Yes, I can lock you up forever...

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Yahoo had this interesting news item today: U.S. defends Guantanamo inmate indefinite detentions.

I've blogged before about my feelings about this, but it's nice to see the Bush administration is no longer being vague about it.

The administration has said that these people need to be held as long as the "War on Terrorism" continues. When asked if there is a defined end to the war, Deputy Associate Attorney General Wiggins said there is none.

Now, I happen to agree with that. There will never be an end to the War on Terrorism. You might as well have a War on Sadness, or a War on Fear. Sure you can try to minimize it, but it will never go away.

Anyway, when asked if this means if the prisoners can be locked up forever, Wiggens said yes.

I'm almost in too much shock to even know what to say. A senior government official saying that we have the right to put someone in jail, without trail, forever, seems to go against every principal this country was founded on.

But wait - it gets better! Senator Jeff Sessions had this to say: "This country is not systematically abusing prisoners. We have no policy to do so. And it's wrong to suggest that. And it puts our soldiers at risk who are in this battle because we sent them there."

I'm sure he is right. I bet those guys locked up (forever remember) are being treated very well. But focus on the second half of his quote. According to Sessions, it is wrong for people to complain about it, and it also puts our soldiers at risk.

Ok... so I'll complain when the War on Terrorism is over... because then I won't be putting our soldiers in harms way.

For my last quote, Sessions had this to say about the prisoners: "Some of them need to be executed."

He is probably right. I'm sure we have some very nasty people in there. Here is a crazy idea though - how about actually giving them a fair trial before we execute them, or would that be asking for too much? Oh sorry - putting soldiers at risk - I better stop now.

Lastly... I wonder how many of these prisoners, after being told that they can be locked up forever, would actually prefer execution?

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Bryan F. Hogan posted on 6/16/2005 at 12:15 AM

I'm using a quote from Thomas Jefferson a little differently, I think it will fit very nicely with your thoughts here.

It is often thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground.

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 6/16/2005 at 12:21 AM

Heh, so when I read that, I read it as, "Ray, you don't understand the whole situation, so you are wrong." Is that what you meant? (And it's fine if so - I just want to make sure I'm reading it right.)

Comment 3 by Brian Rinaldi posted on 6/16/2005 at 12:31 AM

There are a number of people in positions to know that believe that Guantanamo itself endangers soldiers inasmuch as it continues to erode our reputation even with our allies. Plus, I was of the belief that our soldiers die to protect our freedoms, one of the most important of which is my right to openly question and criticize the actions of our government.

Comment 4 by Don posted on 6/16/2005 at 12:39 AM

On the abuse issue, those prisoners were feed a better breakfast and lunch than my Cooler Ranch Doritos (breakfast) and Nacho Cheesier Doritos (lunch). They probably had some gourmet Islamic-friendly meal.
On the indefinite imprisonment issue, those prisoners are subject to reviews (similar to grand jury hearings) and are released or held based on information (such as "Was this person captured in combat with potential blood on their hands", "Due they possess the skills to make IEDs", etc.)
I just wish the media and the bleeding hearts would react with 1/10th the outrage when terrorists so civilians blindfolded and pleading for their life as they do when they hear that someone handled a Koran with 1 hand instead of 2.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 6/16/2005 at 12:44 AM

Don - just because a person feels that our treatment of the prisoners is wrong does not mean that they condone terrorists acts. It's really two separate issues (unless you are making the point about what the media pays attention to, and in that regards, I tend to agree, the media harps on stuff in unequal ways). As for their treatment - again - I'm not saying we are treating them bad. The cases where we may have used abuse - or may have flushed a Koran - I don't believe they are part of a system of abuse. I think in ANY prison you will have guards who go too far. But shoot - how would you feel if you were locked into a Hilton for the rest of your life? It may be a nice Hilton... but forever?

Comment 6 by Don posted on 6/16/2005 at 1:00 AM

Ray- I was making the point that the media and some of our own Congressional leaders tend to focus on the things that make our military and our country look bad (to get at Bush) rather than providing an equal look at both. (There have been more stories about Gitmo abuse in NY Times, Newsweek and LA Times of the last few months than the rest of the island of Cuba in the last few years)
If I were a POW in the either Iraq war, Afghanistan, Vietnam or WWII then I would have expected to be held until the end of the war. This is a somewhat different war but the prisoners are standing in front of a judge with a court appointed attorney every year to determine if they should stay or go. Several who are no longer deemed a threat and have no US blood on their hands have been released. I do expect the media to continue to watch the situation as well as the Red Cross and report any mistreatment that might occur. Also I expect these groups to report on the release or elongated detention of prisoners.

Comment 7 by Raymond Camden posted on 6/16/2005 at 1:09 AM

Don, that is a fair set of statements. I will say this - maybe it is a bit better that we are overly critical of ourselves (in terms of liberty, etc), as opposed to not being critical enough? I'd rather err on the side of being too permissive/free as a society than too strict. Our freedoms, by their very nature, have risk to them. But - I don't want to get off topic - thats a whole other topic. :)

Comment 8 by Mike Rankin posted on 6/16/2005 at 1:32 AM

It's definitely a tricky situation. I think the administration just doesn't know what to do yet to deal with this new type of prisoner.

The Geneva conventions definitely don't apply to the detainees. They violate almost every pretense of those doctrines.

Jury trials are tricky because you don't have jurisdiction under our current system of laws and you could never get justice if they were tried by a jury of their peers. Plus, what is the penalty for 260 million counts of attempted murder? Probably a good argument for the death penalty (which I've generally been against for US citizens )

Maybe congress needs to come up with a formal declaration of war against the specific groups and be ready to add more based on who they catch. At least that would be clearer than declaring war on a tactic.

Since this administration is only going to be in power for a few more years, saying they are going to imprison them forever really can't be guaranteed. I think they are just stalling.

Comment 9 by Brian Kotek posted on 6/16/2005 at 2:00 AM

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

- Hermann Goring (German National Socialist Leader), Nuremberg Trials, 1946

Comment 10 by Paul Beccio posted on 6/16/2005 at 2:03 AM

One of the problems that prevent the public from being critical enough is watching cable news networks like FOX NEWS, CNN, and MSNBC. The networks sensationalize news and completely take out intellectual discussions of current events and issues. We can get a complete understanding of complex topics in 2 minute stories and that fits right in between the Simpsons and Seinfeld reruns. The general public is no longer responsible to educate themselves on the issues and the result is elections for the two party system which feed off of emotion and the media ends up reinforcing this behavior. This explains the oversimplification of, “Support the troops”. It doesn't help that this Administration is one of the worst in history. I’ve never in my lifetime have experienced a President with zero inspirational and intellectual skills as we dummy down to fit lowered expectations of our elected officials. These are the dark days of America’s government.

Comment 11 by Paul Beccio posted on 6/16/2005 at 2:05 AM

One of the problems that prevent the public from being critical enough is watching cable news networks like FOX NEWS, CNN, and MSNBC. The networks sensationalize news and completely take out intellectual discussions of current events and issues. We can get a complete understanding of complex topics in 2 minute stories and that fits right in between the Simpsons and Seinfeld reruns. The general public is no longer responsible to educate themselves on the issues and the result is elections for the two party system which feed off of emotion and the media ends up reinforcing this behavior. This explains the oversimplification of, “Support the troops”. It doesn't help that this Administration is one of the worst in history. I’ve never in my lifetime have experienced a President with zero inspirational and intellectual skills as we dummy down to fit lowered expectations of our elected officials. These are the dark days of America’s government.

Comment 12 by Scott Barnes posted on 6/16/2005 at 4:37 AM

Well, not giving a person a definitive answer on how long they will remain in captive state is umm, cruel. That i will agree on, as it teases them with "hope".

As an Australian, we have a skewed view on how the world operates, especially on American culture. We have 1 Australian Citizen in that camp, who we are watching with a keen interest. Its not sure on whether people are for/against the camp but more to seeing how the US handles the situation - and that whole photo-scandal of abusing inmates, really did not help US's cause one bit.

Point i'd like to make is that if one thing, be glad they are still being held alive and well feed/treated. History has shown through and through, other countries would NOT be as courteous to a fellow humans life, especially if that person is linked to attacks that mirror up against moments in time like "Pearl Harbour".. and what i mean by that, is that these are events in the world that in many ways end up shaping the world and its future.

I can think of a few countries who would simply have them executed upfront, no questions asked instead of held in prison camps.

The US is being watched very closely with situations like IRAQ, CAMP-XRAY, AFGAN etc. They are the super-power in a conflict, and countries would love to undermine that power through any means (not as in commit war acts, but take a slice of that rich economy aswell). So you guys have to show this cold-face, your at the poker table and everyones waiting for that sign of a bluff...you can't do it, because you have your entire nest-egg in the pot, hoping and praying that no1 picks up you only have a pair of 2's..

The only way these prisoners will be released is if they can some how, step away from the table while still maintaining a stance of strength.

Reminds me of the Russian/US tank conflict, where over a course of days, Russian tanks moved back an inch, while US ones did etc..until the conflict was avoided.

We humans are a very weird species.

btw, I find the US news networks to be cheesy news and loathe watching FOXNews on cable ...its like "my god, you are totally abusing the situation to suite your own ego".

Comment 13 by Damon gentry posted on 6/16/2005 at 4:51 AM

[Senator Jeff Sessions had this to say: "This country is not systematically abusing prisoners. We have no policy to do so. And it's wrong to suggest that. And it puts our soldiers at risk who are in this battle because we sent them there."]

I believe that Senator Sessions is saying that its wrong to suggest that the U.S. Government is systematially abusing prisoners. I don't believe that he is saying that it is wrong to complain about the fact that we are operating the prison.

The complaints of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay do have a negative impact on this country, and our ability to fight the War on Terrorism. It inspires the fanatic elements of the Islamic religion to continue their fight against us. It strengthens their resolve and makes it easier to recruit young men to die for their cause.

If elements of our society (MSM, citizens, watch groups, etc...) do not agree with the fact that we are maintaining this prison, then they need to logically argue the reasons against it. Lies and demagoguery are not the most effective way to make the point.

I agree with you that we should not detain prisoners indefinitely, but this is new legal territory for us. These prisoners are not wanted (or even acknowledged) by their home countries. There is currently no court, or law, that has jurisdiction here. Given the current situation with these prisoners, I believe the administration is taking the safest possible actions to protect U.S. citizens.

In short, a precedence needs to be set for this situation. The problem is that no one can seem to agree on the correct course of action.

Comment 14 by Raymond Camden posted on 6/16/2005 at 5:58 AM

Damon - I have to disagree with you. Americans should debate. Americans should question their government. Yes, it makes the enemy smile ot see us question our leaders. But that is our right. That is part of what makes this country great. As I mentioned in another comment - any amount of freedom leads to risk. Let's say the situation was reversed and Bush said he felt it was best to just let all of these people go. Period. I would expect many people to argue against that. To express their opinion that it is safer to keep them locked up.

Comment 15 by Raymond Camden posted on 6/16/2005 at 5:59 AM

Btw - I appreciate everyone here keeping it civil.

Comment 16 by Geoff Bowers posted on 6/16/2005 at 9:20 AM

While I certainly don't believe people should be detained indefinitely, we need to avoid emotional responses to a very complex situation.

We're dealing with people with no specific sovereignty, aligned by a mutual desire to commit terrorist acts in the name of their beliefs. We talk about releasing these prisoners but they are illegal combatants that are not being claimed by any particular country. Where do you release them to?

If no one is prepared to take responsibility for them, then releasing them is effectively putting them back into the world community to strike again.

An alternative is processing them through the American legal system, but I think it is reasonable to argue that it is ill equipped at best to deal with these sorts of criminals -- imagine being called to jury duty to pass judgement on an illegal combatant from a military engagement. They're not really your classic murderers -- they are strictly speaking "enemy soldiers" fighting for what they believe in, no matter how misguided.

Those detainees for whom countries have put their hands up, for example some Australian and British citizens, have been released to those countries.

The others? Well its one of those damned if you do and damned if you don't scenarios for the US military. If the only argument people can come up with is "its a human rights violation", it's not much in the way of a practical solution to the problem.

Seems little point condemning the current US administration for their actions if its the only course of action open to them.

Comment 17 by Liere posted on 6/16/2005 at 4:11 PM

I cannot believe what I´m reading, sorry for this generalisation, but this let the people in the world see the USA as false-faced and dishonest.
One the one side you hear we want freedom, democracy and liberty for the world (besides,a democratic far east, in the way western states do it,do you really belivee this) and on the other side human-rights abuse done by the Usa where ever you look.
I do not know who is more worse, the so called terrorists (usa admistration slang to manipulate the people, they must be afraid, then they would follow every leader, let him even be a dumbass) or the US administration. I must say I´m afraid of both of them. What is more worse, a bomb in a car or USA arbitrariness. Where this ends we see (Guantanamo). I´m from germany and I must say I would be as afraid to travel to the USA as to Irak. For most people here in europe it not to understand what is going on there in the USA. It is just very very very frightening ....

Comment 18 by Murat posted on 6/17/2005 at 3:08 PM

I live in the Middle East, in Turkey, so I just want to add a note. I can suggest you that don't believe the explanations in the media, TVs, etc. Come here and see the issues. Irak, Afghanistan, and the other countries under big unfair pressures are in a huge cause and stress because of US and the other supporter countries. And please don't forget to count how many men, women and children was killed, raped, mutilated. Why and how? When you feel and understand these events you can't control yourselves and you'll hate from the world. I'm definitely sure you'll understand the tyranny face of western countries.

Sorry if my comment injures you, I don't know English well, so I can't write my thoughts kindly.