Mohammed el Gorani
December 14, 2011 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Mohammed el Gorani, the youngest prisoner held at Guantánamo, has written a memoir of his time there, the lead up to his imprisonment, and subsequent release years later.
posted by gman (65 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Call your congressman or woman and tell them you support the President in getting this place closed.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:03 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. Sadly nothing in his account is a surprise, but it was really hard to read. But necessary.
posted by cell divide at 2:19 PM on December 14, 2011


@Ironmouth I'll just assume you mean ACLU president Susan N. Herman because otherwise I have no idea what you are talking about.
posted by fartron at 2:19 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


The entire base, or the military prison there?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:19 PM on December 14, 2011


The entire base, or the military prison there?

Which do you want closed? You're the one calling or writing your congressperson. Tell them whatever you want.
posted by The World Famous at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Number Two, Number Two!
I will never regret what I do!
You will never forget it, Number Two!
If you treat us as human, human beings,
We will treat you as human, human beings!
If you treat us as animals, so will we,
We will treat you as animals!
Number Two, Number Two, Number Two!


.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:27 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Call your congressman or woman and tell them you support the President in getting this place closed.
Lolwhat? When was the last time Obama even said he wanted to close Gitmo? He's also busy opening other prison around the world. He didn't even want to stop what was going on at Gitmo, just move it to another physical location - he even demanded the right to physically detain people indefinitely. Trying to use this story to promote Obama is incredibly disingenuous, even for you.
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


@Ironmouth I'll just assume you mean ACLU president Susan N. Herman
Fartron. This isn't twitter.
posted by delmoi at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even the lame-ass politifact rates Obama's promise to close Gitmo as "broken".
posted by delmoi at 2:32 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama tried to bring the remaining Guantanamo inmates, all of whom are believed to be dangerous, to US soil. Congressional NIMBY fucks from both parties prohibited him from doing so. He doesn't want to free people whom he believes to be dangerous terrorists. So they have to stay put. What's the alternative?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:37 PM on December 14, 2011


Can we please not derail this into being about Obama, and stick to the topic which is a child torture victim of the U.S. government. Ironmouth you're turning into the antibeese.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama tried to bring the remaining Guantanamo inmates, all of whom are believed to be dangerous, to US soil. Congressional NIMBY fucks from both parties prohibited him from doing so. He doesn't want to free people whom he believes to be dangerous terrorists. So they have to stay put. What's the alternative?

Maybe try giving the prisoners due process, respecting habeas corpus, and avoiding cruel and unusual punishment and torture, regardless of the location of the detention facility. Just an idea. I mean, it's good enough for the Constitution, right?

Or were you not actually looking for an alternative?
posted by The World Famous at 2:42 PM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Maybe try giving the prisoners due process, respecting habeas corpus, and avoiding cruel and unusual punishment and torture, regardless of the location of the detention facility. Just an idea. I mean, it's good enough for the Constitution, right?

The Bush administration tortured the detainees. That fact alone means that giving them due process would result in them being freed. So your alternative is, Barack Obama should free people he believes to be dangerous terrorists. That is a principled stand, but not a realistic one.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Bush administration tortured the detainees. That fact alone means that giving them due process would result in them being freed. So your alternative is, Barack Obama should free people he believes to be dangerous terrorists. That is a principled stand, but not a realistic one.

"Believes to be dangerous" is not a sufficient basis for detaining someone. Full stop.
posted by The World Famous at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


You know, I realize I said "full stop." But I have to add that the notion that someone is not entitled to due process because they have been tortured and are therefore dangerous is the most unethical, immoral, and despicable thing I've read all day.
posted by The World Famous at 2:49 PM on December 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


The Bush administration tortured the detainees. That fact alone means that giving them due process would result in them being freed.
You can't use evidence gathered through torture in court, but you shouldn't use it as a basis to detain someone either. If there is real evidence against them, It could be used in court. If not, they shouldn't be detained.

Are you seriously arguing that we need to detain people on the basis of evidence gathered through torture?
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


But I have to add that the notion that someone is not entitled to due process because they have been tortured and are therefore dangerous is the most unethical, immoral, and despicable thing I've read all day.
Yeah...
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2011


Lolwhat? When was the last time Obama even said he wanted to close Gitmo?

huh? Aren't you even paying attention? There's a huge battle going on with Congress right now about trying to limit Obama's ability to transfer prisoners away from Gitmo.

Please see this Mother Jones article for details.
For weeks, the Obama administration has waged a rather effective campaign against the military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, dispatching high level security officials to warn Congress that the bill would harm counterterrorism efforts.

Well it worked, sort of. The conference version of the bill gives the White House so much room to maneuver around the "mandatory" nature of the military detention provisions that Congress can argue they've given the administration the "flexibility" it needs to fight terrorism effectively. At the same time, the bill creates a presumption of military custody for foreign nationals suspected of terrorism where there was none before. That means next time a foreign national gets pulled off a plane with their underpants on fire, and the administration doesn't throw him in a brig somewhere, elected officials can run to the microphones and express their frustration that the White House is defying congressional will.

The bill also retains the restrictions on Gitmo transfers, which the Obama administration threatened to veto when they first came into effect last year. The transfer restrictions effectively turn Gitmo into the Chateu d'If: Not a single detainee has been transferred since the rules were adopted, not even the scores that have been cleared for transfer by the Guantanamo task force. Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson has called the restrictions "onerous and near impossible to satisfy," and it's a good bet that if they're maintained there won't be any transfers next year either. There are legitimate concerns about the rising "recidivism" rates of former Gitmo detainees (the term recidivism is a bit of a misnomer since most were never convicted of anything) but these ignore changes in the review process. The more than 500 detainees released under the Bush administration have a much higher "recidivism" rate than the less than a hundred released under Obama, in part because the Bush administration did an very poor job of handling Gitmo case files.

The Obama administration had a very good reason not to go to the mat over the Gitmo transfers last time around though—it would have meant vetoing the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. This time, the administration faces no such choice.
Seriously. You just have to read the paper. Its not a fucking coincidence this article is coming out right now. Its precisely because there is this titanic battle going on.

Last year they could have vetoed the provision--for certain. But there was this other provision they wanted to get passed and when it got in the military authorization bill, that's when they decided not to veto it. Don't Ask Don't Tell, you may have heard of it.

This is a fight where our telephone calls can make an immediate effect. Please call your Congress person and inform them that you wish to see the National Defense Authorization Act not have "mandatory military detention provisions" for foreign nationals arrested for terrorism.

Can we please not derail this into being about Obama, and stick to the topic which is a child torture victim of the U.S. government. Ironmouth you're turning into the antibeese.

it is very important that we intervene as much as possible in this debate right now. The Administration's position is that it should have the ability to not send people there and have the ability to transfer people out of Gitmo. Make it happen.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


@Ironmouth I'll just assume you mean ACLU president Susan N. Herman because otherwise I have no idea what you are talking about.

ACLU President Herman does not have a vote in this battle. Your congressman or woman does.

Take it from someone who doesn't even have a congressional representative who can vote on this. Tell them to give the President the powers he needs to keep more people from military detention and to move people away from Gitmo.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2011


That is a principled stand, but not a realistic one.

That "rule of law" - so unrealistic, because after all, the Constitution is just a piece of paper.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:59 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


As I understand the president's position, he definitely wants to close the facility in Guantanamo. It's a national disgrace and an embarrassment, but this is part of a policy which has ramped up the GWOT including secret detention, forced rendition (i.e. to places where torture is practiced) and assassination. And he has tried to make legitimate the legal framework that allows the president to conduct the GWOT largely without checks and balances from either congress or the courts?

So, why should I support his attempt to hide the very public face of the "War on Terror?"
posted by ennui.bz at 3:01 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


huh? Aren't you even paying attention? There's a huge battle going on with Congress right now about trying to limit Obama's ability to transfer prisoners away from Gitmo.
Hasn't the excuse always been that they've already defunded his ability to transfer prisoners? Now you're saying that he has had the ability to transfer prisoners, but just hasn't done it (at least not all the prisoners) for some reason?

Whatever, do you honestly expect anyone to take you seriously?
ACLU President Herman does not have a vote in this battle. Your congressman or woman does.
"This battle" is only about Obama's "Flexibility" As far as I can tell the administration has only complained about the mandatory aspects of the bill, not the ability to detain people indefinitely. In fact Obama asked for a bill giving him the right to detain people indefinitely.

He's not out there saying "I oppose this bill because I'm against indefinite detention" or "I oppose this bill because I want to close gimo" only "This removes flexibility"

For you to come in here and tell people this 'battle' is about closing Guantanamo, when neither the president or anyone else in the administration is actually even trying to make that argument is disingenuous.

It's also kind of disgusting for you to bring it up in a thread about someone who was tortured in Guantanamo in order to support a president who isn't interested in doing a damn thing about the problem.

It's also a total derail.
posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is there a single quote, anywhere from any Obama administration official saying they are planning to close gitmo in the next year and won't be able to if the controversial provisions pass? Given that most of the controversy is about U.S. citizens, of which there are none at Gitmo it seems unlikely.

And if not, are you just trolling, or what?
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I realize I said "full stop." But I have to add that the notion that someone is not entitled to due process because they have been tortured and are therefore dangerous is the most unethical, immoral, and despicable thing I've read all day.

These detainees had a right to not be tortured. George W. Bush took that right away by torturing them. They had a right to be given a fair trial. Again, George W. Bush took that right away by torturing them. They can no longer have a fair trial. It's fucked.

Obama cannot magic this away. He inherited an gigantic clusterfuck of evil. He has freed the people he does not believe to be a threat. I respect your opinion that the executive branch should free dozens of remaining people believed to be dangerous terrorists, presumably on US soil (what country would take them?), on a matter of legal principle. I disagree. The American people would believe that a "liberal" president had chosen to directly endanger them in order to protect the rights of terrorists. I think such an event would result in a paradigm-shifting populist backlash in favor of extremist authoritarianism in every aspect of American life. And that's even if there was no resulting terrorist attack.

My ethics are utilitarian. I believe principles have limits if those principles result in terrible suffering for large numbers of people. I believe that could very well be the result of freeing these detainees, both directly and indirectly.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:13 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always wondered if torture ever works. I've read it doesn't, but I'm not sure if that means they say nothing, the info is unreliable, or in similar situations the same information is gained via standard interrogation techniques. This story clearly doesn't involve much of that, in that if it's true the kid never had anything of value (militarywise) and they could have determined that without much effort compared to what it took to capture, keep, and abuse him.

I don't think torture should ever be a standard operation, or even legal at all, but I would be more ambivalent if there was real data showing certain torture techniques had and repeatedly do elicit information faster than conventional methods. It would need to be good data, and gathering the info would obviously be unethical (obviously they're already doing it, why not consider whether it works), but if that were true I might use torture if I believed it would save lives in the immediate future (e.g., prevent a nitrate bomb or plane crash). Even saying that, I would hope to be prosecuted afterwards. I would likely kill someone if they did certain harm to my family/loved-ones but I don't think the law should excuse me.

Anyone have a link to good torture data, other than just statements by supporters or opponents regardless of their experience
posted by PJLandis at 3:25 PM on December 14, 2011


These detainees had a right to not be tortured. George W. Bush took that right away by torturing them.

No, they still have the right. Their rights have been violated, but they still have them.

They had a right to be given a fair trial. Again, George W. Bush took that right away by torturing them.

Again, no, they still have the right to a fair trial. George W. Bush did not take that right away by torturing them. Nobody has ever taken that right away from them. They have the right to it and if the government won't or cannot give it to them, it must set them free. Period.

They have other rights, too. Lots of them. Those rights still exist. They still have them, even though they are violated on a regular basis.

They can no longer have a fair trial. It's fucked.

Sure they can. Exclude all - I mean all - evidence that was not properly gathered. Follow the Federal Rules of Evidence and all applicable procedural rules in a criminal trial. And if, following those rules, the government cannot make its case, set them free. Now, that still won't be fair treatment of the individuals. But the trial can be fair. It can absolutely be fair.

What you're saying is that the government, having flagrantly violated the rights of these individuals, cannot possibly make its case if it is forced to now follow proper and fair trial rules. You think, apparently, that the government's inability to make its case should result in a default trial victory for the government. I'm telling you that argument is not just bullshit, but also pure evil. It's like saying that a cyclist who arrives at the Tour de France and tests positive for every performance-enhancing substance known to man should automatically win the race, since it wouldn't be fair to make the other riders race against him.

So then we come to the unfortunate but very real fact that people who have been rounded up, put in prison, and tortured indefinitely without any due process or even hope of a fair trial may, predictably and quite justly, become vengeful against those who imprisoned them. The problem that we have certainly created enemies where there may not have been enemies before. That's a tough one, but I do have a solution: Round up every single person in the U.S. government, at any level, that ever made a decision that led to those people's unethical, immoral, and unconstitutional imprisonment. Give them a fair trial. Then let the newly-freed prisoners decide how to punish those who are convicted.

He has freed the people he does not believe to be a threat.

Yeah, that's not his job. He's not the King of America. He doesn't get to decide who gets freed and who doesn't based on what he "believes."

I respect your opinion that the executive branch should free dozens of remaining people believed to be dangerous terrorists, presumably on US soil (what country would take them?), on a matter of legal principle.

Legal principle? No. Moral principle. Ethical principle. Constitutional principle. Hell, logical principle. And it's not a matter of what the executive branch "should" do. It's a matter of what it must do. And what on earth does "believed to be dangerous terrorists" mean? Believed by whom? On what basis? The whole point of due process - THE WHOLE POINT OF DUE PROCESS - is to make the government demonstrate the actual factual basis for its belief that someone should be detained, incarcerated, etc. Why in the world would anyone be stupid, naive, and evil enough to take the government's word that someone is a dangerous terrorist when the government freely admits that that belief is not based on sufficient evidence to satisfy due process?

My ethics are utilitarian. I believe principles have limits if those principles result in terrible suffering for large numbers of people. I believe that could very well be the result of freeing these detainees, both directly and indirectly.

But you concede that your belief, if tested using actual evidence and a fair trial, would be exposed as complete bullshit. That's not utilitarian ethics.
posted by The World Famous at 3:50 PM on December 14, 2011 [30 favorites]


Is there a single quote, anywhere from any Obama administration official saying they are planning to close gitmo in the next year and won't be able to if the controversial provisions pass? Given that most of the controversy is about U.S. citizens, of which there are none at Gitmo it seems unlikely.

And if not, are you just trolling, or what?


Obama can't close Gitmo unless he can move the detainees away from there--he's legally prohibited from doing so. The provision in question passed with well more than a 2/3rds majority, making any veto threat empty.

Read the Mother Jones article.

Call to have any and all provisions you don't like in the legislation taken out. Mainly just call.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:54 PM on December 14, 2011


Crucial part of that Politifact article:
Some argue that Congress is largely to blame, while others say Obama simply made a political calculation not to expend too much political capital on it. But blame is not the final arbiter of whether a promise is kept or broken.
So, if I promise to give you a cookie, and someone steals that cookie from me, I am guilty of "breaking my promise". Politifact approved.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:58 PM on December 14, 2011


My ethics are utilitarian.

This puts you in frightening company.
posted by Trurl at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


For you to come in here and tell people this 'battle' is about closing Guantanamo, when neither the president or anyone else in the administration is actually even trying to make that argument is disingenuous.

he wants authority not to put them into military custody. do you want him forced to do that? are you for the president being forced to put every non-citizen caught in an alleged terrorist situation to be in military custody, or are you for them getting a trial?

its quite simple. why don't you call them up and tell them to throw away the key? how can you be for that? i don't know how you can help if you do nothing.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2011


And I thought this thread was going to be about this guy's memoir....
posted by azarbayejani at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Every time I read an account of Gitmo, I wonder how many Osama bin Ladens our government created there. Made from scratch, from people who had no interest in politics, or were at best bit players who now have a hatred so deep they'll eat and breathe it for the rest of their lives.

I mean, there is a pie in the sky hope that this young man will sue the shit out of the people responsible for his torture like he plans and win and boy wouldn't that be great. But since we all know that ain't happenin', what will he do when he realizes he will get nothing, no compensation, not-a-goddamned-thing-but-a-spit-in-the-eye-and-a-laugh? Where will all that rage go then?

So I think about how many of them will become terrorists because we created them. And then I wonder, since a Forever War seems to make those big-time terrorists at the top (Cheney et. al.) richer and richer, if that wasn't the plan all along.
posted by RedEmma at 4:01 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there any way I can trade in some of my other favorites, say 100 or so, and apply them to The World Famous' last comment?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:21 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading the above-linked Mother Jones article and the myriad earlier ones it links to by Serwer and others, deciphering the administration's motivations for its various veto threats and non-threats is not a trivial matter, even if you are "paying attention."

As this article and this one make fairly clear, the administration's objections to the current bill have little to do with existing prisoners at Guantanamo, and much more to do with the bill's restrictions on the freedom of the administration to use domestic tools like the FBI in current and ongoing investigations. In fact, the explicit Guantanamo restrictions first introduced last year remain in the bill, and the Obama administration has issued no veto threats vis-a-vis those clauses, as far as I can discern. This is not to say they like them, but the new stuff, forcing them to hand over international terrorism cases to the military, is apparently much more veto-worthy than the Guantanamo-specific provisions.

Regarding the original Guantanamo provisions last year, the usual argument is that they could not have been vetoed because DADT-repeal was also in the bill. This in itself is not sufficient, since vetoes don't kill the bill, just require it to be revised and repassed -- it was certainly in Congress's power to strip the Guantanamo provisions out of the bill, leave DADT in, and send it back to the president. This article and this one suggest that, when you dig into it, the truth is much murkier: getting DADT into the bill may have been the result of a trade which also included the Guantanamo transfer ban, which Barney Frank admits (to his credit). Whether the administration blessed this trade or not -- and it surely was aware of it -- brings us back to the usual question about Obama: was this back-room deal the best he could get? As usual, who knows. In any case, I don't see much of a sign that the Guantanamo restrictions were of primary importance to the administration then, and even less so now.
posted by chortly at 4:53 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


269. What an astounding story. He hopes to eventually fight the U.S. in COURT! That kid is a hero for not being driven to the dark side by that ordeal.

I'm still sad and confused at how the U.S. was so willing to roll over and give up everything we stand for after 9/11. It's like somebody took "Imma get medieval on they asses" a little to seriously. This shit is just unAmerican.
posted by snsranch at 5:02 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 wrote: The Bush administration tortured the detainees. That fact alone means that giving them due process would result in them being freed.

I don't know if that's the case, but surely the whole point of "due process" is that it's the right thing to do. Some of these guys are probably totally innocent; some are probably mostly innocent; even the worse guys have probably been through as much punishment as a court could have given them. As for the utilitarian argument that releasing them would be dangerous, I have two responses.

Firstly, Guantanamo and similar black sites are incredibly dangerous to the USA. You are not only raising a generation of people who hate you; you are destroying your own country's ideals. Look at the moral line in your paragraph quoted above - it's like saying "well, she saw my face, so I had to kill her". No. You've done bad things, but you have to stop before it gets worse.

Secondly, remember the Israelis releasing a thousand prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit? Lots of people said that this was crazy - that these guys would turn around and commit more atrocities. And they probably will. But the sad fact is that atrocities are not limited by the number of bad people out there; they're limited by logistics. There are enough bad guys out there already that a few more will make no difference. Israel is not in substantially more danger today than it was before these guys were released. The USA is in the same position: there are already plenty of people who want to attack it. Your safety lies in foiling their plans, not keeping a few of them locked up.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:25 PM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


24 and the Efficacy of Torture
By M. D. Semel, Department of Criminal Justice, Sacred Heart University


Does torture work?
Jan 27th 2009, 20:12 by The Economist


Former Interrogator: ‘Why Are We Having A Discussion About Efficacy’ Of Torture?
By Ben Armbruster


Two former top CIA officals on the efficacy of torture, By Stephen Soldz

Tortured Logic: The United States didn't need to waterboard anyone to get Osama bin Laden. BY MATTHEW ALEXANDER


I've always wondered if torture ever works.

'Ever' is a damn high standard. Generally, the consensus is that torture is a great way to get people to a) die, or b) say whatever they feel is necessary to end the torture.

Leaving off the 'are "enchanced interrogation techniques" torture argument,' it's pretty well agreed by interrogators that physical endangerment is the least-optimal way to gain information. Standard HUMINT methods are far more effective, and create the grounds for future cooperation.

I don't think torture should ever be a standard operation, or even legal at all,

This answers your own question.

but I would be more ambivalent if there was real data showing certain torture techniques had and repeatedly do elicit information faster than conventional methods.

Waterboarding is notoriously fast, and has the bonus effect of not causing physical damage. It's a great way of getting people to make things up.

but if that were true I might use torture if I believed it would save lives in the immediate future (e.g., prevent a nitrate bomb or plane crash).

In this scenario, people generally opt to die with the info, to prevent operational failure. Short term, that's an easy decision.

Even saying that, I would hope to be prosecuted afterwards. I would likely kill someone if they did certain harm to my family/loved-ones but I don't think the law should excuse me.

So you're asking for protection from moral, but not legal, culpability? Why even do this?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:29 PM on December 14, 2011


Guantanamo and similar black sites are incredibly dangerous to the USA. You are not only raising a generation of people who hate you; you are destroying your own country's ideals.

Also, from a realpolitik perspective, I remember that a State Dept. criticism of some country for the way they treated their prisoners was met with, essentially, 'LOL Gitmo.'

I'm having a hard time finding it now.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:32 PM on December 14, 2011


That kid is a hero for not being driven to the dark side by that ordeal.

Amazing, because simply after reading it, it makes me want to do some nasty things to some of the people responsible.
posted by iamck at 5:34 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was a time - not that long ago - when it was beneath the dignity of civilized people to discuss torture in terms of whether it "works" or not.
posted by Trurl at 5:35 PM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Absolutely appalling story.
posted by Evernix at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2011


I'm not asking for any protection, I'm saying I believe it is illegal, "cruel and unusual punishment," and should be made more explicitly so, because it's essentially a violation of human rights, a war crime if the war on terror can seriously be considered a war. I'm honestly wondering if we know what the effect, in terms of information retrieval, is on prisoners. I still think it should be illegal, but I can understand why someone might resort to torture.

I'll read your links, but I mention the short-term scenario, immediate threat, because it's the only situation I can imagine where I think to myself, "well, maybe". And I don't see the difference between advanced interrogation and torture, unless your discussing lying and manipulation.

And it's "un-civilized" NOT to discuss something like torture; especially when we know, not just because of this story, that it's happening right now. If it doesn't work, there is no other justification I can think of. If it does, you might object strongly, but it is an arguable reason other than just cruelty and sadism. And I'm sure the US has been torturing people since our first armed conflict, only now its being seen and discussed in the open by "civilized" people who are loathe to have their dignified feathers ruffled.
posted by PJLandis at 6:04 PM on December 14, 2011


If it does, you might object strongly, but it is an arguable reason other than just cruelty and sadism. And I'm sure the US has been torturing people since our first armed conflict, only now its being seen and discussed in the open by "civilized" people who are loathe to have their dignified feathers ruffled.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

I read that somewhere.

And the only discussion about torture that I'm interested in having is how to imprison the people responsible.
posted by Trurl at 6:11 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


And the only discussion about torture that I'm interested in having is how to imprison the people responsible.

That conversation has already been declared closed...

But, the torture discussion has always been a red herring. The real problem has been the policy infrastructure built to commit the US to "counterinsurgency" all-the-time and everywhere, as if the security of the worlds greatest military power depends on kidnapping and/or killing any random schmuck anywhere who makes threatening comments. And if the policy infrastructure is built, then the little gnomes in the defense department, make it so... black airlines, black sites, killer drones, etc. Guantanamo could close and it would change one thing about US policy and what is being done to implement it.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:23 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


These detainees had a right to not be tortured. George W. Bush took that right away by torturing them. They had a right to be given a fair trial. Again, George W. Bush took that right away by torturing them. They can no longer have a fair trial. It's fucked.
No, I'm pretty sure you're just stupid. You haven't even bothered to explain why you think having been tortured precludes having a fair trial, if in fact you're guilty of a crime. Probably because it isn't even remotely true.

Khalid Sheik Muhammad was going to be put on trial in civilian court, despite the fact that he had been tortured. It was prevented due to political pressure, not for any legal reasons.

Can you explain why Eric Holder and the DOJ were legally in the wrong for attempting to put him on trial? Do you think that, had he been tried, he would have been released?

What do you know about the law that Eric Holder does not? Because the obvious conclusion here is that there isn't anything about the law you know that Eric Holder doesn't, and that you're just spouting nonsense.
So, if I promise to give you a cookie, and someone steals that cookie from me, I am guilty of "breaking my promise". Politifact approved.
"Some argue" that the cookie was stolen from you does not meant the cookie was actually stolen from you. Especially when you're the president of the goddamn cookie factory (to extend an insipid metaphor)
posted by delmoi at 6:34 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cookies don't deserve to get dragged into this.
posted by Trurl at 6:50 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The most disturbing thing to me is that as we speak the same type of shit is continuing under the auspices of JSOC with full knowledge of the executive branch. Ironmouth is fully aware of this and chose anyway to make his first comment in this thread a shameless plug for the current occupant of the white house. How many other Mohammed el Goranis are out there right now being tortured and dehumanized in the name of national security and the sham GWOT? How long will we, the people, allow these heinous crimes to continue?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:40 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember when my country wasn't filled with fucking Nazis.
posted by bardic at 9:14 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think about it, the "ticking time bomb" scenario is really unrealistic. Why would we know everything about an attack except how to defeat it? Why would a captive know how to defeat it - surely his associates would have changed their plans. Sure, a captive might know about methodology or future attacks, but at this point we're talking about the use of torture for routine investigations.

Then, too, there's the problem that people under torture are notoriously likely to make things up. Yes, their overall accuracy can be tested by including things that are already known among the questions, but that doesn't help with the "ticking time bomb" questions. In fact it makes it worse: the victim can safely be honest with every question except for the most critical one. A victim apparently cowed into submission in this way will be utterly believed when he lies, and will consequently fool his captors.

No, the reasons usually given for torture are not persuasive. I suspect that the truth is actually worse than this. Torture isn't primarily about interrogation; it just makes it easier to manage prisoners. A prisoner tortured into cooperation during an interrogation will probably cooperate outside the interrogation. Alternatively, a prisoner who refuses to cooperate with the guards outside interrogation is presumably not cooperating during the interrogation either, and therefore ought to be tortured. Bad behavior will clear right up once it becomes clear that torture is effectively a punishment for noncompliance.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:38 PM on December 14, 2011


Speaking of the "Fight" Ironmouth claimed was over closing gitmo (it wasn't) Obama just lifted his veto threat and as a result the bill just passed the house. So not only will gitmo stay open (not that it was ever in question) the bill actually authorizes indefinite detention for U.S citizens and requires military detention for terrorism suspects.

Of course, if took Ironmouth's advice and told your congressperson that you "support the President in getting this place closed." They wouldn't have had any idea you were even talking about this legislation.
posted by delmoi at 12:16 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


No veto? No problem. What a joke. So we now have a memoir which details conditions and treatment much worse than any msm outlet has ever reported, a shadow war being prosecuted in the horn of Africa and Southwest Asia(not to mention the official war in Afghanistan), JSOC running a network of torture camps, and now a bill which codifies some of the most alarming authorities assumed by the executive branch under the AUMF and the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

How can anyone in their right mind not see where this is headed. Will our republic be usurped tomorrow or even in 10 years? Probably not, but incrementalism is the name of the game. Developments such as the passing of the Defense Authorization Bill are a serious blow to the constitution and the rule of law. It was the very powers granted to the executive branch by the AUMF that led directly to the kidnapping and torture of Mohammed el Gorani and we have people in this thread telling us to support our president....the very president who lost his backbone and allowed the Congress to codify and enshrine these tyrannical powers as the law of the land.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:01 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


God dammit i need a fucking drink...
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:02 AM on December 15, 2011


Wow and I just found this. Apparently it was the Obama administration itself which asked the Senate to include the language in NDAA sec. 1031 that allows for the indefinite detention of American Citizens. At least thats what Carl Levin appears to be saying here.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:29 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is an incredibly powerful piece, which for me helps to illuminate the mental processes that must go on to enable people to inflict such terrible pain on others. Mostly, it seems, 'fear of losing their job' was enough for the guards to justify using electrodes, depriving people of sleep or inflicting extreme physical beatings. That doesn't explain why they seemed to find it all so amusing, though. It's also clear that racism played a big part.

I wish el Gorani luck in his efforts to fight the US in court.
posted by Myeral at 3:12 AM on December 15, 2011


This is what happens when Nazis win the war.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:20 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 might as well be called the anti-Magna Carta. The US constitution is pretty hollow without the Fifth Amendment. I'll reproduce it here for those of us not from the US:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The executive can now secretly declare guilt, detain people and even execute them. It's not at all compatible with being a free people. Your Constitution is dead, not because of legal technicalities, but because it died in your hearts and no-one stood up for it.
posted by Harald74 at 4:21 AM on December 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


We didn't love freedom enough. - Solzhenitsyn
posted by Trurl at 5:20 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess the "ticking time bomb" is unrealistic. In practice it's probably used more as an excuse to confuse the issue by people who are trying to justify torture as a legitimate practice.
posted by PJLandis at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Happy Birthday, Bill [of Rights]: Obama Breaks Promise To Veto Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention of Americans
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow and I just found this . Apparently it was the Obama administration itself which asked the Senate to include the language in NDAA sec. 1031 that allows for the indefinite detention of American Citizens. At least thats what Carl Levin appears to be saying here.

where does it say that in section 1031? I actually read it. It doesn't say that at all. Suggest you try 1031(e).

Tell me what that says.

how could a writ of habeus corpus not apply under that section? Its a fucking punt because Padilla got punted by the supremes on improper next friend and improper party grounds. Second circuit made it clear habeus does apply.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we please not derail this into being about Obama, and stick to the topic which is a child torture victim of the U.S. government.

You're right, there's another thread for that. Sorry.
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on December 15, 2011


the bill actually authorizes indefinite detention for U.S citizens and requires military detention for terrorism suspects.

literally, quote the language of the bill where it says "indefinite detention of US citizens in US." Like WHERE it says that.

the military detention thing was previously required by the old bill, which passed by a 2/3 majority. This is designed to increase Obama's ability to get a waiver past that provision. But nobody wants to look at specifics, because then the precious narrative is busted.

the president isn't putting people in the united states in military detention for terrorism, period. The only exception? The US Army doctor who opened fire in a military base in the US is being tried under the code of military justice because that's what happens when a military officer opens fire on a military base, terrorism or no.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2011


From the link homunculus posted:

At least Senator Lindsey Graham was honest when he said on the Senate floor that “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

And both the bill's cosponsors, Levin and McCain, agree it could apply to citizens, even saying they could be sent to Guantanamo.

How does that not override habeus? These are the bills co-sponsors stating this Ironmouth.
posted by formless at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2011


How does that not override habeus?

habeus is a constitutional right. Get it? the constitution is superior to all enacted law and all enacted law must also correspond to it. That's how laws get struck down.

But think of it this way. Do you really, really, really want a law on the books that says that "if it wasn't for this exemption, it would be legal to imprison people without trial."? Really?

Do you see where this leads. Romney repealing the exemption. But if you say current law holds, he has to positively enact stuff that says I'm allowed to detain without trial. You don't want congress saying anything on the subject, because you are saying it would be OK to detain US citizens without trial if this section didn't exist. here, they are saying current law applies. the latter is a much better approach.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:18 PM on December 15, 2011


Guys maybe we can keep the discussion of the NDAA FY 2012 in this thread as homunculus suggested, and maybe show a little bit of respect for the fact that it is the very powers our government has assumed that directly led to the torture and dehumanization of Mohammed el Gorani by the U.S. Government. The issue here is much larger than some idiot president who will be long gone by the time any of this applies to us.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:45 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


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