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  1. #11
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    I am also concerned about using military tribunals, subverting Constitutional provisions, etc. It probably won't happen again, but that doesn't mean it CAN'T happen again. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. . .
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  2. #12
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    This sort of stuff has happened before(Various red scares, CIA /FBI stuff in the early cold war, Alien and Sedition acts, Various civil war related constitution breaking, killings/threats against anti-slavery people and other attempts to shut out those points of view, etc.). This new stuff laws and proposals seem to be people overreacting to anything that seems different or strange, and is worrying, but is not worrying in a way that is new.

  3. #13

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    In 2001 the US invaded Afghanistan. There were links between al Queda and the government of Afghanistan at the time (known as the Taliban.)

    As in every war, prisoners were taken by US forces. Believing that these people would pose a danger to the reforming government in Afghanistan, the United States moved these detainees to Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

    This action has started a firestorm of controversy. I don't understand all the details, which is why I'm noting it here. Some of you have strong feelings about this. Please help me clarify my misunderstandings.

    Question #1: Are these Detainees covered under the Constitution or the Geneva Convention?

    These people are *not* US citizens. I don't think they should be covered under Constitution. These people are aiding a group that has its stated purpose the destruction of the Government created by the US Constitution.

    But let's assume they are covered under the Constitution. Are they still covered under Geneva?

    Geneva Mandates that we're supposed to support the Red Cross. It mentions backing the Red Cross by name, several times.

    "Art. 10. The provisions of the present Convention constitute no obstacle to the humanitarian activities which the International Committee of the Red Cross or any other impartial humanitarian organization may, subject to the consent of the Parties to the conflict concerned, undertake for the protection of civilian persons and for their relief."

    4th Geneva Chapter 1

    Geneva also says that we're supposed to support the religious materials and services of detainees.

    "Ministers of religion who are interned shall be allowed to minister freely to the members of their community. For this purpose the Detaining Power shall ensure their equitable allocation amongst the various places of internment in which there are internees speaking the same language and belonging to the same religion. Should such ministers be too few in number, the Detaining Power shall provide them with the necessary facilities, including means of transport, for moving from one place to another, and they shall be authorized to visit any internees who are in hospital. Ministers of religion shall be at liberty to correspond on matters concerning their ministry with the religious authorities in the country of detention and, as far as possible, with the international religious organizations of their faith."

    4th Geneva Convention Chapter 5, Article 93

    Note that all of these things have been found to be illegal under the US Constitution. The ACLU has sued several times to ban the US Government from giving money so that prisoners in US jails can set up religious organizations and areas.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

    -the First Amendment

    The courts have consistently ruled that tax money can NOT be used for religious purposes.

    So which trumps? International law or US law?

    Okay then how about this:

    "A prisoner of war shall be tried only by a military court, unless the existing laws of the Detaining Power expressly permit the civil courts to try a member of the armed forces of the Detaining Power in respect of the particular offence alleged to have been committed by the prisoner of war."

    3rd Geneva Convention Chapter 3, Section 1, Article 84

    Congress passed a law saying that the prisoners at Guantanamo are to be put under jurisdiction of the military courts. The Federal courts threw this law out citing Geneva. But Geneva just said that we're supposed to put these people under military courts. Or rather, the courts are still working out the details.

    Thus it is now 2008. That lawsuit has yet to be settled. This has led to the argument that these prisoners are being held without Habeas Corpus i.e. they're in jail without being told why. This is true to a point. How can we charge these people if we don't know where the trials are to be held? This is like trying to prepare for a debate without knowing what the topic is.

    A military trial makes more sense. It has rules about how to handle evidence and witnesses. It's done in secret because the military doesn't want to reveal who spies are, what strategies are involved, how procedures go through and so on.

    In a jury trial that is all out for public scrutiny. We are to know who the witnesses are, the procedures and so on. In a jury trial, technicalities also come in to play. (Did US soldiers have a warrant when they entered that building? Did they read these prisoners their rights? What about the law that says US soldiers can't be used as police? And so on.) All this information coming out could help the enemy by giving them insight in to how our military does things. It puts people in danger and makes a mockery of our goal of ending terrorism.

    So are we going to use Geneva and military tribunals? Or are we going to use the Constitution and jury trials? And why does it seem that these detainees get to pick and choose which set of laws will apply?

    If the Constitution does trump in this instance and these people do have rights under that document, then shouldn't the responsibilities also apply? Consider:

    "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

    Constitution Article 1, section 9

    If the Constitution does apply to these people then the argument can be made that these people are definitely in Rebellion, their allies are engaged in an invasion and the public safety is definitely in question.

    So from where I sit, leftists and left wingers are the ones suspending habeas corpus (albeit in an indirect way). So these POWs have to sit in jail as million dollar attourneys in the United States play political games. It's not the Bush Administration keeping these people in jail: it's left wing attourneys.

    But here's the part that truly pisses me off.

    There are 2.3 lawyers for every prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. These lawyers represent the cream of legal thought. They include graduates from Harvard and Yale. Furthermore students at Harvard have actually taken up the case of these prisoners. And they're doing it all for free.

    Question: Where the **** are these people when I need a lawyer? Let's see - Harvard, Yale, Columbia and other such places suck up government grants as fast as they can. That's tax money which we American people all pay in too. And these millionaire lawyers are going down there to give representation to a bunch of people who not only do nothing to support the system these lawyers are the fruits of, but are actually trying to tear down the society that gave rise to said lawyers.

    And it's being done for political reasons. These lawyers want to write books, do lectures and run for office in 4 to 20 years when you can still remember their names but not what they did.

    That doesn't make the rest of you mad? The thought of these lawyers (who are children of privilege) getting their education partially paid for by you, driving around in limos, eating steak and lobster, partying with powerful politicians and Hollywood types all while working to get people who hate this country and have never done anything to support it off the hook? Of the people who have been released for Guantanamo Bay, a scary number of them went back to commit new acts of terror or immediately pick up arms against American soldiers.

    Why do these guys get better counsel than any of us could ever hope for? Aren't these lawyers crapping on us? That doesn't make you mad that they're playing games with the Constitution and international law for the express purpose of their own political gain?

    Personally, I think we should pick a rule book and stick with it.

  4. #14
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    There should be civil trials taking place at federal courts within the contiguous United States, with the detainees in solitary confinement until their trials. We can't throw out the Constitution (which covers "persons," not "citizens"; non-U.S. citizens can either be A) tried like everyone else; or B) deported).
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  5. #15
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt. Spalding View Post
    Personally, I think we should pick a rule book and stick with it.
    Why would a group of people in power want to create in inflexible rule that cannot be moved, changed, or manipulated however and whenever they see fit?
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

  6. #16
    Senior Member Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Well, here is what would appear to be an official DHS explanation of the detention camp policy.

    I'll read it later, but y'all have at it if you're interested. Any useful information on actual detention procedures seems to be buried in a mass of gov-speak about departmental "missions" and "strategic principles" and whatnot. My eyes got tired.

    What "they" appear to be planning is a mass deportation of "removable aliens." Personally, I find the idea of deporting 12 million people to be stupid and more than a little disturbing. Nonetheless, the actual plan referred to as "Endgame" applies exclusively to immigration enforcement. I don't see anything in there about "people who speak out against the government."

    But...

    The SF Gate op-ed is correct, I think, in pointing out how the combination of increased mass-detention infrastructure with other Constitutionally questionable government initiatives should be cause for concern. As we saw in the Jose Padilla case, U.S. citizenship is essentially meaningless if the government can nullify the rights associated with it merely on the basis of the political nature of your alleged crime.

    You'd think they could just use the camps they built back in the day for Rex 84, instead of building new ones. Then again, the government isn't exactly noted for being full of people who think lucidly about efficiency.
    "Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even if you never touch its coattails."
    --Clarence Darrow

  7. #17
    Senior Member Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt. Spalding View Post

    ...

    Personally, I think we should pick a rule book and stick with it.
    Umm, a bit off-topic, but I'll respod nonetheless:

    A big part of the issue is that the Bush administration has tried to argue that the people at Guantanamo aren't covered by the Geneva Conventions, either.

    They (the administration's lawyers and officials) invented the term "unlawful enemy combatant," a term without precedent in any body of national or international law, in order to claim that the Guantanamo detainees are not entitled to the protections afforded to "Prisoners of War" under various treaties including the Geneva Conventions.

    If the detainees are civilians being charged with crimes under U.S. law, then they're entitled to the provisions of due process outlined in our Constitution.

    If, however, they are members of the armed forces of an entity with which the United States is in a state of war, then their detention by the armed forces of the United States for the duration of the conflict is governed by the Geneva Conventions.

    Both of these codes clearly specify that torture and other forms of maltreatment are prohibited.

    The administration is trying to avoid classing the detainees in either category so as to immunize themselves against claims of maltreatment brought under either set of laws.

    Now why would they do that? Perhaps because they're engaged in practices which they know would be a violation of the provisions of one or both rulebooks?

    In and of itself, such a realization is troubling from an ethical standpoint.

    However, it also sets a very bad precedent to suggest that governments can effectively "opt out" of laws restricting their treatment of people in their custody by creating, out of whole cloth, classes of persons and administrative departments not covered by any existing legal code.
    "Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even if you never touch its coattails."
    --Clarence Darrow

  8. #18
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mexico View Post
    Umm, a bit off-topic, but I'll respod nonetheless:

    A big part of the issue is that the Bush administration has tried to argue that the people at Guantanamo aren't covered by the Geneva Conventions, either.

    They (the administration's lawyers and officials) invented the term "unlawful enemy combatant," a term without precedent in any body of national or international law, in order to claim that the Guantanamo detainees are not entitled to the protections afforded to "Prisoners of War" under various treaties including the Geneva Conventions.

    If the detainees are civilians being charged with crimes under U.S. law, then they're entitled to the provisions of due process outlined in our Constitution.

    If, however, they are members of the armed forces of an entity with which the United States is in a state of war, then their detention by the armed forces of the United States for the duration of the conflict is governed by the Geneva Conventions.

    Both of these codes clearly specify that torture and other forms of maltreatment are prohibited.

    The administration is trying to avoid classing the detainees in either category so as to immunize themselves against claims of maltreatment brought under either set of laws.

    Now why would they do that? Perhaps because they're engaged in practices which they know would be a violation of the provisions of one or both rulebooks?

    In and of itself, such a realization is troubling from an ethical standpoint.

    However, it also sets a very bad precedent to suggest that governments can effectively "opt out" of laws restricting their treatment of people in their custody by creating, out of whole cloth, classes of persons and administrative departments not covered by any existing legal code.
    Agreed. I don't even cut Lincoln slack for suspending habeas corpus during the Civil War.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

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