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June 14, 2002 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Would you sign your name to this statement? Why doesn't it appear in an American media outlet?
posted by nofundy (70 comments total)

 
I'm going to get flamed for this, but it looks like the same list of celebrity "crackpots" we see on every "America Bad, World Good" story, initiatives, etc.

Oh, and if you are not from the U.S.....the people listed do not represent the majority opinion of the American citizens.
posted by mkelley at 11:17 AM on June 14, 2002


They've got Casey Kasem...I guess you can consider the "War on Terrorism" as good as over!
posted by byort at 11:21 AM on June 14, 2002


Wow, nofundy, good question. After all, Casey Kasem himself signed the damn thing.

Anyway, this is all a bunch of nonsense. Nobody is stopping anyone who signed this from stating their opinion. Noam Chomsky and Edward Said certainly haven't been muzzled. Presumably the signers are mad because no one is listening to their opinion. But when 80+% of the country supports military action, what do you think is going to happen in a democracy?
posted by pardonyou? at 11:27 AM on June 14, 2002


ah, byort, you beat me to it.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:28 AM on June 14, 2002


I have a lot of respect for Anderson's and Banks' and Kushner's work, but, well, the Israeli refusenik comparison doesn't really make a lot of sense, it's apple and oranges but in a bad way

It doesn't take a lot of guts to sign this thing even if you're famous anyway, the language of the statement is not very strong -- speaking out against the Gulf War in 1991 was much more difficult and totally unpopular.

And also I don't remember most of these people (except Chomsky, Zinn and a few others) speaking out against the war in Afghanistan -- that would have been controversial, not this (1 'no' vote in Congress, just 1, remember).

It'll probably appear in The Nation or Mother Jones as well, it's nothing revolutionary
posted by matteo at 11:35 AM on June 14, 2002


Mos Def is on there, he's a great musician. Most of the other names I didn't recognize from the entertainment world, except for Casey Kasem.
posted by cell divide at 11:42 AM on June 14, 2002


Nofundy: Would you sign your name to this statement

No. But I might sign it to a statement saying "America must win this fight, period."

Why doesn't it appear in an American media outlet?

Why should it appear in an American media outlet? "Dog Bites Man" is not news; neither is "Chomsky & Friends Criticize America."

Nofundy, you need to understand that to the great majority of Americans, the political exploits of, say, Casey Kasem and Starhawk (?) are staggeringly unimportant. It's not that there's a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to silence their important views - Americans know their views and don't give a damn.

Families do not crowd around the radio after dinner, straining to hear the latest news out of Cambridge: "Ladies and gentlemen... [hush] Noam Chomsky..."
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 11:42 AM on June 14, 2002


well it worked during Vietnam....
posted by LuxFX at 11:45 AM on June 14, 2002


How decent of Boots Riley, "hip hop artist", to express his feelings of "shock" at the "horrific events of September 11."

Not that the imagery was all that shocking to him.
posted by jmcmurry at 11:46 AM on June 14, 2002


The rappers from Coup are communists, and they were probably quietly cheering in their hearts when they saw the monument to trade and capitalism being destroyed.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:55 AM on June 14, 2002


Does Laurie Anderson (one of the first names on the list) even have a fan constituancy? Is there anyone out there who actually knows what Laurie Anderson sounds like, or eagerly awaits the new Laurie Anderson CD? Does she exist outside of the pages of the Sunday New York Times Entertainment Section?
posted by Faze at 11:59 AM on June 14, 2002


Yes, nofundy, I absolutely would sign my name. And to tall those who cite polls and bandy about figures regarding the level of support of the American people for this corrupt war, it ain't that simple. People in this country felt/feel something had to be done, but that does not translate into full-scale endorsement of what the Bush administration is up to.

I personally vacillate between total disillusionment with the American people, and hopeful optimism that eventually they will do the right thing. Just look at the Vietnam War...it took time, but the anti-war movement eventually won the day.

See, people aren't that stupid, and gradually the connections will be made that the US is prosecuting this war with the worst of intentions. But until then, patience is required to sit through the daily drivel of rah-rah BS and patronizing dismissal of anything remotely resembling dissent.

Oh, and Faze, yes, Anderson has a sizable following. She sold out both of her Chicago shows, which were great by the way. You ought to give her a listen.
posted by mapalm at 12:07 PM on June 14, 2002


For the record, Faze, you can count me in on that Laurie Anderson thing... although she's really gone downhill since the 80s. She's pretty much run out of things to say, seems like.

On the other hand, 'Starhawk' signed it too. I'm guessing this is either one of the students at the Xavier school, or perhaps this tree-hugger here.

And I think I'd probably sign the thing. There's not much more there than I've stated in posts here before. The US government is now taking the same liberties that caused them to proclaim Russia to be 'the evil empire' back during Reagan's years.
posted by Perigee at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2002


I'd sign your name.
posted by UncleFes at 12:20 PM on June 14, 2002


Perigee: in what way was the Soviet Union NOT an evil empire?
posted by insomnyuk at 12:22 PM on June 14, 2002


The rappers from Coup are communists, and they were probably quietly cheering in their hearts when they saw the monument to trade and capitalism being destroyed.

Right. Because anyone with a different viewpoint revels in the deaths of thousands of people, clearly.
posted by laze at 12:22 PM on June 14, 2002


Laurie Anderson stepped on my hand once. I was at a performance of a Richard Foreman play, sitting on the floor with the other rabble who didn't have reserved seats. Minutes before the play started, Ms. Anderson and her consort Lou Reed made a grand entrance, stepping over all the 'little people' to get to their reserved seats in the middle of the tiny audience section. Anderson planted a heel on my hand and I yelped in pain. She didn't even look down. Lou crawled over me and turned and said "Sorry." I didn't know if it was an apology or a description of her bad manners.

This little incident metaphorically sums up my feelings for most of the dubious celebrities and intellectuals on this list: rich, sheltered personalities who profess their liberal disgust at America over 300 dollar meals at Nobu. I don't usually get miffed over hypocrisy, but this kind of thing makes me boil. It's simplistic, disingenuous and a great way for the waning star to get their names in the paper.

Too bad the paper is the Guardian.
posted by evanizer at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2002


No laze, I was merely using communists to describe them, I'm not saying all communists are like them, either. Don't misinterpret what I said. Maybe if you observe this photo, my comments will make more sense.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2002


Oh, and if you are not from the U.S.....the people listed do not represent the majority opinion of the American citizens.
[mkelley]

Speak for yourself, buddy.

Which was more or less the point, wasn't it?

in what way was the Soviet Union NOT an evil empire? [insomnyuk]

You missed the point. The US is now doing many of the same things the bad old soviets were doing: secret trials, spying on its own citizens, etcetera etcetera. So what does that make us?
posted by ook at 12:31 PM on June 14, 2002


Its not a question of whether or not the Soviet Union Wasn't, insomnyuk; its a question of whether we can adopt their methods and not see ourselves in the same judgement.

We invaded a country on the strength of the acts of 12 or so people. We displaced the reining government, and we won't leave until a government of our choosing is in place, and almost certainly not before we have rights to military bases there - part of our deal for helping to rebuild, perhaps. We are claiming the right to invade a country for acts that have not happened yet - in order to keep them from happening. We are imprisoning people for crimes they have not yet committed, we are taking their rights from them so they can be held without charge or legal recourse.

Its not a situation I can be real proud of, from the country that once promised 'liberty and justice for all'.
posted by Perigee at 12:32 PM on June 14, 2002


Oh, and if you are not from the U.S.....the people listed do not represent the majority opinion of the American citizens

Speak for yourself, buddy.

Um, the key word is majority.
posted by evanizer at 12:34 PM on June 14, 2002


Thanks for the clarification ook and Perigee, I thought you were disagreeing with the classification of the old Soviet regime. I agree with you that we should not be adopting their habits. Unfortunately, we're heading down that road.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:34 PM on June 14, 2002


These people are protesting an attack by the government on what America was supposed to be all about. Justice, equality and freedom for all, etc.

There has been a lack of criticism of the government for the actions it's taken since Sept 11th. On the whole, these actions have been repressive, closed from public scrutiny and deeply unpopular internationally. If it weren't for the attacks, Americans would never countenance imprisoning US citizens and foreign residents without even the prospect of a trial by jury. Now, it's accepted under the pretense of "protecting our freedoms and way of life." The danger that this sort of arrest could become routine is very real.

Of course the U.S. needs to go after and stop terrorists. But bombing some of the poorest people in the world isn't the only way to go about it. But the "win at any cost" mindset is both unjust and dangerous. It fuels resentment against the United States and deprives us of the moral highground we will need to win this engagement. Likewise, casting the entire world into simple "for us or against us" terms is misguided; there are many people who strongly disagree with US policy, while still regarding the Sept 11th terrorist attacks as abhorrent. The simplistic worldview casts them in the same group as the terrorists. If we treat people like enemies, they will become our enemies.

The terrorists who actually carried out the attacks hate the US for our freedom, justice and equality: they hate us for the things we do right. But if we act in ways that are repressive, unjust and discriminatory, we will incur far more hatred and broaden their support. We are not immune to hatred and resentment of US arrogance. In order to win the war on terrorism, we must be true to our democratic roots. That's what this statement is about.
posted by Loudmax at 12:42 PM on June 14, 2002


Thanks, jmcmurry and insomnyuk for the info on Boots/Coup. I had glossed over his entry without realizing that he's simply a fifth columnist.

A few months ago bloggers researched the signers of a pro-Milosevic petition and showed them largely to be wackos. I'd love to learn more about the signers of this petition.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 12:47 PM on June 14, 2002


There has been a lack of criticism of the government for the actions it's taken since Sept 11th. On the whole, these actions have been repressive, closed from public scrutiny and deeply unpopular internationally.

As I've requested many times in the past, please provide some references to specific instances of these repressive actions. And I've seen no lack of criticism of the US or its government in the past year. Just a lack of sound, intelligent criticism. The reason most of it is discounted or ignored is because it comes from the usual suspects who would find fault in the Gautama Buddha if he were and American citizen.

One of the irritating things about this list and its threadbare signatories is their sanctimony. Where's the distrust of their motives? Where's the jaded, cynical criticism, unfortunately the stock and trade of many liberals today, of these rich, selfish folks? Apparently righteous critique only very selectively applied.
posted by evanizer at 12:52 PM on June 14, 2002


In order to win the war on terrorism, we must be true to our democratic roots. That's what this statement is about.

I would respect more this statement's wording, and the refusnik and Vietnam comparisons, if the draft was a reality in America like it was for decades until Nixon revoked it. It is not.

And anyway what do you think will happen to the debate about criminal defendants' rights if/when the first 'dirty bomb' goes off? I'm not being sarcastic, it's a question.
Sadly, the nightmare of 9/11 would look like a minor incovenience compared to actual radiological damage and contamination in a major US city.
My guess is, nobody'll care anymore, too afraid of the next bomb.

The kind of bare-knuckle attitude the Bush adiministration is showing these days will not look as unjustified if/when terror becomes more widespread -- and, if Al Qaeda is not dismantled (a very, very, VERY tough mission to accomplish, we're talking tens of thousands of people in dozens of countries) a new, more devastating attack in the US or Europe is more than a remote possibility

I guess many many people would be ready to accept a little twisting of the rules if that actually avoids the future blooming of a big nuclear mushroom in a Western city's sky

On a lighter note, I dig Laurie Anderson's old work a lot. And by the way as long as she's Lou Reed's girlfriend I'll always support her. With all due respect for your hand evanizer :)
posted by matteo at 1:01 PM on June 14, 2002


In a nutshell, I'm supposed to say that since I respect the sovereignty of all people, I implore my government to allow those who do not respect the sovereignty of all people to run amok? Get stuffed!

Look at it any way you like, the world that the Islamofascists envision themselves imposing upon us is 1,000 times more repressive than the United States government at it's worst...
posted by RevGreg at 1:07 PM on June 14, 2002


Before I'm labelled a McCarthyite, let me say that I only meant to point out that the Boots Riley who signed the statement was the guy from the "blowing up the WTC on my album cover would be a cool way to sell records" thing.

I don't know that The Coup relished the deaths of the people in the WTC, nor do I know if they enjoyed their fiction becoming fact as the towers fell.

I don't know if they're wackos or not. I'm also not interested in dropping some money on their CD to find out. I did read his interview with The Onion AV Club, though.

An activist who doesn't vote because it's "the least amount of work you can do politically" doesn't seem so "active" to me. Whatever.

All I know is, there's only one guy I think of when I hear the name "Boots", and it ain't this guy.
posted by jmcmurry at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2002


I'd sign my name to this statement.

Doubtless this will be taken for flamebait, but honestly, as the scope of the War On Terror grows more and more diffuse, I despair of convincing the rest of the world that we're the Good Guys. How will Joe Q. Eastern Hemisphere know that when America goes rampaging through the world, bullying and bombing and killing, we do so only with the very best of intentions? Why would we expect anyone to believe it's so? Because we say so? How much water will that hold, in the parts of the world where if an American said 'the sky is blue' they'd be accusing him of making up lies to serve the godless Western capitalist conspiracy, or whatever?

Let the flaming and the accusations of left-wing wack-job America-hating begin, but if I had a platform or a way to say to the world "Hell yes, I have my reservations about where all this will end up," I would. (I suppose I kind of do, thanks mathowie!)
posted by Sapphireblue at 1:29 PM on June 14, 2002


If we treat people like enemies, they will become our enemies.

Voted 2006's Most Prescient Metafilter Comment of 2002.
posted by rushmc at 1:32 PM on June 14, 2002


And anyway what do you think will happen to the debate about criminal defendants' rights if/when the first 'dirty bomb' goes off?

That is PRECISELY the reason that some of us feel so strongly that it is vital to have this discussion NOW, despite the reservations (or complacency, depending upon how you look at it) of people like evanizer. After the next terrorist act, or the one after that, calm minds are far less likely to prevail, nor rational solutions to be found.
posted by rushmc at 1:34 PM on June 14, 2002


Why doesn't it appear in an American media outlet?

I'm sure the signers could scrape together enough for a full-page ad in the NYT. It's not news.
posted by groundhog at 1:48 PM on June 14, 2002


PERHAPS we should politely request that those who would set off dirty bombs, fly planes into buildings, filet stewardess, set off bombs next to school buses, bulldoze buildings filled with families, spread letters with anthrax, etc ad infinitum consider some "rational solutions" of their own. Why are we so hard on ourselves for small vices, yet so indulgent when the rest of the world draws the blood of innocents by the barrel, including our own? It's infantilism of the worst sort.

When the rest of the world bothers to acknowledge even the most basic human dignities we enshrine here in America and begins acting with half the care America does, I will stand with you all and demand our government act generously and with forbearance. Until then, I expect my government's first priority - the responsibility from which it draws all it's power and priviledge - to be to protect me, my family and all of you from those who would do us harm to the best of its ability, and to do so without regard to world opinion.
posted by UncleFes at 1:55 PM on June 14, 2002


Great post UncleFes, but save your breath. There will always be people raging against the evil capitalist system no matter how often their own ideas are disproved. We should just move on and let them fester in these little chatty newsgroups. It's a great way for them to harmlessly blow off steam.
posted by mikegre at 2:17 PM on June 14, 2002


mikegre: Metafilter != newsgroup.

Sheesh.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:33 PM on June 14, 2002


Insomnyuk,

A really really close look at the album cover, specifically, looking at the two artists on the cover, to me indicates that they are being rather goofy, and were making a joke that these days doesn't seem that funny. Kind of like how the joke at the end of the movie Fight Club doesn't seem that funny anymore.

Anyway, yeah, the Coup are commies. No, I don't think you can correctly say they were "probably" pleased by the slaughter.
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:41 PM on June 14, 2002


I'm happy that all of these misguided morons signed their names to one piece of paper; saves me the trouble of having to compile my own "enemies list". Funny thing is that many of the names are also among those who have counted themselves among the supporters of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal.

Take a principled stand, and make a deal with yourself not see movies involving Ed Asner, records featuring Mos Def, so on and so forth.
posted by DWRoelands at 2:41 PM on June 14, 2002


I would. But then I'm not an American.
posted by feelinglistless at 2:43 PM on June 14, 2002


Mikegre, your post contributed exactly what to this conversation?

UncleFes, I understand what you're saying -- but to my mind, the US's current strategy is far more likely to cause more problems than it solves. Remember that the big terrorist attack before this one came from within our own borders: we can invade all the countries we want to, but it's only going to inflame further hatred and provoke more attacks. I don't feel that my government is protecting me; I feel that it's putting my life in greater danger.

On a side note, I find it amazing how quickly the threat of a "dirty bomb" became an accepted part of the debate -- even though by now it's been revealed that it was pretty much an imaginary threat. Are we really that easily manipulated? If Ashcroft stood up today and announced "we've arrested someone who was planning to crash the moon into the Earth! Yay, us!," then retracted the statement a day later, would we be debating the relative merits of lunar deflector fields?
posted by ook at 2:46 PM on June 14, 2002


As I've requested many times in the past, please provide some references to specific instances of these repressive actions. [evanizer]

Secret military tribunals aren't enough for you? US Customs opening your mail isn't enough for you? The transfer to military custody of someone who had "no radiological material, no concrete plan and no target" not enough for you?

Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to a fair trial -- I think we have those written down somewhere. Seems we used to think those were kind of important.
posted by ook at 3:07 PM on June 14, 2002


I perhaps agree with some small parts of this statement, but I would not sign my name to it, because most of the arguments rest on faulty assumptions. The feet are of clay.

In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress

That would be the people who were democratically elected to represent us in aggregate, and who followed alarmingly conventional constitutional procedures in doing so. But never mind.

not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and anytime.

That would be "arrogated to itself" the rights of sovereign nations everywhere, even those who have signed the United Nations charter, which recognizes wars of self-defense.

The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines

... where a gang of brutally repressive kidnappers-for-money has been run from one island to the next and nearly wiped out, almost wholly by the deliberate policy of the Philippine government. Our troops' participation has included the brutally repressive building of hospitals and roads.

to Palestine

Where our military has ... um ... done what, exactly? You're kidding with a red herring like this, aren't you?

The government now openly prepares to wage all-out war on Iraq

In fact this is not true. It is widely discussed, but it is also widely debated -- both in public and within the administration. There is not yet proof that "waging all-out war" will achieve our aims there, nor that we have aims which require waging "all-out war". Perhaps we just have aims which require stepping up the pressure on a fucked-up dictator. Oooh, boy, that's just "openly" horrible.

a country which has no connection to the horror of September 11.

Certainly open to argument. Nevertheless, even if it were true that we actually are preparing that all-out war, we may do so almost wholly within the reference of existing security council resolutions; but more likely, should we follow this course, we will do so based on the simple question of risk from his weapons of mass destruction programs. And 99 out of 100 Iraqis will kiss our kafir butts for hanging his ass.

What kind of world will this become if the US government has a blank cheque to drop commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever it wants?

Troll. Oh, wait, they don't know that one. Certainly with reference to the above arguments on sovereignty, the US pretty much still has a blank "cheque" (one notices they had to translate) to drop commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever needed in the name of self-defense. In fantasy petition-world, of course, the US can only do things by asking everyone in succession if they approve, and if any single person does, well, that's the end of that. Blank checks given under fully democratic processes are also rescindable by fully democratic processes, so they aren't quite as blank as portrayed here.

It pretty much goes on from there. Acid-tongued emotional reasoning, argument based on faulty assumptions or narrow world-views, irrefutable stated points of view. Color me unimpressed with these self-styled volunteer "consciences". The whole "in our name" BS is particularly galling. Of course it's in your name, you pissant fuckwits. That's how a representative democracy works.
posted by dhartung at 3:14 PM on June 14, 2002


From Political Definitions

"Facist: Believes in Capitalism; Strong authoritarian government regulation of everything; Imperialist international policy. "

I'm curious how many of our locals would sign THIS document... sounds like they've pretty much come into it naturally...
posted by Perigee at 3:16 PM on June 14, 2002


When the rest of the world bothers to acknowledge even the most basic human dignities we enshrine here in America and begins acting with half the care America does, I will stand with you all and demand our government act generously and with forbearance.

Do you realize how parochial and xenophobic you sound here? The fact is, many countries of the world go far beyond "acknowledging" those dignities, etc., etc., and it is those nations--most of whom are traditional friends to our country--who are now objecting loudly to our self-centered unilateralism.
posted by rushmc at 3:37 PM on June 14, 2002


Well said Perigee, nowadays the people who sign that document swear they're in the centre (here in Spain and elsewhere). General Strike June 20!
posted by Zootoon at 3:45 PM on June 14, 2002


As I've requested many times in the past, please provide some references to specific instances of these repressive actions. And I've seen no lack of criticism of the US or its government in the past year. Just a lack of sound, intelligent criticism. The reason most of it is discounted or ignored is because it comes from the usual suspects who would find fault in the Gautama Buddha if he were and American citizen.

Interestingly enough, Free Inquiry (no online link yet) just ran an essay on one of the worst provisions of the Patriot act which gives the FBI the power to sieze confidential records from libraries and booksellers. In addition, this is combined with a gag order on the library or bookseller that makes it difficult to seek appeal. If you contact your lawyer, you could be arrested for violating the gag order. It looks like this power has been used already.

The Nation reported that American citizens who are politically active in Federal prisons were denied access to legal counsel in spite of ongoing appeals.

And of course, the Justice Department is attempting to try the "Dirty Bomb" suspect in a secret military court in spite of his American citizenship.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:24 PM on June 14, 2002


When the rest of the world bothers to acknowledge even the most basic human dignities we enshrine here in America and begins acting with half the care America does....

I was all set to note that a number of countries actually go a lot further than this standard that we're somehow all supposed to live up to, when rushmc beat me to it. Thanks for that.

I'll just note instead that even though many of the 'basic human dignities' that I assume you mean by this statement are shared by many people, including myself, there are many other standards that are 'enshrined' in America that are abhorrent to those same people. Any moral standpoint is of necessity subjective - absolutist statements like the one quoted here help no one's argument.
posted by jonpollard at 5:21 PM on June 14, 2002


ok .. all this is BS.. big time.

I must say I am totally depressed at the level of the US Government's response to a tragic incidence.

EVERY F**KIN DAY, I hear on Tv, Radio, people screaming the fraction. Remember.. 15 out of 19 F**KIN hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. THEN WHAT THE F**K is the US Government still licking House of Saud's @ss ???

If this war was against terror and/or for freedom of people, the world would have been a different place today. With all the military and political might and leverage the White House has, this is a pathetic effort at fighting terror, if thats really what it is.

So, rise up, speak up, you dont have to sign a freakin statement. You dont have to be against a war for freedom of people, but you as tax payers, have the duty, and should have the moral high ground to ask the White House, what is the F**KIN PLAN YO' ???

... presses the mute button as a "terrorism expert" on tv reminds all Americans that 15 out of 19 terr.......
posted by adnanbwp at 5:23 PM on June 14, 2002


"If we treat people like enemies, they will become our enemies"

Rushmc: And conversely, if some people treat us like enemies, we will become their enemies. No?
posted by semmi at 7:51 PM on June 14, 2002


Enemies, enemies, all around! woo hoo!!
posted by rushmc at 8:33 PM on June 14, 2002


rush, in New York and Washington, people are dead. No matter how hard you spin it, it isnt a fantasy.
posted by dhartung at 10:37 AM on June 15, 2002


Yes, so let's all panic and destroy the foundations of our country...that'll teach dem terrorists! We won't leave anything for them to destroy!
posted by rushmc at 5:20 PM on June 15, 2002


Surely it's actually a lot harder to destroy America than some people are pretending? Wouldn't there have to be some sort of vast economic collapse ala preNazi Germany?
posted by davidgentle at 8:26 PM on June 15, 2002


And of course, the Justice Department is attempting to try the "Dirty Bomb" suspect in a secret military court in spite of his American citizenship.

No they aren't.
posted by ljromanoff at 11:56 AM on June 16, 2002


Surely it's actually a lot harder to destroy America than some people are pretending? Wouldn't there have to be some sort of vast economic collapse ala preNazi Germany?

Apparently not: all it takes is a lot of opportunistic agenda-pushing during a period of national hysteria.

"Destroy" is an awfully strong word. I'd say, so far, we're somewhere along the spectrum of "changing for the worse," with a strong inclination towards sliding further down the slippery slope.

the Justice Department is attempting to try the "Dirty Bomb" suspect in a secret military court

No they aren't.


Aren't they? Why's he in military custody, then? True, they've announced they won't be using the tribunal system, but they can't court-martial him since he's not actually part of the military -- so legally speaking they've got themselves into a bind, now: he's no longer in the court system, and the military doesn't have any authority to try him. All they can do is keep him locked up until people stop paying attention.

Which, no doubt, is exactly what they're hoping for.
posted by ook at 12:32 PM on June 16, 2002


Why's he in military custody, then?

He's there for questioning.

True, they've announced they won't be using the tribunal system

No, they've announced they have no interest in trying him at all.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:17 PM on June 16, 2002


He's there for questioning.

They've had him "in for questioning" for more than a month, and would've had to release him on bail by now if they weren't changing the rules on the fly.

No, they've announced they have no interest in trying him at all

Funny how their plans for him keep changing from day to day, isn't it?
posted by ook at 7:22 PM on June 16, 2002


He's there for questioning.

They've had him "in for questioning" for more than a month, and would've had to release him on bail by now if they weren't changing the rules on the fly.


Uh, no. Bail is to insure a defendant appears at trial. No charge, no trial = no bail. Besides, there's no way this guy would ever get bail even if he were tried for something.

No, they've announced they have no interest in trying him at all

Funny how their plans for him keep changing from day to day, isn't it?


Well, you must be getting some special briefings from the DoD because every statement Rumsfeld has made indicates what I stated before.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:34 AM on June 17, 2002


Would you like some line and sinker to go with that hook?

Uh, no. Bail is to insure a defendant appears at trial. No charge, no trial = no bail. Besides, there's no way this guy would ever get bail even if he were tried for something.

Uh, no. The guy hasn't done anything illegal. He met with bad people, he planned bad things, he's been to Pakistan, and he is no doubt an all-round rotten guy you wouldn't want at your dinner table -- but he hasn't actually done anything. (The only actual illegal act I can find in any report is that he declared to customs he was carrying $8000, but actually had over $10,000. I don't know exactly what the penalty for that is, but I'm pretty sure it isn't being locked in the brig indefinitely.)

More to the point, you're avoiding the real issue. According to the law, you either have to charge a US citizen with a crime within a reasonable time frame, or let him go free. (Until recently, this was also true of non-citizens within the US.) In this case they have done neither; he's just locked up in military limbo. Those same laws they're ignoring now apply to you just as well as to this guy -- doesn't that bother you even a little bit?

Well, you must be getting some special briefings from the DoD because every statement Rumsfeld has made indicates what I stated before.

Nah, I just read the papers, same as you.

Rumsfeld's initial announcement simply described him as an "enemy combatant" and stated he would be transferred to military custody; it made no mention of their long-term plans for him. At the time, I listened for an hour or two as NPR reporters asked each other whether that meant he'd be tried under the tribunal system or not. (I'll grant you that this is not the same as announcing that they would use it, then reversing themselves -- it's more like they were deliberately vague to see how people reacted.) Over the next day or so, as people reacted, they gradually backpedaled: first announcing that the tribunal was out, but that he might still be tried in federal court at some point; I can't find any report that states they have "no interest in trying him at all" -- but I'll take your word on that.

But if they're not going to try him for any crime, why's he locked up?

Basically, they screwed up here. They should've kept an eye on him, let him meet with as many other terrorists as he wanted, kept a close eye on them -- waited until they had actual evidence that a crime was going to be committed, then thrown every one of the fuckers into jail. I'd cheer that.

But they blew it. They busted him too soon, and got nothing. Rather than follow the law, and let him go, they decided to declare him an enemy of the people and throw him in jail anyway.

And that just ain't right.
posted by ook at 3:48 PM on June 17, 2002


(This probably goes without saying, but just to be crystal clear: I should've said

...blah blah blah waited until they had actual evidence that a crime was going to be committed, given them a fair trial, then if they were found guilty thrown every one of them etcetera.
posted by ook at 5:01 PM on June 17, 2002


The guy hasn't done anything illegal.

Then what are you bringing up bail for?

Those same laws they're ignoring now apply to you just as well as to this guy -- doesn't that bother you even a little bit?

Whether or not it bothers me is not the issue.

I can't find any report that states they have "no interest in trying him at all" -- but I'll take your word on that.

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the government's primary interest in Padilla right now is not trying him in a court, but rather figuring out what he may know so authorities can help prevent a future attack."

But if they're not going to try him for any crime, why's he locked up?

Because he's an enemy combatant. See above.
posted by ljromanoff at 5:30 PM on June 17, 2002


Then what are you bringing up bail for?

Oh, for heaven's sake, ljromanoff. Quit dancing around.

Whether or not it bothers me is not the issue.

Painfully obvious attempt to avoid the issue. Let me repeat the question, maybe you'll actually answer it this time: can you really support a government that chooses to revoke any citizen's rights at will, simply by declaring him an "enemy combatant?"

Your CNN link supports exactly what I've been saying. (Thanks.) Backpedaling. On June 10 Rumsfeld calls him a "known terrorist", an enemy of the people, a "serious and continuing threat to the American people and our national security". A mere four days later, he's been downgraded to a low-level gangbanger who's not even worth taking to trial. Backpedaling. But, oh, we're still not going to let him go. Because...

Because he's an enemy combatant. See above.

He's a US citizen. If the government is allowed to revoke any citizen's rights by simply declaring that citizen an "enemy combatant", then no citizen has any ability to defend his rights -- which is effectively the same thing as having no rights at all.

The whole point of "innocent until proven guilty" is to protect the average citizen from the power of the state. Instead we're working with "innocent until Rumsfeld decides you're probably going to be guilty sometime soon."

If you really believe that's acceptable, then you'll probably end up with exactly the government you deserve.
posted by ook at 8:10 PM on June 17, 2002


Where is this supposed repression/censorship spoken of?I can say and do precisely what I could one year ago. I can say and do more here than I can in, for example, France.
These people are assholes, pure and simple.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:34 PM on June 17, 2002


Painfully obvious attempt to avoid the issue.

The issue is whether or not he's being tried by a military tribunal. He isn't.

He's a US citizen.

His citizenship status does not prevent him necessarily from being an enemy combatant, particularly not when the enemy is not a state entity anyway.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:58 PM on June 17, 2002


ParisParamus, I agree, terrorists are assholes. As, no doubt, are the French. Thanks for contributing.

On your other point, read the thread; several people have addressed that. Meanwhile -- if you were muslim, I rather doubt you'd feel as free to say and do as you wish as you did a year ago... I know I wouldn't. But putting yourself in another's shoes seems to be a lost art these days.

ljromanoff, what can I say that you haven't dodged already? Enjoy your civil rights while you've got them; if enough people take your attitude, it won't be for very much longer.
posted by ook at 9:43 PM on June 17, 2002


His citizenship status does not prevent him necessarily from being an enemy combatant, particularly not when the enemy is not a state entity anyway.

I'm sure that's almost exactly wrong. I read that the 'enemy combatant' definition goes back to the detention of German spies in 1942, and that it rather both required a declaration of war, and the enemy to be a state entity: "Citizens of the United States who associate themselves with the military arm of an enemy government, and with its aid, guidance and direction enter this country bent on hostile acts, are enemy belligerents within the meaning of the Hague Convention and the law of war."

You can't get away with using two contradictory sets of definitions: one in order to justify holding prisoners at Camp X-Ray, because they're unlawful combatants for a non-state entity, and another way to justify denying Padillia the right to habeas corpus, on the 1942 precedent of Ex Parte Quirin. Unless you don't care about the 'nation of laws' thing, which appears to be more and more likely for those running the USA.
posted by riviera at 4:44 AM on June 18, 2002


ljromanoff, what can I say that you haven't dodged already? Enjoy your civil rights while you've got them; if enough people take your attitude, it won't be for very much longer.

Spare me. You don't even know my attitude, or my views on Padilla. I was merely correcting KirkJobSluder false assertions.
posted by ljromanoff at 7:42 AM on June 18, 2002


I read that the 'enemy combatant' definition goes back to the detention of German spies in 1942

By the definitions cited in the ruling Padilla may not be considered an 'enemy belligerent' only because the language explicitly says 'government.' One could argue that al-Queda is a paramilitary arm of the Taliban government. It is certainly being funded by several foreign governments. A stronger case can be made for 'unlawful combatant' status by the definitions established by that ruling. Presumably there is additional case law as well defining these terms.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:03 AM on June 18, 2002


The 'paramilitary' definition is certainly arguable, though it raises questions of whether something like the IRA might be called a paramilitary arm of those in the USA who who helped fund the 'cause'? But that's a different issue from direct state funding.

By the definitions cited in the ruling Padilla may not be considered an 'enemy belligerent' only because the language explicitly says 'government.'

You'd think as much, but Ari Fleischer contradicted that last week, by saying that Padilla was declared as both an 'enemy combatant' and an 'enemy belligerent'. He cited the 1942 ruling, and explicitly the 'military arm of the enemy government' definition, as all the precedent needed by the US. (Though I'd be happy to see any additional case law to support the alternative 'unlawful combatant' definition.)

Now, you can say that they apply to different circumstances, but it's pushing credibility to argue that those actually fighting with Al-Qaeda alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan were less a part of the 'military arm of the enemy government' than someone who landed back in the US, after looking up 'dirty bomb' on Google. To me, that's perverse.
posted by riviera at 9:52 AM on June 18, 2002


He cited the 1942 ruling, and explicitly the 'military arm of the enemy government' definition, as all the precedent needed by the US.

Apparently then the position of the U.S. government is that al-Queda is an arm of foreign governments - which is certainly a debatable point, but not an unrealistic position to hold.

Now, you can say that they apply to different circumstances, but it's pushing credibility to argue that those actually fighting with Al-Qaeda alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan were less a part of the 'military arm of the enemy government' than someone who landed back in the US, after looking up 'dirty bomb' on Google. To me, that's perverse.

It also seem incredible to suggest that an individual instructed to build a so-called dirty bomb by al-Queda and who has been researching the means to do so, as well as attempting to understand how to develop a nuclear bomb is not a combatant. In any event, I suspect that the ultimate resolution of this will be some type of judicial review.
posted by ljromanoff at 11:23 AM on June 18, 2002


insomnyuk --

No laze, I was merely using communists to describe them, I'm not saying all communists are like them, either. Don't misinterpret what I said. Maybe if you observe this photo, my comments will make more sense.

(Sorry for the late reply -- out of town.)

I've seen the photo, I own the album... in fact, I have two of their other albums, too. They would not revel in the death of thousands even if it did represent something they believed in. It's dangerous to link communism or a call for revolution to terrorism... it's that "us vs. them" mentality.
posted by laze at 7:08 AM on June 19, 2002


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