear plan and there wasn't one when he announced the closure.

As a side note - I am curious since Obama said rendition is still in…does that mean we're going to turn over people to Egypt and have them undergo old-school style torture?
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March 31st, 2009, 06:54
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
I'm probably going to be shouted down by about three-fourths of the board for saying this, but the Clinton (and now Obama, I guess) policy of extraordinary rendition is FAR less humane than the one Bush ended up doing.
You'll be quite rightly shouted down Bush's policy was Guantanmo + Rendition + (alegedaly) offshore CIA detainment camps. Bush didn't stop the practice of rendition when they set up in Cuba he just added more options.
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March 31st, 2009, 14:31
And since Gitmo is a more humane option than many of the choices available to Clinton (sending the folks to Egypt for breaking ain't very nice by comparison), point proven. Thank you for spelling it out very clearly.

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March 31st, 2009, 19:21
How is Gitmo more humane? Solitary confinement, brutal beatings, sleep deprivation,waterboarding, intubation, etc. Are you claiming the high ground because (as far as we've heard) no one got their eyeballs gouged out with hot irons?

I wouldn't call internment without any hope of a trial for an unspecified length of time while people sat on your chest and poured water down your throat more humane—just more technically sophisticated.

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March 31st, 2009, 20:34
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
How is Gitmo more humane? Solitary confinement, brutal beatings, sleep deprivation,waterboarding, intubation, etc. Are you claiming the high ground because (as far as we've heard) no one got their eyeballs gouged out with hot irons?

I wouldn't call internment without any hope of a trial for an unspecified length of time while people sat on your chest and poured water down your throat more humane—just more technically sophisticated.
I've known people who work at Gitmo - the prisoners there aren't beaten and they are given better food and accommodations than prisoners in a Supermax facility. And yes, I would say three people TOTAL being waterboarded at Gitmo is a far more humane solution than Clinton's (and I guess Obama's) of handing them to Syria, having someone electroshock their testicles or disfigure them. We're not summarily executing folks either.

Besides, you can't try a good deal of these people. You simply can't.
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March 31st, 2009, 21:04
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
How is Gitmo more humane? Solitary confinement, brutal beatings, sleep deprivation,waterboarding, intubation, etc. Are you claiming the high ground because (as far as we've heard) no one got their eyeballs gouged out with hot irons?

I wouldn't call internment without any hope of a trial for an unspecified length of time while people sat on your chest and poured water down your throat more humane—just more technically sophisticated.
I deplore Gitmo and am happy that it is closed down, but from a pure technical point of view it is more humane than the renditions (which were frequent under Bush, Gitmo is only a complement). Solitary containment or even waterboarding are probably more humane treatments than getting your testicles fried in Uzbekistan or Egypt. On the other hand closing down Gitmo only makes policy less humane if it leads to an increase in the number of renditions (which I have a hard time imagining were more numerous under Clinton than under Bush if we want to go historical), and that might not necessarily be the case if one takes in suspects on less liberal grounds than in the last few years… And that might well be the case since many of the Gitmo detainees probably werent worth the bother as irrelevant small fry of limited intel value.

That said I actually think that it was a huge mistake to move away from seeing terrorism as a law enforcement issue first and foremost. In my opinion terrorism should be a law enforcement issue when possible, which is whenever you are dealing with terrorists acting in a place with functioning rule of law. Then one complements that with other tactics if they are holed up in lawless or hostile lands such as Afghanistan, and finally add in a long term strategy to dry up the recruitment base.

Terrorism is awful, but it is not a threat of a magnitude that warrants an erosion of the rule of law. I am very doubtful that either Gitmo (where a fairly significant chunk of the detainees were small fry caught in Afghanistan, not exactly a threat to the west) or the renditions have yielded results that really are worth the cases where innocents have been rendered. I also think it would have huge symbolic value to actually be able to put some of the terrorists through a fair trial and sentence them that way rather than to routinely forego due procedure.

EDIT: Thanks to Rith for language help
Last edited by Zaleukos; March 31st, 2009 at 21:52.
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March 31st, 2009, 21:17
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
That said I actually think that it was a huge mistake to move away from seeing terrorism as a law enforcement issue first and foremost. In my opinion terrorism should be a law enforcement issue when possible, which is whenever you are dealing with terrorists acting in a place with functioning rule of law. Then one complements that with other tactics if they are holed up in lawless or hostile lands such as Afghanistan, and finally add in a long term strategy to dry up the recruitment base.
Nearly every expert would disagree with your assessment. Terrorists use our laws and technology against us. If you use law enforcement as the primary tool you get 9/11. Law enforcement is a reactive measure. You aren't preventing attacks if you use law enforcement. Law enforcement also doesn't have the reach or the tools to take down these networks. How successful was law enforcement at catching the 9/11 perpetrators before the attack? Evidence gathered in military/covert operations have let us stop a multitude of attacks. Law enforcement has a role but it's not at the forefront of the operation.

Law enforcement also has to obey rules that make catching these people before they do something almost impossible. You need a warrant to investigate a safe house. They get a lawyer present during questioning. Hell, they even get access to any evidence you have against them in a civil trial, so all that careful work you've put into infiltrating the terror network or monitoring communications has now vanished!

These people aren't criminals in the bank robber or serial killer sense. This is a military operation; it's a direct attack against specific states and a specific way of life.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
Terrorism is awful, but it is not a threat of a magnitude that warrants an erosion of the rule of law. I am very doubtful that either Gitmo (where a fairly significant chunk of the detainees were small fry caught in Afghanistan, not exactly a threat to the west) or the renditions have yielded results that really are worth the cases where innocents have been "renditioned" or whatever the appropriate verb is. I also think it would have huge symbolic value to actually be able to put some of the terrorists through a fair trial and sentence them that way rather than to routinely forego due procedure.
The verb I've always seen used is "rendered". And law enforcement efforts have *only* captured small fry people. Our military operations on the other hand have captured people directly responsible for the planning and orchestration of 9/11 (and other terrorist activities). I'm also a cynic, and while I think torture is wrong, I also think a few people wrongfully imprisoned is better than thousands dead and injured. Trials also won't do anything other then give these people what they want. Look at what has happened at these terror trials. They plead guilty and launch into tirades about being a martyr for the cause, etc, etc, etc. If we do somehow capture Osama I hope they just shoot him in the back of the head instead of giving him the grand spectacle in court before they give him the chair.
Last edited by Rithrandil; March 31st, 2009 at 21:18. Reason: fixed some typos
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March 31st, 2009, 21:51
I expected some disagreement here, and I would love to see some analytical papers by terrorism experts on this topic (if you have any good links that are public).

Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
Nearly every expert would disagree with your assessment. Terrorists use our laws and technology against us. If you use law enforcement as the primary tool you get 9/11. Law enforcement is a reactive measure. You aren't preventing attacks if you use law enforcement. Law enforcement also doesn't have the reach or the tools to take down these networks. How successful was law enforcement at catching the 9/11 perpetrators before the attack? Evidence gathered in military/covert operations have let us stop a multitude of attacks. Law enforcement has a role but it's not at the forefront of the operation.
Obviously the 9/11 attacks werent foiled, but intelligence and infiltration (not incompatible with law enforcement as far as I know) have stopped other attacks in the past, the French for instance claim to have foiled plots against the 1998 soccer World Cup. I could counter by asking how successful the military strategy was at stopping the Bali, London, Madrid, and Istanbul attacks that all occurred after 9/11 changed the anti-terror paradigm.

I think one huge problem with the war on terror is that it has mixed up the tackling of one rather unique problem (dealing with a network acting from bases in a failed state which admittedly requires military efforts) with terrorism as a whole and saw it all as one great terrorist international. It is great that Al Qaeda has been disrupted, but most terrorism consist of small scale local operations that arent directed from a bearded mastermind in the Hindu Kush. Even most Al Qaeda labelled attacks are conducted by local groups who take advantage of Osamas liberal franchise policy.

The verb I've always seen used is "rendered". And law enforcement efforts have *only* captured small fry people. Our military operations on the other hand have captured people directly responsible for the planning and orchestration of 9/11 (and other terrorist activities).
As with law enforcement you captured these fellows after the act Afghanistan where you have caught these fellows is as I said a place where complementary (military in this case) action is needed as there is no rule of law or the regime is hostile.

Trials also won't do anything other then give these people what they want. Look at what has happened at these terror trials. They plead guilty and launch into tirades about being a martyr for the cause, etc, etc, etc. If we do somehow capture Osama I hope they just shoot him in the back of the head instead of giving him the grand spectacle in court before they give him the chair.
So what is he gaining and we losing by him playing monkey in court, and what are we losing by shooting him in the back of the head?

Which of the actions will do more or less to inspire seemingly integrated muslims like those responsible for the London bombings? What will do more to inspire your own population? How would Al Jazeera spin a shot to the back of the head and how would they spin a proper trial?

To me it seems like a proper conviction of Osama would be a great propaganda victory with few downsides.

Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
I'm also a cynic, and while I think torture is wrong, I also think a few people wrongfully imprisoned is better than thousands dead and injured.
I'm not sure if it's the cynic or the idealist in me, but I think that while terrorism is a problem it doesnt constitute a war-like threat to us in the west. We are dealing with nutters who kill a few dozen of westerners a year (military personnel in the middle east excepted, but that is war and arguably not to be put in the same cathegory as a bomb in NYC or London). What kind of cost, be that in money, soldiers' lives, or erosion of our own rule of law is it worth to tackle the threat, and how much better are we doing by paying that cost? If such a thing were possible it would be extremely interesting to have an audit of the war on terror.
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March 31st, 2009, 21:56
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
I've known people who work at Gitmo - the prisoners there aren't beaten and they are given better food and accommodations than prisoners in a Supermax facility. And yes, I would say three people TOTAL being waterboarded at Gitmo is a far more humane solution than Clinton's (and I guess Obama's) of handing them to Syria, having someone electroshock their testicles or disfigure them. We're not summarily executing folks either.

Besides, you can't try a good deal of these people. You simply can't.
I knew someone would tell me if I asked. I don't know personally anyone who works there, but I don't have any reason to doubt your word that prisoners there are being treated humanely and have been for the last few years.

Nonetheless, I'm doubtful if in the past the rule of law was followed as strictly as you suggest before the Supreme Court ruling in 2006 that struck down Bush's assertion that "enemy combatants" were not entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention(otherwise, why make the assertion?) The days immediately following 9/11 were marked by a panic-mode that demanded answers at any cost, and forgive me if I'm not completely convinced there were no beatings or torture other than what has been publicly acknowledged. However I'm open to reasonable discourse on the subject. I'd like to believe the best about the men and women involved in this operation.

This is a good article by Lawrence Wilkerson(former chief of staff to Sec. Colin Powell ) on the botched methodology of it all:
Some Truths About Gauntanomo

I do accept your premise that trying many of these people will be difficult if not impossible, and that simply repatriating them has its flaws as well. AFA rendition, I also don't like the way the administration is leaving that door open. It's a huge mess to wade through, legally, ethically and morally.

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March 31st, 2009, 22:22
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
I expected some disagreement here, and I would love to see some analytical papers by terrorism experts on this topic (if you have any good links that are public).
Certainly. Most of the ones I have access to right now are in books but I'll see if I can dig up some more internet-accessible ones. I'm starting a lot of research into these topics in the next few days (for work/papers) and I'll PM you anything interesting I stumble across or post if it here if there's a lot of interest in them.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
Obviously the 9/11 attacks werent foiled, but intelligence and infiltration (not incompatible with law enforcement as far as I know) have stopped other attacks in the past, the French for instance claim to have foiled plots against the 1998 soccer World Cup. I could counter by asking how successful the military strategy was at stopping the Bali, London, Madrid, and Istanbul attacks that all occurred after 9/11 changed the anti-terror paradigm.
Not successful at all. There have been other plots that have been foiled (some public, some not). No one's arguing that the military/intelligence method can stop everything but by its nature it has a better chance then law enforcement.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
I think one huge problem with the war on terror is that it has mixed up the tackling of one rather unique problem (dealing with a network acting from bases in a failed state which admittedly requires military efforts) with terrorism as a whole and saw it all as one great terrorist international. It is great that Al Qaeda has been disrupted, but most terrorism consist of small scale local operations that arent directed from a bearded mastermind in the Hindu Kush. Even most Al Qaeda labelled attacks are conducted by local groups who take advantage of Osamas liberal franchise policy.
I agree with you - this isn't a one-solution-meets all problem. If you look at the National Security Strategy documents they basically say right now the problem is "too big" for it to be dealt via law enforcement. The plan is to disrupt the major international terrorist organizations (and major national ones that pose a threat to governments such as Pakistan). Once that's been done and we're dealing with more 'local' groups the idea is to turn it back over to law enforcement. Money, weapons, training, and personnel flows too freely across the world for us to leave everything up to the NYPD right now.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
As with law enforcement you captured these fellows after the act Afghanistan where you have caught these fellows is as I said a place where complementary (military in this case) action is needed as there is no rule of law or the regime is hostile.
Law enforcement has been pretty good at capturing the lowest level of people. We might be able to break up a cell or here with it, but the problem is we want to take out the guys at the top. The brains of the operation (and we've been somewhat successful using the military/CIA/whatever). I'm not saying we violate posse comitatus and have Navy SEALS break into someone's apartment in Bethesda; law enforcement has a role but it's going to need to take a back seat for a while.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
So what is he gaining and we losing by him playing monkey in court, and what are we losing by shooting him in the back of the head?

Which of the actions will do more or less to inspire seemingly integrated muslims like those responsible for the London bombings? What will do more to inspire your own population? How would Al Jazeera spin a shot to the back of the head and how would they spin a proper trial?

To me it seems like a proper conviction of Osama would be a great propaganda victory with few downsides.
Everyone knows the verdict in a public trial would be a foregone conclusion - and in the .00001% chance Osama somehow got off he wouldn't make it out of the court room alive. It'd be a propaganda victory for both sides. We'd all get to feel good about ourselves for following the rule of law and the opposition would feel great because they have a new martyr executed in the cause of righteousness.

No matter what we do we're damned in the court of public opinion over there. Al Jazeera would criticize us no matter what we do. Look at Sudan - the ICC issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president for war crimes/genocide/crimes against humanity. The Arab League is freaking out and standing behind the Sudanese President. I don't think a trial of Osama would gain us much of anything. I also don't want to give the guy free air time on every news network on the world and I definitely don't want to give his lawyers the ability to call up evidence from whatever secret intelligence sources we have.
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March 31st, 2009, 22:41
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I knew someone would tell me if I asked. I don't know personally anyone who works there, but I don't have any reason to doubt your word that prisoners there are being treated humanely and have been for the last few years.
There's actually a few Pentagon reports on this (the most recent commissioned by Obama). There's a Red Cross office on base, too, to monitor prisoner treatment. The reports said attacks on guards are pretty commonplace, too.

Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Nonetheless, I'm doubtful if in the past the rule of law was followed as strictly as you suggest before the Supreme Court ruling in 2006 that struck down Bush's assertion that "enemy combatants" were not entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention(otherwise, why make the assertion?) The days immediately following 9/11 were marked by a panic-mode that demanded answers at any cost, and forgive me if I'm not completely convinced there were no beatings or torture other than what has been publicly acknowledged. However I'm open to reasonable discourse on the subject. I'd like to believe the best about the men and women involved in this operation.
I'm not a fan of torture - whether it was institutionally sanctioned (the three waterboarding cases I am discussing) or not (Abu Ghraib). The Geneva Convention rights is a tricky issue. One of my professors at college (a retired Brigadier, was in the JAG corps, etc) was one of the military people who petitioned Bush saying the detainees should at least have the *hearings* to decide whether they are POWs or illegal combatants - something the article you linked touches on.

I'm assuming there was most likely "other things" we are not admitting to but I find it odd the CIA would admit to waterboarding three guys and not anyone else. I don't think it's as widespread and prominent as some commentators are suggesting, though.

From my (albeit somewhat shaky) knowledge of international law presented to me by the aforementioned professor and other people in the field the people we've captured who are terrorists (as in, NOT Taliban from the 2001 invasion) would be treated somewhat similar to Pirates. They're violating the laws of war and thus do NOT have a great deal of protections that soldiers or civilians have under the conventions/other agreements. Things like access to mail, etc are forbidden to these people.

Originally Posted by magerette View Post
This is a good article by Lawrence Wilkerson(former chief of staff to Sec. Colin Powell ) on the botched methodology of it all:
Some Truths About Gauntanomo

I do accept your premise that trying many of these people will be difficult if not impossible, and that simply repatriating them has its flaws as well. AFA rendition, I also don't like the way the administration is leaving that door open. It's a huge mess to wade through, legally, ethically and morally.
His account is very accurate (especially when it comes to Cheney). But there is something he is ignoring - there's been a good deal of prisoners we've wanted to release but no one is taking them or if we DID release them it'd be to countries where they would immediately be arrested, executed, and tortured - and since we're trying to be nice and upstanding people I think this eventuality would be counter-productive. I don't know what we're going to do with many of these people and I wager neither does the President.

I think we need rendition programs or something similar to go after very specific people. As an aside note, if people think this wouldn't have happened under Gore, here's a quote from Richard Clarke's book (found the quote in Wikipedia but it's accurate):

"… 'extraordinary renditions', were operations to apprehend terrorists abroad, usually without the knowledge of and almost always without public acknowledgment of the host government…. The first time I proposed a snatch, in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law. Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: "Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'"
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March 31st, 2009, 23:17
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
I've known people who work at Gitmo - the prisoners there aren't beaten and they are given better food and accommodations than prisoners in a Supermax facility. And yes, I would say three people TOTAL being waterboarded at Gitmo is a far more humane solution than Clinton's (and I guess Obama's) of handing them to Syria, having someone electroshock their testicles or disfigure them. We're not summarily executing folks either.

Besides, you can't try a good deal of these people. You simply can't.
Not really the point, Bush had Gitmo -and- rendition. And if anything thats come out of the European scandals is true made much more extensive use of it than Clinton ever did, you certainly never heard of citizens of Canada end European coountries being rendered during Clinton's period. Saying Bush was more humane because he had the extra option of indefinatly detaining thousands more just isn't logically sustainable.
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March 31st, 2009, 23:30
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
There's actually a few Pentagon reports on this (the most recent commissioned by Obama). There's a Red Cross office on base, too, to monitor prisoner treatment. The reports said attacks on guards are pretty commonplace, too.
Agreed. I think the daylight has pretty well been let in there for some time now. I don't suggest that the prisoners are all boy scouts who are totally blameless either, but I think what evidence we've seen suggests a cleaned-up operation rather than a facility where you'd like to have had a friend or relative confined back in the day.

I'm not a fan of torture - whether it was institutionally sanctioned (the three waterboarding cases I am discussing) or not (Abu Ghraib). The Geneva Convention rights is a tricky issue. One of my professors at college (a retired Brigadier, was in the JAG corps, etc) was one of the military people who petitioned Bush saying the detainees should at least have the *hearings* to decide whether they are POWs or illegal combatants - something the article you linked touches on.

I'm assuming there was most likely "other things" we are not admitting to but I find it odd the CIA would admit to waterboarding three guys and not anyone else. I don't think it's as widespread and prominent as some commentators are suggesting, though.
After living through the political upheavals of the Sixties, the Viet Nam war and everything since then, the one thing I do trust about my government is that I can't ever trust it (or probably any other government) to be perfectly frank. There were some people who did try to get a handle on things, as you say about your prof, but everything was steamrolled Jack Bauer style back then, and that crossed a line that shouldn't have been crossed, however tempting and even understandable considering the intensity of the events. To your point about the CIA, I would posit that for whatever reason (eventual trail, leaks, etc) these three cases were going to be impossible to keep a lid on and therefor were publicly acknowledged. However, it's possible I'm being cynical.

From my (albeit somewhat shaky) knowledge of international law presented to me by the aforementioned professor and other people in the field the people we've captured who are terrorists (as in, NOT Taliban from the 2001 invasion) would be treated somewhat similar to Pirates. They're violating the laws of war and thus do NOT have a great deal of protections that soldiers or civilians have under the conventions/other agreements. Things like access to mail, etc are forbidden to these people.
I'm sure you have far more knowledge of international law than I do—I'm just a retired horticulturist. My problem is not that terrorists were treated differently than enlisted soldiers as I agree completely that they are a different animal, (and the Geneva Convention doesn't cover 'unlawful combatants') but that our country made it impossible to tell who was guilty or innocent, who was a soldier, who was a terrorist and who was a random bystander, made no real attempt to do so, and abrogated our position as a nation which sets and follows legal guidelines to become one that distorts and evades them.

… I don't know what we're going to do with many of these people and I wager neither does the President.
Perhaps, but if you don't set a deadline and a clear end to what you have to change, you don't ever get past that point into really resolving anything. I'd say the President may not know, but he intends to find out.

… As an aside note, if people think this wouldn't have happened under Gore, here's a quote from Richard Clarke's book (found the quote in Wikipedia but it's accurate):
"… "Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'"
I always knew there was a good reason I didn't vote for Gore.

Seriously, black ops and the like have been a part of our way of doing business—and everyone else's most likely—forever. It's the dragging of them over into 'legally' sanctioned, routine, permissible activities that frightens me.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 31st, 2009, 23:30
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
Nearly every expert would disagree with your assessment. Terrorists use our laws and technology against us. If you use law enforcement as the primary tool you get 9/11. Law enforcement is a reactive measure. You aren't preventing attacks if you use law enforcement. Law enforcement also doesn't have the reach or the tools to take down these networks. How successful was law enforcement at catching the 9/11 perpetrators before the attack? Evidence gathered in military/covert operations have let us stop a multitude of attacks. Law enforcement has a role but it's not at the forefront of the operation.

Law enforcement also has to obey rules that make catching these people before they do something almost impossible. You need a warrant to investigate a safe house. They get a lawyer present during questioning. Hell, they even get access to any evidence you have against them in a civil trial, so all that careful work you've put into infiltrating the terror network or monitoring communications has now vanished!
And thats just so wrong its not even funny. Law enforcement is only reactive? Have a look at the laws on conspiricy, racketering, association and indeed the raft of new laws on terrorism introduced all over the world in the last eight years. Don't confuse the FBI's incompetance with the laws structure. We've also got evidence of law enforcement lead policy working in the far tricker cases of the IRA, and ETA where the terrorists were much more closely intergrated into the target nation. The only terrorism experts I've seen advocating military solutions are military people.

The warrent issue - easily fixed with a court that grants them swiftly specifically for terrorism or national security cases, hell they could even grant them retrospectivally in cases where there was an iminant threat, kinda like the one the US already has. Its also desirable from a legal view to release evidence during a trial but there are a number of countries that allow secret evidence if the judge can be convinced its in the national interest.
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March 31st, 2009, 23:41
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
From my (albeit somewhat shaky) knowledge of international law presented to me by the aforementioned professor and other people in the field the people we've captured who are terrorists (as in, NOT Taliban from the 2001 invasion) would be treated somewhat similar to Pirates. They're violating the laws of war and thus do NOT have a great deal of protections that soldiers or civilians have under the conventions/other agreements. Things like access to mail, etc are forbidden to these people.
Thats one way of treating them that would stand up legally, they're not compleatly unprotected though as they'd be covered by things like the Convention Against Torture.
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RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Politics, Religion & other Controversies » The war on terror is over officially \o/
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