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And You Thought Orwell Wrote Fiction
March 7, 2011 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Obama creates indefinite detention system for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The announcements, coming more than two years after Obama vowed in another executive order to close the detention center, all but cements Guantanamo Bay's continuing role in U.S. counterterrorism policy.
posted by valkane (310 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
In the executive order, it says that the Secretary of State “shall evaluate humane treatment assurances in all cases,” consistent with the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on Interrogations and his anti-torture executive order from 2009. I wonder if that all applies to Bradley Manning.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:22 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


"I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system - including [federal] Article III Courts - to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened."

Nothing says American system of justice like Guatanamo.
posted by birdherder at 9:30 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm starting to wonder if it would've been better to elect McCain. All of the same crappy foreign policy and lack of domestic civil liberties, and none of the worse-than-the-status-quo the healthcare debacle turned into.

OTOH, we'd be at war with Iran.

Instead of Yemen. Dammit.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


But of course...
The Obama administration has sought to "close" the camp only in the most meaningless sense of that word:  by moving its defining injustice -- indefinite, due-process-free detention -- a few thousand miles north onto U.S. soil.  But the crux of the Guantanamo travesty -- indefinite detention -- is something the Obama administration has long planned to preserve, and that has nothing to do with what Congress has or has not done.  Indeed, Gul was one of the 50 detainees designated by Obama for that repressive measure.  Thus, had Gul survived, the Obama administration would have sought to keep him imprisoned indefinitely without any pretense of charging him with a crime -- neither in a military commission nor a real court.  Instead, they would have simply continued the Bush/Cheney policy of imprisoning him indefinitely without any charges.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The machine is bigger than Obama. The machine has eaten Obama, and he is but another cog in it now, enabling it to continue eating.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [63 favorites]


I still can't get past the cognitive dissonance of the US having a military/detention facility in Cuba. I think I'll go get a job working for a landmine manufacturer.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unlike a lot of my fellow liberals, I'm pretty happy with a lot of what Obama has done, and I think his accomplishments are significant. The healthcare bill is a step in the right direction, and I think it was the best that could get through Congress. The Fair Pay act is great. In a lot of ways, I'm getting what I expected from Obama, and I'm still a supporter.

Except that, by far, the top priority for me was that Obama would take serious steps to reverse Bush's abysmal and frightening record on Civil Rights. That is the most important issue in our country, and it's going to be cold comfort if my daughter is guaranteed a far wage and my wife knows she will have health insurance in spite of her pre-existing conditions, but any one of us can have our laptops seized at the airport, or be labeled an enemy combatant and thrown into detention in Cuba. I realize we won't, not this year or the next, or the next after that. But powers that can be abused eventually will be abused. The chance that my grandkids will live in a real police state are going up and up.

So in the end, Obama is turning out to be a major disappointment. I yet, I don't know which potential candidate I could trust to do better. Kucinich, maybe, but the odds of him becoming president are only slightly better than the odds that Bradley Manning will be home for Christmas.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [75 favorites]


Why am I reminded of Douglas Adams' old analogy about voting for a lizard or else the wrong lizard would win?
posted by JHarris at 9:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The machine is bigger than Obama. The machine has eaten Obama, and he is but another cog in it now, enabling it to continue eating.

Reminds me of this bit from The Grapes of Wrath:

"We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man."

"Yes, but the bank is only made of men."

"No, you’re wrong there–quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [149 favorites]


Methinks that no matter what it says on the tin, they are all owned by the same brand.
posted by valkane at 9:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Can anyone offer insight into why Obama would commit himself to supporting the absolute travesty that is Guantanamo?? Obama's a lawyer, and surely any lawyer knows that holding people indefinitely without trial is antithetical to the ideals of the American justice system, even if it's technically legal. What an insult, what a shame, what a desecration and perversion of our justice system.

I want to believe that this is some kind of political Aikido, where he somehow flips the Republicans on their backs with the force of their own zealotry, but I just don't see the angle.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sooooooo habeas corpus is still dead if the president labels you an enemy of the state? Oh well it was a nice dream wasn't it. Somewhere in the back of my cynical head I too dared hope that Obama would undo the damage that previous administrations had done to the constitution. Don't worry America; just roll back over and go to sleep.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:41 PM on March 7, 2011


Surely this....

oh, wait, I forgot, he's on 'our team'. Cognitive dissonance, engage!
posted by Malor at 9:41 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can anyone offer insight into why Obama would commit himself to supporting the absolute travesty that is Guantanamo??

We can only be certain that it is something other than his agreement with the policy.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I voted against this sort of thing.
posted by wrapper at 9:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


Sooooooo habeas corpus is still dead

"The detainees will continue to have the right to petition the federal courts under the doctrine of habeas corpus."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:47 PM on March 7, 2011


Ugh.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 PM on March 7, 2011


Can anyone offer insight into why Obama would commit himself to supporting the absolute travesty that is Guantanamo??

I would really like to know, too. His administration is really underestimating how fed-up citizens are getting about our civil rights staying eroded. Honestly, this is going to tarnish an otherwise decent presidency.

Joe Beese: We can only be certain that it is something other than his agreement with the policy.

What a weird thing to say. Unless you know him personally, I can't imagine why you'd make this claim.
posted by spiderskull at 9:50 PM on March 7, 2011


Hahahaha. Oh man. Hahahaha.

The democratic party: when idealism meets reality, bad things happen. Promises turn into lies.

Whatever. I want my free health care damn it. And I want some money too while your at it. I deserve it. And no more war. It's just so mean.
posted by stevenstevo at 9:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reminds me of this bit from The Grapes of Wrath

Seems more Faustian to me. I don't buy the argument that the buck doesn't stop anywhere; that responsibility for our collective action is ethereal.

The detainees will continue to have the right to petition the federal courts under the doctrine of habeas corpus.

I hope you will understand if I don't really believe a word of it. Either way let me know how that works out for them, and if they are ever charged with anything let alone tried in a court of law.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:51 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh, wait, I forgot, he's on 'our team'. Cognitive dissonance, engage!

Another baffling assertion. Who are these people that are unconditional cheerleaders of the Obama administration on this site? A lot of us support most of his policies, sure, but that doesn't mean we agree with everything. Most people here have a sense nuance and are pretty rational.
posted by spiderskull at 9:52 PM on March 7, 2011


What a weird thing to say. Unless you know him personally, I can't imagine why you'd make this claim.

Preemption my boy, preemption. A time honored doctrine among our people. Loosely based of the golden rule. "Do unto them before they do you."
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


His administration is really underestimating how fed-up citizens are getting about our civil rights

I wish it was.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:57 PM on March 7, 2011


Preemption my boy, preemption.

Stop calling Obama Hitler. And enough of saying "the n-word."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


re: Obama generally: During the campaign and for the first year or so after the election, I heard pundits talk about how "normal" he was, how bereft he was of the personality flaws and deep-seated issues which have plagued so many US presidents. Yet more and more I feel there is something really strange and off about him, ... and I find myself completely baffled by him, by his political behaviours, and by the chasm between his stated values and his acts. (I think the best description and analysis of him has come from Yale's David Bromwich, writing variously at the London Review of Books, NY Review of books, and the Huffington Post)
posted by Auden at 9:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find myself completely baffled by him... the chasm between his stated values and his acts

In other contexts, it's known as being a liar.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:03 PM on March 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


You know what would be awesome? A real, meaningful progressive political base the Democrats had to answer to. You know, like the Tea Party, but instead of being centered around "small government, but only with regards to money" and "Where's the Birth Certificate?" it would be about "upholding the will of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority" and "decisively winning wars but only entering those we must" and actually remembering what liberty and justice are all about.

These last detainees better be secret superbeings who need to be kept under lock and key forever. That is basically all I can come up with that explains this epic flip-flop by Obama.

Yes, flip-flop. I said it. And it makes me sad and angry to do so.
posted by andreaazure at 10:04 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can anyone offer insight into why Obama would commit himself to supporting the absolute travesty that is Guantanamo??

My guess is, a political calculation of the form "If there's another terrorist attack, and we've closed Guantanamo, our (Obama + advisors) presidency is doomed," and the really depressing part is that they are probably right to think that. I think what Obama is colluding with is polls.
posted by furiousthought at 10:04 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Welcome to normal US politics, Joe Beese! This is mainstream politics.
posted by josher71 at 10:05 PM on March 7, 2011


Stop calling Obama Hitler. And enough of saying "the n-word."

What in sam hill are you talking about? You have heard of the Bush doctrine right?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:05 PM on March 7, 2011


Man, I don't know anymore whether it's better to vote for someone who promises to do all the right things and then doesn't, or someone who promises to do all the wrong things and stays true to their word.

The tragedy of American politics.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:14 PM on March 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


What in sam hill are you talking about?

I am pre-empting you calling him Hitler.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:19 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And in case anyone else's brain went there.
posted by mykescipark at 10:23 PM on March 7, 2011


Based on the behavior I've witnessed since the election, Republicans will now call for the closing of Guantanamo.
posted by Ratio at 10:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


I am pre-empting you calling him Hitler.

Ah, ok. Well you seem to have pulled a "Bush" and preempted something that was never going to happen.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:26 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's the Bradley Manning torture that gets me. Words don't even. The guy is a citizen *and* a half-million people had easy access to the files. For this, plain and startlingly public torture? WTF has it come to this?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


More Jedi master 7 dimension chess!
posted by Ad hominem at 10:53 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can anyone offer insight into why Obama would commit himself to supporting the absolute travesty that is Guantanamo?

No, it's all Obama.
There are no other branches of government in the U.S. that would do anything like restricting funding to transfer anyone from Gitmo for prosecution in federal court.
Not surprising no one remembers that. It was almost 3 whole months ago. (Were they all Republicans then? Must've been. They're the bad guys, yeah? Along with Obama? I forget how this works, Democrats are Republicans when? On the other hand, the President appears to be vested with both Legislative and Judicial powers, so...)

The "political Aikido" move seems to be (and has been through circumstances) handing it off to the judges.

I don't know. What else are you supposed to do when your own party says "fuck you" to human rights?

Reading the actual order, it looks like it's a yearly review of sufficiency and efficacy of transfer efforts.

("Transfer efforts" being the political hot potato the democratic Congress seems to have handed off to the GOP while shrugging their shoulders. 'Man, the GOP is just so bad ass they stopped us from doing justice even while we held the white house and congress. Sorry folks)

Which appears to be the biggest "Oh yeah? Fuck you too" Obama can muster at this time.

I mean it's pretty plain there in Sec. 8.: "Legality of Detention. The process established under this order does not address the legality of any detainee's law of war detention. If, at any time during the periodic review process established in this order, material information calls into question the legality of detention, the matter will be referred immediately to the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General for appropriate action."

Which means "look, Holder and I want to do this, I've ordered the SecDef to do it, it would have gotten done if you hadn't cut my funding, I think I'm going to be back, doesn't look like you will be."

Which, actually, is a ballsy statement and, considering the comments here, perhaps naive.

(Y'all want the detention "law of war" b.s. repealed vote in a congress that will rescind the Enabling Act that is the AUMF, before we get someone in office who'll use it as such.)

It's clear that Obama won't. Because, most importantly, this executive order doesn't assent to the legality of the detention policies. It's challengable. And pretty obviously so. It sets up a target. There's now SOMETHING to challenge, whereas before there was NOTHING.
Bushco would just go uh ... president WARRGGGBLE9/11GBBLEGBLEGBLE.

While I do have a beef with what the order says about the current detainees, what's critical is that it does not apply to future captures despite the "ooh, lookit how tough we are on terrorism" rhetoric.
In a sense there he is flipping the GOP since they've long argued for more and broader powers. Argue against this and you look soft on terror.
(QED look how Orwellian folks here think this is. Not that I'm contesting that. It does look that way. I just don't get the sudden loss of basic understanding of the U.S. form of government.)

So, it's a carload of nasty, but it's limited to just 'this' carload of nasty perpetrated only against 'these particular' people in Gitmo now.

Which, I don't know how anyone is going to handle in terms of legality without giant carloads of shit in the first place.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed for example. Solid evidence against him for a number of things regardless of 9/11.

And! The Pentagon dropped military charged against him eons ago (January this year - here's an overview from the NYT from around then.).
So! You can't try him in a military tribunal.
But! He's been held so damn long in violation of his rights and the entire legal apparatus was so screwed up by the former administration and the former and current political climate - how do you give him a fair trial?

Well, you can't really. If congress won't let you. The law constrains you. You have to - what, create this ad hoc piece of b.s. that the courts are going to kick the hell out of as soon as anyone puts a hand to it because while they might get political at times the one thing courts really really hate is a usurpation of their power.

Which is what the (D) congress did to the executive branch before they checked out.

I might be wrong about Obama's intent. Perhaps he isn't that smart or noble.
But that's pretty much how it lies either way.

And I don't think there's some big conspiracy and Obama has been co-opted or something like that.
I mean, if I put my tinfoil hat on I'd say it would be a good idea to fold some federal appeals court judges into my cards to make this, and other decisions like this, go the way I wanted.

But *scoff* you'd have to have done that years ago.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [60 favorites]


--The tragedy of American politics.--

That's the American people stupidly believing that the president can do anything he wants.
"The administration's original plans to create a detention center in the United States and prosecute some detainees in federal court have all but collapsed in the face of bipartisan congressional opposition."
posted by peacay at 10:57 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Between this and the complete lack of serious financial regulation & reform on the part of his administration, he's used up all the goodwill I have left for him. Fuck this guy.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wait, Smedleyman, you actually went and read the thing, rather than simply use the headline as a trigger for a jerking knee?

Bad precedent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


My guess is, a political calculation of the form "If there's another terrorist attack, and we've closed Guantanamo, our (Obama + advisors) presidency is doomed,"

I think it's simpler than that - what can possibly be done with the prisoners?

1. So many of them cannot be convicted because either they're innocent, or there isn't sufficient evidence.
2. The countries they were abducted from won't take them back.
3. If they didn't have a burning hatred for America then, and weren't dangerous, they sure as hell are now.

Is Obama just going to give these people greencards and release them into US cities, and ask each and every one of them nicely to please not avenge the crimes perpetrated against themselves? Shit is going to get nasty, and it would be an outrage to voters.

What else can he do with them?

My impression is that all the ones that can be repatriated or shoved off onto other countries have already been shuffled out, and that leaves... a lot of prisoners, a big problem (and a bigger travesty).
posted by -harlequin- at 11:06 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Oh, and 4. Even if you fly to country X and leave them there, in some cases you are releasing an innocent man who, thanks to your mistreatment, will immediately start working on revenge. Americans will see it as a lethal betrayal of their boys in uniform.

tl;dr Some of these guys are completely innocent, but thanks to incompetence and abuse, could be reasonably assumed to be itching to kill. We don't like Minority Report, and that leaves... ?
posted by -harlequin- at 11:12 PM on March 7, 2011


Obama is president, not a dictator. He cannot do anything and everything he wants. He is confined by what the other branches of the government allow.

Read Smedlyman's comment for starters.


I feel like half of the people who voted for Obama expected him to be some super hero who would somehow bulldoze through ALL of the other people in this nation who do not agree with him. Acknowledging the political reality of America allows you to adjust your expectations, which, in my opinion, makes him exactly the leader I expected in 2008.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:23 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's goddamn impossible to get people who are not extremely civically engaged to even care about this issue, much less to come out on the right side of it.

My parents. Compassionate, college-educated liberals; pro-healthcare, pro-choice. Don't know more about Gitmo than "it's a prison where they keep terrorists."

This affects so few people in the immediate term that to get people excited about it you need to get them excited about abstract stuff like justice and due process. That's really hard to do, and you can't really deploy Fox News-style alarmist rhetoric to help you, either. No one is going to believe that 20 years down the line they're going to be indefinitely detaining people for reading Al Franken books or whatever.
posted by eugenen at 11:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's nice to see who's still running the country.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


tl;dr Some of these guys are completely innocent, but thanks to incompetence and abuse, could be reasonably assumed to be itching to kill. We don't like Minority Report, and that leaves... ?

Killing them off via a botched "escape attempt".
posted by benzenedream at 11:41 PM on March 7, 2011


One of the benefits of dual citizenship is being able to travel on a non-U.S. passport. You know, for those times when you are very ashamed. I thought those times may have passed with GWB gone. They can be so lacking in understanding in those foreign places. And it takes too long to explain. And what if you don't want to lie or excuse anymore. Passport? Oh, here's one!
posted by VikingSword at 11:45 PM on March 7, 2011


I feel like half of the people who voted for Obama expected him to be some super hero who would somehow bulldoze through ALL of the other people in this nation who do not agree with him.

No, i expected him and the other democrats (or non-republican/tea party) i voted for, to actually "do" something. Like the repubs do and are doing, or at least trying to do in Wisconsin. Too much has been "Well, we don't want to push it do we?", but then just try for one thing, or part of a thing. Meanwhile, repubs push through the patriot act with some of the dems voting for it, let them keep this travesty open, torture Manning and push for treason on Wikileaks. I didn't expect a superhero, but i also didn't expect so many promises to be farted away. He's blown it frankly, i don't see a way he will win 2012 by any chance unless the only other choices are just so terrible, like Palin. Even then though, i'm seeing all the votes split in smaller groups, and a much closer race. Honestly, i'm kind of hoping he doesn't make it past the primaries, because he's pissing me off almost as much as Walker is doing here in Wisconsin.
posted by usagizero at 11:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is Obama just going to give these people greencards and release them into US cities, and ask each and every one of them nicely to please not avenge the crimes perpetrated against themselves? Shit is going to get nasty, and it would be an outrage to voters.

What else can he do with them?


He could always just shoot them, which would probably please the hell out of Congressional critters.

I just don't really buy this argument though, and you acknowledge that following it to its end leads to a travesty. Really though, I think it apt to look at the American penal system itself. A system that has consistently incarcerated people falsely and on flimsy evidence. I think it would be interesting to find out some information about those people, it might perhaps provide some insight on what we could expect were we to release anyone who has been held on flimsy evidence or is innocent at GITMO.

The U.S. prison system has essentially made torture part of the punishment regime. Prison rape (sometimes condoned and committed by corrections staff), solitary confinement etc. We've carried over this psychotic, punitive prison structure to the military - GITMO, CIA black sites, Abu Ghraib, for example.

So what kind of rates of revenge seeking and recidivism do we see in the American population of the falsely imprisoned? I know I haven't heard about too many. So what is it that we think makes releasing foreign detainees who are falsely imprisoned into the United States proper so dangerous? The fact that their foreign? Muslim? Why are they dangerous but Bob serving a wrongful life sentence in Nebraska isn't?
posted by IvoShandor at 11:47 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wait, Smedleyman, you actually went and read the thing, rather than simply use the headline as a trigger for a jerking knee?


To be fair I read it as poorly as I could.

"Reading the actual order, it looks like it's a yearly review of sufficiency and efficacy of transfer efforts."

'Skimming' I should have said. Tri-yearly review. Within one year.

Really, what sort of what makes all of this more dangerous - giving Obama the best possible intents - it's a holding action. Perhaps necessary. Perhaps - again, given best intentions - perhaps incrementally better.
But in the aggregate, that makes it worse.
(In part because these are genuine common interests, but I'm not going to kick anyone for buying in to the celebrity thing expecting the one man hero - genuine interest is no longer the basis for cultural thinking. Most media input is produced by advertising copywriters trying to persuade everyone to be as extroverted and uninhibitedly self-centered as possible - since unless you're pissed off about superficial crap you won't spend time and effort and most importantly money on anything those people are trying to sell. Man, I listened to podcasts from liberal talk radio and the right wing stuff - "buy gold" is pretty much all I heard. Same form of yammer though. Hate those idiots. Funny - you'd think people catch on that power loving extroverts saying "I am the only way to truth" might be harmful, even self-destructive, to a society. Until you realize that message is just a sham for the more destructive "hey buy this" that follows, seeming to answer the wordless question posed by the anger. Whatever the anger's form. Even then, the people behind it don't realize the problem with creating mass restlessness and discontent and then trying to control it to profit? Makes less sense than the underpants gnomes business model.)

But I digress ... the end result of this artificial division is that we're laid out one by one or in small groups (whoever the perpetrators, whatever the form, the system itself becomes the engine).

Because it's only 'these' (what, 147?) guys in Gitmo in the executive order.
The way it was only Jose Padilla.

I mean, what, we leave this all hanging? It's a Mulligan? We just let them leave? We make policy up as we go to achieve political ends regardless of the law? What?

Obama (again, at best) is settling it by saying "Ok, it's this."
Which, yeah I agree sucks substantively, but is great procedurally (IANAL, IJLBW).

The Padilla thing - there are questions from that situation that are completely unresolved.
Bushco dodged the court challenge which did immense harm to the country. It showed that you could - practically speaking - do whatever you want to someone if you hold presidential office.
Not legally. Not within the system. But you could game it.
And, importantly, no redress. At least so far.

I mean, Lincoln had the whole country at war to justify ignoring habeus corpus and everyone agreed afterward that shouldn't have happened and people were passionately upset about the president having too much power. Which was good.
Not shooting someone in the head good, but y'know, wasn't until WWII "The President" really commanded serious power again, politics and charisma aside.

As it sits we, congress, the president, all know, and the courts have said again, we can't hold people indefinitely...

...

Aaaand, let's go have some lunch.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:00 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


3. If they didn't have a burning hatred for America then, and weren't dangerous, they sure as hell are now.

Your theory that people who are innocently locked up necessarily turn violent is patently false. Please recall that Afghan allies simply kidnapped random people and sold them to the US as 'terrorists' for cash. There's no reason to believe they hated America (more than any sane person would) to begin with, or that they'll turn violent today if released.
posted by klue at 12:04 AM on March 8, 2011


So now it's not Obama's fault, but the democrats? So who should we vote for in Congressional elections? Granted Obama kind of had his hands tied on this one.

That being said Guantanamo needs to be closed now, as in today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, or next year. It is an affront to our system of justice and governance and is a repugnant stain on our reputation and legacy. No amount of nuance and political maneuvering will change my opinion on this.

This is all a smokescreen anyway to distract the American people from the reality of what Guantanamo represents - the tip of the iceberg and public face of our international system of black prisons. But Obama ordered those closed right?

Our Secret 'Black Jail' in Afghanistan

ICRC Confirms Existence of Second Secret Prison at Bagram, BBC Reports Torture (BBC Story)

Not to mention the "loopholes" in the ban on torture.

Torture under Obama

Obama’s Torture Loopholes

Obama’s Interrogation Policy and the Use of Torture in the Army Field Manual

Now supposedly all of this was supposed to be taken care of in late January 2009 by Executive Orders 13491, 13492, 13493. But I guess if closing Guantanamo is such a problem then closing black sites is probably an even bigger headache.

The Manning situation is just the cherry on top. WTF Obama? So what you guys are going to claim is that the President of the United States of America can't get the JCS on the phone and order them to treat Pvt. Manning humanly? I mean seriously WTF?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:07 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oops, forgot these two:

In Iraq, Torture and Secret Prisons Continue

Fresh claims US is running secret prison in Afghanistan
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:11 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


The machine is bigger than Obama. The machine has eaten Obama, and he is but another cog in it now, enabling it to continue eating.
There is a creature. It has to feed.
It stops at nothing to fill its need.
The people live in gruesome squalor,
So that the creature may grow taller.
Those with nothing have to bleed,
To help the creature spread its seed.
They learn to dine on fecal matter,
So that the creature may grow fatter.

The creature tells of evil gnomes,
Coming to destroy our homes.
And trolls who come with gun and knife,
To threaten our way of life.
The creature has enslaved our town,
But no one thinks to bring it down.
Provided with so much distraction,
The people can't be moved to action.

And when the people are all dead,
Still the creature needs its bread.
When we've been sucked completely dry,
The creature needs its food supply
(a parasite cannot survive unless its host remains alive.)

It has amassed such awesome wealth,
Maybe it can eat itself.
(Sleepytime Gorilla Museum)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I feel like half of the people who voted for Obama expected him to be some super hero who would somehow bulldoze through ALL of the other people in this nation who do not agree with him.

GWB's administration proved it's possible.

Yeah, they had to resort to illegal and immoral and destructive methods to do it, so your point stands if we assume Obama to be better than that. But you should consider that it is disheartening for people to have seen how powerfully Cheney and co could bulldoze through everything in pursuit of their whims, and have their own guy be so ineffectual in comparison.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Another rarely mentioned factoid is that Obama retained the authority for rendition. So if you are closing all of you black facilities where are you going to keep the people you illegally rendition?

Here is an interesting document. I guess depressing is a better adjective.

The Experts welcome these commitments(Executive Orders 13491-3). They believe however that clarification is required as to whether detainees were held in CIA “black sites” in Iraq and Afghanistan or elsewhere when President Obama took office, and, if so, what happened to the detainees who were held at that time. Also, the Experts are concerned that the Executive Order which instructed the CIA “to close any detention facilities that it currently operates” does not extend to the facilities where the CIA detains individuals on “a short-term transitory basis”. The Order also does not seem to extend to detention facilities operated by the Joint Special Operation Command.

The Experts also welcome in particular the new policy which was implemented in August 2009, under which the military must notify the ICRC of the detainees’ names and identification number within two weeks of capture. Nevertheless, there is no legal justification for this two-week period of secret detention. According to the Third Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are to be documented, and their whereabouts and health conditions made available to family members and to the country of origin of the prisoner within one week. The Fourth Geneva Convention (governing the treatment of civilians) establishes virtually identical procedures for the documentation and disclosure of information concerning civilian detainees. Furthermore, it is obvious that this unacknowledged detention for one week can only be applied to persons that have been captured on the battlefield in a situation of armed conflict. This is an important remark, as the Experts noted with concern news reports which quoted current government officials saying that “the importance of Bagram as a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq has risen under the Obama administration, which barred the Central Intelligence Agency from using its secret prisons for long-term detention”.(Pages 102-103)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your theory that people who are innocently locked up necessarily turn violent is patently false. Please recall that Afghan allies simply kidnapped random people and sold them to the US as 'terrorists' for cash. There's no reason to believe they hated America (more than any sane person would) to begin with, or that they'll turn violent today if released.

I think most of those guys are already free. I think it's fair to says that many of the ones that are left have given people reason to think they harbor a serious grudge. Probably those people are paranoid because they're paid to be, but that doesn't change the political aspect. Cheney and the like have been harping on about how they're the worst of the worst. A LOT of Americans believe him.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:52 AM on March 8, 2011


So, I'm reading the executive order. I'm far from an expert on Guantanamo or US law, but this is my understanding of what it says:

1. Those currently held at Gitmo can continue to be held indefinitely "if it is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States."

2. To determine whether the necessity exists, each prisoner's case is to be brought to a review board for a full initial review within one year. This isn't a trial, and prisoners still don't have access to classified information about their cases, though their representative does; they are, however, permitted to make statements and call witnesses. Every 6 months, each case has a "file review" to see if there is any new evidence. Every 3 years, each case goes through another full review. As far as I can tell, there is no independent oversight outside of the Executive Branch, nor is there an appeal process.

3. If the review board determines that it is not "necessary" to detain the prisoner indefinitely, the government is "responsible for ensuring that vigorous efforts are undertaken to identify a suitable transfer location for any such detainee, outside the United States."

4. As Smedleyman points out, the order explicitly does not say whether the detentions are lawful, nor does it grant any legal right to the prisoners.

This order does not shut down Guantanamo. It does not grant the prisoners there a right to a trial. It does not challenge the reasoning that led to their detention in the first place. It does not require the US to ever release any of these prisoners. As others have already observed, it does not address any of the other prisoners who are in similar situations in other US prisons. I don't even see how it creates a target for challenges within the legal system, as some folks have suggested upthread. This is a shoddy counterfeit of due process that denies prisoners their rights by formalizing and legitimizing an illegal and immoral status quo.
posted by twirlip at 12:53 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


"No, you’re wrong there–quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it."
The people at the top are quite happy about what's going on. I mean in a bank, I don't think Obama is happy about Gitmo. But I doubt Jamie Dimon is loosing much sleep.
Another baffling assertion. Who are these people that are unconditional cheerleaders of the Obama administration on this site?
There are at least a handful, Smedleyman for example
I feel like half of the people who voted for Obama expected him to be some super hero who would somehow bulldoze through ALL of the other people in this nation who do not agree with him.
I assumed he would follow the fucking constitution.
So now it's not Obama's fault, but the democrats? So who should we vote for in Congressional elections? Granted Obama kind of had his hands tied on this one.
Vote in the primaries.
I think it's fair to says that many of the ones that are left have given people reason to think they harbor a serious grudge.
Who needs evidence or fair trials!?
posted by delmoi at 12:56 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just love all these arguments about how Mr. Obama is so completely powerless. I have two words for you: Bradley Manning. If Mr. Obama wanted Bradley Manning to be treated like a human being, then it would be done.

And I have two more words for you: Anwar al-Awlaki. Mr. Obama essentially ordered the hit on him.

The fact is that Mr. Obama's actions are completely consistent with someone who simply does not believe in the rule of law or the Constitution except when it's convenient to him - that is to say, he doesn't believe in them at all (because rights that are optional aren't rights at all).

You can try to console yourself with the health care bill, but the fact is that it was a botch from the start. It didn't even deal with any of the elephants in the room except pre-existing conditions, it's not severable AND almost certainly unconstitutional, and please don't feed me this garbage that's the best he could have gotten through Congress because Mr. Obama did everything possible to suppress even the discussion of single payer or the public option so he didn't even TRY to get anything substantive.

Face it - we got ripped off. I started discussing Mr. Obama very positively here. When he flip-flopped on the FISA bill, indemnifying telecoms from any possible legal charges without even investigating what they might have done, I started to get grumpy, but I still cried literal tears of relief when he was elected. But in the last 18 months I've decided that we were complete robbed.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


So... you voted for him, right? Flip flopping on telecom immunity was the lynch pin. He demonstrated that day that he would prolong the status quo. Here we are today.
posted by polyhedron at 1:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Face it - we got ripped off.

No kidding. I mean it's frustrating enough to have to watch the American Public have the wool pulled over their eyes by the whole democrat/republican dichotomy, but now we have to deal with this shit where the fucking President can't even get his own party to do the right thing. Seriously WTF democrats?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:10 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama's new Gitmo policy is a lot like Bush's old policy
posted by homunculus at 1:21 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


> So... you voted for him, right?

Were I a citizen, I would have. There was no other choice.

McCain/Malign seemed at the time to be clearly worse. Now I'm really not sure. I see the only hope for an eventual recovery of sanity to be the collapse of the Democratic party or at least its warhorses, and its replacement by a truly progressive party, and perhaps if Mr. Obama had not won we could have gotten that in 2012 without much more havoc than we've already had - and at least we'd still have the hope for change, rather than the dull certainty that change is in fact impossible.

I do actually believe, now, that McCain would have been harsher on Wall Street that Mr. Obama was and might actually have instituted some changes, simply because he'd be forced into it. Certainly, McCain could hardly have done less on this matter...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:21 AM on March 8, 2011


Well, whoever "we" is, we got exactly what "we" voted for. There's just no other way for me to see it. Next time, maybe?
posted by polyhedron at 1:24 AM on March 8, 2011


> the fucking President can't even get his own party to do the right thing.

Actually, Mr. Obama showed he could pressure the Democrats when the War in Afghanistan was refunded... if you recall, he pressured the progressive wing with serious threats of loss of re-election support in order to get that bill passed. (That same pressure was strangely not apparent for the health-care bill or any other bills "we" cared about.)

I have to say that I completely missed that part of Mr. Obama's personality. I truly believed that he had enough wisdom not to love war for his own sake. I was wrong entirely. I felt sick the week after the election when I read about the drone attacks, with the press secretary making clear that this was Mr. Obama's decision. Now I think he's an aggressive warmonger like the rest.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:25 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


> Well, whoever "we" is, we got exactly what "we" voted for. There's just no other way for me to see it.

Suppose someone sells you a product - say, an article of clothing - and it falls apart in a few days, or is treated with some noxious chemical.

Would you say that "you got what you paid for"?

The point is that we were deceived. "We"(*) voted for a person who presented themselves in one way and they turned out to be completely different.

For all Bush's failings, you weren't surprised by what he did.

(* - I'm not a US citizen, but I've lived in the US for over 25 years and I believe it's disingenuous to talk about "them" when I talk about Americans...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:27 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama voted to cover up one of the more heinous abuses of the Bush era, well before the election. After he'd said he wouldn't.

Why are we surprised when he does the same thing as President?
posted by polyhedron at 1:30 AM on March 8, 2011


My father was a prisoner in Auschwitz for several years as a teenager. It changed him and it had effects that followed down to all his children, including myself. All this happened because the people in Germany looked away and allowed it to happen. It's more complicated than that I know but in essence I can not help but believe that is what it boils down to.

And now I find myself living in a country where political prisoners are kept in cages and tortured physically and psychologically indefinitely. And I ask myself: "Am I allowing this to happen?" and in essence I can not help but believe that is what it boils down to.

Do I leave the country i protest? Do I protest vehemently and end up imprisoned myself? If I do nothing then am I not betraying all the ten million and the dozens of my family who died like this 65 years before?

I want to know what to do. I want to know how to do it. I do not want to be one of the many "good Americans" destined to be condemned throughout history.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [36 favorites]


> Obama voted to cover up one of the more heinous abuses of the Bush era, well before the election. After he'd said he wouldn't.

Good question, really, though a little depressing. (Well - I really think your question lacks a sense of perspective - using telecoms to spy on us, while nasty, is nothing compared to the Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay, Enron ((where the Bush "Administration" was talking to Enron every day before the crash but refused to release the documents)), etc. etc.)

I have to compare it to a failed relationship. Afterward, the warning signs are obvious to you, but at the beginning you're happy to have met someone you think is nice.

For me, personally, I did very much note the FISA fiasco. But what choice did we have? (See my remarks above on that question...) I couldn't believe he'd go entirely to the dark side after giving intelligent speeches that seemed to show that he'd through these matters through.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:42 AM on March 8, 2011


We got a slice of bread instead of the whole loaf. Congress blocked plans to relocate prisoners from Gitmo to the US. On the other hand:
-The US now notifies ICRC of all detainees and allows access
-Bush avoided having any kind of formal review process or ability of an individual to
challenge their detention or asses if they were an ongoing threat.
-the Army field manual while having some shitty revisions under Bush at least allows one standard to be used and applied. Previously the CIA just did what ever it wanted

So D- grade and we are still hungry but what's the politically viable alternative. We need a liberal base that can do good public advocacy in a way that wins over moderates.
posted by humanfont at 2:03 AM on March 8, 2011


> We need a liberal base that can do good public advocacy in a way that wins over moderates.

I don't think liberal is really the right word. Reagan is often considered the last liberal President...

The progressives were the ones who went out and stumped for Mr. Obama in the last election. We're the ones who sent in money, we're the ones who went door to door (I personally didn't go door-to-door but many of my friends did), we're the ones who provided the excitement and the push that put him into the White House.

The fact is that we've received nothing but scorn and contempt from the White House since.

What we need is a Democratic party that's willing to pay attention and give respect to its base - something the Republicans do extremely well.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I voted against this sort of thing.

Me, too, brother. Me, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 AM on March 8, 2011


well, don't worry, vote for someone else in 2012, you all will have at least 2 choices.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:02 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


What we need is a Democratic party that's willing to pay attention and give respect to its base

Until you realize that the Democratic Party's base is the corporations who hire it, you have not even understood the problem.

But as far as liberal voters are concerned, why should the Democratic Party respect them? The Party shits on their ideals while publicly insulting them and they keep voting D anyway.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Can anyone offer insight into why Obama would commit himself to supporting the absolute travesty that is Guantanamo??

To remove a Republican talking point in 2012?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:48 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who are these people that are unconditional cheerleaders of the Obama administration on this site?

There are at least a handful, Smedleyman for example


No, he's not one. Read his comments more carefully. There are a ton of conditions in them.

There are Obama cheerleaders on MetaFilter, but I am not going call anyone out. One in particular hasn't showed up in this thread.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:22 AM on March 8, 2011


So this is how it's going to be going forward? Thank you for this, America.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:35 AM on March 8, 2011


Louis MacNeice - Prayer before Birth

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
     club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
     with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
        on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
     to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
        in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
     when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
        my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
           my life when they murder by means of my
              hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
     old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
        frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
            waves call me to folly and the desert calls
              me to doom and the beggar refuses
                 my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
     come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
     humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
        would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
           one face, a thing, and against all those
              who would dissipate my entirety, would
                 blow me like thistledown hither and
                    thither or hither and thither
                       like water held in the
                          hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.


posted by blue_beetle at 4:37 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


So now it's not Obama's fault, but the democrats? So who should we vote for in Congressional elections?

Different Democrats. Or Third-Party candidates.

Get involved in the Primaries. If the guy you sent to Congress crapped out on you this time, go to the Primary elections and vote for someone else to be the candidate.

You could also contact your Congressperson now and tell them how pissed off you are about this. That's part of their job, is to listen to you say that.

Yeah, I know this all sounds very simplistic. But I'm constantly amazed how few people actually do this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:48 AM on March 8, 2011


Also get involved in the primary campaign machinery. Call up the hopeful you like and volunteer your time. There's always something to do.
posted by clarknova at 5:12 AM on March 8, 2011


What else can he do with them?

Well, there is always the Indian Territory of Oklahoma we might promise them.
posted by eegphalanges at 5:16 AM on March 8, 2011


Surely this.
posted by DU at 5:27 AM on March 8, 2011


Can anyone offer insight into why Obama would commit himself to supporting the absolute travesty that is Guantanamo??

Because Nobel Peace Prizes can't be recalled.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:34 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama's Gitmo policy is a total failure on every level.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:35 AM on March 8, 2011


21 May 2009
First, I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America
The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world.
Mr. Obama also will use the opportunity of this speech to remind the public, Mr. Axelrod said, that “at the end of the day, Guantánamo is a net loser for us — that the impact that it’s had around the world is a negative symbol for the United States that jeopardizes our safety in the long run.”.
As an outside observer I call "Bullshit".
posted by adamvasco at 5:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Flip flopping on telecom immunity was the lynch pin. He demonstrated that day that he would prolong the status quo.

I was actually really worried Obama would be killed until he voted for telecom immunity. Then I thought, 'oh, okay-- he's not going to challenge the powers-that-be. He's probably going to be fine."

The machine is bigger than Obama. The machine has eaten Obama, and he is but another cog in it now, enabling it to continue eating.
Yep: As defense giants like Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin increasingly seek to peddle their wares to well-financed (sometimes by the U.S.) international customers, they have a surprising ally: the President. "Obama is much more favorably disposed to arms exports than any of the previous Democratic administrations," says Loren Thompson, a veteran defense consultant. Or, as Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association, puts it: "There's an Obama arms bazaar going on."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:42 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


-harlequin-:
1. So many of them cannot be convicted because either they're innocent, or there isn't sufficient evidence.
2. The countries they were abducted from won't take them back.
3. If they didn't have a burning hatred for America then, and weren't dangerous, they sure as hell are now.
[...]
What else can he do with them?
I don't know what the right answer is to that question but it certainly isn't "keep them locked up BECAUSE they've been unfairly locked up".
posted by Godbert at 5:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm curious when Obama found out the real nature of the situation: many if not most Americans are in denial about the coming energy crisis and prolonged economic contraction, which are unavoidable in the long term notwithstanding various short fits of "growth".

My personal opinion is that he has become aware of it gradually, but probably had some idea going into the presidency. With global warming, he probably felt that the American people need to be coached through it, given short term carrots like New Jobs to spark their support for alternative energy. Even today he may not understand that even alternative energy isn't going to "power America" in any fashion today's citizen would call prosperity.

Until the major contraction that is our times' defining element is spoken of earnestly in public, and more people really begin to deal with it, there's nothing Obama can do but attempt to act legitimate.

Weaning ourselves off high level energy consumption can't happen overnight, and we would need to keep the flow coming in for a while even if we were all to suddenly realize the essence of the predicament right now. That will require an ongoing military operation, conducted of course on an ever tighter budget.

Tactically speaking, is Gitmo an irreplaceable part of that military effort, given the constraints? I don't know, but I suspect it is.

With regard to his early rhetoric about Gitmo's negative symbolism, perhaps he acknowledges that closing the prison won't really make any difference to how the US is perceived in the world, and that perception matters mostly to Americans who haven't yet felt the big squeeze.
posted by maniabug at 5:45 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


People just assumed he meant "close" in the most common sense of the word. He was actually using it in the sense of sealing a deal.
posted by Drastic at 5:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


What we need is a Democratic party that's willing to pay attention and give respect to its base

Which you will never get if you keep voting for them anyway. I was hoping that the train wreck that was the recent midterms would clue the Dems in, but alas, no.

I will not vote for that party again until it actually makes a stand. If they insist on being cowardly and unable to press home the core principals of the party, then they are *not* a party, they're stalking horses for the GOP.
posted by eriko at 5:57 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Except that, by far, the top priority for me was that Obama would take serious steps to reverse Bush's abysmal and frightening record on Civil Rights. That is the most important issue in our country, and it's going to be cold comfort if my daughter is guaranteed a far wage and my wife knows she will have health insurance in spite of her pre-existing conditions, but any one of us can have our laptops seized at the airport, or be labeled an enemy combatant and thrown into detention in Cuba.

The truth is that Guantanamo remains open because congressmen realize that there are votes to be gained by making sure Guantanamo stays open. The instant Obama suspended tribunals and started making an effort to find alternatives to Guantanamo, Congress went on a full-court press to do everything it could to stop that from happening.

In this case, Obama is just following the constraints imposed on him not just by Congress, but by the American people, who quite like Guantanamo.
posted by deanc at 6:13 AM on March 8, 2011


Except that, by far, the top priority for me was that Obama would take serious steps to reverse Bush's abysmal and frightening record on Civil Rights.

The irony is that Obama's worst failings are in the areas which, as a constitutional lawyer, he could reasonably be most expected to shine.

3. If they didn't have a burning hatred for America then, and weren't dangerous, they sure as hell are now.

By that logic, the concentration camp inmates in the Boer War, in WWII, and in Soviet Russia shouldn't ever have been released because they were too much of a threat.
posted by orange swan at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know he has had a full plate from the get go but I dont understand why Obama constantly alienates his base on these big issues. It's not like he's winning any friends from the Republican or "moderate" Democrat camps.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:30 AM on March 8, 2011


Reading some of the comments here, I'm surprised we even bother to have a President, since there is absolutely nothing, NOTHING, he can do to change anything in the country. Obama is simply powerless to do the things he promised to do in the election, but it's good that he won because things would be so much worse if McCain had.
posted by Legomancer at 6:30 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poet_Lariat: Do I leave the country i protest? Do I protest vehemently and end up imprisoned myself? If I do nothing then am I not betraying all the ten million and the dozens of my family who died like this 65 years before?

I want to know what to do. I want to know how to do it. I do not want to be one of the many "good Americans" destined to be condemned throughout history.


What did the "good Germans" do? They left while they still could, or they stayed behind and risked their lives to save those targeted by the state.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:41 AM on March 8, 2011


This isn't Obamas problem. He did what could be done to clean it up and fix it. He directed it to be closed, congress pulled the funding and made it illegal to house the prisoners in the US. He gave the detainees international red cross visitation, setup a process for review of detention and changed the permissible interrogation practices. He's also had state department trying to places to send most of the detainees. What's the alternative let Khaled Sheik Mohammed out where exactly? Is Spain going to take him in acamvasco? You guys seem real eager to try Bush & Co how come it is total silence when it come to the operational leadership of Al Qaeda? Let's hear your FM step up. They bombed Madrid. And you Canadians whose government can't even bother to ask about the trial and detention of one of your teenagers. Seriously you sent some guys down to see if you could get your own hits in on the kid. Now suddenly everyone is putting the whole shitpile on Obama's and pissing on top of it because he can't shovel it put of the way fast enough.
posted by humanfont at 6:41 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Obama is president, not a dictator.

If I thought Bradley Manning's ability to log into Metafilter and this thread to give his 2 cents about 'is the commander in chief acting like a dictator in your life?' was inhibited by the lack of $5 I'm rather sure that could be solved just to have him answer the question.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:43 AM on March 8, 2011


The irony is that Obama's worst failings are in the areas which, as a constitutional lawyer, he could reasonably be most expected to shine.

Wasn't it established last decade that the Constitution was just a God damned piece of paper?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:45 AM on March 8, 2011


I dont understand why Obama constantly alienates his base on these big issues.

It is difficult to get someone to understand something, when their partisan loyalty depends upon their not understanding it.

Given all the nice things the Administration has to say about the federal court system, one would think that it might find it wise, and even necessary, to actually use it a bit more. Instead, the statements seem more concerned to note that the President is not giving up any options or powers—as if bringing accused murderers to court were a prerogative, rather than an obligation. No doubt, Republicans, and some Democrats, have made it hard for Obama to close Guantánamo. But it might be easier if he wanted to do it; the order today makes it sound like he considers it a somewhat useful place.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:45 AM on March 8, 2011


Different Democrats. Or Third-Party candidates.
Get involved in the Primaries.


Perhaps the "Lets have a Consitutional change and get instant run offs" people are onto something....Let a thousand people run and the one who is most acceptable ends up in charge.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:47 AM on March 8, 2011


lupus_yonderboy wrote: "For all Bush's failings, you weren't surprised by what he did."

What was that whole "compassionate conservative" thing?

lupus_yonderboy wrote: "What we need is a Democratic party that's willing to pay attention and give respect to its base - something the Republicans do extremely well."

It depends on what you think the Republicans' base is. If you mean the people who vote for them, the answer is no. The Republicans, at least at the national level, absolutely do not represent their base. Thank the lord. It could be so much worse if they did. If, on the other hand, you mean the people who give them millions upon millions of dollars, the answer is yes, the Republicans literally wage war for their base. And so do the Democrats, ironically enough.

I'd be disappointed in Obama if I expected anything but "better than McCain." I've learned not to expect that from anybody who identifies with the Democrats. Despite the noise from Fox News, there is no real left wing voice in national government. I don't tend as far to the left as a lot of you, but I see this as a real tragedy. We need a strong left wing party to balance out the center-right and far right wing we have at present.
posted by wierdo at 6:56 AM on March 8, 2011


There are Obama cheerleaders on MetaFilter, but I am not going call anyone out. One in particular hasn't showed up in this thread.

If they do it'll be like PP defending Bush.

Odds are they just won't show. And not showing/being disappointed isn't working out well either. Its been a few years between Constitutional amendments - perhaps the disenfranchised should start one as telling the party of D you won't play with 'em anymore seems to not matter to 'em when they can point at Palin or Walker.

How about a game change - no longer the lesser of 2 evils?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:00 AM on March 8, 2011


humanfont are you spitting and frothing at me because I posted what your President said in a speech which had a worldwide following? Grow the fuck up.
This is most definitely Obama's probem as he is the President and therefore the figurehead and spokesperson for what happens under his government. He is where the buck stops.
I didn't mention world water boarded champion KSM, but I am sure that if he was extradited to Spain or indeed any other EU country he would undergo the due process of law, something that the US government seems to have suspended in the case of Guantanamo prisoners.
posted by adamvasco at 7:01 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is bull honky! I'm going to write a letter to my representative and get things set straight!
posted by ReWayne at 7:08 AM on March 8, 2011


More and more I think that Obama may have even believed his own horseshit slogan of "hope and change" and come in on Day 1 ready to put it into action...only to be led into the room with the red phone and the big red button, with 3 senior general and the CEOs of Boeing, Booz Allen, Haliburton, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. And one lone special forces soldier.

I imagine the conversation went something this:

General: "Welcome Mr. President."
Obama: "Glad to finally meet you all, what is this exactly?"
CEO: "We wanted you to see where the decisions get made. We wanted you to know who makes those decisisons."
CEO2: "We do."
Obama: "Umm..."
General: "By now you understand. You passed the interview with the American people. For the next four years you will stand up there and read the speechs. You're really much better at that than the last guy."
Obama: "I have some other plans you know..."
CEO: "See this guy? "
Obama: "Yea..."
CEO2: "This is Codename Single Sparrow II."
Obama: "Ok? Who is this? Why two?"
CEO3: "Codename Single Sparrow I was known to history as Lee Harvey Oswald."

posted by T.D. Strange at 7:16 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whatever. I want my free health care damn it. And I want some money too while your at it. I deserve it. And no more war. It's just so mean.

That's odd, I just checked and Republican administrations were the ones handing out money like there was no tomorrow.
posted by odinsdream at 7:20 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't mention world water boarded champion KSM, but I am sure that if he was extradited to Spain or indeed any other EU country he would undergo the due process of law, something that the US government seems to have suspended in the case of Guantanamo prisoners.

Yes, Europe. When I think of "places in the world where Muslim terrorists can expect to be treated with the full due process of law" it's definitely Europe that comes to mind. Like Europeans are so fucking progressive.
posted by gagglezoomer at 7:24 AM on March 8, 2011


lupus_yonderboy: But in the last 18 months I've decided that we were complete robbed.

Robbed by whom? Robbed by your fellow citizens? Robbed by yourself? And for all of you who think John McCain would have been better, I give you Arizona. And you can damn well keep it, it's stinking up the joint.

Auden: Yet more and more I feel there is something really strange and off about him, ... and I find myself completely baffled by him, by his political behaviours, and by the chasm between his stated values and his acts.

No, let's see, there would never be something "strange and off" about someone who was raised by a peripatetic single mother, basically never knew his father, was a loner a lot of his formative years ..... nah, that guy should have been as well-adjusted and hunky-dory as ..... George W. Bush!
posted by blucevalo at 7:27 AM on March 8, 2011


How's that Hope and Change Working out for you? Not so much? Blame it on your Liberal friends. What's that you say? Can't find anyone who admits voting for Obama? They're all in denial?
posted by Gungho at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2011


Add me to the list of people who were really disappointed, who tried to put the best face on it after the FISA vote (should have known better) and who hoped Obama meant it when he said he'd shut down Gitmo. I feel like there should be something I can do, but what is there? Write my congressman? Bitch Obama out? And as for voting, you vote and you get an Obama, which isn't working out the way we wanted, but not voting or voting for the other guy/a fringe candidate gets you Bush II or McCain/Palin. It's like we have to spend every smidgen of energy to elect the lesser of two evils, and he's not acting very lesser.

It's a depressing time to be an American with any engagement in politics, unless of course you like throwing out habeas corpus, corporate oligarchy, and the military-industrial complex running the place.
posted by immlass at 7:31 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


>He gave the detainees international red cross visitation, setup a process for review of detention and changed the permissible interrogation practices.

While it is true that the Obama administration did pledge to do this the it doesn't seem that this policy is being adhered to. You did read the links I provided above detailing the black detention facility still operational at Bagram to which the ICRC has no access, didn't you?

United States government officials treat the screening facility on Bagram Air Base with extreme sensitivity, refusing to publicly discuss the facility’s location, or acknowledge or deny its existence. This avoid of information leaves room for speculation, which comes at a high cost to the United States’ human rights reputation at home and abroad. The Open Society Foundations acknowledges the U.S. policy of keeping the location of some of its transit and screening detention sites classified from the general public, but the Department of Defense’s unwillingness to explain to the public the purpose of this site and how it
operates, including explaining what specific safeguards are in place to prevent detainee abuse, is in stark 11contrast to this administration’s commitments toward detention policy transparency and the spirit of Executive Order 13491 of January 22, 2009, which ends secret CIA detention operations. Our research found that, although the specific details about the facility have remained largely unknown to the media and international human rights groups, the facility is well-known and discussed among Afghans.

The Open Society Foundations is also concerned that all detainees interviewed stated that they were not visited by the ICRC while at Tor Jail. This supports a media report from late 2009 quoting a U.S. government official stating that although the United States does provide the ICRC with the names of all its detainees generally within 14 days, the ICRC was not allowed face to face access to detainees at “Special Operations camps.”
(source, pgs. 11-12)

>and changed the permissible interrogation practices.

Again while it's good that the Obama administration has pledged to do this it isn't at all clear that its own standards are being adhered to.

Based on the interviews conducted by the researchers for this report, the totality of the conditions of confinement at the facility raise serious concerns about a disconnect between detainee treatment at this facility and the United States’ stated commitment to the humane treatment of detainees, be it under U.S. or international law. This is especially true for detainees who are subjected to a combination of the following treatments:

• Exposure to excessive cold
• Inappropriate and inadequate food
• Inadequate bedding and blanketing
• Excessive exposure to light
• Disorientation and lack of natural light
• Sleep deprivation due to an accumulation of circumstances
• Denial of religious duties
• Lack of physical exercise
• Nudity upon arrival
(source, pg. 11)

Obama’s Torture Loopholes

Loophole 1: Torture is prohibited only of persons detained in an “armed conflict.”

Loophole 2: Only the CIA must close detention centers.

Loophole 3: Officials may still hide some detainees and abusive practices from the Red Cross.

Loophole 4: Abuses not labeled “torture” may continue.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:31 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


How's that Hope and Change Working out for you? Not so much? Blame it on your Liberal friends. What's that you say? Can't find anyone who admits voting for Obama? They're all in denial?

Obvious troll is obvious.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


How's that Hope and Change Working out for you?

When did Sarah Palin join Metafilter?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Inadequate bedding and blanketing... Lack of physical exercise... Nudity upon arrival

Where have I heard this before?

Oh... right.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:45 AM on March 8, 2011


Obama's Secret Prisons: Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the "Black Jail," and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan

Extraordinary Rendition, Black Sites, Secret CIA Prisons, Trevor Paglen and Telephotography

America's Secret Prisons
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:46 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


How's that Hope and Change Working out for you? Not so much? Blame it on your Liberal friends. What's that you say? Can't find anyone who admits voting for Obama? They're all in denial?

How's that Excessive Unnecessary Capitalization Tendency workin' out for ya?
posted by blucevalo at 7:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, this. Granted it didn't happen under Obama's watch, but he doesn't seem to be making any effort to prosecute those responsible.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:48 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


How's that Hope and Change Working out for you? Not so much?

Could be better, could be worse. Better than Bush was and better than McCain would have been, but not as good as it could be.

Blame it on your Liberal friends.

I think it'd be more accurate to blame the military-industrial complex and a political system deeply mired in its own corruption, along with a President who's too pragmatic and centrist to make bold but necessary action.

What's that you say?

I think it'd be more accurate to blame the military-industrial complex and a political system deeply mired in its own corruption, along with a President who's too pragmatic and centrist to make bold but necessary action.

Can't find anyone who admits voting for Obama?

No, I can find plenty of people who did that. The majority of those who voted in the 2008 election, even.

They're all in denial?

No, but thanks for asking.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I feel like there should be something I can do, but what is there? Write my congressman? Bitch Obama out? And as for voting, you vote and you get an Obama, which isn't working out the way we wanted, but not voting or voting for the other guy/a fringe candidate gets you Bush II or McCain/Palin.

I know. Here's my useless telegram from the enthusiasm gap:

Dear President Obama,

I'm writing to you because of the executive order cementing Bush-style indefinite detention at Guantanamo, in spite of your promise to close the prison.

I voted for you and donated money in 2008. I know keeping my vote in 2012 isn't a high priority: my absentee ballot gets sent to New York, which will go blue no matter what I do. And Rahm might be right: when push comes to shove, I might vote for you again, faced with the Republican alternative.

If I do, it'll be because I couldn't imagine looking some family in the eye who depends on a union or a program that the GOP would cut, and telling them that my desire for clean hands didn't allow me to vote.

But that shame cuts both ways. And another thing I can't imagine is looking the family of a Guantanamo prisoner in the eye, and telling them that in spite of what I knew, I still sent you money, or told my aunt and uncle to vote for you, or put up a 'Hope' sign with your name on it. I try to be realistic about how clean I can keep my conscience and still participate politically, but now I know I could never campaign for you again, even in my small way.

Sincerely,
...
posted by Beardman at 7:55 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's simpler than that - what can possibly be done with the prisoners?

At the very least we could turn Guantanamo into a minimum security, rehabilitation-and-education oriented facility, complete with full and transparent access by members of the media and human rights groups. There's no reason indefinite detention has to be combined with degrading and inhumane conditions.

Or we could release them to the US on the following conditions:

1. They have to wear two redundant tracking devices at all times.
2. They each get assigned a round-the-clock surveillance team.
3. They are ineligible for US citizenship.
4. They can't own or use firearms.
5. They can't use encrypted communications and consent to permanent wiretaps and having their mail opened.

Personally, I think some of that is overkill, but that would be enough to satisfy any rational person. They aren't supervillains. No one living under those conditions could possibly commit any terrorist acts. Shoot, given the round-the-clock surveillance they'd probably be jailed within a year for breaking some random law anyway.

And even given the round-the-clock surveillance I'll bet it'd be cheaper than housing them at Guantanamo.
posted by jedicus at 8:07 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't imagine looking some family in the eye who depends on a union or a program that the GOP would cut... another thing I can't imagine is looking the family of a Guantanamo prisoner in the eye

Who is suffering the greater injustice? The women who will lose access to reproductive health care when the Republicans cut funding to Planned Parenthood? Or the women who will bury their children after Obama's next drone strike?

In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. - Albert Camus
posted by Joe Beese at 8:19 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surely this....

oh, wait, I forgot, he's on 'our team'. Cognitive dissonance, engage!


Oh come on. One of the reasons I enjoy MeFi is the fact that we're ABLE to cogently criticize things like liberal leadership based on their actual actions, and form intelligent opinions about said actions. Bring this up on any other forum, and you'll just provoke a scrolling field of "Well that's what you get for letting a BLACK MUSLIN into the White House of AMERICA so he can steal the silverware and replace it with TERROR BABIES and also TAXES AAAGGHHHHGHGHG"
posted by FatherDagon at 8:36 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting involved at local and state primaries is the *only* way to effect change.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2011


The preservation of the crux of the Bush detention scheme was advocated by Obama long before Congress' ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. It was in May, 2009 -- a mere five months after his inauguration -- that Obama stood up in front of the U.S. Constitution and the National Archives and demanded a new law of "preventive detention" to empower him to imprison people without charges: a plan the New York Times said "would be a departure from the way this country sees itself." ...

It was Barack Obama's position -- not that of Congress -- that detainees could and should be denied trials, that our court system was inadequate and inappropriate to try them, and that he possessed the unilateral, unrestrained power under the "laws of war" to order them imprisoned for years, even indefinitely, without bothering to charge them with a crime and without any review by the judiciary, in some cases without even the right of habeas review...

... those blaming it on Congress either have little idea what they're talking about or are simply fabricating excuses in order to justify yet another instance where Obama dutifully "bolsters" the Bush War on Terror template. Indefinite detention and military commissions are continuing because Obama worked from the start for that goal -- not because Congress forced him to do so.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2011


-harlequin wrote Is Obama just going to give these people greencards and release them into US cities, and ask each and every one of them nicely to please not avenge the crimes perpetrated against themselves?

Yes, that's exactly what he should do. He has the power, as president, to issue full pardons to anyone at any time for any reason. 147 pardons and Guantanamo is closed, no need for Congress to authorize anything.

He should be on TV making a speech about it, a more in sorrow than in anger type speech, about how he wanted to do this in a safer way, about how he'd wanted to have trials, but Bush's use of torture made it impossible to try some of them, and Congress's refusal to fund things made it impossible to close the base in a better way.

Green cards, release, appology. End of Guantanamo. End of problem.

If the blow up a bus, that's what we deserve for instituting a torture regime.
posted by sotonohito at 8:52 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


And you Canadians whose government can't even bother to ask about the trial and detention of one of your teenagers.

Yes, humanfont, the assholes in charge of the country I live in are evil bastards, and their shameful treatment of Omar Khadr is only one of their many sins. Hell, we have our own form of indefinite detention, which has majority support in the House of Commons.

I don't see how that fact makes Guantanamo "not Obama's problem," though. Nor do I give a shit that the obvious alternatives to indefinitely detaining prisoners are "not politically viable." He hasn't done what he could. Yeah, he tried to shut it down, but when there was resistance, what did he do? He could have pardoned everyone and let them go, as sotonohito just pointed out; it would have been a political shitstorm, but so what? It would have been more just than continuing to hold prisoners without trial forever. Hell, at a bare minimum, he could have put more effort into forcing the Democrats to do the right thing. But he didn't do those things. He gave up.

And now, instead of continuing to push for justice, he's made indefinite detention into official state policy. The US can say "Hey, there's a process! That's not so bad, right?" and continue to shrug off criticism, instead of being forced to confront the fact that the whole situation is fundamentally illegitimate. That's what Obama has gone out of his way to do. That makes it his responsibility.
posted by twirlip at 8:58 AM on March 8, 2011


What's that you say? Can't find anyone who admits voting for Obama?

I voted for him and I'm glad he's the president. Yes, even now.
posted by Ratio at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the blow up a bus, that's what we deserve for instituting a torture regime.

???
posted by gagglezoomer at 9:02 AM on March 8, 2011


The bit about the bus is pretty harsh, but we could deflect it by being decent humans to them, all of us.

Won't happen. It wouldn't be long before they were beaten, maybe murdered. Radicalization is happening where?
posted by polyhedron at 9:08 AM on March 8, 2011


boooooooooooooooooooo.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:11 AM on March 8, 2011


August 24, 2010 - Military medical staff are force-feeding a secret number of prisoners on hunger strike between dusk and dawn during the Muslim fasting holiday of Ramadan.

The prison camps spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Bradley Fagan, says it is U.S. Southern Command policy to no longer reveal the exact number of detainees being shackled by guards into restraint chairs for twice daily feedings.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:19 AM on March 8, 2011


gagglezoomer raises a good question. What do we deserve for instituting a torture regime and killing thousands of civilians in illegal wars? Some people might claim that one bus isn't enough, but I wouldn't loose any sleep, remembering that our enemy is fictional, and that there is no international network of terrorists.
posted by klue at 9:20 AM on March 8, 2011


John Yoo:

The Obama administration has finally admitted, I think, that the Bush administration's decision to detain al Qaeda operatives and terrorists at Gitmo was sensible. ... Obama folks owe an apology to the Bush administration for their unjust criticism of military trials.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


He should be on TV making a speech about it, a more in sorrow than in anger type speech, about how he wanted to do this in a safer way, about how he'd wanted to have trials, but Bush's use of torture made it impossible to try some of them, and Congress's refusal to fund things made it impossible to close the base in a better way. Green cards, release, appology. End of Guantanamo. End of problem.

sonohito, this is the very thing that would cause me to regret having voted for Obama.

Ultimately, what I trusted most about Obama was simply that he was aware of the practical reality surrounding each of the issues facing him. That's why his acceptance speech on election night was full of statements like "this isn't going to be easy" and "we may not get all the way there during my term". Because he knew that the right way to get out of the situation we were in was not to do a whole "well, I'm president, and that means that what I say goes!" kind of thing, the way his predecesor often did.

Just pardoning everyone is a grossly oversimplified way of looking at the problem, as is blithely writing off any "blown-up buses" as "collateral damage" or pointing at Congress and saying "blame them". That's what Bush did. That's the stuff I didn't vote for.

I always knew that Obama wasn't going to fix everything, and I always knew that I wasn't going to like all of the policies he came up with. But I wasn't voting for him because "he'll give me what I want" -- I was voting for him because "he understands exactly how serious and complicated all the fucked-up shit facing us actually is".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Klue, I think what you deserve is a piece of cake and a nice soft bed where you can wistfully flip the pages of your well worn Chomsky first edition before you flagellate yourself to sleep over sins of evil Amerikka and her armies against all other peoples of the world who are inherently and unequivocally good. On the other hand, I don't believe I deserve anything, not myself being personally responsible for the illegal war acts and muddying of the US constitution by the Bush administration.
posted by gagglezoomer at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to hear Amy Goodman ask David Iglesias what he thinks of the situation.
posted by mikelieman at 9:52 AM on March 8, 2011


I think it's simpler than that - what can possibly be done with the prisoners?

Indictment, arraignment, trial?
posted by mikelieman at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moreover, recent legislation now makes it extremely difficult to transfer any detainee out of Guantanamo Bay even if he is believed to be no threat, and it is unclear how the administration will confront that congressional barrier.

What legislation is this? This seems an important point.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:09 AM on March 8, 2011


Mike, I'm guessing harlequin was asking about those against whom we don't have a viable case.

There isn't a simple, palatable answer to the hazard those detainees may pose if released. We have chosen an egregiously energy-intensive way of life, which is predicated on keeping the negative effects of our energy supply arrangements safely confined as an economic externality. We have pursued this unworkable strategy for decades, and it's breaking down, and there's nothing any court can do about it.
posted by maniabug at 10:10 AM on March 8, 2011


What's that you say? Can't find anyone who admits voting for Obama?

Hi!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:23 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There isn't a simple, palatable answer to the hazard those detainees may pose if released.

What if they escape?

If we are justified in imposing life imprisonment on them for things they might do when freed, we are also justified in imposing the death penalty.

By your reasoning, every day they are kept alive represents a needless risk to our security. You should be calling for their immediate execution.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:24 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos Guantanamo bay is more than a stain on our national honor, it's existence is a threat to each and every one of us. Closing it is within Obama's legitimate presidential powers, unlike so many powers he has claimed that have shaky (at best) Constitutional grounding, the ability of the president to issue pardons is right there in the text of the Constitution.

Even if he wasn't going to just do it he could be threatening to use that power in order to bully Congress along.

I can't say I like an imperial presidency myself, but Obama has hardly been shying away from it anyway, and in this case it would serve a genuinely good cause.

At the very least he could be making speeches about it, talking about the evils of that sort of human rights violation, spending time in every speech demanding that Congress act to end the gross and unAmerican violation of the Constitution. But instead he's said nothing, and certainly done nothing, about the situation.
posted by sotonohito at 10:27 AM on March 8, 2011


"Obama is much more favorably disposed to arms exports than any of the previous Democratic administrations"

Wow, and the cycle continues, eh? I wonder whose peacefully protesting citizens these weapons will be used on in five to ten years.

Speaking as a Canadian with a shit-ton of his own problems, America: it might be time to rise up.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:30 AM on March 8, 2011


America: it might be time to rise up.

You mean civil discourse won't work?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:33 AM on March 8, 2011


> America: it might be time to rise up.

People that live in empires rarely "rise up" when their empire is off doing nasty things abroad that don't directly impact their daily prosperous lives. They may have the occasional protest, but it will take serious domestic strife to get Americans off their asses in any meaningful way.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 AM on March 8, 2011


You mean civil discourse won't work?

At this point, a bit of actual civil discourse would be fucking revolutionary.

By "rise up," though, I kind of sort of meant turn off the televisions for an hour or two. But... y'know.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:36 AM on March 8, 2011


Also, don't let me derail from the gallows construction. I'm just shooting my fool mouth off.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:39 AM on March 8, 2011


Habeas Occultes Corpus

FTFY
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:47 AM on March 8, 2011


Joe please don't misunderstand, I'm not arguing in favor of keeping them locked up. It's abominable that people are being held prisoner without due process, and of course on principle they should be freed.

I'm not over there with the bus-blasters either. A policy maker intent on making Gitmo right would be doing all kinds of things, in concert with establishing a reasonable plan for the detainees. Jedicus is on the right track, suggesting an emphasis on education and decent treatment in the near term.

Is some sort of fallout inevitable, some terrorist act perpetrated on US soil by a Gitmo inmate? Probably. But domestic terrorism is probably on the rise anyway thanks to the shrinking economy, and we can't legitimately blame the jihad for that.
posted by maniabug at 10:55 AM on March 8, 2011


Gungho at 9:30 AM No other comments.

Oh go pound sand.

Seriously. I love how "hope and change" is reframed as something to be ashamed of; something that only doe-eyed, dreamy-headed optimists would strive for. I voted for Obama and I'm ashamed to admit that here or anywhere else. Who the hell did you vote for? Oh wait. Never mind.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:01 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how "hope and change" is reframed as something to be ashamed of

Con artists are usually contemptuous of their marks' gullibility.

Here is the Obama victory thread. There aren't a lot of comments in it along the lines of the currently-popular "Well, he's only a politician."
posted by Joe Beese at 11:24 AM on March 8, 2011


"he understands exactly how serious and complicated all the fucked-up shit facing us actually is".

And then he persists in perpetuating the fucked-up shit and actually goes on to drop trow and plop a few more logs of shit on the pile. I don't see how anyone can pardon Obama's blatant lies about a)closing Gitmo and b)pulling out of Afghanistan and/or Iraq. The man straight up lied to our faces.
posted by fuq at 11:29 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see how anyone can pardon Obama's blatant lies about a)closing Gitmo and b)pulling out of Afghanistan and/or Iraq. The man straight up lied to our faces.

He's a Democrat.

Hope this helps.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:34 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know an eldery person who was in the Hitler Youth. They speak pretty objectively and intelligently on the situation in Germany before during and after WW2. It sounds like we are getting all the drawbacks of a totalitarian regiem without the benefits.
Detaining certain "different" people on some stupid pretext? So we only have one concentration camp that is in the news and it's on some other shore, no biggie. We get to vote on our leaders. Well sort of, if it's from a certain pool of insiders already known to toe the corporate line. The main difference seems to be that instead of being forced to all join together to support the regiem and work together, we are encouraged to "be yourself" and do your own thing. Just the kind of empowerment to make sure the centralized power can't be threatened, and will never be required to spend anything on pointless luxuries like free healthcare.
As we pass China going the other way, will they, in a few generations, chastise us on our human rights record?
posted by Redhush at 11:49 AM on March 8, 2011


I do not want to be one of the many "good Americans" destined to be condemned throughout history.

The chances are very, very high that history will view you (and me, and all the rest of us who are American) as exactly that. I'm sorry to say.

How many Nazi-era Germans who stood against the system can you name? How many of those did not happen to have a feature film made about them specifically to pluck them from obscurity and highlight their spark of good in the dark cavern of evil? I'm sure they were there. But I don't know of them. And chances are no one will know of any of us who "do the right thing," either.

So fuck what future historians may or may not think. Do what little good you can now, even if no one will ever know about it and they lump you in with the bad guys in the grand scheme of things. Vote. Talk to people. Say what you believe is true and try to convince others, despite the overwhelming odds.
posted by DLWM at 12:00 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if he wasn't going to just do it he could be threatening to use that power in order to bully Congress along.

Again -- that's what Bush did. That's why I voted for Obama -- because he wouldn't do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:10 PM on March 8, 2011


To those who are all Hitler this and Hitler that:
You did hear about the wikileaks documents that showed the admin begging people all over the world to take Gitmo detainees?
As a good leftist, I am heartily offended by Gitmo, but as a non-magic-wand bearing person, I can't make it go away. And apparently the admin tried a number of ways to make it go away. This is better than Nazis, yes?
posted by angrycat at 12:13 PM on March 8, 2011


America: Better than Nazis.
posted by polyhedron at 12:14 PM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


The bar really is that low, isn't it?
posted by polyhedron at 12:17 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


This really sums it up. I called it in 2008.


So... you voted for him, right? Flip flopping on telecom immunity was the lynch pin. He demonstrated that day that he would prolong the status quo. Here we are today.
posted by polyhedron at 10:09 AM on March 8 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]

posted by CautionToTheWind at 12:47 PM on March 8, 2011


Once I stopped caring about the simplistic sturm und drang of internet leftists and started laughing at it, I started feeling much better.

Yes, this is exactly like Nazi Germany and it's inevitable that we'll all go down in history as banal monsters. Yes, everyone who doesn't flatly hate Obama or who has a realistic understanding of process and government is apologizing for lies and is secretly thrilled that Gitmo is still open. Yes, of course this proves that we'd be better off voting for Republicans, and that McCain was a better choice. These are all reasonable opinions! Held by serious people! Without axes to grind and with nuanced views! Wait, wait, will we get Joe Beese to slur by imputation? Of course! Awesome!

Oh, aging leftist, what new bon mots will you have today?
posted by klangklangston at 1:21 PM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


EmpressCalliphygos So screw civil liberties, to heck with justice, who needs trials (or even charges), all that is less bad than Obama using his powers for good instead of evil?

It isn't as if he's refrained from doing Bush style Imperial Presidency things. Our undeclared war in Yemen and Pakistan. His call for a mob style hit on an American citizen. His arm twisting to get Congress to fund his adventurism in Afghanistan.

But you're utterly opposed to even the faintest suggestion that he might use the powers he has embraced to accomplish a good thing?

None of the above, and especially not the trifle of putting people in cages, forever, without trials or charges is enough to make you regret voting for Obama. If, and only if, he used the bloated and improper powers of the modern presidency to accomplish a good thing will you object? WTF?

I don't regret voting for him despite his use of imperial powers for outright evil, he's better than Cranky & Crazy (though not by nearly as much as I'd hoped he would be). But for you, doing good with the imperial powers he uses and abuses so often is a deal breaker. Can you explain how that works?

klangklangston You find those of us who still believe in quaint little things like trial by jury to be laughable? Believing strongly in justice is bad? Really?
posted by sotonohito at 1:30 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]



You know who else was offended by people who find it laughable that there are those who still believe in quaint little things like trial by jury and justice?
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:41 PM on March 8, 2011


The bar really is that low, isn't it?

No. It's not actually. Criticizing your country can be noble and it can be patriotic, but criticism is not always critical. And to compare the United States, a country the sum of whose citizens and government has contributed an unrivaled and unparalleled amount of good to the modern world, to Nazi Germany, one of the most vile and embarrassing examples of humanity, is to be both ignorant of history and without perspective.
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:49 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"klangklangston You find those of us who still believe in quaint little things like trial by jury to be laughable? Believing strongly in justice is bad? Really?"

See? At one point, I would have laboriously explained that it's the belligerent framing and rhetorical bullshit of comments like that which makes this a sloganeering declamation, with maybe an aside about missing the point.

Now I just say yes, yes I really, obviously do believe this is an honest recapitulation of my comment. Young Aurelius, how you tickle!
posted by klangklangston at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point is that we should be able to say more than we're better than Nazis. We torture, we rendition, we imprison indefinitely, we spy on our citizenry with impunity, we do medical experiments on prisoners, we do lots of things that are excusable because they're not that bad.

When you elect the lesser of two evils, it's still evil.
posted by polyhedron at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah, and obviously, by disagreeing, I don't believe in trial by jury! I obviously support Obama's recent move to burn down all the courts and imprison everyone at his whim!
posted by klangklangston at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2011


"My point is that we should be able to say more than we're better than Nazis. We torture, we rendition, we imprison indefinitely, we spy on our citizenry with impunity, we do medical experiments on prisoners, we do lots of things that are excusable because they're not that bad."

And, of course, the only example of evil is the Nazis. No other rhetorical device will serve, not if we want a lolocaust.
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying we're like Nazis. When the best defense for our actions is "we're just dealing with a difficult issue, it could be worse," I get worried.
posted by polyhedron at 1:59 PM on March 8, 2011


Hi, klang.

I wouldn't have thought it my place to publicly speculate. But since you bring it up, I don't think that you're "secretly thrilled" about the now-permanent moral pestilence that is Guantanamo Bay. Quite the contrary, I'm sure you'd prefer that Obama close it - if for no other reason, to spare you the embarrassment of having to try passing off vicious human rights abuses as something "complicated" that the President's critics aren't "serious" enough to understand.

However, I do think that on a fundamental level - the level that counts - you and Obama's other apologists are indifferent about it. You see it as merely a policy decision, however difficult or ill-advised - like a stance on tax credits for renewable energy. What you are too blindly partisan or morally numb to appreciate is that torture camps can not be reconciled into any kind of "otherwise acceptable" system of government.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:30 PM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Could someone kindly wake me when Obama moves to the left of Nixon? Thx.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 2:37 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


klang I'm just saying that you seem to have a misplaced set of priorities, by your comments it appears that you're more concerned/upset/disgusted by/whatever intemperate comments from the left than by Obama's embrace of a program to keep people in a detention facility without trials or charges.

I mean, wouldn't the latter be more upsetting than a few GRAR NAZIS comments?

I can see how the GRAR NAZIS comments can be annoying. I'm somewhat sympathetic to such comments because there is some seriously frightening stuff going on and at least half of America seems to be in favor of it, and that's extremely worrying. But I can see how they'd be annoying.

But still, priorities cousin, priorities. Which is more important, people using intemperate language to describe a very, very, bad situation, or the very bad situation itself?
posted by sotonohito at 2:57 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese: "Here is the Obama victory thread. There aren't a lot of comments in it along the lines of the currently-popular "Well, he's only a politician.""

I know you're not making that assumption based on a victory thread, right? I don't know exactly what you're implying but based on previous comments in this thread I have a pretty good idea. Surely you're smarter than that?

Joe Beese: "I don't see how anyone can pardon Obama's blatant lies about a)closing Gitmo and b)pulling out of Afghanistan and/or Iraq. The man straight up lied to our faces.

He's a Democrat.

Hope this helps.
"

No you don't. You're just being silly now.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:57 PM on March 8, 2011


This other unserious group weighs in:

With the stroke of a pen, President Obama extinguished any lingering hope that his administration would return the United States to the rule of law... The executive order he issued today completed his embrace of Bush area counterterrorism policy. ... After two years of indecision and delays, the Obama administration has finally come up with a ‘new’ policy that changes very little and amounts to little more than an elaborate shell game.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:14 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe:
When you call people
apologists
blindly partisan
morally numb

You're not going to have a good conversation. I don't care if we're talking about Libya or peanut butter or the worship of Klong. It will go badly. If you don't care about you don't care. But: change the language and the conversation might be different.
posted by angrycat at 3:27 PM on March 8, 2011


Yes, this is exactly like Nazi Germany and it's inevitable that we'll all go down in history as banal monsters.

The longer we continue our worldwide system of black torture sites the more likely this becomes, no? I agree that comparing Nazi Germany and the U.S.A. at this juncture is a bit premature, but surely you can see the danger if the damage done to the Constitution by the Bush administration is not repaired. Obama has had ample time to at least begin to move in the right direction and he has in fact moved the opposite direction codifying and in some cases going even further than Bush.

Maybe instead of ranting about Nazis and obsessing about "lefties" you could instead be a bit more productive and explain to us rationally your position on the tens of thousands of detainees currently held in Guantanamo and other black sites around the world.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:33 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aelfwine Evenstar, I'd be interested to hear your take on where the detainees should go when no country (including ours) agrees to accept them.
posted by angrycat at 3:42 PM on March 8, 2011


change the language and the conversation might be different

The conversation I was having with klang? Or a conversation you felt I was having with you?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:47 PM on March 8, 2011


We have gone from being the first country that established the principle that prisoners of war should be treated respectfully to a country that operates black sites and sends prisoners to other countries to be tortured–when we don’t torture them ourselves. ...

And there’s no outrage on Main Street. There’s no outrage in Washington. There’s only outrage on the internet. And half the internet rage is coming not from the acts themselves but rather partisan bullshit surrounding them. ...

The first time I voted in a Presidential election, in 2000 (for Harry Browne), no part of my consideration of any of the candidates had to do with whether they wished to torture people or assassinate American citizens. It didn’t have to be, because it wouldn’t cross anybody’s mind to have a position on it. ...

Then in 2008, one major reason why I voted for Barack Obama was because he forcefully claimed to be opposed to such policies. And I was mad that that was actually a voting issue for me, because you’d think that not torturing people is a moral no-brainer.

But, as it turned out, Obama lied.

Now, as I look to vote in 2012, I realize that just like in 2000, no part of my consideration for any of the candidates will involve their positions on torture, war crimes, secret prisons, renditions, etc.

Because both candidates will be in favor. Without apology.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Joe, I guess you were talking with Klang and I butted my head in.
Or, alternatively, I joined a conversation in progress.
posted by angrycat at 4:03 PM on March 8, 2011


metafilter: we're talking about Libya or peanut butter or the worship of Klong
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 4:09 PM on March 8, 2011


Why doesn’t this policy apply to detainees in Bagram and elsewhere? After all, we’ve got people who are just as indefinitely detained in Bagram right now as we’ve got here... So if this new indefinite detention system is such great humanitarian shakes, why not roll it out everywhere we’ve instituted indefinite detention?...

The Administration is congratulating itself for the prettier face they just put on indefinite detention. But they only did it where their forever jails attract the most attention, in Gitmo. If these newfangled PRBs are such a great thing, shouldn’t they be rolled out everywhere we’ve got forever detainees squirreled away because “it is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States”?

It just seems like, if there is a purpose at all for this newfangled indefinite detention, then that purpose ought to apply across the board. But to the extent this EO applies only to a subset of those detainees we’re indefinitely detaining, then it seems to be just an attempt to pretend Obama hasn’t given up his plans to close Gitmo, “action” he can point to while blaming Congress for the delay, even while the Obama Administration does nothing about those detainees in Afghanistan that they can free without Congressional strictures.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:25 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just saw this yesterday - and I have to say- I am rightfully pissed. Can we all get on facebook and overthrow him now? Oh wait, these days, with all the domestic surveillance, I don't want to know what would happen to us...
posted by uni verse at 4:28 PM on March 8, 2011


I know he has had a full plate from the get go but I dont understand why Obama constantly alienates his base on these big issues.

You're begging the question: we're not his base. The slightly right of center are his base.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:37 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


So screw civil liberties, to heck with justice, who needs trials (or even charges), all that is less bad than Obama using his powers for good instead of evil?

I never said that. But since you're casting dispersion, I'll phrase it rudely myself --

sonohito, your idea not only wouldn't fix anything, it would make things worse, and what's more, it's hopelessly and irretrievably naive -- and really, really dumb. I voted for Obama because he gets that you can't do dumb naive shit in the service of "civil liberties," because "doing dumb naive shit in the service of civil liberties" makes things worse, and makes you enemies.

And yeah, expecting the president to abuse his presidential powers just to scare Congress into doing what you want them to do is really naive and dumb.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:39 PM on March 8, 2011


"What you are too blindly partisan or morally numb to appreciate is that torture camps can not be reconciled into any kind of "otherwise acceptable" system of government."

You're right — RuPaul's Drag Race cannot be reconciled into any acceptable system of government.

Oh, wait, I thought you said "camp torture."

"klang I'm just saying that you seem to have a misplaced set of priorities, by your comments it appears that you're more concerned/upset/disgusted by/whatever intemperate comments from the left than by Obama's embrace of a program to keep people in a detention facility without trials or charges."

You're totally right — the most sensible thing to do if I opposed Obama's policies, which I obviously don't, because otherwise I wouldn't object to lazy Nazi comparisons, would be to spend my time hectoring Obama on MetaFilter, or people I perceive as Obama apologists. And I don't even have to tell you what a reasonable reading it is to say that I'm more concerned/whatever about you than Obama, since, like you, all of my political activity takes place right here on the Blue.

"Maybe instead of ranting about Nazis and obsessing about "lefties" you could instead be a bit more productive and explain to us rationally your position on the tens of thousands of detainees currently held in Guantanamo and other black sites around the world."

Who's ranting? Maybe I'm just too morally numb or blindly partisan to think that having any sort of actual substantive discussion is possible with people who write like they're the one true knight of justice and that anyone who disagrees in the slightest should be mocked and excoriated. Why would I waste my time on that? Instead, it's more fun to roll my eyes and mock the 1-800-SRS-BZNS! bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I voted for Obama because he gets that you can't do dumb naive shit in the service of "civil liberties,"

We get this argument over and over again: "It is naive to expect the US to follow its own Constitution. Expecting any significant change at all is childish and unreasonable."

I note also your scare quotes around "civil liberties."

The people who don"t act like they"re the "one true knight of justice", the Obama supporters, buy into the "change is impossible" idea so much that even suggesting that change might be possible gets you epithets like that.

A question for the Obama supporters - what do *you* think should be done? Or are you simply totally happy with the status quo?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:04 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


lupus, I think that all gitmo detainees should be granted refugee status in the U.S. All of them that can't be tried and/or put in other countries.

Think that is going happen? Hells no.

lupus, the person you think would be better in the WH dealing with this, who is it and what is there position on where to put the gitmo detainees?
posted by angrycat at 5:07 PM on March 8, 2011


*their* position
posted by angrycat at 5:08 PM on March 8, 2011


Gah. What gets to me is that the administration - and Obama, who must know why this is wrong - don't even seem ashamed.
posted by jaduncan at 5:08 PM on March 8, 2011


Aelfwine Evenstar, I'd be interested to hear your take on where the detainees should go when no country (including ours) agrees to accept them.

Why don't we just return them to their countries of origin? How can a country refuse to take back it's own citizen? Either way I figure if we can extraordinarily rendition them we can just as easily extraordinarily un-rendition them. Of course there is the fact that they might be a threat, but in my opinion holding them indefinitely is an affront to our constitution and any basic system of morals. I guess we have a choice between acting like a decent moral people or protecting our way of life by stripping people of their basic human rights. So we can continue treating them like sub-humans or release them from whence they came. Unless of course there is some evidence to indict, prosecute, and convict them in a court of law, military tribunal or whatever legal venue we can scrape together.

The point isn't where they are going to go. The point is that our nation has a worldwide system of black torture sites that houses thousands upon thousands of people. This is a moral stain on me, you, and every other American. Obama has had 2 years to get his shit together and so far has exhibited a penchant for obfuscation and double dealing. Enough is enough.

Who's ranting?

You, and it's quite amusing as no one has directly compared the U.S.A. to Nazi Germany. What a couple of mefites did do was compare the moral plight of Germans during WWII and Americans during the GWOT. Not the same thing. In fact I think there have been more Hitler/Nazi references by people apologizing for Obama's actions or lack thereof. See for yourself the thread was godwined here by someone who thought the thread had already been godwined.

Maybe I'm just too morally numb or blindly partisan to think that having any sort of actual substantive discussion is possible with people who write like they're the one true knight of justice and that anyone who disagrees in the slightest should be mocked and excoriated.

Um, I was asking an honest question and this is what I get in response. Ok.

instead, it's more fun to roll my eyes and mock the 1-800-SRS-BZNS! bullshit.

Well in my opinion depriving people, innocent or no, of their human rights is serious business. Especially when it's being perpetrated by the government that is supposedly a champion of human rights...my own government.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:14 PM on March 8, 2011


I note also your scare quotes around "civil liberties."

Typo, not scare quotes.


...Although, maybe Freudian, if the proposition is just as illegal as the civil liberties we're supposed to be trying to protect.

We get this argument over and over again: "It is naive to expect the US to follow its own Constitution. Expecting any significant change at all is childish and unreasonable."

That's not what I'm saying, and I'll thank you not to be willfully obtuse.

Has it occurred to you that the reason why Obama isn't threatening to circumvent Congress is because he is following the Constitution? And that expecting him to only uphold PARTS of the Constitution that is the "childish and unreasonable" part?

It's as if you can only see two options -- "Obama has to do these specific things, or else he is an evil bastard." THAT is the "childish and unreasonable" part -- the deliberate and willful refusal to acknowledge that there are steps in between and that there are other options. It's called "Guantanamo," after all, not "Gordian Knot."

A question for the Obama supporters - what do *you* think should be done? Or are you simply totally happy with the status quo?

I'm not happy with the status quo. Of course I'm not.

However, I also don't have a clue what the solution is -- and the reason I don't know what to do is, I'm not an attorney and don't have a legal background. And -- that's precisely why I voted for a guy who has a legal background, because he's fordamnsure better equipped to figure out what the process is -- in full -- than an online idiot like me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 PM on March 8, 2011


I also don't have a clue what the solution is

Obama pardons them.

I welcome any legal explanation why he couldn't.

If it's just that it would be very unpopular, I welcome any explanation of why Obama's popularity is more important than keeping innocent men in cages for the rest of their lives.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:22 PM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I welcome any legal explanation why he couldn't.

Don't people have to be convicted of something before the president can pardon them? If the detainees haven't been tried and convicted, that would seem to keep Obama from pardoning them. I don't know enough about the legalities to know whether release by executive order is an option, either.
posted by immlass at 6:58 PM on March 8, 2011


He pardons them. O.k. Then where do they go? You can't just dump folks places where countries don't want them. That's why all the begging went on with other countries. So they are admitted to the U.S. as citizens.

And that's how you lose the 2012 elections.
posted by angrycat at 6:59 PM on March 8, 2011


Is releasing them (assuming we can't prosecute them) really less palatable than indefinite detention? Doesn't that increase our risk too?
posted by polyhedron at 7:04 PM on March 8, 2011


actually., you'd need congressional action to give them citizenship, wouldn't you. Anything that would touch upon immigration laws. So -- fucked, basically. We're fucked. Some things just can't be un-fucked, as much as we'd want them to be. I know that the fact that I'm free as a bird and haven't been tortured makes such statements seem hopelessly glib, but it is true: some things, once fucked, can't be unfucked.
posted by angrycat at 7:07 PM on March 8, 2011


Then where do they go?

Anywhere they ask to be taken. By civilian passenger airline. First class. If Obama paid for the tickets personally, that would be a nice touch.

Or US citizenship, if they prefer. Though they may have enjoyed enough of our company by now.

that's how you lose the 2012 elections

Thank you for an honest reply.

But I do not consider Obama's re-election worth imprisoning innocent men for life.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:09 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe, that's not how it works. You can just send some random dude, w/o entry papers, to a country.

I mean, that would be nice, but that's not how it works. I got into a hairy spot in Mexico after I lost my passport. What, we send to to Yemen, say, with a scented handwritten note?

And yes, I hear you about the idea of trading an election for the freedom of innocent men; if I thought that somebody other than a really terrible person (ideologically speaking) could win the Republican primary, I'd spend more time ruminating.

But as I see it. We're fucked. Those guys in gitmo are fucked. Honeybees are fucked. Bats with moldy nose syndrome are fucked. A lot of third world countries we've repeatedly raped for resources are fucked.

My yardstick remains how un-fucked a situation might be. Joe, don't you think it's possible that Obama looked at gitmo and came to the conclusion, "fucked, can't be un-fucked"?
posted by angrycat at 7:18 PM on March 8, 2011


And that's how you lose the 2012 election.

As Joe Beese mentions above, thank you for the honest reply. You've really gotten to the crux of the issue here.

The issue is that the US is (still) a democracy and that a solid majority of the American people are OK with torture and extra-judicial imprisonment of Muslims. THOSE people are Obama's base. Not mefites.

The Obama defenders in this thread realize that. They realize that for some of Obama's policies to get passed, he needs to get re-elected. And if he's going to get re-elected he needs to be a little pro-torture. Moderately pro-torture, you might say.

Unless this changes in the next few years, honestly, I'm done with American democracy. We've spent the last 50 years fighting for equal rights in this country and the ultimate recipient of those civil rights victories can't bring himself to publicly condemn extra-judicial assassinations or indefinite prison sentences without trial.

There is nobody for me to fight. This whole country (liberals included) wouldn't give two shits if every Muslim were rounded up into concentration camps and there isn't a fucking thing I cam do about it.
posted by Avenger at 7:23 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think people are "pro-torture" personally, I just don't think they consider the situation at Gitmo to be a priority. I'm a liberal Democrat, most of my friends are liberal Democrats and progressives and I don't know how many of them would consider it an issue they are going to fight right now. Especially because I live in Ohio and many are concerned with the labor issues we're dealing with these days.

But I don't think it's fair--I think it's too extreme--to say that liberals who aren't actively speak out against this aren't Obama's base or that, in not being on the frontlines of the issue that means they don't care, or worse, support it. I don't think you can hold people to those two extremes.

This whole country (liberals included) wouldn't give two shits if every Muslim were rounded up into concentration camps

Then how do you explain the supportive protests for the center in New York or the protests against the asinine Peter King hearings? People, liberals included, absolutely do care, but who knows it's it's loud enough.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:36 PM on March 8, 2011


Don't people have to be convicted of something before the president can pardon them?

No.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:40 PM on March 8, 2011


yeah I would take great satisfaction in rearranging Peter King's face.
but that would get me in jail and not help gitmo detainees any
posted by angrycat at 7:44 PM on March 8, 2011


I don't think people are "pro-torture" personally, I just don't think they consider the situation at Gitmo to be a priority.

I see their point. It's not like the prisoners are going anywhere.

But the way you can tell that we're not the Nazis is that at least the Germans got prosperity in exchange for countenancing a murderous police state. The NPR set is doing it for a guy trying to gut their Social Security.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:10 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


other differences, Nazi Germany v. Obama U.S.:
Hilter mustache Obama no mustache
oh yeah there was that genocide thing too
but also the flags are real different
posted by angrycat at 8:25 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


there was that genocide thing too

100,000 doesn't meet the threshhold?

Well, the ball is still in play.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:38 PM on March 8, 2011


another difference? what happened in Germany only took a few years. As a frog, I think the tub water is getting hotter in this hot tub, but I may be misinterpretting. After all, we have the ability to vote for someone who can bring about real Change!
posted by Redhush at 8:42 PM on March 8, 2011


Who is suffering the greater injustice? The women who will lose access to reproductive health care when the Republicans cut funding to Planned Parenthood? Or the women who will bury their children after Obama's next drone strike?

I'm pretty sure that bombing kids was an accident, unlike when the Taliban blow up a girls school. Which they do all the time. Apparently you can't be bothered though to parse the moral dilemmas of it all. Just run away and let the humanitarian crisis worsen.

Your other arguments a straw managing first class tickets to where ever would he quite interesting. So your serious policy recommendation to Obama is that he personally buy a first class ticket for Khalid Sheik Mohammed to where ever KSM wants to go? Furthermore he should in no way use our mlitary against leaders of AQAP despite congressional authorization? Instead we should do what exactly?

I fail to see how those actions would accomplish anything wrt to human rights.
posted by humanfont at 8:44 PM on March 8, 2011


> Then where do they go?

Anywhere they ask to be taken. By civilian passenger airline. First class. If Obama paid for the tickets personally, that would be a nice touch.


And when they get to where they said they wanted to go, the nation in question says, "whoa, hold on there, sparky, we can't let you in. Obama already asked us, and we told the dude we didn't want you here. Didn't he tell you that? Get out of here."

Now what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 PM on March 8, 2011


Now what?

He admits defeat, reincarcerates them in Guantanamo, but this time he stops ramming force-feeding tubes down their nostrils and allows them to starve themselves to death as their only escape from the living hell he is apparently powerless to deliver them from.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:59 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Errgghh. I don't know about this. I mean, starting with Smedleyman's post, I get it that Obama is telegraphing that he wants to do the right thing. But, in the end, he hasn't done the right thing.

I really hoped Obama was a clever man. I mean, the way he was able to get the Democratic presidential nomination at least indicated that he was prone to cleverness. Clever. I wanted him to be clever like LBJ, but not such an asshole; like Nixon, but not so paranoid; like Theodore Roosevelt, but not so smug. I know Obama has done a lot, and it's easy to question his intentions, but I don't doubt them; I'm proud of what he's accomplished; but I also think a more clever president could have accomplished more.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:13 PM on March 8, 2011


Joe, are you saying that Obama is personally and singlehandedly ramming feeding tubes down each and every prisoner's throat?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 PM on March 8, 2011


Is that what it'd take for you to be outraged?
posted by polyhedron at 9:20 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good grief. When was it that MetaFilter lost the ability to communicate political concepts in non-hyperbolic terms, anyway?
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:21 PM on March 8, 2011


I don't know DoctorFedora, I'm just confused as to how we've let things go so far so quickly. Very few people seem upset by our post-Constitutional government. I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that, but maybe it is.
posted by polyhedron at 9:23 PM on March 8, 2011


Who says that we Obama supporters aren't also "upset"? Isn't it possible to be upset but also realistic about what is possible?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2011


Joe Beese, you throw some strategies up there, let's talk about them. Because if the strategy is to vote for a third party candidate, I'm not really seeing the good here.
posted by angrycat at 9:42 PM on March 8, 2011


Then how do you explain the supportive protests for the center in New York or the protests against the asinine Peter King hearings? People, liberals included, absolutely do care, but who knows it's it's loud enough.

How do you explain the concentration camps that the United States of America has spread out all over the globe?

disclaimer: not all concentration camps are Nazi extermination camps and I am not comparing our concentration camps to the Nazi's. I am merely calling a spade a spade.

In fact it was Americans who invented the concentration camp when dealing with the Native Americans during the 19th century. Of course in those days they were called relocation camps.

Joe Beese, you throw some strategies up there, let's talk about them. Because if the strategy is to vote for a third party candidate, I'm not really seeing the good here.

So following the "reality" crowd's logic we should just keep voting democrat riding the slowboat to fascism. Next time a republican gets elected they will push even further to the right. Then we will elect a democrat who being the spineless creature he/she is will not fight for what is right but will instead codify and shore up the previous administrations shredding of the constitution. At this rate I give the U.S. 50 years until we have full blown fascism death camps and all. Of course Americans are so well trained that the death camps will be mostly unnecessary.....mostly.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:50 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


angrycat,

I don't have a good strategy, but is giving the shiny veneer of legitimacy to a "lesser" evil really what we need right now? Maybe it's time that our parties can't rely on association to get elected?

I'd like it if we could agree on some basic human rights, for starters. That seems like the foundation of any reasonable strategy for improving the situation.
posted by polyhedron at 9:52 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about we turn Alcatraz island into a garden paradise, with a constant supply of entertainment, but also education and vocation training, and put them on the path to a greencard (note - in the USA this process can easily take 10 years even when you're a highly skilled and education young worker in demand). We house them there with apologies, while setting up an online dating service with Afghanistan, wherein gorgeous women might decide they'd like to live in a garden paradise with this cool guy with a tortured past.
We fly her in, they fall in love, they make some babies, the guy's world is about his babies now, his family. They grow up, around the time they reach school age, hey look - the greencard came through - you can move outta paradise and get a home close to a school. Or take the kid to another country that might be more welcoming now that you're an educated worker with a family, rather than a psychologically-twisted single man with a brutal past.

The isrealies did something like this. Theirs was less of a challenge, but they turned fanatics into family men, and successfully defused some potent human bombs.

Of course, the merits of a just solution are irrelevant because Americans will never let it happen.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:58 PM on March 8, 2011


So following the "reality" crowd's logic we should just keep voting democrat riding the slowboat to fascism. Next time a republican gets elected they will push even further to the right.

...I give up.

I'm going to start singing the theme to Man Of La Mancha to people who take such a Quixotic, all-or-nothing, immediate-action-or-Facism approach to this issue because reason isn't working.

(Wanders off singing)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:58 PM on March 8, 2011


Joe Beese, you throw some strategies up there

Let's re-elect Obama in 2012 and then hold his feet to the fire.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:01 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, I know you just ragequit, but how do we end indefinite detentions, rendition, torture, warrantless surveillance, privatized intelligence (aka mercenary assassins), etc?

It's not like this just started.
posted by polyhedron at 10:04 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Electoral reform to get a modern democracy (ie proportional representation) would solve the issue by shattering the two-headed on-horse race system, of America's obsolete and broken democratic system.
The US system of democracy was ahead of its time back in its day, but it hasn't kept up to date with modern advances and is now well and truly behind the times. Not only that, its mechanisms are seized with entrenched powers. As a result, it cannot steer itself, and the empire is falling.

But that same entrenchment means that electoral reform will not happen. America the nation is as trapped, and as royally fucked as the poor guys in Gitmo.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:04 PM on March 8, 2011


I thought one of the big problems with Gitmo is so many of the detainees don't actually have anywhere to go if they are released. Many of the home countries won't take them, and it'd be nearly impossible to make a living in the US if it was known you were a detainee. I thought it was almost operating more as a kind of long-term limbo than anything else.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:57 PM on March 8, 2011


Who would do a better job? Kucinich, for one.

I note that not one Obama supporter has any ideas of what to do. Again, their basic idea is "Change is impossible."

There are tons of other countries who'd take the detainees if the US used their usual combination of bribery and force. If they gave, say, Syria $1 billion (against some other threat) in some other guise (not obviously a bribe to take them), they'd be gone in a second.

IF the US wanted to do this, they could easily get rid of the detainees. But they don't want to. They like having people tortured in cells. Haven't you seen US television?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:11 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


IF the US wanted to do this, they could easily get rid of the detainees. But they don't want to.

This is an interesting point - the USA strong-arming a weaker party into suffering the burden is not an ethical solution either, but since it's par for the course of US foreign policy, I think it's fair to point to it as evidence of a lack of commitment to closing Gitmo.

(Though I think there is also the issue that a lot of people aren't comfortable with these guys being free anywhere in the world, even when they haven't done anything bad, due to the perception that they now will if given half a chance)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:47 AM on March 9, 2011


I'm going to start singing the theme to Man Of La Mancha to people who take such a Quixotic, all-or-nothing, immediate-action-or-Facism approach to this issue because reason isn't working.

Reason isn't working because the current situation is totally unreasonable and it has been for quite some time. We tried reason.

We elected Obama - who promised to stop this bullshit.

We used the courts - who said "stop this bullshit."

The bullshit didn't stop. And it shows no sign of stopping - ever.

Immediate action or fascism might be the only approach left because the slow march toward it has only quickened since Obama took office. I'll keep supporting the organizations that I do who oppose these draconian and illegal policies, it might not do anything but there isn't much that I can personally do about this.

But I am done trying to reason with the insane who make the psychopathic anti-terrorism policies in this country. You can't reason with psychopaths. And if I was indefinitely detaining someone in my basement you can be damn sure I would be called a psychopath and no one would try to reason with me.

Shit like this only gets worse. It isn't going to magically end. If Bush started it, Obama codified it, then what happens next. Ignore the peril of the descension toward authoritarian rule at your own risk.

Whoever told you "it can't happen here" isn't even wrong.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:54 AM on March 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Electoral reform to get a modern democracy (ie proportional representation) would solve the issue by shattering the two-headed on-horse race system, of America's obsolete and broken democratic system.

Proportional representation allows a minority party to gain huge power in coalition governments. Look at what the ultra-religious parties and settlers get in Israel. I'm not sure the grass is greener.

Obama could pardon

Congress would impeach him in about 2 minutes later. Then you'd have president Biden, or possibly Predident Joub Boehner.

American concentration camps....caking a spade a spade

Really where are the gas chambers designed as showers, the night and day crematoriums, mass graves?

There are tons of other countries who'd take the detainees if the US used their usual combination of bribery and force. If they gave, say, Syria $1 billion (against some other threat) in some other guise (not obviously a bribe to take them), they'd be gone in a second.

Have you read the wikileaks cables. The US has been offering crazy deals and piles of cash to take these people off our hands. I guess we yacht threatened to bomb Syria for Saying no. But I fail to see how thats a satisfactory alternative.
posted by humanfont at 3:14 AM on March 9, 2011


Let's re-elect Obama in 2012 and then hold his feet to the fire.

There isn't enough money on Earth to induce me to vote for Obama a second time.

You can't hold a politician's feet to the fire when he's not worried about re-election. We have to do it now, not in 2012.
posted by Malor at 4:14 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


how do we end indefinite detentions, rendition, torture, warrantless surveillance, privatized intelligence (aka mercenary assassins), etc?

By calling our representatives and the president and holding their feet to the fire about this -- while simultaneously accepting that it's gonna take some time.

It's not like this just started.


Then why do people believe that it can "just stop"?

Also -- tell me this: why do you think that "sniping about it on the Internet, accusing Obama of being a Fascist, and accusing people who don't share your rage of being 'good Germans'" is going to help more so than pressuring the government directly? Because I haven't heard a single person in here who's been flinging those accusations around say anything about having made any effort to go to their elected representatives about this at all. It's awfully easy to talk big and accuse the President of being a Fascist like this, but how many of you have had the stones to actually do something by calling their congressmen on this issue and telling them to find the funding to take care of this, for fucks' sake? ....What, are people too scared to speak up where it counts?

And for the record, I have done so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:34 AM on March 9, 2011


Really where are the gas chambers designed as showers, the night and day crematoriums, mass graves?

Did you really just do that? You quoted me excising the part where I said Nazi deathcamps are not equal to our concentration camps. You are either trolling or have serious issues with your reading comprehension skills. Concentration camps were around before the Nazis and will be long after I'm afraid. I suggest you read this very informative Wikipedia article.

concentration camp
n.
1. A camp where civilians, enemy aliens, political prisoners, and sometimes prisoners of war are detained and confined, typically under harsh conditions.


vs.

death camp
n.
A concentration camp in which a large portion of the inmates are systematically put to death, are worked to death, or die from mistreatment.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:49 AM on March 9, 2011


Empress don't assume the critics haven't tried calling and emailing our representatives. I have for one, all the good it's going to do.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:52 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's awfully easy to talk big and accuse the President of being a Fascist like this, but how many of you have had the stones to actually do something by calling their congressmen on this issue and telling them to find the funding to take care of this, for fucks' sake? ....What, are people too scared to speak up where it counts?

If you have been reduced to impugning the masculinity of your debating opponents, it may be a sign that you've exhausted your argument.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:47 AM on March 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you have been reduced to impugning the masculinity of your debating opponents, it may be a sign that you've exhausted your argument.

Head out to the windmills, Senor!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 AM on March 9, 2011


All this yelling is the sound of people who are frustrated that things they are concerned about are being decided by other people who don't give a rat's ass what they think. This is not the sound of spirited debate in a democracy, it's the sound of the death of democracy. It doesn't matter what you think should be done or what you plan to do to try to enact it, it is completely out of your hands because you're no longer at the controls and haven't been for some time. Obama was not the guy who brought reason back to our government, he's the guy who proves it's never coming back.
posted by Legomancer at 7:12 AM on March 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wikipedia Death camps vs. concentration camps, my reading comprehension skills

Just because you say, I'm not comparing USA to nazi's doesn't let you off the hook for doing it. This is like some redneck screaming i'm not a racist, but.

Didn't you aslo

If you have been reduced to impugning the masculinity of your debating opponents, it may be a sign that you've exhausted your argument./I>

You accuse Obama of a moral failing, yet are unwilling to consider the implications of your own actions or inactions. Bashing Obama online is pretty easy. When are you going to provide something other than a worthless strawman alternative for this situation? You plan seems to be to abandon Afghansistan and let the people responsible for 3/4 of the casualties take over. Then bomb Syria if they won't take on Gitmo prisoners, or offer KSM a green card and a Presidential pardon .

posted by humanfont at 7:20 AM on March 9, 2011


humanfont: if you could reformat your post into such a way as it made sense, it would be possible to affirm or deny it...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:28 AM on March 9, 2011


When are you going to provide something other than a worthless strawman alternative for this situation?

Again with this?

Obama has the legal authority to pardon the prisoners and waive naturalization requirements. Simple human decency - not to mention "the gospel of Jesus... on which I base my life" - demands that he do so.

You don't like the Beese Plan becase... gasp!... Obama won't get to be President for another 4 years? That's your problem.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:39 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Presenting, humanfont's post reformatted for lupus_wonderboy's special convenience.

--

Wikipedia Death camps vs. concentration camps, my reading comprehension skills

Just because you say, I'm not comparing USA to nazi's doesn't let you off the hook for doing it. This is like some redneck screaming i'm not a racist, but.

Didn't you also say:

If you have been reduced to impugning the masculinity of your debating opponents, it may be a sign that you've exhausted your argument.

You accuse Obama of a moral failing, yet are unwilling to consider the implications of your own actions or inactions. Bashing Obama online is pretty easy. When are you going to provide something other than a worthless strawman alternative for this situation? You plan seems to be to abandon Afghansistan and let the people responsible for 3/4 of the casualties take over. Then bomb Syria if they won't take on Gitmo prisoners, or offer KSM a green card and a Presidential pardon .
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 AM on March 9, 2011


You don't like the Beese Plan becase... gasp!... Obama won't get to be President for another 4 years? That's your problem.

What if we don't like the "BeesePlan" because it will not work?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very few people seem upset by our post-Constitutional government. I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that, but maybe it is.

We've been post-Constitutional since at least Nixon, though. Very few, if any, of the people commenting here are old enough to remember anything before the imperial presidency and the state of non-war war: Vietnam and even Korea. Joe Beese reminds me that Ford pardoned Nixon--and what a precedent that is for the Gitmo detainees--but pre-emptive pardon isn't a great precedent to revisit and reinforce either. Gitmo's unconstitutional, almost certainly (sure, somebody might be able to stretch the constitution to wrap around it) and fixing it is probably going to require unconstitutional measures. Maybe invoking another constitutional crisis a la the Nixon pardon deliberately is the only way to fix the Gitmo situation. Then we've just empowered the president to do more unconstitutional things, which is contributing to the long-term problem as much as keeping on doing the current unconstitutional things.

And that's regardless of the domestic political situation, the 2012 election, etc. We Americans are long-term fucked, but we have been since before most of us were born. We don't know anything else.
posted by immlass at 7:43 AM on March 9, 2011


it will not work

I have linked to examples of Presidents pardoning people not convicted of crimes and issuing Executive Orders waiving naturalization requirements.

If you can provide a comparable level of documentation in support of "it will not work", sock it to me.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:47 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have linked to examples of Presidents pardoning people not convicted of crimes and issuing Executive Orders waiving naturalization requirements.

One or two of them at a time. How many inmate are in Guantanamo?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on March 9, 2011


How many inmate are in Guantanamo?

172, according to this article: "Suspected Taliban commander held at Guantanamo Bay dies after exercising".

[And they say exercise is good for you!]

President Bill Clinton... granted 396 pardons and 61 commutations in eight years, including dozens on his last day in office...

But you are evading the issue. You have stated, categorically, "it will not work". Until you can link to some legal argument explaining why, I am not persuaded.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:00 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no "legal argument". I only have common sense telling me that the 172 people in Guantanamo are too "well known" for the rest of the country to just put up with them being pardoned and granted entry into the country. Clinton's pardons were successful because for most of the country, if you mentioned the names of any of the people thus pardoned, they'd respond, "....who?" Also, these were people that for the most part, hadn't been in the news in the months leading up to Clinton's pardoning them. A handful of people familiar with their cases would know, yes, but the majority of the people wouldn't have heard of them, so they could settle into a new life with relative ease.

But think about it a second -- everyone is at least aware of the men in Guantanamo, and 50% of the people in this country think that they are guilty of some crime. What happens if they are released into this country, and make their way into communities where Sid and Jerry down at the VFW later hear that "that new guy that moved into town was one of them Guantanamo folks, did you hear?" What do you honestly think would happen?

But hey, if you consider turning people over into the hands of mob justice to be a better situation, civil-rights-wise, I suppose you could have a point...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:09 AM on March 9, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: you're basically saying that you are willing to keep innocent men in a concentration camp simply because it would be too difficult to do otherwise, and because you believe that most Americans think the same.

It's irrelevant even if ALL Americans think the same - keeping men in jail without due process is just wrong. Mr. Obama's doing something evil, and I don't give a flying fuck whether he's doing it to get re-elected or whatever the reason, it's simply morally wrong. You can't just make the wrongness vanish by saying, "Well, you know, he needs to get re-elected, so he has to commit all these crimes against humanity".

Now, there's another point, and that point is that the Democrats have made zero effort to actually point out that, you know, most of these people in Guantanamo have never been charged with a single thing, and there's zero evidence against most of them, and a lot of them are in fact almost certainly innocent. I haven't seen one damned TV commercial, not one interview with any Democrat, nothing that's ever expressed these facts to America. The only reason that I know these things is because I went out of my way to find out.

This is wrong. This is a crime. It's morally and ethically wrong to do this and all your arguments basically boil down to the fact that it's inconvenient to do the right thing, and inconvenient even to open up a real debate with facts as to what the right thing might be.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:19 AM on March 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, and I have to say that the argument, "If we released them, they'd just be lynched" really is some sort of nadir...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:20 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


everyone is at least aware of the men in Guantanamo, and 50% of the people in this country think that they are guilty of some crime. What happens if they are released into this country, and make their way into communities where Sid and Jerry down at the VFW later hear that "that new guy that moved into town was one of them Guantanamo folks, did you hear?" What do you honestly think would happen?

As the article I linked to demonstrates, Guantanamo isn't the safest of dwelling places either. But there's no reason we can't let the prisoners decide for themselves where they'd prefer to take their chances. [At least the ones who haven't suffered mental breakdowns from the psychological torture we've inflicted on them.]

Unless you feel that we need to withhold that choice from them for their own good?

If Obama is that concerned with their safety, he can put them up at Camp David for the remainder of his Presidency - where they will be guarded by a detachment of well-trained, well-armed servicemembers.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:23 AM on March 9, 2011


Just because you say, I'm not comparing USA to nazi's doesn't let you off the hook for doing it. This is like some redneck screaming i'm not a racist, but.

Not all rednecks are racist just like all concentration camps are not Nazi death camps, but all rednecks are rednecks just like all concentration camps are concentration camps. In fact not all Nazi concentration camps were death camps, but instead forced labor camps. If you actually study the history of concentration camps you will find that the majority of them have not been Nazi.

Would you prefer I use the term internment camp? Will that "let me off the hook"? Given that there are human beings being tortured and denied their human rights I find it curious that you are quibbling about terminology instead of engaging in honest debate. How about this. I will from now on use the term internment camp to describe our network of concentration camps. If you noticed my earlier links the terms are interchangeable and mean the same thing.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:40 AM on March 9, 2011


I'm still not clear what your guys position is. Please clarify. Let them rot for the rest of their lives? Let them rot until it's politically viable to grant them due process? Some other option that you haven't yet outlined?

Also has anyone else noted that pretty much everybody but Joe Beese and lupus_yonderboy is ignoring our system of internment camps and instead focusing on Guantanamo? As I said before Guantanamo is merely the public face of a global system of illegal and immoral internment. It is no surprise that this is not really talked about in the MSM, but here at Metafilter one would think that people would be outraged by this.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:47 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: while I admire your gumption, we aren't going to get anywhere.

The US runs harsh internment camps all over the world where innocent men suffer for years and then die. The Powers-That-Be and many people on Metafilter have deemed that it's simply "too difficult" to stop doing this - i.e., stop committing war crimes.

As such, they aren't going to try to educate the populace that what is going on there is wrong, they aren't going to try to do the right thing, they aren't going to risk their precious re-election - because what do a few sand niggers being tortured to death compare to the risk that Mr. Obama might not get elected? They aren't going to do a damned thing, and one of the things they aren't going to do is even admit the extent of their crimes.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:48 AM on March 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


:(
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:02 AM on March 9, 2011


Don't get bummed, AEelfwine. We make slow converts. I have two to my name that I know of, perhaps more. People will have to think about this sooner or later if we push it in their faces - "I am approving of internment camps where people have been and continue to be tortured to death."

A collapse seems inevitable, unfortunately, and then we can at least say, "I told you so," before scrabbling for rats in the ruins of Manhattan with everyone else.

Wait, that wasn't so cheerful.

Well, I just heard from my wife that some people call Eskimos "Snow Mexicans" which made me laugh rather a lot...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:06 AM on March 9, 2011


because what do a few sand niggers being tortured to death compare to the risk that Mr. Obama might not get elected? They aren't going to do a damned thing, and one of the things they aren't going to do is even admit the extent of their crimes.

oh
posted by angrycat at 9:08 AM on March 9, 2011


(to be tirelessly PC, I'd point out that even "Eskimo" is a somewhat derogatory term meaning "carrion eater" and I generally, and always when in Canada, call them the Inuit, or even clearer, the native peoples of the North...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:08 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Powers-That-Be and many people on Metafilter have deemed that it's simply "too difficult" to stop doing this - i.e., stop committing war crimes. ... they aren't going to risk their precious re-election - because what do a few sand niggers being tortured to death compare to the risk that Mr. Obama might not get elected?

By way of illustrating the relative importance assigned to Problems Affecting Americans and Problems Affecting Everyone Else, I asked upthread:

Who is suffering the greater injustice? The women who will lose access to reproductive health care when the Republicans cut funding to Planned Parenthood? Or the women who will bury their children after Obama's next drone strike?

Even the one person who dared to address the question could come up with nothing better than "We only blew them up by accident."

Which no doubt comes as a great comfort to the parents picking their children's limbs out of the rubble.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:21 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


. What happens if they are released into this country, and make their way into communities where Sid and Jerry down at the VFW later hear that "that new guy that moved into town was one of them Guantanamo folks, did you hear?" What do you honestly think would happen?

But hey, if you consider turning people over into the hands of mob justice to be a better situation, civil-rights-wise, I suppose you could have a point...


This seems like a leap to me.

In fact, and this is nothing against you, your whole comment is hinged on arguments that do not reflect how the American system of justice is supposed to work.

It's kind of tragic to me, that we have already fallen so far that people are willing to use arguments that are antithetical to the whole idea of justice to defend the indefensible.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:06 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, vigilante justice will be rampant so we can't release people who are innocent and move those who can be charged somewhere that's not an extra-legal concentration camp situation? People are released from prison all the time, the guilty, the innocent, the likely-to-murder-you for-50-dollars group. Are we see large amounts of vigilantism against these people? When a sex offender moves in across the street there are databases that generally tell you. Most people aren't gonna know the GITMO detainees from the guy that works in the cubicle next to them.

Vigilantism? What?

This isn't an argument, it's really nothing but speculation based on nothing.

Doing the right thing isn't always the politically expedient thing to do. Our leaders are cowards. And as much as I have told them this is wrong, they don't give a shit.

Hope? Change? A friend of mine and the coin in my pocket.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:21 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


But hey, if you consider turning people over into the hands of mob justice to be a better situation, civil-rights-wise, I suppose you could have a point...

This attitude would have gotten us real far with segregation in the 1960s.
posted by benzenedream at 10:46 AM on March 9, 2011


Fine. I'm not calling for Obama's head on a pike, so that makes me a Nazi.

Have it your way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on March 9, 2011


I'm not either. I'm simply saying that this is wrong. It's wrong according to everything I know to be right. I am a veteran myself, and I'm not saying that gives me special authority or anything, but this crap, is not why I wore that blood-lined uniform. It's just not.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:24 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


You really should be, EmpressCallipygos. We are committing war crimes. If there's anything worthy of heads on pikes, it's that.
posted by Malor at 11:53 AM on March 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


We live in a right-wing, increasingly paranoid country. Thems the breaks. This is why things sucked in 95-96, and they suck nowish.

If you throw away any hope for this administration, what are you left with. The loonies that are increasingly driving this country further to the right.
posted by angrycat at 11:53 AM on March 9, 2011


If you throw away any hope for this administration, what are you left with.

A clear understanding of one's position.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:55 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


wow, heads on pikes? damn, and I thought this thread had gone into the gutter before...
i work with kids who come from all over Africa and the near and far East. They come from countries with great instability. They come from places where they saw blood running in the streets. I put it to you thusly: those extolling the virtues of revolution and heads on pikes? You don't know what the fuck you're talking about.
posted by angrycat at 11:56 AM on March 9, 2011


Check out the head on this pike.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:03 PM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fine. I'm not calling for Obama's head on a pike, so that makes me a Nazi.

Now you're just being melodramatic. No one is calling anyone a Nazi. No one has called Obama a Nazi or compared the U.S.A. to the Third Reich.

Who's calling for a revolution? Did I miss something. Summary execution for war crimes does not a revolution make. Although for that to happen we will have to have a political revolution(meaning non-violent and via the voting booth) to get the democrats and republicans out of office.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:16 PM on March 9, 2011


Check out the head on this pike.

Wrong thread.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:46 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now you're just being melodramatic.

People in here are saying that Obama is personally "ramming force feeding tubes down people's nostrils", and I'm the one you're calling melodramatic?

Jesus. It's like I'm back in college. And not in the cool way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:09 PM on March 9, 2011


People that work for him are doing exactly that, Empress. Exactly that.

Read his comment carefully. It's not melodrama when it's a literal description of the truth.
posted by Malor at 1:16 PM on March 9, 2011


Remember that old saying, "the bucks stops here"? Those prisoners are having nasal tubes literally, absolutely literally, shoved by force down their throats to feed them, reportedly in some cases without even using lubrication. And whether or not the President is standing there at the time, he is absolutely responsible. The buck stops there.
posted by Malor at 1:20 PM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


People in here are saying that Obama is personally "ramming force feeding tubes down people's nostrils", and I'm the one you're calling melodramatic?

Jesus. It's like I'm back in college. And not in the cool way.


So you withdraw your assertion that people here are calling you or anyone else a Nazi?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:24 PM on March 9, 2011


This is precisely the sort of dead-end argument that should be dropped forthwith. It's not good for the site at all.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:28 PM on March 9, 2011


So you withdraw your assertion that people here are calling you or anyone else a Nazi?

Would it be possible to not focus on the who-called-who-a-Nazi thing and talk about the subject at hand instead?
posted by twirlip at 1:30 PM on March 9, 2011


Would it be possible to not focus on the who-called-who-a-Nazi thing and talk about the subject at hand instead?

Well we've been trying but people keep crying Nazi and it's simply not true. It's actually in bad faith in my opinion and it needs to stop because it's poisoning the discussion.

Bottom line: we are committing war crimes every day we keep open our global system of internment camps. This has to end. Both the republicans and democrats have demonstrated that they are willing to let this continue.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:43 PM on March 9, 2011


And whether or not the President is standing there at the time, he is absolutely responsible.

If I said "Obama is airlifting humanitarian aid to Haiti", the Empress would not have assumed that I meant he was flying a plane himself. Without even having to think about it, she would have understood that I meant that these actions are being peformed by US government agencies in accordance with his will.

But when I say "Obama is force-feeding prisoners", she seizes upon the ludicrous idea that I am saying he rams the tubes down himself. She does this, I think, to evade the understanding that he is responsible - legally and morally - for that atrocity.

As if he were not responsible for the slaughter of Afghan children because he didn't push the "launch" button on the drone bomber with his own manicured fingers.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:51 PM on March 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Proportional representation allows a minority party to gain huge power in coalition governments. Look at what the ultra-religious parties and settlers get in Israel. I'm not sure the grass is greener

The grass is far greener - I've lived under both. You're so desensitized to how crazy and extreme and hugely powerful the wing-nuts are under the US system that you think israel presents a counter example - and israel is probably about as bad as it can get.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:21 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


[folks - the co-hollering needs to stop now.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:07 PM on March 9, 2011


Unless a better candidate steps forth, I'll likely vote for Obama again. Pretty simple. I obviously disagree with these actions, but I followed the situation (2008 election) enough that I feel like Obama was about as sincere as anybody who would ever has a chance of winning in today's America. So anyone else with similar goals to be president, including people commenting here, would do the same things.

And given the chance to vote for him or watch McCain & Palin win? I would choose Obama again.

When we get some candidate that has a chance of winning who will be captain America and just totally change everything we've ever known and save the children and stop hunger and free the world and stop all the wars - that will mean America itself has changed.

In other words, it's time to get out and go talk to our neighbors again, and dispel rumors and counteract all the insane shit republicans are saying and doing with the help of fox news.
posted by cashman at 3:18 PM on March 9, 2011


But when I say "Obama is force-feeding prisoners", she seizes upon the ludicrous idea that I am saying he rams the tubes down himself. She does this, I think, to evade the understanding that he is responsible - legally and morally - for that atrocity.

Most countries prohibit suicide on moral grounds. It is against Islamic law as well. People in prison don't get to shut the door when they take a crap as well. It is a prison. What's the ethical violation here?

As if he were not responsible for the slaughter of Afghan children because he didn't push the "launch" button on the drone bomber with his own manicured fingers.

An air Ambulance crashed the other day. Lots of people were killed. Is Obama responsible for the trauma team? Who will tell their wides and husbands and children about the villainous Obama administration and it's war on doctors. Accidents happen. The Taliban are assassinating civil servants and planting roadside bombs as part of a violent campaign. Civil disobedience wasn't the Talibans first option. This isn't Libyia where no one is offering to negotiate. The Taliban are responsible for the overwhelming majority of casulaties.
posted by humanfont at 4:50 PM on March 9, 2011


> What's the ethical violation here?

The ethical violation is that these people have not been charged with any crime, and many of them are innocent.

> An air Ambulance crashed the other day. Lots of people were killed. Is Obama responsible for the trauma team?

That's a very very strange question. No, he is not. Why would you possibly think he was?

However, when Mr. Obama orders drone attacks on friendly countries like Pakistan and Yemen, attacks which kill innocent people who've never offered the US any harm, then yes, he's responsible for those deaths. Who else is?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:58 PM on March 9, 2011


That's it! I'm going back to voting for Miko.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:58 PM on March 9, 2011


Glenn Greenwald nails it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:04 PM on March 9, 2011


And I'd missed his previous article on the topic.

Highlight:
The preservation of the crux of the Bush detention scheme was advocated by Obama long before Congress' ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. It was in May, 2009 -- a mere five months after his inauguration -- that Obama stood up in front of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives and demanded a new law of "preventive detention" to empower him to imprison people without charges: a plan the New York Times said "would be a departure from the way this country sees itself." It was the same month that the administration announced it intended to continue to deny many detainees trials, instead preserving the military commissions scheme, albeit with modifications. And the first -- and only -- Obama plan for "closing Guantanamo" came in December, 2009, and it entailed nothing more than transferring the camp to a supermax prison in Thompson, Illinois, while preserving its key ingredients, prompting the name "Gitmo North."

None of this was even arguably necessitated by Congressional action. To the contrary, almost all of it took place before Congress did anything. It was Barack Obama's position -- not that of Congress -- that detainees could and should be denied trials, that our court system was inadequate and inappropriate to try them, and that he possessed the unilateral, unrestrained power under the "laws of war" to order them imprisoned for years, even indefinitely, without bothering to charge them with a crime and without any review by the judiciary, in some cases without even the right of habeas review [...]
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:11 PM on March 9, 2011


However, when Mr. Obama orders drone attacks on friendly countries like Pakistan and Yemen, attacks which kill innocent people who've never offered the US any harm, then yes, he's responsible for those deaths. Who else is?

Attacks which were coordinated per the wikileaks cable archives with the approval and support of the countries involved despite their attempts to say otherwise?

In the case of Pakistan the regions being attacked are involved in training and recruiting people engaged in launching attacks in Afghanistan an another ally of ours. Ethically that seems like a reciprocal response.

In Yemen Al Qaeda in the Arabian Pennnsla launched an unprovoked attack on one our navy ships, attempted to send package bombs and recruited a US Army member to kill his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood in Texas. They also attempted to blow up an airline in Christmas day two years ago. They publish a regular magazine with bomb making instructions and have encouraged their followers to massacre Americans including a misguided Seattle cartoonist who has vanished food her own safety.

These are recognized actions with. The rights of a nation to self defense.
posted by humanfont at 7:03 PM on March 9, 2011


No comments on the Glenn Greenwald article?

> Attacks which were coordinated per the wikileaks cable archives with the approval and support of the countries involved despite their attempts to say otherwise?

Just because someone gives you "permission" to commit a war crime doesn't make it legal. Most Pakistanis are themselves against the drone attacks.

If the Pakistani government is the gold standard for moral behaviour, well, why not just get rid of the Constitution for once and for all

> The rights of a nation to self defense.

How is the US "defending" itself by attacking Pakistan?

There are huge numbers of innocent people being killed, even according to pro-Administration sources. The Brookings Institute claims that the civilian::militant kill ratio is 10:1 (see my link above).

Overall, this "self-defense" argument is morally ridiculous. The US uses this as a justification for Guantanamo Bay, for the network of detention camps, for the drone attacks, for the Iraq War, etc. etc. But notice that the US has killed literally thousands of times as many of "them" as "they" have killed of us, in my lifetime at least, and the vast majority of these killings have been pre-emptive (like Iraq).

By that argument, "He looked at me funny," is a good reason to shoot a random stranger in the street.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:14 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It doesn't matter whether the bombings in Yemen and Pakistan are justifiable. Obama is still responsible for the resulting deaths, including those of innocent bystanders, because he personally authorized the attacks -- knowing full well that civilians might be killed -- and they were carried out by soldiers who are under his command. I don't know if he personally authorized the force-feeding of hunger-striking Gitmo prisoners, but the practice has continued under his administration, so he bears some responsibility there too. That's what being President means.
posted by twirlip at 8:29 PM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't blame me, I voted for Nader....
posted by Redhush at 9:01 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, blame me, because I voted for Obama, and I am just heartbroken at what I've done. I really, truly believed those amazing speeches, and now my vote is being used to torture people.

Fuck. Never, ever again. I should have voted for Ron Paul; there are strong aspects of his platform I don't like, but he's as absolutely against torture and indefinite detention as I am. At this point, he'd be a much, much lesser evil.
posted by Malor at 12:33 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, Malor. :-( If I could have voted (I'm not a citizen) I'd definitely have voted for Mr. Obama. There really wasn't much choice. Ron Paul is a bit of a loonie, unfortunately - an honest loonie at least, but still wanting to shut down key parts of a modern government.

Don't regret it - channel that anger away from yourself, you did the best you could, and channel it toward the people who lied to us and let us down.

Don't forget that the Democratic National Party will soon be sending us money demands with post-paid reply envelopes. I'm looking forward to sending them a brick with the words BRADLEY MANNING written on it...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:03 AM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Please pardon my trite statement above. What I meant was I voted my conscience over the lesser of the evils. I think the kind of change needed is so extreme that it's only going to come from chaos first. And spare me any bullspork about throwing my vote away. Votes should be, IMHO, all about conscience
posted by Redhush at 5:25 AM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Redhush: voting is very hard. You have to do the best you can, and you can't waste emotional energy castigating yourself afterward. I have a degree in mathematics and have studied game theory, yet I really believe you should vote your conscience unless there's some overwhelming strategic reason to do otherwise, because the problem is otherwise simply too complex to solve...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:38 AM on March 10, 2011


There are huge numbers of innocent people being killed, even according to pro-Administration sources. The Brookings Institute claims that the civilian::militant kill ratio is 10:1 (see my link above)

Kill ratios in terms of overall violence? The stats I've seen from the United Nations indicate that 75-80% of civilian casualties were the result of Taliban and anti-government groups, while 25-20% were the result of ISAF forces. Furthermore analysis of media reports including local media like the Dawn (hardly pro Administration), have tracked the Pakisan drone strikes as having a fairly low civilian casualty rate.

Furthermore the ISAF forces have enforced rules of engagement and taken steps to increase protection of civilians and avoid civilian deaths via changed rules of engagement. Meanwhile the Talliban never seems to apologize for its campaign of violence against civilians and in fact has increased attacks on civilians as part of a campaign of fear and intimidation of civilian populations.

How exactly do you propose we should handle this situation? Let the bullies win and kill as many afghans as they want to? Tell those who've worked and supported us to help build a better Afghanistan, sorry you're on your own. Good luck. Hope you aren't killed in retribution killings?
posted by humanfont at 7:48 AM on March 10, 2011


humanfont: First and foremost, this is in fact a discussion about detention in Guantanamo Bay... I mentioned drone attacks as an aside, which I regret - it's become a serious derail.

Second, I'm not at all sure how you get from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen, and the various other places that drones are being used.

Third, the argument that "the Taliban kill innocent people so we can too," is bankrupt.

Fourth, there's an implicit assumption that these drone killings are somehow helping "those who've worked and supported us." You'd really have to show that with some hard facts...

But mainly, this is a huge derail - back to the matter at hand!

As I said, I believe that the Greenwald article is authoritative - he sums up his findings as "Obama -- for reasons having nothing to do with Congress -- worked from the start to preserve the crux of the Bush/Cheney detention regime." Any comments on that?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:19 AM on March 10, 2011


Sorry for continuing the derail but I wonder why the longwarjournal's numbers for civilian deaths are so low when compared to other estimates? Maybe because they are a neoconservative mouthpiece. Thank you for showing your true colors humanfont.

The truth is we don't know the true number. It is probably somewhere in between the longwarjournal's low ball estimate and antiwar.com's highball estimate.

Either way the number of civilians killed in dronestrikes has absolutely jack shit to do with the morality of our global system of internment camps.

Maybe instead of trying to change the subject, humanfont, you could comment on this horrific and immoral system of detention and stripping of human rights.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:05 AM on March 10, 2011


Third, the argument that "the Taliban kill innocent people so we can too," is bankrupt.

That it not the argument. Let me restate it. The Taliban are engaged in a deliberate campaign to target civilians. There is a very large moral difference between that tactic and the accidentental killing of civilians when the intent it only to target those engaged in or directing violence. In the first instance the objective of the actors was to kill a bunch of school children, in the second it was certainly not. Furthermore the US has issued a statement of regret over re incident while the Taliban has praised the work of their soldiers.

Your attempt to accuse me of a derail is nonsense. This is a conversation about Gitmo and detainees. Where did these detainees come from and what were the circumstances of their capture? Are they criminals, combatants, unlawful combatants or noncombatant civilians who have been detained? A combatant or unlawful combatant may be held for the duration f the conflict. When does that end? A criminally be tried based on various procedures, as they also be combatants what does this mean in terms of jurisdiction of the court and a process of trial and rules of evidence. How do you sort out the noncriminal and noncombatant civilians from the rest and process them out. The management and oversight of these prisoners is part of a broader framework of acheiving our goals in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Your nonsensical rhetorical games are ignoring the reality. Critics of Obama's Gimo policy seem unable to provide any alternate answer or option.

Pardon and Grant a green card. Legally possible but, The President would quite likely be impeached, if the cabinet didn't vote him incompetent to hold office before that. Nothing would change

Release Immediately. Where? One person suggested bribing the corrupt Syrian government known for it's human rights abuses and also threatening to bomb them if they didn't. We've made offers and requests to a number of governments to take those prisoners in. So far very few are willing to accept any.

Meanwhile Obama has given all of these folks status under the Geneva conventions, provided ICRC visitation and monitoring and developed a process where combatants and innocent civilians can challenge their detention and have their status regularly reviewed. He has imposed one standard for interrogations (even if it is flawed there is one standard now instead of no restrictions what so ever for CIA). That's progress and a marked shift from Bush Admin policy.
posted by humanfont at 9:59 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are they criminals, combatants, unlawful combatants or noncombatant civilians who have been detained? ... How do you sort out the noncriminal and noncombatant civilians from the rest and process them out.

First off, there may be tricky legal questions here, but it's Obama's job to make a determination on them. His executive order defers the questions instead, keeping at least some detainees in legal limbo for as long as the US feels like fighting a War on Terror. I don't think you mean to suggest that they're hard questions so Obama is justified in evading them, but I wanted to make that clear.

Secondly, part of the problem is that Obama is inventing new, excessive categories and procedures -- or rather, he is formalizing (providing a legal and policy framework for) the ad-hoc policies invented by the Bush administration. As I understand it, the Obama administration has decided it may detain people "who were part of, or substantially supported, Taliban or Al Qaeda forces." That is extremely far-reaching ("substantial support" is undefined, for example) and I would be curious to know what precedent there is for it under international law, especially since al-Qaeda is not a state. The latest executive order permits these folks to be detained indefinitely if they are deemed a national security threat; the procedure Obama is developing for making that determination is severely lacking in proper due process. So one reason people find your questions difficult to answer is because the premises don't apply, because the US has been operating outside existing frameworks for dealing with this sort of thing -- picking and choosing the broadest and harshest legal tools for dealing with the detainees and ignoring the law altogether when it's convenient to do so. Obama is obviously trying to get things back into a legal framework, but AFAICT his framework is unprecedented in its woefully inadequate due process and its disrespect for the rights of detainees. The state of exception continues, in a sense, but with formal policy and legal armor to back it up.

But even if we accept the terms of debate set by the Bush and Obama administrations, there are problems. Let's say Obama's review process determines that a detainee is a threat to national security. What happens then? The person is detained basically forever -- there is nothing that requires the US ever to bring them to any kind of trial. Seems to me that if the review process can decide a person is a security threat, they should be tried, and the review process should indicate whether it is a criminal or a military trial. (I don't have any faith in the fairness of such trials, but let's set that aside for now.) International law may allow combatants to be held for the duration of hostilities, but given that there is no end to the War on Terror and these people were originally detained outside the bounds of international law, the US owes them no less.

As for those who aren't a security threat (and, again, for the sake of discussion I'll set aside my cynicism about that review process), there is absolutely no justification for continuing to detain them. If their home country won't accept them, yes, the US should take them in. It got them in this extralegal situation; if they're innocent, it's the US's responsibility to make amends, even if that means a pardon and naturalization. Nothing justifies the indefinite detention of innocent people.

Is that politically palatable? Maybe not, but so what. The US has an obligation to treat these people justly. Obama ought to have the integrity to do that. I will continue to criticize him and his supporters as long as they prefer political expediency over correcting a gross miscarriage of justice.
posted by twirlip at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just as a note, Twirlip, that's the kind of substantive and reasonable comment that adds value to the discussion and that I'd like to see more of, and not just because I agree with it. You neither mischaracterized Obama's policies nor those of people you disagree with, impugned no one, and didn't have to resort to inflammatory rhetoric in order to make your points.
posted by klangklangston at 1:48 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


First off, there may be tricky legal questions here, but it's Obama's job to make a determination on them. His executive order defers the questions instead, keeping at least some detainees in legal limbo for as long as the US feels like fighting a War on Terror. I don't think you mean to suggest that they're hard questions so Obama is justified in evading them, but I wanted to make that clear.

That's simply untrue. The executive order identified them as combatants. With a specific provision for them to challenge their status. They were also granted rights under the Geneva convention. It also identifies a process by which they may be subjected to additional prosecution as criminals or unlawful combatants under military commission or civilian courts as appropriate.

That is extremely far-reaching ("substantial support" is undefined, for example) and I would be curious to know what precedent there is for it under international law, especially since al-Qaeda is not a state.

There is a whole section on this in the Geneva conventions. Including the enumerated rights.

Obama is obviously trying to get things back into a legal framework, but AFAICT his framework is unprecedented in its woefully inadequate due process and its disrespect for the rights of detainees.

He has developed a legal framework that that should comply with the rulings of the US Supreme Court, the Laws passed by congress on military commissions, and the geneva conventions. The current situation with Gitmo Detainees is as follows:
-We are seeking to release 126 to their home country or a third country that will take them in.
-We are seeking to prosecute 36 under civilian trials or military commissions.
-We are holding 48 as prisoners of war (these are the ones stuck in indefinate detention, but their status will be reviewed every 6 months).
-30 Yemeni's are awaiting return to Yemen based on security and potential human rights conditions they'd face upon return to Yemen.

the Obama administration has decided it may detain people "who were part of, or substantially supported, Taliban or Al Qaeda forces." That is extremely far-reaching ("substantial support" is undefined, for example) and I would be curious to know what precedent there is for it under international law, especially since al-Qaeda is not a state.

US Law defines material support for terrorism in a fairly broad manner. Inside the US you would face arrest (e.g. detention) based on this law and would be prosecuted. Outside the US it is not usually considered a matter of criminal law, but the "supporter" becomes a combatant and depending on their location and actions could be subject to any number of measures available within the US' diplomatic and military capabilities. Congress authorized the President to use force against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, this gives Obama the far reaching authority to detain, shoot, etc the individuals. Congress is the place that this needs to be reigned in. The policies about which regions are subject to which kinds of action would be contained within various orders regarding rules of engagement and diplomatic policy statements.
posted by humanfont at 2:35 PM on March 10, 2011


Don't blame me, I voted for Nader....

Don't blame me, I voted for South Park.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:44 PM on March 10, 2011


Thanks for the informative response, humanfont.

That's simply untrue. The executive order identified them as combatants. With a specific provision for them to challenge their status.

Fair enough. Executive Order 13567 (the subject of this thread) does not refer to anyone as a combatant, but on closer inspection it refers back to EO 13492, which does. (And I regret using the phrase "legal limbo"; the whole point is that Obama is building a legal framework where previously there was essentially nothing.)

However, the review/challenge provisions in 13567 are specifically tied to section 2, which says merely that detention is "warranted ... if it is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States." On the face of it, that's a different and much broader standard. Yes, in theory it's limited to designated combatants, but that sort of begs the question.

He has developed a legal framework that that should comply with the rulings of the US Supreme Court, the Laws passed by congress on military commissions, and the geneva conventions. [...] US Law defines material support for terrorism in a fairly broad manner. Inside the US you would face arrest (e.g. detention) based on this law and would be prosecuted. Outside the US it is not usually considered a matter of criminal law, but the "supporter" becomes a combatant and depending on their location and actions could be subject to any number of measures available within the US' diplomatic and military capabilities. Congress authorized the President to use force against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, this gives Obama the far reaching authority to detain, shoot, etc the individuals.

I really like this as an outline of the legal framework we're talking about. But "substantial support" for the Taliban or al-Qaeda -- Obama's legal test for Gitmo detention -- need not be the same thing as "material support," nor does it necessarily refer back to Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention, which would seem to be the relevant part of international law for whoever wants to justify indefinite detention. The administration has explicitly avoided defining "substantial support" except in the vaguest possible terms (see this legal brief from March 13, 2009), resorting to a weak case-by-case basis instead of tying the definition to any particular existing law. (Again, if there has been further elaboration of this standard, I'd love to see it -- I'm not an expert on this stuff.)

I get that Obama inherited a bad situation, and in order to create a legal framework he obviously has to pick and choose from different pre-existing laws. But it seems to me that the picking and choosing is being done in a way that intentionally results in some very broad standards and gives the US a hell of a lot of leeway in how it treats detainees. I mean, at a minimum, we've got 48 people at Gitmo who will be held indefinitely without trial because they provided "substantial support" to the Bad Guys and are a "threat to national security," yet the evidence for is so weak that they are not being brought to trial despite the fact that Obama has all these different laws to try them under. A periodic review doesn't transform that into due process.

And a lot more could still be said about the inadequacies of the review process (detainees still don't get to see the evidence against them, the evidentiary standards are vague or nonexistent, they have no avenue of appeal, etc.). Or the fact that there are alternatives to indefinite detention that are being left off the table for political expediency. Or the question of how strictly the Geneva Conventions are being adhered to (the force-feeding has been condemned by human rights groups, for example, and I wonder how many detained enemy combatants have elected representatives). Or the fact that this legal framework only applies to Gitmo detainees, and not to the ones in secret prisons in other countries. But I've already spent way too much of my day writing this, and this is already a long comment at the end of a long thread.
posted by twirlip at 5:57 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


ACLU Lens: New Executive Order Institutionalizes Indefinite Detention at Guantánamo

Guantanamo’s Simulacrum of Justice

You can paint it as pretty a color as you want, but immoral shit is still immoral shit whether Bush is doing it or Obama.

And still no one has yet ventured to justify our global system of internment camps. I wonder why that is? I mean if you can justify what is going on at Guantanamo than why not take the leap and go all the way. Furthermore, even if you believe Obama is making the best possible decision about the Guantanamo detainees what do you think about the unknown detainees that have been rotting unmentioned in our black sites for 9 to 10 years.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:19 PM on March 10, 2011


GOP Praises Obama's Decision to Bring Back Military Tribunals at Guantanamo Bay
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:26 PM on March 10, 2011


"I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system -- including Article III courts -- to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened," the president said in a written statement. Article III courts are civilian federal courts.

But the decision sparked immediate criticism from the ACLU.

"The best way to get America out of the Guantanamo morass is to use the most effective and reliable tool we have: our criminal justice system," the organization said in a written statement. "Instead, the Obama administration has done just the opposite and chosen to institutionalize unlawful indefinite detention - creating a troubling 'new normal' -- and to revive the illegitimate Guantanamo military commissions."

Who would've thought the part of the american justice system to have the most justice would be the criminal justice part? I guess no article that begins: "GOP Praises Obama's Descision.." will be very cheery
posted by Redhush at 7:55 AM on March 11, 2011


New York Court to Hear Case Against Psychologist Accused of Torture in Guantánamo Interrogations
posted by homunculus at 8:42 AM on April 6, 2011


KSM will be tried by a Military Commision instead of a US Court Criminal trial.--Obama admin reverses course in the wake of pressure from Schumer and others.
posted by humanfont at 10:24 AM on April 6, 2011


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