Civil Liberties

You Can't Go Home, So You Have to Stay Here

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Yesterday a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered the release of 17 men, all Uighur Muslims from China, who have been held at Guantanamo Bay for six years as "enemy combatants." The Pentagon has given up trying to justify that classification but still does not want to let the men go. It says the detainees, who were captured in Afghanistan, cannot be returned to China because they would be persecuted there, and no other country is willing to take them. U.S. District Judge Richard Urbina says they therefore should be freed to live in the United States, where supporters have arranged lodging in Washington and Tallahassee, Florida. The Justice Department says Urbina, who was responding to a habeas corpus lawsuit, does not have the authority to issue such an order, since the executive branch is in charge of immigration matters. If the Uighurs are brought to the U.S., it warns, they could be detained again, this time by the Department of Homeland Security.

I discussed the Uighurs' predicament in a 2006 column.

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  1. I’m all for closing Gitmo and having some non-evil method of dealing with terrorists, but is releasing these guys in the US really the best idea?

  2. Wait a minute, I thought that the only people in Gitmo were those that wanted to kill me and my family and were caught waging war against the US.

    And to those that will pooh-pooh this: I know -the weather is great there so these people have no business complaining that they are kept in virtual solitary confinement and have no say over their lives.

  3. On the bright side, maybe Tallahassee will finally get a good Chinese/Muslim restaurant.

  4. The first one to mention Kafka wins.

    Yay!

  5. Or Joseph Heller.

    Yay!

  6. ed –
    Fuck that, we’ve got three Sonics.

  7. Or the “You broke it, you bought sign” glassware store.

    Yay!

  8. “they will be persecuted there”
    I’m sort of doubting their great concern for the detainees’ well being.

  9. at least when authoritarians shoot their prisoners with no real cause they’re being honest with themselves and everyone else.

  10. I knew the moon would come in handy for something!

  11. How about Puerto Rico?

    (OK, time for me to get ripped a new ass again).

  12. This case highlights one of the reasons you need to have due process for all prisoners that results in “a speedy and public trial” that justifies the detention with evidence that they are guilty of something that is judged by an impartial party.

  13. and no other country is willing to take them

    Just put them on the other side of the fence for freaking sakes. It’s not as if they will start a Islamic revolution in Cuba.

  14. Adamness: I think that releasing them into the U.S. would be relatively non-problematic for us. Although, they didn’t ask to come here and would probably just like to go back where they came from. Except the Chinese want to squash them. So, yeah, these guys are just totally screwed. No real fault of their own…

  15. This is their penalty for not accepting Christ.

  16. …since the executive branch is in charge of immigration matters.

    WhatWhatWHAAAAAAT?
    Is that right? Since when?

  17. I don’t understand. Release them back where they were picked up. Why is that so difficult?

  18. +1 Neu Mejican

    Besides, if they aren’t enemy combatants, and if the Pentagon is worried that they would be persecuted in China, wouldn’t the easiest course of action be to release these guys who aren’t combatants, and whose rights are a concern to the Pentagon, and let them live in the US?

    I mean, we wouldn’t want to see them live in China, a country that has torture, detention without trial, and indiscriminate eavesdropping on ordinary people. Far better to let them live here, where we don’t….oh, wait.

  19. All these guys really want to do is kill CHICOMS. I am really no seeing a problem here. Perhaps we could turn them lose in the US to go after Chinese agents here. We screwed the MEK over in Iraq when all they really wanted to do was kill Iranians, another act I have yet to find a downside to. These guys are terrorists no doubt, but what is that old saying about one man’s terrorist?

  20. I’m all for closing Gitmo and having some non-evil method of dealing with terrorists, but is releasing these guys in the US really the best idea?

    : I think that releasing them into the U.S. would be relatively non-problematic for us. Although, they didn’t ask to come here and would probably just like to go back where they came from. Except the Chinese want to squash them. So, yeah, these guys are just totally screwed. No real fault of their own…

    My understanding is that they fled China and went to Afghanistan. Once we started bombing Afghanistan, they went across the border to Pakistan to not get bombed, at which point they were rounded up and handed over the US for bounties.

    These are people who did nothing wrong other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have been imprisoned for 6 years for no reason.

    Why would it be problematic to release them into the US? After six years, their lives have been thrown into shambles. The US should do right by these guys and let them stay here (without being harassed or threatened by DHS) give then resident alien status.

    If you are gonna have a policy of not giving a fuck if the people you round up and throw into prison are guilty of anything, then you should absolutely have to compensate the inevitable victims of your over-zealousness/

  21. The title of this post makes little sense and the tone seems way off. The Uighurs WANT to be released here. This was a big victory for them and for the principles of due process and individual liberty. In making his ruling, Judge Urbina said that the separation of powers was designed to secure individual liberty, and did not trump individual liberty.

    The Uighurs really don’t want to be returned to China, where they’ll likely be imprisoned or executed. They were picked up in Afghanistan and I don’t think Afghanistan is willing to accept them. Nor is any other country because of diplomatic pressure from China. Albania took a handful of them a few years ago, but isn’t willing to accept anymore.

    Judge Urbina also warned the government that it had better not do anything to harass the Uighurs after they are released on Friday. He pointed out that there is comity between the branches and that he would not look kindly on any federal agency violating the release order of a federal judge.

  22. “All these guys really want to do is kill CHICOMS. I am really no seeing a problem here.”

    You want to kill our lenders? What are you, a Communist?

  23. So, the US government and the Chinese government are on the same page here. They both want these men locked up.

    I forget, who are the commies these days?

    -jcr

  24. Gitmo released quite a few detainees already after determining that they were captured in error. These Uighur detainees are different because returning them to China would actually violate American law.

    This has been a well publicized problem for a while. For all the world’s belly-aching about Gitmo, only Albania has stepped up to receive detainees facing a similar situation in the past.

  25. The world should unfuck the US…why again?

  26. this would be a whole lot easier if i could go back in time and prevent myself from destroying the flux capacitor!

  27. Wareen, Gotdammit man! try to keep up here. The president is in charge of everything now. Mostly because of Cheney using the Palin Doctrine and ramming through congress whatever W. needed done. DUH!

    geeeeez

  28. …torture, detention without trial, and indiscriminate eavesdropping on ordinary people…thoreau, when has this happened to you or someone you know? or was it something you read about?

  29. And Warren too.

  30. On the bright side, maybe Tallahassee will finally get a good Chinese/Muslim restaurant.

    Man, this place is a dump. You know what this town need?

    A good Chinese/Muslim restaurant?

    I was just thinking the same thing!

  31. Because until civil rights are actually lost by YOU, PERSONALLY, or at least someone you know, your rights are completely-safe! Yay!

  32. He pointed out that there is comity between the branches and that he would not look kindly on any federal agency violating the release order of a federal judge

    Ha, like the executive branch gives a shit. Though I admire the judge’s balls.

    Man, this place is a dump. You know what this town need?

    A good Chinese/Muslim restaurant?

    Doesn’t every town need one?

  33. The executive branch will care if the Judge orders US Marshals to prvent the Uighurs from being detained after they are released, and to arrest any immigration agent that tries to take the Uighurs into custody. The Judicial Branch has enforcers too.

  34. Send them to eastern Wyoming or Nebraska. They’re flat, dry and cold like Xinjiang. The Uighurs can go work for ranchers and live in yurts like they’ve been doing since their ancestors the Huns were kicking the crap out of everyone from Peking to Rome.

  35. A good Chinese/Muslim restaurant?

    Just don’t ask for Pork Chow Mein.

  36. Closed Fridays?

    WTF?

  37. Wouldn’t Chinese/Muslim lack the key ingredient of pork? I disapprove.

    Speaking of two great tastes that taste great together, I know of several Chinese-Cuban restaurants here in Tampa.

  38. Is Gordo’s, the Cuban place on (I think) Tennessee still around? They had a great Cuban seasoned chicken sandwich with shoestring fries on top…Yum!

  39. I’d like to see these guys interviewed. In particular, I want to know if Big Bob’s dick really does smell like shit.

    Sorry, just watched the movie several times.

  40. There used to be a place on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Philadelphia called “Uncle Ming’s Chinese-Italian Shmorgasbord.”

    It may be the only business on Admiral Wilson Boulevard that the neighboring porn shop owners and strip bars considered zoning against.

  41. Any Chinese-Italian restaurant not called Marco Polo’s Mongolian Pasta Shack is pointless.

  42. I lived in Tallahassee for four years. A good Chinese/Muslim restaurant won’t save it.

    Jim Bouton talked about investing in a Chinese / Italian restaurant called Chinese Paisan.

  43. If the Uighurs do want to be here as Dan said and are not enemy combatants, then why NOT let them stay here?

  44. If the Uighurs do want to be here as Dan said and are not enemy combatants, then why NOT let them stay here?

    So I should tell my friends who desire permanent US residence to go to Afghanistan and wave their arms around until they get thrown into Gitmo for six years? Beats playing the diversity lottery every year, I guess.

  45. Lets exchange them for some other oppressed Chinese people.
    That way the net amount of persecution is not increased by sending them back to China.

  46. Rhywun-

    I don’t recommend 6 years in Gitmo for anybody seeking residency. But I do think that if we capture somebody and torture him and hold him without trial, and if he would be in danger back at home, then we have an obligation to make it up to him by providing him a safe place to stay here.

  47. It’s not just my say-so. Their lawyers filed the motions for them to be released or paroled into the US. The motion granted by the judge was the relief requested by the Uighurs themselves.

  48. we have an obligation to make it up to him by providing him a safe place to stay here

    I don’t disagree; I just find the whole situation darkly humorous.

  49. Why don’t they just “accidentally” leave their cell door open and let them escape into Cuba?

  50. The executive branch will care if the Judge orders US Marshals…The Judicial Branch has enforcers too.

    Yes, but the USMS is part of the DOJ, not part of the judiciary.

  51. Lets exchange them for some other oppressed Chinese people.
    That way the net amount of persecution is not increased by sending them back to China.

    China isn’t the Soviet Union. For the most part, you’re free to leave China whenever you like.

  52. since the executive branch is in charge of immigration matters.

    WhatWhatWHAAAAAAT?
    Is that right? Since when?

    Warren,

    I’m sure you know this, but pretty much every department is under the Executive branch. The INS is part of the DHS, which is obviously an Executive department.

  53. It was widely reported that the US had allowed Chinese interrogators access to these men during their detention at Guantanamo.

    It’s entirely possible that the “national security interest” being served by continuing to detain these men is that of preventing them from going to the press and granting interviews about whatever abuse they suffered at the hands of Chinese interrogators while US personnel looked on.

    “Don’t let embarrassing material about the Bush administration’s War on Terror policies come to light” is pretty much the sole definition of “national security” that counts for anything with the GOP these days.

  54. EcoDude – Gordo’s is on Pensacola. Still around, though there’s new place called Black Bean on Apalachee Parkway that (IMHO) is even better and not constantly crowded.

  55. One of the best meals I’ve ever had was in a podunk town of Fu Yong (near Shenzhen) at a Muslim noodle shack. The man made the noodles on the spot. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a cold beer (peejoo)to go along with the spicy noodles. A meal cost me approximately $1.25

  56. Warren,

    Immigration “judges” are actually DHS employees, comparable to a Planning Board. They serve a quasi-judician function, but they are under the executive branch.

  57. Kind of reminds me of the time Congress pissed their pants and backed down when Rove, Myers et al blew off their subpoenas. If they really cared about enforcing the law, they have the power through the House SgtAtArms and the Capitol Police to arrest and detain violators without the “advice and consent” of the executive.

    Basically, both of the other branches have ways of forcing the issue if the executive shirks its responsibilities or disobeys court orders. Just that no one has the balls to go up against the big bad Bush for fear of a constitutional crisis.

  58. The Irony of Two Mad Georges

    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended legislation:

    For depriving humans, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

    For transporting humans beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring island Naval Base, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into this Nation:

    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

  59. Apparently we picked them up in Afghanistan. Why can’t we set them loose there?

  60. If the Uighurs are jihadists whose first choice to was kill Chinese Communists, is there any reason to think their second choice won’t be to kill infidel Americans who kept them imprisoned for 6 years?

    Is it not relevant to the discussion that NO OTHER COUNTRY will take them, even as an opportunity to make the US look bad?

  61. bubba, keep in mind that there’s no evidence these guys are jihadists (that’s why they’re being released). You are right though to wonder what their attitudes toward the US are likely to be after 6 years of Gitmo, and whether we should be sanguine about setting them loose in the US.

    We’re in a no-win situation…and we have only ourselves to blame (or more precisely, the administration and their lackeys in Congress). But it’s kind of reprehensible to say that we have to keep presumably innocent people under lock and key for the rest of their lives because WE screwed up.

  62. Bubba: that’s like saying a prosecutor who sent a man to jail for six years and discovers the man was innocent should be allowed to keep the man in jail indefinitely in case the guy is pissed off.

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