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February 7, 2011 11:01 AM   Subscribe

George Bush cancels a trip to Switzerland citing “threat of demonstrations” . However two victims of torture in U.S. detention have prepared a criminal complaint against Bush backed by a coalition of international human rights groups, two former United Nations rapporteurs, and two Nobel Peace Prize laureates. His legacy continues with the death in Guantanamo of Abdul Gul held without trial for 9 years. The official cause of Mr Gul's death is "Heart attack during exercise". The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trial nearly 50 detainees at Guantanamo.
posted by adamvasco (85 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"It is not yet clear whether George W Bush is planning to cross the Atlantic to flog us his memoirs, but if I were his PR people I would urge caution. As book tours go, this one would be an absolute corker. It is not just that every European capital would be brought to a standstill, as book-signings turned into anti-war riots. The real trouble — from the Bush point of view — is that he might never see Texas again."

"How could America complain to the Burmese generals about the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, when a president authorised torture? How can we talk about human rights in Beijing, when our number one ally and friend seems to be defending this kind of behaviour? I can’t think of any other American president, in my lifetime, who would have spoken in this way. Mr Bush should have remembered the words of the great Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who said in 1863 that “military necessity does not admit of cruelty”. Damn right."

It's not often I say this, but Boris Johnson can occasionally be awesome.
posted by jaduncan at 11:12 AM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Europe: pieing him in the face would be an appropriate start.
posted by basicchannel at 11:15 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, basically, he cancelled the trip in order to avoid jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and to avoid being served with a criminal complaint under international law.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't suppose they could extradite him to Sweden could they?
posted by infini at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


So, basically, he cancelled the trip in order to avoid jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court..

We should pool some money together and trick him into going on an all expenses paid vacation somewhere within the courts jurisdiction.
posted by pwally at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I assume the same sort of charges will also be made against President Obama when he travels outside of the country after leaving office?
posted by gyc at 11:28 AM on February 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


There has been no accountability in America, and so the ghosts of the previous administration will continue to haunt us until they are fully exorcised.

Indeed, the current administration continues many of Bush's unconstitutional and questionable policies. This more or less explicit policy not to look backwards lest the status quo be upset amounts to both legal and political sanction of the numerous illegal, unconstitutional acts and endemic corruption of the previous administration.

It's a failure of political will, and it's at the source of many of America's current ills. It means that a great deal feels right now like a footnote or addendum to Bush, and it certainly helps explain why so many bold faced lies concocted by the previous WH continue to circulate long after they have been proven false.

It also helps explain why there is so much persistent right wing rancor: the O'Reillys of the world were never fully exposed for the frauds that they are.

The simple truth is that the opportunity to once and for all have a full accounting of what was going on in the previous administration (kind of like South Africa had a full accounting after apartheid) means that, even if Obama's pragmatic intentions of not re-hashing the past are sufficiently well intentioned, we are nevertheless forever condemned to a kind of political purgatory.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 11:31 AM on February 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


As the Doctor said in Macbeth immediately after Lady Macbeth went sleepwalking and talking about blood on her hands:

Foul whisperings are abroad: unnatural deeds
Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets:
More needs he [sic the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all!

posted by bearwife at 11:31 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, that should be "he [sic]"
posted by bearwife at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2011


America: we'll get onto the poorly chosen leaders of Western Civilisation you inflict upon us later; for now, winding your cross-party national neck in a tad would be an appropriate start.
posted by protorp at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2011


Sorry, that should be "he [sic]"

Who adds a sic to Shakespeare?
posted by reductiondesign at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


We should pool some money together and trick him into going on an all expenses paid vacation somewhere within the courts jurisdiction.

Let's tell him that he won a motor boat and he has to go to Switzerland to pick it up.
posted by jessssse at 11:37 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I assume the same sort of charges will also be made against President Obama when he travels outside of the country after leaving office?

Yeah, I get it. Obama = Bush. Whatever.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:41 AM on February 7, 2011


Quit frankly, I'd like to see him go and see if anyone tries to arrest him. Where's the bold George Bush of before? It would be very interesting, though not necessarily right, but definitely interesting. I don't see arresting a former President of the United States going down very well.

Still, oh so fascinating. The next question is whether the Obama administration will arrange for diplomatic immunity for Bush or anyone else in his administration.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:41 AM on February 7, 2011


Who adds a sic to Shakespeare?

Someone acknowledging she changed the gender in the quote.
posted by bearwife at 11:42 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


South Africa had the Truth and Reconciliation commission. I think we need to focus more on airing the dirty laundry and less on prosecuting the criminals. Because unless we let it go it will perpetually be in limbo, or yes, purgatory.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:44 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Once, years ago, the American's were the good guys: Entire divisions would surrender knowing that at worst, they'd get three square meals and a pack of smokes a day, a good bed to sleep on, and a chance to go home to their families after everything got sorted out. Fighting to the death just didn't make sense in a conflict against the US, but now, how many Afghanis and Iraqis truly believe that their options between fight to the death or be well fed in a POW camp? I have to wonder how many lives were needlessly lost now that America has decided that it's just too damn afraid of a couple of religious fanatics to retain the moral high ground.

Bush never tremendously peripatetic and I think he's secretly relieved that he'll never again be cajoled into leaving his adopted hometown of Crawford, Texas for some fancy pants foreign place.

That said, I seem to remember the right wing being very excited about the possibility of utilizing international law to extradite certain members of Wikileaks for crimes against the US. Their position on the subject of the jurisdiction of international law has quite reversed, I'd assume.
posted by Freen at 11:45 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, Obama != Bush, but he hasn't closed Guantanamo yet, and perhaps he's indirectly liable for some war crime charges.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm a little confused by some of the reports I've read. This article states that Bush couldn't be arrested in Switzerland (diplomatic immunity, apparently). Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it also seems to imply that Bush didn't cancel, the event organizers canceled.
posted by barkingpumpkin at 11:47 AM on February 7, 2011


Someone acknowledging she changed the gender in the quote.

In which circs [he] should use square brackets, not sic. Sic acknowledges a direct quote that the reader might think incorrect.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:47 AM on February 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


secretly relieved that he'll never again be cajoled into leaving his adopted hometown of Crawford, Texas for some fancy pants foreign place

Seeing him at the Super Bowl a few seats away from fellow war criminal Condoleeza Rice was a pretty disgusting sight.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:48 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


More info here: The Center for Constitutional Rights Announces Bush Indictment for Convention Against Torture
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 11:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


When Bush cancelled his trip to avoid prosecution, the human rights groups who prepared the complaints made it public and announced that the Bush Torture Indictment would be waiting wherever he travels next.

Bush totally seems like the kind of person who could be goaded into traveling; "What's the matter George? You scared? You too chicken to come over here and sell your book? You're just all hat and swagger and nothing to back it up, ain't ya? Coward!"

And I'd love to see him undone by something as cheap as that.
posted by quin at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Seeing him at the Super Bowl a few seats away from fellow war criminal Condoleeza Rice was a pretty disgusting sight.

Yeah, there's nothing worst than war criminals watching live football.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:01 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is extremely apt that this occurs on the 9th anniversary of the White House Declaration that the Geneva Convention Does Not Apply to Taliban or Al-Qaeda.
posted by adamvasco at 12:02 PM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


So is anyone writing up an international writ against Obama?

Not a snark, genuinely interested.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:05 PM on February 7, 2011


Greenwald: Guantanamo death highlights U.S. detention policy.
All of this finds a nice symbolic parallel in the Obama administration's apparent efforts to install Omar Suleiman as interim Egyptian leader; Suleiman is not only steadfastly pro-American and pro-Israeli, but was long the U.S.'s point man for renditions and the severe torture which accompanied it. This is what is meant when we hear repeatedly about what a stalwart "ally" the Mubarak government been in the "War on Terror": they've dutifully detained and brutalized anyone we wanted.
posted by adamvasco at 12:21 PM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


In which circs [he] should use square brackets, not sic.

Thought about that, made the wrong choice. Sorry. But thanks for the correction.

And with that my grammatical derail ends . . .
posted by bearwife at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2011


Next time, you assholes, don't announce you are going to arrest the perp before he gets to your country.

Now will someone tell W he won the Dutch lottery, and he can pick up his check at the Hague Hilton?
posted by Xoebe at 12:31 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, an attorney involved in the complaint stated that she had no doubt that Bush’s change in travel plans had to do with the criminal case against him.

I wonder if she honestly believes that a) any country would actually attempt to arrest a former President* and b) that the Secret Service would let it happen.

This is like those people calling for the arrest of the Pope in the U.K. It's just never going to happen.

*or for that matter, any former Western leader.
posted by madajb at 12:39 PM on February 7, 2011


Shhh on the reality type talk, we be dreaming!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:49 PM on February 7, 2011


> Next time, you assholes, don't announce you are going to arrest the perp before he gets to your country.

I don't think any authorities want to bother with arresting W or any other high level US political figure. It's enough that they make them persona non grata, without the horrendous shitstorm of detaining/arresting a former president. I somehow don't think the Obama administration would sit idly by if a Bush was detained.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:53 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> b) that the Secret Service would let it happen.

How many agents look after W when he travels? Maybe 3? Certainly nothing like the small paramilitary force, complete with machine guns and rockets, that travels with a sitting POTUS.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"So, basically, he cancelled the trip in order to avoid jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and to avoid being served with a criminal complaint under international law."

He has about as much chance as seeing the inside of court room as Roman Polanski.
posted by MikeMc at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2011


I somehow don't think the Obama administration would sit idly by if a Bush was detained.

Right now I'm imagining the reaction Fox news would have in this situation, where Bush was arrested overseas and Obama didn't immediately react with force.

I'm guessing the best word would be "apoplectic" (or possibly "apocalyptic" or perhaps some combination of the two...)

Either way, it would be terribly funny.
posted by quin at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many agents look after W when he travels? Maybe 3? Certainly nothing like the small paramilitary force, complete with machine guns and rockets, that travels with a sitting POTUS.

Certainly not, but I'm sure they must have a plan to either run to the nearest embassy or hunker down till the Marines come.
posted by madajb at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The US has previously stated that they would be prepared to use force against the Hague to recover high-value US nationals arrested by the ICC.
posted by jaduncan at 1:05 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The US has previously stated that they would be prepared to use force against the Hague to recover high-value US nationals arrested by the ICC.

There's that American Exceptionalism I keep hearing about.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm trying to think of some non-bullshit criterion by which George W. Bush could be considered "high-value" to anyone.

No luck so far.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:41 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


His dog probably likes him.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:43 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


His dog probably likes him.

His dog probably likes the maid that feeds him.
posted by atbash at 1:45 PM on February 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


His legacy continues with the death in Guantanamo of Abdul Gul held without trial

Obama campaigned on closing Gitmo. He has decided to not close it.
Vietnam is Nixon's war. Gitmo is now Obama's prison.
posted by Flood at 2:16 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I assume the same sort of charges will also be made against President Obama when he travels outside of the country after leaving office?

I should bloody hope so. When it comes to the GWOT Obama and Bush are hardly distinguishable from each other.

This is the sad, true fact and it is a pity that Herr Obama is not met with the same vitriol from the Left that Herr Bush received for his war crimes.

Partisans of both sides have no principles other than winning, it seems.
posted by three blind mice at 2:19 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama campaigned on closing Gitmo. He has decided to not close it.

Huh? I thought Congress went against him on that, not that he personally decided not to close it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:19 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher Obama made a pathetic and non-serious attempt at closing the physical facility at Guantanamo Bay while continuing and expanding the Bush era policies of indefinite detention.

In general when people say that Obama chose not to close Gitmo, they most likely mean that he has continued and expanded on Bush's program of putting people in cages, forever, without charges or trials. Not that he specifically failed to close the physical facility in Cuba.

I'll agree this should be phrased differently and more clearly.
posted by sotonohito at 2:22 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obama could trivially transfer all the Gitmo prisoners into U.S. prisons, thus bringing them into our civilian legal system.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:25 PM on February 7, 2011


Obama made a pathetic and non-serious attempt at closing the physical facility at Guantanamo Bay

Hey, could you post a link or two backing that up, please?

Obama could trivially transfer all the Gitmo prisoners into U.S. prisons, thus bringing them into our civilian legal system.

And a cite for this too, please! I'm curious about how trivially this could be done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:25 PM on February 7, 2011


His dog probably likes him.

I'm not sure if his dog likes anyone much.
posted by bearwife at 2:41 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


You don't think the executive branch can relocate prisoners, especially prisoners held outside the judicial branches' purview? lol

Obama is immanently free to relocate all Gitmo prisoners into federal penitentiaries, ultimately leaving them under pre-trial detainment. It's just that pre-trial detainment isn't gonna keep some detained for very long.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:08 PM on February 7, 2011


@ bearwife, talk about a dog's behavior reflecting it's owner's attitude!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:15 PM on February 7, 2011


Once place in federal penitentiaries, they'd be under the judicial branches purview and would basically be forced to let them out and/or deport them. For some of the Guantanamo detainees, I suspect deportation could be a worse option.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:16 PM on February 7, 2011


I don't want to defend Obama, as I believe he hasn't worked hard enough to close Guantanamo, but he has tried baby steps that have been thwarted at every turn by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans:

He proposed moving the Yemeni prisoners to a European prison (purportedly for their safety due to the instability in Yemen - I'm not sure I buy that) and the other prisoners to a prison in Illinois. The Republicans pitched a fit because if the prisoners came here they would A: be on American soil (Egads! Run for the hills!) and B: they would have to be prosecuted - in other words, they couldn't just sit there and rot.

All that is moot now, because the new Defense Authorization Bill specifically forbids sending Gitmo prisoners to Europe or here.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:26 PM on February 7, 2011


So, basically, he cancelled the trip in order to avoid jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Don't they have like war criminal hunters and shit to counter this stuff?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:27 PM on February 7, 2011


How many agents look after W when he travels? Maybe 3? Certainly nothing like the small paramilitary force, complete with machine guns and rockets, that travels with a sitting POTUS.

Certainly not, but I'm sure they must have a plan to either run to the nearest embassy or hunker down till the Marines come.


Wouldn't it be classic if the commander in chief basically called off military support to aid a person who wants to escape criminal proceedings at a legitimate world court?
Just saying...
Some people have fan fiction, this is what I have.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:32 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine since junior high works as a legal counsel for Amnesty International, and apparently prepared the legal argument that was sent to Switzerland. He was just interviewed on CNN Intl about this. Very proud at the moment.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:58 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


bearwife, talk about a dog's behavior reflecting it's owner's attitude!

I know, though to be an ideal reflection Barney should really be a huge slavering monster with enormous teeth who routinely bites vulnerable or unpopular people.

I would add that I think we'll all wait in vain forever for George W to express any sorrow or regret at all for his miserable treatment of detainees.
posted by bearwife at 4:11 PM on February 7, 2011


Yeah don't hold your breath waiting for that evil and incompetent man to express regret for anything. I'd love to see him prosecuted and don't believe it will ever happen. If the threat inconveniences him a little it's a mighty poor trade-off for all the lives he destroyed.
posted by leslies at 4:46 PM on February 7, 2011


BrotherCaine: "No, Obama != Bush, but he hasn't closed Guantanamo yet"

Flood: "Obama campaigned on closing Gitmo. He has decided to not close it."

jeffburdges: "Obama could trivially transfer all the Gitmo prisoners into U.S. prisons, thus bringing them into our civilian legal system."

Senate blocks transfer of Gitmo detainees
In a rare, bipartisan defeat for President Barack Obama, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open for the foreseeable future and forbid the transfer of any detainees to facilities in the United States. Democrats lined up with Republicans in the 90-6 vote that came on the heels of a similar move a week ago in the House, underscoring widespread apprehension among Obama's congressional allies over voters' strong feelings about bringing detainees to the U.S. from the prison in Cuba.
House bars moving Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil
The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation to prohibit moving terrorism suspects from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil, a blow to President Barack Obama's efforts to prosecute them in criminal courts. The proposed legislation prevents moving such prisoners to the United States under any circumstances by prohibiting the administration from spending any money to do so.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:25 PM on February 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Attention well intentioned non-USians. Should you choose to arrest and prosecute an ex-POTUS for war crimes or violations of international law we will turn your cities to glass and feast upon the blood of your children. Just FYI. Seriously the reactionary shitstorm of my fellow USians would be very awful and force the hand of policymakers. You think drawing cartoons of certain religious figures is a bad concept, you have no idea what a terrible thing you would unleash. Just drop it. Win the Future. Spend your days working to make tomorrow better. America eventually deals with the past, but for our leaders we are going to have to do it on our terms. You can prod us into doing the right thing but that's all.
posted by humanfont at 6:20 PM on February 7, 2011


Surely this . . .

Too late?

*ducks*

posted by gompa at 7:30 PM on February 7, 2011


And don't call me Shirley.
posted by Evilspork at 8:09 PM on February 7, 2011


Attention well intentioned non-USians...

Thanks, ironically, to the destruction of our domestic economy by the Bush administration, the days of such unilateral announcements have long passed - we're too reliant at this point on the support of the global economy to support such silliness. It'll be at least a decade, if not longer, before we financially recover from the disaster of the Bush administration, and we'll need the good will of our allies, many of whom signed CAT, to do so.

In fact, we may very well curry quite a bit of favor by handing over Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Gonzales, Rice, and so on to The Hague to demonstrate America's commitment to global peace & prosperity, to close the door on a decade of political insanity. Personally speaking, he won't be missed - Bush is an embarrassment to this country. He'll get prison time here in the States, possibly with his cronies, America would regain some honor, and life would go on.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:21 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


America eventually deals with the past

Bwahahahaaaaa.

Ahem, I mean "citation, please".
posted by pompomtom at 1:55 AM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I follow the Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme (International Federation for Human Rights) on Facebook and they've been talking about it for a few days now. Pretty clear he cancelled in order to avoid prosecution - FIDH article on Bush's indictment here. Quote from it:
Today [7 February], two torture victims were to have filed criminal complaints, with more than 2,500-pages of supporting material, in Geneva against former U.S. President George W. Bush, who was due to speak at an event there on 12 February. Swiss law requires the presence of the torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be opened. When Bush cancelled his trip to avoid prosecution, the human rights groups who prepared the complaints made it public and announced that the Bush Torture Indictment would be waiting wherever he travels next. The Indictment serves as the basis on which to prepare country-specific, plaintiff-specific indictments, with additional evidence and updated information. According to international law experts at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), former presidents do not enjoy special immunity under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
posted by fraula at 2:44 AM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi How about, instead of seeking money to transfer them to other cages, forever, without trials or charges, he just lets them go? Why isn't that on the table?

9 years of torture, held in prison without any legal recourse or even the faintest promise of legal recourse, I'd say that's more than enough punishment even if they were ever guilty of anything. And we know perfectly well that most of them weren't guilty of anything but being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The solution to Guantanamo Bay doesn't require any Congressional funding or approval. Open the doors and give them a ticket to wherever they ask for. End of problem.

It isn't perfect. In an ideal world they'd get a few million each in reparations for the evils inflicted upon them, preferably paid from a special tax on Bush voters.

But what possible purpose is served in keeping a bunch of random people swept up for no real reason in cages forever? Any chance of real justice is long past, thanks to Bush's enthusiasm for torture there's no evidence that can possibly be used against even the very few who might possibly have been guilty of something. The only sane, sensible, and reasonable solution is to simply let them go.

And, of course, to explain in simple words that the reason we have to let them go is because Bush fucked things up by the numbers. That for even the very worst, the ones who really should be in prison, we don't have any admissible evidence because Bush was a moron cowboy who just really wanted to torture people and thanks to that we have the choice of either surrendering what America is supposed to stand for, or letting them go.

But, of course, that would require that Obama be "partisan" and he'll never, ever, do that. Far better to give his stamp of approval to the idea of keeping people in cages, forever, without bothering with trials. Why, he'd have to actually admit Bush did something wrong if he was to take another course of action, and that wouldn't be "looking forward, not backward".

Or, hell, if Obama isn't willing to just do the right thing, he could put a deadline on it. Tell Congress that unless each and every one of the people held in Guantanamo gets a fair trail, in a real court not a military kangaroo court, where every scrap of tainted evidence is thrown out, within 6 months he'll have no choice but to simply open the doors and let them free.

"In this time of tight budgets, America simply cannot afford the expense of holding people prisoner when they have never been shown to have committed any crimes. Unless Congress approves of fair, civilian, trials for 100% of the detainees at Guantanamo within 6 months I will have no choice but to release all prisoners there."
posted by sotonohito at 4:23 AM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


sotonohito writes "The solution to Guantanamo Bay doesn't require any Congressional funding or approval. Open the doors and give them a ticket to wherever they ask for. End of problem."

The problem is the US has given those people great cause to be eternally pissed at the US. No one wants to risk the shit storm that would occur if one of the released detainees bombs a bus in London or something. So even though the right thing to do is to hand the detainees a stack of cash and send them on their way I don't think that is ever going to happen.
posted by Mitheral at 4:30 AM on February 8, 2011


The solution to Guantanamo Bay doesn't require any Congressional funding or approval. Open the doors and give them a ticket to wherever they ask for. End of problem.

The problem is there are no countries willing to let them get off the plane at the other end of the trip, especially the hardcore ones. Then what do you do?
posted by humanfont at 5:27 AM on February 8, 2011


It's a beginning, as was Judge Garzon's attempt
to bring Gonzalez, Addington et al to justice.
Mr Bush must now realize that as the fences prohibit the free movement of those in Guantanamo who have never stood trial so the fences are slowly being built around him and his ilk. In a perfect world maybe one day he and some of his morally redundant cronies might find themselves hounded by say the State of California or the City of San Francisco and slowly the drawstrings will draw tighter and prohibit the movement of these despicable people. Humanfont you may wave your flag and stamp your little feet but let me point out to you that from this side of the Atlantic the viewpoint is very different and the more embarrassment that is heaped in the direction of these morally corrupt and repugnant persons the better. It is now up to the main stream media to do their job and report this world wide. Slowly the message should be heard. Torture and restriction of liberty is not acceptable in a civilized democratic society and those who think it is must learn to pay the price.
posted by adamvasco at 5:32 AM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What hardcore ones? We know, thanks to Wikileaks, that pretty much everyone at Guantanamo Bay is just some random schmo who got a warlord pissed at them, or just got picked up in a sweep by US forces.

If the question of "where do they go" is that hard, then the answer is "they get US citizenship and they go to the USA". Our fuck up, our responsibility. If they bomb any buses here, well that's our penalty for being evil.

But closing Guantanamo isn't hard. It doesn't even require Congressional action. If Congress gets mulish Obama can simply invoke his powers of Presidential pardon and pardon every single person there. And he should threaten to do exactly that unless the detainees get real trials within 6 months.

But he's too much of a pissant "centrist" to do that. Thanks to his cowardice and refusal to be "partisan" not only will there never, ever, be even a truth commission (much less trials for Bush and his fellow war criminals), but we'll be keeping those people in cages until either they die under torture (as has happened to an absolute, rock bottom, minimum of 100 people held by US forces) or until they die of old age.

That is the single, absolute, worst thing Obama has done: he's given the stamp of bipartisanship to human rights abuses and war crimes. Those prisoners are Obama's prisoners now, and he's shown America that all his lies to the contrary he's a firm believer in keeping people in cages, forever, without the fuss and bother of trials or even charges.
posted by sotonohito at 6:06 AM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Actually sotonohito the Gitmo review task force has identified prisoners who can be immediately released as soon as a third party takes them (more than half). Of the remaining 36 will be prosecuted and 48 are subject to indefinite detention under the rules of war, subject to regular review. They are not all random schmo's for example KSM is certainly a key operational leader of Al Qaeda and played a major role in 9-11. How many Gitmo prisoners have been offered asylum in Switzerland?

he and some of his morally redundant cronies might find themselves hounded by say the State of California or the City of San Francisco

Not likely. A state or city prosecutor will have a hard time issuing a lawful indictment or arrest warrant. Federal Courts would quash either before they got near the former President.

Internationally things will be much more complicated. Mostly the embassy personal will have to do even more paperwork before an ex-US President visits a country. Generally an ex-president would be protected from prosecution abroad under the doctrine of Head of State Immunity (indepth article), (wikipedia summary)

In fact the Swiss Justice Ministry has stated that Bush would not be subject to prosecution should he visit.

The bigger question is there at 136 people who can go free tomorrow provided they would be allowed to return to their country of origin or some third country that would take them.
posted by humanfont at 6:57 AM on February 8, 2011


Re: the innocent victims. No third party is stepping up to take them. If they aren't out in a week or two they should be given US citizenship, a couple million dollars, and invited to live in the USA. That should have happened within two weeks of Obama's inauguration, instead he's kept them locked up for an extra two years and no release in sight.

Re: the 36 scheduled for prosecution: Hollow laughter. Will the be getting real trials, or military kangaroo courts? Will evidence gathered via torture be admitted? More important, when will those 36 trials be taking place? We've had them in cages without trial for over nine years already, Obama has kept them in cages without a trial for two years. You really believe for one moment that they'll ever get trials?

Re: the 48 who Obama has sworn will never, ever, get trials. Yeah, that's blatantly evil, unconstitutional, and outright anti-American. I don't give a damn if they're kept in Cuba or Chicago, I don't care if "Guantanamo Bay" closes, if we're holding people, forever, without charges or trials then America is over and Obama is guilty of crimes against humanity.

"[...] subject to the rules of war" What war? Are we at war? I didn't see a declaration of war from Congress. What rules of war allow you to hold someone in a cage, forever, without a trial or charges?

If you mean "the War on Terror" that's just a weasel-speak way of saying "we're holding them forever". When will this "war" end? When will we have defeated "terror"? Last I checked our other big war on a word ("drugs") has been going on for 40 years now and shows not the least, slightest, sign of ever ending.

If you mean "those 48 people will never, ever, get a trial, and will never, ever, be let out of their cages because Obama says so and I kind of agree" I'd recommend you stop with the weasel words and just outright say it. Then reflect on the fact that you've agreed with an action that is outright evil by anyone's standards.

The 48 people Obama has sworn to keep in cages, forever, are not prisoners of war. We aren't at war. They aren't soldiers. And this "war" will never end. It isn't like WWII where we capture Nazis and keep them in a nice, clean, non-torture filled, prison camp until Hitler surrenders and then they go home. There is no end in sight for this "war", there is no endgame here except keeping them in cages (can't say "prison", they haven't been convicted or even charged with crimes, so they aren't prisoners and the place they are kept isn't a prison) forever.
posted by sotonohito at 7:23 AM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


The 48 being held arn't criminals. Their detention is under the rules of war. Their detention is subject to periodic review, so while it is for an indefinite period of time it need not be forever. They may challenge their status through the courts. Thus their detention is entirely constitutional. Congress has blocked allowing any Gitmo detainees from entering the US. You have to change that law first. you can't just go around screaming it's unconstitutional when the courts disagree.
posted by humanfont at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2011


What war? We aren't at war with any nation.
posted by sotonohito at 7:55 AM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nation of Terror
posted by Burhanistan at 7:57 AM on February 8, 2011


And, again, stop weaseling. It is forever and claims to the contrary are total nonsense. If you disagree, please show me the exact sequence of events that will result in the release of those 48 people. Or, realistically, any people currently kept in cages at Guantanamo. You can talk all you like about trials, but there isn't any real move to give them trials.

We've got the same legal black hole that Obama campaigned against, but now he's claimed it as his black hole and he loves it.

We the people of the United States of America are allowing our elected representatives to keep people in cages, without even proving in a court that those people belong in cages, forever. You can weasel about "periodic review" all you want, but that's just weaseling. It comes down to the same thing: the President decreed that someone was bad, and without having to prove it anywhere, the President gets to torture those people and stuff them into a cage forever. Or, thanks to Obama's new expanded extra Constitutional claims of power, the President can simply get the CIA to assassinate anyone he dislikes merely by claiming that the person is a "terrorist".

And you don't see anything wrong with this?
posted by sotonohito at 8:00 AM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ex-presidents are not covered under Head of State Immunity. Bush could theoretically be prosecuted if he traveled to a CAT signatory.

In fact, I'd imagine the Bush Six, Bush himself, and other Bush administration officials will eventually be indicted abroad for crimes against humanity, but they'll never be prosecuted without both their own lawyers seriously screwing up and a significant decline in U.S. economic influence. Indictments are inexpensive show that cost little and gain you politically, while prosecutions may cost political capital.

Henry Kissinger has continued to travel abroad despite having been indicted by France for war crimes that he directed under Operation Condor. Every time he travels, he must ask the State Department to obtain promises not to prosecute or extradite him. And now Bush & co. must obtain the same promissory notes every time they travel abroad.

I'd imagine Bush doesn't much care that his travel plans must now involve the State Dept. given they already involve the Secret Service. There are however lesser officials from his administration who'll never get the same speedy treatment by the State Dept. and may experience significant inconvenience.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:10 AM on February 8, 2011


Is there a site that details the all various Bush administration officials who've been involved in crimes against humanity?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:13 AM on February 8, 2011


Start arresting former American officials abroad and we will be obligated to do the same when ex-officials from those countries travel here. It is a bad idea.
posted by humanfont at 8:40 AM on February 8, 2011


Who is this we you are talking about and on behalf of?
posted by adamvasco at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Start arresting former American officials abroad and we will be obligated to do the same when ex-officials from those countries travel here. It is a bad idea

That's pretty vague. If anything, it would be a direct reciprocal thing, not some general directive to arrest people. How many Swiss politicians are under US indictment?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2011


"Let's tell him that he won a motor boat and he has to go to Switzerland to pick it up."
You just know he'd take the mystery box instead.
posted by howling fantods at 9:32 AM on February 8, 2011


The solution to Guantanamo Bay doesn't require any Congressional funding or approval. Open the doors and give them a ticket to wherever they ask for. End of problem.

It doesn't seem to be that simple.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2011


Start arresting former American officials abroad and we will be obligated to do the same when ex-officials from those countries travel here. It is a bad idea.

Heaven forfend the US adhere to the rule of law.
posted by pompomtom at 8:29 PM on February 8, 2011


The Institutionalization of Torture—Six Questions for Cherif Bassiouni a law professor at DePaul University in Chicago, and one of the key authors of the Convention Against Torture is one of the world’s preeminent experts in international criminal law, particularly from the prosecutor’s perspective.
posted by adamvasco at 11:49 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


George Bush and the turn to human rights in the Arab world: Some have linked the emergence of a strong human rights agenda in the Arab world with the policies of the last American president. In a way they are right: post-9/11 abuses overseen by the Bush administration were the tragedy that brought to light the urgency of claiming rights.
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


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