Author: has written 5280 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

83 Responses

  1. Matan
    Matan February 28, 2006 at 11:31 am |

    Someone defend Guantanamo and the policies we exercise there. Explain it to me, please.

    Impossible.

  2. other ryan
    other ryan February 28, 2006 at 11:47 am |

    And we’re using gay porn to torture

  3. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 11:52 am | *

    Impossible to defend, or impossible to explain your support?

  4. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 12:01 pm |

    It’s insupportable. It’s wrong.

  5. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 12:10 pm |

    Hokay, I am not a lawyer. But I will take a stab at part of your objection to Guantanamo, specifically the problem of categorizing the prisoners as criminals, prisoners of war, or detainees. (Also, I will be brief because class is about to start.)

    The question of how to categorize these prisoners is important because it tells the military, government, and the prisoners themselves what legal protections, rights and duties exist for a specific individual. Probably the default position when taking prisoners in a time of war is to examine if they fall within the Third Geneva Convention.

    The Third Geneva Convention protects a specific group “prisoners of war.” A prisoner qualifies for this protected status if he was conducting war in accordance with the laws of war. Generally, he must be wearing a uniform and be part of a military chain of command. You can, of course, look anywhere on the internet for the long and interesting history of the Geneva Conventions and why they are important. But the short version is: we protect combatants because we understand that individuals are not at war, but nations are and nations may require that their citizens fight on their behalf. One notable condition that a prisoner must meet to have protected status is that the prisoner MUST NOT try to blend into or disguise himself as a civilian.

    While it is possible (probable?) that some prisoners taken in Afghanistan qualify for prisoner of war status, many do not. And since they do not, our government is faced with the question of how to categorize these prisoners. One alternative is what you have mentioned, that of an alleged criminal within the US. Alleged criminals, like all citizens or guests within the US, benefit from state recognition of fundamental rights (notably in this context, the Eigth Amendment.

    Alright, time for class. More later, maybe.

  6. Matan
    Matan February 28, 2006 at 12:23 pm |

    zuzu, I meant impossible to support.

    A couple of things to elaborate:
    1) In reference to the legal status of people at Guantánamo: the administration wants to have it both ways. The prisoners are not protected by US law because it’s not US soil, but they’re not protected by Cuban law because it’s not Cuban soil either. What the hell new kind of soil is this? And please don’t tell me it’s international, because if it is, how the hell does the US have the authority to operate any kind of prison there at all?

    2) Even if the prisoners are not Constitutionally protected, it is a violation of everything the US purportedly stands for to torture them anyway. This applies to people in black sites in Europe and Asia, too, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. Corporations and governments have outsourced all kinds of crap to avoid liability before, but this just takes the fucking cake.

  7. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 12:38 pm |

    Further thoughts (title insurance is not that interesting):

    Jill makes a good point in her post regarding reciprocity. If we abuse prisoners then our soldiers will be abused when they are captured. But, reciprocity runs both ways. Generally, Al Qaida does not take prisoners. When they do, torture and (eventually) a scimitar can be expected. So, reciprocity probably does not apply in this situation.

    Which brings up another point. The US is under no obligation to take prisoners. Prisoners are taken from a war-zone with one purpose: gathering intelligence. Please keep in mind that these folks were for the most part captured on the battlefield or in some cases in the commission of acts of war in other locales.

    [To this point, I have yet to address the torture question. Right now I'm more interesting in identifying what protections these prisoners are entitled to. Of course, that determination will largely answer the torture question--unless torture is to be prohibited in ALL situations, regardless of the status of the prisoner.]

  8. Tamakazura
    Tamakazura February 28, 2006 at 12:49 pm |

    Part of the reason this bothers me so much is because I feel like we’re better than this. These are not the American values that I know, and this is not what Americans stand for. I don’t want to be attached to an ideology that promotes the torture of other human beings in the name of “national security,” or that brushes aside our most basic values for a little more flexibility.

    I think you’ve hit here on the reason that so many of the actions that America takes give me a special kind of heartache (from my point of view as an American). It’s not just that other human rights abuses and tragedies and genocide are so far away, it’s that they are not in my name, they are not committed by someone who claims to represent me, and that yes, I believed America, and our ideals, are better than that. Yet these are the sort of thoughts that get people branded as America-haters.

  9. Matan
    Matan February 28, 2006 at 12:52 pm |

    unless torture is to be prohibited in ALL situations, regardless of the status of the prisoner.]

    Quite so.

  10. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 1:09 pm |

    I’m reading through the New Yorker article linked above (and will have to give it a closer study later). One thing has stood out, though. There has been a lot of characterization of the activities at Guantanamo as torture. However, that article and its hero, Alberto Mora admit that a difference exists between cruel and unusual abuse and torture.

    I encourage all of you to read the article again, keeping in mind that a distinction has been drawn (we can argue about whether there should be a distinction, too). As you read it, note that the article never quotes any source that torture is occurring at Guantanamo. All of the quotes from the memos and from Mora are regarding abuses that would otherwise be prevented under the 8th Amendment.

    It would probably be an aid to discussion to keep this definition of torture (from the article) in mind: “interrogators could be found guilty of torture only if their ‘specific intent’ was to inflict ‘severe physical pain or suffering’ as evidenced by ‘prolonged mental harm.’

    This quote from Mora stood out: “I was under the opinion that the interrogation activities described would be unlawful and unworthy of the military services.” IMPLICATION: the interrogation activities described were NOT unlawful or unworthy of the military services.

    [Now I'm getting more into the torture question. I still haven't addressed it, but I have asked for discussion of whether a distinction exists between cruel treatment and torture.]

  11. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 1:37 pm |

    Gabriel, I’m interested in reading what you have to say. But you said one thing that I have to comment on:

    “Please keep in mind that these folks were for the most part captured on the battlefield or in some cases in the commission of acts of war in other locales.”

    I have read that this is not the case. I will try to find a citation to support what I have to say, but it’s been said that many of the detainees were captured because other people turned them in for a reward. So many detainees are innocent people who were turned in as part of some tribal or sectarian dispute.

  12. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 1:40 pm |

    g, the subjects of the L.A. Times article were captured by others and then handed over to the US for bounties.

  13. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 1:41 pm |

    Well, that was easy enough. Read the LA Times article linked above.

    The Pentagon’s files on the six Kuwaiti prisoners we represent reveal that none was captured on a battlefield or accused of engaging in hostilities against the U.S. The prisoners claim that they were taken into custody by Pakistani and Afghan warlords and turned over to the U.S. for bounties ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 — a claim confirmed by American news reports. We have obtained copies of bounty leaflets distributed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. forces promising rewards — “enough to feed your family for life” — for any “Arab terrorist” handed over.

    And more.

  14. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 1:47 pm |

    Cross post, Gabriel. So…about that statement that “these folks were for the most part captured on the battlefield” ….????

    We could get into a long discussion about what percentage of the detainees are “genuine” bad guys and what percentage are not, but I think, given the methodology of dropping leaflets encouraging people to turn in others for money, we should stipulate that a significant number of details are in fact, NOT “for the most part” terrorists.

    So, moving on..

  15. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 1:56 pm | *

    Which brings up another point. The US is under no obligation to take prisoners. Prisoners are taken from a war-zone with one purpose: gathering intelligence. Please keep in mind that these folks were for the most part captured on the battlefield or in some cases in the commission of acts of war in other locales.

    And they pretty much have failed at gathering usable intelligence by using these coercive tactics.

    I encourage all of you to read the article again, keeping in mind that a distinction has been drawn (we can argue about whether there should be a distinction, too). As you read it, note that the article never quotes any source that torture is occurring at Guantanamo. All of the quotes from the memos and from Mora are regarding abuses that would otherwise be prevented under the 8th Amendment.

    Well, if you so narrow the definition of torture that only the most baroque dreams of Torquemada would fit it, sure, you can say there’s no torture going on. But we do have definitions of torture enshrined in law — after all, the US ratified the Third Geneva Convention, making it the supreme law of the land — and, as stated in the article on Mora (which deserves a close read-through), the Army Field Manual as well as US statutory law forbids exactly the kinds of practices that the various torture memos said were legal and that Rumsfeld authorized.

    In any event, the Third Geneva Convention and the Eighth Amendment both prohibit cruel and unusual punishment. The Geneva Conventions further prohibit degrading treatment (which, let’s be honest, has also been included over the years in the definition of “cruel and unusual”). People held by the US are going to be held as prisoners of war or as standard prisoners. In either case, we are not permitted to waterboard them, or place them in stress positions in cold rooms, or sic dogs on them, or what have you.

    Jill makes a good point in her post regarding reciprocity. If we abuse prisoners then our soldiers will be abused when they are captured. But, reciprocity runs both ways. Generally, Al Qaida does not take prisoners. When they do, torture and (eventually) a scimitar can be expected. So, reciprocity probably does not apply in this situation.

    But we’re supposed to be better than Al Qaeda, aren’t we?

  16. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 2:11 pm |

    I have to question the value of intelligence we can get from any of these prisoners at this point in time.

    Even if a particular individual was actually an al Qaeda member, low-level combatants would probably be on a “need to known” basis. So the information one could get — IF it were reliable — would be limited and by now, woefully out of date. Are we really keeping people locked up in 2006 in order to wring out of them information about people and plans that are either outdated, changed, or dead?

  17. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 2:16 pm | *

    Well, there *are* all those seconds-in-command we’ve captured, right?

    Right?

  18. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 2:25 pm |

    But we’re supposed to be better than Al Qaeda, aren’t we?

    Surely. Have we beheaded anyone and sent out the video?

    We need to maintain these standards because they’ll influence how our soldiers are treated in the future as well.

    Hard to see how treating terrorists harshly is going to impinge on how another Geneva Convention signatory would treat our uniformed combat troops.

    Which Geneva signatory do you think will ignore its obligations, just because we didn’t voluntarily extend GC protection to people who don’t fall under its rubric?

  19. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 2:37 pm |

    “Have we beheaded anyone and sent out the video?”

    A big smiling thumbs up photo next to a frozen corpse in a sleeping bag may not have the same style and panache as a beheading video, but it certainly come in the same category.

    Oh, apologiest might say the difference is that we only took our photos to pass around as trophies among our own soldiers, instead of releasing them to the media — that makes it OK I guess?

  20. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 2:49 pm |

    g:

    Cross post, Gabriel. So…about that statement that “these folks were for the most part captured on the battlefield” ….????

    I don’t mean to get snippy, but I wrote, “these folks were for the most part captured on the battlefield or in some cases in the commission of acts of war in other locales.” I included the last phrase intentionally, knowing that the reason some of the prisoners are being held is for terrorist activity off the battlefield. Now, whether the Kuwaiti prisoners in the L.A. Times article are actual “Arab terrorists” or victims of “some tribal or sectarian dispute” is a question best left to the lawyers (though, I will admit to not being surprised that the prisoners’ advocate claims that they are not terrorists, that they are being tortured, and that the military has made his job difficult).

    So, in the absence of all the facts, g, you and I will just have to proceed with the understanding that some of these prisoners were taken from the battlefield, some were taken for terrorist activity off the battlefield, and some are innocent. My comments are directed at classifying the first two groups. Obviously, innocent prisoners should not be held in ANY conditions, cruel and inhuman or otherwise. (NOTE: some mechanism should be in place to sort the guilty from the innocent. That is one concern of Guantanamo critics that should be addressed publicly and in detail.)

    zuzu:

    And they pretty much have failed at gathering usable intelligence by using these coercive tactics.

    zuzu, there has been much discussion elsewhere about the usefullness of torture, abuse not extensive enough to be torture, and even legal interrogations in this country (OT: I believe someone around here–I think it was you, zuzu, but I’m not sure–used to work in some capacity related to law enforcement (DA’s office?). So you may be familiar with issues related to confessions made while in police custody or even consent to searches given while in police custody.)

    I think any understanding of interrogations (of any level of intensity) must begin with the understanding that no one interrogates for fun. People, throughout history, have used harsh interrogation techniques because they work.

    Now, we can all think of examples where prisoners were made by torture (or even harsh treatment) to confess crimes they did not commit or denounce their faith or country. Those examples are easily distinguishable from US conduct (NOTE: I am in no way admitting to any specific torturous conduct on the part of the US). They are easily distinguishable by looking to the purpose of the interrogation. Captors wishing to make a political statement can do so by torturing it out of captives. This is undeniable (see e.g. Senator McCain and Vietnam POWs, captives of Al Qaida, etc.). Compare that purpose with that of the US government at Guantanamo: imprisonment of non-POWs gathered in the war and the gathering of intelligence. Neither aim is served by creating false confessions.

    [More coming.]

  21. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 3:14 pm |

    zuzu:

    Well, if you so narrow the definition of torture that only the most baroque dreams of Torquemada would fit it, sure, you can say there’s no torture going on.

    This is exactly the question that we should be asking: what is torture? Some want to include any physical or mental discomfort imposed on a prisoner. Well, okay, but I submit that if that is the case, then I was tortured throughout my childhood. Others use a more traditional definition: The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment refers to: “an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person”, for a purpose such as obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or coercion, “or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind”. (Link is to the UK website of Amnesty International and includes several other definitions worth noting, though the US is not a signatory to IACPPT.)

    The easy rule of thumb by which I was instructed to determine what constitutes torture, is that torture will involve some bodily trespass that results in great pain or mental anguish. This would include things like beatings and electrical shocks and maybe splashing menstrual blood on a Muslim, but would certainly exclude things like sleep deprivation or isolation.

    Why do we care what constitutes torture? Because, as has been noted, it is probably (and will certainly soon be) illegal for a US government agent to torture. It is not, however and much to the dismay of Alberto Mora, illegal to use harsh interrogation techniques on prisoners who do not have the protection of either the Eighth Amendment or the Geneva Conventions.

    zuzu, you are right to note that the Eighth Amendment and the Geneva Conventions (and maybe other treaties and statutes) prohibit cruel and unusual (and degrading) treatment. That is why the other central question should be to ask whether these prisoners have the protection of either the Eighth Amendment or the Geneva Conventions. Please see my previous post regarding the Geneva Conventions. I am not a constitutional scholar, so you’ll probably have to look elsewhere to find out why the Eighth should or shouldn’t apply.

    [More coming, but I do have to get some work done, today.)

  22. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 3:21 pm |

    “any understanding of interrogations (of any level of intensity) must begin with the understanding that no one interrogates for fun.”

    I don’t think this is as cut and dried as all that. Do you really think that the sadistical Charles Graner didn’t have FUN doing what he did to Abu Graib prisoners? It sure looked like he was enjoying himself in those photos.

  23. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 3:49 pm | *

    I think any understanding of interrogations (of any level of intensity) must begin with the understanding that no one interrogates for fun. People, throughout history, have used harsh interrogation techniques because they work.

    Well, perhaps in a perfect world. But here’s the problem: the interrogations at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib were not carried out by carefully-trained interrogators who knew exactly how and when to apply “harsh” methods. Remember, FBI teams and trained military interrogators have been horrified by the practices at these prisons. The problem has been that regular procedures have been thrown out the window as CIA interrogators have been allowed to let the guards “soften up” the prisoners. It’s a recipe for disaster.

    Moreover, the techniques that are in question here — the specific techniques — were developed by the Chinese and North Koreans and the Viet Cong and studied by the US but never put into place. Why? Because the techniques were specifically developed to get false confessions, not information. The false confessions were a feature, not a bug.

    Ask John McCain — you’ll give any information out to make the pain of torture stop. When he was tortured and asked to name other pilots, he gave the names of the Green Bay Packers defensive line. His interrogators knew he’d given them bad information, but they didn’t care — they could say he talked. They wanted a confession, for propaganda purposes.

    And now you have people who are untrained in interrogation using these same methods to extract usable information. But they don’t work that way, so we get crap information and a lot of people get tortured or killed.

    Robert, as for what difference it makes whether we restrain ourselves with regard to Al Qaeda — why in the hell should we do their recruiting for them? If we grab a guy off the street, or if we pay a warlord a bounty for turning in someone who he says is a terrorist but is really a guy the warlord owes money, and we take that guy to Gitmo or Abu Ghraib or one of the gulags — or if we have some Canadian guy kidnapped and sent to Syria to be tortured — do you really think it escapes the notice of that guy’s family and friends? Do you really think they’ll understand that we’re just, you know, trying to keep ourselves safe?

  24. Chet
    Chet February 28, 2006 at 3:55 pm |

    Which Geneva signatory do you think will ignore its obligations, just because we didn’t voluntarily extend GC protection to people who don’t fall under its rubric?

    Your faulty assumption is that the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to these people. While certain rights are indeed specified for prisoners of war, and that term is defined in such a way that many of our prisoners don’t qualify, only the extremely logic-challenged – or people who had never read the Geneva Conventions – would argue that these people aren’t protected at all.

    There are protections that the GCs extend to all persons detained by the militaries of its signatories, and torture and other abuses are specifically forbidden under these statutes.

  25. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 3:57 pm |

    Jill and I were discussing standards of treatment, as they pertain to the Geneva Conventions. What does that have to do with incorrect identification of enemy combatants?

    In fact, even by your own standards, your statement makes no sense. Do you think that the family and friends of someone who is wrongly taken prisoner and shipped halfway around the world to Guantanamo are somehow going to be less pissed off because their brother only gets treated roughly, like someone in the state pen, instead of harshly, like someone in a prison camp? Particularly when very few people actually know what the treatment in the prison is like anyway?

    Errors are inevitable, if highly regrettable. Mistakes ought to be fixed, where that’s possible, and a reasonable effort made to avoid them in the future by revisions in policy. But I have no interest in compromising the war effort for the sake of an idealistic but fundamentally misguided humanitarianism. Effective wars cannot be waged the way you guys want to wage them.

  26. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 3:59 pm | *

    Effective wars cannot be waged the way you guys want to wage them.

    Well, the way you guys want to wage them hasn’t been working out so well, either.

  27. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 3:59 pm |

    Chet, what specific sections of the Convention are you asserting apply to captured terrorists?

  28. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 4:01 pm |

    g:

    Oh, apologiest might say the difference is that we only took our photos to pass around as trophies among our own soldiers, instead of releasing them to the media — that makes it OK I guess?

    You got that right. “We” (just who do you mean by “we”–the US government?) are not torturing and murdering on video-tape to make a political statement and then making use of the internet and willing media sources to spread it far and wide.

    You also fail to distinguish between the official policies of the parties. Al Qaida encourages such behavior, in fact, their foreign-policy strategy is based on it (see e.g. German and Italian government ransoms of hostages). The US holds congressional hearings and punishes those responsible.

    There’s a reason that conservatives roll their eyes when they hear “but we could become just like THEM!!!” We–the citizens of the United States–deplore the abuses at Abu Graib. They should have been stopped. And, they were. Because we are not like the supporters of terrorists.

    We–the citizens of the United States–do not revel in the streets when bombs kill soldiers and civilians.

    We–I think you know who I mean–regret the use of “harsh interrogation.” But we’ll accept it. If we believe we have to.

    US soldiers are not equivalent to Al Qaida terrorists. Soldiers do not use civilians as shields. They do not hide in mosques which laws of war hold involate. You will note the respect that was shown toward the laws of war when the Golden Mosque was bombed last week.

    US military leaders are not equivalent to OBL or the “seconds-in-command.” Our leaders do not condone murder. They punish unnecessary abuse. But they will try and protect us.

    War is a terrible thing. Torture and harsh interrogation are terrible things. I’m not saying I like it. As I said above, no one tortures for fun (well, except sociopaths). But people will torture and interrogate toward an end. I cannot support random and unnecessary abuse like that at Abu Graib. But I will accept harsh treatment, and maybe even torture, if it saves lives.

    And that is the last question we have to ask. If the US government is going to use torture, if harsh interrogations are going to be one of our policies, we need to have legal structures in place to ensure that the treatment will lead to saved lives. That is the point of the Army Field Manual (which I have read). That is why Senator McCain’s law against torture is a bad idea. Even he admitted that he thought torture would still go on. And his law has made it impossible to regulate that. To protect both the tortured and the torturer.

    ::Sigh:: I’m preaching now, and I apologize for that. I just don’t want more people to die. Can you give me that?

  29. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 4:17 pm | *

    You also fail to distinguish between the official policies of the parties. Al Qaida encourages such behavior, in fact, their foreign-policy strategy is based on it (see e.g. German and Italian government ransoms of hostages). The US holds congressional hearings and punishes those responsible.

    But Rumsfeld MADE it the Defense Department’s official policy by authorizing the very techniques which are rightly under fire for being employed at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

    And as for the Congressional hearings — they might be more effective if the Administration wasn’t stonewalling on the Congressional subpoenas. As for punishing those responsible, I see that Donald Rumsfeld is still employed and General Sanchez still has rank, but a few sergeants and privates are in jail. Whatever happened to the principle of being responsible for what goes on in your command?

  30. Magis
    Magis February 28, 2006 at 4:21 pm |

    Large numbers of people confessed to being witches under torture. They named names of other witches. So how do you trust any information you get?

  31. Matan
    Matan February 28, 2006 at 4:23 pm |

    GM:

    Now, we can all think of examples where prisoners were made by torture (or even harsh treatment) to confess crimes they did not commit or denounce their faith or country. Those examples are easily distinguishable from US conduct (NOTE: I am in no way admitting to any specific torturous conduct on the part of the US). They are easily distinguishable by looking to the purpose of the interrogation. Captors wishing to make a political statement can do so by torturing it out of captives. This is undeniable (see e.g. Senator McCain and Vietnam POWs, captives of Al Qaida, etc.). Compare that purpose with that of the US government at Guantanamo: imprisonment of non-POWs gathered in the war and the gathering of intelligence. Neither aim is served by creating false confessions.

    Do I read you correctly as saying that since it doesn’t make sense for the US government to torture, we can assume they don’t torture? I’m not willing to be so trusting.

    You seem to be trying here to decide independently whether there was torture at Guantánamo, or more specifically, if what was committed there was illegal. What is evident to me from reading the article is that this a bogus approach, because if it’s not legal, the Administration will find a way to make it legal.

  32. Jason
    Jason February 28, 2006 at 4:46 pm |

    Well Jill, no surprise here. Of course we have our brave Bush automatons defending the indefensible.

    It’s not even worth debating. Bush wants the ability to capture anyone, anywhere, by any means necessary, then give them absolutely no rights, detain them indefinitely, and torture them. Incredible.

    Let’s tell it like it is. Any person who defends this is a fascist. And it’s sickening that even 40% of Americans (or so) defend these fascist tactics. You’re right Gabriel, we don’t behead people and dance in the street when innocents die. But what we have done is just as bad, albeit in our “civilized” American way.

  33. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 4:51 pm |

    “The US holds congressional hearings and punishes those responsible.”

    Who got punished for Abu Graib as a result of congressional hearings?

  34. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 4:59 pm |

    zuzu:

    But Rumsfeld MADE it the Defense Department’s official policy by authorizing the very techniques which are rightly under fire for being employed at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

    You are incorrect. It is not official US policy to treat prisoners as they were treated in Abu Graib. Those activities were stopped and the people who were abusing, who acted outside the chain of command, were punished. As amusing as it is to declare that those higher in the chain of command should be held responsible, the acts of rogue soldiers have never been constructively borne by innocent (or ignorant, if you like that better) superiors.

    Matan:

    Do I read you correctly as saying that since it doesn’t make sense for the US government to torture, we can assume they don’t torture? I’m not willing to be so trusting.

    You do not read me correctly. I said nothing of the sort.

  35. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 5:03 pm |

    g:

    “The US holds congressional hearings and punishes those responsible.”

    Who got punished for Abu Graib as a result of congressional hearings?

    I’m sorry g, that was unclear. The US held congressional hearings following the Abu Graib abuses. The military punished those responsible. That “and” was not meant to imply that the punishments derived from the hearings; only that: 1) hearings were held; and 2) abusers were punished.

  36. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 5:04 pm |

    Of course we have our brave Bush automatons defending the indefensible.

    Are you under the impression that personal belittlement strengthens your case?

    Bush wants the ability to capture anyone, anywhere, by any means necessary, then give them absolutely no rights, detain them indefinitely, and torture them.

    Well, sure. He’s the executive. He’d like the ability to kill them at will, too, (and he largely has it). It isn’t the executive’s job to do all the checking and balancing; it’s the executive’s job to prosecute the policy of the state. The checks on the executive’s power come from the judicial and the legislative branch. That the executive desires executive power should surprise no one.

    “Fascism” is a governmental system, generally involving unlimited power vested in a unitary person. We don’t have that. Our President has a great deal of authority in one narrow theater: the prosecution of wars, and there only if he can persuade the legislature to support him, as this President has. His domestic powers are limited, at best.

    I suspect you’re using the definition of “fascism” where it means “governmental actions that I don’t much care for.”

  37. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 5:11 pm |

    Jason:

    It’s not even worth debating.

    Well, Republicans are frequently accused of not thinking for themselves. So, I have attempted to lay out some arguments to show how Republicans approach this problem (yes, problem–torture/harsh treatment sucks). I made an effort in response to Jill’s curiosity.

  38. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor February 28, 2006 at 5:14 pm |

    Bush wants the ability to capture anyone, anywhere, by any means necessary, then give them absolutely no rights, detain them indefinitely, and torture them.

    Well, sure. He’s the executive. He’d like the ability to kill them at will, too, (and he largely has it).

    Woah, woah, woah. This is hyperbolic nonsense. The president does not want to capture “anyone, anywhere.” Just terrorists.

  39. Jason
    Jason February 28, 2006 at 5:15 pm |

    No Robert, my definition of fascism isn’t just things I disagree with. I never called Bush a fascist in his first years of his Presidency. But I never imagined it would rise to these horrifying levels.

    Yes, all Presidents seek greater power. But none have argued that they can spy on an American citizen without a warrant, capture them, declare them an enemy combatant, torture them, and not give them access to a lawyer or a criminal court. And, this “war” is so ill-defined that it can last literally forever.

    So yes, we haven’t had a large scall incarceration of an ethnic or religous group. But you seem to be marching right along with our President down that path. And for me, you and your ilk have recently crossed the line. You are fascist sympathizers.

  40. Jason
    Jason February 28, 2006 at 5:24 pm |

    It’s not hyperbole Gabriel. If the President only wants to capture terrorists then why do we admittedly hold innocent people in Guantanomo? And every fascist has said the same thing, “Just trust the [Fuhrer] [Il Duce] [President Bush], he’s only going after the bad guys.”

    And the President indeed has asserted the right to spy on any American citizen he claims is connected to terrorists. Thousands of people have been spied on. Where are the hundreds of arrests? Once again you trust one man, answerable to noone, with this power to spy on Americans without warrant.

  41. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 5:25 pm |

    Jason, I think Lincoln would be forced to disagree with you. He did worse than anything Bush has done, subject to technology restrictions. (No telephones.)

    The executive authority to wage war is – and should be – a frightful power. It’s why the executive is so hobbled in other areas – because a wartime president truly does have frightening powers. Bush is using those powers, to fight a war.

    Yes, this is an ill-defined war. That’s regrettable, and it does open the door for potential abuses as time goes on – but it’s not really our choice, either. We go to war with the enemies we have, not the enemies we wish we had. It is critical – critical – that as we engage in these difficult, and dangerous, operations, that we have honest and reasoned dissent – that there be people watching the state and critiquing its decisions, so that a feedback loop persists and we can prosecute the war without persecuting domestic groups.

    Your hysteria and ignorance of history appear to disqualify you from that important role. You’re strengthening Bush, by discrediting the opposition to him.

  42. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 5:26 pm |

    Well, the situation as it stands is that the US has –

    Captured and detained a bunch of people without any method of determining whether they’re “bad guys.”

    Denied them access to family, their home governments, due process, or, until recently, lawyers.

    Committed, at least now, to hold them “indefinately.”

    Interrogated them, by means that, according to your standards, is either torture or “harsh” but allowable – for bits of information that may be valuable, or that may contribute in the aggregate to a larger whole — or maybe totally useless.

    Punished them for acts of civil disobedience like hunger strikes.

    OK. Here we are, 4+ years after 9/11. You have these 500 people. You don’t know if they’re guilty or not. At this point in time, there’s very little more they can tell you that’s useful. You know that in their minds what has happened to them is unforgivable.

    What do you have? A long-term committment to running a gulag.

    What have we gained that we couldn’t have gained doing it according to to Geneva Convention?

  43. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 5:29 pm |

    “The president does not want to capture “anyone, anywhere.” Just terrorists. ”

    Yeah, but you have to admit he’s managed to get a lot of innocent people as well. Or “non-terrorists.” And doesn’t seem to be bothered much by it.

  44. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 5:29 pm |

    G –

    We’ve gained the knowledge that these people – some of whom may indeed be innocent, but the majority of whom are likely connected to Al Qaeda given the circumstances of their capture – have been isolated and cut off from their terror network.

    Good enough for me.

  45. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 5:34 pm |

    Great, Robert . I’m glad you sleep better at night knowing that some Pakistani taxi driver whose second cousin turned him in for cash is having a plastic tube shoved up his nose in Gitmo instead of being back in his home country.

    And Robert, I believe there are statistics that show that only 4% of the prisoners in Gitmo have been shown to be connected to Al Quaeda.

    But if locking up some Pashtun shepherds and Pakistani taxi drivers makes you feel safer, I guess its OK.

  46. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 5:36 pm | *

    You are incorrect. It is not official US policy to treat prisoners as they were treated in Abu Graib. Those activities were stopped and the people who were abusing, who acted outside the chain of command, were punished. As amusing as it is to declare that those higher in the chain of command should be held responsible, the acts of rogue soldiers have never been constructively borne by innocent (or ignorant, if you like that better) superiors.

    Yes, it was the official policy to use many of the tactics used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and it was clear that all options were on the table, even if the specific methods hadn’t been approved. From the New Yorker article:

    In Morello’s office, Mora saw what he now refers to as “the package”—a collection of secret military documents that traced the origins of the coercive interrogation policy at Guantánamo. It began on October 11, 2002, with a request by J.T.F.-170’s commander, Major General Michael Dunlavey, to make interrogations more aggressive. A few weeks later, Major General Geoffrey Miller assumed command of Guantánamo Bay, and, on the assumption that prisoners like Qahtani had been trained by Al Qaeda to resist questioning, he pushed his superiors hard for more flexibility in interrogations. On December 2nd, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld gave formal approval for the use of “hooding,” “exploitation of phobias,” “stress positions,” “deprivation of light and auditory stimuli,” and other coercive tactics ordinarily forbidden by the Army Field Manual. (However, he reserved judgment on other methods, including “waterboarding,” a form of simulated drowning.) In Mora’s memo, Morello is quoted as saying that “we tried to stop it.” But he was told not to ask questions.

    Mora drew Haynes’s attention to a comment that Rumsfeld had added to the bottom of his December 2nd memo, in which he asked why detainees could be forced to stand for only four hours a day, when he himself often stood “for 8-10 hours a day.” Mora said that he understood that the comment was meant to be jocular. But he feared that it could become an argument for the defense in any prosecution of terror suspects. It also could be read as encouragement to disregard the limits established in the memo. (Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired military officer who was a chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, had a similar reaction when he saw Rumsfeld’s scrawled aside. “It said, ‘Carte blanche, guys,’ ” Wilkerson told me. “That’s what started them down the slope. You’ll have My Lais then. Once you pull this thread, the whole fabric unravels.”)


    The draft working-group report noted that the Uniform Code of Military Justice barred “maltreatment” but said, “Legal doctrine could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful.” In an echo of the Torture Memo, it also declared that interrogators could be found guilty of torture only if their “specific intent” was to inflict “severe physical pain or suffering” as evidenced by “prolonged mental harm.” Even then, it said, echoing Yoo, the Commander-in-Chief could order torture if it was a military necessity: “Congress may no more regulate the President’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”


    On April 28, 2004, ten months later, the first pictures from Abu Ghraib became public. Mora said, “I felt saddened and dismayed. Everything we had warned against in Guantánamo had happened—but in a different setting. I was stunned.”

    He was further taken aback when he learned, while watching Senate hearings on Abu Ghraib on C-SPAN, that Rumsfeld had signed the working-group report—the draft based on Yoo’s opinion—a year earlier, without the knowledge of Mora or any other internal legal critics. Rumsfeld’s signature gave it the weight of a military order. The working-group report included a list of thirty-five possible interrogation methods. On April 16, 2003, the Pentagon issued a memorandum to the U.S. Southern Command, approving twenty-four of them for use at Guantánamo, including isolation and what it called “fear up harsh,” which meant “significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee.” The Defense Department official told me, “It should be noted that there were strong advocates for the approval of the full range of thirty-five techniques,” but Haynes was not among them. The techniques not adopted included nudity; the exploitation of “aversions,” such as a fear of dogs; and slaps to the face and stomach. However, combined with the legal reasoning in the working-group report, the April memorandum allowed the Secretary to approve harsher methods.

    In federal civil rights suits, there’s a doctrine called the Monell doctrine. When you sue a state or a city, you need to name an individual who deprived you of your rights, but you also need to allege that the person who deprived you of your rights did so as part of an official policy or practice so that the state or municipality can be held liable. Now, most police departments, say, aren’t stupid enough to actually have a written policy of, say, planting drugs on suspects. But when there’s a culture of wink-wink-nudge-nudge about this stuff that goes to the highest levels, the practice is considered so pervasive as to be equivalent to an official policy. Rumsfeld’s little note about standing for 8 hours shows that those at the very top were rather wink-wink-nudge-nudge about coercive tactics. As Mora and Wilkerson feared, it created an atmosphere of anything goes.

  47. Jason
    Jason February 28, 2006 at 5:38 pm |

    Robert, I thought it discredited one’s argument to call someone names? I’m hysterical and ignorant? Well, okay, I feel strongly about our country’s fascist direction. I may anger people like you who feel offended, but I don’t care: it’s my opinion.

    And Lincoln is a very poor example. First of all, Congress overruled him, and said he did not have the unilateral power to imprison people without due process. And look how different the circumstances were. America was in chaos. The court system was in chaos. Tell me what practical considerations prohibit us today from getting warrrants and giving prisoners due process rights. And anyway, just because Lincoln did it doesn’t make it right.

  48. Jason
    Jason February 28, 2006 at 5:55 pm |

    A correction. I guess Justice Taney originally ruled that only Congress, not the President, could suspend habeas corpus. And the Court later ruled that habeas could only be suspended if the civilian courts couldn’t operate. I don’t see how that is happening now. Nor do I think Lincoln was right to imprison political opponents, like newspaper editors and Congressmen who disagreed with him.

  49. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 6:00 pm |

    http://law.shu.edu/news/guantanamo_report_final_2_08_06.pdf

    This report is worth reading. It has statistical breakdowns of the detainees, where and in what circumstances they were caught, who they were affiliated with, and includes some definitions for terms like “affiliated” et. al.

    Let’s take for example the status of being a detainee that has “committed a hostile act”. On Page 12 of the report, we learn that fleeing from a camp that has been bombed by US forces is “committing a hostile act.”

  50. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 6:11 pm | *

    Jason, I think Lincoln would be forced to disagree with you. He did worse than anything Bush has done, subject to technology restrictions. (No telephones.)

    What, exactly, was it that Lincoln did that was worse than anything Bush has done? Did Lincoln violate a specific statute like Bush has? I don’t think so. At most, he exercised a power that was set forth in the Constitution. His decision was terribly unpopular — and should have been — but he at least had a colorable argument for invoking his power to suspend habeas corpus due to the existence of insurrection or invasion. Where’s the equivalent Constitutional imprimatur for Bush to ignore FISA?

    The executive authority to wage war is – and should be – a frightful power. It’s why the executive is so hobbled in other areas – because a wartime president truly does have frightening powers. Bush is using those powers, to fight a war.

    Well, as Justice O’Connor said, being in a state of war does not give the president a blank check. He’s still bound by the Constitution, which he swore to uphold. And that duty comes before all others.

    Yes, this is an ill-defined war. That’s regrettable, and it does open the door for potential abuses as time goes on – but it’s not really our choice, either. We go to war with the enemies we have, not the enemies we wish we had. It is critical – critical – that as we engage in these difficult, and dangerous, operations, that we have honest and reasoned dissent – that there be people watching the state and critiquing its decisions, so that a feedback loop persists and we can prosecute the war without persecuting domestic groups.

    So, tell me — what was the causus belli for the Iraq War again? Because there aren’t any WMDs, the nukes were a fraud, we’ve now killed far more Iraqis than Saddam ever did, there have been no credible ties to Al Qaeda or any of the 9/11 plotters established (though, of course, our little campaign has been the best recruiting drive Al Qaeda ever had, so Iraq is just awash in Al Qaeda recruits now). We’re pretty much left with oil and “because he tried to kill my dad.”

  51. Anna
    Anna February 28, 2006 at 7:25 pm |

    We go to war with the enemies we have, not the enemies we wish we had. It is critical – critical – that as we engage in these difficult, and dangerous, operations, that we have honest and reasoned dissent – that there be people watching the state and critiquing its decisions, so that a feedback loop persists and we can prosecute the war without persecuting domestic groups.

    So how exactly is banning independent observers from Gitmo accomplishing this?

    Effective wars cannot be waged the way you guys want to wage them.

    Yes except what you are waging is not a war, it is an occupation(or alternatively a police action against terrorism).

    The tactics you are supporting here do not work. That’s a large part of the reason why England abandoned them in the first place.
    Can you please cite an example of a state who won against a group resoting to terrorism by using the methods you prescribe?

  52. Chet
    Chet February 28, 2006 at 7:26 pm |

    Chet, what specific sections of the Convention are you asserting apply to captured terrorists?

    The whole thing, Robert. The GC isn’t a bill of rights for prisoners that only applies to people in uniform; it’s a limitation on what its signatories can and cannot do.

    There are provisions in the 3rd and 4th convention that apply to all persons, because they limit what actions GC signatories can take. The GC doesn’t say “don’t torture prisoners of war”, it says “don’t torture.” The outlandish legal theory that the GC itself only applies to the few people the GC itself defines as POW’s, and everybody else is in some kind of weird legal Twilight Zone where we can do as we will to them isn’t supported by the text, and is an interpretation absolutely no legal community subscribes to.

  53. Chet
    Chet February 28, 2006 at 7:29 pm |

    The executive authority to wage war is – and should be – a frightful power. It’s why the executive is so hobbled in other areas – because a wartime president truly does have frightening powers. Bush is using those powers, to fight a war.

    And that war was declared at what time, exactly? Exactly when was the President authorized to use these wartime powers, and by what body was this authorization given?

  54. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 7:38 pm |

    There are provisions in the 3rd and 4th convention that apply to all persons, because they limit what actions GC signatories can take. The GC doesn’t say “don’t torture prisoners of war”, it says “don’t torture.”

    OK, great. I’m looking at my copy, and I’m not seeing what you say is there. Perhaps you can help me out, here, and tell me what specific section says this. If you’re talking about section 3.1, it says that non-combatants aren’t to be tortured. I can’t find any generally applicable principles that say “no torture, period.”

    Legal communities don’t establish interpretations, by the way. A “legal community” is any group of lawyers who can find a mimeo machine and a website. Courts and states create interpretations, and so far, our courts are not finding that we’re violating Geneva.

  55. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 7:39 pm |

    Exactly when was the President authorized to use these wartime powers, and by what body was this authorization given?

    That would be the AUMF, Chet, and the US Congress.

  56. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 7:40 pm |

    Anna:
    Yes except what you are waging is not a war, it is an occupation(or alternatively a police action against terrorism).

    The battlefield is not the war.

    The tactics you are supporting here do not work. That’s a large part of the reason why England abandoned them in the first place. Can you please cite an example of a state who won against a group resoting to terrorism by using the methods you prescribe?

    The methods I prescribe are not the methods being used. I’m not defending the efficacy of the methods being used, particularly; I’m expressing profound skepticism that the methods lefties would have us adopt could work. And arguing against some misperceptions of fact, too.

  57. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 7:42 pm |

    what was the causus belli for the Iraq War again?

    Advancing the interests of the United States of America.

  58. g
    g February 28, 2006 at 7:44 pm |

    Oh, yeah, I remember that. It was that time when Bush said he needed authorization to back up his efforts to go to the UN and push for a diplomatic solution.

    It was not a declaration of war.

  59. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 7:48 pm |

    What, exactly, was it that Lincoln did that was worse than anything Bush has done?

    He imprisoned political enemies who were opposed to the war, on the grounds that they were opposed to the war. Specifically, he had a US Congressman arrested for calling the war “cruel and wicked”, and he imprisoned most of the Maryland State Legislature to prevent Maryland from seceding, as it otherwise would have done. He also shut down HUNDREDS of anti-war newspapers.

    Got that? He arrested a legislature, and he suspended freedom of the press.

  60. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 7:52 pm |

    G:
    It was not a declaration of war.

    SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

    (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

    (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

    – – – – –

    Bolding mine. Those countries HE determines – not lefty lawyers, not Congress. The reference to 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution relates to a provision of that act which requires a declaration of war, or an authorization of military force – which are legally of identical effect.

    Good enough for Congress, good enough for me.

  61. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 7:57 pm |

    I don’t ordinarily have much use for the folks at Lew Rockwell, but there’s a piece with a good, if slightly breathless, roundup of the mass arrests conducted by Lincoln’s security apparatus.

    Lincoln was within his powers, by the way. And he wasn’t a fascist. He was a wartime president with the backing of the Congress.

  62. Jason
    Jason February 28, 2006 at 8:12 pm |

    Robert. In what way is our current situation similar to The American Civil War? Do we currently have an insurection? An invasion? Are our civilian courts incapable of trying someone?

    This is not 1862. Besides, the courts at that time ruled that it was a limited power. And these were not liberal courts. The public was very divided on the subject. And it is very debatable whether Lincoln’s actions actually helped win the war.

    Your bald assertion that Lincoln was within his powers contradicts the fact that courts at that time said it was not in his powers.

    See, this is why I think you’re a fascist sympathizer. Your glee, and unexamined support of Lincoln locking up political opponents is telling. I shudder to think of your defense of Bush doing it.

  63. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 8:20 pm |

    Lincoln was within his powers because he did it and he got away with it until it didn’t matter anymore. Your series of arguments in the alternative (“but that was then! and it wasn’t popular! and I don’t think it helped!”) is nice but completely immaterial to anything being discussed here. (My rebuttals if you insist – “well, this is now! and it isn’t popular now! and you don’t think it’s helping now, either!”)

    If Bush were to do the things that Lincoln did, I would object most vociferously. Because, as you say – we’re not under a state of insurrection. The point is that he’s not doing those things – he is behaving WITHIN the bounds established by historical precedent for a wartime president, not OUTSIDE them.

    I didn’t bring up Lincoln for fits and giggles. I brought up Lincoln because you said – direct quote – “But none [other Presidents] have argued that they can spy on an American citizen without a warrant, capture them, declare them an enemy combatant, torture them, and not give them access to a lawyer or a criminal court…”

    And yet here’s Lincoln – locking people up for being on the wrong side, and so on. OK, he didn’t torture anybody civilly (though there were undoubtedly plenty of incidents on and around the battlefield.) The spying, I don’t know offhand whether he did or didn’t; no phones, no records.

    You can call me a fascist sympathizer all day long; since it’s clear you have no idea what fascism is, the nettle loses a bit of its sting.

  64. Jason
    Jason February 28, 2006 at 8:36 pm |

    I was focusing on modern times–not the American Civil War. The world wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and Gulf War I are all more analogous. Sure, I guess some Presidents did spy on Americans. But that is whay an upeset America passed FISA. We simply don’t want our government spying on Americans because of politics. Or do you believe the precedent set for spying on Martin Luther King should allow Bush to spy on any Americans he deems to have a connection to terrorism.

    But none of the modern Presidents have argued they have a right to hold American citizens, without trial, without due process, indefinitely. Bush has. No other President has so blatantly violated our treaties on torture (we have killed more prisoners in this “war” than the dreaded NVA killed in Vietnam).

    That’s why this President is showing fascist tendencies. No other President (in modern times) has felt the need to so radically assert a totalitarian authority. Bush is now in a league of his own. Anyone who excuses this power grab under the current circumstances is a fascist sympathizer.

  65. Anna
    Anna February 28, 2006 at 8:47 pm |

    The methods I prescribe are not the methods being used. I’m not defending the efficacy of the methods being used, particularly; I’m expressing profound skepticism that the methods lefties would have us adopt could work. And arguing against some misperceptions of fact, too.

    Sorry for misreading you then, the bit where you railed against “compromising the war effort” led me to believe that supported the actions currently carried out in support of the “war effort”.
    I can point to examples of precisely the methods that “lefties” want you to adopt being a part of states substantially lowering the risk of terrorism within their boarders. What *are* the methods you prescribe then if they are not what is being done now or what “lefties” want?

    I can also point you at a part of Afghanistan which is currently peaceful because soldiers from my country are using the methods which you are deriding.

  66. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 8:54 pm |

    Anna, your part of Afghanistan is peaceful because it isn’t important and so Al Qaeda isn’t trying to destabilize it. (Nothing agin’ the Tommies – fine bunch of troops.)

    My methods would have been more ruthless.

  67. Harrison
    Harrison February 28, 2006 at 9:07 pm |

    I freely admit I don’t understand–why is the part of Afghanistan patrolled by the Brits unimportant? I’m not being sarcastic…I really do want to hear your opinion.

  68. Anna
    Anna February 28, 2006 at 9:11 pm |

    Anna, your part of Afghanistan is peaceful because it isn’t important and so Al Qaeda isn’t trying to destabilize it. (Nothing agin’ the Tommies – fine bunch of troops.)

    I have nothing against the Tommies either, it’s just that I’m not British. Bamiyan province may not exactly be a Taliban stronghold but it certainly had enough of a presence for the local university to be destroyed (not to mention the infamous Buddhas of Bamiyan). It’s currently home to about 100 kiwi troops who are co-ordinating things like building the local university.

    My methods would have been more ruthless.

    I’ll say it again, can you cite an example of your methods working?

  69. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 9:21 pm |

    I’m sorry, Anna, I thought you were a Brit. You can make me the center of your personal universe of hate now :P. My apologies.

    Since the NZ contingent is company-strength, I’m not sure that their methods are causally distinguishable as a source of problems or benefits.

    I’ll say it again, can you cite an example of your methods working?

    The Third Punic War.

  70. Anna
    Anna February 28, 2006 at 9:51 pm |

    Since the NZ contingent is company-strength, I’m not sure that their methods are causally distinguishable as a source of problems or benefits.

    I’ll repeat they’re acting over an entire province, have suffered no casualities, are participating in around 60 reconstruction projects and have convinced huge swathes of the community (including the neccesarily paranoid Afghan police) to turn over caches of weapons.

    By any measure they’re a success story at a time when Afghanistan doesn’t have that many.

    The Third Punic War.

    Call me a crazy fool but I think that if you tried to sell the citizens of Iraq into slavery it would result in some sort of American civil war. Just a hunch. Not to mention the fact that sowing salt might get in the way of oil production.

  71. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 9:54 pm | *

    Bolding mine. Those countries HE determines – not lefty lawyers, not Congress. The reference to 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution relates to a provision of that act which requires a declaration of war, or an authorization of military force – which are legally of identical effect.

    Good enough for Congress, good enough for me.

    You think it’s good enough even though he lied to Congress, to the UN and to the public about the intelligence and the reasons for getting into war? If so, I got a bridge here in Brooklyn I can let go for a song.

    And I fail to see how getting into a land war in Asia which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, served as the best recruiting tool that Osama bin Laden could have wished for, killed thousands of our soldiers and tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of civilians, maimed tens of thousands of our soldiers and is on the verge of breaking the back of the U.S. Army could possibly be in the national interest of the United States.

    Unlike, say, finishing the job in Afghanistan and actually getting the guy who attacked our country.

    As for Lincoln, he had Article I, section 9 on his side: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” He had a rebellion on his hands, as well as invasion by CSA forces. And he had something else that George Bush cannot claim: an absence of precedent or explicit statutes prohibiting his conduct.

  72. Chet
    Chet February 28, 2006 at 10:02 pm |

    OK, great. I’m looking at my copy

    Uh-huh. What, does it say “stupid” on my forehead, or what?

    SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    Funny, I don’t see it – can you show me where it says “a state of war is declared to exist? That’s what constitutes a declaration of war; not merely the authorization of force for a specific purpose.

  73. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 10:07 pm |

    You think it’s good enough even though he lied to Congress, to the UN and to the public about the intelligence and the reasons for getting into war?

    I don’t think he lied.

    And I fail to see how [this] could possibly be in the national interest of the United States.

    OK. Win the office that is privileged to determine that, and put your ideas into place.

    As for Lincoln, he had Article I, section 9 on his side…And he had something else that George Bush cannot claim: an absence of precedent or explicit statutes prohibiting his conduct.

    The First Amendment, it’s a post-Civil War innovation, is it?

    He arrested an entire state legislature. He single-handedly abrogated the entire freedom of the press. You guys squawk now when the VP makes disapproving noises about a news story. A President who shut down newspapers and jailed editors, this has no resonance for you?

    You’re right – Bush has a precedent. And he has operated within its bounds.

  74. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 10:12 pm |

    Chet:
    Uh-huh. What, does it say “stupid” on my forehead, or what?

    I don’t know where “stupid” is written on you, Chet. I repeat: I am looking at the text of the Geneva Conventions. It’s easy to find online, or you can get it at Wikitext. You’ve made an assertion about what that text says. I can’t find your assertion supported in the body of the text.

    Can you, or can you not, tell me where it says what you say it says?

    can you show me where it says “a state of war is declared to exist?

    You didn’t ask for a “declaration of war”. You asked “when was the President authorized to use these wartime powers”. The answer is the AUMF, which is fully statutorily acceptable to the War Powers Resolution (which requires either a declaration of war, or an authorization of military force).

    There is no credible legal case that the President does not possess the wartime authority which he is exercising. The documents are painfully clear.

  75. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 10:44 pm | *

    There is no credible legal case that the President does not possess the wartime authority which he is exercising. The documents are painfully clear.

    Sorry, but the AUMF does not allow Bush to ignore the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, or other laws, like FISA. The War Powers Resolution itself is a bit sketchy Constitutionally, and some of its provisions have already been struck down. Most legal scholars, with the exception of unitary-executive extremists like John Yoo, agree that Youngstown Sheet & Tube is a pretty big strike against the idea of unlimited inherent power of the executive during wartime. And the Supreme Court recently, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, held that this president does not have inherent power to flout the Constitution:

    In so holding, we necessarily reject the Government’s assertion that separation of powers principles mandate a heavily circumscribed role for the courts in such circumstances. Indeed, the position that the courts must forgo any examination of the individual case and focus exclusively on the legality of the broader detention scheme cannot be mandated by any reasonable view of separation of powers, as this approach serves only to condense power into a single branch of government. We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens. Youngstown Sheet & Tube, 343 U.S., at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake. Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361, 380 (1989) (it was “the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that, within our political scheme, the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty”); Home Building & Loan Assn. v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 426 (1934) (The war power “is a power to wage war successfully, and thus it permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme cooperative effort to preserve the nation. But even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties”). Likewise, we have made clear that, unless Congress acts to suspend it, the Great Writ of habeas corpus allows the Judicial Branch to play a necessary role in maintaining this delicate balance of governance, serving as an important judicial check on the Executive’s discretion in the realm of detentions. See St. Cyr, 533 U.S., at 301 (“At its historical core, the writ of habeas corpus has served as a means of reviewing the legality of Executive detention, and it is in that context that its protections have been strongest”). Thus, while we do not question that our due process assessment must pay keen attention to the particular burdens faced by the Executive in the context of military action, it would turn our system of checks and balances on its head to suggest that a citizen could not make his way to court with a challenge to the factual basis for his detention by his government, simply because the Executive opposes making available such a challenge. Absent suspension of the writ by Congress, a citizen detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to this process.

  76. Robert
    Robert February 28, 2006 at 10:50 pm |

    Huh, so you mean the court system is operating normally to restrain the power of the executive? Seems like a glitch in Bush’s fascist plan to assume absolute power. It’s almost as if he’s a democratic leader with a vociferous dissenting group…

  77. zuzu
    zuzu February 28, 2006 at 11:01 pm | *

    Hey, I’m not the one saying he’s a fascist. He’s missing several items on the list of factors common to fascism. One of which is competence.

    I’m sure that 34% approval rating isn’t going to help him recruit that private army. He’s having enough trouble with the regular Army, after all, what with having to go to the bottom of the barrel in recruiting and going with a warm-and-fuzzy boot camp.

  78. Chet
    Chet February 28, 2006 at 11:29 pm |

    You didn’t ask for a “declaration of war”.

    In fact, if you’ll look back, you’ll see that that’s exactly what was asked for; at what time we became at a state of war.

    A state of war does not exist without a declaration of war by Congress.

    I can’t find your assertion supported in the body of the text.

    Fourth Geneva convention, Section 1, part 4. (Sorry, I can’t go line by line because I’m not sure which version of the document you claim you’re reading.) Also, the entirety of section 2 protects all populations of persons in conflict areas.

  79. Gabriel Malor
    Gabriel Malor March 1, 2006 at 12:09 am |

    chet:

    In fact, if you’ll look back, you’ll see that that’s exactly what was asked for; at what time we became at a state of war.

    A state of war does not exist without a declaration of war by Congress.

    Senator Biden answering questions following his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations:

    Question: My question is this, do you foresee the need or the expectation of a Congressional declaration of war, which the Constitution calls for, and if so, against whom? (Scattered Laughter)

    JB: The answer is yes, and we did it. I happen to be a professor of Constitutional law. I’m the guy that drafted the Use of Force proposal that we passed. It was in conflict between the President and the House. I was the guy who finally drafted what we did pass. Under the Constitution, there is simply no distinction … Louis Fisher(?) and others can tell you, there is no distinction between a formal declaration of war, and an authorization of use of force. There is none for Constitutional purposes. None whatsoever.

  80. Robert
    Robert March 1, 2006 at 12:13 am |

    What part of your own direct quote are you having trouble with, Chet?

    A state of war exists under a number of circumstances. A declaration of war by Congress is one such, but it’s not the only one. We are at war right now.

    Section 4 of the convention specifically applies to non-combatants and captured neutrals. I don’t know where you get the idea that it’s across the board.

  81. Magis
    Magis March 1, 2006 at 12:53 am |

    Well…ummmm…if this is war how we gonna tell when we won?

  82. larry
    larry March 1, 2006 at 1:47 am |

    Well tisk tisk… kids, the school yard bully is doing his thing..”for the American People!” don’t ya know! How many times in the last hundred years has there been blood for the good and protection of “The American People,” cummon…grow up, the reason for this is not that it can be identified by a name or a location it is happening because, “for the good of the American People,” the country can not take another kick to the scrotum like it did in Vietnam… win the game at any cost for the good and protection of the American People! Guess what this admin thinks this is right and that it is working…that is real scarry….how to buy a vote in the good ole U.S.A…what is scarrier is Jeb is in the wings and we dont know who his Cheny is!

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.