Re: "Black Jail" In Afghanistan

1

I would really like to be making excuses for the Obama administration as generally well intentioned on this sort of human rights issue, but I have no idea at all of how one could possibly justify this sort of thing.

The Obama administration is only well-intentioned in areas that the media is illuminating for everyone to see. If there's no light being shone, they consider it more pragmatic to spend their efforts elsewhere.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 7:57 AM
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Looks that way, doesn't it. What kills me is that there's no particular profit in this sort of bad behavior -- we don't lose anything by treating prisoners decently. I was hoping that electing an administration not run by maniacs would fix things, but apparently no.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:10 AM
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I gather from the tone of the post that you're not interested in discussing why they might be doing this, but the idea that there's no possible political justification is contradicted in the linked article, which refers to a desire to give military commanders leeway to run operations as they see fit.

Now, I think there are very good reasons to not value good relations with military brass -- they just at this very moment are leading us down some pretty awful paths in Afghanistan, and I would vastly prefer it if Obama stopped listening to anything they said -- but the idea that there's no possible reason this should be a concern for a Democratic president is absurd.

Presumably this comment will lead everybody to decide I'm in favor of holding prisoners secretly, which is almost certainly a war crime, but oh well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:23 AM
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I should also say that heebie's 1, while laudable insofar as it reciforces the idea that public pressure of this administration from the left should continue, also seems to be contradicted by the article -- unless, I guess, there was another article about these facilities that I missed that led to the more restrictive policy for using them being implemented in August.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:26 AM
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If someone had told me in 1999 that ten years later a human rights activist would be quoted in the New York Times, uncritically endorsing the ideas that we were engaged in an undeclared war and that imprisoning people at random was a part of that war, I would have been gobsmacked.

Mr. Horowitz said he understood that "the necessities of war requires the U.S. to detain people, but there are limits to how to detain."

As it is, I just get new kinds of angry every time.


(Oh, and nothing about the Politico link explains or clarifies what variety of "personal reasons" we're talking about. "I find this policy unconscionable" is just as much as personal reason as "My fiancee is threatening to leave because she never sees me." I have no idea which one(s) were at work in this case, but I'm reluctant to buy in to a PR gloss.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:29 AM
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If someone had told me in 1999 that ten years later a human rights activist would be quoted in the New York Times, uncritically endorsing the ideas that we were engaged in an undeclared war and that imprisoning people at random was a part of that war, I would have been gobsmacked.

Don't worry, there will be plenty of shockingly appalling government to numb your sensibilities during that decade.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:35 AM
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I gather from the tone of the post that you're not interested in discussing why they might be doing this

This was a driving factor for a long time. At this point I want them to stop, and I want to exert the social and political pressure that will make them do that. I am no longer convinced that understanding their motivations will help create that pressure.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:37 AM
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there's no particular profit in this sort of bad behavior -- we don't lose anything by treating prisoners decently.

Contradicting my 7: One of the lessons of the last ten years for me was the realization that there is a large segment of Americans who believe wholeheartedly in zero-sum power. To them we *do* lose something important by treating prisoners decently, because anything we give to them is automatically subtracted from ourselves.

I am impotent in the face of this philosophy, but I am no longer unconvinced that it exists.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:42 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 8:57 AM
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To them we *do* lose something important by treating prisoners decently,

Of course we do: we lose our self respect.

We're the greatest nation on earth, a nation of striving entrepreneurs who have built this, the greatest country, from the chaos and wilderness with only our fingernails and our hard work and our god. We're the greatest country because we can push anyone else around, and we don't have to listen to what anyone else says or thinks, and we can drive the biggest gas guzzlingest cars and ours is the greatest military composed solely of heroes so anything they do is heroic (except for maybe a few bad apples like that girl, Lyndee, but she's a girl). We've built this greatest country by being strong, and you don't stay strong by letting pussy-whipped groups like the IRC tell you what to do, or by respecting the rights of indigenous people or neighbors or anyone else. Retribution and vengence is always the most important thing, because if we don't hurt them worse than they hurt us then we're no longer great. Remember, either you're for us, wholly and without reservation or cavil, or you're one of them.

Really, hating America is the only rational position.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:06 AM
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Ugh. Phil Carter getting to make policy was one of the things that made me really happy about Obama's victory. (Also, go pound sand, MHS - Carter and Charles Swift are America every bit as much as the assholes doing this.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:24 AM
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I am reminded of what militarized police do to american citizens exercising their constitutional rights in this country:
"Some of them were held on a bus with their hands tied behind their back for up to 12 hours. They were denied food, water, people were not allowed to go to the bathroom. People on the bus would be forced to urinate on themselves," the spokeswoman said. *

While the protesters were compensated somewhat by the courts, less than a decade after the events, it's also wholly consistent with the terrible number of taserings that Digby's been reporting. We've got this violent authoritarian streak about 3,000 miles wide.

Also, go pound sand, MHS - Carter and Charles Swift are America every bit as much as the assholes doing this.

While it's true that our culture, like every culture, is contested and has contradictory elements and people pushing for different self images, I don't think I'm wrong in claiming that the violent authoritarian streak is a big and legitmated part of who we are. And one day I'll learn to write short sentences.


* http://rawstory.com/2009/11/dc-pay-137-million-mistreated-world-bank-imf-protesters/
One day I'll be a good typist fluent in HTML. But probably not in this lifetime.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:35 AM
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Because the phenomenon of cops mistreating leftist protestors is a uniquely American one.

The issue with these things is that American exceptionalism has broken down; we're not behaving any better than the rest of the world, which is a bad, bad scene when we maintain a self-identity resting on a somewhat dubious historical legacy that says that we are.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:41 AM
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but the idea that there's no possible reason this should be a concern for a Democratic president is absurd.

I don't find it persuasive as a significant enough concern, in this context, to override any significant desire on the administration's part to actually treat prisoners as the law requires. It seems much more plausible to me that the administration hasn't got any strong feelings in this regard, and is just going with what's easiest.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:56 AM
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To put that another way -- I can be depressed about, but accept, that sometimes well-intentioned elected officials can't win policy arguments with their constituents; if what you want to do is too unpopular, you're not going to be able to make it stick. If the Obama administration has decided that it can't win policy arguments with the military, that's terrifying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:59 AM
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Presumably this comment will lead everybody to decide I'm in favor of holding prisoners secretly, which is almost certainly a war crime, but oh well.

Sifu Tweety is history's greatest war criminal!

give military commanders leeway to run operations as they see fit.

Meaning torture, with new improved Obama deniability. Am I suipposed to respect and admire this more than Bush's arrogant honesty?

Or maybe the prisoners are child hostages. Whatever.

This isn't about lawyers, this is about stuff we don't want the Red Cross to know.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:04 AM
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Five years ago, my opinion of military intelligence was pretty low. Today, an electron microscope might not be able to find it. Are there bad people? Sure. So why are we sending people who can't find their asses with both hands out to deal with them?

Domestic pressure would be a good thing -- by which I mean actual pressure, not a bunch of people telling each other that the government sucks. Cards and letters, people, cards and letters.

I'd also like to see this ramped up in Europe. What on earth is Germany doing participating in a mission that includes illegal detentions and abusive interrogation? Or Holland?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:04 AM
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If the Obama administration has decided that it can't win policy arguments with the military, that's terrifying.

I am convinced that this is true. To a large degree. Because it is true: they can't win. So, they have to pick battles, and try to play a long game.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:13 AM
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Bob, Bush wasn't honest. And Obama doesn't have deniability. What he also doesn't have is control of either the Congress or the military.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:17 AM
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Bob, Bush wasn't honest. And Obama doesn't have deniability. What he also doesn't have is control of either the Congress or the military.

If Obama wanted us out of Afghanistan we would be leaving.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:27 AM
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20 -- Sure. And if he wanted to close GTMO, it would be closing. Except that these are policies that require fairly extensive implementation, and if you put that in the hands of people who didn't vote for the President, don't agree with the policy, and would be happy to see the policy fail or be abandoned, you might not be getting the exact implementation you had in mind.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:34 AM
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What he also doesn't have is control of either the Congress or the military.

Not the kind of concessions I ever make, CC.

I will concede that controlling soldiers in the field, or their commanders is very very hard, and close to prohibitively expensive in terms of morale, or might cause a loss of control elsewhere. but I don't use words like "impossible" here.

A comparable situation is cops and Tasers. If you really cracked down, some cops would get injured, and then you would have a different, perhaps worse, set of problems. But you can stop the abuse of tasers, just as we made progress on police interrogations.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:39 AM
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The Time article on Craig isn't a bad overview. It, and all the other accounts I see, miss a major difference between Bush and Obama policies on indefinite detention. The Obama policy will limit indefinite detention to those cases where a court has approved it.* Cold comfort to the Taliban cook, or the one-legged guy beaten by the government's 'gossamer thin' case, but so far, we're talking about 8 people. All of whom, I think, have filed appeals.

* Obama may also end up holding prisoners who are not subject to the detention power, but cannot be repatriated. This is being briefed in the Supreme Court right now. This too will be a very small set -- a dozen, maybe two dozen men.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:50 AM
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Bob, my remark about lack of control is intended to be a statement of fact. I do not consider it exculpatory. The President should have stood up to the military on the pictures, for example. As you say, there are costs, and you have to pick your battles. I don't think progress is impossible. I do think it requires a little more from the White House.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:54 AM
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21

Sure. And if he wanted to close GTMO, it would be closing. ...

Closing GTMO is a harder problem if you aren't willing to just order all the prisoners to be released.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 11:01 AM
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5 Really? There is a war in Afghanistan, it was approved by both Congress and the UN. There is nothing wrong with detaining enemy combatants in the narrow sense of the term, but there are well established norms on how that should be done. The problem isn't that we're detaining Taliban we capture in battle, it's the conditions and terms of the detention.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 11:35 AM
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25 -- You can try those who've committed serious crimes. Crimes worthy of the use of the power and prestige of the United States. This does not include the teenager who threw (or may have thrown) a hand grenade.

The idea that you have to use vast resources first to identify what species of small fish someone is, and then detain someone you know is a small fish, is beyond ridiculous.

We had German pows in Colorado, Tennessee, and a bunch of other places. If we're going to have Afghan civil war pows, we ought to have the balls to do it that way. In compliance with the Third Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, we've been overrun by a group of bedwetters who think that giving way to fear is bravery.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 11:49 AM
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Of course bringing a pow into the US is going to lead to release if you don't have admissible evidence that they were actually a member of the enemy force at the time of capture.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 11:52 AM
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27

You can try those who've committed serious crimes. Crimes worthy of the use of the power and prestige of the United States. This does not include the teenager who threw (or may have thrown) a hand grenade.

If someone threw a grenade at me I would think it was pretty serious.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 1:43 PM
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Ah, the ol' Bernard Shaw-to-Michael Dukakis gambit.

If somebody punched you in the face, wouldn't you want them shipped to Devil's Island, stripped naked, and prodded with hot pokers? Why not? Aren't you a man?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 1:48 PM
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Of course you would. Even if you were walking into his yard with a gun, and your friend had already shot the guy. That doesn't mean that the state should rev up the Nuremburg apparatus. Rather than letting him take advantage of the amnesty that others who fought in Afghanistan were given. By the Afghan government.

When I've raised the wisdom of prosecuting Khadr with military officers, they ask 'what are we supposed to tell the widow?'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 1:56 PM
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When I've raised the wisdom of prosecuting Khadr with military officers, they ask 'what are we supposed to tell the widow?'

Jeez, I dunno. How about "Not every death in a war can or should be prosecuted?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 2:43 PM
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If somebody punched you in the face, wouldn't you want them shipped to Devil's Island, stripped naked, and prodded with hot pokers?

At last, a question that I can answer from personal experience:

Yes.

OT:

Today's NYT Vows column reminds me of how old I am.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 3:01 PM
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33: I read it and thought, BLEAH! Republicans from Spring Lake!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 3:09 PM
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OT No more masturbating to Robert Holdstock (Mythago Wood).


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 3:23 PM
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When I've raised the wisdom of prosecuting Khadr with military officers, they ask 'what are we supposed to tell the widow?'

How about "You and your clan can declare blood feud against him and his and engage in an escalating series of vengence killings until everyone in both clans is dead. Or, maybe, you can accept that vengence and justice are not synonymous and the point of civilization and armies is not to provide a mechanism for private retribution". Or you can say "we've got a Predator drone group that'll take him out as soon as he's back home - it's quicker and cheaper that way"


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 4:10 PM
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5 Really? There is a war in Afghanistan, it was approved by both Congress and the UN.

Are you referring to the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force? I grant that Congress approved military action in Afghanistan. It seems a very large stretch indeed to grant that there is a "war" on terror, which is what the person I quoted was conceeding.

There is nothing wrong with detaining enemy combatants in the narrow sense of the term, but there are well established norms on how that should be done.

Except that the people under discussion in this article are not "enemy combatants" as the law defines them. IANAL, but it is my understanding that U.S. has asserted (in some cases) that they are unlawful combatants. In other cases, we have denied altogether that we are holding the person.

The problem isn't that we're detaining Taliban we capture in battle, it's the conditions and terms of the detention.

As far as I'm concerned, the problem starts much, MUCH earlier in the pipeline. What's "Taliban"? What's "battle"? For that matter, what's "battlefield"? For eight years our government has been making sweeping assertions about the new definitions of these words, but I do not grant the legitimacy of those assertions.

I would bet my life savings that most Americans think that the people who are being held at Guantanamo and Bagram -- the latter of whom were mentioned in the NYT article from which I was quoting -- are "Taliban we captured in battle." That does not mean that they are. Or that even if they were, that detaining them is legal, let alone useful in any way.

I'm not shouting at you personally, teraz, but part of why we are where we are is that people keep granting ground that should not be ceded.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 4:22 PM
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I'd like to note that in an unprecedented departure from custom it was Witt, not me, who broke the blog.

In other news:
Because the physicians at Aspen Women's Center care about the quality of their patient's[sic] deliveries and are very concerned about the welfare and health of your unborn child, we will not participate in: a "Birth Contract", a Doulah[sic] Assisted, or a Bradley Method of delivery.

http://contexts.org/socimages/2009/11/20/guest-post-utah-ob-practice-declares-its-misogyny-up-front/


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 5:11 PM
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as soon as he's back home

I don't think anyone would believe that we'd use a Predator in Toronto. Because, you know, it isn't really a global war on terror.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 6:08 PM
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I see from Khadr's wikipedia entry that the widow got a judgment for $94 million. The judge seemed to think that it was the first time terrorist acts have resulted in civil liability. I guess he';s never heard of Alisa Flatow or Joseph Cicippio.

This, by the way, is priceless:

In the week before the Tribunal was scheduled to sit, FBI agent Robert Fuller was called to testify against Khadr and stated that the 15-year old had identified Maher Arar "by name" as having attended "terrorist safehouses and camps", implicating both Khadr and the vindicated Arar as having connections to al-Qaeda. However, it was later revealed that the actual interrogation notes from the incident showed that Khadr had denied recognising the black-and-white photograph he'd be shown and it wasn't until Fuller pressured him that he agreed the man in the picture "looked familiar", even though Khadr would have been only six or seven years old at the time Arar was alleged to have been in Afghanistan. Fuller suggested that Khadr confessed to having seen Arar in August or September 2001 in Afghanistan, but it was quickly pointed out that Arar was living in the United States in August, and was under constant police surveillance throughout September when he returned to Canada and couldn't possibly have flown to Afghanistan.

Not with both hands, I tell you.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 6:17 PM
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Or Terry Anderson. I tend to think of Cicippio as more of a local-interest story, but Anderson was a journalist and later published a pretty well-known book.

This, from the Wikipedia entry, is interesting:

With some of his [monetary] settlement [from being a hostage], Anderson and actress Kieu Chinh co-founded the Vietnam Children's Fund, which has built schools in Vietnam attended by more than 12,000 students. He also created the Father Lawrence Jenco Foundation with a $100,000 endowment to honor and support people who do charitable and community service projects in Appalachia.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 6:25 PM
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I don't think anyone would believe that we'd use a Predator in Toronto.

The NYT would put a story on page B22 headlined "Explosion in Toronto Muslim Neighborhood Kills 12". Amy Goodman would go on at tedious length about it, alleging a vast US military conspiracy. No other outlet in this country would pick up the story.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 6:51 PM
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42: They simply wouldn't let Amy Goodman into Canada at all if that happened. Cf.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 7:05 PM
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Witt, this review of books by Cicippio and Anderson (and Waite and another guy) is pretty good, I think. Good context for Anderson's charitable work.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 7:42 PM
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30

Ah, the ol' Bernard Shaw-to-Michael Dukakis gambit.

Dukakis didn't have a good response and neither did you.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:32 PM
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45: The correct response is that the monopoly on violence has been granted by the citizenry to the state, not to any individual member of the state's citizenry. Granted, it would be nice to pithy that response up a bit if you want a soundbite.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:39 PM
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Speaking of Dukakis's bigger problem (Mr. Horton), apparently Huckabee will face the same issue, except times four, if he ran.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:42 PM
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Link for 47.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:45 PM
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Further link for 47.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 9:50 PM
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46

The correct response is that the monopoly on violence has been granted by the citizenry to the state, not to any individual member of the state's citizenry. Granted, it would be nice to pithy that response up a bit if you want a soundbite.

That doesn't really explain why throwing a grenade at someone isn't a serious offense.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:03 PM
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I was just thinking about a proper Dukakis response to Bernie Shaw's question:

"Well, Bernie, first I would tear off his right ear and then chew out his right eye and then and then uhh I would break all his fingers really slowly and uhh then then then I would set him on fire no wait I would do that later but but I would skin him and then set him on fire..."

Watching this funny poignant movie about mental illness but I can't relate to the characters.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:10 PM
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That doesn't really explain why throwing a grenade at someone isn't a serious offense.

No one's arguing that allegedly doing whatever is or isn't a serious offense, James. Troll stronger, if you're going to bother.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:12 PM
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JBS -- Serious enough to merit a trial for war crimes? Are you really prepared to criminalize war to this extent?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:13 PM
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45 is pretty great. Touché, Mr. Shearer!

I could answer you seriously, but let's leave it like this. It's beautiful this way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:36 PM
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Relating to a different kind of evil: "Jackie Ramos was fired by Bank of America for being too nice to their customers."

I don't really understand why a bank, or any other corporation, would be expected to do something other than "treating their customers like the enemy", though.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 10:58 PM
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53

JBS -- Serious enough to merit a trial for war crimes? Are you really prepared to criminalize war to this extent?

At best he is a POW in which case he can be held until the conflict is over. And what would you do with unlawful combatants?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-09 11:29 PM
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There are no unlawful combatants. There are either criminals, who can be prosecuted using civil law or there are pows, who you need to treat in full compliance to the Genevea Treaties. Unlawful combatants is just the bullshit the Bush White House came up with to justify their jollies torturing Afghans.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 2:46 AM
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56
At best he is a POW in which case he can be held until the conflict is over.

"The conflict" being the war on terror? That will never be over. Thanks for finally, albeit indirectly and maybe accidentally, being honest about supporting indefinite imprisonment without trial as long as it's of people who you don't like.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 4:52 AM
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58 -- I don't think there's any such thing, as a legal matter, as a war "on terror." Congress authorized the use of military force against certain entities. That can end.

I agree that as a legal matter, a warring power can hold members of the enemy force until the conclusion of hostilities -- I think Judge Walton's opinion in Gherebi spells it out pretty well* -- but I also agree with Judge Huvelle's decision in Basardh that once it is established that the person is not going to return to hostilities, then the detention power comes to an end.

* Unsurprisingly, Judge Walton leaned more to the government's view here than what we asked for in our joint brief. His various evidentiary rulings mitigate the effect pretty substantially.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 6:18 AM
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56 -- You can't hold pows in a penitentiary.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 6:19 AM
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56 -- Discretion in deciding what to prosecute is a crucial element in running a civilized state. But if you want to start prosecuting every violation of the laws of war, you're going to have to be pretty busy with US forces. The "frequent flyer" program is, as Judge Kollar-Kotelly observed in the case of Fouad al Rabia, unlawful under the Army Field Manual, and the laws of war. I don't know how many servicemen and women followed (or gave) illegal orders related to this particular program, but I'd be surprised if it isn't over 100. It'll be easy to prosecute: all they have to do is look at the damn files.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 6:30 AM
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Dukakis didn't have a good response and neither did you.

I remember, some years later, seeing Dukakis on television saying something like, "You know, I thought I gave a pretty good answer. I still do."

Here's the exchange:

Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?
DUKAKIS: No, I don't, Bernard. And I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it's a deterrent, and I think there are better and more effective ways to deal with violent crime. We've done so in my own state. And it's one of the reasons why we have had the biggest drop in crime of any industrial state in America; why we have the lowest murder rate of any industrial state in America.

Dukakis here failed to address the underlying question, which was not a question at all; it was an accusation: "You spineless liberals are insufficiently afraid of criminals to do what is necessary."

James is correct in drawing the parallel between Dukakis and the modern liberal dilemma. CharleyC, above, supplies the answer that I wish prominent liberals were able to give:

If we're going to have Afghan civil war pows, we ought to have the balls to do it that way. In compliance with the Third Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, we've been overrun by a group of bedwetters who think that giving way to fear is bravery.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 7:59 AM
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James is correct in drawing the parallel between Dukakis and the modern liberal dilemma. CharleyC, above, supplies the answer that I wish prominent liberals were able to give

Given that Republicans seem to be moderately successful with their "New Yorkers should be pissing their pants at the thought of putting Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on trial, because he might be able to plot his escape with Mystique's assistance!", I'm not sure that pointing out the bedwettery is going to be helpful.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 9:26 AM
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once it is established that the person is not going to return to hostilities, then the detention power comes to an end.

How can you ever establish this?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 9:39 AM
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Republicans seem to be moderately successful

Inasmuch as their partisans (and the Beltway media) will faithfully repeat whatever GOP talking points are in operation at any given time, I guess. They can achieve that with any argument, though. I do think there is still value in repeating the bedwetting charge loudly and often, even if the only positive result is getting Democrats more accustomed to attacking, rather than tacitly accepting bullshit.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 9:42 AM
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65: Agreed. Not exactly the same thing, but, several weeks ago, Kos getting Tancredo to storm off a TV interview in a huff by questioning his valor was pretty awesome to watch, as was Shoshana Johnson's "I got shot!" response to that JAG asshole.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 9:49 AM
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The Shaw-Dukakis exchange highlights the problem Democrats have had ever since Reagan. Shaw asked a tendentious, even insulting, question, but Dukakis responded as though Shaw had asked a legitimate question. Too much that was once beyond the pale has now become a standard part of discourse.

As long as we live in a country where prominent conservatives can question Obama's birthplace, say that he hates "white culture," or argue that his presidency encourages black violence against whites, then we're pretty much screwed. The media need to learn that this sort of thing is unacceptable and really, it's not up to the politicians to teach them that. Until you get liberals to express the kind of rage that has been commonplace on the right, the media have no reason to change.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 12:07 PM
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To shift topic a bit: How's That Iraqi Surge Faring Now, General?

Nobody wants to admit that the Iraqi surge was (predictably) a complete and utter failure on its own stated terms, and even it had entirely better odds than Obama's Afghan remake. Every single day, I like this administration less than the day before. I'm this close to just writing in McManus in 2012.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 1:04 PM
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68:No more war! Nationalize the banks! Revoke leash laws!

Free health care, free tuition and squeaky chew toys for all!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 1:31 PM
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But what if I don't WANT squeaky chew toys?


Posted by: Tom Scud | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 1:37 PM
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68: You know what drives me absolutely insane? The conventional wisdom will never acknowledge that. It's going to be "Well, the surge worked, and then when Obama came in it things inexplicably got bad again. Must have been Obama's fault, the surge had solved everything until then."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 1:39 PM
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The conventional wisdom will never acknowledge that.

You know what would have helped? Obama not going on Bill O'Reilly's show and claiming that it worked beyond everybody's expectations. I really am starting to pick up a Manchurian candidate vibe from the past year.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 1:56 PM
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But what if I don't WANT squeaky chew toys?

Oh, I think you'll change your tune soon enough, Comrade.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 2:05 PM
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74

To one with a much higher pitch?


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 2:10 PM
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I really am starting to pick up a Manchurian candidate vibe from the past year.

Yeah, remember the giant Social Security thread/shouting match during the primary?

Fuck you, Obama


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 2:10 PM
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74: SQUEEEEEK!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 2:10 PM
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75: I don't remember the thread, and am not seeing how what you linked leads to 75.last? Could you connect a few more dots?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 2:23 PM
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The posts of yore are still vibrant and relevant.

http://www.unfogged.com/archives/week_2007_10_14.html#007667


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 3:42 PM
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56, 60. Or he is a POW who has been convicted of a crime. For example Noriega is still a POW and some of his treatment in prison has been different because of his POW status (says wiki).


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 3:44 PM
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64 -- Basardh proved it. (Or, rather, his excellent lawyers -- federal public defenders from Oregon -- did so). Janko too. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a bunch of cases where you could show this.

79 -- Well sure, someone convicted of a crime can be put in a penitentiary. The Eleventh Circuit wrote a bit about Noriega's status this spring. I think they misapplied the MCA; maybe we can get a circuit split on that . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-30-09 10:25 PM
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This is pretty good: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2009/12/01/guantanamo-idealists-leave-obamas-sinking-ship/



Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-09 2:18 PM
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