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Evidence? Who needs that?
January 1, 2005 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Well, now what do we do with them? "The Bush administration is preparing plans for possible lifetime detention of suspected terrorists, including hundreds whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts, The Washington Post reported Sunday.... As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, plans to ask the U.S. Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, defense officials told the newspaper."
posted by ilsa (185 comments total)

 
Before we start about how terrorists are dangerous individuals -- and they are -- please allow me to point out that we are talking about people that the Government admits there is not enough evidence to bring charges, let alone convict them. Furthermore, let me point out that in the America where I grew up, we at least talked about the idea that criminal suspects were "innocent until proven guilty."
posted by ilsa at 10:01 PM on January 1, 2005


RIP, America.

Seriously. Growing up just north of you guys, we still got a hefty dose of America The Free, America The Just, America The Beacon Of Democracy. And up to a point, that has been true for much of your history.

But not anymore. "We can't actually charge them with anything, so we're just going to imprison them for life..."

Or eight more years. If a Democrat gets into the White House, they might sacrifice themselves politically, and release those prisoners five minutes after the swearing-in. Failing that, I'd hazard a guess they'll do it at the beginning of their second term.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:04 PM on January 1, 2005


Yea? Good! Toss a couple of Canadians in there with 'em.

Before we start about how terrorists are dangerous individuals -- and they are -- please allow me to point out that we are talking about people that the Government admits there is not enough evidence to bring charges, let alone convict them. Furthermore, let me point out that in the America where I grew up, we at least talked about the idea that criminal suspects were "innocent until proven guilty."

Thanks for pointing those things out for us ilsa. I might have missed it otherwise.
posted by Witty at 10:08 PM on January 1, 2005


Unbelievable. I just hope that anyone who supports this (or this administration) remembers that if the government can do this to anyone, they can do it to you.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:08 PM on January 1, 2005


Funny, Witty, because the rest of your ilk seem to have either missed it or forgotten it.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:10 PM on January 1, 2005


What's that word again? Ah, yes. Gulag.
posted by warhol at 10:14 PM on January 1, 2005


Has there yet been any official declaration of war that would grant a POTUS power to declare martial law like this? Can't we impeach Bush for violating the Constitution's clause of innocence until proof of guilt? It seems like an awful lot of changes are being made to our federalist state without running it past the usual checks-and-balances process, no? This is a pretty serious step up from what's been done before.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:21 PM on January 1, 2005


Why not spend $2.50 and put a bullet through their heads? It's cheaper and accomplishes the same goal.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:23 PM on January 1, 2005


Fuck Middle America.
posted by orange clock at 10:31 PM on January 1, 2005


I live in Middle America, and this is bullshit.
posted by interrobang at 10:34 PM on January 1, 2005


Well, it's not like they're people or something. They don't even worship the same god as the rest of us! I mean, the nerve! They should be thankful we're giving them someplace to live, RENT FREE, for the rest of their lives! Have you seen the living conditions they had back home? This is luxury!

They should thank us.

You're welcome, terrorists and terrorist-like heathens. You're very welcome.
posted by chicobangs at 10:35 PM on January 1, 2005


crash- They will be doing exactly that with some of them. I was talking to a guy who works at a military base as a prison guard and he said the word is that several will executed... and that plans are being made to set others up for long-term stays at various bases that have prison facilities. He said he's thinking about getting out of that business when his retirement is available in a couple years. Whenever I talk to someone like that, I'm always struck by two things: The way they mindlessly support the administration, and the way they villify enemy combatants, labeling them all as terrorists, even if their only crime was trying to defend their own country.

Also, "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't apply to enemy combatants the same way it applies to American civilians.
posted by Doohickie at 10:36 PM on January 1, 2005


RIP, America.

This so-called-democracy has been effectively dead since nobody much scrutinized the fraudulent 2000 election. Right now, O World, you should be worrying less about epitaphs and more about oak stakes and holy water.
posted by rockabilly_pete at 10:37 PM on January 1, 2005


Also, "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't apply to enemy combatants the same way it applies to American civilians.

Yeah, that's exactly why the assholes are clinging to that term.
posted by interrobang at 10:38 PM on January 1, 2005


"We can't actually charge them with anything, so we're just going to imprison them for life..."

Bizarre, isn't it? Combined with the odd report of questionable interrogation tacticts and human rights violations, one can't help but think that they are kept there because letting them go would cause too much of an embarrassment.

Also, the last paragraph rings a little hollow, doesn't it?
The prisons would be operated by [Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia], but the State Department, where this idea originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights standards and would monitor compliance, a senior administration official was quoted as saying.

What on earth are they talking about? The recognized human rights standard for the treatment of POWs is the Geneva Convention. Whisking the prisoners away to Guantanamo was merely a ploy to justify not having to abide by the Geneva Convention. So who's doing the monitoring? The very government agency that is busy finding ways to subvert those recognized human rights standards?
posted by sour cream at 10:38 PM on January 1, 2005


The last two paragraphs remind me a lot of what happened to Maher Arar. Send them back to countries where the torture of prisoners is accepted while keeping their fingers crossed that they will abide by recognized human rights standards..

Oh, and say what you will about Castro, but at least Cuban dissidents get an actual sentence, rather than being held captive indefinitely.
posted by furtive at 10:39 PM on January 1, 2005


Those Cubans sure are lucky.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:51 PM on January 1, 2005


This kind of thing has gone on forever.....Bush just has such a massively huge ego he doesn't even bother to be discreet about how things are done. People are naive to think that this is something new. However, while it has gone on, it has previously (ie; before Bush) been done at a much smaller level and with, generally, more criteria (of criminal activity) being met than is now needed. These days, arch your eyebrow the wrong way and you are in for a world of hurt.
posted by codeofconduct at 11:05 PM on January 1, 2005


Upon further investigation, for those who think this sets a new precedent, let us not forget the 1100 Mariel Cubans who are being held indefinitely by the US.

Then their are those foreigners with no country of origin country to return to who get to serve indefinite sentences in the US.

Perhaps it serves as consolation if you're an American citizen you don't have to worry about it happening to you. Heh, just kidding!
posted by furtive at 11:08 PM on January 1, 2005


This is loco.
posted by inksyndicate at 11:10 PM on January 1, 2005


Wait, Wait. Amnesty International? Really Kwantsar? You don't say. Why don't you look up what they have to say about Gitmo and America's role in prison abuse and torture....

Dumbass.
posted by Freen at 11:11 PM on January 1, 2005


Also, "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't apply to enemy combatants the same way it applies to American civilians.

All men are created equal, not all Americans.
posted by rushmc at 11:14 PM on January 1, 2005


Those Cubans sure are lucky.

But, your link actually confirms furtive's point, which I assume you were trying to erode: at least Cuban dissidents get an actual sentence. The trials may just be for show, but apparently even that is too much for our administration.

And, I hope you like abbreviated internet cussing, because Americans need to STFU about other countries' death penalties until and unless they take action against their own. OMG.

On preview: what Freen said.
posted by rockabilly_pete at 11:14 PM on January 1, 2005


Those Cubans sure are lucky.

And having the US operate more like Cuba is good ... how?

Actually, I've also been wondering -- given that the US is not really all buddy-like with Cuba, how is it that we have a Naval base there?
posted by weston at 11:16 PM on January 1, 2005


People suck.
posted by nightchrome at 11:17 PM on January 1, 2005


Oh, I didn't realize that making an off the cuff snark about Cuba killing dissidents (in response to a comment that, well, at least Cuba hands out sentences) somehow made me a dumbass.

Care to give me a de-dumbassification and explain why I'm a dumbass, Freen, or are you just cheering your cholestasis remission?

rockabilly_pete: furtive can have his point. If he wants to argue that hey, executions are sentences, and that's more than the US is doing, he's welcome to.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:20 PM on January 1, 2005


The funny thing is, while these poor saps are looking at a lifetime of imprisonment, I'd put good money on G.W.B. pardoning some major scumbags who should probably take their place.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:22 PM on January 1, 2005


I'd say that I am shocked but given GW's record before he was selected for his second (and last) term, I guess that nothing from that administration surprises me anymore. I can't really imagine that the American people are going to be up in arms, either.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:24 PM on January 1, 2005


It is really sad to see it. If America isn't dead, she's certainly on life support. Meanwhile, folks like Kwanstar will appear to retreat into episodes of well, at least we're not executing them as if that means anything. And media outlets will write matter-of-fact, nonchalant stories about how America is building a system to disappear people.

Jolly.

Also, some of you might be tempted to take comfort in the fact that they are all nasty terrorists, so that even if this is wrong, at least it is happening to bad guys. Don't. It has come to light that we had a reward system in place in Afghanistan to collect these people, and that significant numbers of the people in places like Guantanamo are there only because they were an enemy of a warlord that could turn them in to Americans. Some of these people are not bad guys in any way.

And yet, they may spend the rest of their lives in a gulag, put there by America the beautiful.
posted by teece at 11:35 PM on January 1, 2005


Dear Congress,

Please give me $25,000,000 to build a new obvious terrorist target. We're actually building it on the cheap by getting used brick and mortar from *Location edited out in accordance with Godwin's Law* which served, as I understand it, a coincidentally similar function as what I intend. I always say, "If it ain't fixed, don't... If it breaks, fix it.... If it ain't broke, fix it."
Anyway, since it'll wind up getting blown up pretty soon, that'll also work out well for my Saudi Friends because it'll be a huge waste of money that we will eventually have to borrow from them again so that we can continue to give tax breaks to rich folks including ourselves.

One Love,

GWB
posted by shmegegge at 11:41 PM on January 1, 2005


Kwantsar: You are a dumbass because you implied that because the situation in Cuba is bad, somehow mitigates the fact that the situation in the US is demonstrably worse. It's like killing a thousand people in cold blood, and then pointing at Stalin and saying "well, dammit, he's worse." and expecting everything to be honky-dorey.

Yes, you are a dumbass because that was exactly furtive's point. One that you seemed to have both disagreed with, as well as proven. So yes, those cubans are in fact lucky in a non-sarcastic way. I'm not defending Cuba. I would want to live there, and i'd sure as hell not want to be a political dissident there, but you know, I'm not quite so sure that I want to be a political dissident here. At least in Cuba they are subject to some sort of rule of law as fucked up as it may be. The concept of a rule of law which the current administration has decided is simply an unnecessary hindrance to their achieving their goals of detaining and possibly torturing brown people.

So yes. You are a dumbass. As well as one who has made a single snarky retort about the relative merits of Cuba's penal system, which was incredibly dumb, and then tried to back off of that statement, all the while avoiding the actual issue at hand, which is the fact that the US is indefinitely holding prisoners for no good reason. So what is you position on that? Or are you going to go Witty's route, and make a single, unsubstantiated, and indefensible statement about how you think it is a good idea, and promptly leave the thread so that no one might possibly present a cogent argument to the contrary?
posted by Freen at 11:42 PM on January 1, 2005


Wait, sorry, in the above the first sentence should read:

Kwantsar: You are a dumbass because you implied that because the situation in Cuba is worse somehow mitigates the fact that the situation in the US is demonstrably very bad.
posted by Freen at 11:44 PM on January 1, 2005


For fuck's sake, teece, don't paint me as a simpleton for not swallowing whole the "at least Cuban dissidents get an actual sentence" line.

Read what I wrote very carefully, and build a case that I'm taking the position of well, at least we're not executing them , rather than calling out a stupid argument. The beliefs that you attribute to "people like" me aren't held by me.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:49 PM on January 1, 2005


Ok, I hate to say this because it sounds like I'm defending the current administration, but that's not my intent. I just want to throw something into the wonderful anti-bush brew we've got going on here. (Speaking of which, that's going to be the name of the next microbrew I make...)

These people should never have been imprisoned for this long in the first place. If they didn't hate america when they were imprisoned, they sure do by now. Who do you think is better suited to go out and kill a whole bunch of you and me than someone who was falsely accused and imprisoned, and has lived with a bunch of people who really hate america and quite possibly have the contacts to hate america in a very real, immediate and mortally physical way with?

My guess is that the administration regards these people as human nuclear waste. If we ever do release them, they will kill us. So what should we do?
posted by SpecialK at 11:53 PM on January 1, 2005


Kwanstar: the only thing you wrote was:

Those Cubans sure are lucky.

So, if you don't want to look like a simpleton, don't act like one. It seems pretty obvious to me that the most likely interpretation of that is a smokescreen. If that's not what you intended, perhaps you should elucidate how the hell Cuba has anything to do with this.
posted by teece at 12:02 AM on January 2, 2005


Kwantsar:Read what I wrote very carefully, and build a case that I'm taking the position of well, at least we're not executing them , rather than calling out a stupid argument. The beliefs that you attribute to "people like" me aren't held by me.

Check.

"Those Cubans sure are lucky."

Yes, at present, we do not know if we are executing people. But would it suprise you if we had? Would you even know about it? Given the memo's from the presidents legal counsel concerning the geneva concentions, it's quite possible that we have, as Mr. Gonzales argued that it is within the presidents power to wave the geneva conventions at any time he chooses.

Well then do you or do you not approve of the current activities of this administration visa vis Gitmo? What was the purpose of your snark? What are your beliefs? Why the hell do you want me to build a case for you? Do it your own damn self. Frankly I still think you're a dumbass...
posted by Freen at 12:03 AM on January 2, 2005


You are a dumbass because you implied that because the situation in Cuba is worse somehow mitigates the fact that the situation in the US is demonstrably very bad.

You inferred it. I implied that it was a horseshit argument. I'm not "backing off" from anything. Let me state my position more explicitly: sentencing dissidents to death in an sham trial is no better than indefinitely imprisoning "enemy combatants."

I challenge you to find one statement I have (ever) made supporting or pooh-poohing imprisonment without due process.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:04 AM on January 2, 2005


These people are lucky they weren't summarily executed when we caught them.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 12:24 AM on January 2, 2005


SpecialK, I had three reactions to your post re:"human nuclear waste," in the following order:

1. "He kinda has a point."

2. Wait a second--these are not the principles our laws are based on. If these prisoners are innocent, it doesn't matter whether they want to kill us or not--we have no right to detain them. It's absurd to sentence somebody to life for something they might do.

3. If those prisoners hate us so much for the treatment they have suffered at our hands, shouldn't we find a way to make it up to them? Because a) it's the right thing to do and b) they might hate us a little less?

The answer isn't incarcerations, it's reparations--because they're people, not waste.
posted by muckster at 12:26 AM on January 2, 2005


Ho-lee fuck is what I said when I read this. What now? asked my lovely wife from the other room. Never mind, said I. More of the same.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:27 AM on January 2, 2005


These people are lucky they weren't summarily executed when we caught them.

I suppose your definition of luck is disappearing in a federal prison for the rest of your life, with no access to such ridiculous rights as lawyers or due process.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:35 AM on January 2, 2005


Muckster - Yeah, I know. It's not a pretty idea. It's something that's going to trouble me.

Let's take a step back to the root question, with some existential cling-ons: How can we keep people from hating us? Or, more broadly and more specifically at the same time, how can we expect someone to love us for the same reason that they hate us?

And moreso: We know what we believe is right. How can we make sure that our congressbeings vote in ways that are at least in alignment with what we beleive is right? Or, since the victors always write the history books ... is what the majority believes always right?

Back to the topic: Face it, hate is a pretty darned strong motivator. Without having any good research at my fingertips, I'll bet that hate or repressed hate motivates a significant percentage of crimes. It motivated most of a country to vote right or wrong on various things in the past few centuries. It's usually at the root of wars, including this one. These people hate us, and the reason I gave -- 'human nuclear waste' ... with a very long half-life ... is going to be the reason the Bush administration gives Congress for this prison and for these imprisonments, and congress is going to vote in favor of the prison because they're a bunch of scared old men.
The MeFi population believes that these imprisonments are wrong. Does the rest of the U.S./world match what MeFi thinks? Does this mean we're right or they're right? Also, we read stories every day about rapists and killers ... people who have, in all likelihood done horrible things and are scumbags, and will do things and cover them up again ... getting off because we don't have enough proof to convict them, or there was some technicality of police work that a lawyer could exploit. Could this be the case with these people? I don't think we can even debate this except with knee-jerk liberalisms unless we know what they're accused of and what evidence does exist.

And with that, I bid thee good night.
posted by SpecialK at 12:42 AM on January 2, 2005


america: where we make up the 'rules' as we go along

"It would be modeled on a U.S. prison and would allow socializing among inmates," the paper said.

Mighty white of them.

/snark

The new prison ... would be designed for prisoners the government believes have no more intelligence to share ... "Since global war on terror is a long-term effort, it makes sense for us to be looking at solutions for long-term problems,"

So, either put them on trial or if there isn't enough evidence let them go.

SpecialK, even Hermann Goering, Hans Frank, Rudolf Hess, (and sooo many more) received trials when they could have easily been executed or imprisoned for life without a trial. We can not predict who will be violent and it isn't fair to say, 'they may do XY and Z'. I may jaywalk tommorow but should I get a ticket now because of what I may do tommorow?
posted by squeak at 12:43 AM on January 2, 2005


No, you're only addition to a thread about grievous human rights violations was "oh well worse over there"

sentencing dissidents to death in an sham trial is no better than indefinitely imprisoning "enemy combatants."is a tautology.

Of course. But you see, I think it is highly unlikely that you or I or any one else on Mefi can really do much about Cuba. It's a fucking dictatorship. The US is supposed to be the beacon of democracy and human rights. Your addition to this thread was flippant and frankly demonstrably stupid. And you are trying to rectify your stupidity by stating that Cuba is no better than the US significantly after the fact. I hope you are wrong and that the US is totally and unquestionably better than Cuba, but as it stands, you are correct. The US is no better than Cuba.

I challenge you to support or pooh-pooh(as in Winnie the....?) imprisonment without due process...

And for your pleasure I give you tacit support of psychological torture in iraq: in your own damn words. As well as suggesting that it might be a good thing for kids to be imprisoned and abused a bit.
posted by Freen at 12:46 AM on January 2, 2005


Thanks, Freen.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:48 AM on January 2, 2005


Squeak: Well said.
Stavros: Indeed.
posted by Freen at 12:49 AM on January 2, 2005


Only the lamest possible country would imprison people because "they hate us." It shows lack of mettle. Real superpowers are confident enough to defend themselves without quivering at other people's hostile opinions.

The U.S. is not supposed to be that country.
posted by inksyndicate at 12:53 AM on January 2, 2005


Hold on: this is just an "idea" at this stage -- brainstorming stuff -- hasn't actually happened yet.
posted by davidmsc at 12:55 AM on January 2, 2005


You sure can buy a lot with this-here political capitol, daddy!

sigh.
posted by LouReedsSon at 12:58 AM on January 2, 2005


Davidmsc: Yes, and a very, very, very bad one at that. Don't you agree?

Some other really bad stuff has actually happened, and continues to happen.
See Stavrosthewonderchicken, or anyone who has been paying attention for details.
posted by Freen at 1:01 AM on January 2, 2005


yes, davidmsc, it's a bushco tactic known as testing the waters, to see if the news media will simply go along and report it, matter-of-factly as they are, and not point out how obviously evil this plan is. Now, you do agree that this would be an utter disgrace if the US were to do this, correct?

Now, if I were openly contemplating robbing a liquor store inorter to get some cash, I could certainly say I was just brainstorming, but it would give some insight into my character, wouldn't it?
posted by Space Coyote at 1:05 AM on January 2, 2005


Yeah remember the Total Information Awareness program? Because it sure remembers you.....

Sorry, bad joke. In truth, these sorts of trial balloons are really to determine how much exposure programs should have, or how widespread they should be. A negative response to this story means that we won't likely hear about it from anyone other than Kwantsar's beloved Amnesty International.
posted by Freen at 1:12 AM on January 2, 2005


Donald Rumsfeld’s sneering and squirming about the status of prisoners was designed specifically to try to show how tough America was on terrorists and to suggest that captives had no standing at law. His arrogance and gloating has done immense damage to America and to those nations which joined forces with you.

Do you not see that America cannot go on jack-booting around the world, supposedly in the cause of freedom, unless it restores freedoms taken from its own citizens and unless it can handle captives without resorting to torture?
posted by Cancergiggles at 1:13 AM on January 2, 2005


oh god this is going to be a long year
posted by rocket_skates at 1:21 AM on January 2, 2005


Perhaps they could opt to be tortured for incriminating information, and when no such information forthcomes from the innocent volunteers, they are free to limp coldly away.

Really, most other solutions have to be more ... something.
posted by freethought at 1:29 AM on January 2, 2005


Hold on: this is just an "idea" at this stage -- brainstorming stuff -- hasn't actually happened yet.

davidmsc, yup, and hopefully if enough Americans shouted loudly about it, we could get the plan tossed aside. Of course, I am not holding my breath for that.

But really, even to have my government openly contemplating a Soviet-style gulag sickens me immensely. I was once one of those naive naifs that actually thought America was a beacon of hope. It's sucks to have that idea so badly destroyed. It's a necessary thing to try and smack this down: but having to do it at all is more than bad enough for me.
posted by teece at 1:31 AM on January 2, 2005


Come on Kwanstar, "at least we're not as bad as (boogeyman de jour)" is soooooooo 2K4. Didn't you get the memo? The rules are, we make the rules! America's back after a much needed shot in the arm of some old-timey family values. We've come to chew bubble gum and kick some ass. Guess what bitches? We're allll outta bubble gum.

On a horribly tangential, seemingly callous and not well thought out side note.... why don't we do something constructive with lifers being held in our penal system? Volunteers for a Mars colony anyone?
posted by rocket_skates at 1:36 AM on January 2, 2005


These guys are enemy combatants. They don't get a trial and can be held until hostilities end. So much for your hyberbole.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 2:05 AM on January 2, 2005


What happens when you become an "enemy combatant"? So much for your blasé attitude.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:15 AM on January 2, 2005


These guys are enemy combatants.

Well, no. It has been shown that many of them aren't, actually.

They don't get a trial and can be held until hostilities end.

But the War on Terra is meant to last for.... ever, isn't it?

Ah, right. I see.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:16 AM on January 2, 2005


How long before US citizens - in the US - are classified as enemy combatants for objecting to the War on Terror?

This is the start of a very, very, slippery slope.
posted by Cancergiggles at 2:25 AM on January 2, 2005


I'm not firing at American soldiers. I could hardly be considered an enemy combatant. But I wouldn't mind anti-war types being hauled off to Gitmo. :)
posted by drscroogemcduck at 2:47 AM on January 2, 2005


So much for your hyberbole.

.
posted by Wolof at 3:11 AM on January 2, 2005


I may not be an enemy combatant, but I sure as hell am an enemy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:11 AM on January 2, 2005


drscroogemcduck - so now you want to haul off "types"? Maybe you are why the Founding Fathers thought a Written Constitution was a good idea.
posted by Cancergiggles at 3:22 AM on January 2, 2005


Care to give me a de-dumbassification and explain why I'm a dumbass, Freen, or are you just cheering your cholestasis remission?


I challenge you to find one statement I have (ever) made supporting or pooh-poohing imprisonment without due process.



Kwantsar, you are a dumbass because you think that Iraqi children are better off being tortured at Abu Grahib by sadistic American soldiers than living at home with their parents because, according to you, their parents are not "responsable" enough to somehow magically transport them out of Iraq. You know, "daycare with beatings" as you cleverly put it.

Read it here folks (read all of his comments). Kwantsar, truly a dumbass.
posted by sic at 3:40 AM on January 2, 2005


Welcome to the Gulag, comrades.
posted by scaryduck at 4:16 AM on January 2, 2005


Methinks dr.scrooge and kwantsar are living in the new world order of "fuck everyone not like me." Let's not soil this thread with retorts to their narcissistic pathology.

... oops, I should take my own advice.
posted by gsb at 5:09 AM on January 2, 2005


~chuckle~
posted by matteo at 5:22 AM on January 2, 2005


Count of Amnesty International articles* on US: 1195
Count of Amnesty International articles* on Cuba: 125

* in the site pointed to by kwonsar

Mhhh..no Cuba isn't even in the same scoring league.
posted by elpapacito at 5:40 AM on January 2, 2005


On a closely related note, the UK implemented a scheme very similar to this, back in the post-9/11 legislative stampede. Non-British prisoners were detained indefinitely (potentially for life) in Belmarsh prison, on the basis of accusations they were not allowed to hear and without any charges being brought before a court. Last month the highest court in the land found that this practice was thoroughly illegal under English law.

Let's hope the Supreme Court takes the same view ...

To give you an idea of the "strength" of the evidence used to justify indefinite detention, one of the Belmarsh detainees has spent three years in prison for giving a pair of boots to an organization who, unbeknowst to the detainee, may have passed them on to a jihadist.
posted by cstross at 5:46 AM on January 2, 2005


I'm not firing at American soldiers. I could hardly be considered an enemy combatant.

U.S. citizen Jose Padilla wasn't firing at American soldiers, either. He wasn't even out of the U.S. but he got classified as an enemy combatant. All it takes is the word of Our Leader.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:07 AM on January 2, 2005


drscroogemcduck: I am an anti-war type. Wanna have me hauled off to Gitmo? Would that solve a lot of America's problems?

Is this the newthink in this country and if so, can I get the hell out now?
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:09 AM on January 2, 2005


I'd prefer if you prayed for the troops and Mr Bush. I'm sure if at least half of the anti-war types had faith then the insurgents would of been crushed long ago.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 6:11 AM on January 2, 2005


I pray for the troops because of Mr. Bush. There is nothing that man has touched that hasn't turned to shit.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:16 AM on January 2, 2005


I'm sure if at least half of the anti-war types had faith then the insurgents would of been crushed long ago.

Because the Lord God, Creator and Shaper of All Known Universes, can be swayed by petulant, whiny, pestering from creatures he made out of dust.

Right.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:21 AM on January 2, 2005


I'd prefer if you prayed for the troops and Mr Bush. I'm sure if at least half of the anti-war types had faith then the insurgents would of been crushed long ago.

So the total lack of planning and accountability is my fault? Good to know.

Let me be the first to welcome the newest dumbass to the thread.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:29 AM on January 2, 2005


I'm sure if at least half of the anti-war types had faith then the insurgents would of been crushed long ago.

And maybe if we all clap real loud, Tinkerbelle will be okay.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:29 AM on January 2, 2005


I'm sure if at least half of the anti-war types had faith then the insurgents would of been crushed long ago.

Aaaaghhh!

There weren't supposed to be insurgents. Because we shouldn't have invaded the damn country to begin with.

BTW, "faith" can exist outside of "god" or "Jesus." You can't keep that word. I use it too.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:31 AM on January 2, 2005


I prayed for a pony. I did not get one.
posted by BigFatWhale at 6:32 AM on January 2, 2005


I'd prefer if you prayed for the troops and Mr Bush.

What gives you the right to assume "anti-war types" don't pray for the troops safe return home every day? And also pray that GW doesn't fsck things up beyond all hope of repair in the next four years?

I'm sure if at least half of the anti-war types had faith then the insurgents would of been crushed long ago.

Rather than give in to the urge to rant about the insolent self-righteous arrogance of that statement, I'll offer these two thoughts:

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.-Paul Johannes Tillich

The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.-Benjamin Franklin
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:52 AM on January 2, 2005


But I wouldn't mind anti-war types being hauled off to Gitmo. :)
posted by drscroogemcduck at 2:47 AM PST on January 2


And I'd like to see the pro-war people actually PAY for the war. Open up thier wallets. Make sure Haliburton et la gets its cash.

Guess we all don't get what we want eh?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:02 AM on January 2, 2005


I choose to believe that drscroogemcduck is being sarcastic.
posted by chicobangs at 7:03 AM on January 2, 2005


I frequently pray for Bush... I pray for him to relapse into the depths of alcoholism, suck down a quart of good ole American sour mash and stagger onto the floor of the Senate whereupon he calls for the immediate repeal of all taxes, demands a bejeweled crown and burns his copy of "Constitutional Law for Dummies".

Alternatively, getting hit by a giant safe falling from the sky would be satisfactory.
posted by cedar at 7:19 AM on January 2, 2005


If that's not what you intended, perhaps you should elucidate how the hell Cuba has anything to do with this.

I'm not the one who brought it up.

No, you're only addition to a thread about grievous human rights violations was "oh well worse over there"

In response to a comment that said "better over there"

sentencing dissidents to death in an sham trial is no better than indefinitely imprisoning "enemy combatants."is a tautology.

It's nice that you call me a dumbass, Freen, while using a word like "tautology" in a way that demonstrates that you don't understand its meaning. This is a tautology: sentencing dissidents to death in an sham trial is either better, worse, or equivalent to indefinitely imprisoning "enemy combatants."

It's also vastly different than what I said.

And for your pleasure I give you tacit support of psychological torture in iraq: in your own damn words. As well as suggesting that it might be a good thing for kids to be imprisoned and abused a bit.

Err, no. I implied that loud, repetitive music was "horrific." Does that constitute tacit support? And in my comments about the child prisoners, I in no way suggested it was a good thing that kids be abused. You're grasping at straws to attack me for things I neither said nor meant.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:21 AM on January 2, 2005


I choose to believe that drscroogemcduck is being sarcastic.

That, or simply a troll.
posted by sour cream at 7:27 AM on January 2, 2005


And in my comments about the child prisoners, I in no way suggested it was a good thing that kids be abused. You're grasping at straws to attack me for things I neither said nor meant.


Once again, I invite people to read the thread and come to their own conclusions about your, um, interesting ideas about childcare in Iraq.

Here's a sample (but do the rest of what he wrote):

Kwantsar wrote: Sure, when I'm sitting with my powerbook on my lap enjoying the comfortable west-coast summer, "day care center ... With beatings," sounds like an unthinkable experience for any kid. When the alternative is playing tag with automatic weapons and explosives, daycare with beatings doesn't look bad.

Dumbass.
posted by sic at 7:41 AM on January 2, 2005


MetaFilter: Dumbass.

(Current count: 18)
posted by loquacious at 7:55 AM on January 2, 2005


This practice is not a past tense activity folks.

People are being "disappeared" every day to countries where torture and murder is an acceptable activity.

The name used is "rendition" and is being carried out by your friendly local CIA, care of Air Torture and your tax dollars.
America the Beautiful indeed.
Aren't we proud?! [barf]
posted by nofundy at 8:01 AM on January 2, 2005


That same thread where I wrote that the US should ensure fair treatment of prisoners, whether adult or child? That same thread where I wrote prohibit child torture, punish the guards who are using the kids as leverage?

It's pretty clear to anyone who gives what I wrote an honest reading that I am opposed to child abuse, and that I think that those who beat detained children (or undetained children, for that matter) should be prosecuted. If believing that a sending kids to a jail where abuse occurs is the lesser-of-two-evils choice compared to letting them get killed in the streets-- while maintaining that the children oughtn't be abused at all-- makes me a dumbass in your eyes, then I won't be bothered by your assessment.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:05 AM on January 2, 2005


I choose to believe that drscroogemcduck is being sarcastic. chicobang

Sarcasm is actually avery high form of wit. Trust me, this isn't it.
posted by Cancergiggles at 8:08 AM on January 2, 2005


a very - sorry
posted by Cancergiggles at 8:09 AM on January 2, 2005






Warning: this thread may cause headache, nausea and throwing up a little in your own mouth.
posted by mosch at 8:09 AM on January 2, 2005


Cancergiggles: Ha! (I was going for benefit of the doubt. Avery big stretch, but I figured I'd try.)
posted by chicobangs at 8:11 AM on January 2, 2005


mosch - please stop using photographs of me to make a point. Thank you.
posted by Cancergiggles at 8:13 AM on January 2, 2005


Must. Lighten. Load.

>MetaFilter: Dumbass.

>(Current count: 18)

well, a "double-dumbass on you." And a triple dumbass score to the person who can guess the movie that I'm quoting.
posted by gsb at 8:16 AM on January 2, 2005


Kwantsar, the only thing clear to every other participant in that thread is that you are an apologist for Abu Ghraib. Your nonsensical argument was that Iraqi parents were NEGLIGENT because they didn't find some teletransporter to send their children out of the warzone (the entire country), and so since 1+1= elephant in your reality, these poor children were better off being abused (some use the word, torture) by the sadists in Abu Ghraib then in the hands of their evil parents who couldn't find a way to keep them out of harm's way. As evidence you cited a bunch of weird anecdotes about your ancestors fighting in the Civil War and other nonsense.

Here, click on this link and tell me which photo you can imagine YOURSELF in (and no, you don't get to be the soldiers).

I don't think you advocate child torture, Kwantsar, I think you are simply a dumbass.

Dumbass.

(count=20)


(on preview count=22)
posted by sic at 8:17 AM on January 2, 2005


That was a subtly made point sic. A bit like a nuke in his breakfast cereal but it had to be done.

Thanks for making me go back to remind myself just what this argument is about.
posted by Cancergiggles at 8:25 AM on January 2, 2005


You are willfully mischaracterizing my argument, in which I claimed that if you let your kids out alone in a war zone you are either a negligent parent or using your kid as a terror device.

I'm finished with you, because you're being intellectually lazy or dishonest.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:38 AM on January 2, 2005


Dear Canada and EU...
America as you once knew her is dead. The world will badly need your leadership over the coming decades. Thank you in advance and sorry about the mess.
posted by EmoChild at 8:43 AM on January 2, 2005


Also, "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't apply to enemy combatants the same way it applies to American civilians.

Hrm. I have the Fifth nicely pulled up in a tab and it's a really interesting read, the trick is you have to watch your semicolons:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;

"no person shall be held," The fifth amendment actually does not give rights to citizens, instead, it puts some pretty strong chains on the government. The government can't act against a "person" without going through a specific legal process. I find the interpretation of this first clause to support a different standard for enemy combatants to be weak however. The rest of the fifth amendment in even weaker in saying that due process only applies to citizens.

nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Again, we have the "any person" as the direct object. It is not that due process is a right granted on the basis of citizenship, but that due process is one of the fundamental limits of government power.

Now I suppose that one can argue that person means citizen in this context, but then you have to read Amendment 14:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So, here we have it laid out explicitly. Citizens have privileges and immunities. However, due process and equal protection under the law are not a privilege or immunity granted to citizenship. They are a constraint on government power that applies to any person.

The government simply does not have the authority to hold people indefinitely without trial.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:44 AM on January 2, 2005


There is something very, very wrong when the government is contemplating keeping people in prison forever and there's even one person in this country who isn't screaming for due process.

Pray on that one, drscroogemcdick.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:50 AM on January 2, 2005


Why not spend $2.50 and put a bullet through their heads? It's cheaper and accomplishes the same goal.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:23 AM EST on January 2
I'm aware that this is a late response to the 8th post in this thread (and I haven't read much past it) but Mr. Crash, that's an odd China meme you've got there... for some reason, I'm suddenly trying to figure out what Wal-Mart has to do with all of this... do they get their ammo from us, or vice-versa, or are that just the marching orders and the central planning?
posted by vhsiv at 8:52 AM on January 2, 2005


I'm finished with you, because you're being intellectually lazy or dishonest.

You are under the mistaken impression that I am trying to debate you. I am not. I am simply showing the rest of the thread that you are a repeat dumbass offender, an apologist of all things Bush who uses nonsensical arguments to distract from the point at hand, and should not be taken seriously.

(count =23)
posted by sic at 8:53 AM on January 2, 2005


By the way, have you looked at the photos yet, apologist?
posted by sic at 8:55 AM on January 2, 2005


sic, I'm sure Kwantsar would be glad to clear up his position by affirming the following:

* I do not believe that parents who live in a country under siege give up their parenting rights if their kids exit the house
* I do not believe it is sensible for families living in a country under siege to leave their country in order to be deserving of basic human rights
* I do not believe that orphaned children in a country under siege should be imprisoned
* I do not believe torture is useful

...right Kwantsar?
posted by odinsdream at 9:05 AM on January 2, 2005


If they didn't hate america when they were imprisoned, they sure do by now.

If you can't find enough terrorists to maintain your campaign of fear, make your own! I thought Bush was more interested in Biblical prophecy than the self-fulfilling kind, but I guess he's not picky and will use anything that furthers his conquest.
posted by rushmc at 9:12 AM on January 2, 2005


a. I affirm this statement as written. However, I would not let my kids out of the house if I lived in a war zone, and I question the sanity of anyone who voluntarily would.
b. What a horrible sentence. I'll rewrite: I believe that everyone deserves basic human rights. I believe that it is sensible to escape a situation in which one's human rights are denied.
c. I affirm the statement as written. I do not believe that orphaned children should be on the streets.
d. I believe that torture is useful, and I believe that anyone who thinks that torture is never useful is a *cough* dumbass. I do not believe that torture is moral. I do not believe that torture should be legal. I am opposed to the use of torture by state or other actors.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2005


Kwantsar - if you let your kids out alone in a war zone you are either a negligent parent or using your kid as a terror device.
Have you ever been in an Arab country?
Have you ever been in a "third world" country?
Have you ever been in a war zone?
Would you like to explain this ludicrous statement above.
posted by adamvasco at 9:19 AM on January 2, 2005


I'd like to know what Kwantsar's evidence is that the kids in Abu Ghraib were picked up under any particular circumstances -- inside their homes vs. out on the streets, carrying guns vs. scrounging for food and water. Nobody has access to that information. As far as I know, our government does not make that information available to anyone.

I don't particularly want to know why he thinks they're better off being and ass-raped by our demented hirelings.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:22 AM on January 2, 2005


GS. I agree with your point but it doesn't matter how they were picked up or for what suspected crime. Nothing, but absolutely nothing justifies a state committing heinous crimes. The fact that they are committed by others as well is neither an excuse nor a reason.

Unless we are to descend with the scum of the earth into a revolting sub human slime, it behoves us to have standards which we uphold as well as preach.
posted by Cancergiggles at 9:33 AM on January 2, 2005


When America's well-drilled and well-fed fighters attempt subtler tasks than killing people, problems arise. (Economist, registration or day pass required.)
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:35 AM on January 2, 2005


I do not believe that torture should be legal. I am opposed to the use of torture by state or other actors.

I guess you also agree that those who commit or order to commit war crimes (like torture) should be tried, right?
posted by matteo at 9:40 AM on January 2, 2005


>I believe that anyone who thinks that torture is never useful is a *cough* dumbass.

What kind of straw man is this? I could say:

>I believe that anyone who thinks that killing is never useful is a *cough* dumbass.

Judge the merits of this statement and the relevance according to your self-immolation.

On the Usefulness angle, in what way? And don't go the ticking bomb torture route, unless you want to take a number and wait in line for the next episode of Alias.
posted by gsb at 9:46 AM on January 2, 2005


Folks, why don't you just ignore the dumbass and focus back on the issue.

As for the issue: O. M. G. I am simply stunned. When is civil America going to demand that the Administration get back to upholding American values? Amazing. Shameful.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 AM on January 2, 2005


From the article: The Pentagon (news - web sites) and the CIA (news - web sites) have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it was unwilling to set free or turn over to U.S. or foreign courts, the Washington Post said in a report that cited intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials

However, there are no links or further details explainaing *who* is actually asking for exactly what. This is just some paraphrasing of some interpretation.

Given the nature of such an alleged request, why aren't there hard details, rather than a vague summary?

Fucking Reuters. Maybe they should consider ofering some tangible facts. There is a brief quote from Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, but no details on exactly what the proposition is, and whether it was put for as a specultive inquiry or a serious demand.
posted by Ayn Marx at 9:49 AM on January 2, 2005


The prisons would be operated by those countries, but the State Department, where this idea originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights standards and would monitor compliance, a senior administration official was quoted as saying.

This is unbelievable.
posted by 327.ca at 9:53 AM on January 2, 2005


Given the nature of such an alleged request, why aren't there hard details, rather than a vague summary?

Details are for people who hate America. Vague loopholes and endruns around the Constitution are what make this country a bastion of Freedom(tm).

I'm surprised this even made it to any news outlet. Someone in the government somewhere will make the first guest disappearance at this new prison, that's for sure.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:54 AM on January 2, 2005


gsb: What kind of straw man is this?

I was asked to affirm that: I do not believe torture is useful

That statement is similar to I do not believe a spoon is useful. A spoon is useful when you want to eat a bowl of soup, but not useful for playing scrabble.

And I answered that by saying that torture can be useful.

Where is the straw man?

posted by Kwantsar at 9:59 AM on January 2, 2005


if you let your kids out alone in a war zone you are either a negligent parent or using your kid as a terror device

...or you've had no fresh water or food for days and are near starvation.

When is civil America going to demand that the Administration get back to upholding American values?

When we stop confusing civility with prostration.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:07 AM on January 2, 2005


I was asked to affirm that: I do not believe torture is useful

That statement is similar to I do not believe a spoon is useful. A spoon is useful when you want to eat a bowl of soup, but not useful for playing scrabble.


Ok Kwanstar, what is torture useful for? Let's have a list, then. Also, I'd like to second matteo's comment and ask if you have anything to add about it:
I guess you also agree that those who commit or order to commit war crimes (like torture) should be tried, right?
posted by odinsdream at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2005


God damn government-sanctioned-torture-on-a-stick. I see what you mean Kwantsar.

A spoon is useful for soup, and not scrabble. You illustrated my point effectively. However, I guess I wouldn't want to break a few bones for that triple-word-score.

And I add to odinsdream's comment. Do tell us, please, the usefulness quotient on the torture scale for those horrid things that would justify some active coercion.
posted by gsb at 10:28 AM on January 2, 2005


I may jaywalk tommorow but should I get a ticket now because of what I may do tommorow?

Minority Report - "The Future Can Be Seen. Murder Can be Prevented. The Guilty Punished Before the Crime is Committed. The System is Perfect. It's Never Wrong. Until It Comes After You."
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on January 2, 2005


Hey Ayn, Fucking Reuters? It's a WaPo story.
(Hint: The Pentagon (news - web sites) and the CIA (news - web sites) have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it was unwilling to set free or turn over to U.S. or foreign courts, the Washington Post said in a report that cited intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.)

Everybody, remember Kwantsar is an objectivist.

Hence, a dumbass.
posted by mr.marx at 10:34 AM on January 2, 2005


I think looking at the photos of the children the US put in perpetual confinement (gulag) made the continuing argument untenable. Even for dumasses. (24)

These are children seized by the US Armed Forces, the most powerful warmachine in history.

I like to see anyone writing about keeping one's child out of harm's way in a warzone personally defy the 75th Ranger Regiment and hold onto their child or children. You flat couldn't do it...you could only die trying.

Children are killed everyday by stray bullets in their living rooms in the Israeli / Palestinian back-and-forth. Children died in the attack on the World Trade Center. Children were murdered in the Oklahoma City bombing.

There is no "out of harm's way" in a thugzone.

Meanwhile, back at the main fray...

About the USA PATRIOT Act...is that the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" or the "Until Someone/thing Awakens to Progressive Authoritarian and Totalitarian Rule Instigated Ostensibly due to Terrorism" Act?

Do we all just sit here on our virtual collective ringside tuffets and click-thru view the government's three-ring circus of wanton criminal thuggery on Channel 2005 via tee-vee all cozy with our bowls of microwaved butter-flavored popcorn?

Or, does anyone have an idea of how one might concretely demonstrate to one's government a conscientious objection to this ongoing erosion of Freedom and The American Way™?
posted by Dunvegan at 10:35 AM on January 2, 2005


Minority Report Trailer here . Apple.com link not working.
posted by ericb at 10:38 AM on January 2, 2005


odinsdream: Torture may be useful for extracting information. Torture may be useful for getting a subject to provide fodder for propaganda films. I want to reiterate that I am opposed to its use in all forms, and I want to note that I realize that most people, when tortured, will tell their torturer whatever it is they believe that their torturer wants to hear.

Do you really think that torture has never and will never result in the release of useful information?

I guess you also agree that those who commit or order to commit war crimes (like torture) should be tried, right?

Though I agree, in principle, this is a sticky morass that cannot be answered in a few paragraphs on a website. To do the topic justice involves a protracted discussion about international law versus state sovereignty. I'm not taking the bait.

mr. marx: You're wrong. I am not an Objectivist. I believe that it fails when scrutinized from an anti-authoritarian position.

I have had my fill of this discussion. My unambitious arguments have been mischaracterized (on preview, I think dunvegan was the only one to actually make an argument to me without mischaracterizing what I believe), and I do not have the strength to fight this war of attrition any longer. Feel free to keep up the name-calling in my absence, if it makes you feel better.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:48 AM on January 2, 2005


We're all talking about how bad (or not-so-bad) this is, but can anyone recommend any concrete actions that I (or you, or us) can take to reverse these plans?

And for a bit of levity, gsb, hand me my triple dumbass (and a dork star) for identifying the movie.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:54 AM on January 2, 2005


Though I agree, in principle, this is a sticky morass that cannot be answered in a few paragraphs on a website. To do the topic justice involves a protracted discussion about international law versus state sovereignty. I'm not taking the bait.

State Sovereignty? What are you talking about? Is your thinking along the lines of: "Well, the President might be guilty of 'o.k.ing' the torture, but since he's the president, well, who's going to charge him? If it was an international court, well, I'm not going to validate that body by claiming that I support punishing those convicted of war crimes."

Because if it is, it doesn't fit in too well with one country invading another country and imprisoning a bunch of its citizens, without charging them, and then forcibly removing them to another country under whatever rules and regulations it just made up.

Do you see the relation?

On Torture – I was going to say something about your first sentence, but then you handled my reply in your third sentence (the last part of it, where you admit that torture will usually result in getting whatever answer you wanted, just to end the torture). Amazing.

Then the second you flounder, you decide that you're above the fray, and you take flight out of the thread so you don't have to deal with the responses. When you make bad arguments (like my favorite – parents shouldn't be in war zones) it isn't easy to defend them. Others will notice and point it out, en masse. It only looks like attrition because so many people have a problem with bad logic.
posted by odinsdream at 11:06 AM on January 2, 2005


For fuck's sake, odinsdream, this is my tenth comment in this thread. I haven't "taken flight" because I've "flounder"ed, I have other things to do.

I'd like you to do one of three things:
1. Admit that torture, regardless of its propriety, sometimes has uses.
2. Explicitly state that torture never has uses.
3. Explain a third option to this binary issue.

And as to your assertions of bad logic from me, not only have you neatly avoided conceding on the point I make in the preceding paragraph, but you've stood idly by as I've been falsely accused of setting up straw men and spouting tautologies. I've been the business end of a dozen ad hominems (of the abusive and circumstantial varieties). People have attributed positions to me that I don't hold (straw man). Yet you accuse me of "bad logic."
posted by Kwantsar at 11:39 AM on January 2, 2005


I want to note that I realize that most people, when tortured, will tell their torturer whatever it is they believe that their torturer wants to hear.
[...]
Do you really think that torture has never and will never result in the release of useful information?

I think the question is, how do you discern the "useful" information that a tortured subject gives up with the boatload of "crap" they might just as well give up just to get you to stop torturing them.

And I think the answer is, "You can't." Utilitarian Argument: 0.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:40 AM on January 2, 2005


You might find this unsettling, but I believe that torture never has any use beyond the obvious – if your point is to hurt people, then, yes, torturing them is a way to achieve that pain. I explicitly state, here and now, that torture never has any use (besides the obvious: causing pain and suffering).

Other options include researching your enemy and understanding the distribution points for information, compromising those points covertly, and acting on the intelligence you gather. That would be infinitely more difficult than rummaging in a closet for some dog leashes, garbage bags, alligator clips, and women's underwear.

It is not anyone else's fault that your arguments hold no water. Tell me again that one about parents and war zones. I love that one.
posted by odinsdream at 11:46 AM on January 2, 2005


Tell me again that one about parents and war zones. I love that one.

No. Don't. Just stop. This entire discussion is torture.
posted by 327.ca at 11:48 AM on January 2, 2005


This entire discussion is torture.

It's just harmless fratboy hijinks.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:58 AM on January 2, 2005


Let's ask John McCain what his true thoughts on the subject of torture are. I'm supprised that he has no comment up to date on his take of America becomming a torture using rogue state.
posted by Balisong at 12:00 PM on January 2, 2005


davidmsc writes: Hold on: this is just an "idea" at this stage -- brainstorming stuff -- hasn't actually happened yet.

Saddam's "desire" for WMDs hadn't happened either -- it was just an "idea" we were told he had. Yet on that basis you assent to the killing and crippling of thousands of Americans and a shamefully uncounted (but certainly orders of magnitude higher) number of Iraqis and the squandering of hundreds of billions of dollars.

So tell us: which twinkle in someone's eye is worth paying attention to, and which isn't? Unlike Saddam, the Bush administration is actually in a position to act on its wishes. So why should we ignore that threat because it "hasn't happened yet", when we've thrown away lives and treasure and most of our international relationships on a threat that not only hadn't happened yet, but wasn't going to?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:04 PM on January 2, 2005


Admit that torture, regardless of its propriety, sometimes has uses.

Of course torture has it uses: it is very good for getting people to tell you things you want to hear. That's about it, though. Oh, and it's monstrously inhumane, unusual and very, very cruel.
posted by axon at 12:04 PM on January 2, 2005


Faith-based imprisonment! It's the new America!
posted by Dukebloo at 12:09 PM on January 2, 2005


The Fifth Amendment is truly dead. It's enough to make one weep.
posted by deborah at 12:11 PM on January 2, 2005


Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Namely, the detention center proposal.

From this article by Reuters:
Influential senators denounced the idea as probably unconstitutional.

"It's a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this," Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on "Fox News Sunday."

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, cited earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions. "There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process ... if you're going to detain people, whether it's for life or whether it's for years," Levin said, also on Fox.

posted by darkstar at 12:13 PM on January 2, 2005


Has the habeas challenge process gone away? Don't think so (not intended to legitimize Gitmo imprisonment, ok, please?). Since early December, Camp 6 plans had been made public to create a permanent structure, with no discussion at that time about permanent detention.

Brilliant Republican bastards - this is less a trial balloon than it is a tracer round. By having Lugar and Levin speak out before official statements/intentions are released by the Pentagon the two can be pilloried by Malkin and Coulter and Hannity, who can form the issue without Bushco lifting a pinky.

By this time don't moderate and liberal politicians know when they're being exploited by their opponents?
posted by nj_subgenius at 12:20 PM on January 2, 2005


Is this going to work out like other choice nuggets of the Carl Rove Master Plan (tm)?

"Say the RIGHT thing, then Do whateverthehellyouwant. You will not be held responsible."

And we all just sit and take it. That's why it happens.
posted by Balisong at 12:25 PM on January 2, 2005


SpecialK: My guess is that the administration regards these people as human nuclear waste. If we ever do release them, they will kill us. So what should we do?

We should release them now. We should fly them home, give them 6 months income in the local currency (since they were prisoners for so long, they're probably tainted in the local eyes and won't be able to find work amongst people who now rightfully despise and distrust America) and give them a written apology, signed at least by John Ashcroft (drag him back from retirement, dammit), and preferably by the President Himself.

Either that, or we should just be honest about it and kill them.

Seriously? I've been saying since the extra-judicial detainment regime was first set up, during the Afghan war, that the vast majority of these people would never see free daylight again, for exactly teh reason you suggest. The test of our national character is whether we admit our error and let them go -- even if it entails losing face at home -- or whether we choose to sweep this all under a rug for the sake of our own parochial political convenience.
posted by lodurr at 12:29 PM on January 2, 2005


Fraternity pledges everywhere acknowledge the horrific power of loud, repetitive, totally illogical argumentation.

I challenge you, once again, Kwantsar, to approve or pooh-pooh imprisonment without due process.
posted by Freen at 12:35 PM on January 2, 2005


Real news will form in time for tomorrow's evening spin cycle. Then I do this and this for starters.
No stting back on this one.
posted by nj_subgenius at 12:40 PM on January 2, 2005


Influential senators denounced the idea as probably unconstitutional.

"It's a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this," Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on "Fox News Sunday."

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, cited earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions. "There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process ... if you're going to detain people, whether it's for life or whether it's for years," Levin said, also on Fox.


Well. Quite the rallying cry, that; those comments will certainly alert the American public to the injustice being done in their name. Nice to see hard hitting, unequivocal dissent is alive and well in Bush's USA.
posted by jokeefe at 12:42 PM on January 2, 2005


I am sorry to have to point this out, but we've done worse. Americans tend to forget that this country has never been the haven of reasoned thought and goodwill we would wish it to be. Tell your representatives how you feel about this, public opinion is the only thing that will stop it.
posted by cali at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2005


I'd just like to say that torturing and/or imprisoning people without evidence is always wrong.
posted by mcsweetie at 1:21 PM on January 2, 2005


Things are different, mcsweetie, because we're at war! I'm a war president! And it's hard work - we all know how hard it is.
posted by mek at 1:53 PM on January 2, 2005


Cali, the Japanese American internment was not worse. Those people were let go. These people are not going to be, and will likely be tortured.
posted by Justinian at 2:10 PM on January 2, 2005


KirkJobSluder: Until you read the accompanying court decisions, your analysis of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments is flawed. You can't read just the text of the law and decide whether the Fifth Amendment applies to citizens only or not. I don't remember what the Supreme Court's take on this is.

With that said, this is clearly wrong. In a just world, Donald Rumsfeld would be forced to listen to the Meow Mix commercial on repeat.
posted by oaf at 2:21 PM on January 2, 2005


Justinian, I disagree. They did not know how long they would be held, and neither do these prisoners. Entire populations, including children and the elderly, were forcibly removed from their homes and detained for years. They are both horrific situations, but the scale of the Japanese internment and the inclusion of whole families makes it worse to my mind. If we can do that to our own citizens, no one should be surprised that we're contemplating doing it to foreign nationals.
posted by cali at 2:52 PM on January 2, 2005


Oh, for goodness sake, people, Kwantsar pretty much explicitly said he doesn't think torture should be legal or should ever be used. When he said that there were instances where torture was useful, he was making a minor semantic point. There's plenty I disagree with Kwantsar on, but this line of argument against him is ridiculous, and he is being accused of saying things he didn't say.

Can we get back to the actual topic now?
posted by kyrademon at 3:27 PM on January 2, 2005


While you're calling your congress critters and the press, please don't neglect the fact that we're STILL abducting persons who may be totally innocent and delivering them to torture centers, and doing it via CIA "outsourcing." Courtesy of the WaPo:

The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and celebrities. But since 2001 it has been seen at military airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers.

. . . The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military airfields worldwide.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal weapon in the CIA's arsenal against suspected al Qaeda terrorists, according to congressional testimony by CIA officials. But as the practice has grown, the agency has had significantly more difficulty keeping it secret.

According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. government refueling stops.

. . . on Dec. 18, 2001, American-accented men wearing hoods and working with special Swedish security police brought two Egyptian nationals onto a Gulfstream V that was parked at night at Stockholm's Bromma Airport, according to Swedish officials and airport personnel interviewed by Swedish television's "Cold Facts" program. The account was confirmed independently by The Post. The plane's tail number: N379P.

Wearing red overalls and bound with handcuffs and leg irons, the men, who had applied for political asylum in Sweden, were flown to Cairo, according to Swedish officials and documents. Ahmed Agiza was convicted by Egypt's Supreme Military Court of terrorism-related charges; Muhammad Zery was set free. Both say they were tortured while in Egyptian custody.

posted by nofundy at 3:37 PM on January 2, 2005


... Kwantsar pretty much explicitly said he doesn't think torture should be legal ...

True, but he also seems determined to cling to the idea that its appropriate to damn parents for not keeping their children safe in a war zone.

In short, it's also still clear that Kwantsar is a dumbass (where "dumbass" can be translated as "person lacking enough imagination to realize that he'd never stand for having the same standard applied to him").
posted by lodurr at 4:34 PM on January 2, 2005


kyrademon: He just has a tremendous history of making ridiculous, snarky comments, and then after having been called on them, attempts to mitigate the generally asinine nature of the snark with piss poor argumentation and after the fact re-statements of supposed intention. All the while never actually getting at the whole point of her original point which was that effectively what the US is doing and considering doing is a-ok in his book.

Kwantsar asked me to point to a quote where he supported imprisonment without due process. I showed him a page where he supported imprisoning children without due process. Explicitly. I also pointed to another instance of flippancy about torture, where he repeated the favorite conservative excuse that torture is tantamount to fraternity hazing, just because I felt like a little more examination of his moral fiber was warranted.

Note how he has not yet opined about the relative moral merits of the topic at hand despite being asked repeatedly.
posted by Freen at 4:43 PM on January 2, 2005


By the way, have you looked at the photos yet, apologist?
posted by sic at 8:55 AM PST on January 2


Thanks for linking to those pictures. I wasn't aware that many had been released. Now we all know kwantsar fucked up and the arguments he/she posses have been devalued depending on what your opinion is, let's leave it at that.

What was that excellent quote? It was something like "Metafilter: I want you to think like I do.". On the other hand, to me there is a difference between forcing someone to think like you and forcing someone to think something that is right. What is right? What are these so called unalienable truths? What are 3, three basic tenets of life that every Mefite can unanimously agree on? Let's do a little excersize:

1. Every human being deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, unless they (A) are part of Saddams Regime and let their kids out of the hut during a war or (B) hippies.

2. Civilised discourse is the only real way to make any improvement upon our lives and the lives of everyone as a whole. (Ha, haha!)

3. You must always question your government even if they are doing you a favor. That is, unless (A) God is holding an invisible blanket over your country at the time which homosexuals and treasonous leftists are demolishing day by day and its our job, damnit, to put a real president in charge or (B) there is no b.



Go back to bed, America, your government has figured out how it all transpired, go back to bed America, your goverment is in control again. Here, here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up, go back to bed America, here is American Gladiators, here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go America - you are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!
posted by Dean Keaton at 4:46 PM on January 2, 2005


This kind of "America is dead"/"the Fifth Amendment is dead" nonsense burns me up. It's not dead until we all give up on it.

Shit like this has happened on many occasions throughout US history. Yes, this is an egregious instance (there's nothing better than taking advice on legal matters from Saudi freaking Arabia!), but for heaven's sake, Abraham Lincoln himself suspended habeas corpus, and yet it came back.

Do none of your phones work? Can't you find your Senators' or Congresscritters' email addresses, mail addresses? Have you forgotten how to write letters to newspapers? How about calling in to some radio talk shows and airing your concerns about these matters?

Disgruntlement and despair is the easy way out; feeling superior on the internets takes only seconds, after all, and gives that nice warm burn of outrage. Nothing's going to change unless people work to make change.

And, throwing my disregard for Godwin's Law to the winds, I will add the words of the Reverend Martin Niemoeller: First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:54 PM on January 2, 2005


Bravo, Sidhedevil.

Go forth ye MeFites and cajole, annoy, and threaten your congressmen into doing the right thing. Today is the first day in the reconquest of the US Constitution.


All change starts with Kwantsar.
posted by sic at 5:02 PM on January 2, 2005


lodurr and freen -

I don't disagree with anything you said in your latest comments, and I would be delighted if Kwantsar started addressing the topic of the thread. But there have also been about six comments accusing him of saying or implying that he said, in this thread, that torture is OK in some circumstances. He didn't. And arguing that he did isn't going to get the topic back on track anytime soon. That's all I wanted to point out.
posted by kyrademon at 5:08 PM on January 2, 2005


It's not dead until we all give up on it.

Good for you! Every time I hear Americans talking about moving to Canada, I think "man, that's so easy".

One of my favourite movies is The Hospital (Paddy Chayefsky's last script). It's a dark comedy with George C. Scott playing a burned-out surgeon. At the end, he chooses to stay in his job rather than follow Diana Rigg to the desert because, as he says, "someone has to be responsible."
posted by 327.ca at 5:10 PM on January 2, 2005


To take my own advice and get on topic:

Wouldn't this directly contradict last year's Supreme Court decision that the Guatanamo detainees have the right to challenge their status as prisoners in federal court?

(And incidentally, while I agree that giving up and rolling over on the rights battle is idiotic, why on earth is moving to Canada considered giving up? No one would accuse me of "giving up" on the state government of Arizona if I decided to move to Massachussetts. Never understood what the heck is so special about a nation-state in that regard.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:22 PM on January 2, 2005


No one would accuse me of "giving up" on the state government of Arizona if I decided to move to Massachussetts.

Do you stay in Arizona and work for change, or do you move to Massachussetts because you'll be more comfortable there?
posted by 327.ca at 5:28 PM on January 2, 2005


1. Admit that torture, regardless of its propriety, sometimes has uses.

How is that in any way relevant? Genocide, too, can be said to have its uses, as can anything else you can point to (otherwise, people wouldn't do them). That's not really the point here, is it?

Nothing's going to change unless people work to make change.

Sometimes whistling in the dark is just noise and makes no light.
posted by rushmc at 5:44 PM on January 2, 2005


Okay, rushmc, we get it. Everything is terrible and nothing is ever going to change, so we should all be Internet nihilists like you.

That strange flower, the sun,
Is just what you say.
Have it your way.

The world is ugly,
And the people are sad.
-- Wallace Stevens, "Gubbinal"
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:10 PM on January 2, 2005


It's true that people may work for change and that change may not happen, but it is certain that if nobody works for change, that change is absolutely not going to happen. I'd rather die fighting than live on my knees.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:11 PM on January 2, 2005


I think if the 15 000 or so US American MeFi users, plus the probably 10 000 or so additional readers, plus a couple of friends each, were to contact their congresscritter, you'd see some action.

Imagine, please, roughly a hundred thousand MeFi-informed citizens demanding the government wake up and pay attention to The American Dream of equality, fairness, and hope. Imagine them doing that in the span of a few weeks, and then repeating that effort every month.

It'd be one helluva social hack.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:21 PM on January 2, 2005


I'd rather live with a reasonable grasp on the world around me than in a constant state of delusion and "I wish."

You are, of course, free to draw your lines where you will.
posted by rushmc at 6:22 PM on January 2, 2005


Imagine, please, roughly a hundred thousand MeFi-informed citizens demanding the government wake up and pay attention to The American Dream of equality, fairness, and hope. Imagine them doing that in the span of a few weeks, and then repeating that effort every month.

Okay--I'll make the pledge. I will call my senators and representative tomorrow and tell them that suspending due process is unacceptable for this country. I will also cojole my significant other into doing the same thing.

Who else among us will make that pledge? C'mon--let's all promise each other to quit whining unless we actually do something. (And calling congresspeople is the absolute least we can do.)
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:31 PM on January 2, 2005


Write Your Representatives

Write to your elected officials

Congressional email contacts

House or Senate contacts
posted by Dean Keaton at 6:45 PM on January 2, 2005


Or don't bother with any of that and find your cynicism.
Hold on: this is just an "idea" at this stage -- brainstorming stuff -- hasn't actually happened yet.

Quite. Nor is any of this is very likely to happen. But watch for what comes next. Perhaps an announcement like "it'll take seven years for us to process everyone in Guantanamo" or similar. And all the left will go, "hey, that's truly terrible, but at least they've dropped that plan to keep them locked up for ever".

America's supposed to be the most media-savvy country on the planet, and yet hardly anybody can smell the Spin Of Lowering Expectations when it's stinking out the room.
posted by bonaldi at 7:12 PM on January 2, 2005


Done. Done and done.
posted by ltracey at 7:15 PM on January 2, 2005


No bitterness: our ancestors did it.
They were only ignorant and hopeful, they wanted freedom but wealth too.
Their children will learn to hope for a Caesar.
Or rather--for we are not aquiline Romans but soft mixed colonists--
Some kindly Sicilian tyrant who'll keep
Poverty and Carthage off until the Romans arrive,
We are easy to manage, a gregarious people,
Full of sentiment, clever at mechanics, and we love our luxuries.
posted by kenko at 7:27 PM on January 2, 2005


I'm in on the pledge.
posted by chicobangs at 8:51 PM on January 2, 2005


Wouldn't this directly contradict last year's Supreme Court decision....?

Well, no. This is what's known as a "workaround": The idea being, if it doesn't happen here, it's not under Constitutional jurisdiction....

As for whether we give up or keep fighting, the fact that we're in January and the jackboots aren't ringing the cobblestones can be taken as evidence of one or more of three things: All us "Chicken Littles" have been wrong; or, some substantial number of people (one of them apparently being Dick Lugar) still believe that Separation of Powers was a good idea; or, people listened to Chicken Little and moved their breakables under cover so the falling sky wouldn't bust 'em up.

It's still working. But Sidhedevil's right, it will only keep working if we're willing to keep fighting to keep it working. And if we're willing to look like Chicken Little when it doesn't stop working.
posted by lodurr at 10:11 PM on January 2, 2005


Of course torture has it uses: it is very good for getting people to tell you things you want to hear. That's about it, though. Oh, and it's monstrously inhumane, unusual and very, very cruel.

The one thing torture does consistently and effectively is debase the torturer. In the end, the torturer wil lose more than could ever be gained.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:01 PM on January 2, 2005


I don't know. Torture really is all about the same stuff as BDSM, after all. The only difference being that the victims in one case are [theoretically] consensual, whereas those in the other are not.

If I carry one insight to my grave, it may well be that bullies are not debased because I want them to be; some people really do enjoy causing pain to others, and don't suffer for doing it unless we make them.
posted by lodurr at 11:17 PM on January 2, 2005


Heh, yet another reason why I *heart* Richard Lugar as being one of the few sane Republicans:

Senators oppose indefinite detentions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:15 AM on January 3, 2005


I've made my calls to Brian Baird, Marie Cantwell and Patty Murray.
posted by leftcoastbob at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2005


Woot! That's three out of 20000 MeFi users who have contacted their representatives and made their opinion known!

Only a few tens of thousands left to go.

C'mon, you can do it!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:41 PM on January 3, 2005


I don't know. Torture really is all about the same stuff as BDSM, after all. The only difference being that the victims in one case are [theoretically] consensual, whereas those in the other are not.

*blink*

That was a joke, wasn't it? That's like saying making love with your significant other is really all about the same stuff as some mad-dog rapist.

It's absolutely not, and it's a ridiculous comparison to make.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:31 PM on January 3, 2005


If I carry one insight to my grave, it may well be that bullies are not debased because I want them to be; some people really do enjoy causing pain to others, and don't suffer for doing it unless we make them.

Two days after the thread started, so not sure if anyone's going to read this.

People who enjoy causing pain to others may end up being the actual interrogator/torturer, but I'm speaking in a general sense. When I say torture debases the torturer, it's true in the specific sense of the person doing the torturing (even if that person enjoys it), but it's also true that the people who ordered, condoned it or allowed it to continue are also debased. If people allow or condone a bully's behavior, they are similarly debased. If a nation allows or condones torture, it debases the entire nation.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:53 AM on January 4, 2005


... That's like saying making love with your significant other is really all about the same stuff as some mad-dog rapist.

It's absolutely not, and it's a ridiculous comparison to make.


No, it's not ridiculous, and your analogy is off.

BDSM is theoretically consensual. I've known of people who were into BDSM who were clearly not into it "consensually" in the way that most BDSMers talk about consensuality. If I know of as many as I do, htere are a lot more.

Which is to be expected, because that's how human relations work: People do stuff they don't really want to do for lots of reasons, such as trying to please others, trying to keep a lover close to you, etc.

Things that self-organize as "movements" or "countercultures" tend to create myths about themselves and their motiviations, just as regular cultures do. While these myths are very, very instructive about the participants hopes, dreams, feelings, etc., they do not in any way tell you what's really going on. Good ethnographers have been conscious of this since at least Malinowski's day: Malinowski used to admonish his students not to settle for taking a subject's word for what they did -- instead, also watch what they really did. In his experience, as in mine, there's usually a significant and instructive difference.

Or, in the words of Doktor House: "Patients lie."

As for why people engage in torture, my characterization was too general: some people engage in torture because it's a job. It's not like BDSM for them.
posted by lodurr at 6:09 AM on January 4, 2005


Yes, it is ridiculous.

In any BDSM scene, you have the chance to leave. You're not literally imprisoned and being tortured. While you do make some fine points about patients lying, and so forth, your analogy is without merit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:33 PM on January 4, 2005


In any "scene"?

See, there's the disconnect: You're thinking "scene." I'm thinking "relationship."

You also seem to be hewing to a standard libertarian/objectivist idea about free will and culpability. AFAIAC, that just doesn't hold up in practice. Speaking as a former objectivist, that is.
posted by lodurr at 6:21 AM on January 6, 2005


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