Where Do the Bad Folks Go?

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One of the rewards given to British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his flattering speech to U.S. lawmakers was the suspension of military judicial action against British and Australian "enemy combatants" locked up at Guantanamo Bay. This has touched off a fierce debate in the UK over the legal future of Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abbasi, who were among the first six enemy combatants selected to face an American military tribunal. Blair's government seeks to try the two in British courts, and Bush's position is still unclear. "The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people," Bush said at a joint press conference Friday. Jonathan Turley, writing in today's Los Angeles Times, makes the case for letting other governments try their own citizens:

[T]he Bush tribunals are an affront to the rule of law: denying basic rules of evidence, allowing indefinite detention of suspects, barring access to the federal courts, permitting the introduction of statements derived from torture, barring the application of constitutional and federal laws and limiting the grounds for appeal.

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  1. Yes, Bush’s tribunals are a travesty. It is presumptuous and overbroad in its jurisdictional claims, and lacks basic protections for the accused. Why it’s nothing like, say, the ICC…which we should be signing on to RIGHT NOW.

  2. Yeah, great idea Anon, not fretting over such ‘little things’ like rights.

    Bush ‘Only knows for certain that these are bad people’ I can see now why we don’t need to worry about trials either.

  3. To be fair, I’m pretty sure the ICC allows you to pick your own counsel–correct me if I’m wrong.

    While I’m sensitive to the needs of the government to protect sources and methods, I fail to see why this can’t be done in the same way we’ve done it for every other war we’ve fought, up to and including the cold war.

    The article in the Economist that compared it to US Courts Martial and to trials under Apartheid in South Africa was pretty convincing to me. We’re at war, but it’s not like we’ve never been at war before. We know how to do this without handing dangerous new powers to the Executive Branch (with the exception of WWII).

  4. “I fail to see why this can’t be done in the same way we’ve done it for every other war we’ve fought.”

    This is not significantly different from the legal treatment we have given to illegal combatants in all the other wars we have fought. These are not soldiers or legal combatants entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. They have targeted civilians, used civilians as human shields, fought without uniforms, etc. Extending those protections to them undermines, if indeed it does not make a mockery of, the Geneva Convention.

    If anything, the Guantanamo prisoners are receiving better treatment than illegal combatants get in most wars, which is a bullet to the back of the head by whoever captures them. Illegal combatants have no rights that I know of under international law, and only the most minimal rights under the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court dealt with the rights of illegal combatants in the WWII case involving the German saboteurs, and what Bush is doing is consistent with that case.

    The difference with the current war is that all of the opposition fighters are nearly all illegal combatants, with the sole exception so far of the Iraqi regular army. This means that we have many more of them to deal with than usual, and of course we are dealing with them in the age of competing 24 hour news channels.

  5. Nobody except the accusers know what the hell these guys did to deserve this type of legal limbo.

    In some cases, judging by the fact that a number of the Gitmo detainees have been repatriated without any charges being lodged against them, even the accusers don’t have a clue.

    well okay I guess we can conclude that they probably fought without a uniform on though.

  6. “The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people.”

    You can’t make this shit up.

  7. “In some cases, judging by the fact that a number of the Gitmo detainees have been repatriated without any charges being lodged against them, even the accusers don’t have a clue.”

    And this is also an indication that the “accusers” are willing to play fair as the information develops, and release people that they don’t have the goods on.

    Or that these particular detainees have been turned, and are now US agents.

    Or that we want someone to think that these detainees have been turned, to sow confusion.

    Or that whoever we are releasing them to can be relied upon to apply whatever passes for due process in their home country.

  8. “The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people,”

    Yeah you can’t make this up, Joe, because the statement is true. Its made up predominantly of shorter, Anglo-Saxon derived words, but its still true. Is it the lack of longer, latinate words that you think is funny or does the acknowledgement of moral standards of good and bad stirke you as hilarious?

  9. The detainees are men captured fighting against the United States. Under what legal theory can they be said to have committed crimes against the UK or Australia? How can it be said to be more respectful of prisoners rights when they are effectively being tried by courts under ex post facto laws?

  10. “The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people.”

    Let’s help Eric Dreamer do his latin homework.

    Main Entry: peo?ple
    Pronunciation: ‘pE-p&l
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural people
    Etymology: Middle English peple, from Old French peuple, from Latin populus

    Main Entry: cer?tain
    Pronunciation: ‘s&r-t&n
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin certanus, from Latin certus, from past participle of cernere to sift, discern, decide; akin to Greek krinein to separate, decide, judge, Old Irish criathar sieve
    Date: 13th century

  11. When is someone NOT trying to kill us? Seriously, you still have a better chance, last time I checked, of being murdered by your garden variety home-grown thug or “over-sensitive son-of-a-bitch” than a terrorist, and yet somehow no one things to call that a war, and thus civil rights do not dissappear in a puff of logic.

    Then again, if you use the word “drug”, I guess that is a war, and rights make their customary disappearance.

  12. “The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people.” – GW Bush

    “Is it the lack of longer, latinate words that you think is funny or does the acknowledgement of moral standards of good and bad stirke you as hilarious?” – Eric Deamer

    Actually, it’s because that’s the only thing he knows.

  13. Glenn C writes: “The detainees are men captured fighting against the United States.”

    No they aren’t, not necessarily.

    One guy was a cab driver who happened to be carrying the wrong fare when stopped by the Americans. He was released after, oh, 18 months or so.

    I also question the logic behind locking up 75+ year old men and young teenagers in Gitmo. The 75 year olds weren’t fighting. The teens might be, but nobody tells teenagers anything important, so they’re unlikely to be sources of information. And locking them up in Kabul would have been just as effective.

  14. Oh, and another point…

    Glenn C writes: “The detainees are men captured fighting against the United States.”

    Just like the inmates of the Soviet gulags were people captured for counterrevolutionary activity or some such bullshit.

    Thank you, Comrade Glenn.

  15. Jon H:
    Try actually reading my post. The detainees did not commit crimes against the UK or Australia. How can you possibly defend binding them over for trial in the UK or Australia?
    Thank you, Dipshit Jon H.

  16. Again, lefties fail to realize we are at war. Fretting about civil rights when terrorists are out to kill us strikes me as (typical) liberal absurdity.

  17. T. Hartin:

    From the charter of the International Military Tribunal (AKA, the Nuremburg Trials):

    “(d) A defendant shall have the right to conduct his own defense before the Tribunal or to have the assistance of counsel.
    (e) A defendant shall have the right through himself or through his counsel to present evidence at the Trial in support of his defense, and to cross-examine any witness called by the Prosecution….”

    So, no, the enemy combatant/tribunal classification is not how we did it before. And certainly no US citizens were so tried. There’s absolutely no reason to keep trials that concern violations of the Geneva Convention secret. In short, these tribunals are un-American and wrong. Try these people for their crimes? Absolutely. But the tribunals are the wrong way to do it.

  18. If that’s how tribunals are really conducted (not the Nuremburg-type ones)…then really, what’s the point of having a trial at all? Seriously?

    It reminds me of the techniques of Inquisitors, wherein they never really seemed all that interested in finding out whether or not someone was actually guilty, because they were already entirely sure they were. There is a very frightening and twisting kind of logic to it all, which is perhaps what bothers me the most.

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