Friday, January 23, 2009

No Gitmo Here!

The President doesn't exactly know what will become of the prisoners at Gitmo. But the Republicans know what should NOT become of them.

With President Obama ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within the year, House Republicans today introduced legislation to prohibit federal courts from ordering the release or transfer of detainees from the facility onto U.S. soil.

“Closing Guantanamo Bay presents a clear and present danger to all Americans," said House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith. "These suspected terrorists must now be relocated and if they are transferred to military prisons in the U.S., they automatically will be granted rights far beyond those given to enemy combatants by any other country."

...In addition to preventing courts from bring enemy combatants into the U.S., the bill requires that an alien captured and detained abroad during wartime cannot be admitted and released into the country

Let's see how this plays out, eh?


Sam Sarver said...

That's very interesting, because legally speaking, Naval Station Guantanamo is U.S. soil. For instance, if you or I were born there, we would enjoy natural born citizenship. So that seems like problematic language.

And I thought this was a country that prided itself on treating our enemies better than they treated us. After all, I can show you some documents in the Marquette Law Library demonstrating how we prosecuted certain members of the Japanese military for waterboarding American soldiers. I'm really quite shocked to hear "rights" described as a categorical evil in this situation. Have we so little confidence in the justness of our cause that we must resort to ignoring our own laws?

To put it the way I think you would put it if the word "guns" were involved: Today it's someone else whose rights to Habeas Corpus and counsel are denied, but tomorrow it could be your rights. Ben Franklin actually said it even better when he said, "Those who are willing to give up their liberty for a little bit of security deserve neither."

Not that it matters, since House Republicans are about to find out, just as House Democrats did during the first six years of the Bush Administration, exactly how irrelevant the minority in the House of Representatives is.

Dad29 said...

Sam, my boy:

1) Constitutional rights do NOT apply to non-citizens, particularly non-citizens who took active and lethal actions against the Armed Forces and/or US civilians.

2) If you're all that exercised about it, volunteer your home for a few of them. I'm sure they will appreciate your generosity, even if your neighbors do not.

Anonymous said...

Does one have to be born to be a citizen?

Sam Sarver said...

Anony - Yeah, actually, you do. Better get right on with condemning the founders as not being pro-life enough, huh?


You're playing into their hands. These are men, not super-villains from some ridiculous cartoon,. This ridiculous paranoia that so many people have about the men at Gitmo is based on some sort of insane idea that they'll break out of maximum security facilities.

And don't brush off my argument by saying I can loan out my house to them. Nowhere did I argue for releasing these men, merely subjecting them to the rule of law, and not of men, which you seem only to tout when it suits your argument. Would you rather the President, now that he is from my party, not yours, proclaim, as Bush essentially did, that he can imprison whoever he wants, for however long he wants, with no right to counsel or habeas corpus? If you're so afraid the "gummit" will come and take your guns at any time, how could you not fear that a chief executive so empowered would lock you up and throw away the key? That's my point.

Not all the inmates in Guantanamo are non-citizens. And did you know the terrorists who carried out the original attacks on the WTC in 1993 are imprisoned right here in the United States? That's right, there are other al-Qaida terrorists in U.S. prisons.

By the way, if they're non-citizens who took armed actions against the U.S., you'd be correct that they don't enjoy constitutional rights - they're protected by the Geneva Conventions, which has the force of law pursuant to Article VI of the United States Constitution ("...and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land").

So which is it? Criminals subject to prosecution under the laws of the United States, or combatants entitled to humane treatment and release under the terms of the Geneva Conventions? If your answer is "neither," then please tell me from what law your response originates, because I'd really like to know.

Dad29 said...

Sam, either you are completely ignorant or you are just being an ass.

The correct analogy is found in the argument about the death penalty v. abortion: there's a difference between the guilty and the innocent. As an incipient barrister, you wish to believe that "all are innocent until...", but sadly, combat troops do not run CSI evidence-collection routines after taking fire from un-uniformed illicit combatants.

As to "breaking out," again you display a naivete which is touching, but ...ahhhh...naive.

The problem is those who would break IN to the prisons to assist the escape of these people, who are sworn to destroy the United States.

Finally, YOU do not get to write the definition of "humane treatment." Three hots and a cot is humane enough, Sam.

By the way, illegal combatants are NOT covered under Geneva.

Look it up, Sam.

Sam Sarver said...


If I'm being naive, why then are the original WTC bombers in prisons? Why hasn't Al-Qaida come to get them, as you claim they would to get the men in Gitmo? You don't answer that point.

And my statement about "humane treatment" is not applying some self-made definition of the term. It was, I thought you would understand, a reference to waterboarding, which, I repeat, is exactly what we prosecuted Japanese military officers for. By no definition can stress positions, waterboarding, and extended sleep deprivation be defined as humane. And even if they were legal under international law, which they aren't, would you really want your country using the same methods the Japanese, the North Vietnamese, and Pol Pot used? Seriously? Then on what grounds are we to complain when someone else does exactly the same to our soldiers? The legal combatants/illegal combatants distinction doesn't cut it. The presence of a flag on one soldiers uniform and the lack thereof on another does not give countries the right to do as they please with the second.

You continually conflate my arguments with more liberal "just let them go now" statements. And your argument that soldiers don't have the luxury of presumption of innocence is accurate right up until the moment the shooting stops, and then, sadly for you, the lawyers get involved, because there are laws that apply. Since you want to label the detainees at Guantanamo as illegal combatants, unprotected by Geneva, I'll assume that means you want U.S. law to apply. 1) Can you guarantee that there isn't a single person at Guantanamo who is there unjustly and/or who isn't a U.S. citizen entitled to full procedural rights under the Constitution? Before you answer, consider that at least one citizen has already been held there, e.g. Hamdi.

My point is this: What would you do with these men? You call me "ignorant" and "naive," yet I'm the one saying we should actually follow the law, heaven forbid. If seems a bit naive, and a lot ignorant, to just adopt a lawless, ad hoc approach to the detainees.

If actually suggesting that doing as the law requires is wrong, then you've got me, because I don't want to be right. But tell me what you would do with them. If not subject them to the U.S. justice system, what then? Kill them? I don't hear you suggesting any other alternatives.

If you think the Supreme Court is going to look kindly upon detentions stretching into decades at Gitmo, then you're the one being naive.

Personally, I still want to know why Gitmo is apparently considered U.S. soil for purposes of the citizenship of anyone born their, but not for the purpose of granting criminal procedure rights to people imprisoned there who are, by your words, not subject to the laws of war.

Anyway, my earlier point about this being mostly irrelevant stands. The House Minority has pretty much zero power. My side got a nice taste of that from 1994 to 2006. So I don't think Rep. Smith's paranoia will have much effect.

Dad29 said...

Waterboarding was used 3 times, the last time in 2003. Stress positions and temperature treatments are not torture--except under YOUR definition of the term.

Geneva is clear about "illegal combatants," and common sense is even more clear. These are Non-State Actors. Frankly, I don't know what to do with them, either--most countries won't take them; many of those who will will apply far more drastic measures; and US prisons are simply inappropriate; their crimes were NOT committed on US soil.

So, Sam: 1) it ain't torture. 2) we don't know what to do with them; and 3) they do not DESERVE the treatment they will get in US prisons.

And they DO pose a security risk. Absence of trying to date does NOT mean absence of intent to try.