Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

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Blue_devil
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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Blue_devil » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:36 pm UTC

Well, there are a few issues with the general sentiments that I am seeing expressed here.

One problem is that the Bush administration actually had a very good reasoning for re-routing detainees away from the traditional legal system, that being that traditionally those being tried have the right to disclosure of evidence against them. This is simply impractical while trying people who are suspected of trying to commit terrorist attacks because it exposes where we get our information from. However, this has also been exploited beyond the point which it is practical. I do not defend the Bush administration as a whole.

Another problem is in where we put these people. There are a number of prisoners (I want to say two), who started off in China trying to subvert the Chinese government, then they moved to either Afghanistan or Pakistan where they were caught by U.S. troops and moved to Guantanamo Bay. The question is where to release them to. We can't keep them in America. They don't want to stay and quite frankly we don't want them here for a myriad of reasons, ranging from they were trying to overthrow their original government to keeping them being roughly equivalent to loosing a cage full of ravenously hungry badgers all over our own faces. There is legal precedent dictating that we can't send them back to China where they are guaranteed to be executed, and if we send them back where we got them they will continue doing what they were (something violent by nature, but not violent by towards the U.S. though that may have changed).

Also we are getting pressure from China to give them the prisoners so that China can kill them, because it's China's government they were trying to subvert. Really if you think about it, the problem with a lot of the detainees won't be where they want to go, but what country will take them. Would it be wise for the U.S. to force other nations to take on people that they didn't want? It would be a foreign relations nightmare, and we would be repeating the mistake we made getting into Iraq, but on a smaller scale (imposing our will on others).

There's really no good answer.

Just as a point of interest: A study done by the Obama administration concluded that "prisoners are being treated in line with international standards demanded under the Geneva conventions..." [cite]http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/21/guantanamo-geneva-conventions[/cite]

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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby drunken » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:10 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:
drunken wrote:
Philwelch wrote:You don't make civilians pay penance with their lives for what their government did. And a government should never sacrifice their own civilians to pay penance either.


While I agree with you in principle, I am afraid this is just not the case. Quite often governments do sacrifice their own civilians for penance and many other stupid reasons. The US government is no exception, far from it. This is not the most important point though, the most important point is that the civilians are responsible for what their government did. The US us a democracy.


So acts of terrorism and mass murder are justified so long as you commit them against a democracy. Is that really the argument you're trying to make?

It doesn't hold up anyway: what if the terrorists blow up people who voted for Gore and Kerry? Or people who aren't of legal voting age?

I'm making the presumption that you're British—if you aren't, please substitute one of your politicians and one of his acts of violence against some other country. May I murder all of your family just because Tony Blair was involved in an act of aggression against Iraq?


I am from New Zealand. If you wish to kill my whole family that's your psychological problem not mine. Of course I would try to stop you, and I would be very unhappy if you succeed, but it doesn't add anything to this discussion.

No acts of terrorism or murder are justified if you are asking my opinion. We are not debating this. No one here is claiming otherwise. What we are debating is what to do with certain prisoners, who have been treated illegally by the US governement and may be dangerous to release. You mentioned a fantasy land where governments won't sacrifice the lives of their citizens to achieve their goals, I pointed out the real world where they do, and tried to show that in a democracy people should both control and take responsibility for their government. In a democracy we are able to prevent these acts of terror, but instead we contribute to them. We are able to take responsiblity for the acts of our government but instead we prefer to let them be corrupt and out of control so we have someone to blame when things go wrong.

The only thing my government has done that I think could have caused terrorism is to send a small unit of elite special forces to Iraq (or Afganistan, the details arent exactly public but I think it was Iraq) which was put under US command and whos activities were kept secret. If I was to be killed in a terrorist attack in New Zealand by people upset about the actions of this military unit my dying breaths would be used to curse the government and the soldiers as well as the bomber. I try to keep control of my government as best I can and I also therefore take responsibility for their actions. Incidentally, as I see them sliding backwards at the present time on many important issues including net neutrality, law and order and economics, I fully intend to start cracking heads as soon as I get back from overseas.

edit: vvv Philwelch, I never used the word "should". Well I did, I said that people should take control and responsibilty for their government. But I never said that the government should not protect it's people. I also don't think that many of the other options for the prisoners make the US very much more or less safe, so wether the prisoners should be released or not is not solely a question of protecting innocent civilians. In fact right at the start I used the words "I agree" indicating that I think governments should protect their people, or whatever you said along those lines that I was agreeing with.
Last edited by drunken on Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:59 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Philwelch » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:34 pm UTC

drunken wrote:
Philwelch wrote:
drunken wrote:
Philwelch wrote:You don't make civilians pay penance with their lives for what their government did. And a government should never sacrifice their own civilians to pay penance either.


While I agree with you in principle, I am afraid this is just not the case. Quite often governments do sacrifice their own civilians for penance and many other stupid reasons. The US government is no exception, far from it. This is not the most important point though, the most important point is that the civilians are responsible for what their government did. The US us a democracy.


So acts of terrorism and mass murder are justified so long as you commit them against a democracy. Is that really the argument you're trying to make?

It doesn't hold up anyway: what if the terrorists blow up people who voted for Gore and Kerry? Or people who aren't of legal voting age?

I'm making the presumption that you're British—if you aren't, please substitute one of your politicians and one of his acts of violence against some other country. May I murder all of your family just because Tony Blair was involved in an act of aggression against Iraq?


I am from New Zealand. If you wish to kill my whole family that's your psychological problem not mine. Of course I would try to stop you, and I would be very unhappy if you succeed, but it doesn't add anything to this discussion.


Why not? You think it'd be justified if someone in Guantanamo Bay killed my family. You think the US government isn't at all responsible for preventing that from happening.

drunken wrote:No acts of terrorism or murder are justified if you are asking my opinion. We are not debating this. No one here is claiming otherwise. What we are debating is what to do with certain prisoners, who have been treated illegally by the US governement and may be dangerous to release. You mentioned a fantasy land where governments won't sacrifice the lives of their citizens to achieve their goals, I pointed out the real world where they do, and tried to show that in a democracy people should both control and take responsibility for their government.


In the real world, governments do sacrifice the lives of their citizens. But between the two of us, only you think the US government should sacrifice the lives of their citizens in this instance. You're asking American citizens—even those who never voted for or supported Bush—to "take responsibility for their government" by dying in a terrorist attack. Because that's what's going to happen if we let these prisoners free in the United States and give them a multi-million dollar legal settlement.
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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby ragnaruss » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:20 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:You're asking American citizens—even those who never voted for or supported Bush—to "take responsibility for their government" by dying in a terrorist attack. Because that's what's going to happen if we let these prisoners free in the United States and give them a multi-million dollar legal settlement.


I think the problem here is you are convinced that these people will go out and commit acts of terrorism, you cannot imprison somone on a thought like that, that would be punisihing someone for thought crime and it doesnt work that way for a reason. You arrest someone AFTER or while their ATTEMPTING to commit a crime, the law system was designed to be reactonary not preventatory.

After some disucission with my friends, including some who are supporting of Gitmo and those methods et al we came to the decision that the best method is to free the people you cant fairly convict, to pay them heft compensation, to take action against those responsible for the torture, but to keep an eye on them relative to their precived threat level.

I personly think that they should not have to be watched but i understand that realisticly Gitmo will have radicalised some who wernt previously.
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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Blue_devil » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

Ragnaruss,

After some disucission with my friends, including some who are supporting of Gitmo and those methods et al we came to the decision that the best method is to free the people you cant fairly convict, to pay them heft compensation, to take action against those responsible for the torture, but to keep an eye on them relative to their precived threat level.


As I stated early it's simply impossible to "fairly" convict any prisoner in Guantanamo at all without releasing extremely classified documents to the prisoner (see: disclosure). It's also impossible to argue the case in front of a jury for the same reason. You would never get a conviction because the evidence can't be disclosed. So what do you sacrifice in order to give them a trial? Do you make it so they don't need a jury of their peers? Do you have the prosecution try and get a conviction without being able to use evidence that they have? Or should America be forced to declassify documents that are relevant to the case, putting our own operatives in danger (incidentally we would then cease to have any under cover operatives because no one in their right mind is going to inform to someone who isn't going to keep them a secret).

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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Zamfir » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:57 pm UTC

But Blue Devil, their current situation is not having a trial at all, and still be locked up indefinitely, all while being presumed innocent. Any form of a trial would be better. If the US were to have Chinese style mock-trials, where the defendents and their lawyers cannot see the evidence, and were the judges are all from the military, then such mock-trials would be an <i> improvement<i> over the current situation.

If there is no evidence that can withstand the daylight, than the default action would be to release them, not to sentence them without a trial. If you want to imprison enemy fighters without a trial, there is no problem: you can label them prisoners of war, and when the fighting is over you release them. But the US went to through a lot of trouble not to label these people POW's, but as criminals. In that case, it's up to the US to show that they really are criminals.

And saying " we can't show you, but the CIA has secret information that they are criminals" depends for my taste a bit too much on the natural honesty of the CIA.

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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:35 pm UTC

Blue_devil wrote: I stated early it's simply impossible to "fairly" convict any prisoner in Guantanamo at all without releasing extremely classified documents to the prisoner (see: disclosure). It's also impossible to argue the case in front of a jury for the same reason. You would never get a conviction because the evidence can't be disclosed.


This may be true, however...

We don't know that they are actually using "extremely classified documents".
Just because Bush/Cheney continue to repeat this mantra does not make it true.

For all we know, Farmer X hated Farmer Y in Afghanistan, so he told the US that Farmer Y is a terrorist. Here is one such example:

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces.

"He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government," a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.


I think, just as the SCOTUS thought, that an objective person who can be trusted (federal judge) needs to see the evidence and see if it is actually legit, or its bogus.

For the record, when the SCOTUS did order them to give evidence, the government instantly dropped many charges and released several suspects.

A federal judge today ordered the release of five Guantánamo Bay inmates, ruling that the US government’s evidence was not enough to justify their continued detention


So does that "its top secret intelligence" argument really hold any water? I think the evidence proves it does not.


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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Philwelch » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:23 pm UTC

ragnaruss wrote:
Philwelch wrote:You're asking American citizens—even those who never voted for or supported Bush—to "take responsibility for their government" by dying in a terrorist attack. Because that's what's going to happen if we let these prisoners free in the United States and give them a multi-million dollar legal settlement.


I think the problem here is you are convinced that these people will go out and commit acts of terrorism, you cannot imprison somone on a thought like that, that would be punisihing someone for thought crime and it doesnt work that way for a reason. You arrest someone AFTER or while their ATTEMPTING to commit a crime, the law system was designed to be reactonary not preventatory.


And I think these people should be released, but not in this country and not with the means to harm anyone. The constitution isn't a suicide pact.
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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Silas » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:25 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:So does that "its top secret intelligence" argument really hold any water? I think the evidence proves it does not.

I think precedent proves that it doesn't. During the cold war, didn't a bunch of known-to-be-guilty spies go free because damning evidence was too secret to let anyone find out about it? (Or was that just on tv?)
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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby ragnaruss » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:29 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:And I think these people should be released, but not in this country and not with the means to harm anyone. The constitution isn't a suicide pact.


Staging a terrorist attack is a very difficult thing, you can't just wake up one morning and say, i'm gonna blow up a building, it takes time and planning. Anyone being watched would be picked up well before any harm came to anyone. In fact it is easier to watch them if they are in the USA, you can really make sure they don't do anything, and if they do, you try them and if you can convict them, and they go to prison.

They may not wish to stay in the US, personally i would still consider it torture if i was forced to stay in the US but thats just me, i just think after everything they have been through, as innocent people, they shoul dbe given every choice they can about how its made up to them.

And remember that UNTIL they are CONVICTED in an OPEN COURT of LAW(note that could mean an impartial judge sees the "classified" documents) then these people are 100% INNOCENT. It's the way it works, it's the best we got, and they only way for it to be valid is if it applies to EVERYONE at ALL TIMES.
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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Blue_devil » Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:02 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
Blue_devil wrote: I stated early it's simply impossible to "fairly" convict any prisoner in Guantanamo at all without releasing extremely classified documents to the prisoner (see: disclosure). It's also impossible to argue the case in front of a jury for the same reason. You would never get a conviction because the evidence can't be disclosed.


This may be true, however...

We don't know that they are actually using "extremely classified documents".
Just because Bush/Cheney continue to repeat this mantra does not make it true.

For all we know, Farmer X hated Farmer Y in Afghanistan, so he told the US that Farmer Y is a terrorist. Here is one such example:

A federal judge today ordered the release of five Guantánamo Bay inmates, ruling that the US government’s evidence was not enough to justify their continued detention


So does that "its top secret intelligence" argument really hold any water? I think the evidence proves it does not.


Ixtellor

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Look at the sheer number of people who would have to be in on the whole song and dance about the people being held being unable to stand trial because the evidence against them is secret. It's just not realistic in a government cover-up. Successful government cover-ups are three people all related to the wrong official, not the ones where everyone with access to classified documents can rat them out.

Also, how is the fact that a federal judge released five of them evidence that the other 545 also don't have enough evidence against them for a trial? Did it say how many were reviewed? Was it just a random five whose cases were investigated all of which were found to lack evidence? How does this jive with your "the classified information excuse is a cover-up" when it has already partially failed but there's still a lot more instances where it hasn't?

If I'm wrong about this, I'll be the first to admit it. If that was a SRS of five people taken from Guantanamo Bay the odds that none of them had enough evidence against them to hold is slim. However, I'm betting the odds of them being the ones who were picked up in the field by being in the wrong place at the wrong time are pretty high. They never should have been there in the first place, For that the Bush Administration as well as the people who decided that this was okay are wrong and I'm sure there are more of them in there. However, I think that there are also people where my statement about classified information does hold true and for those people there are logistical problems with any prosecution.

Zamfir wrote:But Blue Devil, their current situation is not having a trial at all, and still be locked up indefinitely, all while being presumed innocent. Any form of a trial would be better. If the US were to have Chinese style mock-trials, where the defendents and their lawyers cannot see the evidence, and were the judges are all from the military, then such mock-trials would be an <i> improvement<i> over the current situation.

If there is no evidence that can withstand the daylight, than the default action would be to release them, not to sentence them without a trial. If you want to imprison enemy fighters without a trial, there is no problem: you can label them prisoners of war, and when the fighting is over you release them. But the US went to through a lot of trouble not to label these people POW's, but as criminals. In that case, it's up to the US to show that they really are criminals.

And saying " we can't show you, but the CIA has secret information that they are criminals" depends for my taste a bit too much on the natural honesty of the CIA.


A rigged trial is really no different than a no trial. I doubt any wrongly held prisoner would be comforted knowing we faked justice instead of not giving it to them at all. The result is the same.

As little as I like the holding people without being able to know if they are held constitutionally, I find it better than the alternative which would be likely leaving people who would fight against us free to continue to do so.

I also think that I trust the CIA less than you. So much so that I seriously doubt their ability to carry out an effective cover up. During the cold war we couldn't protect our nuclear weapon schematics from Russian spies, or anything else for that matter. It's the nature of democracy to have holes like that in it.

Besides, name one successful cover-up by the American government, ever. :roll:

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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:48 am UTC

Sure, a complete mock trial would be no improvement, but it would not actually be worse either. Anything better than a mock trial would be an improvement. If they pick more or less neutral judges that are trusted by the military, and only the judges get to see the evidence, it would still be an improvement, although hardly enough.
But we haven't seen even that.

As for cover ups, I think it is indeed safe to say that the cover has already been blown. We have seen the evidence against a number of people, especially for some detainees with the nationality of allied countries. And lo and behold, the evidence was of the level "he was in the area and we didn't like his face"

But more important, suspected but unproven murderers are not put behind bars indefinitely because they might be dangerous. People who were mistakenly sentenced are freed, not kept in jail forever because they now must surely have a grudge against the system. If the US doesn't want to treat this people as prisoners of war, it should treat them as suspected criminals, and they have done neither.

The thing is, the US likes to portray itself as the leader of the free world, the ethically least corrupt power. And to some extent that works, but Guantanamo and some other aspects of the war against terror have hurt that idea a lot. This is probably the last chance to make some of that right again, and make the suggestion that it was Bush, not the US that did these things. Otherwise, the message is that the US is cares more about the danger posed by few hundred poor Afghanis than about ethics or justice.

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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Philwelch » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:54 am UTC

ragnaruss wrote:
Philwelch wrote:And I think these people should be released, but not in this country and not with the means to harm anyone. The constitution isn't a suicide pact.


Staging a terrorist attack is a very difficult thing, you can't just wake up one morning and say, i'm gonna blow up a building, it takes time and planning.


The proposal in question is that we take care of steps 1 and 2 for them (get them into the United States and give them funding). Diesel, fertilizer, and a rental truck are not that difficult to procure afterwards.

ragnaruss wrote:Anyone being watched would be picked up well before any harm came to anyone. In fact it is easier to watch them if they are in the USA, you can really make sure they don't do anything, and if they do, you try them and if you can convict them, and they go to prison.


The terrorist MO in this case is usually suicide bombings, I don't think the idea of a jury trial is going to deter them.

Plus, if it's not cricket to let these people go without giving them a new country to call home and a wad of cash, it sure as hell ain't cricket to make these people live the rest of their lives with no privacy.

ragnaruss wrote:And remember that UNTIL they are CONVICTED in an OPEN COURT of LAW(note that could mean an impartial judge sees the "classified" documents) then these people are 100% INNOCENT. It's the way it works, it's the best we got, and they only way for it to be valid is if it applies to EVERYONE at ALL TIMES.


Yeah, well, "innocent until proven guilty" goes just far enough that we shouldn't throw these people into prison (or keep them there), but it doesn't go far enough to bend over backwards and give them green cards and money. If you have a suspected serial killer who hasn't been convicted, you still don't give him a brand new gun and a map of where all the local prostitutes live.

Blue_devil wrote:Besides, name one successful cover-up by the American government, ever. :roll:


If there was one, we wouldn't know about it.

But seriously, the Manhattan Project, the stealth fighter, Dick Cheney's list of undisclosed locations, the fact that FDR was in a wheelchair, and the secret code of the Navajo code talkers all come to mind. (FDR's disability wasn't widely known outside the White House and press corps until after his death.) I'm sure the NSA has some nice coverups too—for all we know they have the proof that P = NP (or the proof to the contrary). In any case not much is said or known about what exactly they do with all their time and manpower and computers.
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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:04 am UTC

The GCHQ (British NSA) developed RSA encryption ten years or so before RS and A did, and only told the world in 1997. Presumably, if they have invented stuff not yet rediscovered by the public, they can keep that a secret as well.

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Re: Guantanamo prisoners dilemma

Postby Iridos » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:03 pm UTC

Blue_devil wrote:One problem is that the Bush administration actually had a very good reasoning for re-routing detainees away from the traditional legal system,


No, there can be no "good reasoning" to violate human rights. I feel that with Guantanamo more damage was done than with 10 more attacks of the magnitude of Sept. 11.
(As a side-note: While those were surely tragic, traumatic and horrible, you have to see how many more people die each year of traffic accidents or the flu in America. What I'm saying is that the actual threat to everyones life is perceived much higher than it really is. As horrified as we all are by this attack, we have to see that the actual threat is so much smaller than the threat of being hit by a car)

Dismantling freedom and human rights is a deed for which there can be no excuse (especially for a "super-power" like the US) and creates a dangerous precedent that threatens us more than any terrorist attack ever could.

Also, abducting and torturing people, all outside any legal system only produces more hate - and actually just helps produce your next-generation terrorists, that you now dare not release.

No, this was one of the most stupid things ever done during Bushs presidency and any reasoning leading there can only have been a really stupid one.

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