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We just think you are guilty so you must be ''detained indefinitely''.
June 18, 2013 1:48 AM   Subscribe

The US government has finally released the names of 46 men being held in Guantánamo under the classification of "indefinite detainees" – terror suspects deemed too dangerous to release or move yet impossible to try in a civilian or even military court for reasons of inadequate or tainted evidence.
For more than three months, the US military has faced off with defiant prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, strapping down as many as 44 each day to feed them a liquid nutrient mix through a nasal tube. The prison camp has now been labelled a 'a medical ethics free zone' by Senior Professors at Boston University.
The hunger strikers are now reportedly being fed Reglan a medicine that increases the movements or contractions of the stomach and intestines with worrying side effects. See Huff Post Live video.
See previous ''Gitmo is killing me''.
posted by adamvasco (182 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Er, if you only have inadequate and tainted evidence, you don't have a case, right? And then you let people go, right? Oh wait... I'm thinking of how it works in an honest, civilised democracy...
posted by Decani at 1:55 AM on June 18, 2013 [45 favorites]


terror suspects deemed too dangerous to release or move yet impossible to try in a civilian or even military court for reasons of inadequate or tainted evidence.

I don't need to be persuaded that there are some Bad Boys being held in Gitmo who if released would go on and kill a bunch of innocent people.

In a real war such people (who would be called POWs) at the end of the war would be repatriated into the responsibility of their own government (and jailed in similarly harsh conditions.)

But this isn't a real war, there is no "surrender on the deck of a battleship" as the politicians like to remind us. So what do you do?

I'm thinking of how it works in an honest, civilised democracy...

In a democracy public opinion counts and the optics of releasing someone who goes on to kill, say an American soldier walking down the street in some foreign capital, would be very difficult to overcome politically.

Obama is a politician and it is very clear from his record that fear of being seen as "weak on terror" outweighs any devotion to Constitutional values. Being tough on terror - Obama got Osama - got him re-elected.

I think that's a sad reality in a democracy and really not much that can be done about it.
posted by three blind mice at 2:11 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


In a democracy public opinion counts and the optics of releasing someone who goes on to kill, say an American soldier walking down the street in some foreign capital, would be very difficult to overcome politically.

Guilty until proven innocent, but then still guilty of a precrime if they might do something if released? I'd say the image presented by that is worse.
posted by jaduncan at 2:20 AM on June 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


In fact, this is exactly what the US Constitution was designed to stop.

"nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"
posted by jaduncan at 2:22 AM on June 18, 2013 [33 favorites]


Ridiculous commentary aside, it should be noted that this is a big - and painfully overdue - step towards shutting Gitmo down.
posted by phaedon at 2:29 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


In a democracy public opinion counts and the optics of releasing someone who goes on to kill, say an American soldier walking down the street in some foreign capital, would be very difficult to overcome politically.
What if they just kidnapped and indefinitely detained him?
posted by fullerine at 2:35 AM on June 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


“Dogs do not have many advantages over people, but one of them is extremely important: euthanasia is not forbidden by law in their case; animals have the right to a merciful death.”

― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
posted by fairmettle at 2:38 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Disgusting. I'm not American, so I have no power to change the laws that allow this. But I am a human, and as a human I feel this: strapping a person down and force-feeding them through a tube to prolong their life when they have little to no hope of ever seeing a trial or the outside of their prison again is a form of torture. For what? A popularity poll? Political capital? Reputations of people in Washington? At what point do people stand up and say: This is wrong. Under any moral code you care to name, be it religious or otherwise, this is inhumane. Give them a fair trial.
posted by jet_manifesto at 2:47 AM on June 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


Gitmo is like a ruptured oil pipeline, pumping a thick, sticky coating of shame all across America.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:50 AM on June 18, 2013 [26 favorites]


In a democracy public opinion counts and the optics of releasing someone who goes on to kill, say an American soldier walking down the street in some foreign capital, would be very difficult to overcome politically.

Sure, because we're responsible for whatever anyone we've ever had in custody ever does FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
posted by JHarris at 2:56 AM on June 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


To play devils advocate somewhat, of the people imprisoned at gitmo, how many would be able to get a "fair trial"? How much would be impossible to prove, for both sides? How much would either side see "winning at all costs" as their only option, and make every effort to do so?
posted by marienbad at 3:02 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scan them for every biometric possible and then release them publicly into the wild, with great fanfare, with a live television broadcast from Guantánamo describing each one's case as he is released from his cage.
Here is X. His life went like this until we grabbed him. We think he did Y. In fact, we are 100 percent sure he did Y, but we did Z to obtain the evidence for Y, and that was illegal, so the evidence that he did Y is inadmissible in court and we therefore cannot try him without losing. That's why we sat on him for so many years without bringing him to trial or letting him go.
Then let him go. Suck it up and let them all go one by one, with a complete confession from the US explaining each case.

These guys can't do anything worse to America or any other country than the millions and millions of other people who (partly because of Guantánamo) hate America and its minions. The handful of prisoners in Guantánamo may or may not have l33t terrorist skills (though a bit rusty) and all surely have pure hatred for the US (by now quite honestly earned), but they are not alone.
posted by pracowity at 3:07 AM on June 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm sure they would try to win at all costs. Both sides. Isn't that what the sides in a court of law are meant to do?

By "at all costs", are you suggesting that they would try to win outside the rule of law?
posted by jet_manifesto at 3:07 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


How much would be impossible to prove, for both sides?

Ever ponder what that whole "innocent until proven guilty" idea would mean for this scenario?
posted by crayz at 3:32 AM on June 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


By "at all costs", are you suggesting that they would try to win outside the rule of law?

At least one side is already doing that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:47 AM on June 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


In other news, I hear the US Supreme Court just made your right against self-incrimination a privilege to be given you by the interrogating officers only IF you explicitly request it. "Winning at all costs", indeed.
posted by mikelieman at 4:04 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Send them to that tropical US dependency the batch of Uighurs went a few years back. Still basically confined but without all the imprisonment ugliness.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:22 AM on June 18, 2013


I thought GITMO was shut down by executive order years ago. Isn't that what earned the Nobel Peace Prize?
posted by Tanizaki at 4:27 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Guantanamo will go down as a very sad chapter in the history of this country. Like the Japanese internment camps during World War II, it will be remembered as yet another case where both the popular mindset and political will, tainted by the fear, made decisions that were cruel, unlawful and morally reprehensible. It represents the exact opposite of the human values we should strive to uphold.
posted by nowhere man at 4:32 AM on June 18, 2013 [33 favorites]


Disgusting. Anyone who thinks anything has been gained by Gitmo or the "war on terror" is a coward.
posted by maxwelton at 4:35 AM on June 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


...an American soldier walking down the street in some foreign capital...

I think this example of something to be prized above the Constitution probably says more about you than you wanted.
posted by DU at 4:38 AM on June 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


The difference between this and the gulags of North Korea is very real... both by scale (100,000+ people in the NK prison camps), and methods (in NK detainees starve to death).... but both are absolutely reprehensible on the exact same moral scale. Utterly shameful. And whitehouse.gov is a brochure website.
posted by panaceanot at 4:45 AM on June 18, 2013


Two hundred years from now Osama Bin Laden will be known as the man who destroyed the relatively short experiment of a Constitutional democracy with a single act. The corporate oligarchs that rule the world at that time will probably hail him as a hero.
posted by any major dude at 4:46 AM on June 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, whats the worse that can happen if the US lets them go? what will they do? US knows their names, associates, families .. everything.

These guys would be happy if they are able to take a shit without someone keeping an eye on them.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 4:49 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, whats the worse that can happen if the US lets them go?

Guardian interviews.
posted by panaceanot at 4:50 AM on June 18, 2013 [27 favorites]


They hate us for our freedoms.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:55 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I assume the forced feeding is because of an expectation that if they die, they will be seen as martyrs, strengthening the anti-American cause. But doesn't indefinite detention have a similar effect anyway? Doesn't it send out a clear and unfortunate message about the ability of Al Qaeda to shock, disorient, and intimidate the USA?
posted by Segundus at 4:56 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks Mr. Obama for shutting this disgusting place down, just like you said you would as part of the Hopey Changey crap that got you elected [/sarcasm]

There are no words for my contempt.
posted by Monkeymoo at 5:04 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


- Scan them for every biometric possible and then release them.

- Send them to that tropical US dependency the batch of Uighurs went a few years back.
A trillion dollar war machine and the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth terrified of some brown dudes.

Insane.
posted by fullerine at 5:09 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think The Economist got it right:
America is in a hole. The last response of the blowhards and cowards who have put it there is always: “So what would you do: set them free?” Our answer remains, yes. There is clearly a risk that some of them would then commit some act of violence—in Yemen, elsewhere in the Middle East or even in America itself. That risk can be lessened by surveillance. But even if another outrage were to happen, the evil of “Gitmo” has recruited far more people to terrorism than a mere 166. Mr Obama should think about America’s founding principles, take out his pen and end this stain on its history.
This is the sane, rational, risk-based approach to managing your country, your life, and your government. But, in these United States of America, we're not allowed to have a sane, rational, risk-based discussion. We can only beat the drums of war, stoke fear like the last flame on Earth, and coddle the paranoid; all along, we are making the situation far, far worse than it ever was before.

Or maybe, that's the point.
posted by petrilli at 5:18 AM on June 18, 2013 [33 favorites]


It's sane enough keeping in mind the trillion dollar war machine wasn't created to "keep us safe."

That notion is just PR spin, and the brown dudes are just a marketing tool.

The true goal is wealth transfer.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:18 AM on June 18, 2013 [20 favorites]


Oh my gosh darnit.

"How's that hopey changey thing going?"

*Sarah Palin* was prescient??
posted by panaceanot at 5:19 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how constitutional literalists get all interpretative and moral relativist when it comes to implementing authoritarianism against brown people.
posted by DU at 5:23 AM on June 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, America was a nice idea, but it's done now.
posted by Legomancer at 5:28 AM on June 18, 2013


Thanks Mr. Obama for shutting this disgusting place down, just like you said you would as part of the Hopey Changey crap that got you elected [/sarcasm]

He tried. Congress said no, loudly and repeatedly for reasons I personally don't get. Obama, for all his mistakes, isn't the problem, it's Congress (in so many areas).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:30 AM on June 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


Obama deserves some "credit" for the continued atrocity. So does Congress.

When throwing out the "hopey changey" phrase (which always makes me throw up in my mouth a little), ask yourself where the US would stand on human rights if McCain/Palin had been elected. Or that rich Mormon guy whose name people barely remember already.
posted by Foosnark at 5:30 AM on June 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


To make things even worse (if that's even possible), my understanding is that most players on both sides of this believe that most of the Gitmo detainees aren't even guilty.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:32 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Foosnark: "ask yourself where the US would stand on human rights if McCain/Palin had been elected."
Cthulhu for President. Why vote for the lesser evil?
posted by brokkr at 5:34 AM on June 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


When throwing out the "hopey changey" phrase (which always makes me throw up in my mouth a little), ask yourself where the US would stand on human rights if McCain/Palin had been elected.

Speaking of making me throw up in my mouth. "Obama can't be criticized because imagine how bad someone slightly to his right would be"?
posted by DU at 5:46 AM on June 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Honestly, I'd be happier if all these things had been done by someone other than a professor of Constitutional Law. That way we'd be able to blame it on the President's underlings. As it is, no, the USA's progression into authoritarian rule has been a cold, considered, and deliberate policy, formed and implemented at the highest levels.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:52 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama is a politician and it is very clear from his record that fear of being seen as "weak on terror" outweighs any devotion to Constitutional values. Being tough on terror - Obama got Osama - got him re-elected.

I think you were right up until the end there. Gitmo is an abomination, but to pretend that this is somehow all Obama's fault, or that it's only political greed that's keeping him from waving his magic wand and making it all go away is, I believe, erroneous.

Because this is MeFi, I'll have to say again: Gitmo is an abomination. It should be closed.

However, if Obama manages to get, say, twenty prisoners released, and one of them kills one American, the GOP will beat that drum mercilessly for a long, long time.

The GOP can pull off the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history, and pay little price for it. They can lie us into an idiotic war that costs us more deaths than 9/11 did, in addition to tens of thousands of horrific injuries...in addition to possibly hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths...and so what?

But if a Democratic president releases a suspected terrorist sympathizer, on humanitarian grounds, and that person then acts against the U.S., the GOP will use that as a weapon to get back in power. And that, as we have seen, can have disastrous consequences for the U.S. and the world. And we're talking about scores of such people.

So, yeah. Do whatever can be done to shut it down. However, as I understand it, without Congress's assistance, the only way Obama can do so is to declare hostilities with al Qaeda to be over.

So here's the situation: Obama can basically say that we're no longer at war with al Qaeda, release a bunch of people who he may very well know to be terrorists, and, by doing so, hand the keys to the White House back to the party that started this madness in the first place, which party has shown no signs of having learned anything from the various disasters they have wrought, and which, in fact, has displayed eagerness to start a war against Iran (a country, incidentally, that we've already screwed over hard for the last 50 years). (And this is not to mention the economic and social havoc they are wreaking on the U.S...)

And this is not even to mention the fact that Obama obviously takes his responsibility to protect Americans very seriously.

Once more: Gitmo is an abomination. It should be shut down. But to act as if there are no even vaguely plausible considerations that are preventing Obama from doing so...to pretend that it is nothing but cold political calculation, or cowardice, or moral evil that is preventing him from just making it all better...that just seems crazy to me.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:56 AM on June 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


"Military physicians should refuse to participate in any act that unambiguously violates medical ethics," wrote Dr George Annas, Dr Sondra Crosby and Dr Leonard Glantz, in a three-page article outlining an ethical case against force-feeding of the detainees.
If they had done this all along we wouldn't be where we are now. The atrocities committed in Abu Ghraib were designed by physicians. Stress positions, water boarding, psychological stressors, sleep deprivation...sure, these things were in use prior, but they were refined and perfected under the care of physicians in the government's employ. It seems to me, in wartime, the worst thing is a man with an education.

Human rights be damned, these people have careers to think of!
posted by cjorgensen at 5:57 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Foosnark, as a serious question, how would America be doing worse in the eyes of the world with regards to human rights if a Republican got in? Is there certain legislature that Republicans have tried to pass recently that has been shot down by Obama and the democrats?

I find it hard to imagine a USA that could be worse then it is right now, your torturing people, indefinitely holding people, secretly dropping bombs on people, spying on everyone, both nationally and internationally.

I understand the game is "but, but, the other guys are worse!" but at some point you need to start thinking "it's just wrong, we deserve better" because every time you say the former, all the Democrat party is seeing from their magical stats is "Foosnark approves of what we're doing, he's likely to vote for us again".
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:58 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


He tried. Congress said no, loudly and repeatedly for reasons I personally don't get. Obama, for all his mistakes, isn't the problem, it's Congress (in so many areas).

This is correct -- he has been up against a remarkably obstructionist Congress, fearful, for whatever reasons, of letting him have that victory. It's weird that Obama's failures and shortcomings as President tend to be mentioned in the absence of the context of the Republicans' odious political games over this country's well-being. Isn't the sequester thing still going on?

Speaking of making me throw up in my mouth. "Obama can't be criticized because imagine how bad someone slightly to his right would be"?

He can be criticized, yes, but keeping it all in context is important. Anyway, the McCain/Palin thing is usually brought up as a reason to have voted for Obama.

If they had done this all along we wouldn't be where we are now. The atrocities committed in Abu Ghraib were designed by physicians.

"Doctors" are not a monolithic entity or hive mind, all responsible for the acts of their colleagues. Please don't other them.

I find it hard to imagine a USA that could be worse then it is right now

Don't play the "it couldn't possibly be any worse" game, it CAN be worse, and I, living in the US, can imagine it very easily. Of course, it could also be better.
posted by JHarris at 6:06 AM on June 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


it CAN be worse, and I, living in the US, can imagine it very easily.

They could have gone hunting with Dick Cheney.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:08 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


And that, as we have seen, can have disastrous consequences for the U.S.

We don't have a sane health care policy, we won't fix our roads and bridges, we're closing schools because we can't pay for them, our economy is based on spinning gold from straw and outright theft instead of actually producing anything, no one can afford to go to college and if they can there are no jobs to be had for them, labor has been devalued, we torture and kill our enemies, we're spying on our own citizens, nothing can happen in Congress unless one side gets a supermajority because compromise is unthinkable (unless it's a bill that helps banks), the criminals who tanked the US and world economy got off scot free, children get murdered with assault rifles and we can't even do a dumb useless thing like limit magazine size, we're destroying communities in search of cheap natural gas and pumping tar sands oil across the country but wind power is too controversial and inconvenient, one of our country's biggest employers shows its workers how to apply for food stamps since it doesn't pay them enough to eat, we're shutting down newspapers and prosecuting whistleblowers, racism and sexism get a free pass while we make sure the "job creators" are made to feel special, the politicians who either lied or were ignorant enough to get us into a worthless war in Iraq are now asked for their valuable opinions on foreign policy, the only things that motivate this country at all are money and fear...

...but if the Republicans get in office it will have "disastrous consequences".
posted by Legomancer at 6:11 AM on June 18, 2013 [49 favorites]


It would be more humane to execute these men. At least their suffering would end.
posted by thelonius at 6:18 AM on June 18, 2013


But if a Democratic president releases a suspected terrorist sympathizer, on humanitarian grounds, and that person then acts against the U.S., the GOP will use that as a weapon to get back in power.

Out of a long list of stupid reasons to violate human rights, this is one of the stupidest.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:21 AM on June 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


...but if the Republicans get in office it will have "disastrous consequences".

*checks profile* Yep, not a woman!
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:25 AM on June 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


I am with you Legomancer. I've stopped believing the lesser of two evils is really less evil.
posted by spitbull at 6:27 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]




He tried. Congress said no

He has pardon power that is absolute. He could sign a letter tomorrow that would close Gitmo down for good. That he hasn't in 5+ years of promising to do so speaks of cowardice, not patience or obstructionism.

I regret that I will be unable to not vote for him in the future.
posted by spitbull at 6:31 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


" @mollycrabapple: The #GTMO gift shop sells t-shirts saying "It Don't GTMO Better Than This""
posted by The Whelk at 6:32 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't see why we can't pay some big bucks to, say Jordan to keep them in a prison there. If they escape later, it's that King's fault. Yes there are huge and complex legal and diplomatic issues, but we still have the big bucks. There are options, which seems to indicate there may be a bit of undercurrent backstory that had not come out yet.
posted by sammyo at 6:38 AM on June 18, 2013


"Doctors" are not a monolithic entity or hive mind, all responsible for the acts of their colleagues. Please don't other them.

I didn't. If that's what you read, then either I wasn't clear or you read it incorrectly. My point is there wouldn't be a problem if ethics had been maintained. I think they have been a medical ethics free zone for some time.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:46 AM on June 18, 2013


@mollycrabapple
posted by adamvasco at 6:50 AM on June 18, 2013


He has pardon power that is absolute. He could sign a letter tomorrow that would close Gitmo down for good.

He did and congress literally passed a law prohibiting the funding and made it against the law to move the prisoners out of Gitmo! No shit. They really did that!
posted by saulgoodman at 6:52 AM on June 18, 2013 [29 favorites]


His executive order was him taking out his pen and ordering Gitmo closed with as much authority as a president has to order anything.

Congress immediately passed a bill making it impossible to relocate the prisoners anywhere else and blocking any money--even gas money--for moving them. How is he supposed to work around that?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:56 AM on June 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


So if a Republican was President instead of a Democrat, the country would instantly go to hell.

But a Democrat President can't do anything because Congress has all the power.
posted by Legomancer at 6:58 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks Mr. Obama for shutting this disgusting place down, just like you said you would as part of the Hopey Changey crap that got you elected [/sarcasm]

There are no words for my contempt.


Your contempt is misdirected, and should be directed wholly at Congress, which is the only thing standing in the way of Obama keeping this promise.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:00 AM on June 18, 2013


Obama not closing Gitmo is Bill Clinton signing the Defense of Marriage Act. Years later he will admit it was the wrong thing to do when it's far too late.
posted by haqspan at 7:01 AM on June 18, 2013


*checks profile* Yep, not a woman!

Ah single issue voters. Is there no election they can't distort?
posted by DU at 7:08 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So if a Republican was President instead of a Democrat, the country would instantly go to hell.

But a Democrat President can't do anything because Congress has all the power.


The difference is, as Bush II demonstrated, the congress and the Republican Party have exactly the same agenda--loot and pillage. And there aren't any signs the Republicans as a party have done anything but double-down on the same positions that created this mess.

Remember, this system was created under Bush II. The legal mess it created began then. Even the NSA practices that have caused so much trouble lately began under Bush II and as one prominent Republican senator explained it, the scandal itself surrounded an authorization that he and his colleagues on both sides saw as routine because it's been entrenched for so long now.

It's never really going to be just about who's in the White House. The White House is politically important, when congress is overrun by nuts, because its veto power comes into play then. That's all. When Bush II was in office, there was no check whatsoever on our congress with its screwed up priorities as they were all working for the same team. Bush II unapologetically embraced the defense and energy industry lobbyists that wanted all of this to happen in the first place.

Show me a Republican candidate for any elected office who isn't even deeper in the pocket of those same interests (hell, for that matter, who isn't a former or current member of the board) and who isn't just willing to toe the party line--another Roosevelt or Lincoln or something--an actual progressive, populist Republican--and we might have something to talk about. Until then, yes, it can be much worse. Republicans from Reagan to Bush have proven incredibly effective at dismantling important institutions and scavenging them for profits. Everything from media ownership to broadcast standards to public resources. It was mind blowing how quickly Bush II did so much damage to long-established institutions and democratic traditions in the US. He actively destroyed so much so fast how can anyone not remember that?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:14 AM on June 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Ah single issue voters. Is there no election they can't distort?

Ah men. Is there no woman they can't reduce to a tossed-off quip?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2013 [25 favorites]


These amateur Gestapo tactics sicken me. Keep your promise, Mr. President!
posted by Renoroc at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2013


"He has pardon power that is absolute. He could sign a letter tomorrow that would close Gitmo down for good."

How does that work, the pardoning? He signs a paper and the prisoner is freed, given a flight somewhere and that's it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2013


Meanwhile, Republicans across the country are still chipping away at our rights on behalf of their big business allies: Florida’s Governor Signs Business-Backed Bill Banning Paid Sick Leave.

Why the hell would I want to support them?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:19 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I regret that I will be unable to not vote for him in the future.

Nor can anybody, at least for President.
posted by jaduncan at 7:19 AM on June 18, 2013


It would be more humane to execute these men. At least their suffering would end.

Ours is indeed a shining morality, that strips people of their rights and dignity for immediate fear and carries on doing so for immediate gain; and, upon hearing of the wretched condition of the victims, possesses the bountiful mercy and boundless sympathy to demand that such poor beasts be put down.

I don't see why we can't pay some big bucks to, say Jordan to keep them in a prison there. If they escape later, it's that King's fault.

Though we might satisfy the ethical demand by ensuring that their captivity occurs somewhere else at someone else's hands; to detain men without presenting a body of untainted evidence, fairly gathered, causes us a great strain and offends our fine sensibilities. Better to delegate it to our moral inferiors, who can better bear the strain and will one day surely have to pay for their horrible crimes.
posted by kewb at 7:20 AM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can't agree more with saulgoodman's point. I think Obama's cowardice now lies in not publicizing the ways in which he is struggling against the military-industrial interests whose unobstructed inroad to ultimate power has already been constructed by the previous guy.
posted by Mooseli at 7:21 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


saulgoodman, one great way around it would be to shut down Guantanamo (the base) and hand the keys back to the Cubans, LEAVING THE DETAINEES THERE. No money spent on the detainees, and we get rid of that ridiculous flyspeck base that is a hangover from a treaty *110 years old* and used prior to this only to stick our thumb in Castro's eye.
posted by scolbath at 7:24 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


If people are actually upset about Gitmo, where. the. fuck. where you when there was the chance to close it a few years ago? Why do you, all of a sudden, get to have righteous moral indignation at the one person with any power that was trying to change the situation? When it mattered, where was your voice?

And please, tell me how it would be just fine and dandy if those people who blocked the President from closing Gitmo had more power? How can you even claim to care about Gitmo if you are completely ignorant about who is trying to close it and who is blocking it from being closed? Concern trolling is never a healthy thing to do, but to concern troll about people who have been abused for years, to the point where they are attempting to kill themselves through starvation, and are currently having feeding tubes forcefully thrust down their throats in violation of any standard of human decency? That's some inhuman concern trolling.

We have no one to blame for this but ourselves, and our inability to convince our Congress to get out of the way. It may make you feel personally better to lay this at the feet of a single person, but if you are going to do that, lay it at your own feet.
posted by Llama-Lime at 7:24 AM on June 18, 2013 [16 favorites]


saulgoodman, one great way around it would be to shut down Guantanamo (the base) and hand the keys back to the Cubans, LEAVING THE DETAINEES THERE. No money spent on the detainees, and we get rid of that ridiculous flyspeck base that is a hangover from a treaty *110 years old* and used prior to this only to stick our thumb in Castro's eye.

Heh. Just heh. Merely an diplomatic clusterfuck or that and utter humiliation when Cuba grants them all asylum and puts them in front of the international media one another to tell their stories?

I mean, I'd support them being free any way any how, but you'd better believe that any administration would attempt to manage it a bit more than that.
posted by jaduncan at 7:26 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


jaduncan no more of a concern than sending them to, oh, ANY OTHER COUNTRY. But you've hit the real nail on the proverbial head, unfortunately.
posted by scolbath at 7:28 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I suspect that unofficially this is why they get sent to allied or dependent countries. I wouldn't imagine that the Yemeni government would take a return home media splash so well.
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 AM on June 18, 2013


pardon power

What's he supposed to pardon? These detainees have been convicted of no crime.
posted by thelonius at 7:31 AM on June 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


The horrific thing is that they'd be cast-iron cases for asylum, too. A history of torture and a well founded belief that no matter where they are in the world they might get picked up and tortured again at some future date.
posted by jaduncan at 7:32 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


He has pardon power that is absolute. He could sign a letter tomorrow that would close Gitmo down for good. That he hasn't in 5+ years of promising to do so speaks of cowardice, not patience or obstructionism.

Yeah, I don't think this legal mechanism works, for the same reason that the Pardon Snowden arguments don't: there hasn't been a conviction and sentencing. What is there to pardon?
posted by samofidelis at 7:34 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ours is indeed a shining morality, that strips people of their rights and dignity for immediate fear and carries on doing so for immediate gain; and, upon hearing of the wretched condition of the victims, possesses the bountiful mercy and boundless sympathy to demand that such poor beasts be put down.

I'm not demanding anything, Buckwheat.
posted by thelonius at 7:35 AM on June 18, 2013


*checks profile* Yep, not a woman!
Ah single issue voters. Is there no election they can't distort?
posted by DU at 9:08 on June 18
[+] [!]



Apologize. This is awful.
posted by samofidelis at 7:35 AM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


samofidelis: A potential defendant can be pardoned before trial; look at Nixon.
posted by jaduncan at 7:35 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


samofidelis: A potential defendant can be pardoned before trial; look at Nixon.

Yeah I was about to mention this.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:36 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's a good point, j. Thanks. (edit--and s.)
posted by samofidelis at 7:37 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah single issue voters. Is there no election they can't distort?

Ah men. Is there no woman they can't reduce to a tossed-off quip?


I think if you examine the comment I'm responding to, it is actually reducing the entire planet to a tossed off quip. Literally any person on Earth can be thrown into Gitmo with no trial and I'm supposed to subordinate that to a right belonging to a fraction of half of the population of one country?
posted by DU at 7:37 AM on June 18, 2013


Meanwhile, Republicans across the country are still chipping away at our rights on behalf of their big business allies: Florida’s Governor Signs Business-Backed Bill Banning Paid Sick Leave.

Why the hell would I want to support them?


What does that have to do with Gitmo?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:38 AM on June 18, 2013


Apologize. This is awful.

Pretty sure DU was being sarcastic.
posted by Talez at 7:40 AM on June 18, 2013


I regret that I will be unable to not vote for him in the future.

Nor can anybody, at least for President.
posted by jaduncan


Alas, that was my point.

Ain't voting for Hillary either, however, just to be clear.

Pardon the Gitmo prisoners, was my other point.
posted by spitbull at 7:42 AM on June 18, 2013


So if a Republican was President instead of a Democrat, the country would instantly go to hell.
But a Democrat President can't do anything because Congress has all the power.


The system is set up that the default stance, doing nothing, is automatic, and either side can force it on the other, the Congress through inaction, the President through the veto. Many of the problems that bedevil us now are because they happened when Congress and the President were on the same page, and since then Congress has locked the brakes.
posted by JHarris at 7:44 AM on June 18, 2013


Of course, the problem here was Congress passing a law that Obama signed.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:45 AM on June 18, 2013


Of course, the problem here was Congress passing a law that Obama signed.

That's true, but the bill was the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill-- it wasn't specifically about Gitmo. Not saying that lets Obama off the hook at all.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:50 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course, the problem here was Congress passing a law that Obama signed.

It was first accomplished as congressional oversight on the executive branch's purse strings which is completely legitimate and there's absolutely nothing the executive can do about it. It was then put in stone in a defense appropriations bill. So either close Gitmo or everything that we're paying for goes to complete hell in a handbasket.
posted by Talez at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2013


I can't believe that people are seriously trying to warp this into ways to hate Obama rather than hating the real fuckers that are keeping this shit open, the Republican house delegation.
posted by Talez at 7:53 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's he supposed to pardon? These detainees have been convicted of no crime.

It worked for Nixon.
posted by eriko at 7:53 AM on June 18, 2013


It worked for Nixon.

True, but are the Gitmo prisoners going to retire and work the lecture circuit?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well Talez, Congress pulls that kind of trick all the time. Obama could have made it a sticking point there and vetoed it, but he cut his losses in an effort to get the then-current Dire Funding Problem out of the way.

I've been struggling here to make sure the full picture is represented here, which is as much about Republican obstructionism as Obama. But I'm sure there are Republican operatives who want the story to be entirely about Obama's failures as if in a vacuum, and Democrat operatives who want the story to be entirely about the obstruction. Both are complicit, but if one side were to suddenly vanish, most non-insane people would say it'd be better for everyone if it were the Republicans. That counts for something.
posted by JHarris at 7:58 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


He tried. Congress said no, loudly and repeatedly for reasons I personally don't get.

That's a very simplistic and misleading presentation of what actually happened. Obama and Rahm Emanuel did not "try" very hard to close Gitmo, at least according to some House Dems who say the White House pulled away its support and deeply undercut House Dem efforts to close the prison. Here's the DailyBeast last month, "How Obama Bungled the Guantánamo Closing":

According to lawmakers, officials, and experts who were closely involved in that 2009 fight, the White House, led on the issue by then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, was late in coming up with a plan to close the prison and then made a political decision not to help House Democrats who were fighting tooth and nail with Republicans over the policy.

The fight over restrictions to fund the closure of the prison was led on the Democratic side by then-House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), and Reps. Jack Murtha (D-PA) and Jim Moran (D-VA). In an interview Thursday with The Daily Beast, Moran said that when fight was on, the White House was nowhere to be found.

“They left all of us twisting in the wind,” he said. “Rightly or wrongly, they gave us a very clear impression, ‘You’re on your own on this issue.’”


There's more:

“Rahm Emmanuel’s basic view was that he thought this was a crazy waste of political capital. That was a signal to the rest of the bureaucracy, ‘Don’t expose yourself on this,’” one person involved in the discussions said. “There was more that could be done. But once it became clear that the White House was no longer investing, everyone got the message.”

The White House forbade Justice and State Department officials from even going to Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats for much of 2009, over the objections of senior officials in those departments.

“They flaked out on the policy in 2009 and the administration starved their friends in Congress,” the person said.


I think it borders on a lie to say, "Obama tried. Congress said no."
posted by mediareport at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure vanishing the Republicans would actually change the US's relative conservative/liberal standing compared to other democracies. But it would certainly bring it a lot closer to the median.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2013


I think it borders on a lie to say, "Obama tried. Congress said no."

Thank you for sorta kinda calling me liar. Will look into the other links.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:20 AM on June 18, 2013


Sorry you were collateral damage. The more obvious person I was pointing to is the man who keeps saying "As president I tried to close Gitmo."
posted by mediareport at 8:25 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, when you're directly quoting a comment I made, of course you were referring to the President of the United States.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:32 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


He tried. Congress said no, loudly and repeatedly for reasons I personally don't get.

Where does this idea come from? Executive Orders 13492 and 13493 were two of the first things that he did. A pretty big deal was made about it. What did Congress do to interfere with the work of the AG, Sec. of Defense, and other executive appointees who were charged with carrying out these orders?
posted by Tanizaki at 8:34 AM on June 18, 2013


[Make an effort folks. If you want to discuss difficult topics on MetaFilter now and in the future don't turn these threads into pissing matches.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:35 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's never really going to be just about who's in the White House. The White House is politically important, when congress is overrun by nuts, because its veto power comes into play then. That's all.

If people are actually upset about Gitmo, where. the. fuck. where you when there was the chance to close it a few years ago?

Where fuck were Obama and the Democratic Party?

No Republican will ever allow things to change, and no Democrat will ever have the political will to do so. We had a Democratic majority for two years, and none of them wanted to vote to close Gitmo or transfer prisoners to American courts and prisons either.

Again, even those who want things to change are mostly arguing for some form of liquidation, either literal killings or the transfer of detainees to some client state as if they were bad assets and as if that would somehow make us less responsible for their detention without trial in the first place.

The horrific thing is that they'd be cast-iron cases for asylum, too. A history of torture and a well founded belief that no matter where they are in the world they might get picked up and tortured again at some future date.

And a workable case that they were detained and tortured based on ethnic or religious affiliation to boot, especially since the government won't publicly produce the evidence that might say otherwise.

I'm not demanding anything, Buckwheat.

I'm not sure changing it to "suggests" helps much. I get that you're using hyperbole to suggest your own moral indignation over the situation, but "let them die"/"euthanize them" has floated up elsewhere in this thread as an apparently serious and unironic solution.

I should've quoted one of those comments instead.
posted by kewb at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2013


Brandon, I'm sorry for the way I framed that "borders on a lie" comment.

I'll keep "simplistic and misleading" as a description of your extremely certain, and to me, extremely wrong, characterization of what happened with Gitmo in 2009.
posted by mediareport at 8:51 AM on June 18, 2013


Are we doing the synechdoche thing where "Gitmo" gets used to refer to the prison at Camp Delta, or are we talking about closing the naval base?

Probably the simplest are the 91 Yemenis, 56 of whom are cleared for release. There are protests at the US Embassy in Sanaa. Yemen promises to rehabilitate them and is looking to build a centre to do so.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:13 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll keep "simplistic and misleading" as a description of your extremely certain, and to me, extremely wrong, characterization of what happened with Gitmo in 2009.

No problem there, we're good and thanks for the links. Rahm seems like a poor choice for Chief of Staff.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


True, but are the Gitmo prisoners going to retire and work the lecture circuit?

Many of the individuals from the Japanese internment camps went on to do just this. Or to become actors, lawyers, businessmen, whatnot. Your point still stands though.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:28 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Many of the individuals from the Japanese internment camps went on to do just this

Gitmo and the Japanese interment camp situation isn't a great analogy.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:30 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman, one great way around it would be to shut down Guantanamo (the base) and hand the keys back to the Cubans, LEAVING THE DETAINEES THERE.

It still costs money to shut it down and "hand the keys" to anybody, and congress killed that. And the current law apparently defines restrictions on what the US can do with the detainees (see first of big blockquote below).

A pretty big deal was made about it. What did Congress do to interfere with the work of the AG, Sec. of Defense, and other executive appointees who were charged with carrying out these orders?

Umm, they did this:
Current law allows the Justice Department to bring detainees to the U.S. for trial as long as the Justice Department gives Congress 45 days notice of the transfer.

. . .

On Guantanamo Bay, by blocking the administration from spending money on a replacement prison or any prisoner transfers, Congress would effectively stop the administration from acting over the next year.

And with Republicans dead-set against closing the prison, and poised to take control of the House in January, chances are virtually zero that Congress will relent any time before Mr. Obama stands for re-election in 2012.

“None of the funds provided to the Department of Justice in this or any prior act shall be available for the acquisition of any facility that is to be used wholly or in part for the incarceration or detention of any individual detained at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as of June 24, 2009,” the bill says.

The bill explicitly prohibits the transfer to the U.S. mainland of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:31 AM on June 18, 2013


Gitmo and the Japanese interment camp situation isn't a great analogy.

American camps for POWs a better one? My point is that the enemies of yore can still have a future and become allies. Even if you want an analogy like a concentration camp...the survivors often went on to thrive. This in no way excuses the current situation.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:35 AM on June 18, 2013


Oh yeah, and Boehner slipped in a provision in exchange for keeping the payroll tax-cut extensions and unemployment benefits extensions that explicitly forbid closing the base at Guantanamo.

So congress went even further and just outright prohibited transferring the prisoners anywhere outside the US, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll keep "simplistic and misleading" as a description of your extremely certain, and to me, extremely wrong, characterization of what happened with Gitmo in 2009.

Actually, having read the link you initially provided, How Obama Bungled the Guantánamo Closing, that article doesn't dispute that Obama tried and Congress blocked him, IMO. It's clear that the administration bungled a few things , yes. But the when Republican Senators flipped their support, struggling to get agree upon where the detainees could go in the domestic US and then Congress passing legislation that forbade them from going anywhere and it's hard to see how "Obama tried, Congress blocked him" isn't an accurate summation. Can you articulate why you think linked article dispels that statement?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:48 AM on June 18, 2013


He has pardon power that is absolute.

...Which would be really useful if any of the detainees had been found guilty of a crime that could be pardoned, but they haven't. As powerful as the Executive's powers to pardon are, they only apply to people who've actually been convicted of something. Last point of fact I'll poison the debate with.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


As powerful as the Executive's powers to pardon are, they only apply to people who've actually been convicted of something.

Usually takes a conviction for someone to be held in prison for life too.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:46 AM on June 18, 2013


As powerful as the Executive's powers to pardon are, they only apply to people who've actually been convicted of something.

Again: Richard Nixon.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:01 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could the President not just grant an amnesty, as opposed to a pardon? Would that still require a conviction?
posted by stenseng at 11:06 AM on June 18, 2013


I like* how so many people here think that the whole issue can be summed up in one sentence, or that snarky phrasing is an acceptable substitute for rational thought and/or coherent discourse.

Here's what I do know: The political landscape of current day US is inexplicably complicated. After that, the motivation behind powers that be and the discussions they've had are almost exclusively not in the public domain. After that, even the best political scientists (whatever the heck that means) simply shrug their shoulders half the time, like the economists trying to predict the futures of financial markets.

Politicians have had some sort of quasi free pass lately, where for whatever reason we've expected there to be "good guys" that will say the right thing or *gasp* do the right thing that matches the exclusive parameters that only exists in the mind of he beholder. As a whole this is a career path that may not require lying, cheating and/or stealing, but it's certainly advantageous to those who do. To poorly paraphrase: There are no "good guys" in politics, anybody who tells you otherwise is selling you something.

Nobody elected Nixon because they thought that the "crime free" world he promised was a realistic option. They elected him because the fantasy he put forward sounded better than the fantasy the "other guy" did. Nobody elects the platform with simple and realistic goals. Hell, the only thing that's scarier than a Congress that does nothing is one that actually does something. Like pass difficult laws that the collective "you" don't absolutely agree with. Look at all of the very weird decisions that SCOTUS has made lately. You'd be hard presssed to find one individual who agrees with the every majority opinion put forth. It's why we see-saw back from one party to the next, constantly electing one party to the White House and then immediately giving the other party power in Congress. We joke smugly about the "lesser of two evils" and yet we sit in our comfortable desk chairs typing madly away at our shiny gadgets de jour silently benefiting from the almost guaranteed lack of extreme daily change that they bring us.

Then there's the crackpots that go on about Security Theater, or financial back-room negotiations being the root of political decisions. Seriously people, did you... I don't know... like not notice the last couple hundred years of US history? And before that... I don't know... the history of every civilization before that? Do you really think these are new occurrences brought forth by some newly invented form of greed that is so much more disastrous than the specific form of greed that shaped every other man-made disaster we read about in our text books?

It's also amusing having watched people criticize government mistakes of the past, smugly condemning the bystanders who watched as the US had their witch hunts, concentration camps, and slaves. I mean, how could those people stand around while people were forced to ride in the back of the bus, or drink from different water fountains. How did the non-land owners of the 1800's just stand around and just let all those rich people own slaves? They must have been truly horrible people for not doing anything. Right? And yet, here we are... smack dab in the middle of another truly historical yet regularly occurring epoch. Ironically, we're completely aware of how people will view us in 100 years, but we we feel completely powerless to actually change anything.

tl;dr: Same shit, different day. Congregations of humans inevitably lead to awful things, and we have an awful long history that illustrates just that.

*And by "like" I mean that it forms a black hole of emptiness in my soul that I am powerless to fight. Because for the sake of making my family comfortable I do nothing to rock the boat, which means that I am just like you, and them, and everybody else that we've silently criticized and/or condemned. And I hate myself for that.

Also: if you really want to know why Obama deserves a god damned Nobel Peace Prize? It's because the truly awful thing that is Guantamo Bay now only houses 166 human beings. Not 110,000, 400,000 or worse.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:07 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


GRANTING PARDON TO RICHARD NIXON
------
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Richard Nixon became the thirty-seventh President of the United States on January 20, 1969 and was reelected in 1972 for a second term by the electors of forty-nine of the fifty states. His term in office continued until his resignation on August 9, 1974.
Pursuant to resolutions of the House of Representatives, its Committee on the Judiciary conducted an inquiry and investigation on the impeachment of the President extending over more than eight months. The hearings of the Committee and its deliberations, which received wide national publicity over television, radio, and in printed media, resulted in votes adverse to Richard Nixon on recommended Articles of Impeachment.
As a result of certain acts or omissions occurring before his resignation from the Office of President, Richard Nixon has become liable to possible indictment and trial for offenses against the United States. Whether or not he shall be so prosecuted depends on findings of the appropriate grand jury and on the discretion of the authorized prosecutor. Should an indictment ensue, the accused shall then be entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury, as guaranteed to every individual by the Constitution.
It is believed that a trial of Richard Nixon, if it became necessary, could not fairly begin until a year or more has elapsed. In the meantime, the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-ninth.
posted by stenseng at 11:07 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Usually takes a conviction for someone to be held in prison for life too.

Yeah, well, Bush/Cheney put them there knowing full well they were creating a legal blackhole that would take decades to sort out. That was their whole plan. I was already outraged when this stuff actually happened originally. We already knew they were being held indefinitely without charges under Bush II, remember? Back then, though, we weren't even allowed to know how many detainees there were or who they were, remember that?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2013


Yeah, well, Bush/Cheney put them there knowing full well they were creating a legal blackhole that would take decades to sort out. That was their whole plan. I was already outraged when this stuff actually happened originally. We already knew they were being held indefinitely without charges under Bush II, remember? Back then, though, we weren't even allowed to know how many detainees there were or who they were, remember that?

Look, I'm not particularly interested in fingerpointing at Obama, but fingerpointing at Bush/Cheney doesn't solve the problem either, nor does saying 'Now we know how fucked up the situation is, isn't that better?'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:11 AM on June 18, 2013


Could the President not just grant an amnesty, as opposed to a pardon? Would that still require a conviction?

I would have to assume that, since congress explicitly forbid transferring any of the detainees to any nation outside of the US, just saying "Your free to go!" and leaving the door unlocked is not an option either since that would be transferring the prisoners to Cuba (which Cuba might have something to say about--besides, there are international laws that don't just let us just go repatriating prisoners to other countries without those countries' consent).
posted by saulgoodman at 11:12 AM on June 18, 2013


Look, I'm not particularly interested in fingerpointing at Obama, but fingerpointing at Bush/Cheney doesn't solve the problem either, nor does saying 'Now we know how fucked up the situation is, isn't that better?'

Seriously, do people not remember anymore it was something like a couple of year before that admin even admitted to having detainees in secret prisons?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:13 AM on June 18, 2013


I remember, but I don't know why that makes the situation today better.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:15 AM on June 18, 2013


I would have to assume that, since congress explicitly forbid transferring any of the detainees to any nation outside of the US, just saying "Your free to go!" and leaving the door unlocked is not an option either since that would be transferring the prisoners to Cuba (which Cuba might have something to say about--besides, there are international laws that don't just let us just go repatriating prisoners to other countries without those countries' consent).

Right, but at that point, they would no longer be prisoners, correct?
posted by stenseng at 11:33 AM on June 18, 2013


It might help us figure out how things actually got this bad this quickly to think more about how things got this way.

It's absolutely right that the current legal situation in Guantanamo undermines our entire system of law, the entire foundation of our system of law--here we have people held indefinitely on an assumption of guilt with no fair trial in sight. The assurances law makers have given us that these "special measures" only apply to non-citizens make no sense because that distinction is not one our system has cared about or really made very clearly in the past (which was traditionally understood to mean that all people are equal with inalienable rights under the law--not just American citizens--caveats about those rights only extending to property-owning white males early in our history aside).

But the only lawmaking body in our system of government that can make and enact law is congress. Our current congress deliberately prevented the closure of this base. So why not keep working on congress and making them the political target (since they actually are the only ones with the power to remedy the situation, whether they're up to the challenge or not)?

I'd be all for Nixon-style preemptive pardons (though I'm not sure how the law shakes out on that; I didn't realize how extraordinary Ford's pardon actually was). But isn't it pretty damn likely Republicans would instantly bog down everything else from now until the end of Obama's second term with never-ending congressional hearings and impeachment proceedings, playing to their crowd about how this proves his affinity for Muslim terrorists, and we'd have to relive Clinton's second term all over again until people are so sick of the media coverage come next election cycle they'd vote for another Republican true-believer in a minute just out of disgust for the whole reeking mess?

Right, but at that point, they would no longer be prisoners, correct?

What? Congress forbid the release of the detainees to any country outside the US. That would include Cuba.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:37 AM on June 18, 2013


Basically, I think if our entire system of law is undermined already, "I can't do this because of the law" seems like a flimsy excuse.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:47 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


But if the President granted them amnesty, they'd no longer be detainees. Let the Yemenis or Jordanians send in a few planes to pick em up and get em out... badabing.
posted by stenseng at 11:48 AM on June 18, 2013




I'd be all for Nixon-style preemptive pardons (though I'm not sure how the law shakes out on that; I didn't realize how extraordinary Ford's pardon actually was). But isn't it pretty damn likely Republicans would instantly bog down everything else from now until the end of Obama's second term with never-ending congressional hearings and impeachment proceedings, playing to their crowd about how this proves his affinity for Muslim terrorists, and we'd have to relive Clinton's second term all over again until people are so sick of the media coverage come next election cycle they'd vote for another Republican true-believer in a minute just out of disgust for the whole reeking mess?

Again, I'm not arguing that presidential pardons are necessarily the way to go on this, but saying 'Sorry about the human rights violations, but there's an election in a few years' strikes me as tacky.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:54 AM on June 18, 2013




Obama has failed mightily in this and I am ashamed to have voted for him twice. He has the power, no matter what his apologists might say, to do this thing. He could walk down there with the keys himself and unlock the gates and set those untried men free, he is the commander and chief.
It says little to be the home of the brave if we cannot also be the land of the free, and injustices like this erode the pretense that we are a just and free society.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:58 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


He could walk down there with the keys himself and unlock the gates and set those untried men free, he is the commander and chief.

You know Gitmo is on an island, right ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:11 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pardon those accused of terrorist offenses? Sorry, no. Let's hand them to Yemen or something. But they don't walk.

Wonder how that polls with the American people? I'd bet 99-1 against.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:22 PM on June 18, 2013


Ironmouth: "Sorry, no. Let's hand them to Yemen or something."

As you are undoubtedly aware, many of the prisoners aren't welcome back to their country of origin.

Wonder how that polls with the American people? I'd bet 99-1 against.

I must have missed the part of the Constitution that lets thorny issues get settled by referendum.

The question is are we a nation of laws or are we not. If we are, then we need to either try them or release them. Keeping them indefinitely isn't compatible with the rule of law.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know Gitmo is on an island, right ?

Whether you love him or hate him, Obama can walk on water.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:41 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dear America, please go have a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and think about what you have become.
posted by inertia at 12:49 PM on June 18, 2013


Pardon those accused of terrorist offenses? Sorry, no. Let's hand them to Yemen or something. But they don't walk.

If we've already decided there isn't enough evidence against them to substantiate those accusations, then why shouldn't they walk?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:49 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pardon those accused of terrorist offenses? Sorry, no. Let's hand them to Yemen or something. But they don't walk.

In your understanding, what does the word 'accused' mean, exactly?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:11 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


going way back up the thread...

So, whats the worst that can happen if the US lets them go?

If they do nothing 'terrorist' ever again.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:36 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear America, please go have a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and think about what you have become.

Oh God, why did we think this hairstyle would work for the summer?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:49 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


jet_manifesto: Disgusting. I'm not American, so I have no power to change the laws that allow this.
I am an American, and I have no power to change the laws that allow this.

Supposedly my Constitution prevents this, but the body that interprets the Constitution has ruled that parts of it may be ignored when convenient for the public good - as when fighting terrorists.

Obama promised to put a stop to these practices, just one of many reasons I supported him twice, but of course he's only 1/3 of the establishment that upholds these practices, and in this case, the stool certainly can stand on two feet.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:54 PM on June 18, 2013


DU: *checks profile* Yep, not a woman!

Ah single issue voters. Is there no election they can't distort?
That's like saying Brazilian villagers shouldn't vote against logging that threatens their homes and livelihood, because Sao Paulo needs school reform.

When it's your life on the line, it has to be single-issue.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:02 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


“Obama and Rahm Emanuel did not "try" very hard to close Gitmo, at least according to some House Dems who say…”

Well there’s your problem right there.

So, day one of his presidency, Obama signs an executive order to close Gitmo within a year.
We had (and still have) our heads up our ass as to their status since Congress refuses to address their legal status, so -

First thing – where to put them in the interim?

Obama directs the AG and SecDef to take over a prison in Thompson, Illlinois for about $350 million.

Congress refuses to pay for that.

Ok.

Obama tasks a committee to look for other places…

The House Armed Services Committee under Democratic control, refuses to allow any detention facility to take any prisoners on any soil – the extra big ‘fuck you’? The vote is bipartisan and unanimous.

Ok.

Obama and the State Department ask around and sure, some countries will take a few of the prisoners. We’ve got 86 of them who are (technically) cleared to leave, so let’s relocate them at least.

No. Congress denied funding for that. In fact, the ban on transfers was anchored to a $1 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government going. It was passed 212 to 206. Democrats carried the vote, ain’t that a big kick in the ass?

(In fact, in the same bill, a guy who was actually charged with a crime, and was going to go to trial, was blocked, by name! (Khalid Sheik Mohammed). The AG (Eric Holder) and Obama did everything they could to get KSM tried in a civilian court.)

Then Obama signed an act specifically blocking the use of Def. Dept funds to transfer detainees from Gitmo to other countries or housing them in the U.S. – which means no trial in a civilian court for KSM.

Why did Obama do this? To fund the military. Because that’s how congress wrote the bill. They metaphorically held an f’ing gun to his head (Judiciary committee chair Pat Leahy excepted: “Rather than addressing the real question of how to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Congress continues to try to tie the hands of law enforcement and other security agencies… In the end, the result is a failure to bring these criminals to justice. I hope the final version of important legislation to keep the government running will not include this unprecedented, damaging, and ill-considered provision.")

Then? After stalling the process, they pissed all over Holder for attempting to try KSM at Gitmo, along with the Supreme Court which refused to hear appeals challenging the government’s right to detain people indefinitely.

Ok.

So howabout we cut loose the 86 people cleared to leave and send them to other countries since Obama just ended the moratorium....

Not so fast! Congress (and the Armed Services Committee) wants to bar the Pentagon from spending money to transfer any prisoners to a foreign country until at least 2014.

Again, it wasn't just "Bush did it" The Bush administration seriously screwed up the basic structure of how the government works and put systemic blocks that have only political solutions.
The president literally can't free them without lockstep party control (and he doesn't have that) or accepting the whole 'unitary executive' idea and becoming the new Caesar.


Gitmo isn't just about Gitmo. It's about rule of law or rule of shadow government. Cheney's vice presidency wasn't bad just because he was an evil asshole, it was bad because it altered the nature of the office.
As did - demonstrably - the Bush administration when the GOP made political duplications of bureaucratic apparatus.

That's this. The whole "uh...dunno" answer when dealing with the detainees' status, what to do with them, when to do it.
It's perfectly fine to criticize Obama, but without understanding basic civics, it's like throwing rocks at the fire department when they show up to put out a fire.

He doesn't (and the president shouldn't) have the kind of power to radically shift government policy - even when glaringly right as it is here.

But regardless, it's not his good nature or his positions or anything else that earns him a greater measure of immunity to criticism on this than congress.

It's simple logic.

Is there some reason the guy who's probably* never going to be elected to another political office in his life more or less likely to be politically scared of this issue than people who's seats are up in Nov. 2014?

*all I can think of is Andrew Johnson and Taft.

If nothing changes beginning of the year in 2015, I think the solutions have to be extra-legal. They'll certainly require more influence than the issue has now.

I don't see the solution as simply putting more power in the hands of the president.

2016 isn't that far off. But I'll be voting Kinky Friedman/Bernie Sanders (or vice versa) next election anyway so maybe that'd work out.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:09 PM on June 18, 2013 [26 favorites]


Benny Andajetz: To make things even worse (if that's even possible), my understanding is that most players on both sides of this believe that most of the Gitmo detainees aren't even guilty.
Cite? I've heard the opposite. If that's true, I'd like to know about it.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:09 PM on June 18, 2013


releasing someone who goes on to kill, say an American soldier walking down the street in some foreign capital, would be very difficult to overcome politically

I really don't understand this logic. These people aren't supervillains with some unique power to kill Americans. Can Obama really think that we've got a significant fraction of potential terrorists locked up and that releasing these people would increase the odds of another attack?
posted by straight at 2:15 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can Obama really think that we've got a significant fraction of potential terrorists locked up and that releasing these people would increase the odds of another attack?

Al Qaeda Leader Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Was Released by U.S. in November 2007 to Saudi Arabia, then moved to Yemen and was implicated in a bombing attack at the US Embassy in Sanaa, and was killed in a "CT operation" earlier this year and was called the #2 AQ guy in Yemen. via NYTimes Docket.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:29 PM on June 18, 2013


Regarding the prisoners' guilt:

86 of the prisoners in Guantanamo were cleared for release THREE YEARS AGO following a year-long investigation of their cases by an interagency task force of officials at the Department of Justice, Pentagon, State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:37 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks Mr. Obama for shutting this disgusting place down, just like you said you would as part of the Hopey Changey crap that got you elected [/sarcasm]

For what it's worth, as a 23 year old guy who turned 18 in time to vote in my first election and elect him the first time... i think this did something really powerful.

An entire generation of kids now has not a glass half full, but an ass half full view of politics. They went in to this thinking that shit was finally changing, having grown up in the bush years actually being made to give a fuck about politics since they were watching everything go down the crapper.

Now though, everyone can pretty much agree that anyone you elect is going to be at least halfway full of shit.

It's a good lesson to learn, and i hope this bemusement actually turns in to something powerful. The recession was another good body blow to reinforce that sort of attitude.
posted by emptythought at 3:47 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea that everyone is full of shit just leads to assuming anyone claiming to be able to accomplish anything powerful is full of shit.

Money and time are much better resources for accomplishing things than cynicism, and the recession has been a particular blow there.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:59 PM on June 18, 2013


I think anyone furthering the "Obama sux" meme here has to at least respond to Smedleyman's comment. Very good job of laying out the walls that have been systematically erected in Obama's way in his efforts to close Guantanamo.

Also note guys: there's no reason to believe any of this obstructionism will end when Obama leaves office. The next Democrat will certainly face more of it, and not that these scorched earth tactics have become the new normal, if it's a Republican in charge the Democrats will have to do it just to avoid losing any further ground. Republicans can get away with it because there isn't much political penalty to being a obstructor, because these kinds of details don't make it out through the news filter to popular knowledge, or if they do they don't stick.

It seems like we need to construct a meme around these Congresspeople, to ensure they're remembered for their actions. Or something.
posted by JHarris at 3:59 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sympathetic to arguments that Obama can't do anything because Republicans in Congress block him. I'm less sympathetic when he can't even be expected to lead his own party on major campaign promises. That isn't about Republican obstruction. That was Rahm's job to deliver for him and they failed. They are being judged on that because they promised it. If it was impossible to persuade their own party on it they should not have told voters they would do it.

It's not like it is some fringe position that the administration didn't work hard enough, Obama's own Secretary of State said the same sorts of things:

One recent plea, two sources told Newsweek, came from Hillary Clinton, who, just before she left office in January 2013, sent a two-page confidential memo to Obama about Guantánamo.
-
“We are throwing the president’s commitment to close Guantánamo into the trash bin,” she chastised White House aides, according to three participants in the meeting. “We are doing him a disservice by not working harder on this.”
-
Her memo was replete with practical suggestions for moving ahead on Gitmo. Chief among them: Obama needed to appoint a high-level official to be in charge of the effort, someone who had clout and proximity to the Oval Office. Further, Clinton argued that Obama could start transferring the 86 detainees who’d already been cleared for release. (Congress has imposed onerous restrictions on the administration’s ability to transfer Gitmo detainees—including a stipulation that the secretary of Defense certify that detainees sent to other countries would not engage in acts of terrorism. In her memo, Clinton pointed out that the administration could use “national-security waivers” to circumvent the restriction.)


So, I would definitely not subscribe to the strawman "obama sux", but I would say better informed and experienced political minds than any of us here do believe the administration has dropped the ball in some significant ways. They share the blame as does the Democratic congress of the early Obama years. "Republicans sux" is not the answer here any more than "Obama sux". (And I understand "Republican sux" isn't your position)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:23 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


He tried. Congress said no

This is true, but it would be nice to see a little bit of a fight out of him.

Congress said no to health care reform too.
posted by Foosnark at 5:04 PM on June 18, 2013


Congress didn't make him torture the Guantanamo prisoners, or bug their meetings with their attorneys, or force-feed them, or keep their names from the press. Congress was just fine with all of those things, and so was the President. It is simply not possible that the President actually wanted to release the prisoners, but decided to torture them and deny their human rights because Congress wouldn't release the funds to give them a trip out of Guantanamo.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:29 PM on June 18, 2013


Smedleyman's comment and others have me willing to admit I understated the Congressional obstruction in my rush to counter the "Obama tried oh so very hard!" stuff. But it's worth noting that it was during the early fight over funding in 2009 that the White House is accused of completely disappearing from the battle. Again:

The fight over restrictions to fund the closure of the prison was led on the Democratic side by then-House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), and Reps. Jack Murtha (D-PA) and Jim Moran (D-VA). In an interview Thursday with The Daily Beast, Moran said that when fight was on, the White House was nowhere to be found.

“They left all of us twisting in the wind,” he said. “Rightly or wrongly, they gave us a very clear impression, ‘You’re on your own on this issue.’”


That's from a guy who was in the trenches, ready to fight for Obama's position. I apologize for focusing so harshly on one element of the problem at the expense of the others (yes, it's a hugely complex story) but the folks defending Obama are ignoring the very clear and very cynical political calculus *within the White House* during Obama's first months. There were multiple reports that his chief of staff at the time was refusing to spend any political capital on the issue ("There was a celebrated confrontation between Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff, who argued that these controversial promises were impeding Mr. Obama’s economic agenda, and Gregory B. Craig, then the White House counsel, who made the civil liberties and campaign commitment case for change. Mr. Emanuel won...") and other reports that the White House quickly became absent during those first few months ("But as time wore on, congressional staff members said, they stopped hearing from Craig").

That WaPo article, btw, has lots of detail about mistakes Obama made early on, including immediately setting a deadline without having a plan for the detainees - a move "the entire civil service counseled him not to" do, according to one source, but the mistakes in hindsight are not my point. I just want to make sure the folks defending Obama here understand there's decent evidence for the position that the White House under Obama and Rahm Emanuel gave up relatively quickly and easily on closing Guantanamo out of fear of political backlash, refusing to fight and disappointing Congressional allies, which likely set the stage for much more serious Congressional obstruction. As Drinky Die's Newsweek link puts it:

Once the plan cratered, lawmakers smelled blood. They began passing ever more restrictive legislation tying the administration’s hands on Guantánamo.

And what was this: "The White House forbade Justice and State Department officials from even going to Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats for much of 2009, over the objections of senior officials in those departments" if not the Obama/Rahm White House deciding during its first year that Guantanamo wasn't worth the effort?

Anyway, this thread has been informative and useful for me; I appreciate the insights and opinions very much and will do better at containing my emotions when responding to what I see as overly simplistic defenses of the Obama administration.
posted by mediareport at 7:50 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can someone point me to a source for the "reportedly being fed Reglan" claim? force feeding people *and* giving them ant-psychotics? WTF?
posted by kuatto at 8:48 PM on June 18, 2013


I've never heard of this drug before looking up this source, but I don't think it is an anti-psychotic.

Al Jazeera: Revised Guantanamo force-feed policy exposed

The administration of two powerful drugs, in addition to a wide range of over-the-counter medication, further undercuts the assertion that force-feeding can be completed comfortably in a half-hour or less. The two drugs at issue, according to the force-feeding policy, are Phenergan, which is used to prevent motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, pain - or as a sedative or sleep aid - and Reglan, which is used to treat heartburn caused by acid reflux. Long-term use of Reglan has been known to cause the irreversible neurological disorder, tardive dyskinesia.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:24 PM on June 18, 2013


Dude. Choosing to take Reglan or Phenergan out of necessity is one thing. But being forced to take them—those are both drugs that have a black-box warning. People should have the right to refuse them.
posted by limeonaire at 9:31 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


“Also note guys: there's no reason to believe any of this obstructionism will end when Obama leaves office.”

This.


“there's decent evidence for the position that the White House under Obama and Rahm Emanuel gave up relatively quickly and easily on closing Guantanamo out of fear of political backlash, refusing to fight and disappointing Congressional allies, which likely set the stage for much more serious Congressional obstruction.”

That all set up the drone thing and the continuation of Cheney’s operation. No one in congress or the justice system wants to define exactly where a detainee stands relative to the law or military operation. The power to order a drone strike exists exactly because the suspect target is in the same realm of legal indeterminacy as a detainee.

This concept is hooked into so many things, shielding troops from war crimes, rescinding the release for currently cleared terrorists is they’re considered “too dangerous” but can’t be prosecuted because there’s too little evidence.

This is how Congress and elements of the justice system and the military want to handle terror suspects in the future.

There’s no other answer that makes sense why the political will isn’t there. Gitmo serves no useful purpose. They want it that way because they want control of it.


2009 the Senate voted 90-6 to block the president’s efforts at closing the camp.
90 to 6. Despicable.
although, hey, we in Illinois delivered our guys, Durbin, et.al.)
Harry Reid agreed with Obama saying the reason Guantanamo has not closed was because of Congress. That's true," Reid said.

Meanwhile, as mentioned, in a 2009 Gallup Poll, a majority said they would be upset if it shut down and according to one recent poll 70 percent of Americans want to keep the camp open. (FUCK!)
And there are congressional seats up.

Sorry we have to torture the shit out of you and make you feel so bad that you want to end your life but we keep the absolute hell of your existence going because we don't know if you did anything wrong, but we think you might in the future, especially because we tortured the shit out of you for so many years, but also because our politicians would look bad if they had to admit there was no reason to torture you much less hold you captive indefinitely in the first place. I mean, they're trying to get elected, so put yourself in their place there's no reason ... wait, let me just forcibly insert this food tube down the back of your nasal cavity - yes, yes, there's lots of choking and unpleasantness that probably reminds you a lot of waterboarding, yes - anyway, what was I saying?
Oh yes. It's only politics. Nothing personal. People do funny things to get elected. My buddy got a cow from a farmer when he was running for school board. And he'd ride that cow to board meetings. 'Course, we had to keep a Qatari and his son captive in a secret sub-level under our neighbors basement, drilling under their fingernails and toenails and what not.
Just to maintain that we were legitimately anti-terrorist, you see? Of course, it was nothing personal to them. Bob just hated doing it and why, some nights I couldn't stand the screaming and the smell, but those school board meetings can be pretty brash. We wouldn't want anyone to accuse us of being soft. Besides, they're down there now, and we would have to dig through the Protski's yard next door to get them out. And there's no way the school board is going to come up with that kind of money no matter what Superintendent Millar says. So they'll stay down their until Bob makes chair and then retires I suppose. It'd be up to the next board president to do something with them. Maybe move in next to the Protski's I guess. Or if Qataris just die off, all our problems would be solved.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:55 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Opinion was split in 2009 on closing.

Fifty-one percent of those questioned in the survey support the closing of prison at Guantanamo Bay, with 47 percent against the closing. That's basically a split, when taking into account the survey's sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Opposition to the closing increased once you mention moving the prisoners to the US.

When asked if the United States should shutter the notorious facility and move some of the accused terrorists to US prisons, 65 percent of Americans polled said no, with just 32 percent saying yes, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll published in the newspaper.

Basiclly 2009 was the only shot and the people who wanted it closed blew their chance. Either because of the NIMBY issue or the "Well, it's okay when my party does it" issue the support has collapsed by now.

A new Fox News poll finds 63 percent of voters want to keep the detention facility known as Gitmo open, while 28 percent say it should be closed and the terrorist suspects moved to federal prisons in the United States.

-
“Also note guys: there's no reason to believe any of this obstructionism will end when Obama leaves office.”


There isn't really going to be anything to obstruct, as someone would be crazy to attempt running on closing it again at this point.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:08 PM on June 18, 2013


Torture , you decide, I have. If you are a US citizen this is being done in your name.
...The document makes for gruesome reading: the detainee shackled to a special chair (which looks like the electric chair); the head restraints if he resists; the tube pushed painfully down his nose; the half-hour or so of ingestion of nutritional supplements; the transfer of the detainee to a “dry cell,” where, if he vomits, he is strapped back into the chair until the food is digested.
The military refuses to discuss the use of Reglan.
posted by adamvasco at 12:32 AM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whenever the Democrats fail to fight for something we're told, "Well, you have to pick your battles."

I'm assuming eventually we'll pick a battle?
posted by Legomancer at 6:10 AM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, based on my comments in this thread I got a MeFi mail saying, essentially, "America: love it or leave it" which is absolutely adorable.
posted by Legomancer at 6:12 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


According to the Reglan link:
Metoclopramide (Reglan) was initially developed [to treat psychiatric patients], but was found to be less effective than many other antipsychotic drugs currently in use at the time. However, it was effective in controlling certain gastrointestinal disorders by blocking dopamine receptors of the digestive system. Symptoms that could be controlled included heartburn, acid reflux and gastroparesis, which is partial or complete paralysis of the stomach.
It's pretty convenient that they found a medication derived from a class of anti-psychotics to treat, well, stomach problems? Am I reading this incorrectly?
posted by kuatto at 6:22 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem is that a lot of people who love[d] America are leaving, because they just can't in good conscience live in a society that has in the past couple of decades rejected so many of the values that made the country what it once was and simply don't see any way of reversing the trend. So instead of trying to stay afloat in a swimming pool slowly filling with sewage, they look at their own lives, shrug, get out, hose off and find somewhere reasonably sane to live out the rest of their days.

Some people have the spoons to fight those battles, and more power to them. And some people have other battles to fight that are more important personally, or just have barely enough spoons to get through the day without fighting anything at all. Or, they have enough starter spoons to function in a society that gives them a few extra spoons to begin with.

Mostly, though, people who say "love it or leave it" are probably the sort of people who wish that progressive, liberal thinkers would indeed just GTFO of "their" country so they can wave their guns around some more, scream about how Obama is ruining things, all the while holding both hands out for whatever entitlements they feel they deserve while doing their damnest to deny them to others.

At least, that's my Facebook feed in a nutshell. You can say it ain't so, but it is so, these are the people that say these things, this is what they believe, and at the end of the day we have to see to our own oxygen before seeing to the needs of others. I dunno what else to tell you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:38 AM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]




Benny Andajetz: Regarding the prisoners' guilt:

86 of the prisoners in Guantanamo were cleared for release THREE YEARS AGO following a year-long investigation of their cases by an interagency task force of officials at the Department of Justice, Pentagon, State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
OK, that doesn't surprise me much, sadly, and I hope for their release (against all odds). Looks like that's just over half, which makes the original statement true.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:58 AM on June 19, 2013


I hate to say it, but China's kind of right about one thing: Until those 86 innocent victims of the draconian secret military detention system we set up in the aftermath of 9/11 are freed and given the most generous reparations package in the history of mankind, as well as top-notch medical care and social support for the rest of their lives, America looks embarrassingly lacking in self-awareness and hypocritical when it depicts itself as a crusading champion of human rights on the world stage. You almost have to wonder if that wasn't an intended bi-product, given the secrecy-loving crew that created this ethical and legal morass.

It really couldn't be clearer that those 86 detainees already cleared for release should be released already, dammit. Its unconscionable that America would ever keep innocent people imprisoned indefinitely, popularly-sanctioned or not. It violates principles that are far more fundamental and important than the shifting political winds and fleeting emotional sentiments of the American people. It's disgraceful.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:31 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whenever the Democrats fail to fight for something we're told, "Well, you have to pick your battles."

I'm assuming eventually we'll pick a battle?


I have no idea what you're talking about because o one has written that in this thread, except you. So I'm not even sure what you're responding to, because it doesn't seem to involve any actual conversation that has occurred in this thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:57 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd pay good money to see a "Cube" strategy session. Something along the lines of the Wannsee Conference (cinematically like Conspiracy maybe) where they discuss in office talk, building the Cube, who is to stay in it, etc.

And make it a complete metaphor for Gitmo.

I mean, I'm an educated, trained, intelligent professional, but I'm pretty much a specialist in one field so perhaps guys in my line can be cut something of a break for going along with this (if not actively involved), but the people involved around the legal, ethical, political, hell even the bureaucratic issues are extremely high performing, well rounded, individuals trained in law and government and international relations, etc. etc.
And they can't think past this.

So it's got to be the conceptual tools that allow avoidance of the description of reality.

"Indefinite detention" is exactly what it says: undefined. So what the hell IS it we're talking about?
Whenever one nails it down to a particular thing it becomes an objection- o-rama.

Why don't we charge them? Because they're detainees.

Then why don't we move them to the U.S.? Because suddenly they're enemies. Enemy combatants. Foreigners.

Then why don't we set a military commission and charge them as such under the Geneva Conventions?

Because they're prisoners of war, a war on terror, that is ongoing.

So as prisoners they can use habeus corpus to challenge their imprisonment under the 3rd Geneva Convention?

No. Because they're sort of civilians.

So then the 4th Geneva Convention....

No. Because they're sort of soldiers. Without a country.

But they're imprisoned...

No, no, they're detainees.

So what's a detainee?

Anyone who poses a threat to public safety. If they do, then we don't even need to Mirandize them.

And who determines that?

The government.

Under what statute?

Uh... some memos and stuff. Official type things. *cough*

Doesn't congress have to pass laws so that...

No, not with terrrorists.

They're terrorists?

Terrorism exists. Or will. Maybe they'll do something in the future. Can you prove they won't?

Uh, well, no, but...

AH HA!


The nature of the denial of choice here isn't set in the language as it is in a dictatorship, but rather in the ambiguity of terms and lack of definitions.

I suppose instead of saying "We were just following orders" we'll say "we were just trying to follow vaguely insinuated guidelines from leadership that refused to delineate anything."

And it serves to insulate the people making the moves.
Case in point, we're discussion Obama, not Congress, and most importantly not the influence that keeps Gitmo open despite lack of clear policy.

Removing (or substituting) something to fixate on makes it hard for people to see the big picture. Like there was no such thing as antisemitism before or during Hitler.
People see the symbol not the vast environment that supports the actions.

Remove the symbol and there's nothing to hit, or you can lay it off on a few bad apples.

And this is to a degree what happened (purely for example of ambiguity) in Abu Grhaib.

Not that there aren't some people who are perfectly willing to follow orders to electrocute someone's balls or torture someone. But that's not what happened in most cases.
Spc4: "So, we're gonna torture this guy's balls?"
?: 'No, no, I was just saying testicles are very sensitive. Wouldnt' you agree?'
'Spc4: Uh, yeah. So what's with the car battery charger and the wires? I haven't heard anything about this kind of interrogation.'
Mr.x? "Oh, just having a little trouble with the V. I'm going to just leave them here. I have to go *looks at prisoner* Gee, I wish we could get information from him. It'd probably save a lot of your buddies lives. But you're not an interrogator, are you."
Spc4: 'Uh, well how do you know that? Are you with the CIA or something?"
MiB? "If I told you, I'd have to kill you!"
*Both laugh*
Spc4: 'No, seriously, are you in the chain of command at all? Because I don't...'
O5?: 'Son, do you remember that guy who got beheaded? If these animals got ahold of you do you think they'd hesistate...'
SPC4: 'I don't want to get in trouble...'
NSA? 'You already are in trouble. You're in a locked room. With ME.'
Spc4: '....ok, I get it. But uh, who the hell are you?'
Dick Cheney? '...don't let your country down.'

Not saying right or wrong here. Just the difference in form from the Soviets or Nazis.

Clearly defined superior officer or political apparatchik: "Soldier - torture the shit out of that prisoner right now!"
Soldier: "Yes sir!"

Even if Obama literally goes down there and cuts them all loose and flies them all out on his own dime, we're stuck with an indefinite policy (how to treat detainees) regarding prisoners with an indefinate legal status, that no one wants to define even if there wasn't constant political gamesmanship that is completely subjective and without regard to practical counterterror operations and law enforcment - based on a question that didn't need to be asked in the first place.

I mean, we actually found and arrested Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, convicted him of conspiracy and put him in a supermax in Colorado for 200+ years.

He bombed the WTC in '93. Two years later he was apprehended. Then convicted and imprisoned for the rest of his life.

I'm not seeing the failure in the system we had there.
Nothing would have been served by holding Yousef indefinitely.

So why build an apparatus to do so in the first place? Well, once it's there, like the Cube, gotta put people in it or admit it's pointless, useless, and you made a mistake in creating it.

Put more people in it and you start to think, "well, all this suffering maybe means something" or maybe that it protects us from our own fears.

Seemed to work out that way for the Aztecs. They kept cutting out hearts and, well, the sun kept rising didn't it?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:13 AM on June 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Case in point, we're discussion Obama, not Congress, and most importantly not the influence that keeps Gitmo open despite lack of clear policy.

A discussion about who I can point the finger at for opening Gitmo and continuing to keep it open is less interesting to me than one about why it is still open and what can be done to close it.

Sure, I could write a letter to my representatives (like this one who says I should thank God every day for the NSA surveillance program), which seems to be about as effective as yelling at the wind.
posted by inertia at 12:14 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only strategy that has ever worked for effecting big changes in US politics is making it too costly in terms of lost profits or electoral prospects to maintain the status quo for those individuals who have the power to directly bring about the desired changes. In this case, that's congress. But as long as popular opinion and the big money political contributors' interests remain behind the politicians from both major parties who've brought us to this point, they're just going to keep doing whatever pays best, principles and minority dissent be damned.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:54 PM on June 19, 2013


Colonel Bogdan should be relieved of his command at Guantánamo.
Bogdan has never run a prison previously and is part of the problem and not the solution.
posted by adamvasco at 4:51 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bogdan is a symptom of the lousy, feculent state that the US military has gotten itself into.

If you read Spying on Attorneys at GTMO [PDF] you find that Bogdan authorised the repair of the secret surveillance devices that spied on lawyers' meetings with their clients. It's obvious that Bogdan lied under oath when he testified that he was unaware of their existence; he ought to have been called on this and I can only think that he has been retained because the US military cannot afford to prosecute anyone involved in the operations of Guantanamo. They're rats, one and all, and rats bite when they feel threatened.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:25 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]






A Cruel and Unusual Record, aka America's Shameful Human Rights Record, by Jimmy Carter.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:36 AM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jimmy Carter! Probably the kindest man Georgia ever produced. I hope he never dies.
posted by JHarris at 4:06 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


God, that whole column is SO FULL OF WIN. It needs to be spread far and wide.

It seems amazing, now, that he was ever elected President. He seems too decent.
posted by JHarris at 4:10 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]




Guantánamo authorities 'planning Ramadan force-feeding factory'.
posted by adamvasco at 11:34 AM on July 5, 2013


"Happy Ramadan!"
(glurf frlugh gasp)

This kind of thing can't go on forever, can it? Between Guantanamo force feedings, Snowden, Prism, the NSA, the Associated Press phone tapping thing, how fed up is the American public with all this? How many of them will make this a voting issue?
posted by JHarris at 6:52 PM on July 5, 2013


How many of them will make this a voting issue?
Let's have a show of hands so we can put you in the proper category...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:56 PM on July 5, 2013


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