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14 February 2010

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William R. Cumming

At this point GITMO is a focal point for US reliance on secrecy and torture to preserve its democracy (Republic)! One might well ask why FOX finds so interesting this take on GITMO by the rest of the world and provides so little real analysis of the underlying issues. The Reagan Adminstrtion faced with issues of terrorism by non-state actors when Article 3 of the Generva Convention was reworked in the early 80's chose not to make public its deliberations. Perhaps that history should be revealed in its entirety. It is relevant and material to the conclusions reached by the George W. Bush Administration. And of course many in the US disagree with the basic conclusion that only secrecy and torture can save the US! Me included.

Mad Dogs

Kafka?

That may be one of the world's biggest understatements in the case of Omar Khadr:

...a young Canadian who was only 15 when captured in Afghanistan in 2002. Omar Khadr was seized by U.S. Special Forces following an attack on an Afghan compound during which someone threw a hand grenade at American soldiers, killing one.

The U.S. contends Khadr was responsible for the death of Delta Force 1st Sergeant Christopher Speer, even though the Toronto Star has reported that classified defense documents indicate “Khadr was buried face down under rubble, blinded by shrapnel and crippled” at the time of the grenade attack...

And this was after the place was pounded into rubble by close air support assets of the US:

...Arriving at the scene, the Apaches strafed the compound with cannon and rocket fire...

... a pair of F-18 Hornets dropped Mark 82 bombs on the houses...

... pair of A-10 Warthogs arrived on-scene and began attacking the houses along with the Apaches...

As a loyal American, I regret the injury or death of any of our brave US service members, so let no one mistake whose side I support.

But taking sides is irrelevent here.

I thought I understood the Laws of War, but I'm at a total loss to explain our nation's actions and justice system in this case.

Even to myself, much less to anyone else.

Imagine being imprisoned for 8 years without trial, and now to be prosecuted by a military commission for the "war crime" of throwing a hand grenade at opposing forces.

There is the battlefield ethic of "kill or be killed", but it cannot be an ethic available only to one side.

Dan Rust

For anyone who doubts the logic of President Obama’s decision to close GITMO, see the Al Queda marketing brochure at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-cGWV6_Ays

confusedponderer

It is lamentable that Obama so far hasn't mustered either the courage or the political will (or both) to close Gitmo. The reason why the Gitmo detainees are probably to remain in limbo is IMA to the relentless repetition of the assertion that they all are 'the worst of the worst' by the last administration and their apologists.

I was more than a a little taken aback when I read the disingenuous assertion that when R's call to not release these evil men, they are merely giving voice to deeply held citizen concerns. Aah yes, the voice of the people. Never mind that these concerns didn't come out of nowhere.

I only think about hysterical and hyperbole right wing attack ads like this one dissected by the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/video/2009/may/08/obama-republican-attack-ad-guantanamo-detainees

It is dispiriting to read David Frum's advice to Cheney to do basically anything but address substance his impending 'duel' with Biden, because that would be tactically imprudent and poor political gamesmanship, and potentially involve admitting guilt.

Effectively, Cheney holds the GOP hostage, rightwingers and 'centrists' like Frum alike.

The R's need to dispense with the idiotic assumption that whoever attacks Cheney's crimes and blunders is necessarily attacking the GOP. Rather, they ought to see Cheney as toxic excess luggage. To be rid of Cheney's extremism would be a boon as it would, eventually, allow the US to talk about fighting terrorism seriously and rationally.

So far it appears the R's choose to rather not do that because it allows them to feast on fears easily stoked, helping them to cheaply score political points. Disgusting.

Obama needs to quickly follow up on his promise to close Gitmo, never mind Republican unscrupulous fearmongering. The fearmongering is not going to go away whatever he does, and is thus something he has to live with anyway.

walrus

Col. Lang,

Was it ever in America's best interests to incarcerate anyone in Guantanamo? Were "enhanced interrogation techniques" and the associated secret detention, rendition, etc. ever in America's best interests? I think not.

The reason they were not and still aren't is that by employing these practices, America, or rather the Bush Administration, squandered Americas entire stock of international goodwill among Westerners that had been carefully accumulated since 1944.

The majority of Americans would not be aware of the massive cold war information operations, aimed at demonstrating that the American model of the world was better than the Soviet Unions prescription, that built that store of goodwill, because they were aimed outwards, if they were even launched from U.S. soil at all.

It was/is this goodwill that ensured that electorates in the West did not object when their Governments committed troops or other resources to various projects under American leadership. Even the Vietnam war did not deplete any of these reserves of fellow feeling.

I guess the question for the Obama Administration is whether it is both worthwhile and possible to rebuild that reputation. My guess is that they don't care. Time will tell if they are right, in any case, I guess the ABCA relationship still counts for something.

par4

O/T You got a nice mention in Nir Rosen's article at MotherJones.

Charles I

Mad Dogs, imagine what a legalistic - cough, cough - bleeding heart like me makes of the current Canadian Conservative minority government refusing to take any steps to repatriate this child soldier spirited away to jihad HQ by his parents at age 12.

Our Supreme Court just ruled he's been civilly violated by Canadian, American and international law, but stopped just short of actually ordering up the corpus by all means necessary upon reticence to impinge on exercise of foreign policy discretion.

Every other Westerner has at least been repatriated to a domestic jail or other disposition. Our current government, I use that term loosely, has had to be ordered by several courts to either issue passports or unblock process frozen by ministerial discretion and close-mouthed bullshit for Canadian citizens languishing in a foreign country without the requisite stamp.

They have all been tinted immigrants with occidentally unpronounceable names from the usual hotbeds of poverty and terror, the story offered they don't look like their picture, etc. Who knows what the spooks really have on them, they never tell up here either. But for those detained indefinitely on ministerial security certificates, if they won't, our courts get around to issuing fairly substantive orders that usually amount to put up the evidence or the indefinite detention is over.

The government almost always declines.

There is no law where there is no enforcement. No franchise, no structure has prevented, let alone sanctioned much of this in either country. Judicial and legislative output to date has been wholly reactive virtual vetting of past actions by statutory assertions of "process" legitimating policy. I judge it marginally better from my perspective in Canada than the US, you guys have to do all the heavy political and psychological lifting on this one that once again frees Canada to sustain the environment conducive to the care and feeding of the center/left. Thanks.


Gitmo is and remains a handy festering wound to for political brutes to bruit about. Rational disposition of the greater part of the lesser evils noted by Pat would lead to untenable, hysterical, Palinesque political theatre akin to the recent healthcare = death-squads-right-to-bear-arms rallies, or full Court presses la Elian Gonzalez/Terri Schiavo productions.

And then there's what to do with the other 50. You've talked me out of letting them go, but what do we tell the ACLU, Amnesty, etc? We never shut up.

Patrick Lang

par4

Nir is a good guy, brave as a lion and smart as hell. pl

Rider

The Bush mantra was that these prisoners were "the worst of the worst." So there's good reason this is the dominant attitude on Fox and elsewhere in the mainstream media. The Bushies pushed this story as the principal justification for not holding them on American soil, "too dangerous." The truth seems to be that Gitmo from the gitgo was set up primarily as an (illegal) interrogation camp, i.e., for the intelligence it could produce, rather than to incarcerate men awaiting prosecution. The reason these men were not taken to American soil was not to protect the American people from them, but to protect themselves from the law, from the US Constitution, and from the Bill of Rights. Since 1886 (Yick Wo v. Hopkins) all persons arrested on American soil are automatically entitled to the protections of the Bill of Rights regardless their citizenship. The Bush Administration (Cheney's idea, no doubt) was to set up Gitmo as a Constitution-free zone in which to conduct interrogations. The Supreme Court tolerated this up to a point. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) the SCOTUS ruled that Gitmo tribunals did not escape either Article 3 or the UCMJ. In 2008 the SCOTUS pushed this further in Boumedienne v. Bush, deciding to include the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment and specifically habeas corpus. The bottom line is that there have been over 150 convictions and subsequent imprisonments through civilian courts and 3 through military tribunals. By 2003 waterboarding had apparently ceased and Bush and Powell if not Cheney began to talk about closing Gitmo. It had become and remains worthless as an interrogation camp and simply a liability in terms of developing cases that could actually be taken to court. All the defenders of Gitmo are left with is the old mantra, "the worst of the worst." They have lost the legal battle and are attempting to fight on political grounds through fear-mongering and succeeding somewhat in that regard.

Charles I

thanks for the Nir Rosen story para 4. Heartily recommend his "In the belly of the green bird : the triumph of the martyrs in Iraq" (Free Press 2006)

I like the bit at the end about Afghan driving speed and Marine driving speed, and how quickly the ied's can be reinstalled. Pushing sand uphill till it explodes on you, sounds like.

Pat, you say this latest op will be decisive. What, we decisively defeat the Taliban to incorporate them into local government so we can finally lose the war and get out? Or some variation thereof?

Even before it started my main thought has been more whackamole, squeeze-the -balloon until we inevitably leave. Why would they stay in town to be defeated? Why be defeated?

Pakistan announced some time ago there'll be no more frontier campaigns this year. Notwithstanding recently disclosed apparently increasing overt JSOC/Special ops type activity I'm too lazy to cite now inside Pakistan, and increased drone tempo, refuge seems available, ISI/Army patrons intact, their American obligations fulfilled this term.

In Nir's piece you plaintively ask: "Why stay?"

Here's a take on that question from M K Bhadrakumar over at Asiatimes that Brzerzinski would approve:

"The winner takes all in Afghanistan

The main plot in Afghanistan is about the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into Central Asia, and reconciliation with the Taliban is arguably the only option available to keep open-ended NATO's military presence in Central Asia without having to fight a futile war. The ascendancy of malleable Islamist forces also has its uses for the US's containment strategy towards China."

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LB13Df02.html

This makes good sense to me even from under the tinfoil. The region invites foreign presence in pursuit of the unltimate balance of power politics you outlined in your Iran posts below.

Contray to all I believe in, of course, but there does seem to be some petrogeology, cartography, history and politics on the side of this argument. . . If I was Chinese would I find the notion that America could again install pet Islamists just in time to avoid outright defeat and sic them on me instead of the USSR too outlandish to consider? Or would I consider the apparent acceptance of the opium crop, and the security implications heroin addiction and trafficking that are now seeming to manifest in Iran and the USSR, and find a foreign devil behind it?

I own up to the tinfoil hat, but I no longer use it to smoke the opiates that formerly fueled my psycho, er, analysis. It sounds plausible, some regional involvement there is inevitable somewhere along the continuum between diplomatic courtesy, bags of cash and the one per cent doctrine.

What if just as the defeated Afghan Talibs settled into their new life Pakistan went south in a big way, or some Chechen manged to touch off a tactical nuke as a favour to his Uighur cousin, curious, please weigh in here.

Patrick Lang

charlesI

After all that we have been to each other how can you doubt me like this?

I said it would be decisive. I did not predict which way. pl

Charles I

Damn it if I'd read a little more closely I'd have noticed. Forgot we're supposed to think for ourselves. I'd like to fly you up here for a few days consulting, tell me everything you know, but I think I still wouldn't know either way.

At least when you're p.o'ed you're declarative!

We're leaving, they're not. It'd take a lot of money, time and effort to rule much more than Kabul, from Kabul, after we leave. . . although this contradicts both my anti-China theory and my next-act-is-big-war-on AfPak-border.

I don't know which reality is operating - we can't afford to stay, or we're never leaving if the flatheads continue to rule, or why-ever.

That's a question might bear examining: exactly how much war can the US afford and the Chinese hold t-bills for, how much neocon fantasy can be sustained?

A few years ago we talking about the army breaking in March - of 2008 - yet here we are.

This could be critical because China has stopped purchasing non sovereign debt while your plutocrats are borrowing printed money from the FED (themselves, at your children's expense) at 0% to buy the same treasuries paying more. Eventually China will become risk averse or the plutocrats will indeed beggar you, or the ink delivery truck will break down, or some other just-in-time crisis, or both, at exactly the time you need to refinance ongoing wars will occur and a seismic correction will occur. "Correction, wonder who coined that one?

I believe I read here or somewhere that for a certain class of our heroes - fundamentalist Christians and Zionists - such trifling details as funding never enter the planning picture.

I believe that your social security funds are the penultimate asset to be privatized prior to theft. It will be, in Bohica anyway, to fund those very ongoing wars so handy in diverting attention from the theft that the theft itself will occur, proceeds payable to the cartel once quaintly called the military industrial complex. Leaving only the States, the armed forces, and security apparatus, to be driven where they will.

Will the Teamsters and autoworkers be up to defending it in the current climate of volatile fear stoked by hucksters and true believers alike? Why, it'd' be treason to stop funding the boys in time of war, especially an even bigger one that actually risks Israel, wherever we got the dough, wouldn't it?

And my next question would be what exactly would those desirous think up to sell a bigger continuing war, what would be required, short of an Operation Northwoods Super Emergency Continuity of Government silent coup at exactly the same time the Mossad takes over the servers at Verint, assuring continued smooth processing of American transactions, vetting and blackmail?

I have wandered a bit from Gitmo, I fear.

Fred Strack

Since Gitmo is in Cuba is there any chance that the Cuban government would find the use of the facility a violation of either Cuban law or the treaty that allows the U.S. to use the place and order all of the prisoners removed?

Patrick Lang

Charles

I don't think you can find a citation in which I predicted the that the US Army would "break" in 2008.

Social Security? The trust fund is a joke. The funds are routinely used for other purposes. The ability to make SS payments depends on an ability to pay in debased fiat money from the national "treasury." pl

Charles I

No, Sir, don't think I could find a cite either, for the record, the royal we refers solely to the space between my ears where my brain should be.
It was a popular meme there a while ago, maybe that tells all, I don't know anymore. . .

W/r/t to Social security I do know the trust is reliant upon future "revenues", so I'll retrench and mangle my idea to maintain that the mania for privatization overtly applied to the empty shell would be a sociopolitical Rubicon, which, if the presses could be maintained indefinitely, could provide the cash flow to run the wars and pay the corporations, in a Republic one river over from the current one.

You're slowly getting across to me how naive I am Appearances, and that's all they are, matter too much to me, and to political theatre too. I find indolent comfort in railing at them rather than thinking through the grays

Patrick Lang

Charles I

IMO the Rs want to do away with SS. They are without humanity in this regard. pl

Charles I

Further to my comments on our spooks and the Canadian courts from The Toronto Star today:

"Border agency ignores CSIS data

Legal concerns mean travellers with ties to crime are able to enter Canada via quick-pass cards

Published On Mon Feb 15 2010

OTTAWA–Canada's border agency has been waving through travellers at entry points even though it has information some may have criminal ties, an internal report suggests.

The agency, which gets its intelligence from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, is doing so because it is worried about court challenges that may force it to reveal secret sources.

This so-called "front-end intelligence information gap" affects thousands of travellers enrolled in programs that allow them to skip long queues by flashing a card giving quick entry into Canada.

The Nexus and FAST cards were designed to speed passage of low-risk, pre-approved business people and truckers, allowing border guards to focus on higher-risk travellers and goods.

But some of Canada's border guards have been skeptical of the cards, fearing they've become a "licence to smuggle."

The guards have caught too many cardholders trying to smuggle goods into Canada, in one instance a man hauling a $186,000 boat.

Internal documents from the Canada Border Service Agency suggest there's good reason for the guards' skepticism: the agency is required to ignore adverse intelligence if an applicant otherwise passes muster.

"CBSA Legal Services recommended against the denial of applicants based on intelligence information if they are otherwise eligible for membership," says an agency memo.

"Legal Services further noted that should an applicant seek judicial review, the CBSA – not the source of the intelligence, CSIS – would be responsible for responding to the Federal Court on the issue.

"As such, the CBSA does not use intelligence information in the screening process for membership and as such, the possibility exists that persons who are assessed above low-risk based on intelligence information will be granted membership."

Records outlining the problem were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The documents note that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which also issues Nexus and FAST cards, has no qualms about using intelligence information alone to deny membership.

The different policy in Canada suggests departments have become spooked by the Canadian judicial system, where courts have recently pressed CSIS and others to divulge information that security agencies consider highly secret and damaging if made public.

A spokeswoman for CBSA stressed that the card programs already have stringent rules. Nexus cards were introduced in 2000.


Border agency ignores CSIS data
Legal concerns mean travellers with ties to crime are able to enter Canada via quick-pass cards
Published On Mon Feb 15 2010

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Dan Beeby The Canadian Press

OTTAWA–Canada's border agency has been waving through travellers at entry points even though it has information some may have criminal ties, an internal report suggests.

The agency, which gets its intelligence from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, is doing so because it is worried about court challenges that may force it to reveal secret sources.

This so-called "front-end intelligence information gap" affects thousands of travellers enrolled in programs that allow them to skip long queues by flashing a card giving quick entry into Canada.

The Nexus and FAST cards were designed to speed passage of low-risk, pre-approved business people and truckers, allowing border guards to focus on higher-risk travellers and goods.

But some of Canada's border guards have been skeptical of the cards, fearing they've become a "licence to smuggle."

The guards have caught too many cardholders trying to smuggle goods into Canada, in one instance a man hauling a $186,000 boat.

Internal documents from the Canada Border Service Agency suggest there's good reason for the guards' skepticism: the agency is required to ignore adverse intelligence if an applicant otherwise passes muster.

"CBSA Legal Services recommended against the denial of applicants based on intelligence information if they are otherwise eligible for membership," says an agency memo.

"Legal Services further noted that should an applicant seek judicial review, the CBSA – not the source of the intelligence, CSIS – would be responsible for responding to the Federal Court on the issue.

"As such, the CBSA does not use intelligence information in the screening process for membership and as such, the possibility exists that persons who are assessed above low-risk based on intelligence information will be granted membership."

Records outlining the problem were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The documents note that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which also issues Nexus and FAST cards, has no qualms about using intelligence information alone to deny membership.

The different policy in Canada suggests departments have become spooked by the Canadian judicial system, where courts have recently pressed CSIS and others to divulge information that security agencies consider highly secret and damaging if made public.

A spokeswoman for CBSA stressed that the card programs already have stringent rules. Nexus cards were introduced in 2000."

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/765584--border-agency-ignores-csis-data

I'm divided between law and reality here. In the gray!

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