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Obama vows to shut down Guantanamo Bay
November 16, 2008 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Guantanamo Bay, or Gitmo as it has often been called, has a long and sordid history of human rights abuses and those that have spent some time there have more than their fair share of stories to tell. But it looks as thought it's all coming to a close as in a major interview with 60 Minutes, Obama has vowed to shut down Guantanamo Bay and rebuild "America's moral stature in the world."

"I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that," the Democrat, who takes office on January 20, told 60 Minutes.

"I have said repeatedly that America doesn't torture. And I'm going to make sure that we don't torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world," Mr Obama added.

Excellent. Just excellent.
posted by Effigy2000 (98 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that's a good start. Now what about the series of CIA "black sites" around the world?

I sometimes wonder if the chief purpose of Guantanamo is to maintain public attention.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:06 PM on November 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


two words: extraordinary rendition

closing gitmo will be a step in the right direction, but it won't seal the deal re: restoring US moral stature in the world.

we have a long way to go, i fear. and miles to go before we die, and miles to go before we die.

YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH jokes in 5....4....3....
posted by CitizenD at 9:17 PM on November 16, 2008


Obama probably won't eliminate extraordinary rendition, as it's a tool the US has used for around 20 years to apprehend terrorists. Presumably he will stop using it to ship people off to black sites to get tortured by third-party intelligence services.
posted by dhartung at 9:20 PM on November 16, 2008


It's great that America is closing its concentration camp after almost seven years of operation, but in the words of Bill Ayers, "I feel we didn't do enough".

It's pretty sick that I paid taxes to support Guantanamo - not sure how much longer the "busy college student" excuse will continue to salve my conscience.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:23 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, right. What I meant was

"You can't handle the truth"

Haha.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:25 PM on November 16, 2008


At least they won't be closing the McDonald's there.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:27 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is the McDonald's closing too? That would be torture.
posted by lee at 9:45 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Presumably he will stop using it to ship people off to black sites to get tortured by third-party intelligence services.


Presume what you want. Opacity abets manipulation.
posted by lalochezia at 9:45 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


lee, naw. Fear not. The Naval base will very much remain in operation, much to the chagrin of the central Cuban authorities but to the economic benefit of the families of the Cuban contractors and prostitutes who live near the base.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:50 PM on November 16, 2008


It's not just that we didn't do enough, it's that we're still not doing enough. Closing Guantanamo at this point is mostly symbolic; it's unclear if such an action will even improve the rights of those currently being held there. It certainly won't undo the years of torture we've performed on these individuals, let alone at all the other sites where we torture (and where many of these individuals will be sent). I doubt we'll just let the Bosnians who formed the bais of Boumediene return home, let alone with an apology or any compensation. And these men are, by all sane accounts, innocent.

By closing Gito, Obama is at best reverting to a pre-Bush America but not a post-Bush America. I mean, have we forgotten about the School of the Americas and all the great torturing we did before Gitmo? America, beacon of hope and peace. Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:50 PM on November 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's a start. Perfect is the enemy of the good... and let's remember that Obama is going to be the most scrutinized and attacked President ever. Even being this bold could seriously backfire.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:57 PM on November 16, 2008 [7 favorites]


The Naval base will very much remain in operation, much to the chagrin of the central Cuban authorities but to the economic benefit of the families of the Cuban contractors and prostitutes who live near the base.

I thought the entire base was surrounded by fences and barbed wire, and no one crossed over into Cuba at all.
posted by Class Goat at 10:00 PM on November 16, 2008


I think the bigger part of closing Gitmo is the reason - the restoring of habeas corpus and the ending of shipping people off for torture in other sites. Bringing the people from Guantanamo to trial, to be either found guilty in open court and imprisoned justly - or found innocent and set free - this is a big thing, which just shows how far the USA has strayed from the path of justice under Bush.

Yes, it doesn't undo the last 8 years of harm, but it's a step in the right direction at least. I for one had feared that the US was on a permanent downward spiral for human rights, and it's with some relief that Obama may reverse that.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:04 PM on November 16, 2008


Obama probably won't eliminate extraordinary rendition, as it's a tool the US has used for around 20 years to apprehend terrorists. Presumably he will stop using it to ship people off to black sites to get tortured by third-party intelligence services.

That doesn't make any sense. Do you even know what extraordinary rendition is? I means sending people off to get interrogated by third-parties and nothing else. Now, it's true that the third parties don't have to torture the people, but why else would you send people to these third world shitholes?

Let's look at what John Brennan has to say:
And there are different ways to gain those assurances. But also let's say an individual goes to Egypt because they're an Egyptian citizen and the Egyptians then have a longer history in terms of dealing with them, and they have family members and others that they can bring in, in fact, to be part of the whole interrogation process.
So what does that mean? Does it mean bringing family members in to try to get them to reason with the person? Well, it doesn't seem like there's any reason they couldn't do that here in the U.S.

When Abdallah Higazy arrested after 9/11 after a hotel employee found an aviation radio and mistakenly thought it belonged to him he confessed that was his, because the interrogator told him that his family members in Egypt would be tortured. That's what "bringing family members in" meant to this particular Egyptian.

But why does it matter what Brennan has to say? Well, he's in charge of Obama's intelligence transition, and he's supposedly a top candidate for the DCI position.

Closing Guantanamo would certainly be nice, but what happens with the detainees afterwords is important as well, and so is a verifiable end to torture and extraordinary rendition.
posted by delmoi at 10:09 PM on November 16, 2008 [10 favorites]


The Naval base will very much remain in operation, much to the chagrin of the central Cuban authorities but to the economic benefit of the families of the Cuban contractors and prostitutes who live near the base.

I'm pretty sure its true, and even if it wasn't, it would be completely illegal for service members or the military to spend money outside of the base.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 PM on November 16, 2008


NYT:
As a presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama sketched the broad outlines of a plan to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: try detainees in American courts and reject the Bush administration’s military commission system.

Now, as Mr. Obama moves closer to assuming responsibility for Guantánamo, his pledge to close the detention center is bringing to the fore thorny questions under consideration by his advisers. They include where Guantánamo’s detainees could be held in this country, how many might be sent home and a matter that people with ties to the Obama transition team say is worrying them most: What if some detainees are acquitted or cannot be prosecuted at all?

That concern is at the center of a debate among national security, human rights and legal experts that has intensified since the election. Even some liberals are arguing that to deal realistically with terrorism, the new administration should seek Congressional authority for preventive detention of terrorism suspects deemed too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.

“You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone,” said one civil liberties lawyer, David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor who has been a critic of the Bush administration.
posted by Class Goat at 10:10 PM on November 16, 2008


I thought the entire base was surrounded by fences and barbed wire, and no one crossed over into Cuba at all.

This is the only thing I could find with a lazy search. The Bush administration may very well have clamped down on some of that, but the base is by not exactly 100%s hermetically sealed from the rest of Cuba.

Also, I don't have any cites but I don't believe for one second that Cuban prostitutes don't get smuggled on base.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:15 PM on November 16, 2008


It's a start. Perfect is the enemy of the good...

People who are willing to let torture happen need more enemies.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 PM on November 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone

Watch me.
posted by enn at 10:20 PM on November 16, 2008 [22 favorites]


Um, there are no US soldiers venturing out into real Cuba, and any Cuban sneaking in would be shot by one side or other other. You must be thinking of some other country.
posted by rokusan at 10:23 PM on November 16, 2008


let's remember that Obama is going to be the most scrutinized and attacked President ever. Even being this bold could seriously backfire.

There's nothing Obama can do that isn't an invitation to attack. The right's specialty till now has been clamoring so loudly about every little thing that no one dares address the big things. Time to bring it all into the picture.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:29 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I didn't say that the soldiers were leaving the base, but that prostitutes were smuggled in. It may only happen in my mind, and I'm willing to admit that. Funnily enough, however, I went to google "cuban prostitutes in guantanamo bay" and guess which Metafilter thread came back in the results? (The call came from inside the house!). So, I'm going to go all Fox News cite recursion and claim this very thread as vetted evidence for existence of Cuban prostitutes working the base.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:32 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's nothing Obama can do that isn't an invitation to attack. The right's specialty till now has been clamoring so loudly about every little thing that no one dares address the big things. Time to bring it all into the picture.

The problem is that their hysterics have seriously weakened their ability to complain. I mean, they threw a hissyfit about him not wearing a flag pin, they threw a hissy fit about John Kerry's botched joke, about the "lipstick on a pig" comment and if they complain loudly about the closing of gitmo what does at mean, that it's as serious an issue as flag pins and wisecracks?
posted by delmoi at 10:35 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


AP article on some of the legal and practical difficulties that need to be sorted out in order to close Guantanamo
related in NY, what detention law will look like after
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:39 PM on November 16, 2008


(those are two separate links)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:40 PM on November 16, 2008


There already WAS a circumstance in which this democratic society could preventively detain people !!!

It's called the crime of conspiracy. The fact that the neocons didn't want to put "terrorist suspects" through the American justice system is not that the American justice system is not equipped to serve justice in that situation, it's because (and hold on to something, this may come as a shock)

the war on terror is a political device.

I'm not saying that there aren't terrorists. I'm not even saying that there aren't any real live terrorists at Guantanamo Bay (i'm not saying there are either), I'm saying that the war on terror was invented by the neocons so that the American public would look into its pretty colors for eight years, and the special justice system for the "terrorists" was invented solely to prolong and perpetuate the big show.

Justice can never be served in the shadows.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:41 PM on November 16, 2008 [14 favorites]


burhan- I had a friend who had spent some time at Guantanamo Bay, as a marine / grunt whose job was mostly security detail, perimeter guard, etc.

They spent a good deal of their time just being bored, going 'fishing' (apparently there are anti personal mines surrounding the base, so they would toss out a line with some rotten food on the end, and try to bring in a giant rat, which they would know they caught cause they would hear the pop), and retrieving the occasional awol marine who, loaded up on Listerine and hooch, decided he would venture into Cuba for some action. And find one of those anti personal mines in the process. The grunt would live, but would be shipped home for a new foot.

Same friend has the story of how, while doing work in Panama, they told their commanding officer that "throw down your guns" was "yo tenga dos zapitos" just for kicks. When I asked him if having his commander shout "I have two shoes" during raids was probably not a good idea, his response was "well, at that point, we had already eliminated any hostile targets."
posted by mrzarquon at 10:41 PM on November 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


And I hope Obama has a really bright light somewhere.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:41 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


AP article on some of the legal and practical difficulties that need to be sorted out in order to close Guantanamo

That article kind of confirms my suspicions that the prison camp was not particularly nefarious in its origins, more that it was borne out of political laziness. That's not to say it quickly spiraled downhill.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:42 PM on November 16, 2008


and I don't care if that is not factually correct, it still makes for a good story
posted by mrzarquon at 10:47 PM on November 16, 2008


the war on terror is a political device.


"The war on terror is a war on peace."
-Michael Franti
posted by baphomet at 10:49 PM on November 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


the prison camp was not particularly nefarious in its origins

Most evil things in real life don't begin with "bwa-hahahahahaaaa!"

Luckily, it's pretty easy to pick out the evil stuff after it's gotten going for a while.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:53 PM on November 16, 2008


People who are willing to let torture happen need more enemies.

Agreed, wholeheartedly. Point is, he's making a start, which is sorely needed. At this point, just about anything that even starts ending that atrocity is a huge step in the right direction.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:54 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, burhan, the interesting thing is that even if Bush at this point had a total purification of heart and wanted to get the prisoners processed by neutral judges, there are huge procedural problems to be handled.

Suppose for the sake of argument that (at least in some cases) you can't allow regular judges or the defendants and their lawyers to hear some of the evidence. How can we preserve many of the basic legal safeguards like defendants being able to know the evidence against them?

Ok, now suppose we set up a separate court system for the trials which sets aside those basic legal safeguards -- what's to keep a future administration from using it for evil? Nothing. We have to take the government's word for it that certain cases rely on evidence that can't be heard.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:56 PM on November 16, 2008


I would be happiest if on the day Obama takes office, this happens:

1. All Guantanamo detainees are transferred to Rikers island
2. Each is assigned one of the most expensive defense attorneys available (courtesy of the taxpayer)
3. Gitmo detention center is evacuated
4. Obama walks through the detention camp with the flamethrower of righteousness and erases it from the earth

I would say nuke it from orbit, since it is the only way to be sure, but the Cubans would be unhappy about that.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:00 PM on November 16, 2008


(For my own records, that AP article is "Obama plans US terror trials to replace Guantanamo" by Matt Apuzzo and Lara Jakes Jordan)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:01 PM on November 16, 2008


Ok, I'm just about done burning up bluespace here - I promise.

I wanted to point out that the current criminal justice system in America ALREADY HAS a provision for keeping dangerous evidence from becoming exposed during criminal proceedings!!!! It's called the privilege of state secrets! A judge can choose to conduct proceedings in camera!

I have found that whenever the Bush administration says "we must do this because of that", "that" is almost never true. What they really mean is "we must do this because it will further our bizarre plans to work towards our twisted theological vision of the future".
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:07 PM on November 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


Suppose for the sake of argument that (at least in some cases) you can't allow regular judges or the defendants and their lawyers to hear some of the evidence. How can we preserve many of the basic legal safeguards like defendants being able to know the evidence against them?

Special advocates. You're not the only country in the world to have to deal with these kinds of considerations. Take a lesson from the Europeans on this one.

We have to take the government's word for it that certain cases rely on evidence that can't be heard.

No, you don't. You may have to take a judge's word for it, though.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:28 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


The risk/reward for a prostitute "sneaking in" to a US military base in Cuba makes it very unlikely.

Why risk treason (penalty: execution) just to do business with soldiers when there are a million Italian tourists with more money right at hand?

Okay now I'm overthinking this.
posted by rokusan at 11:47 PM on November 16, 2008


I am proud for your country, congratulations.
posted by jaduncan at 12:07 AM on November 17, 2008


Unsettling Times for Jihadists
posted by homunculus at 12:14 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Closing Guantanamo is a good start in reclaiming America's moral stature in the world. There are so many more things that need to be done though.
posted by dougzilla at 12:22 AM on November 17, 2008


The documentary Torturing Democracy is stomach churning. You have to wonder how any prisoner could stop himself from becoming a terrorist after what was done to each of them. The whole business is Kafkaesque.
posted by Bitter soylent at 1:11 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Closing Gitmo is a victory for the terrorists." At least, that's how it will be spun by a lot of wingnuts.

I wonder what will happen to repatriated prisoners, too? What a mess.
posted by gsb at 2:02 AM on November 17, 2008


The 60 Minutes Interview (with video).
You know, I spent ten minutes hunting for this on youtube before it occurred to me to check CBS. They're not as dim as I'd assumed. Better video quality, too.
posted by ryanrs at 2:10 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


...completely illegal for service members or the military to spend money outside of the base


Ummm...as a former serviceman. That is incorrect.
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:27 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a start. Perfect is the enemy of the good... and let's remember that Obama is going to be the most scrutinized and attacked President ever.

Yes, I agree. I don't believe that he can dismantle every horrible thing that Bush has done right away. Shutting down Gitmo is a pretty good first step, especially as an international PR move. It really is the most visible sign that we've become morally bankrupt in pursuit of some elusive "enemy."

The US had ways of dealing with threats before Gitmo - there are proper channels to deal with suspects that don't involve torture. What exactly the legal process involves here, I don't know, but I have faith that before "The War on Terror" there were threats made to the US, and that the government had ways of dealing with them that didn't involve flushing Korans down the toilet, f'r instance.

Perhaps I'm being naïve. In any case, I think it's a pretty good first step and the criticism that "He's not doing enough!" isn't really helping the liberal cause here. Obama is a man and a politician, he is not a superhero. He has to work within the law and within what his political capital will allow him to get done. The US is ready, as a nation, to get rid of Gitmo. Whether we're ready to hear - publicly and from the Commander in Chief - about the other human rights abuses we've been engaged in, remains to be seen.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:38 AM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Even some liberals are arguing that to deal realistically with terrorism, the new administration should seek Congressional authority for preventive detention of terrorism suspects deemed too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.

The people making that argument are among the reasons it's been so easy for the Right to make 'liberal' a pejorative. They should just shut up.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:38 AM on November 17, 2008


I remember a discussion from just after the London attacks in 2005 about how we already have a legal framework for dealing with terrorism - piracy.

Here it is.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:02 AM on November 17, 2008


The food is crap, the fences are up to keep locals out, and exotic sports like waterboarding are quite popular. Turn it into a Club Med.
posted by gman at 4:09 AM on November 17, 2008


here's the second part of the 60m interview w/ michelle -- the obamas -- in which she vows to shut down his DC apt :P they talk about being normal!
posted by kliuless at 4:19 AM on November 17, 2008


let's remember that Obama is going to be the most scrutinized and attacked President ever.

How am I supposed to remember the future again? Is this the time-travelin' thread or what? Oh, right: this is just someone's paranoid talking points, rendered into a cliche that we're all supposed to quote-unquote remember because it's been said so many times before that it's become the common sense, an unquestionable truth ABOUT THE FUTURE.

Huh? From what I actually remember, Obama ran a popular, well-regarded, and well-funded campaign, with the support of the media, in which he sailed to an easy victory while his opponent imploded mid-campaign. There is every reason to believe he'll be scrutinized, as all presidents are, but it's not clear yet whether he'll be the most scrutinized.

But perhaps the real question is, when he's scrutinized, what will be scrutinized for? Will his sex life be discussed in Congress? Will he be accused of murdering an old friend? Will his vacation days be counted? Will his speech patterns be analyzed? Or, perhaps, will he be scrutinized because of actual policy decisions? That doesn't sound so bad, at least to me. That sounds suspiciously like a mature working democracy.... Perhaps he'll be the most scrutinized president EVAH because people will pay close attention to the man's foreign policy, his proposed legislation, his signing statements and his vetos, his executive orders and his use of military force, his cabinet members and his judicial nominees... and just ignore the rest of it. I guess we'll see.

Lest my joy at this news be lost in the snark, I'll say that Obama has certainly satisfied this part of his constituency with this news. Indefinite detention and war forever is for totalitarian sissies. Real men choose judicial review.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:52 AM on November 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


homonculus, I'd hesitate before approvingly linking David Ignatius on anything; he's possibly the most shallow and ridiculous of the WaPo opinioneers (and boy is that saying something). Just one example, courtesy of Glenn.

Is there anything in that piece that wasn't obvious already? Add an anonymous "U.S. intelligence official who monitors jihadist Web sites" and you have David Ignatius' world.
posted by mediareport at 5:06 AM on November 17, 2008


Obama and Tribe are very smart guys, but I think they must have been too busy during the campaign to read Boumediene v. Bush. These hybrid courts they're proposing aren't going to fly with SCOTUS if they loosen hearsay rules or use confessions elicited under torture. Yet that appears to be exactly what they're proposing to indefinitely detain some 'incorrigibles.' FAIL, Mr. Tribe. EPIC FAIL.

"It would have to be some sort of hybrid that involves military commissions that actually administer justice rather than just serve as kangaroo courts," Tribe said. "It will have to both be and appear to be fundamentally fair in light of the circumstances. I think people are going to give an Obama administration the benefit of the doubt in that regard."

Some weren't so sure.

"There would be concern about establishing a completely new system," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor who is aware of the discussions in the Obama camp. "And in the sense that establishing a regimen of detention that includes American citizens and foreign nationals that takes place on U.S. soil and departs from the criminal justice system — trying to establish that would be very difficult."

Though a hybrid court may be unpopular, other advisers and Democrats involved in the Guantanamo Bay discussions say Obama has few options.

Prosecuting all detainees in federal courts raises many problems. Evidence gathered through military interrogation or from intelligence sources might be thrown out. Defendants would have the right to confront witnesses, meaning undercover CIA officers or terrorist turncoats might have to take the stand, jeopardizing their cover and revealing classified intelligence tactics.

That means something different would need to be done if detainees couldn't be released or prosecuted in traditional courts. Exactly what remains unclear.

posted by anotherpanacea at 5:12 AM on November 17, 2008


How am I supposed to remember the future again? Is this the time-travelin' thread or what? Oh, right: this is just someone's paranoid talking points, rendered into a cliche that we're all supposed to quote-unquote remember because it's been said so many times before that it's become the common sense, an unquestionable truth ABOUT THE FUTURE.

Did you spend the 90's dead? The right spent the 1990's talking about how Bill Clinton was the anti-Christ and he was going to have the UN come in, take everybody's guns, and kill all the Christians for various reasons (frequently involving that favorite conspiratorial spectre, "The Jews"). And it wasn't just a small fringe of extremist whackos- big-name mainstream Republicans got in on it, legitimized it, and helped it to spread, Republicans like Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, and Jesse Helms. (And let's not forget everyone's favorite Texan Congressman Ron Paul, who spent the 1990's publishing a militia newsletter.) A lot of those same Republicans are still around, most of those old right-wing assholes are still around, and now not only do they have a Democrat back in the White House, they've got a black Democrat who everybody knows is working to betray America to the UN, Iran, or whatever other bogeyman you can come up with.

To think that Obama isn't going to be as scrutinized, slandered, and vilified as Clinton, or even moreso, is naive in the extreme.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:42 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Did you spend the 90's dead?

No, I spent the 90's noticing that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:46 AM on November 17, 2008


Closing Guantanamo is a good start in reclaiming America's moral stature in the world. There are so many more things that need to be done though.

Exactly. So my response is, okay, that's a step in the right direction, thanks, President Obama. Now I want to see what you do with the prisoners from Gitmo (shipping them off to some other third world shithole to be held indefinitely is NOT an improvement), whether he eliminates rendition, puts a stop to torturing, etc.

As opposed to say, "You're going to close Gitmo? I'm going to assume that's all you're going to do and scream about how that isn't enough!!!!"
posted by orange swan at 5:47 AM on November 17, 2008


Amnesty will be pleased!

A small, but symbolic step toward re-joining the international community.

Incidentally, there has been expressed the opinion (not in this particular thread) that the world needs the US to lead them in some way. I would suggest that what the world needs is co-operation and commitment to the community. We are all in this together.
posted by asok at 5:48 AM on November 17, 2008


Did you spend the 90's dead? The right spent the 1990's talking about how Bill Clinton was the anti-Christ and he was going to have the UN come in, take everybody's guns, and kill all the Christians for various reasons (frequently involving that favorite conspiratorial spectre, "The Jews")

Oh, they did not. They were too busy salivating over his sexual peccadilloes.
posted by orange swan at 5:48 AM on November 17, 2008


Baby steps. In the right direction.
posted by Sailormom at 5:58 AM on November 17, 2008


Also, Pope Guilty, didn't you spend part of the 90's in elementary school? Just so we're clear, a lot of things happened in the 90's, including the election of Bill Clinton and the voluntary end of the first war in Iraq, the World Wide Web, hypertext, and the internet bubble, the crash of the Asian Tigers, the growth of hedge funds and a tremendous protest movement against international finance institutions, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and a Washington Consensus on development in the Third World. The Republican Revolution and the Contract with America was just a small part of a busy decade, and we bothered to care about Bill Clinton's sex life only because we thought we'd reached the End of History, that politics was just a soap opera to distract us from day trading stocks of Pets.com and watching James T. Kirk shill for Priceline. (I guess some things never change.) Hell, the whole shebang started with the US invasion of Panama and ended with a trumped up computer-bug apocalypse!

Just relax: President-elect Obama can stick up for himself. These things have a way of working themselves out.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:05 AM on November 17, 2008


shockingbluamp:
...completely illegal for service members or the military to spend money outside of the base
Ummm...as a former serviceman. That is incorrect.
The original poster was likely referring to the fact that it is illegal for US citizens to spend money in Cuba (without a special government-issued license which I sincerely doubt that PFC Jones can get by saying "I want a Cuban hooker"), not claiming that it is illegal under all circumstances for any US military member anywhere to spend any money at all outside of any base.
posted by Flunkie at 6:09 AM on November 17, 2008


You know what this means, though? The suggestion box at change.gov actually works!
posted by ook at 6:13 AM on November 17, 2008


In case some are wondering what a reasonable, effective, non-symbolic, step might look like, I'd recommend that Obama support the impeachment of Jay Bybee. One of the architects of our torture policy is likely to be a circuit judge for forty years if we don't do something about it.
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:37 AM on November 17, 2008


im in ur ceiling scrutinizing ur 'administration'
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:52 AM on November 17, 2008


Evidence gathered through military interrogation or from intelligence sources might be thrown out.

If that evidence does not rise to the usual standards of our judicial system, it should be thrown out. If what is meant by by 'military interrogation' is torture, there should be no hesitance in throwing out 'evidence' so obtained. If the evidence from intelligence sources is hearsay, throw it out, too. Naming the overall effort a 'war' on something is not sufficient reason to toss out the Constitution or due process.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:02 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some other things that Bill Clinton deserves scrutiny/attack for: withdrawing from Somalia, not intervening in Rwanda, and the NATO bombardment of Kosovo. Actually, if Obama can beat Clinton and W. for general suckiness-leading-to-scrutiny, he'll have shown an extraordinary Can-Fail spirit. Those are some mighty big clown shoes to fill, and I don't think he's up to the challenge, frankly.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:20 AM on November 17, 2008


No, I spent the 90's noticing that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.

It is conservative doctrine that conservatives, no matter how much power they actually wield, are persecuted and powerless, always the underdog even when they controlled all three branches of the federal government. That they had most of the power didn't sway them from that position.

Oh, they did not. They were too busy salivating over his sexual peccadilloes.

You're flatly wrong. Bill Clinton's sexual peccadilloes didn't become a real issue until the Paula Jones lawsuit. I've seen reams of conspiratorial Michigan Militia claptrap ranting about Clinton being the ZOG Antichrist and had parents who weren't averse to credulously forwarding on the Clinton Body Count list, a video based on which was marketed on The 700 Club by Pat Robertson. The Gingrich-era Republicans played ball with the lunatic fringe.

Also, Pope Guilty, didn't you spend part of the 90's in elementary school?

I would characterize myself as a child as being more interested in politics than most adults.

Some other things that Bill Clinton deserves scrutiny/attack for:

I'm certainly not a defender of the Clintons, or a fan of theirs; I simply remember the crazy bullshit that got thrown around and bounced about, and think that it was the return of the Republicans to the Executive that put the militia movement into hibernation. With the Democratic Party in control of the Oval Office again, and with a black man who lots of Americans appear to believe is some kind of internationalist Muslim terrorist in it, I expect a strong comeback for the lunatic right.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2008


I expect a strong comeback for the lunatic right.

So the complaint is that somebody, somewhere, is criticizing and scrutinizing Obama? Even if it's the crazies? There are a certain number of people who will never be satisfied, either because they've been systematically shut out of government or because they've been systematically shut out of the labor market, or because they're neurologically incapable of rational reflection. Let's not use these straw men to attack the Republican Party, and let's not use the Weather Underground to attack the Democratic Party: it's the culture wars all over again. If the lunatic right comes back in force it's because the moderate right doesn't want anything to do with them anymore, and that's to be celebrated, not bemoaned. Brand New Day, right?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:51 AM on November 17, 2008


For the first time, I'm really proud to be an American.

(And any of you haters who want to burst my bubble can just bite me.)
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:03 AM on November 17, 2008


Hold on, hold on... this madrassa muslin just said he was going to take down a gubmint facility? That's the sorta talk that'll get his european ass thrown in Gitmo, I tell you whut.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:04 AM on November 17, 2008


Despite all the yelling back and forth here, there is something good on the horizon: the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay is going to be closed and, unless they just move the prisoners to something like an oil derrick in international waters, which seems unlikely, the American government is going to have to allow these guys proper trials or let them go.

One step at a time.
posted by pracowity at 8:25 AM on November 17, 2008


Let's start a list of stock phrases guaranteed to show up on MeFi for any given day. I'll start:

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

I'm looking at you, X.

<>
This.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:49 AM on November 17, 2008


Despite all the yelling back and forth here, there is something good on the horizon: the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay is going to be closed and, unless they just move the prisoners to something like an oil derrick in international waters, which seems unlikely, the American government is going to have to allow these guys proper trials or let them go.

According to this article on overseas American prisons Gitmo held only about 1% of our capture.
posted by Bitter soylent at 9:09 AM on November 17, 2008


I agree with Pope Guilty that the Republicans are going to be all up in Obama's business, and I also agree with anotherpanacea that it's not cool to think I know where the Republicans are going to be, and be angry about it in advance.

Expecting anything less than dirty tricks from the right feels like credulity, after the last 8 years. But it doesn't help to get hysterical about imagined future transgressions. I'll have to practice my skeptically optimistic face, I guess.
posted by asspetunia at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2008


homonculus, I'd hesitate before approvingly linking David Ignatius on anything

I didn't hesitate, no. I -- I linked it yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the thread, the thread that we're in, reform of this website and victory in the blogosphere, you can't blink when you link.
posted by homunculus at 11:35 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


from Bitter soylent's link:
According to the most recent official figures, the United States is currently holding 27,000 secret prisoners around the world. - Clive Stafford Smith on Democracy Now

So, there are "official" figures on how many "secret prisoners" the US has? Who puts out these stats? What are they based on?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:37 PM on November 17, 2008


Clive Stafford Smith interview transcript
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:39 PM on November 17, 2008


Change in intelligence? Signals that Obama will reform the bankrupt culture undermined by his embrace of Tenet cronies

Ex-CIA Officials Tied to Rendition Program and Faulty Iraq Intel Tapped to Head Obama’s Intelligence Transition Team
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on November 17, 2008


delmoi, you may want to look at the actual history of extraordinary rendition. It was in use long before the practice of shipping people off to get torture-interrogated. Really. The first use dates back to the Achille Lauro hijackers, when the USAF forced their getaway plane to land at a US base in Italy. It was in fact upheld by the Supreme Court in US v. Alvarez-Machain. The actual name and doctrine were formulated by the Clinton administration, and it was a key tool of their own counter-terrorism efforts. When 9/11 rolled around, it was the legal tool the DOJ and CIA decided to use for the latter's black sites program. But they didn't invent it then.

The name has been popularly applied to that usage, but it predates that program and has a broader meaning and usage, including seizure for public trial in the US courts. The Bush administration has definitely placed a sinister cast on it, but the legal principle is similar to the "hot pursuit" doctrine.

Burhanistan, you just don't know what you're talking about. Both the US and Cuba have erected severe restrictions on crossing the fence, and it's one of the few borders with US troops stationed where there are occasional firefights. Cuba itself cut off water supplies to the base and has occasionally prevented workers from going there, as well as likely placing severe scrutiny and restrictions on their families (but the pay is really good). As of 2007, the number of workers still commuting to base had declined to three.

It's not, and since the revolution has effectively been impossible to have been, a place where there's R&R outside the gates. The very idea of permitting it would be, in a word, counterrevolutionary.
posted by dhartung at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


dhartung -- isn't Frisbie v. Collins (along with Ker v. Illinois) important precedent on this? Also, see: Ker-Frisbee Doctrine.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:30 PM on November 17, 2008


Actually, on reflection, I guess Ker-Frisbee is pretty much its opposite -- overlooking kidnapping as a means of bringing fugitives to justice in the U.S., rather than sending them elsewhere. The same sort of abusive take on sovereignty seems in play, though.

My Canadian compatriots usually throw a fit when they first learn about Ker-Frisbee.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:33 PM on November 17, 2008


I like the fact Obama said pretty much the same thing Bush said: “We don’t torture” - except with the addition that “And I’m going to make *sure* we don’t” that gives the statement, y’know, integrity.


“You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone,”

Except, y’know, you can say that. Mechanisms exist (as Salvor Hardin and others sed) to prosecute and jail terrorists.
(And “Justice can never be served in the shadows.” is very well said, Salvor Hardin)

This “undercover CIA officers or terrorist turncoats” having to take the stand and jeopardize their cover is horseshit.
Provisions already exist for that, so the bottom line is whether the people at Gitmo have evidence gained from questionable interrorgation and internment thrown out or not.

Well, maybe they have to be let go. But it wasn’t Obama that poisoned that tree.

Also - preventative detention is just loads and loads of ass. There are some select circumstances under which it can be useful. But preventative because someone is dangerous? No.
If a terrorist is dangerous, that is, actively working to kill innocent people, plotting, etc, and does not hold necessary information that can be gained through legitimate interrogation (e.g. he’s a fanatic, he doesn’t know, or the information he knows is redundant) chances are you’re not going to take the time and effort and risk to capture him.
Counterterrorists operate (or should) under law enforcement auspices, but they are not law enforcement officers.
Bringing someone to justice is less of a priority than neutralizing the threat.

I’ll emphasize, that doesn’t always mean killing the target.
Oh, sometimes it does. But sometimes terrorists don’t care whether they’re under investigation or not.
Even when they’re being observed in some cases, they’ll continue with their operation - f’rinstnce - gsg9 in ‘07 and the Islamic Jihad Union - they arrested the whole group in north rhine westphalia.

But before the arrest they diluted 1,500 lbs of the concentrated hydrogen peroxide the group had been planning to use to make bombs (from 35 percent to 3 - pretty nice operation there)

And these guys were going to go through with it. It’s not like those dufuses from Florida who had grandiose plans of blowing up the Sears towers and they had maybe one .38 between them of them.
These guys already had military grade detonators, and other equipment. They were serious.
But priority one was stopping the operation. Not arresting them. If they had been killed in the process, that would suck, but it wouldn’t have been a real loss.
And it wouldn’t have made any difference in terms of evidence. They had means, they had opportunity - end of story.

Preventative detention was just a politically expedient excuse to illegally imprison people and play up the security theater.

And I don’t think it’s going away.

Oh, I think Obama will do a great many things to stop it. Perhaps set it back 10 or 20 years. But unless there’s a major change in society (and the people behind these things who benefit from the darkness and concentration of power) it’s coming back.

I am not in any way a pessimist, and I do think this is a good first step. But there’s a lot of work to be done and I’m not expecting Obama to do it alone.
(I keep reading how people expect Obama to do so much and accomplish so much, etc. etc. - and I keep thinking - well, what are YOU going to be doing? Sitting on your ass? Only way this stuff works is if WE make it happen. The president - whomever he is - can only open or shut the door. Obama’s opened what was previously a vault. We’re the one’s that have to use the opportunity.)


Re: Cuban prostitutes. Been there myself. I won’t go into details. Guys dip their wicks. I won’t go into how, but it doesn’t breech security protocols. (Mostly though it’s a lot less of a pain to just jerk off)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:59 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


(Oh, did I mention the IJU was active mostly in Pakistan? Yeah.)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:00 PM on November 17, 2008


Should Obama chase Osama? On Sunday the president-elect told "60 Minutes" he wants to capture or kill bin Laden. Is he setting himself up for failure?
posted by homunculus at 6:55 PM on November 17, 2008


Durn: Rendition, particularly the interstate variety, has a long and sordid history relating to the Fugitive Slave Acts. If you want to, you can draw a line all the way back to the Articles of Confederation.
posted by dhartung at 10:57 PM on November 17, 2008


Countdown: Possibility of Blanket Presidential Pardons
posted by homunculus at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2008


Vice President Cheney and former Attorney General Gonzales indicted.

Not for GITMO, but closer to home: the Willacy County’s federal detention centers.
posted by ericb at 3:15 PM on November 18, 2008


Did U.S. push detention of American without charges?
posted by homunculus at 9:33 AM on November 19, 2008


Judge rules on one Guatanamo habeas corpus case, rules that five Algerian men have been held illegally and should be freed "forthwith"
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:27 PM on November 20, 2008


"Seven years is enough."

Greenwald on Brennan
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on November 21, 2008


Recasting the War on Terrorism: A Progressive Coalition Wants Obama to Be More Than the Anti-Bush
posted by homunculus at 2:10 PM on November 24, 2008


Brennan withdraws his name from consideration for CIA.
posted by homunculus at 2:22 PM on November 25, 2008


White House not likely to pardon torture officials, claims torture memos make pardons ‘unnecessary.’
posted by homunculus at 2:25 PM on November 25, 2008


Torture and the rule of law: Did Bush just call Democrats' bluff?
posted by homunculus at 1:45 PM on November 26, 2008


Obama’s first problem is US war crimes: The president-elect has to take a stand on Bush’s dark legacy
posted by homunculus at 9:04 AM on December 1, 2008


I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 1:39 PM on December 1, 2008


Rumsfeld blamed in detainee abuse scandals: A bipartisan Senate report calls decisions made by the former Defense secretary a 'direct cause' of inhumane treatment of prisoners of war. Other Bush officials also are faulted.
posted by homunculus at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


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