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[P]
International Embarrassment

By QuickFox in Op-Ed
Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:06:05 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

On a square in the center of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, a man sits in a cage, victim of a drama in international politics that can be very hard to understand for a person who is used to our quaint Swedish traditions.


To understand international politics and diplomacy you have to realize that customs and traditions are very different in different countries. Many complications can arise when people do not understand cultural differences.

Just to give you one example of how different local customs can be, here in Sweden the news media will not disclose the names and photos of suspected criminals until they have been tried and found guilty in a court of law. Until that moment the media just talk about "the 24-year-old," "the younger suspect," etc. Only certain public figures such as elected politicians will be mentioned by name before there is a lawful verdict.

Clearly this is very different from what is done in many other countries.

Another curious custom in our country (and in many others, by the way) is that you are not allowed to lock people up just on a whim. In Sweden this restriction isn't just for the unwashed masses, even the authorities are bound by this. Not even the police can lock people up unless they can give a clear reason - they have to present charges, and there's any number of formalities and controls, with prosecutors and lawyers and so on, and they're required to inform the public and subject themselves to the scrutiny of the media. And then, in addition to all these restrictions, the time that the police can hold a person without a trial is very limited.

Maybe the man in the cage does not understand that this is just the way that we do things here, in our part of the world, that customs differ widely, and many countries have completely different traditions.

You see, the man sits in his cage as a demonstration. He wants to show people what is happening to his son, who is held in a similar cage far away in the tropics. He hopes that people who see him in his cage will put pressure on the Government of Sweden to try to intervene and get his son released, or at least get to know what the charges are, if there are any.

But what can our Government do? Clearly the Government of Sweden has authority only here in Sweden. Clearly it can't do anything about laws and traditions in other countries. Or can it?

Our Government did make several attempts to intervene through diplomatic channels, but unfortunately the effects have been very limited, the only result was a single encounter between the son and his lawyer.

Curiously, the son wasn't allowed to see his lawyer in private. That single conversation between lawyer and client was supervised by the authorities, I think it was even recorded. This is yet another thing that seems very, very strange when you're used to Swedish traditions.

What can the Swedish Government do now, in this strange situation? What can the man in the cage do? What can anyone do?

Even if the man in the cage can't get the results that he wants, at least his demonstration affects some of the people who pass by. Looking at that cage, I tried to imagine how I would feel if I were enclosed like that for months on end, without knowing if the imprisonment would ever end. Assuming that the son is as innocent as his father claims, I'd be desperately angry and frustrated at the lack of any charges to defend myself against, getting no trial, getting no chance at all to defend myself.

To make it even worse, nobody knows if the son receives the mail that the family and the lawyer are sending to him. They don't receive any replies. Nobody knows why the son and the other prisoners are isolated in this way.

Of course I don't know if the son is guilty or innocent, I can't know that, but that isn't the point. It's the lack of charges and fair trial that seem so foreign to me, to the very foundations of my ways of thinking. You just don't lock people up without a reason.

Does this mean that I'm too biased by my Swedish traditions? Should I try to be more tolerant to the mores and customs of other peoples and cultures? No, this is too foreign.

I suppose the most important lesson from this sad story is that if you value your freedom you should avoid countries where you can be locked up for months without a chance to defend yourself.

According to some news reports, "reliable sources" have revealed that the son and many others have already been acquitted. Not that there were any charges or trials, but after all the investigations, in the end there simply wasn't anything they could charge them with.

According to those reports, the only reason they are still keeping these people in their cages is that the arresting authorities want to save face. The only reason for holding them is that some people in authority are waiting for the right moment, trying to find some way to minimise the great embarrassment.

If that is true, it seems to me that the embarrassment is already an unavoidable fact. Keeping these people locked up in this situation will just make everything worse. The best course of action would be to hurry and release them as soon as possible.

Sitting in his cage, the father is asking passers-by to sign a petition, asking our Government to tell our Ambassador to come home to Sweden, as a clear, decisive gesture of protest, to show that Sweden does not tolerate that a citizen of our country is treated this way. The Swedish Foreign Minister did comment on this request. She said that this wouldn't be the right thing to do. "On the contrary, our Ambassador must stay in Washington and represent us there, he must present our views and our arguments to the Government of the United States."

Meanwhile the son is waiting in his cage under the merciless tropical sun at the base at Guantanamo, held month after month by the Land of the Free, without charges, without trial, isolated from lawyer and from family mail, while a world that is used to very different traditions is watching and wondering, perplexed, bewildered, embarrassed.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Sweden presses US on Cuba prisoner

Pappan till Kubasvensken på plats - i sin bur (with photos)

"Fängslade terror-svensken kan släppas"

Kubasvenskens pappa protesterar

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Display: Sort:
International Embarrassment | 363 comments (344 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
You're right (2.68 / 38) (#1)
by PullNoPunches on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:11:50 PM EST

This holding of enemy soldiers has got to stop. I suggest the US military adopt a "take no prisoners" approach to those it meets in battle.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)

Finally! (1.85 / 14) (#11)
by Ann Coulter on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:47:16 PM EST

I'd almost given up all hope of finding a sane person here among all the godless Commies and liberals! Thank God for upstanding Americans like you.


AC

[ Parent ]

Ann, you ignorant slut (1.25 / 12) (#16)
by PullNoPunches on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:04:17 PM EST

Don't think I don't see through you.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Ooops (1.71 / 7) (#18)
by PullNoPunches on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:09:51 PM EST

It has just come to my attention that the poster of the parent comment to my reply above might in fact not be the real Ann Coulter, but a very clever imposter. As shocking as that would be, if it was not the real Ann Coulter that I was responding to, then I retract my comment.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Bright boy. (1.66 / 9) (#25)
by Ann Coulter on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 10:05:40 PM EST

Let me guess: you attended an East Coast Ivy League university, right? Well, here's some free advice, just in case that expensive education didn't quite prepare you for life in the real world:

  • Water is wet.
  • Fire is hot and can hurt.
  • Most of the people in the world hate you, and with good reason.
  • God might not begrudge the water, food, and air you consume but I surely do.
Hope this helps!


AC

[ Parent ]
Poor Ann (1.71 / 7) (#40)
by PullNoPunches on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:07:39 AM EST

Ivy League? Now I'm insulted.

Don't worry, I'm on the the liberal plot you and David Horowitz hatched up to make conservatives look bad. Even the desperate Libertarians saw right through you. Here's some free advice in case that expensive, liberal Connecticut living hasn't quite prepared you for life in the real world: Everybody hates you, conservatives most of all. Once you stop looking good on TV, nobody will ever want to talk to you again.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

HEY! (4.00 / 1) (#362)
by CodeWright on Tue Sep 17, 2002 at 11:00:49 PM EST

Isn't that redundant? I thought liberals were godless commies???

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Fantastic (2.00 / 8) (#78)
by pgrote on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:05:21 AM EST

I know you were trolling, but a very good troll.

I'd like to see how Sweden would have reacted to more than 3,000 killed when four airliners were used as vehicles of destruction in their country.

The people being held in Cuba were arrested on the fields of various battles in the battle against terrorism.

They are enemies of the state and as such as being treated accordingly. Instead of focusing on one person being detained why not focus on the groups that made this happen.



[ Parent ]

because it comes down to humane treatment which (3.60 / 5) (#100)
by criquet on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:23:17 PM EST

by it's very nature, focuses on individuals.

this is part of america's problem. we don't see people as individuals. it's easier ignore the imprisonment of people when you clump them all into a group and call them a disparaging name. judged without ever having a trisl.

just like i now judge you without knowing you and without you being able to defend yourself. if i could i'd, lock you in a cage and throw away the key for what you've said.

in reality, people are often misjudged. these judgements must be taken and dealt with one at a time.



[ Parent ]
OT: Monty Python goodness (2.75 / 4) (#125)
by trane on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:23:50 PM EST

BRIAN: Look. You've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we're all individuals!

BRIAN: You're all different!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!

DENNIS: I'm not.

ARTHUR: Shhhh.

FOLLOWERS: Shh. Shhhh. Shhh.

BRIAN: You've all got to work it out for yourselves!

FOLLOWERS: Yes! We've got to work it out for ourselves!


[ Parent ]

They are people who (1.50 / 6) (#131)
by PullNoPunches on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:25:17 PM EST

were captured in the process of prosecuting a war against American sodiers. (Thre are at least two exceptions, and in case it matters, I have confronted my congressman face-to-face about those two). Our guys would have been justified in killing them. My point is that any treatment short of doing so is more humane. <p. These are prisoners of war, and from all accounts are being treated as well as prisoners of war are treated anywhere. You may not believe it, but the US is known for the most humane treatment of POWs of any country in the world. <p> I would prefer they be officially declared POWs, and treated in accordance with interntional agreements. But that treatement does not include access to legal council and phone visits with friends and family. They placed themselves outside of any legitimate legal framework, and it is not wrong to maintain that circumstance.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Defending your home is not a crime (4.00 / 3) (#135)
by Rande on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:33:25 PM EST

Unless proven otherwise, these are people who were captured while defending their territory.
Americans hold it to be their solemn right to use arms to defend their home and lifestyle. Why should this right apply only to Americans?

If some powerful army/aliens/whatever came to the US, bombed the crap out of it and then took away anyone who dared fight back and stuck them in a cage, I'm sure you'd feel entirely different about the matter.

I agree, many of the detainees may well be terrorists and may they be locked up for forever and a day....but until they have a fair trial, _we_do_not_know_this_.

[ Parent ]

*laugh* (3.28 / 7) (#146)
by RyoCokey on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:36:19 PM EST

No, these people aren't defending their home. That's because they're citizens of other countries like the rest of the Al Qaeda. That's the reason he's a swedish citizen and this entire article was written.

Furthermore, if one argues that they are POWs, it should be noted that they may not be tried in anything but a military tribunal.



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]
Decisions, Decisisons (3.00 / 2) (#200)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 04:47:30 PM EST

Furthermore, if one argues that they are POWs, it should be noted that they may not be tried in anything but a military tribunal.

So either put them on trial or make them POWs. That's all the world is asking.

[ Parent ]
US only has to charge citizens (2.66 / 3) (#203)
by RyoCokey on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:20:28 PM EST

...and natural residents of the US. Since when does it have either the jurisdiction or the need to try citizens of another country for events that didn't happen in the US? (Besides Skylarov, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.) If they aren't POWs, they aren't covered by the Geneva Convention. Therefore, we aren't bound to act in any manner regarding legal proceedings.

If the countries wish to reclaim their citizens, they can petition the US for their release. Generally, however, this is up to US, and most countries don't just "hand over" people within their countries (See Saudi Arabia and some of our citizens.)

If they really want their citizens back, they should charge them with a crime, and demand the US extradite them back to their home country to stand trial, as per extradition treaties.



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]
That's not right either. (5.00 / 2) (#209)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:57:22 PM EST

You can have them in jail waiting for trial, or you can have them in a prison camp waiting for the end of hostilities. You cannot just keep them in jail without reason. Basically you're saying they are hostages?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
You could say that (3.00 / 2) (#220)
by RyoCokey on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:47:36 PM EST

But whose hostages are they? Not Afghanistan's, they don't claim them (At least the current government doesn't.) Many of them are citizens of other countries. These countries can petition for their citizens back, but this is awfully iffy. For comparison, the US petitions for many of it's citizens kidnapped and held in Germany (PDF) as well as those in Saudi Arabia, where women cannot leave the country by themselves. It generally is rebuffed.

I think many people overestimate how much their governments are really upset their citizens are in Gitmo. So one of their citizens is a terrorist and was living overseas. Why cause an international fervor railing at the US to release him so he can come home, where they lack the evidence to charge him, and let him go into their midst?

It's far easier to listen patiently to that man's complaints, wring their hands publically about the US's barbaric behavior, and do absolutely nothing. I imagine if the Swedish government really wanted him, he'd be on a plane to Sweden by the week's end.



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
I see your point (5.00 / 3) (#231)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 08:10:44 PM EST

But I think I didn't express mine very well.

Frankly, I don't really care about what happens to those people, if only because I have the impression they mostly deserve it. And most governments probably share my point of view. But I do care about how it happens to them.

The U.S.A. have been built on a social contract and a few ideas by men (and women) of many religions, countries and ethnicities. The social contract is partly written down in the Constitution. The three most important ideas are a definition of individual freedom restricting the power of governments, independent thinking (through the freedom of religion and lack of religion), and private property. You will probably think that's bull, but the important thing is that the average U.S. citizen believes this is so, and believes spreading those ideas is a mission of the U.S.A.

The current actions by a few U.S. agencies that go publicly against those ideas and the underlying social contract could destroy the U.S.A. by destroying the image that the average U.S. citizen has of the mission of its country. Last time this happened is called the Civil War in history books.

If the U.S.A. want to deep-fry the Guantanamo base prisoners alive, as long as they respect the letter of the social contract that is the basis for its existence, at most it is immoral. But what is happening now is dangerous.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Dangerous? (5.00 / 1) (#236)
by RyoCokey on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 09:30:10 PM EST

Please elaborate. I feel holding them until we can figure out what to do with them is probably the best course of action. Why do you feel it's dangerous?



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Yes, dangerous. (4.66 / 3) (#237)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 09:56:22 PM EST

The parallel with the Peloponnesian War I made in #181 elaborates on how it is dangerous.

The why is simple. A society is built on a social contract. As long as the majority of the members of the society believes in the social contract, the society works. When the members of the society massively stop believing in the social contract, they stop believing in the society and withdraw from it. At the very least, they withdraw support to the society.

The last time this happened to the U.S. was just before the Civil War. The ideas that were attacked were private property (of slaves) and freedom from restriction of the government powers. Southern states, whose economy was based on slavery, reacted with massive popular support by leaving the Union, because it didn't work for them any more. And you know what happened next.

Now imagine massive popular support for leaving the Union in all U.S. states, because it doesn't work for them any more. What happens?

Usually in history, the country as a whole did not disappear. It just stopped having the will to fight for itself. And the first Roman or Barbarian who happened to explore that bit of territory conquered it with popular support. Now, the U.S.A. has flaws, but I think the world would be worse off without it. So please try to avoid this outcome.

Now, if you want to detain those people, please do so. But while doing it, follow the legal rules that your country set up for itself. If you don't do it for your country, do it to humor me.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

We don't have the clout (5.00 / 3) (#238)
by QuickFox on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 11:00:57 PM EST

I imagine if the Swedish government really wanted him, he'd be on a plane to Sweden by the week's end.

Not at all. The strange actions by the US in legal twilight zones sometimes creates great complications. Believe me, if we could avoid them we would.

Apart from the case described in the article there were two (or was it three?) cases where Swedes with connections to Al-Barakhaat were deprived of all their property and money, by order of the US. This created huge complications because in Sweden this is illegal. You can't deprive a person of his property without very clear court orders and other official procedures. No Swedish authority can do this. And the US does not have jurisdiction. And there are no provisions in the laws for such extreme measures against citizens based on international treaty without due process.

This is not something questionable or doubtful. There was no doubt whatsoever about the fact that it was illegal. Yet it was enforced.

Sweden had agreements with the US about supporting the US after the attacks. One result of these agreements was that the orders from the US about these persons had to be followed. For several reasons this took precedence.

So, this created a limbo of illegality where the result would be illegal no matter what was done.

After many months of illegal limbo it was resolved by a compromise where the victims had to promise the US that they would have nothing to do with Al-Barakhaat. All they had to do was sign this promise, so it seems these individuals had committed no crime.

So we entered a marsh of illegality where Swedish authorities were forced to break Swedish law. Of course this would have been avoided if at all possible.

There's no way we could get it the way we want. Little Sweden with just nine million inhabitants and a weakening economy doesn't have the clout.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Right to freedom (none / 0) (#321)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:50:28 AM EST

But whose hostages are they? Not Afghanistan's, they don't claim them
They are not "anyones" hostages except Americas, America took the hostages.

Are you really saying that a human being has no right to freedom if he can't say who should "own" him? Like a slave? So I can freely kidnap stateless persons? I don't think so. The right of freedom belongs to the individal not his state.

[ Parent ]

By the way... (none / 0) (#212)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:11:00 PM EST

...this article from the New York Law Journal explains why the U.S. have jurisdiction.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Slavery (5.00 / 1) (#214)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:16:52 PM EST

So the USA could reintroduce slavery if they'd only enslave foreigners?

I hope you are not defending this, but only want to point out the stupidity.

[ Parent ]

13th amendment, and residents (3.00 / 2) (#217)
by RyoCokey on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:38:04 PM EST

Truth of the matter is, if you're in another country, and your government decides for whatever reason it doesn't care what happens to you, you are pretty much at the mercy of the state.

However, the US constitution and it's rights therein happen to apply to both citizens and non-citizens within the territory of the US. These people are both outside the US and not a citizen.

They also aren't POWs per the Geneva Convention, so really, there isn't a whole lot you can't do to them. The US is only bound in this case by it's own laws and the international agreements which it has signed. (It has not signed almost all of the "universal human rights" ones.)



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Two Quotes (3.00 / 2) (#249)
by yooden on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:52:53 AM EST

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The government of the USA arbitrarily denied some persons access to due process. Therefore, there is no due process for anyone except the government allows it.

"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that, without us, the only lingua franca there right now would be German."

So you just did it to stop the voices? With acting Good you bought yourself the perpetual out-of-jail card?
I didn't hear that argument during the Cold War, referring to the Soviet Union.

[ Parent ]
Michael Moran (none / 0) (#267)
by RyoCokey on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:27:08 AM EST

First of all, you quote from the Declaration of Independance. It is not a legal document, and has no bearing on the law of the United States. It was a proclamation of protest to England.

Secondly, the quote is funny because it's from Michael Moran. If one is familiar with his columns, the quote is way out of character. It's a little chopped, too, as it wouldn't all fit in the k5 quote box, but I tried to retain the original meaning.



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Declaration of Independence (none / 0) (#361)
by yooden on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 06:25:06 AM EST

[The Declaration of Independence] is not a legal document, and has no bearing on the law of the United States.

I have nothing to add.

[ Parent ]
If the government has no authority... (5.00 / 1) (#315)
by DavidTC on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:47:15 AM EST

...I have to point out that GWB and everyone up and down the chain of command is commiting kidnapping in Cuba. While, yes, that's technically not illegal in the US, it's certainly not very morally sound behavior.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
But defending the Taliban is (2.33 / 3) (#176)
by PullNoPunches on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 12:02:58 PM EST

I suppose you'd say that the French should have defended themselves against the Americans when they invaded in 1944?

The majority of Afghanis welcomed the American soldiers as liberators, they saw no need to defend themselves. The only ones who tried to "defend" themselves were Taliban supporters, and the only thing they were defending was the continuation of arguably the most oppressive government on earth.

Your moral relativism is astounding and disgusting.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

POWs (3.66 / 3) (#201)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 04:54:56 PM EST

I suppose you'd say that the French should have defended themselves against the Americans when they invaded in 1944?

What about Allied Soldiers defending themselves in the Battle of the Bulge? What about the Allied soldiers now in Afghanistan?

You can very well be in a foreign country and rightfully defending it. That fact that you don't like the country's government does not give you the right to strip its defenders of their rights.

[ Parent ]

Typical (1.00 / 1) (#245)
by PullNoPunches on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:12:31 AM EST

That fact that you don't like the country's government does not give you the right to strip its defenders of their rights.

It's typical of people who's highest goal is to bash the United States, no matter what the facts and what the cost, to triviallize its positionas "not liking" another form of government. You are perfectly willing to overlook the very real and horrendous murders and tortures of the Taliban, dismissing it as just another lifestyle preference, while at the same time raising the potential and imagined atrocities against Taliban soldiers to a level deeserving of the most severe condemnation.

It's sick that in order to make yourself feel good and noble with the ever so fashionable US bashing, you'd willingly sacrifice the thousands of people murdered, tortured, and reduced to absolute poverty and submission. Is it because they look differen, or talk funny, or live in some desolate and remote corner of the world that you place your pride above their suffering?

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

My Motives (none / 0) (#247)
by yooden on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:37:18 AM EST

... are totally unknown to you. I am not what you hope me to be.

I also don't understand why my motives would invalidate my arguments. Are there situations in which you can rightfully defend foreign countries or are there not? I think there are.

[ Parent ]

Your words speak for themselves (1.00 / 2) (#248)
by PullNoPunches on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:52:38 AM EST

and my conclusions about your motives are not unfounded. Ascribing the US motivation for invading Afghanistan to "not liking" the government invalidates your argument.

Yes, there are situations in which you can rightfully defend a foreign country, and I would argue that as a side-effect to defending itself against terrorism, the US was defending Afghanistan from the Taliban.

There are situations when you cannot rightfully defend your own country. Rightful isn't determined by geography, or tradition, or even international agreements, it is determined by the moral status of those involved. No one can rightfully defend the Taliban, nor can anyone rightfully defend the governments of Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia, and others too numerous to name.

It may not be wise for the US to take on the role of defending the people of those countries from their governments, but if not, it is not because of any right to defend them.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

You should at least read my Words (none / 0) (#250)
by yooden on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:03:58 AM EST

Ascribing the US motivation for invading Afghanistan to "not liking" the government invalidates your argument.

I said no such thing. Your judgement about me is made of thin air, the fact that you thought it would be appropriate to do it in the first place is wrong.

Yes, there are situations in which you can rightfully defend a foreign country, and I would argue that as a side-effect to defending itself against terrorism, the US was defending Afghanistan from the Taliban.

That is a pretty newspeaky use of "defending", but I agree that not having Talibans around is a good thing.

Rightful isn't determined by geography, or tradition, or even international agreements, it is determined by the moral status of those involved.

Ok, so why are the same rules not applied to the treatment of prisoners?

No one can rightfully defend the Taliban, nor can anyone rightfully defend the governments of Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia, and others too numerous to name.

So the only country one can rightfully defend is the USA? If not, who decides who gets on the list?


[ Parent ]
Your words (none / 0) (#268)
by PullNoPunches on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:31:04 AM EST

I said no such thing. Your judgement about me is made of thin air, the fact that you thought it would be appropriate to do it in the first place is wrong.

"That fact that you don't like the country's government does not give you the right to strip its defenders of their rights."

Those are your words. Read them. How else can that be interpreted but that the US is stripping the rights of the Taliban fighters because they don't like the government?

That is a pretty newspeaky use of "defending", but I agree that not having Talibans around is a good thing.

Not at all. It is the same definition you invoke when you talked about the Allies in France as an example of someone rightfully defending a foreign country. I agree with you. What's the difference here?

Rightful isn't determined by geography, or tradition, or even international agreements, it is determined by the moral status of those involved.

Ok, so why are the same rules not applied to the treatment of prisoners?

The same rules do apply. The captured Taliban fighters are completely in the wrong, and were captured in the act, in a context outside any legitimate legal jusrisdiction. Killing them outright would have been perfectly acceptable.

No one can rightfully defend the Taliban, nor can anyone rightfully defend the governments of Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia, and others too numerous to name.

So the only country one can rightfully defend is the USA? If not, who decides who gets on the list?

You're problem is that you have difficulty seeing the moral difference between the Taliban and the US. You're answer is, I do. Both the Taliban and the US military will do whatever it is they decide to do, without seeking my input or approval. All I have control over is who I will support and how I will judge each of them. For that, I and I alone get to decide. You can decide for yourself, but when you express a judgement such as you have, expect to be publicly condemned for it.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Go Away (none / 0) (#360)
by yooden on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 04:46:26 AM EST

"That fact that you don't like the country's government does not give you the right to strip its defenders of their rights."

Those are your words. Read them. How else can that be interpreted but that the US is stripping the rights of the Taliban fighters because they don't like the government?


What a cheap shot; this is something completely different from what you said before. Go play your games elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
Overlooking (5.00 / 1) (#257)
by Znork on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:37:44 AM EST

The US was also perfectly willing to overlook the very real and horrendous murders and tortures of the Taliban for many years; the US even helped replace the far 'better' (for equality and basics, at least) earlier communist government. The US is not involved (again) in Afghanistan due to any form of humanitarian concerns.


[ Parent ]
Overlooking (none / 0) (#269)
by PullNoPunches on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:43:35 AM EST

The Taliban has only been in power for five years prior to the US going into Afghanistan. The US did not overlook their atrocities, they simply failed to invade the country to get the Taliban out. Nor shoud they have.

I have not claimed that the US's reason for doing so now was motivated by humanitarian concerns, only that a great humanitarian benefit was realized as a secondary effect of the US invading the country to defend itself. My other claim is that the Taliban effectively forfieted any right to defend themselves against an invasion, whatever the reason for that invasion might be.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Moral relativism (none / 0) (#322)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 07:03:46 AM EST

This is not about moral relativism or the right of your cause. You argue almost as if there had been no war in Afghanistan at all. Only welcoming smiles on the faces of children photographed by the CNN. Fact of the matter is that some Afghans and some Arabs took up arms against the USA. Their cause might or might not be justified but, you have no right to refuse anyone human rights based on your stance in the conflict.

If people decide to defend thenmselves against an agressor they have a right to do so, just based on their own decisions. The victor of the war has no right to say that defending yourself or just fighting a war is wrong.

[ Parent ]

Had a right to kill? (none / 0) (#320)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:38:11 AM EST

In war you have a right to kill, but not if the enemy surrenders. It almost sounds like you think prisoners could have rightly been killed.

The Geneva Convention prohibits killing of prisoners in war, be they soldiers, commanders or civilians. Actually even cattle and infrastructure is proteced but since allied crimes in Dresden and other places...

Here is something more about US war crimes:

  • 1968 My Lai massacre, in which US troops killed nearly 600 Vietnamese women, children and old men in a ditch.
  • US killed hundreds of women and children in the Al-Almariya air raid shelter
  • Aerial bombardment on the modern infrastructure creating conditions of malnutrition and disease which, compounded by US-backed sanctions, have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands more over the past decade, most of them children.
  • The US carpet-bombed Iraqis - soldiers and civilians - on the "highway of death" as they fled in panic
  • Attcked non-combatant Iraqi troops following the cease-fire rules and Iraqi children, who had been promised safe passage in the "Battle of Rumaila"
There's a lot to say about US reputation, and it's not good. The average American soldier seems to think that primarilly he has a right to kill and that human rights is only for leftist's concern.

[ Parent ]
because it comes down to trisls. (1.00 / 2) (#156)
by Aphexian on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:08:37 AM EST

judged without ever having a trisl.

Yeah, I could go for a good trisl right now.

That's the trouble with trisls though.

[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]

Insert Subject Here (2.50 / 2) (#161)
by Disevidence on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:14:15 AM EST

I know your joking, but fuck man, he only made a typo. Is your middle name pedant?

[ Parent ]
Yes. (1.00 / 1) (#168)
by Aphexian on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 10:08:23 AM EST

Miss Jackson if you're nasty.
[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]
actuslly, not a typo (none / 0) (#199)
by criquet on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 04:42:16 PM EST

i often mispell wurds on porpose so that i can troll for poeple loke Aphexian. this wsy i know for futire reference, whose posts to ignore.

[ Parent ]
Ooooo. I'm a witty trisl. (1.00 / 1) (#222)
by Aphexian on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:10:00 PM EST

Actually, that should be:

I often misspell words on purpose, so that I can troll for people like Aphexian. This way I know for future reference which posts to ignore.

And I think you're mistaken about which end of the troll you're on, Junior

Psst - Chocolate is made on the rear side of a Keebler. So there.

(BTW, your music is very good.)

[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]

Crap! (..) (5.00 / 1) (#227)
by criquet on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:48:42 PM EST

carp!

[ Parent ]
(btw, thanks) #nt (none / 0) (#228)
by criquet on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:52:58 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Sweden? (1.00 / 3) (#137)
by William Franklin Rothman on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:10:51 PM EST

They would have declared neutrality of course, just like they did when the Nazis decided to murder millions of jews.

[ Parent ]
Sverige! (3.00 / 1) (#285)
by unDees on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:45:07 PM EST

I notice you fail to mention the scores of Jewish people from Hungary and Denmark who found safe harbor in Sweden....

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]
Very good point (none / 0) (#303)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:02:07 PM EST

the scores of Jewish people from Hungary and Denmark who found safe harbor in Sweden
Despite some flaws, Sweden is a pretty decent country. Now, if only it could treat the average Knut Knutsen from Oslo with a little more respect...

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
From Oslo? (none / 0) (#335)
by QuickFox on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:13:01 AM EST

Knut Knutsen from Oslo? What do you mean? The only conflict that I know of between Norway and Sweden is the War of Funny Stories. But the Norwegians are just as disrespecful to us as we are to them! It's a war of perfectly balanced disrespect.

What can we do, really? Norwegians will ask people if they know why Swedes consume so little marmalade. They laugh at us talking about how a Swede can't get his head into the jar.

It's only natural that we retort by asking people if they know why Norwegians consume so much marmalade. It's only natural that we laugh at them talking about how a Norwegian can get his head into the jar.

You can hardly blame us for that.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

The problem here is that... (2.33 / 18) (#2)
by Demiurge on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:18:10 PM EST

Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali is not just some criminal who's been arrested for alledged crimes. He's a prisoner of war.

The problem is he's not a POW (4.61 / 13) (#7)
by Xeriar on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:27:23 PM EST

Because we're not in a war, or something...

This situation is getting more bogus by the month. If he's done wrong, the world has a right to know what is happening, and why.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

He's an "Illegal Combatant" (4.25 / 16) (#9)
by Bob Dog on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:38:39 PM EST

I'm not sure what that really means, but so far it seems to mean that his human rights can be taken away and that he's not protected by the Geneva convention.  All thanks to sturmbannfuhrer Ashcroft.

[ Parent ]
Don't like the rules... make up some more! (4.00 / 3) (#77)
by DodgyGeezer on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:51:54 AM EST

It seems that US government didn't like the Geneva Convention, or any other treaty they'd signed, so they decided to make up new rules that suited them better.  I bet they hired some marketing consultants to come up with the right terms.  "Illegal combatants": hah!  They're like spoilt brats who just can't play with the other children.  Of course, they expect all Americans captured in some way to be treated according to international and US law.

No country in the world is strong enough to actually make any difference with their disagreement on this matter.  Even though Tony Blair is ignoring 70% of his electorate and carrying on pandering to GWB, and generally acting like his poodle, three other countries can at least make symbolic gestures: I hope the China, France and Russia veto all attempts by the US to get UN support for the war on Iraq.


[ Parent ]

i agree (3.00 / 2) (#101)
by criquet on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:39:27 PM EST

we american's are like self-absorbed, spoiled little children that always have to get our way or we'll throw a fit until we do.

do we deserve to be so spoiled and arrogant and to police the world?

until i realized that our highest court is politcally motivated and allowed GWB to steal the office, i would have said, probably a little. until all our corporate and polictal scandals i would have said, probably a little.

i thought that american's were ever so slightly more moralistically sound and stable than the rest of the world. that it's okay because we care about and understand the world more so than others. we want to save the world. to bring everyone into a modern era. to make the future of earth as environmentally heathy as possible. to protect everyone from evil.

how naive i was. how typically american-arrogant/stupid.



[ Parent ]
The Geneva convention very clearly spells it out (2.33 / 3) (#145)
by RyoCokey on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:24:36 PM EST

...and unless you're one of the those people who believes in "living interpretation" kind of "reading" the Geneva convention gives a very clear definition of who is and is not a POW.

Going through each, point by point, it's very clear and obvious they are not POWs. I actually did this in an earlier post. There's no "argument" or "controversy." They simply aren't POWs according to the Geneva convention.

That's the reason there aren't any governments seriously claiming the US should be punished for violating the Geneva Convention.



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]
Indeed it does. (3.50 / 2) (#190)
by Znork on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:29:54 PM EST

And going through each, point by point, it's very clear and obvious that they potentially qualify under article 4 section 1, 3 and possibly 6.

Care to guess why Bush is so opposed to the ICC? He doesnt care about members of the US armed forces; they'd get tried in US court anyway, in which case the ICC is irrelevant, since it only handles crimes against humanity that the country itself doesnt deal with. But then, Bush has those pesky violations of the Geneva convention that he himself could eventually get put on trial for...

[ Parent ]

Easily refuted on all points (3.20 / 5) (#208)
by RyoCokey on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:44:16 PM EST

Quoting verbatim from here:

Number 1 was refuted by the Taliban themselves, as they offered to try Al Qaeda and identified them as a foreign group. As such, they may not claim to be volunteers or militia. Even if they did, they would still have to serve in an organized manner, which neither the Taliban nor the Al Qaeda managed. The qualifications of number 2 apply here.

2 is failed by lack of a common uniform and failing to obey the customs of war.

Neither Al Qaeda nor the Taliban qualify for number 3 as they were not members of a regular armed forces. Once again, this can be linked to lack of a uniform, being distinguishable from civilians, and an organized command structure.

They are not number 4 as they are not a support group for a regular army.

They are not members of a merchant marine, hence 5 does not apply.

Number 6 is off in several ways. They are not the natural inhabitants of the country, as they hold citizenship elsewhere. They had plenty of time to form themselves into units, and existed as loose groups of such before the invasion.

I think it's pretty obvious that they don't apply to any of the items in Section B. No lawyering, no fuzzy interpretations. Just plain english, and they easily fail every single test. Questions?



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]

Refuted by whom? (none / 0) (#253)
by Znork on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:17:48 AM EST

1. I have yet to see any evidence at all that the prisoners did not serve as part of the Taliban army at the time they were apprehended. If they were under the command, or operating in concert with the Taliban, they would effectively be part of the armed forces of the Taliban and as such they would qualify. Wether or not the Taliban have offered to try them is irrelevant; an American soldier committing a crime for which the US armed forces will try him is no less part of the US armed forces until such a time as he's discharged.

2. Indeed.

3. Regular armed forces is not qualified in any way by uniforms. Regular armed forces are the forces (more or less) at the command of the government of a certain country. Can you point out where the convention specifies any organizational structure or dresscode for such forces?

4-5. Dont apply

6. Again, this is not qualified by any citizenship clause or anything else. Inhabitants, period.

Like you say, plain english, and they easily pass several of the tests, unless you attempt to invent special qualifications that just arent there.

[ Parent ]

Logic isn't your forte? (none / 0) (#270)
by RyoCokey on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:46:51 AM EST

Regular Armies have to abide by all the restrictions shown in Section 2 of the article. This is a common historical definition. Here is an example of a country that lacked a regular army at all. Definitions have meaning without having to be explicitly declared at the beginning of every document, or it'd make such things unreadable.

Secondly, you are correct that uniformed irregular soldiers do not fall under the Geneva Convention. The 2nd qualification makes no sense, why would you hold paramilitaries to a standard higher than that of a "regular army" unless those were the bare minimum requirements for one? If one looks at past treaties and usage of "regular army" you will quickly discover they are.

As for number 6, are you just going to ignore the last sentence? They neither wore uniforms nor respected the laws of war.



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Paramilitaries vs soldiers (5.00 / 1) (#275)
by Znork on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:48:25 PM EST

The second qualification makes perfect sense. The reason you should hold paramilitaries to higher standard than a regular army is simply that if you invade a country you can pretty much expect that the members of the regular army of the current goverment _will_ fight you. They will have little or no choice in the matter, and thus should qualify for POW status wether they're tribal bushmen in the middle of Africa with feathers in their hair or camouflage covered soldiers of the US in Florida (or would you suggest those camo soldiers carry a big yellow hat to be 'recognizable at a distance' to qualify for POW status while they're part of the US army defending their home territory?).

Other militias or volunteer corps are of the kind that do not necessarily have to engage, nor can necessarily be expected to engage, in the conflict, and should be held to a higher standard, to enforce the difference between defending your country as part of the army and pure terror attacks (which do not qualify you for POW status). It is a for 'honorable' resistance movements to claim POW status, even while the regular army may not exist, as such, anymore. As long as they obey the stricter rules.

The key point here is; if the alleged Al Quaeda members (not to mention any Taliban) were regarded as members of the regular Taliban army, who could be expected to fight an invader as a member of that army, under the command of the Taliban, they would qualify for POW status, wether they were dressed in uniform or not.

As far as point 6 goes, I havent seen any complaints that they didnt follow the laws and customs of the war or carry arms openly; I've heard weak excuses from the US government that they werent wearing uniform. Uniform is still not a requirement for point 6 (and, to expand on that, the reason you're off the hook for the rest of the requirements in that case is that you might not have time to contact your command, nor obtain and don a uniform of any kind while spontaneously resisting an invasion).

That said, I dont have much sympathy for the captives either way. But I would like to be able to yell for the rights of American soldiers in a conflict without getting the whole Bush idea of POW status thrown in the face in the next conflict.

The Geneva convention is important to uphold, and to have it permeat every armed conflict, or any and all soldiers in any and all conflicts will suffer. Diluting it serves only the short-term interests of those who wont ever face the possibility of getting caught by the enemy, and those who care not about how ugly war gets, nor will risk ever facing a desperate enemy. The next time the US army faces people like this, who now know that the US wont afford them POW status, they might choose to take as many American soldiers with them as they can, even in a hopeless situation, rather than surrender.

[ Parent ]

Some relevant points (none / 0) (#312)
by RyoCokey on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:19:44 AM EST

This still doesn't address the definition of regular army, which requires uniform, rank, and responsibility to a government. The Taliban may have been the fighting force of the Afghanistan military, but they were certainly not a regular army.

They didn't obey the laws of war regarding prisoners, at least the in case of the unfortunant US soldier who was captured and executed after he fell from his Chinook. They also took refuge among civilians with the intent of using them as shields. I don't think one even needs to argue that Al Qaeda didn't obey the rules of war. Attacking targets of no military value is forbidden.

Bush's treatment of the prisoners may not be exemplary, or even wise, but it's quite legal by the treaty. If all combatants were to be qualified, why bother with the section at all?

There's little chance of serious dillution of the POW standards, as they were quite clear to begin with, and he acted well within the boundaries set forth. Anyone who claims that uniformed US soldiers aren't POWs simply isn't interested in obeying the Convention at all.



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Role reversal? (none / 0) (#337)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:50:04 AM EST

So, if "non-combatants" captured uniformed US soldiers, presumably they wouldn't be expected to follow the rules of the Geneva Convention?  It applies both ways, or not at all as it takes two to tango.

Just because they didn't follow the rules doesn't mean we shouldn't either.  That is what the morale high ground is all about, and anything else is gross hypocrasy.

[ Parent ]

Keep reading... (5.00 / 1) (#314)
by DavidTC on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:41:09 AM EST

Article 5
The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

Reread that paragraph again. They cannot be declared non-POWs. Everyone taken on a field of battle has to be treated as POWs until determined not to be.

Yes, there is a large loophole there, GWB can make a kangeroo court and find everyone not a POW, but he hasn't. His action are clearly illegal, there is doubt if they are POWs, there's a case in the frickin surpreme court about it.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Geneva Convention (3.00 / 2) (#202)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:07:50 PM EST

4.A.1.:
Members of (...) volunteer corps forming part of (...) armed forces (of a Party to the conflict).


[ Parent ]
Amen to that! (3.00 / 11) (#13)
by Ann Coulter on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:48:54 PM EST

"Prisoner of war" is one of my favorite phrases.

Here's another favorite: "Shot while trying to escape".


AC

[ Parent ]

Did you miss half the K5 stories in the last year? (3.50 / 6) (#20)
by _cbj on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:17:41 PM EST

Or did I? If so, evidently someone failed to notify me that a conclusion had been reached on that messy POW/hostage/"illegal combatant" tedium.

[ Parent ]
Watch, we'll end up paying reparations (1.00 / 1) (#126)
by trane on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:25:40 PM EST

Just like with the Japanese put in internment camps in WWII...

[ Parent ]
Held without charges or trial (2.94 / 18) (#4)
by K5 Demon on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:23:56 PM EST

The prisoner you speak of does not need to be charged or put on trial according to international law.  Not that I agree with the idea of international law or that holding him indefinitely is right...

However, even though what is going on may seem strange to you, but it's perfectly legal. If you want to change it, dissolve the UN and other forms of international lawmaking and deal with a country one on one.

Legal (4.36 / 11) (#12)
by QuickFox on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:47:56 PM EST

Yes, it's legal, through a technicality. The prisoners are not on US soil, therefore the US is not responsible for them and does not have to bring them to trial. They are held by US authorities but the authorities that hold them are not responsible. Very clever.

Many things are technically legal though they do not follow the intent of the law.

The fact that it's legal does not necessarily mean that it's necessary, or that everyone has to approve. Nor does it mean that it follows US traditions. Nor does it mean that the US would sit quiet if US citizens were treated this way.

If you want to change it, dissolve the UN and other forms of international lawmaking and deal with a country one on one.

You don't have to dissolve an institution just because a loophole has been found in one of its laws.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Actually, Guantanamo is US territory... (4.00 / 8) (#14)
by libertine on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:02:20 PM EST

but Aschcroft is not recognizing it as such in regards to detainees.

If you don't think so, try breaking a US law on a US  foreign base as a US citizen.  You will find the US federal authorities breathing down your neck right quick.  You won't be tried under UCMJ, or $foreign_country's laws, but under the Federal court system.

But, as I said, in regards to "detainees", a term which never really existed prior to this whole affair, the Attorney General does not recognize such things.


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

Guantanamo is not US territory. (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:13:41 AM EST

Please, see my other comment with the respective link to the *lease* treaty between the US and Cuba.
---
"Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

[ Parent ]
I thought the closest Swedes came to cages (1.40 / 22) (#10)
by leviramsey on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:46:24 PM EST

...were the safety cage designs used in Volvos?



In sympathy, with reservations (4.23 / 17) (#30)
by Jim Tour on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 10:25:30 PM EST

I FPed this because you have a clean, understated style, although I disagree with some of your thinking. Most of the detainees in Gitmo were apprehended on the battlefield-- so it's quite a stretch to insist each be treated as if he was picked up by the police on hearsay, which is how your text reads. That said, I don't understand why there is such a big need to delay formal charges and why relatives aren't allowed to visit. Do they think there will be a great breakout caper at Gitmo? And beyond that, I certainly agree there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we in the US imprison people for such long periods before trial. We pay such lip service to our hallowed Constitution and yet flout those very clear words: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.." Granted, this is not a criminal prosecution, but our record in such prosecutions is abysmal.

A different slant (4.37 / 8) (#41)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:32:53 AM EST

Most of the detainees in Gitmo were apprehended on the battlefield

Really? This is news to me. Interesting. But if they were apprehended on the battlefield there should be lots of evidence against them, like weapons, uniforms, soldier gear. At least some of the cases should be very clear-cut and easy to judge quickly.

If that's the case, why are the charges against them such a huge mystery? Why does everything take forever?

it's quite a stretch to insist each be treated as if he was picked up by the police on hearsay, which is how your text reads.

Well, I'm reporting what I've read. All the news reports that I've read so far seem to imply something like this quite strongly, so that's where I got this impression. I suppose the media in different countries present this in different ways.

Too bad I didn't think to check a few US media websites. If I'd known, maybe I could have made the text less of a stretch for US readers, and thereby stronger.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Uh (4.42 / 7) (#45)
by greenrd on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:36:40 AM EST

But if they were apprehended on the battlefield there should be lots of evidence against them, like weapons, uniforms, soldier gear.

Being a soldier is not a war crime, much as that may surprise you. (Fighting for the enemy is an offence if you are a US citizen, but many of those being imprisoned are not, including the son of the man in the cage in this article.)

I'm curious as to what charges you think could be applied here?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

not a war crime, but grounds for imprisonment (3.50 / 6) (#47)
by Delirium on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:13:49 AM EST

Being a soldier is grounds for being held as a POW until the cessation of hostilities. Unfortunately "cessation of hostilities" is a bit too vague to be useful.

[ Parent ]
Prisoner of War (4.70 / 10) (#53)
by Korimyr the Rat on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:55:34 AM EST

 Then why are we not following Geneva convention law in detaining them? If they're being held as prisoners of war, we must follow the laws regarding POWs.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]
The Geneva convention... (2.50 / 4) (#65)
by Caton on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:59:31 AM EST

Does the Geneva convention apply in this case? Or, more precisely, are Al-Qaeda operators Prisoners of War in the sense of the convention? Check Article 4 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

The key provision is simple: "provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war". If a combatant doesn't, then you can shoot him, torture him, sell his body parts... without violating the Geneva convention: it does not apply.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Why Geneva convention applies (4.71 / 7) (#170)
by zocky on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 10:23:23 AM EST

Look, it's very simple.

You capture a man on the battlefield. The Geneva convention applies immediately. ALL people you capture ARE POW's from that moment on.

Article 4 spells out the categories of persons who are entitle to the POW status and then article 5 specifically says:

The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

As far as I know, the detaines in Guantanamo may or may not be entitled to the POW status, but they MUST be treated as such, until a tribunal determining the status of each of the detainees. I don't remember reading about any such tribunal.

And anyway, if the Geneva convention is determined not to apply, other laws still apply, including the international human rights convention. Not to mention common decency.


---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Yes and no + rant (4.55 / 9) (#181)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:04:23 PM EST

No, the Geneva convention about the treatment of prisoners of war does not apply. Article 4 is very clear about who is and who isn't a prisoner of war, and leaves no doubt whatsoever in the case of Al-Qaeda operators - so forget about a court decision should any doubt arise.

Yes, other laws apply, including common decency, and, as far as I know, the treatment of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay base clearly violates a bunch of U.S. laws (starting with the constitution), Cuban laws, and international agreements. Not to mention common decency.

I think we can agree to disagree about the Geneva convention bit.

<RANT>
What I'm sure of, is that the whole situation stinks. The U.S. administration is talking about war between a state and a private organization. At the same time it denies POW status to the prisoners because it's not a war. And violates all known laws in the way it treats those prisoners.

Seen from here, the basic social agreements on which the U.S.A. are built are being damaged by the agencies whose job it is to protect them.

I just finished re-reading The History of the Peloponnesian War1 by Thucydides. It's easy to draw a parallel between the U.S.A. actions and the end of the domination of the Hellenic world. I won't go into a complete analysis of the conflict, its origins and its consequences here, I'm lazy. Short version, that war destroyed completely the Hellenic world by destroying the basic social agreements on which it was built.

The archers, who killed from far away and thus were not honorable Homeric warriors as the hoplits were, became important in war, and became honorable combatants. Hoplitic battles and the whole notion of battlefield disappeared, replaced by multiple clashes and looting. Declarations of war stopped being observed. Prisoners of war were executed. Mercenaries and slaves were recruited in the armies. At the battle of Delion, Thebans forbid the Athenians to recover the bodies of their KIA, and Athenians occupied and looted a temple. Civilians in captured cities were killed or enslaved. Worse, what happened to Melos inhabitants: all males were killed and all females enslaved, for the crime of being neutral in the conflict.

Those actions destroyed the social contract in the Hellenic city-states. Worse, they destroyed the image the Hellens had of themselves and of their moral superiority. The citizen's army concept, with the decent limits on war between people of the same blood, was dead. Thanks to the Peloponnesian War, Rome had no trouble conquering Greece, because there was no Hellenic world, and no social cohesion, after the war.

Do I need to say more? Or does everybody see how the same thing is happening right now? I fear the U.S.A. are headed the way of the Hellenic world. I hope the next Rome is not a fundamentalist Muslim empire.
</RANT>

---
1. The link is to an English version of the text, but I read it in French, so some Greek words may be improperly translated in this comment.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Chilling (4.00 / 1) (#195)
by QuickFox on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:56:28 PM EST

A very interesting analysis! You might consider writing an article based on this.

I'm not convinced the situation is quite that bad right now. But I can't say I'm sure!

This is very, very chilling.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

An article? (4.00 / 2) (#198)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 03:32:45 PM EST

I can write it in French or in broken English. Are you volunteering to translate it, or to polish it up?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Sure, an article! (3.66 / 3) (#219)
by Pihkal on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:44:06 PM EST

Your English is just fine. Way better than my French.

<RANT TYPE=MINOR>
I think a major reason Americans (Americans from the US, that is) are so terrible at languages is that there is little easy exposure to other languages. With the exception of major urban areas and along the Mexican border, there are no sizable bodies of people nearby whose primary language is not English. I can drive 3000 miles in one direction and not run into anyone who does not speak English. This lack means that most people get little chance to practice any foreign language they ever studied.
</RANT>

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

an offer (4.50 / 2) (#230)
by seanw on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 08:07:39 PM EST

the comparison struck me, as well.  I can't translate from French, but I'd be happy to help with any "polishing," or edit an initial draft.  drop me an email if you decide to go forward with it.

regards,
sean

[ Parent ]

Sure. However... (4.50 / 2) (#240)
by QuickFox on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:31:09 AM EST

I agree with Pihkal that your English is good. And I'm Swedish so I'm probably just as likely as you to make errors, so perhaps the offer by seanw is more useful to you. And for editorial comment I think the commentary of the community in the queue is better than what I can offer.

If in spite of all that you should want me to look at your text, I'll be glad to help.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

I'm French, I'll help (4.50 / 2) (#242)
by hugues on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:45:24 AM EST

Hi, You can write in French if you want, I can translate it (I live in Australia) or help correcting the various possible mistakes if you want to write in in english to start with. Pour me contacter: Tagada.Talbot@nsw.cmis.csiro.au Enleve les six premieres lettres et le point.

[ Parent ]
J'peux traduire (4.50 / 2) (#287)
by unDees on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:05:40 PM EST

Though I concur with others that your English is fine.

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]
POW Status applies. (4.75 / 4) (#185)
by Znork on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:22:53 PM EST

The prisoners qualify under article 4 section 1, 3 or possibly 6. They need qualify only under one to be POW's. Dresscode is optional. If the Bush regime intended to follow the Geneva convention they would be POW's.

[ Parent ]
For all that delicate sensibilities are offended (2.30 / 40) (#32)
by wytcld on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 10:45:55 PM EST

For all that delicate sensibilities are offended by Bush, you've got to begin to imagine that his enemies are far more evil. A little lesson for Europe: the States didn't beat Hitler by sending the Boy Scouts against him. The French style of diplomacy - if someone's coming after you, get down and spread wide in hopes of love rather than anger - just doesn't cut it against the sort of evil that even the "gentle" Europeans so often come up with. Like the world's supposed to believe Europe's gone all innocent in a long generation? Bull, it's just that Europe had to lay down and spread 'em for the US and the Soviets, and that kept the Europeans all ladylike so they've tried to make a virtue of it. But it doesn't work if there aren't still a few fractionally good countries ready to go rabid against pure evil when it arises. In which category put Hitler, bin Laden, and most of the Saudi royal family ... and you thought maybe all those troops the US was putting in place were for Saddam? Yeah, get paranoid, it's an evil world in parts. But don't try to pull the teeth of America - because without America, all Europe goes either Balkan or Fascist in short order. All the guys held in Cuba are lucky they weren't baked in the shipping containers with their brothers in arms back in the old Afghanistan most of them were murderers in. And the US has put in a puppet government there now which is brave enough to call those shipping container deaths an "atrocity." That's real progress for human rights sensibility. Name something similar France or Sweden has accomplished in the last 50 years.

Democracy (4.69 / 13) (#37)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:41:07 AM EST

One of the main reasons that the attacks awoke such strong feelings around the world was that the US is seen as the world's most powerful defender of democracy and democratic rights. If the attacks had happened in, say, Beijing, the reactions wouldn't have been anywhere near the immense shock and apprehension and sympathy that gripped the world a year ago.

The sympathy of the world depends on this perception of the US as defender of democracy.

Holding prisoners without trial is something we expect from the Taliban. Not from the US. The world doesn't want the US to defend such things. It makes us nervous. It's what the enemies of the US defend. The world wants the US to defend democracy and democratic rights.

For all that delicate sensibilities are offended by Bush,

It's not a matter of delicate sensibilities, it's a matter of democratic mindset. Democratically minded people will discuss and criticize those in power. You don't hear many Americans say "Our Government is perfect, period". Criticizing those in power is part of the democratic mindset.

When we look at the whole world, "those in power" means the US. Democratically minded people will discuss and critisize those in power, meaning the US.

We don't get to vote for the world power, but we will discuss it.

Don't be offended by the discussion, be proud instead. Even if it's critical, be proud. It means you're doing something right. It's democracy in progress.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

gorilla tactics (2.60 / 5) (#49)
by martingale on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:24:14 AM EST

Holding prisoners without trial is something we expect from the Taliban. Not from the US.
I agree with you on this, but your interpretation of the reactions to the WTC attacks is unrealistic. The US is an 800 pound gorilla, who got slapped last september. Every nation on earth sent in condolences and pledges of support, hoping not to catch its eye. Afghanistan somehow lost this game of musical chairs, and no other country or leader thereof stood up for them. All knew there would be hell to pay, and as it happened it removed the Taliban from power, replacing it with ???. The ramifications of this are too early to tell.

However, I think it is fair to say that the antics of the Bush administration have placed the US in the spotlight, a kind of probation if you will. That means when they do things which would otherwise be dismissed, it now is counted against them. I hope it will not get to the point of a new iron curtain with the US on one side and Europe, Russia, China on the other. Now that we do have an information age, there's no excuse for believing the demagogues.

[ Parent ]

USA, the world leader in democracy? (4.00 / 5) (#80)
by DodgyGeezer on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:16:26 AM EST

"around the world [the] US is seen as the world's most powerful defender of democracy and democratic rights"

I think that is a rather overly-bold statement.  It would be more accurate to say that "around the world, the US is seen as the world's most powerful talker about democracy and democratic rights".

I think a lot of people around the world see the US as powerfully defender of their own interests, often at the expense of democracy and democratic rights.  Take for example the propping up and support of many evil dictatorships during the cold war.  Take for example US coercion of Canada who would have legalised marijuana long ago due to that being what the people their want.  Look at McCarthyism - you were allowed to have any political belief, so long as it wasn't communism.  Americans talk about democracy to the point of indoctrination, yet few of them have been out of their country (state??!) long enough to even have a chance to form an unbiased opinion.  (Sorry, I hate stereotypes, but in my experience of living in the US, that holds true on average.)

200 years ago, the US truly was a world leader in democracy... times change, and faster than the US has, and and much much faster than the average American's understanding of the outside world.

BTW, I rated you +4 because the rest of your comment was spot on and highlighted some very important points.

[ Parent ]

Not quite (4.50 / 2) (#148)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:52:20 PM EST

I didn't mean the world leader in democracy, I meant the most powerful (militarily, economically) among those nations that defend democracy.

The issues of McCarthyism and cold war dictatorships are very valid, but I think many people feel that this belongs in the past.

I do believe that among those people who felt strong sympathy toward the US after the attacks, a majority perceive the US not just as a talker of democracy but as a defender. And I believe that their sympathy depends on this defence of democracy. If it is felt that the US treats people the way a bunch of Talibans would treat people, the sympathy diminishes. There isn't any reason to support a second bunch of Talibans. We want to support democracy, not Talibanism.

Again I'm exaggerating in preposterous ways to drive home a point. Of course nobody feels that the US behaves like the Talibans. But we do want the US to behave like the US. We want to see the US defend the principles that the US claims to defend.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Evil! (4.50 / 6) (#38)
by phliar on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:44:29 AM EST

I like to think that when you sacrifice your principles in the name of expediency, you are well on your way to being truly evil. After all, a statement like "we will protect the rights of the nice and the lawful" doesn't really need to be written down anywhere.

There is no greater insult to the constitution of this country than for the concerns raised by many over the actions of Ashcroft and Bush to be dismissed as the offending of their "delicate sensibilities" as though they were children and old ladies.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Um, you are right..the US didnt beat Hitler (3.55 / 9) (#46)
by StephenThompson on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:59:04 AM EST

Americans are under the impression that they are the reason Hitler lost the War. No my friend, the only reason the US entered the war was they were bombed...by Japan! The Russians and the British won the war with Germany, the US just came in fresh at the end and claimed credit for something that was already happening.

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't go that far (2.83 / 6) (#48)
by Delirium on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:16:33 AM EST

Bogging down Hitler's troops in Russia was a large contributor to his defeat, but the Normandy invasion was another large contributor, certainly far more than just a mopping-up operation. And the U.S. played a dominant role in the Normandy invasion.

Not to mention that even before all of this, the U.S. was bankrolling a lot of the U.K.'s war effort, and even providing weapons (and ferrying them over to the U.K. under guard of the U.S. Navy).

[ Parent ]

wake up (4.20 / 5) (#56)
by GoStone on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:54:48 AM EST

So by your own logic, the US has been fighting the Palestinians these last many years. Bankrolling the Israeli war effort, even providing weapons...

By any sane assessment the Russians must take the major credit for defeating Hitler. They lost tens of millions of lives in the process. You underestimate the British effort too.


Cut first, ask questions later
[ Parent ]

Insane assessment. (1.00 / 3) (#63)
by Caton on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:40:19 AM EST

By any sane assessment the Russians must take the major credit for defeating Hitler. They lost tens of millions of lives in the process.
By using your assessment, I could say that Japan defeated the US during WW2 because they had a lot more losses than the US.

The contribution of the Soviets to the defeat of Nazi Germany can only be sanely assessed by looking at losses inflicted to Germans.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

either way, Russia deserves the credit (nt) (4.33 / 3) (#70)
by speek on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:07:01 AM EST


--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Russia does not deserve anything. (4.00 / 6) (#88)
by Caton on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:14:55 AM EST

Russia does not deserve shit. Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and other Soviet republics contributions must not be forgotten. Russia contribution to the war effort was significantly less than Ukraine contribution, by any metrics one wants to use: half of the total Soviet military losses were Ukrainian, more than half of the civilian losses were Ukrainian, 80% of the T-34 tanks were built in Ukraine, and so on.

Of course, you meant Soviet Union. The contribution to the war effort of the Soviet Union (including Russia) was significant. But complete German losses statistics are not available. So how do you know?

The facts are well known. World War 2 was won by a joint effort of Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the U.S.A, and a score of smaller nations. The national contributions to the war effort are so interdependent that it is impossible to say who contributed most.

For example, out of a total 7 million German losses on all fronts, around 2 million German soldiers were captured by the Soviets from 1945-01-01 to 1945-05-09 without weapons or ammo. Part of those losses should be credited to strategic bombing, part to the Soviet speed of advance, part to Hitler stupidity, but nobody knows how to split this number.

If you completely take out those captures, German losses are 2,8 millions on the Eastern front, 2,2 millions on the Western fronts, and an unknown number at home or in captured territories due to Resistance movements and strategic bombing.

In addition, Japan did not declare war to the Soviet Union because of U.S. and G.B. military actions in the Pacific. What part of the Soviet war effort against Germany would have been diverted? Impossible to know, again.

Conclusions:

  1. Any attempt to compare war contributions of the major allies (Soviet Union, U.S.A., Great Britain) is meaningless.
  2. Russia != Soviet Union.


---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
that stick must be painful (nt) (1.00 / 2) (#103)
by speek on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:44:55 PM EST


--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

We're still repaying (slightly o/t) (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by mickwd on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:01:11 PM EST

Sorry if this is slightly off-topic, but I found it very interesting that the UK is still paying off a debt to the USA for the second world war (a link is here).

[ Parent ]
And who created those enemies? (3.33 / 3) (#67)
by bayankaran on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:12:42 AM EST

For all that delicate sensibilities are offended by Bush, you've got to begin to imagine that his enemies are far more evil.

The degree of evilness at both sides are more or less the same...the other side may be more explicit and politically incorrect in showing the evilness.

And sir/madam please answer this simple question...who created your enemies?

[ Parent ]
More tolerant ... here? Are you suicidal? (ns) (1.11 / 9) (#33)
by mami on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 10:48:05 PM EST



see ... I told you so ... (1.50 / 2) (#73)
by mami on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:20:55 AM EST

heard this morning on C-SPAN: "It's really necessary to be against our President only in the voting boot. But as soon as a President is in office and has been elected, you have to support him completely".

So, would you please behave and support the US President's policies.

[ Parent ]

Re: I told you so (none / 0) (#110)
by alt on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:35:43 PM EST

Hola!!! That's a very fascist attitude. I would think that it is your DUTY to question everything he's doing in order to make sure he's make sane and prudent decisions... this CPAN quote is an attitude that allows the government a blank check to do what they will..... scary....

[ Parent ]
Too much Perl... (3.00 / 2) (#221)
by Pihkal on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:53:36 PM EST

... will cause one to go blind :D

"this CPAN quote" should be "this C-SPAN quote"

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

Good job (3.93 / 15) (#35)
by bobaloo on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 11:13:15 PM EST

+1, the best piece of writing to hit this site in quite a while whether you agree or disagree.

Unusual style (3.00 / 1) (#241)
by hugues on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:31:36 AM EST

At first I wondered what the story was about, but it became very clear. Very well written.

[ Parent ]
Not sure about the comparison to Swedish norms (4.40 / 15) (#39)
by Delirium on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:01:19 AM EST

The story makes it sound as if this is only odd by Swedish norms, which are somehow much different than U.S. norms. That isn't entirely the case -- U.S. legal norms also allow people to be locked up only for a good reason of which they must be informed (habeas corpus and all that), there's the same lawyers and public scrutiny, etc. There are some differences of course (particularly the not releasing names or photographs before a conviction), but those aren't really relevant here (in fact a lot of the complaints are that the U.S. won't release a full list of who it's holding). What's happening in Guantanamo is certainly odd by U.S. norms as much as it is by Swedish norms -- the problem is that thus far the U.S. legal system doesn't consider itself to have jurisdiction over the military base there, so U.S. norms can't be applied any more than Swedish norms can be.

Though I do agree that it's a rather indefensible situation; U.S. legal oversight clearly should apply, as Guantanamo is U.S. territory.

Guantanamo is not US territory. (3.75 / 4) (#86)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:10:15 AM EST

The respective treaty clearly states that it is a lease.

It is thanks to that nebolous situation, that Bush and Co. had the Stalinian idea of sending the Taliban POW there.
---
"Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

[ Parent ]

clue (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by demi on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:12:42 PM EST

NS - Guantanamo Bay is where migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, and since 1991, some military prisoners from regional conflicts, have typically been held and processed.

[ Parent ]
Didn't realize it before (2.00 / 3) (#119)
by drquick on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:01:12 PM EST

Oh, it's a lease. I just realized: Maybe the US will return Guantanamo to Cuba when the lease expires? He-he, as if!

[ Parent ]
sure, why not (3.33 / 3) (#134)
by Phantros on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:26:27 PM EST

It's not as if the US hasn't relinquished control of leased/controlled land in the past. Panama, many military bases around the world (there have been a ton of base closings in the past decade).

4Literature - 2,000 books online and Scoop to discuss them with
[ Parent ]

You're comparing oranges and apples (2.10 / 19) (#42)
by Friede on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:59:54 AM EST

The inmates at the base in Guantanamo are prisoners of war. Now tell me, when was the last war in which Sweden took POWs, and how did they treat them? Did the Swedes let them see their lawyers?

If anything, you could argue that because the POWs are not held on US mainland but at Guantanamo with its uncertain status, the US thinks that it's not bound by the Geneva convention, something that is even mentioned in one of the articles you quote. But this is a point you ignore completely instead you give us this long irrelevant spiel about Swedisch traditions, which is completely off the mark IMO.

(I also didn't like the fact that I had to read to the very end of the article to find out what it's all about -- midway through the piece you mention a country "far away in the tropics," and I though of the Kongo or perhaps Papua New Guinea, then I looked at the links and saw Cuba mentioned, and figured you must be talking about someone held without charges in Havana. Only in the last paragraph everything becomes clear).

Only in the last paragraph does it become clear... (4.22 / 9) (#44)
by Meatbomb on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:33:03 AM EST

...it's a literary/rhetorical device, and the author does it well. The fact that you confused the US with some African dictatorship or Cuba is the point he wanted to make.

_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]
there are two tropics (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by martingale on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:32:57 AM EST

and Cuba is smack on the tropic of Cancer. Look it up in an atlas. K5, every day a learning opportunity.

[ Parent ]
If they only were ! (4.50 / 6) (#55)
by drquick on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:47:35 AM EST

The inmates at the base in Guantanamo are prisoners of war.
If they were POWs then they would have rights. Among those rights is the right not to be interrogated let alone tortured in a small cage deprived of human contact. Right to letters and communication with relatives. Another right is the right to be repatriated at the end of hostilities - but oh, of course GWB invented the perpetual war.

To my knowledge the US official stance is that the prisoners in camp X-Ray are not prisoners of war. Something they reasonably should be! Not according to the Bush administration however. This has been debated on k5

POW status does not change the issue of unfair treatment of prisoners. International agreements on POW treatment are there (among other reasons) to prohibit indefinite imprisonment. A POW is not a suspect of a crime. He does not stand in line for a possible trial. In due time he is sent home, he's not interrogated, he's treated well and fairly, not (as in camp X-ray) kept isolated from other prisoners.

All of that has been good for centuries but the USA is trying to push us back into the middle ages.

[ Parent ]

Last Swedish war (3.50 / 2) (#71)
by borderline on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:09:41 AM EST

Now tell me, when was the last war in which Sweden took POWs, and how did they treat them? Did the Swedes let them see their lawyers?
As far as I can tell, the last war in which Sweden fought ended in 1814. I don't know anything about POWs in that war, but I think it's safe to assume the Geneva convention was not being considered.

[ Parent ]
Don't be an idiot. (3.05 / 19) (#51)
by gnovos on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:40:11 AM EST

The Americans, at least the ones I know (and since I AM American, I know a LOT!), feel just as bad as you do about the people being illegally and unconstitutionally locked up.  Your utterly sarcastic take on the situtation, while entertaining, isn't really reflecting the truth.  The men who are holding those folks captive are no more American than I am Swedish.  They are criminals who long ago gave up all that it means to be American (except on paper, of course), and hate the values that the rest of us hold dear.  Don't be fooled into thinking that we condone thier actions....  but also, don't be fooled into thinking we have any choice in the matter.  These people have the money, the media, the munitions and the political power to do pretty much what they want.  We let them go along with these stupid things simply because we don't feel like being locked up indefinitly without trial, nor do we feel like finding ourselves out of jobs and eating trash out of the gutter.

I'll make you a deal, however: You bankroll me and grant me immunity from harm and prosecution, and I will, as an American, be more than happy to go down and let them all out for you...

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen

Re: Don't be an idiot. (1.00 / 2) (#60)
by tjost on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:38:34 AM EST

Land of the free?

[ Parent ]
Democracy (3.71 / 7) (#61)
by Khendon on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:49:12 AM EST

Democracy means it *is* your fault.

[ Parent ]
Supposedly vs. True Meaning (2.00 / 1) (#66)
by rapha on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:06:28 AM EST

Democracy is supposed to
mean it is your fault.

Democracy in fact means that you
get the illusion of being in charge.



---
NIETS IS ONMOGELIJK!

[ Parent ]

Yay Democracy! (1.00 / 1) (#109)
by phliar on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:34:41 PM EST

Democracy means it *is* your fault.
In a democracy, the person with the most votes gets into office.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Democracy (none / 0) (#114)
by BadmanX on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:04:13 PM EST

"Democracy means it *is* your fault."

Wow, I guess it's good that I don't live in a democracy then.  America has been an oligarchy since before I was born.

[ Parent ]

Bollocks to that (1.00 / 1) (#118)
by Khendon on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:45:11 PM EST

It's not an oligarchy; anybody has an equal chance of getting elected. Just because the American public vote for the person with the most expensive red, white and blue confetti... More money doesn't have to mean more votes. Just don't vote that way.

You plural, of course. You singular aren't to blame (possibly); the American population as a whole are to blame.

[ Parent ]

Oligarchy (4.66 / 3) (#123)
by BadmanX on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:50:45 PM EST

It IS an oligarchy, made so by big businesses who bribe parties to present candidates that will BOTH be properly beholden to big business. I can't vote for Colin Powell for President, as much as I'd like to. I can't vote for anyone who is forthright, honest and willing to make a real change because the parties are both rigged to ensure that such a person will never be nominated. Only yes-men who toe the party line will be. Therefore my vote means nothing. I get to pick who will be the mouthpiece of big business and big government. Yay. And they wonder why voter turnout is so bad - the American people have figured out that the system has been hosed - their votes don't matter any more.

[ Parent ]
"Both" parties (2.00 / 1) (#167)
by Khendon on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 09:29:02 AM EST

I believe more than two parties stood in the last American presidential election.

[ Parent ]
Parties and their Importance (3.50 / 2) (#204)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:20:37 PM EST

The election system makes pretty sure that no third party will ever come to anything resembling power. (If it's not outright ignored.)

[ Parent ]
Read "Fixing Elections" by Steven Hill (none / 0) (#235)
by mami on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 09:08:28 PM EST

and you know why you really can't vote the way you want, why you are not represented according to your vote and why your vote almost never really counts.

It's just a huge, big shame, a con democracy, that's all.

And the American people are trapped in their eighteenth century political system and have no idea what really makes them a nation so divided and polarized along so many lines.

I wonder if they will ever get out of it without an eruption of civic frustration leading to civil war. I think it's quite dangerous to challenge a nation that "depressed, tense and frustrated under the surface" with a huge war that may make living conditions for Americans so tough that their depression and silence turns into aggression against each other (or first against the next big foreign evildoer).

Fixing Elections and A Map That Says it All

Some more links

[ Parent ]

I missed that on the ballot... (3.50 / 2) (#130)
by gnovos on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:19:53 PM EST

You know, the check box labeled "Free Guantanamo Prisoners", where was it?  For some reason I didn't see it.  If you are going to wait for "Democracy" to work then that means you have to be willing to wait YEARS for the next election so that we can vote in someone who will free them.  Does that sound good to you?

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]
black and white (3.00 / 1) (#99)
by adiffer on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:22:36 PM EST

Not so simple.  If you don't have the spine to hold to your point of view publically, you are undermining what it means to be an American as much as those you are pointing a finger at.

If you don't like something around here, there is no immunity from harm and prosecution.  There is risk and rebellion in the definition of freedom.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

just a couple things (3.50 / 2) (#104)
by spacemoose on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:45:26 PM EST

While I applaud some of your sentiments,
The Americans, at least the ones I know (and since I AM American, I know a LOT!), feel just as bad as you do about the people being illegally and unconstitutionally locked up.
You just have to read some of the asinine responses here to get to know some people who don't feel that way. A big problem I have is my fellow American's ability to digest and accept any kind of rhetoric from their government (I'm thinking of my sister and her republican husband here).

The other big problem is guys who do think like us who don't make our voices known. Come to think of it, I'm going to write my congressman about this issue right now.

[ Parent ]

well do something about it. (none / 0) (#262)
by Kenti on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:02:17 AM EST

If the governing body of a democarcy/republic does not do whatever the it was elected to do (like not ignoring to many "human rights" to often) it is the duty of the people to overthrow the governing body and install new leaders. This be throug election or other means.

btw: I don't see any revolution going on in the USA. Nor do I see any legal campain to get the leders of the country removed and replaced.

--
Kenti

[ Parent ]

Annoyingly... (none / 0) (#313)
by DavidTC on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:30:42 AM EST

...there is no legal way for citizens to remove the president from office, except by electing new congressidiots and impeaching him. As a good 75% of the problem is congress, this obviously will not work.

Wait...elected? We were supposed to elect the president? Heh, silly us, I guess we misunderstood.

As for a revolution...give it time. And the revolution will not be televised, which is a quote from something or other, and completely true.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

not from US (none / 0) (#345)
by valpis on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:59:48 AM EST

. The men who are holding those folks captive are no more American than I am Swedish. They are criminals who long ago gave up all that it means to be American (except on paper, of course)

Now this is the problem, the guy mentioned here is not and have never been a citizien of US, he is a citizien of sweden. You are keeping a member of our country in prison and we don't even know on what charges or what evidence you have against him. He wasn't captured in US but in afghanistan/pakistan and brought to the US.

[ Parent ]
An excellent idea (4.31 / 16) (#52)
by FeersumAsura on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:44:51 AM EST

Just to give you one example of how different local customs can be, here in Sweden the news media will not disclose the names and photos of suspected criminals until they have been tried and found guilty in a court of law. Until that moment the media just talk about "the 24-year-old," "the younger suspect," etc. Only certain public figures such as elected politicians will be mentioned by name before there is a lawful verdict.

While slightly off topic I'd like to congratulate you Swedes on this brilliant idea. We urgently need it in this country (UK) after scenes like this [bbc.co.uk]. Because of the gutter press mentality and the amazing stupidity shown by so many people other trials [bbc.co.uk] have been jeopardised.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
hang on (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by demi on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:46:04 AM EST

What happens if a family member or co-worker of the accused (presumably with full knowledge of the case) goes to the press and makes a big story about it? Is the media restricted from reporting until the trial is over?

[ Parent ]
Publicly available (3.50 / 2) (#141)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:53:39 PM EST

All the gory details (except any that were made secret) are available in public records. It's just not publicised by the media. To get the details, all you have to do is request copies of the public documents.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]
Interesting idea (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by epepke on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:57:30 AM EST

The only problem with that is, in order to enforce it, trials couldn't be public, or else there would have to be some prior restraint on the press. And then you get the very problems that our Swedish friend is complaining about.

If one decides the problem with Camp X-Ray is that people are being held without public due process, then one can't logically get all misty-eyed about doing away with public due process.

Personally, I think that the names of the accused (in the U.S.) should probably be kept secret until after the Grand Jury indictment in cases that require a Grand Jury. The proceedings of the Grand Jury are, after all, supposed to be secret (although the treatment of Clinton's testimony blew that all to hell). This is because the accused must answer all questions in Grand Jury proceedings, even irrelevant ones. But the actual trial should be public.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Influencing the jury (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by DodgyGeezer on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:22:35 PM EST

There's public, and then there's public.  I don't like the way US courts allow the TVs in and broadcasting whilst a case is on going.  This can lead to trial by television and thus increased chances of unfairly influencing the jury.  I think it's possible to hold public trials without the media hysteria whipping things up and perhaps ruining an innocent person's life.

[ Parent ]
It's a problem (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by epepke on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:40:57 PM EST

But most of the law is about finding compromises between a multiplicity of problems. Traditionally, most jurisdictions in the U.S. don't allow television or even photography in the courtroom, which is why they show those bad chalk sketches on TV all the time.

Whatever the optimal solution to this problem may be, it isn't particuarly relevant to the irony I was trying to point out. Clearly, if things in Sweden are so tight that it is not possible even to find out the name of a person under trial until conviction or exoneration, well, that's a certain level of privacy, which is clearly more in line with the treatment of prisoners at Camp X-Ray than it is with normal American or British practice. I have to wonder--if someone were held in Sweden, would his father ever even learn about it? And, if he did and leaked the story to the BBC, let's say, would Sweden sue him or something? And if not, well, just how is this guarantee accomplished?

There are many legal features, everywhere, that sound nice in certain contexts and sound absolutely stupid elsewhere. Possibly, the accommodations made within a culture work pretty well, but does that apply to cross-cultural comparisons? Because that's what this is about--some guy in Sweden is pissed off that his son is being held outside of Sweden for something that doesn't have much to do with Sweden.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
No. (4.66 / 3) (#106)
by henrik on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:11:42 PM EST


I have to wonder--if someone were held in Sweden, would his father ever even learn about it? And, if he did and leaked the story to the BBC, let's say, would Sweden sue him or something? And if not, well, just how is this guarantee accomplished?

You've misunderstood..

They're not legally obliged to not to disclose the name, it's just the practice among Swedish media not to. If the press wanted to tell, they could say as much as they pleased. (no government on earth is as open as the Swedish)

So no, no one will sue you if you tell, and there's no guarantee that your name will be protected.

Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!
[ Parent ]

OK (3.50 / 2) (#113)
by epepke on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:55:23 PM EST

So it's more of a cultural practice, much like the press never showed FDR in a wheelchair.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
How it works (4.80 / 5) (#129)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:12:03 PM EST

Although it's not enforced by law, even the worst tabloids follow the rules, although they could often make some quick money by breaking the rules. I think the way this is solved is interesting so I'll explain.

Generally the media get all the information that we're talking about here. This is necessary in a democracy. The authorities must be subjected to public scrutiny.

Ethical committees check the media. If you feel you've been wronged by the media you contact the ethical committee. If the committee decides that you've been wronged they will condemn the newspaper or the TV show or whatever. (I think "condemn" is the right word in English, I'm not quite sure.) Then the offending publication must publish the condemnation. Other media may or may not publish it, but the offender must do it. This includes an explanation that specifies clearly what was condemned and why.

You don't want to publish such condemnations against your publication. It's shameful. It puts you in a David-and-Goliath situation where you are an omnipotent ogre attacking some poor defenceless sod. It's bad for your reputation.

This is regulated mostly by rules defined by the media themselves, not by the lawmakers. Why? Because the lawmakers should not have too much say in what the media may publish. The media must scrutinize the lawmakers. The lawmakers must not interfere with this scrutiny. So, the media do all of this very earnestly, because if they don't, the lawmakers will have to step in, to defend the defenceless, and nobody wants the lawmakers to step in into that territory.

This in turn is based on a strong tradition of openness in Government, administration, authority. This tradition clashes with the European Union, which is far more secretive, so this is a constant source of conflict between those who favor and those who are against our membership in the EU.

Everything that happens at public authorities is public by default. The only way it can be secret is if it's explicitly made secret due to a compelling reason, for example a citizen's privacy or the security of the nation. For example, if an employee spots some abuse or whatever, he can talk to the media, giving any and all information he wants that is not explicitly secret. His boss can't even hint at an interest in who it was that spilled the beans, much less reprimand him or do anything against him. Not his boss, not the police, not a Minister in the Government, not the King, nobody has any right at all to ask about that, as long as the information that was disclosed was not secret.

In 1998 a European Commission auditor, Paul van Buitenen, blew the whistle on fraud and mismanagement in the Comission, and was suspended. In Sweden the fraud was practically forgotten in the outrage about the suspension, which was considered unspeakably shocking. It still rankles. Personally, I'm a strong proponent of our membership, but the fact that many of the deliberations and other proceedings are secret is deeply distasteful to me. It makes me feel that they have no right to make decisions if they can't be open about it. The fact that whistleblowers can be legally fired for blowing the whistle makes it even worse. I really hope this will be corrected.

I think these traditions go back many generations.

I'm no expert so my explanations may be wrong in some details, but I think they are mostly accurate.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Thanks for the explanation (4.00 / 1) (#205)
by epepke on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:27:33 PM EST

I think "condemn" is the right word in English, I'm not quite sure.

"Condemn" sounds like a good word. However, since you're obviously very careful about the words you use, perhaps "censure" might be slightly better. Who runs these ethics committees, by the way?

Your description of the Swedish conflicts with the EU sounds not terribly unlike the conflicts between the State of Florida and the United States of America. There's a long-standing tradition of "government in the sunshine" that's even enforced by some laws. Jeb Bush has tried to erode some of this, with relatively little success (fortunately).


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Entering unknown territory (4.50 / 2) (#239)
by QuickFox on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:12:45 AM EST

Who runs these ethics committees, by the way?

We're reaching a level of detail that I don't know much about, and for various reasons I can't explore much now. For newspapers and magazines it seems there is one committee and one ombudsman. As far as I know at least one of them is run by the papers themselves. The committee for radio and TV is a national authority (and this surprised me, I thought it was independent from the national authorities).

Does this sound like the Government could meddle in the decisions of the committee for radio and TV? It can't. Sweden differs from many countries (at least I think this is different elsewhere) in that there's a very strictly guarded separation between on the one hand Ministers and Parliament, and on the other hand administration and authorities. Ministers are strictly forbidden from telling administrations what to do in specific cases, they can only specify general policy. The idea is that this limits their power and thereby avoids abuse of power.

Unfortunately I don't know much about this, but that's the general idea.

In any case Swedish TV is mostly Public Service, where the Government has a lot of sway anyway. The media that are really independent from the State are the papers.

Your description of the Swedish conflicts with the EU sounds not terribly unlike the conflicts between the State of Florida and the United States of America.

It's interesting to learn that you can have such conflicts. We Europeans tend to see the US as very monolithic, almost as if it were a single entity.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Yes, well.. (5.00 / 2) (#243)
by epepke on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:57:00 AM EST

It's interesting to learn that you can have such conflicts. We Europeans tend to see the US as very monolithic, almost as if it were a single entity.

There are quite a lot of them. I understand why Europeans may think of the United States as monolithic, because only the people in Washington have the power to do "foreign policy." However, in terms of internal matters, the U.S. in many ways is looser than the E.U. I'm one of the 8% or so of Americans who have a passport, I've lived in Europe and still visit there frequently, and I'm fascinated by the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Europe. Many, possibly most Americans consider what happens in Washington rather alien.

For example, I often hear Europeans talk about the American health care system or educational system. Well, neither such animals exist. Both are done on a state-by-state basis. For example, California has a fantastic system of cheap, excellent universities, and anybody in California who needs dialysis can get it at any age, whether they can pay for it or not. Florida has an excellent system for mental health. Georgia is basically garbage by any standards. New York is very good with respect to tenants' rights. In Florida, it's illegal for a landlord even to ask how many people will be staying in an apartment; in California, it is common for landlords to charge by the person. You go to Kansas, and farmers have all the power. Primary and secondary education are typically done not even by the state but by the county. Taxation varies wildly from state to state, as do benefits. Many places have good public transit; others do not. I know many New Yorkers who do not know how to drive; this is unthinkable in California. Even the age of consent is different in different states.

Even such seemingly simple concepts as laws on murder vary from state to state.

By the way, I like your signature. I do think it should be augmented. Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day, and tomorrow he'll think he has a right to more fish.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
You'd be surprised. (5.00 / 1) (#311)
by DavidTC on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:14:11 AM EST

Almost all my day to day interactions with the government are with either the state of Georgia, or with country/city governments, which exist at the sole disgression of Georgia. (The state of Georgia, however, does not exist at the disgression of the Federal government, the Federal government has no power to disolve states.)

Like the other post pointed out, the Federal government is the only authority that can enter treaties with other countries. (Though not the only entity that can have treaties, I've always wondered if there was some crazy treaty hanging around from states that used to be separate from the US, that requires Texas to go to war if Mexico attacks Canada, or some insanity like that.) Also they are the only entity that can declare war. This tends to greatly influence the way other countries perceive us. ;)

But almost all laws that are country-wide in other places are state laws here. Age of consent, murder (not murder of federal employees, though), theft (not bank robbery, oddly enough), education, driving laws, contract law, tort laws, and a bunch of other stuff are all decided by the states.

Of course, the Federal government has been increasing its power bit by bit, under a vaguely defined right to screw with 'interstate commerce', so eventually it looks like the South is going to have to seceed again. And this time California will come with us. ;)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Great Thing (4.00 / 1) (#206)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:30:24 PM EST

I won't give you another 5 for something you only report (and support), but this is really a great thing you have there. Keep it, even if the other Europeans don't like it.


[ Parent ]
Sobriety (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:48:58 PM EST

Unfortunately the arrangement does not solve these problems because only the names are withheld. The cases are still publicised and if you know the details of a case you'll recognise the case in the media reports.

Anyway the problems that you mention are quite different in Sweden because we don't have juries, people are judged by professional judges, and professionals are supposed to be uninfluenced by media hype.

Because of the gutter press mentality and the amazing stupidity shown by so many people

Both Britain and Sweden have faced the horrible tragedy where children have killed children. In Britain, if I've understood correctly, the result was ferocious public hate against the killing children. In Sweden the general reaction was that there is no way small children can understand the risks and consequences of deadly violence, that it just can't be premeditated with real understanding and intention, that with small children this is utterly impossible. I think our media self-regulation contributes to the more sober reactions.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Don't understand.. (1.72 / 22) (#54)
by parasite on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:39:21 AM EST

   
HAhaHAha. Wow I had no idea -- that was a clever surprise ending.
The United States, eh ??

/me plays Vintersorg - Till Fjalls.mp3

Now you guys MAY make some damn awesome music over there, but to
be honest, from what I've seen on the internet: I cannot sympathize.
Your concepts in Sweden are completely nonsensical to me. For example,
there was this guy ranting and raving on one of these message forums
about how America is not free -- not BECAUSE we don't have respect for
privately owned property, but because we DO. He was essentially saying,
if he isn't free to trespass freely about a lot which another man has
worked and earned, then our country isn't free... ROTFLOL

Now what kind of concept of Freedom is that ? How about the property
owner's rights ? There is no freedom without property rights -- if
a man cannot keep that which he has rightfully gained, to will with and
dispose of as he pleases, then what use is his life or his mind but
as a minion of the state, a little creature enslaved to do their
biddings ? Instead of rightfully pursuing his rational selfish desires ?

You guys have totally fucked up concepts.

Re: Allemansrätten (4.00 / 3) (#57)
by mikael_j on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:54:55 AM EST

He was essentially saying, if he isn't free to trespass freely about a lot which another man has worked and earned, then our country isn't free... ROTFLOL

I take it you are talking about what is called "allemansrätten" which allows people to walk across land owned by others, pick mushrooms and stuff in woods owned by others and other stuff like that...

I actually like allemansrätten since it means I don't have to ask a landowner whether I can camp on his/her land, I can just put up my tent (out of sight of any buildings) and if the landowner doesn't like it he/she can tell me to leave.

/Mikael
We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

While the tradition is different... (none / 0) (#310)
by DavidTC on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:57:10 AM EST

...the laws in the US are basically the same, you can walk, and, yes, even camp, on someone else's land unless they have told you not to. (It would be rather hard to ask someone's permission without walking across their land, wouldn't it? ;) Trespassing can only happen when you violate the owner's wishes to leave (or not enter).

And, in the US, to mention something above, if your property is 'landlocked', aka, you cannot get to a road, you can get an 'easement', which is an access road that you are legally allowed to transverse, despite it being someone else's land, even if they don't want you to.

But, in the US, it's rude to start walking around someone else's property. In some rural areas, they will chase you off with a gun. (They can't shoot you unless you're inside, though.) The only place it is acceptable to walk, on other people's land, is basically to their front door.

And most wooded areas that are owned by private citizens are 'posted', meaning they have 'no trespassing' signs up at required intervals along the road, which changes the default mode to you being disallowed on the property.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Property (3.66 / 3) (#58)
by LeftOfCentre on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:59:22 AM EST

You saw one Swede bash US property rights and now draw the conclusion that Swedes don't support property rights? That is completely absurd.

[ Parent ]
Freedom and rights (4.83 / 6) (#62)
by drquick on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:55:10 AM EST

Now what kind of concept of Freedom is that ? How about the property owner's rights ?
I understand you value property very high and also the right to property. Goes to show you have capitalist values. Be that as it may. It beats me however, that rights to something would be a freedom.

If you have access to something, ok that's freedom of sorts but, if only some have access it's a selective right. Access isn't freely distributed. If there's competition for a resource and only the ones with right have access then, surely that's an infringement of freedom. Freedom aplies to everyone. You might consider it right and fair to infringe such freedoms but, nevertheless they are infringements.

I'm just asking you to be conseptually correct. Freedom is of lesser value to you than rights. Rights do not imply freedom and freedom is not equivalent to rights.

[ Parent ]

Rational selfish desires? (2.00 / 1) (#74)
by hypno on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:37:02 AM EST

Instead of rightfully pursuing his rational selfish desires ?

You guys have totally fucked up concepts.

What a good idea! Lets all practice our "rational" selfish desires.
If you think a culture based on greed (as the US is) is better than one that is not, i think *you* have fucked up concepts.

[ Parent ]

Every mans right (5.00 / 3) (#82)
by Echo5ive on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:21:40 AM EST

That's what "allemansrätten" means. Of course, it gets a totally different meaning in translation, sounding more pompous than the rights it actually grants.

Allemansrätten allows you to walk through someones land without having to ask for permission. And by "land" I mean forests and fields -- nature, in other words. I suppose the wording of the right would give you the right to romp about on someones front lawn, but it's not common sense to do that. Swedes have quite a lot of common sense and respect for other people and their property.

You can also tent for one night on someones land without having to ask for permission. Once again, common sense dictates you don't put your tent on someones lawn.

You do not walk across crop fields either. But I shouldn't have to say that, should I? Common sense tells you not to.



--
Frozen Skies: mental masturbation.

[ Parent ]
The Right of Public Access (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by Echo5ive on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:30:49 AM EST

That's what it's called. Here it is in English.

You are perfectly entitled to walk, jog, cycle, ride or ski across other people's land - provided you do not cause any damage to crops, forest plantations or fences. But you are not entitled to cross or stay on a private plot without permission - that would be a violation of privacy.
Now, isn't that a nice and friendly concept you could put to good use in America?



--
Frozen Skies: mental masturbation.

[ Parent ]
I don't understand (none / 0) (#91)
by demi on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:42:19 AM EST

You are perfectly entitled to walk, jog, cycle, ride or ski across other people's land - provided you do not cause any damage to crops, forest plantations or fences.

So you can do this without the owner's permission? What happens if people leave vehicle tracks or garbage? What if I decide to become a permanent tent squatter on a secluded portion of a large private tract? Aren't there any enforcement issues?

But you are not entitled to cross or stay on a private plot without permission - that would be a violation of privacy.

So can you camp on another person's land without permission or not? It doesn't sound like you can.

Now, isn't that a nice and friendly concept you could put to good use in America?

In the US, if you have the owner's permission to do so, you can ski, camp, hike, hunt, do whatever you want. If someone camps out on my land and somehow causes injury to himself, I may be legally liable for damages. That's one reason, among many, why most private land is fenced off and restricted.

[ Parent ]

Enforced by politeness and common sense (5.00 / 4) (#94)
by henrik on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:07:28 PM EST


So you can do this without the owner's permission? What happens if people leave vehicle tracks or garbage? What if I decide to become a permanent tent squatter on a secluded portion of a large private tract? Aren't there any enforcement issues?

Allemansrätten is enforced by politeness and common sense. It's only partly codified by written law, Much more important is a cultural understanding on how to behave when in nature. It's not enforced in any way (i.e. there's no police that walks around and checks on people), but amazingly enough the abuses are few and far between. I don't think i've ever heard anyone seriously suggest allemansrätten should be abolished.

It's not easy to express to outsiders who just shake their head and wonder why people don't abuse their privileges. It just runs deep in the culture.  


So can you camp on another person's land without permission or not? It doesn't sound like you can.

You can, but not on his yard, which is what the parent poster meant. Or anywhere in the immediate surroundings of his home. Again, it's not polite to do so.


If someone camps out on my land and somehow causes injury to himself, I may be legally liable for damages. That's one reason, among many, why most private land is fenced off and restricted.

I almost feel sorry for you, a country run by lawyers is not a place i would like to live. The whole concept of "liability" is almost unknown in Sweden.

Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!
[ Parent ]

Rights and privilegies (5.00 / 2) (#95)
by Echo5ive on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:07:38 PM EST

So you can do this without the owner's permission? What happens if people leave vehicle tracks or garbage? What if I decide to become a permanent tent squatter on a secluded portion of a large private tract? Aren't there any enforcement issues?
I never did pay much attention to that while I was in the Scouts, or I could give you a better answer. :-)

Vehicles are out -- "You are not permitted to drive a car, motorbike, moped or any other motor vehicle off-road, or on roads that are closed to public motor traffic."

As the link said, tenting for one or two nights is OK, as long as it is out of sight of buildings -- I wouldn't like to have $random_person tenting within sight of my house.

The Right to Public Access is no law, it's just a set of recommendations ruled by common sense. Most of the people who like to hike across the country are wise enough not to leave garbage behind. That broken bottle someone throws away might be stepped on by another camper.

So can you camp on another person's land without permission or not? It doesn't sound like you can.
Quoth the Rights of Public Access:
You are allowed to pitch your tent for a day or two on land which is not used for farming, and which is not close to a dwelling. The closer to houses you wish to camp, the more likely you are to cause a disturbance, and the greater the need to ask the landowner for permission. How long you can keep your tent pitched in one and the same place depends on the circumstances. It would not be very wise or considerate, for instance, to pitch your tent even for only one night in the immediate vicinity of a private plot of land.
I don't know about liability from the land owners, if an accident should happen.



--
Frozen Skies: mental masturbation.

[ Parent ]
Land use (1.00 / 2) (#108)
by BadmanX on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:28:32 PM EST

"The Right to Public Access is no law, it's just a set of recommendations ruled by common sense. Most of the people who like to hike across the country are wise enough not to leave garbage behind. That broken bottle someone throws away might be stepped on by another camper."

Chuckle.  Eventually, someone will exploit this "tradition" for their own gain.  Public outrage will follow, followed by a set of legislations making it illegal to go on private property at all without permission.  And then you'll be just like us, because that's the way it HAS to be.  If you can't control who comes and goes on your property, then it really isn't yours, is it?

[ Parent ]

Impossible (none / 0) (#192)
by QuickFox on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:32:05 PM EST

a set of legislations making it illegal to go on private property at all without permission.

This is impossible. Love of nature runs deep in our traditions and we've had these rights to access to nature for uncountable generations. We won't give up these rights.

The risk of exploitation is very small since basically you're not allowed to leave any trace of your visit.

Problems do arise occasionally, such as tourists causing damage out of ignorance. But the solutions that are then discussed deal with how to teach the tourists. Banning our access is not discussed.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

don't be so sure (none / 0) (#229)
by demi on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 08:04:42 PM EST

Love of nature runs deep in our traditions and we've had these rights to access to nature for uncountable generations.

In places where population is sparse, the only time issues of land access ever matter is when wildstock grazing comes into play. In the American west, in the days before roads were federally maintained, there were similar agreements with regard to crossing private land, camping, and even grazing. Of course, once a lot of people moved out west, rising abuse made it untenable.

If Sweden diversifies and grows in population substantially, expect many of those traditions which rely on politeness, consideration, and common sense to be challenged and/or diminished. As this happens, expect traditionalists to blame, and become increasingly fearful of, immigration and social change. This is what has happened in North America and Europe.

Banning our access is not discussed.

I wouldn't expect a ban, just something slightly more restrictive.

[ Parent ]

Land Use (none / 0) (#207)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:42:35 PM EST

And then you'll be just like us, because that's the way it HAS to be.

So it has to be the way you do it because... it has to be the way you do it? Is USA culture so devoid of common sense and common decency that you can't even imagine it?

[ Parent ]
Liability (5.00 / 2) (#116)
by phliar on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:24:06 PM EST

If someone camps out on my land and somehow causes injury to himself, I may be legally liable for damages. That's one reason, among many, why most private land is fenced off and restricted.
This is one of the few things that really stinks about the US. Yes, you should not be setting jungle traps and pits with sharpened stakes and vipers on land where others might walk. But if some yahoo falls off a cliff, can his family sue you for not putting a fence there? That's stupid.

I used to live in Idaho. I'm sure the laws are the same, but out there, if you weren't being destructive or disruptive, no one would mind if you skied across someone's land, and if you got hurt, anyone would help you.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Some of the commonsense rules (5.00 / 2) (#183)
by QuickFox on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:15:41 PM EST

Basically you're not allowed to disturb the owner in any way, or leave practically any traces, except trampling some grass and plucking some berries.

Sweden is extremely sparsely populated. Large parts of the territory consists of immense stretches of forests and fields where "my neighbor" means someone who lives many kilometers away. It makes sense to have arrangements that make these vast stretches of nature accessible to people.

Asking for permission often doesn't make sense in this faraway wilderness, especially considering that you're not allowed to leave any trace anyway. But if the area is especially sensitive or unique you must always ask for permission.

There are lots of commonsense limitations:

  • You must not be in sight or hearing range of dwellings, nor inside the fences of gardens around dwellings, as this would disturb people.
  • You must not trample cultivated terrain such as crop fields.
  • You must not leave any garbage that will remain in the forest. You can leave stuff like apple cores thrown under bushes, since nature takes care of them in no time. But no paper, and absolutely no plastic, metal or glass, since that hurts animals. Of course near cities you must not even leave apple cores. You may dig down certain kinds of garbage if you know how.
  • You must not cut or break twigs or branches from trees, not even dry, dead twigs or branches. For firewood you can only pick fallen branches on the ground.
  • You must not make fire on large rocks. In the Swedish climate this cracks the rocks (though you won't see the cracks, it takes some time). You must know in what terrain fires are allowed, and in what season, and how to make a fire and extinguish a fire safely.
  • You must not let a tent stay on the same spot for so long that the grass below is yellowed for lack of air and light. Two or three days will often be fine, depending on terrain and season.
  • You must know forests well enough so you understand what may cause harm and know how to avoid it. If you don't have this knowledge you are not allowed to use the forest without a guide or teacher.
As for liability, as a visitor you are liable for any damages that you cause, but as far as I know the owner is not liable for anything that happens to you unless he intentionally rigged something. As a visitor it's your responsibility to avoid getting attacked by the owner's dogs and bulls and cows, falling into his wells, disturbing his land's vipers and wasps and bees, getting infectious wounds from his barbed wire, and so on. You choose to be there, this makes it your responsibility.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]
gated communities (none / 0) (#112)
by fenix down on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:38:35 PM EST

We do have that here.

My parents live in a gated-in development thing in NJ that ties to preserve the sense of being in the woods while being about an hour or so from NYC.

Anyway, one of the rules they have (besides stuff about not painting your door pink) is that you have to let other people hike through the wooded parts of your property. You even have to let people hunt deer with a bow out there, which gets argued about constantly.

I think it's kinda funny that they have that kind of thing going in a town that puts up Pat Buchannan for president signs and hasn't even had a Democratic mayoral candidate since the 70's.

[ Parent ]

Different Situations (2.00 / 1) (#286)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:05:21 PM EST

I've been hiking to Norway (not Sweeden) and enjoyed my time there immensely. The people were very freindly and curteous and I didn't feel overburdened by regulations.

As much as I like the Public Access custom that Scandinavia has... I'm afraid that there are large portions of the U.S. where it just wouldn't work.

I suspect it works so well in Sweden because Sweden is a relatively homogenous culture with very low population density compared to total land mass.

The U.S. is a "melting pot" with very dense population in certain sections.

While there are plenty of people in the U.S. who have respect for nature and other peoples property... there are plenty of other folks (usualy inner city types) with absolutely no understanding of nature, common courtesy or respect for anything but thier own selfish desires.

If you were a landowner who was regularly inundated by such people who left garbage on your property, disturbed the peace, damaged trees, wildlife and even structures and were careless with fire your views on the wisdom of public access might well change.

It's perfectly acceptable to allow public access when people are all willing to be courteous and reasonable... but what other option do you have when you are faced with a large faction of people are neither courteous or reasonable and refuse to be educated to be.

[ Parent ]

Clever (3.00 / 1) (#171)
by livingdots on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 10:24:49 AM EST

"...from what I've seen on the internet: I cannot sympathize."
That's real clever of you, slick. You do realize, of course, that if we should all follow your example then we should stop sympathizing with you Americans right about now.

[ Parent ]
Deep cultural difference (5.00 / 3) (#174)
by zocky on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 11:27:37 AM EST

There is a deep cultural difference in the way most Americans and most Europeans view private property. We're not talking about personal property - your personal things, house, car, etc. We're talking about private property - buildings, businesses and land that you don't use for personal, but rather for economic purposes.

Americans think of private property as a right. Europeans mostly think of private property as a priviledge - all people have the same right to economic resources, but the "owners" are allowed to control them because, and only because, it's in the public interest .

Private property of businesses works in much the same way as in the US, because most European governments see this as the way to run their economies. Still, owners of businesses are not omnipotent - many countries provide for workers' involvement in the management of corporations. And European goverments are expected, by their people, to manage the economy by directly intervening when necessary.

Private property of buildings (other than your home) also works in much the same way as in the US, but notice that in Europe, squatting is not necessarily illegal and squatters get a lot of protection from many governments. The logic behind this is clear - when the owners don't use their property because they don't find it profitable, the public interest to keep city centres from goint to ruin and the people's right to decent housing overrule the owner's right to control their private property.

As for private property of land, in Europe it is viewed more as the priviledge to economically exploit the land. It's also a duty - many governments will tax you for NOT using the land you own.

Unlike business and buildings, ownership of land (especially "natural" landscape, as opposed to farms) doesn't give you the right to control the land completely, not even in principle - you can't stop people from walking through your land, you can't cut just any tree or all trees in the forest you own, you can't put up a fence around your forest (bceause of the animals), you can't shoot animals in your forest without regular hunting bureaucracy, etc. You can't even stop people from driving through your backyard if it's their only connection from their home to the public road. In most of Europe you can't own sea coast or river banks.

Camping on other's people land without their consent? I don't even know whether it's legal, I know it's rude, so I (and the vast majority of people) don't do it. But of course, once you're in  nature, you have no idea whether the land you're camping on is private or public.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Excellent piece. (2.66 / 12) (#59)
by psyconaut on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:18:32 AM EST

An excellent rhetoric and a valid and worthy point.

To the person who claimed that the folk held in Cuba are PoWs: please go and read some international law, the Geneva convention, etc. I'm not trying to flame you, but it might give you some solid understanding of why they're not considered PoWs (and might stop you calling people "idiots").

-psyco

Here, read this... Idiot (4.00 / 5) (#152)
by Wulfius on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:53:45 PM EST

Start with;
http://www.hri.ca/uninfo/treaties/92.shtml

Here is the definition it is UNAMBIGOUS.
They only have to meet ONE of the definitions below. The prisoners in the US concentration camp
meet more than one.

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to ***ONE*** of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.


---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

What is Bush smoking? (5.00 / 2) (#252)
by mdevney on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:29:18 AM EST

After reading that link, I'm very interested in the chain of logic that leads anyone to determine "those aren't prisoners of war."  Seems stated very plainly that they are.  Anyone know the logic behind the Bush administration's denial?

[ Parent ]
Being noble is not enough (2.50 / 10) (#64)
by sagie on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:58:25 AM EST

Every ideal, principal or norm, however noble they might seem to their beholders, must stand the test of reality and pragmatism, or else they will lead to destruction of those who cling to them irrevocably and blindly. There often comes a time in every society, when it's most cherished ideals must be reevaluated and, alas, compromised for the sake of coping with the changing circumstances of life and evolution (social or otherwise). This might be triggered, among other things, by encounter and friction with a new and radically different entity, that renders all the thus far tried and true methods of reasoning and action insufficient, or even irrelevant.  
Based on that, I think that the author of this article is aiming in the wrong direction, when pointing out (rightfully so) the need to recognize differences in culture and local customs; it's the son of 'the man in the cage' and those who he represents, and what they stand for, that you should be baffled by, not the difference in procedure (that amounts to petty nitpicking) of holding the man in custody. This is where the real problem is, and your gut feeling is right, but you're not there yet. Probably because of fear, that the problem is much larger then you care to admit to yourself.

 

best article ever. (2.11 / 9) (#68)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:14:52 AM EST

nice job.

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!

On terrorism (2.65 / 26) (#69)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:06:01 AM EST

For the 1000th time: terrorists and war criminals are not covered by the Geneva Convention. The people held at Guantanamo are not POWs. Therefore the US can do pretty much anything they want with them according to international law. These people do not respect internationally accepted laws for waging war which means they have forfeited their right to be treated as human beings. And believe you me, they know this. They have taken a calculated risk and am sure are prepared to pay the price if they get caught.

Now enter the pandering masses of the western world who think the same principals as they expect from the criminal system can be applied to terrorists. If the treatment of the detainees hurts the sensibilities of the average westerner, he should remind himself of the atrocities these people are involved in.

I sure hope the US is using any means necessary (and I mean any) to extract information from these fucks to capture more of their kin and stop them from doing more harm. Rinse, repeat. In a few years or maybe a generation or two it will become clear that you just don't want to engage in terrorism: you will end up dead or incarcarated for life without a trial and the cause you are fighting for will get farther from fulfillment the more you fight.

Now, having said that, it can be argued that the policy the US pursues with the detainees hurts the "war on terrorism" in the long run more than it helps it. This is due to wide international disaffection with the US policy which spans their strongest allies as well as potential ones.

Also, it is quite apparent that detaining, torturing and executing terrorists will most certainly create a new generation of terrorists who will embark on a new crusade to avenge the deaths of their brothers and fathers. And most worryingly this might apply to nations and/or ethnic groups as well. I tend to subscribe to the assertion that the US has to some extent caused the terrorist attacks on itself by blindly concentrating on short-term goals in lieu of long-term. I just hope the intelligence community has learned from the mistakes it made in Afghanistan and Central/South America in the 80s.

Therefore I believe what the US does right now is close to what they should be doing. They might need to address the limbo the detainees are in in a more convincing way to the world but it is probably unnecessary to give them the treatment most western nationals seem to demand in view of what the detainees might know about Al Qaida and other organizations.

But the most important the US, EU and wealthier mid-East nations should do is support the (puppet or not) government in Afghanistan and help bring it to the 21st century in all senses of the phrase. Helping Afghanistan and other terrorist states to enjoy a reasonably paced sustainable development across generations is in the long run the most effective way to win the war on terrorism, IMO.

Nevertheless, it will be extremely difficult for the western to world to achieve this without meddling with this process to guide them in the "right" direction instead of letting them develop in a way that is in harmony with their cultural mores, history and religion. If we could for once let them develop on their own terms (like we have let China do for very different reasons) maybe we could achieve what we sought out to achieve in the first place.

--
Would you like an anti-radar detector -detector to go with the anti anti-missile-missile missile?


POWs are declared by Bush.. (3.50 / 2) (#72)
by kipple on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:17:42 AM EST

...so it's obvious that he declared the Talebans as not being a 'regular' army, therefore labeling all prisoners not as Prisoners of War, but as something indefinite that they can held in a cage forever.

I would like to see the ONU declaring those who are prisoners of war and those who are not.. also, nevertheless, there's no reason to held a man in a cage for indefinite time without trial, period. Unless the country that is doing that won't pretend to be called "land of freedom" any more.
--- There are two kind of sysadmins: Paranoids and Losers (adapted from D. Bach)
[ Parent ]

Sigh. (4.63 / 19) (#75)
by spacemoose on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:37:39 AM EST

These people do not respect internationally accepted laws for waging war which means they have forfeited their right to be treated as human beings. And believe you me, they know this. They have taken a calculated risk and am sure are prepared to pay the price if they get caught.
If they have not had a trial, how do we know if they are terrorists or not?

I don't mind if you want to pass laws which allow us to torture terrorists. Fine, do that. But I don't like the US government being able to lock up even it's own citizens indefinately, without trial, and even without pressing charges. Fine, do whatever you want to to terrorists (although I think this also should be democratically determined). Public flogging, military execution, lifetime slavery in concentration camps. That's not the issue here the issue is give all of these human beings a trial to determine if they are terrorists or not. Which of course means giving a legal definition to what is punishable as terrorist activity or not. Rule of law. There's a reason for it.

Oh, and before I get any kind of flaming, I'm an anti american euro trash or whatever, I'm American, and I'm a veteran. I recall swearing an oath to protect the consitition some 12 years ago. And this kind of crap is just SO unconstitutional.

[ Parent ]

I too am a veteran... (4.87 / 16) (#84)
by trimethyl on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:40:40 AM EST

And I'm appalled by the way the Bush administration is handling the "war on terrorism".

The anti-terrorism pundits are quick to point out "there's a war going on here" when asked to justify any of their assinine policies, yet when it comes the treatment of detainees, suddenly the "war" is no longer a war.

I have no problem with rooting out terrorism; what I have a big problem with is this double standard the current administration is using to prosecute the "war on terrorism". Whenever the current administration wants to deny our rights, they do so under the guise of "it's necessary for the war on terrorism", yet when it comes to the Geneva convention, suddenly, we're no longer at war. The Bush administration is using many of the constitutional powers reserved for wartime without actually having declared either war, or a state of emergency. The fact that the Supreme Court has given him de facto dictator status by allowing him to arbitrarily decide who is and isn't an "enemy combatant" is equally unsettling.

We either are at war, or we aren't. It's that simple - if we aren't at war, Bush has no business detaining "enemy combatants." If we are at war, those "enemy combatants" are prisoners of war, and deserve to be treated as such.

Quite frankly, it makes me sick to see a President trample over the rights and freedoms that I fought so hard to win...



[ Parent ]
That is incorrect (1.80 / 5) (#90)
by EriKZ on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:38:53 AM EST

Enemy combatants are treated as POWs when they act in accordance to the RULES of warfare.

They didn't, therefore they are not going to receive the BENIFITS of being a POW.


[ Parent ]

Flawed Logic (4.42 / 7) (#117)
by idou on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:25:06 PM EST

It is very simple. If you have any category of prisoners who are considered not entitled to a fair trial, open to the public's scrutiny, then no other category of prisoner matters.

What kind of category a prisoner falls under, indeed, whether the individual should be a prisoner or not, all depends on a fair trial. Having the possibility of ANYONE being imprisoned without a fair trial puts us all at risk of being unjustly imprisoned.

I think at such a point it is safe to argue that we are no longer a democracy . . .  


[ Parent ]

What? (1.57 / 7) (#124)
by EriKZ on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:56:01 PM EST

It is very simple. If you have any category of prisoners who are considered not entitled to a fair trial, open to the public's scrutiny, then no other category of prisoner matters.

I'm sorry but this makes no sense whatsoever.

I've even tried applying this logic to other situations and it doesn't make sense for those either.



[ Parent ]

Very simple (4.50 / 4) (#136)
by magney on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:39:22 PM EST

If you have a category of prisoner you can hold indefinitely without giving a fair and speedy and open trial to determine his status, then he never gets the opportunity to be in any other category except at the whim of his captors. Therefore, the other categories don't matter.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Oh. (2.00 / 4) (#138)
by EriKZ on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:25:37 PM EST

I still don't get it.

Ok, two countries that obeyed the rules of POW went to war with each other, and captured prisoners.

They're POWs. They represent a country and are wearing that countries uniforms. I don't think any military wastes it's time giving trials for every person who surrenders during war. They're just considered POWs and are tossed into jail until later. You said that whether these guys should be prisoners or not depends on a fair trial? I've never heard of this.

And to the people who are voting 1. Cut the crap, these are honest questions.

[ Parent ]

Crap Cutting (4.25 / 4) (#155)
by _cbj on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 12:29:31 AM EST

POWs have rights too boring to research. Dozens of them. The sort of rights that obviate a trial because they guarantee you won't get completely fucked over in the mean time. And you're sent home after the war, I think, which makes it all okay.

These people are not POWs. Nor are they criminals ensnared by the rigourous mechanics of the justice system. So what are they? They can't remain unclassified. You can't say POWs get set of rights A, criminals get set of rights B and unclassifieds get set of rights C, because then you've just arbitrarily classified them*. You also can't say they have "no rights" because that's meaningless. It's like that MIT koan where Minsky mocks a student for randomly wiring a neural net because he wants it to have no preconceived ideas. It still does have preconceived ideas but the student doesn't know what they are, so he's twice fucked.

The question to you, as an American, is do you want to have an insight into the actions of your country and some well-defined means to affect those actions? (Note that even if you can be happily ignorant, you may one day benefit from the insight and means of your countrymen. Be reminded that your benevolent dictators aren't so careful that they can always distinguish between yourself and the bad guys. That sort of care requires a process. Laws and stuff.)

* You can say that, of course, but if you kept using terms that implied 'unclassified' then it would begin to look awfully like a con job.

[ Parent ]

Isn't it simple? (3.75 / 4) (#139)
by Guizzy on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 08:30:44 PM EST

If you can't prove that you do not belong in that category of prisonners, the Bush administration can put ANYONE, without any regrets or after-thought, in jail and never ever have to prove that they did anything. You guys are giving your government the right to kill anyone on the planet without justifying itself to anyone. It's one of the most horrible things a government can ever do. That's the kind of stuff Stalin did.

[ Parent ]
So, if they are not POWs (4.60 / 5) (#111)
by drquick on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:37:33 PM EST

If they are not POWs then they must be criminals. You can't have it both ways. Prisoners cannot be not criminals and not POWs.

The USA has been doing nothing but dodging all responsibilities concerning X-Ray prisoners. There is a legal framework for criminal prisoners and another for POWs. Therefore the Bush administration has now invented X-Ray status for prisoners (obviously a metaphor for interrogation). We have heard that the terrorists - obviously guilty without trial - have [sic] "forfeited their right to be treated as human beings". How come even the most psychotic serial killers get fair trial but not terror suspects. Suspected terrorists are held indefinitely without charges.

There is a sense of a paradigm change: Terrorism is being at war and therefore you have the right to respond with...! But as we know it, POW status is legally the only alternative to a status of criminal or suspect. And so it should be !

[ Parent ]

Legal but not right. They aren't either... (4.50 / 2) (#133)
by gte910h on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:23:30 PM EST

If they are not POWs then they must be criminals

I don't think that holding these people in limbo is a good thing to do. However, its most certainly legal.

A criminal is someone who breaks a law of a state. Most of these people have not broken the laws of the USA. Therefore, most if any, are not criminals.

A Prisoner Of War (POW) is defined by the Geneva Convention as a soldier of an enemy who follows certain rules of war.

The people at Camp X-Ray made war upon the US. They did so contrary to the customs and laws of war. Therefore they are screwed, without rights, and the US can legally do whatever it would like to these people.

The US doesn't let them talk to their families or lawyers because there is a danger they will communicate information valuable for future attacks. The US thinks information was leaked through a lawyer when the WTC was bombed in 1993.

I don't like the situation, however, I don't see what alternatives the administration can make without putting TONS of trust into an american-hating horde, only more pissed off for being held for months, who have already fought against us.

[ Parent ]
Forfeited rights? (4.83 / 6) (#159)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 04:32:58 AM EST

The people at Camp X-Ray made war upon the US. They did so contrary to the customs and laws of war. Therefore they are screwed, without rights, and the US can legally do whatever it would like to these people.
I don't think the people in camp X-Ray have broken any laws of war. You must first of all remember that these people have not done terrorist attacks against the USA, they have been fighting in Afghanistan and many of them are not fighters (for instance this Swedish boy). The terroists are other individuals. As you might notice Al Quaida terrorists have been arrested in Europe on criminal charges. Camp X-Ray inmates are mostly "enemy combatants". Part of them ate Al Quaida members but they have not participated in terrorism. Then again if terrorism - as according to GWB - is a form of war, that distinction is irrelevant.

So what have these "enemy combatants" done that is contrary to laws of war? Their country is attacked (rightly or not) and they defend themselves. That's well in accordance with laws of war.

On the UNHCHR site we find among others the following categories of prisoners with POW rights:

  1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
  2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
    • (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    • (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
    • (c) That of carrying arms openly;
    • (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
  3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
  4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.
  5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.
  6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
I think the detainees at Camp X-Ray fit into category 1 but categories 3 and 6 seem also relevant. Observe that if you belong to category 1 then you don't need a uniform. Actually only category 2 seems to need a "fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance"

Again I ask what are the concrete acts that were not in "respect the laws and customs of war"? The war in afghanistan was so short that there was no time for more than plain fighting.

[ Parent ]

I actually agree with you... (none / 0) (#363)
by gte910h on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:54:03 PM EST

....but this was SOOO long ago.

[ Parent ]
So? (4.00 / 3) (#211)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:04:02 PM EST

I don't think that holding these people in limbo is a good thing to do. However, its most certainly legal.

What's your point? You are saying that to imprison humans is outside the constitutional state. If the government can decide who is within the legal system, there is no legal system.

[ Parent ]
Really? (5.00 / 1) (#309)
by DavidTC on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:38:57 AM EST

Please explain to me, under what US law it is illegal to attack a US soldier in another country?

It's not illegal to do anything in other countries. However, it is illegal under military law to kidnap people in other countries. Which, if they are not prisoners, is what the US did.

You can't just grab people, bring them back to the US, and say, 'Ha ha! You aren't really POWs, you have no rights.'. That's illegal under all sorts of laws, hell, there's probably a US law against it also. And, hey, it's kidnapping once they get inside the US anyway.

Whereas shooting at US soldiers walking down your street (outside the US) is not illegal under any international code of justice, Afganistan law, or US law.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Are you sure you want to renounce your rights? (5.00 / 19) (#115)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:12:21 PM EST

You're missing the point! Let's make it more specific. Suppose you're in a cafeteria, and at the next table people are arguing against the War on Terrorism, and you start telling them what you just said in your comment above. Suddenly there's a lot of commotion, and the cafeteria is full of Government agents pointing guns at your newfound discussion buddies.

You're not surprised, you knew they were up to no good, you could feel it, the way they... Wait, officer, why are you pointing that gun at me? But sir, I'm on your side! I don't even know these people, I just... No, of course I won't resist arrest, but I'm a loyal... OW! THAT HURTS!

Next day you're in one of those cages.

So you want to tell someone that you don't belong in that cage. You can prove it. If they'll just listen you can prove it. What I'm saying is that they should listen to you. What you're saying is that they should ignore your protests.

I'm saying that they should find out which prisoners are terrorists and which ones are not. What happens after that is outside the scope of this article. My concern is that they should find out.

You don't tell us why they should ignore your protests. All your arguments are about terrorists. That's irrelevant since you're not a terrorist. So give us reasons that apply to you.

You're saying that they should use any means necessary (and you mean any) to extract information from you, so they can capture more of your kin and stop them from doing more harm. Why should they do this to you?

You're saying that you do not respect internationally accepted laws for waging war, which means that you have forfeited your right to be treated as a human being. How does this apply to you?

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Why am I not surprised? (3.80 / 5) (#149)
by Sleepy on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:08:59 PM EST

For the 1000th time: terrorists and war criminals are not covered by the Geneva Convention. The people held at Guantanamo are not POWs. Therefore the US can do pretty much anything they want with them according to international law.

Only in America would someone invent a situation where human rights don't apply...



[ Parent ]
way off-base (5.00 / 2) (#273)
by FourDegreez on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:02:02 PM EST

"These people do not respect internationally accepted laws for waging war which means they have forfeited their right to be treated as human beings."

So let me see if I have this straight. They don't recognize the Geneva Convention, so the US, which is bound by the Convention, can, in this case, say, "Ha ha, we don't have to worry about those pesky human rights because we've got ourselves a handy loophole!" The very thought that you'd try to find a loophole in human rights protections is frankly quite disturbing. Actually, IIRC the Geneva Convention must be applied in all cases regardless of whether the combatants have accepted it or not.

"Now enter the pandering masses of the western world who think the same principals as they expect from the criminal system can be applied to terrorists."

How do you know they are terrorists until they are proven as such in an acceptably fair manner? Your attitude is, "Oh we already know that they are terrorists so we don't have to go through the standard procedure of proving that they are terrorists." Your entire argument is a logical black hole. Although, congratulations, it is par for the course in conservative circles.

[ Parent ]
Not according to Article 2 (1.50 / 2) (#288)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:44:05 PM EST

Your Comment:

"Actually, IIRC the Geneva Convention must be applied in all cases regardless of whether the combatants have accepted it or not."

Is not in agreement with the text of the Convention:

"Article 2

In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.

Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof. "

Note Article 2 specifies that the convention shall apply "two or more of the High Contracting Parties" . I have never heard that either the Taliban or Al Qaeda were signtories (i.e. High Contracting Parties) to the convention.

Furthermore the article goes on to state that

"Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations"

The word "mutual" there very clearly indicates that parties involved in a conflict are only obligated to uphold the Convention in regards to other parties in the conflict who are themselves signatories to the convention.

The only place where Article 2 (which talks about the conditions under which the Conventions Rules are to be applied)  talks about obligations to non-signatories is this sentence "They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power (the non-signatory), if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof. "

So unless you want to argue that both the Taliban and Al Qaeda have themselves abided by the Rules of the Convetion (which clearly is not the case), by the Conventions own language, the U.S. is NOT obligated to apply it to them.

I think there is ample evidence that both the Taliban and Al Qaeda have on numerous occasions violated the Rules of the Convention.... not the least of which is the explicit targeting of non-combatants and treatment of thier own prisoners.

Therefore under the language of Article 2 of the Convention the U.S. has no obligation to afford them status as P.O.W.'s under the Rules of the Convention.

While I think we should afford them P.O.W status anyway... we certainly are NOT obligated to.... and not by a technicality but by a basic tennent of the agreement... which is that it be MUTUAL...
that is a country is not bound to follow the rules of the convention if the country it is fighting flaunts them.

If you are going to hold up the Geneva Convention as some sort of holly grail and take us to task for not abiding by it... then you really need to apply the Convention that we actualy agreed to... in it's ENTIRETY.... and not just some mythical spin made up of conveniently selected portions of the Convention taken out of context.


[ Parent ]

Read it again ! (none / 0) (#316)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:05:30 AM EST

Article 2 specifies a number of cases where the Geneva Convention applies.

The first is:

In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.
So, if you are not at war then POW status applies. Prisoners must be released at end of hostilities, regardless if the other party signed or not.

Another one of them is:

Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof. "
Clearly, signatories are bound to the treaty, if a non-signatory "accepts and applies the provisions" of the convention. In what way did the Taliban or Al Quaida in Afghanistan not accept or apply those provisions? The war was so quick and dominated by the USA that they had no chance not apply.

[ Parent ]
I read it right the first time (1.00 / 1) (#326)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:59:56 AM EST

Your Comment:

"So, if you are not at war then POW status applies. Prisoners must be released at end of hostilities, regardless if the other party signed or not. "

My reply:

"all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict"

While we may not officially be at war... you certainly don't intend to argue that Afghanistan is not an "armed conflict" do you?

Remember Korea was not technically a "war" either..
it was a "police action" ... however it certainly qualified as an "armed conflict" just like Afghanistan

Also remember that Article 2 specifies in which situations the convention is to apply and to whom. If Taliban and Al Qaeda is not a "High Contracting Party" or a nation which itself follows the Rules of the Convention then NONE of the Rules of the Convention (including the ones about POW's) apply to them.

Your Comment:

"Clearly, signatories are bound to the treaty, if a non-signatory "accepts and applies the provisions" of the convention. In what way did the Taliban or Al Quaida in Afghanistan not accept or apply those provisions? The war was so quick and dominated by the USA that they had no chance not apply."

My reply:

The theatre of conflict is not limited to Afghanistan. Al Quaida has engaged in belligerent activities in the U.S., unless you wish to argue that 3,000 dead in New York does not constitute "belligerence"?

They have therefore violated  Article 3 section 1 which deals with treatment of non-combatants

"
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
"
Unless you wish to argue that the civilians in the World Trade Center and aboard our airliners were "active combatants" then Al Quaida has clearly violated the Convention not to mention the kidnapping and execution of the U.S. reporter in Pakistan not to mention the routine activities of both the Taliban and Al Quaida in Afghanistan itself (They routinely fire at non-combatants, including reporters and medical personnel)

This also clearly violates Chapter III, Article 19 in regards the treatment of medical units
" Art. 19. Fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical
Service may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict."

This only constitutes a small portion of thier own violations of the Convention.

None of this even considers their own treatment of Northern Alliance prisoners during the conflict.

In short, if Taliban and Al Quaida were willing to abide by the accepted rules of war, I'm sure we would as well.... in fact, if they were the current conflict wouldn't even exist as it was started by an attack explicitly directed at U.S. civillians.

[ Parent ]

As far as I know... (4.05 / 17) (#76)
by Echo5ive on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:44:43 AM EST

Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali, age 23, travelled to Pakistan to study. He has only been suspected of associating with terrorists. I have yet to see any proof.

I've been down at Sergel's square. I've seen his father in the cage, similar in size to the ones in Camp X-Ray. That's no way to treat a human being.



--
Frozen Skies: mental masturbation.

What's your conviction rate like? (2.60 / 5) (#79)
by karb on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:12:51 AM EST

Just curious. In the US, it's far more likely that an guilty person goes free than an innocent person would be convicted (or even arrested), which may be why we don't mind people being held for longer amounts of time before trial. Although this case is not the norm.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
Did you see the last paragraph of the article?[nt] (1.33 / 3) (#85)
by p3d0 on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:00:10 AM EST


--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Holding people before trial (4.33 / 3) (#89)
by anno1602 on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:25:03 AM EST

The point is that by holding people w/out a charge or without trial, it is at least theoretically possible to hold them in those two weeks when they might come in inconvenient. That's why, at least in Germany, if somebody is to be held for longer than (I think) 3 days awaiting trial, a judge will decide whether or not to hold the accused until trial begins. He will only be held when (1) the charges are reasonable (they don't have to be true or water-tight, but there has to be sufficient evidence for thinking the accused might have done it) and (2) there is danger of the accused fleeing or he constitutes a public threat (in cases of murder, for example).
--
"Where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit." - Murphy
[ Parent ]
woohoo (1.64 / 14) (#81)
by turmeric on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:19:16 AM EST

im moving to sweden. you guys did stop your eugenics policy right?

I felt a sudden urge to moderate... (4.00 / 3) (#180)
by mirleid on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 01:55:00 PM EST

...but then again, I hate when that happens without a post to substantiate it. So, and without further ado, WTF does your post have to do with the issue that is being discussed? Its like me saying that the US had 911 coming because of black slavery in the South: just plain stupid...



Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
Being noble is not enough (2.00 / 5) (#97)
by sagie on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:14:36 PM EST

Every ideal, principal or norm, however noble they might seem to their beholders, must stand the test of reality and pragmatism, or else they will lead to destruction of those who cling to them irrevocably and blindly. There often comes a time in every society, when it's most cherished ideals must be reevaluated and, alas, compromised for the sake of coping with the changing circumstances of life and evolution (social or otherwise). This might be triggered, among other things, by encounter and friction with a new and radically different entity, that renders all the thus far tried and true methods of reasoning and action insufficient, or even irrelevant.  
Based on that, I think that the author of this article is aiming in the wrong direction, when pointing out (rightfully so) the need to recognize differences in culture and local customs; it's the son of the man in the cage and those who he represents, and what they stand for, that you should be baffled by, not the difference in procedure (that amounts to petty nitpicking) of holding the man in custody. This is where the real problem is, and your gut feeling is right, but you're not there yet, probably because of fear, that the problem is much larger then you care to admit to yourself.  


If he's a terrorist (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:11:52 PM EST

it's the son of the man in the cage and those who he represents, and what they stand for, that you should be baffled by,

If the son is a terrorist, then I agree. If he is, then he's a sociopath and a danger to democracy. (Or in some far-fetched way he might just be a misguided activist, but he'd still be a danger to democracy that cannot be tolerated.)

That is, if he's a terrorist.

The US should find out if he's a terrorist.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Not exactly (4.00 / 1) (#121)
by DarkZero on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:31:24 PM EST

it's the son of the man in the cage and those who he represents, and what they stand for, that you should be baffled by, not the difference in procedure (that amounts to petty nitpicking) of holding the man in custody.

There are many accusations, several of them with evidence, that there are men in Guantanamo Bay that not only did not kill any Americans, but weren't even involved with any of the groups in Afghanistan. Some of them appear to be simply Arab charity workers that came to Afghanistan (as charity workers did from all over the world) and were locked up with the Taliban and Al Qaeda soldiers because they were of a similar ethnicity. The most well known case, though still not very well known, is that of a group of Kuwaiti charity workers that came to Afghanistan around December or January and were sent to Guantanamo Bay when they were found by American soldiers because they were Arabs and they were not within the confines of an NGO camp, despite the fact that they lacked weaponry and were not dressed at all like the Taliban or Al Qaeda soldiers.

You assume, as many do, that all of these people are guilty of crimes. However, that also assumes that American soldiers, aka "human beings", are completely infallible and could not possibly mix up a small, unarmed group of fleeing Taliban soldiers in the mountains and a small, unarmed group of charity workers that looks exactly like them.

[ Parent ]

If you are in the military, start worrying (3.14 / 14) (#105)
by Anko on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:55:28 PM EST

Don't be captured by anyone. The rules have been changed.

You don't have to be in the military.... (4.20 / 5) (#107)
by alt on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:24:55 PM EST

You only have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

[ Parent ]
Military (4.00 / 4) (#122)
by marx on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:41:33 PM EST

What you're saying is that the US is charging these men with being in the Taliban military. Fine, but then they need to make this accusation in a trial and prove it.

The primary criticism is not that the US is making up crimes, it's that there are no trials. If trials are not necessary to imprison people, then this kind of thing could, and will, happen to anyone.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

no, the rules have changed (4.25 / 4) (#157)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 03:38:11 AM EST

I think the most important point is that rules have changed. The rules of war that is. It seems to be allright to USA if that change of rules applies to presumed enemies. America likes to interrogate "enemy combatants" an hold them indefinately.

Anything you do applies to yourself. What is the incentive for anyone to treat American prisoners fairly? Rules of war are not valid if they aren't valid for everyone. If the USA can cheat on international agrements so can everyone else. The agrements become de facto void.

[ Parent ]

Problem (4.40 / 5) (#162)
by marx on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:24:39 AM EST

The problem with your method is that it makes all countries converge to the lowest common denominator. Have a problem with a minority? Spray some chemicals over them. Saddam did it, so why can't we? Have a problem with some political fringe group? Jail them, and maybe torture them a bit. China does it, so why can't we?

That's the trap the US fell into. Just because someone else did something terrible to the US, it now thinks it can do equally terrible things to defend itself. That's not the way civilization works though.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Its not my method (3.00 / 1) (#188)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:26:53 PM EST

Nice comment. But I was commenting on how things have evolved to something bad. I did not intend to endorse these new de facto rules.

In other words: I completely agree with you.

[ Parent ]

Right (3.57 / 7) (#127)
by tjb on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:53:04 PM EST

Because we all know how well the NVA treated captured American pilots, cuz Jane Fonda said so.  They even let them stay at the Hilton! Wow what nice guys...

/sarcasm

Look, the last enemy that the US fought that treated caputred US soldiers within the bounds of the Geneva convention (or some reasonable facsimile thereof) was Nazi Germany (Soviet soldiers were a different story, though).  Imperial Japan, North Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq took every opportunity to torture the shit out of captured soldiers.

The rules haven't changed because nobody who matters has ever paid attention to the rules anyway.

Tim

[ Parent ]

Then... (3.40 / 5) (#128)
by Guizzy on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:03:30 PM EST

Shouldn't the country touting itself as the most righteous one give the exemple, for a change?

[ Parent ]
It gets worse (5.00 / 1) (#258)
by BCoates on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:42:17 AM EST

You know what else the US military does to enemy combatants?  They kill them!  No trial, no arrest, they just up and shoot them or drop a bomb on them or whatever they feel like.  And you just know, it won't be long before other countries feel free to do the same thing to our soldiers in response.  In the name of international cooperation, we must restrain from killing our enemies in combat... perhaps we could condemn them with a strongly worded UN mandate.

Why, if they drop bombs soldiers in Afghanistan, and they're getting ready to do the same thing in Iraq, how long is it before the criminal Bushite gangsters start bombing and shooting whoever they want in Kansas?

--
Benjamin COates

[ Parent ]

no sympathy for this foreigner (1.33 / 12) (#142)
by ceramicnuts on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:02:48 PM EST

this "Swede" is Muhammed Ghezali -- an ARAB.

This might come as a shock (5.00 / 2) (#143)
by behindthecurtain on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 09:44:43 PM EST

The term "arab" does not denote nationality. Let's change a few words around in your comment to see what happens:

this "American" is John Smith -- a WHITE.

Doesn't this come off as a little racist? Would you be supporting the lack of aid to John Smith from his American government merely because he's white? He's still an American, right? Kind of funny when one remembers that the American government threatened to send shock comando units to the Hague should any of its soldiers be tried by the World Court. It'd be even funnier if a bunch of Swedish commandos assaulted the Cuba camp and liberated its citizen.

lalala

[ Parent ]

Say what? (4.33 / 3) (#144)
by Sleepy on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:14:29 PM EST

A person is a person is a person. And no person should ever be treated that way. I'm surprised that I even have to tell anyone this.

[ Parent ]
Where was Sweden? (2.50 / 18) (#147)
by vinegar joe on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:46:53 PM EST

When American POW's were being help in Vietnamese cages for 7 years?
What was Sweden doing doing World War II? Oh yes, making big profits by selling the Nazi's raw materials. And holding American and British pilots (who landed in Sweden) in prison camps. And lets not forget all the Swedish volunteers who served in the SS divisions Nordland and Wiking.

Please tell us more about Sweden.....please?

Savage (3.00 / 1) (#150)
by Wulfius on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:37:13 PM EST

You see the savage and uncouth Vietnamese were
a red monster menace. They did not recognise
the Geneva convention.

On the other hand, the US government has.

The prisoners of war are held in direct violation
of the Geneva convention. This is why they
are held outside of the US territory. Because
even the corrupt judiciary (qv: Bush election)
of the US would have to free the POWs.
(Under Geneva convention the POWs are released
upon the cesation of hostilities).

If in the course of defending freedom you have
to sacrafice it. You have lost that thing which you want to defend.

---

There might very well have been a few swedes
who fought for hitler. Those were the exception
rather than the rule.

As to the shot down pilots held down in camps.
Well, they were internment camps. They were
better than POW camps. The sole reason
for their existance was, again international treaties.
You see, Sweden was NEUTRAL during the war.
According to the conventions any enemy combatants
who set foot on their ground had to be held.


---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Double standards (none / 0) (#191)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:31:24 PM EST

You see, Sweden was NEUTRAL during the war. According to the conventions any enemy combatants who set foot on their ground had to be held.
Too bad it did not apply to German and Finnish soldiers... Neutrality, you said?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Soldiers in sweden... (none / 0) (#256)
by nhl on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:20:04 AM EST

While it didn't apply to German soldiers, your point about Finnish soldiers is without basis as I already pointed out in a reply to a previous comment by you.

http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/9/6/20248/59711?pid=187#254

[ Parent ]
Communication between Norway and Germany (none / 0) (#259)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:24:57 AM EST

You do know that Axis troops were stationed in Norway, do you?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Finnish troops (3.00 / 1) (#278)
by nhl on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:07:36 PM EST

I know that no Finnish troops were stationed in Norway (I've done my fair of research on the subject being a Finn who has studied our history in quite detail), as despite the military alliance with Germany, Finland was not part of the Axis.

[ Parent ]
Finland and the Axis (4.00 / 1) (#282)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:08:54 PM EST

You are right, of course Finland was not a member of the Axis. Actually, in 1939 Finland was an enemy of the Axis when it defended itself against the best ally of the Axis, the Soviet Union. Then in 1941, when it defended itself against the worst enemy of the Axis, the Soviet Union, Finland found itself allied to Germany and under common military command in places. Finland and the Axis should be Finland and the Soviet Union.

However, I have read about the Finnish Independent Detachment Petsamo being posted in Kristiansand, Norway, in April 1941 and moving through Sweden to invade the Soviet Union. But that was in a Soviet "history" book about the siege of Leningrad... not exactly the most reliable source, I agree.

So I don't know. You being a Finn, your sources are probably better that mine?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Big Profits (none / 0) (#151)
by Wulfius on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:40:30 PM EST

As to the big profits you really should check
the facts before you start throwing rocks
living in a glass house.

The biggest winners were US military armanemt
companies like Dupont, General Electric etc.

And since you *REALLY* want to talk about
Hitler and financial matters, you DO know
where he got the money to build his army?
Yupp, the US financiers.


---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Where do you want to go? (none / 0) (#153)
by QuickFox on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:57:17 PM EST

Should I bite this troll or not? I don't know, it's so ugly, and lacks any skill. But it needs deflating. And the things it says have easy answers. Ugly, but so easy it's almost painful.

Naah, the troll is too ugly. It's too empty of skill. Civilized conversation is much more fun.

Anyway your comment history is unimpressive. It sucks.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Wait a minute (5.00 / 1) (#187)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:25:37 PM EST

It's a troll because one cannot blame today's Swedes for what Sweden did before their birth. But you cannot deny that Sweden's neutrality during WW2 was far from being neutral. Do you want to hear about German troops free passage through Sweden to Norway, while the same was denied to Allied troops? You do know that the German and Finnish army passed freely through Sweden to invade the Soviet Union, too, don't you? You are aware of the Sweden iron that was delivered to Germany until 1945?

All countries have skeletons hidden somewhere. Including Sweden.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Look where that path leads (4.40 / 5) (#223)
by QuickFox on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:14:12 PM EST

Are you saying that this is somehow relevant to the article or the rest of the discussion here? If so, please explain how.

The way I see it, the troll throws up some randomly chosen skeletons from the past and sarcastically begs for more. It's an invitation to answer with a similar text throwing up random skeletons of the US and begging for more. Whereupon the troller might reply that s/he is from some other country, carefully chosen for the horror of its skeletons as found by Google. And with that the badmouthing can escalate.

That kind of flamewar by offence leads to hurt feelings and nothing constructive. I can't see in this troll anything but a predictable anger-flamewar troll. Last time I was in a discussion focusing on Sweden there was a similar troll, but focusing on recent failures and follies of Swedish politicians. Makes me wonder if Sweden evokes people's ire or something.

If every discussion that focuses on a country will get a thread about random skeletons from that country I think discussion on K5 will suffer.

But as I said, if you really think this is relevant, please explain and maybe I'll answer.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

You're right. My bad. (N/T) (none / 0) (#225)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:40:55 PM EST



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Invading Soviet Union via Sweden (off topic) (none / 0) (#254)
by nhl on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:15:52 AM EST

You do know that the German and Finnish army passed freely through Sweden to invade the Soviet Union, too, don't you?

Do elaborate even tho this is off-topic. Finland has a very long border against what was the former Soviet Union, and the "invasion" of Soviet Union was done as eastward pushes. Sweden on the other hand, is Finland's western neighbour. This claim is even more ridiculous when you realize that Sweden doesn't (and didn't) have any border against the Soviet Union as those two countries weren't even neighbours.

How about getting checking a map before posting?

[ Parent ]
Norway troops (none / 0) (#260)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:26:34 AM EST

Troops stationed in Norway were allowed free passage through Sweden, and joined the forced poised at the German/Soviet Union border.

How about you check a history book before suggesting others to look at a map?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Norway troops (none / 0) (#263)
by gyhujikolp on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:59:43 AM EST

But your assertion was that the Finnish army was allowed passage through Sweden in order to invade the USSR. What you still don't appear to have grasped is that Finland was *between* Sweden and the USSR. Had the Finnish army, as you say, passed through Sweden, it would have been moving west, away from the USSR. No quantity of historical fact changes this geographical fact.


[ Parent ]
I didn't say that... (none / 0) (#281)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:57:27 PM EST

I said the Finnish and German armies were granted free passage through Sweden to invade the Soviet Union, and yes, they did. In addition, elements from both Armies actually did go through Sweden.

Depending on where they were stationed in Norway, troops passed trough Sweden and Germany, Sweden and Finland, or directly through Finland, to deploy for Operation Barbarossa, i.e. invading the Soviet Union.

This free passage was requested specifically to invade the Soviet Union. It was granted.

Now, you go look at a map. As a member of the Finnish Independent Detachment Petsamo, you are posted in Kristiansand, Norway. You are going to invade the Soviet Union, with your goal being Murmansk, Soviet Union. And you are supposed to be in Kajaani, Finland for the start of the attack. What is your route? Hint: you do not go West. And Sweden is not West of your position either.

Of course, when you reach Kajaani, your President declares Finland neutral in the conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union. Except that the Soviet Union doesn't care and bombs Finland, so you have to go to war to defend your territory 3 days after the start of the German offensive... But that's another story.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Forces in Norway (none / 0) (#280)
by nhl on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:14:55 PM EST

How about you check a history book before suggesting others to look at a map?

Aye, but I have, which is why I find this claim rather amusing. Finnish armed forces were at no point during WW2 stationed in Norway or passing through Swedish territory.

The finnish military activities during WW2 were limited to offensives and defensives against the Soviet Union. As German forces launched offensives against the USSR, the Finns found an ally in Hitler, but at no point were they part of the Axis forces, or share an agenda for conquering Norway.

[ Parent ]
Different sources (none / 0) (#283)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:15:38 PM EST

Actually, Finland went to war after severe Soviet bombings from June 22nd to June 25th, 1941. But Soviet history books insist on a close alliance between Finland and Germany in organizing Barbarossa. The key of their claim is that one Finn detachment was based in Norway in 1941 and moved back to the Soviet/Finnish border in April 1941.

As I said in another reply to you... I don't know any more. As long as nobody said the contrary, I was willing to believe the Soviets. Now I have a doubt.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Re: Where was Sweden? (none / 0) (#343)
by drquick on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:28:47 AM EST

Out on the street actually. Protesting against the Vietnam war and listning to speeches by Olof Palme.

BTW your example is not very good since the USA isn't very clean on ethics in Vietnam. Maybe you [sic] "forfaited your rights" to POW status by the 1968 My Lai massacre, in which US troops killed nearly 600 Vietnamese women, children and old men in a ditch.

[ Parent ]

My Lai (none / 0) (#353)
by makaera on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:06:18 AM EST

This was an isolated incident by a rogue unit. It was stopped when US forces turned their weapons against their comrades. No US high command decision to kill innocent Vietnamese was ever made. You can't take the actions of a convicted criminal (the man who ordered the firing on civilians) and make it out to be the official actions of the US Government.

If nothing else, Google has a better search engine than slashdot has, so you can say something like "Ah yes, but in 1985 you said that Iraq didn't have nuc
[ Parent ]

Isolated incident ? (none / 0) (#355)
by drquick on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 03:04:33 AM EST

Was Saddam's gassing of Kurds "an isolated incident by a rogue unit". Yes, there's indications of that. Iraq was at war with Iran and the Kurds had taken up arms for Iran. At one occasion an armed Kurdish unit sought shelter in a village. Chemical weapons were used, civilians died. At the time of this incident is was reported only in hte alternative press, mainstream propaganda shut up about it.

Anyhow, what does it matter if My Lai was a rogue unit or not. I don't think it was, there are lots of reports of US atrocities, as you know. As for My Lai and Vietnam we should note that, the USA had according to some K5ers standards "forfeited their rights to be treated as POWs" when captured. Just how can it be rogue units when the USA does something repeatedly?

[ Parent ]

Perhaps U.S. Legislators Could Step Up? (2.00 / 7) (#154)
by HidingMyName on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 12:04:24 AM EST

Many of these fellows in Guantanomo Bay Detention are either:
  1. People fighting on a battle field supporting an unrecognized regime (not just by the U.S. but by most nations). Many of these people are not even citizens of Aghanistan. The fellow in the article falls into this category.
  2. People who are accused of acting as terrorists (or attempting terrorism) while on U.S. soil.
The current U.S. legislation really does not meet the needs of this situation. Prisoners in the first category are really not POWs, as they are not regular soldiers (not in uniform, not citizens of the country they are fighting). Prisoners in the second case need a well defined due process, however, again they are accused of acting as agents of a foreign power against U.S. interests. Treason laws don't quite apply, and I'm not sure if the spying legislation fits.

So perhaps the legislature could propose appropriate laws for handling these cases. However, I don't have a clear idea of what such legislation should look like. Any ideas what a good law would look like?

Uniform is *not* required ! (3.75 / 4) (#158)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 03:55:41 AM EST

This has been debated before on K5

According to a BBC article POWs are "individuals in the following categories":

  • Members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict or of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces
  • Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organised resistance movements as long as they:
    • a) are commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates
    • b) have a fixed distinctive sign recognisable at a distance
    • c) carry arms openly
    • d) conduct their own operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war
  • Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognised by the detaining power
  • Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory who have spontaneously taken up arms to resist an invading force, provided that they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
Thus, Article 4 of the third Geneva Convention states that any of the four categories above are POWs. The first and the third category seems to fit any fighting Taliban or Al-Quaida member.

Here are the relevant articles from UNHCR's site.

[ Parent ]

So why aren't they being treated as POWs? (5.00 / 2) (#179)
by HypoLuxa on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 01:54:03 PM EST

If the shoe fits, wear it.

In response to the parent, the legislation that would look correct would be the legislation binding the US to follow international law on Prisoners of War. There are already good, sane, rules for this stuff, and we really don't have a right to make up our own to meet our needs.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

Doesn't work. (5.00 / 1) (#182)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:15:35 PM EST

The first and third category are about regular armed forces. Doesn't fit.

The second category could - except for the laws and customs of war.

So, no POW status for Al-Qaeda operators. They are accused of crimes, they should get a lawyer, a fair hearing in front of a jury, and decent treatment while in jail. Nothing more, nothing less.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

I think (none / 0) (#186)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:24:36 PM EST

I think that Al Quaida was a regular force. In the media it was certainly portrayed as a milita. Also Taliban are inmates in Cuba, they certainly were part of a regular force.

[ Parent ]
I am not sure (none / 0) (#189)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:27:25 PM EST

I think Taliban troops should not be denied POW status. However, Al Qaeda being a private organization, it sure isn't a regular force.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Private force - aka. milita (none / 0) (#194)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:45:54 PM EST

If Al Quaida is a private force is completely irrelevant. Militias are covered by the Geneva convention. Militia means a non-govenmental force.

If it's not governmental it's "private"? As if Al Quaida or any militia had "ownership" in that sence. Anyhow it's still a militia.

[ Parent ]

Laws and customs of war (3.00 / 2) (#197)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:57:18 PM EST

You noticed how the Geneva convention makes a distinction between regular forces and independent militias? The convention only applies to members of militias that respect the laws and customs of war. Including the don't target civilians bit. So it does not apply Al Qaeda operators, because Al Qaeda specifically targets civilians.

Which is why they should get a lawyer and a fair hearing in front of a jury. What's wrong with it, why do you want them to be judged by a military tribunal? Because that's what POW status means for people accused of crimes of war.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Competent tribunal (none / 0) (#216)
by zocky on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:33:01 PM EST

At the risk of repeating my self. Anyone you captured in battle is a POW until a competent tribunals decides they're not. I don't remember any such tribunal.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

For POWs? (none / 0) (#226)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:43:32 PM EST

In that case, they should go to a military tribunal, as only a military tribunal would be competent.

In lots of countries military courts have a bad reputation. I'd rather see them all in front of a civilian court, if it's the same for you.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Misunderstanding (4.00 / 1) (#233)
by zocky on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 08:25:26 PM EST

My point is that until they are determined by a "competent tribunal" (original wording) not to be POWs, all protections of the convention apply to them - no interrogation, communication with the Red Cross, mail, cantina for officers, access to diplomats of a chosen neutral country, etc.

If they are POWs and they are charged with war crimes, they must be tried in the same way as the detainee power's soldiers. If they aren't charged with war crimes they must be left alone and sent home after the end of hostilities.

If they aren't POWs, things get a bit more complicated. Then, they're criminals and should be treated accordingly. I don't know whether their taking from Afghanistan was legal. But, they are currently in Guantanamo, which under the lease treaty is under US jurisdiction, but not US territory. If they're not POWs, it's up to the US government to decide what to do with them, in accordabce with it's own laws and international treaties that US has signed. I don't think that any person, criminal or inocent, shouldn't be treated the way these people are.

But all the talk about their civilian rights is moot until they are determined to in fact be civilians. Until that time they should be protected by the Geneva convention.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

We disagree on technicalities (none / 0) (#234)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 08:38:17 PM EST

As far as I know, they are entitled to decent treatment while in jail (including contact with their embassy, mail, ...), a lawyer, and a fair hearing in front of a jury of peers. If they are not convicted, i.e. if they didn't do anything legally wrong, then eventually the POW status can be used to detain them.

We agree on the decent treatment. That's good because I think it is your main grief. The rest is mostly technicalities, and we should agree to disagree. I don't think you really care that much about the cantina for officers, anyway.

One nitpick: the Geneva convention does not say POWs cannot be interrogated. It says POWs do not have to answer and cannot be forced to answer, except by name, rank and serial number. Which isn't a lot different from U.S. law: you cannot refuse to identify yourself, but that's the only question you have to answer...

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Forced to answer (none / 0) (#246)
by drquick on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:16:19 AM EST

One nitpick: the Geneva convention does not say POWs cannot be interrogated. It says POWs do not have to answer and cannot be forced to answer, except by name, rank and serial number. Which isn't a lot different from U.S. law: you cannot refuse to identify yourself, but that's the only question you have to answer...
Being forced to answer is interrogation.

[ Parent ]
O/T: vocabulary check (none / 0) (#261)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:36:16 AM EST

I checked the definition of interrogate before nitpicking... The difference between interrogating and questioning seems to be the formality. It does not look like interrogating means forcing to answer?

Is that the common usage of interrogate vs. question, or did I miss something?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

Formality (none / 0) (#274)
by drquick on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:33:24 PM EST

The formality itself of an interrogation is a way of forcing an answer.

[ Parent ]
I don't think so (none / 0) (#284)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:18:25 PM EST

Interrogations by American police are formal. And you have Miranda rights (and a lawyer) if you want to shut up. So, no, formality is not a way of forcing an answer. Formality is not torture.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
corps (5.00 / 1) (#291)
by kvillinge on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:33:44 PM EST

Why not the first paragraph? I can see the taliban as members of the armed forces and the al-quida as volunteer corps.
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.


[ Parent ]
Volunteers have to be accepted.. (none / 0) (#292)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:45:32 PM EST

...and under the same command in order to form part of such armed forces. Al-Qaeda command was not unified with the rest of the Taliban.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Overview of Existing U.S. policies (none / 0) (#224)
by HidingMyName on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:28:38 PM EST

The Secret Justice Page:Terrorism page of The Reporters Community for Freedom of the Press has some interesting summaries of the existing laws and how they are applied.

[ Parent ]
The Swedish inmate (4.00 / 14) (#160)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:02:15 AM EST

This debate is supposed to be about the Swedish inmate. Yet the debate is revolving around POWs, status of "enemy combatants" and Camp X-Ray in general

The claim is that the Swedish national Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali, age 23 is not a combatant. He has according to his Father travelled to Pakistan for studies, presumably Islamic studies. The USA seems to have aprehended anyone with a foreign background in the Islamic schools in addition to foreign combatants.

He is probably a bystander, a cilvilan victim, kidnapped to Camp X-Ray. He has a right to a civilian court at least but, since US legistlation has no validity in Afghanistan or Pakistan not even that applies. He must be released to freedom.

top fooling yourselfs (2.10 / 10) (#163)
by sagie on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:57:39 AM EST

"Islamic studies in Pakistan", attended by a European-born national, has a very high probability of being more than just innocent studies for sutisfaction of intelectual curiosity. Stop fooling yourselfs. These studies are full of hate for everithing that the west stands for - mainly democracy and human rights, and you should be deeply troubled that people of your nationalities actually attend those "schools".  These "studies" are what prepares the future terrorists, or combatants, or whatever, who will eather end up in one of the 'hot spots' where Jihad is being conducted, or return to Europe to prapare the ground for a local Jihad.  
--
Is there life on earth?

[ Parent ]
Um (3.40 / 5) (#164)
by marx on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:49:32 AM EST

What's wrong with hating the West? Is this grounds for imprisonment?

And don't start babbling about human rights. The US does not support international human rights conventions. So the US simply cannot use this as an argument against someone else.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. (1.75 / 4) (#165)
by A Trickster Imp on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:57:59 AM EST

> What's wrong with hating the West? Is this grounds
> for imprisonment?

Nothing, although the West, via it's rapidly advancing technology, has saved far more lives than it's cost, even in the wildest, drooling, rabid, anti-west viewpoint can fantasize.

It's certainly saved a lot more lives than the religions of the world have.  Indeed, unlike The West, the religions of the world are probably well into the red debit on that point, and continue so even to this day.

Now, tell me why I should care about goofy man's son who took up arms against the US?

[ Parent ]

Reason (4.00 / 4) (#166)
by marx on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 08:26:40 AM EST

Now, tell me why I should care about goofy man's son who took up arms against the US?
First of all, that's not the core issue. This person is not in jail because he has committed the crime of taking up arms against the US. He is in jail because of no crime and no accusation. We can say that he is in jail because he is suspected of having taken up arms against the US.

So you're asking why this is wrong. Let's assume you're American. If you're not, then the same argument will hold if you exchange some names, some texts etc.

This is one of the fundamental principles the US was founded on:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
The default is that everyone should have life, liberty, and essentially the right to do whatever he wants with his life, unless it harms other people.

The default in this case is that you're in prison, and only if you prove that you love the US do you have the right to liberty.

That is contradictory to the fundamental principle contained in the quote above.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Declaration of Independence (4.00 / 1) (#272)
by Ken Arromdee on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:52:50 AM EST

The Declaration of Independence has no force of law in the US.

[ Parent ]
So what? (4.50 / 2) (#293)
by marx on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:23:06 PM EST

We're not talking about laws. The question was:
Now, tell me why I should care about goofy man's son who took up arms against the US?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Not to mention... (5.00 / 2) (#306)
by DavidTC on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:21:45 AM EST

...taking up arms against the US, in other countries, assuming you're not a US citizen, isn't illegal. We cannot arrest people for it.

We can imprison them for it, as POWs, though.

But we aren't imprisoning people as POWs, in fact, we're explictly saying they are not POWs.

That's the real problem here. There are, legally, exactly two ways for the US government to detain a normal person. (Disregarding members of the military and prisoners in transit though our country and other weirdness.)

They can arrest them, or they can capture them.

If they are arrested, they get all sorts of rights and get charged with a crime. All that is moot, as you cannot arrest someone in another country, under any circumstances, even if they have commited a crime in the US.

Meanwhile, you can capture POWs any time anyone attacks US troops in another country. However, POWs cannot be questioned (Not interigated, which I see more and more of. They cannot be questioned, past their name, rank, and serial number.), and, in fact, the 'was' with Afganistan is over, and POWs must be returned to the new government.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

OK (2.40 / 5) (#172)
by sagie on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 10:45:48 AM EST

> What's wrong with hating the West? Is this grounds for imprisonment?

OK, lets put it another way: full of hate for everything not strictly following the Shariah.
And no, that in itself is not ground for imprisonment.

> And don't start babbling about human rights. The US does not support international human rights conventions. So the US simply cannot use this as an argument against someone else.

The US INVENTED the human rights, as a base layout for a state and society, and the Europeans were able to live comfortably since WW2 in their little utopian paradise thanks to the security umbrella the US supplied for them, and supporting the idea to imitate the US in the form of the EU.

[ Parent ]

Insecurity (4.00 / 5) (#173)
by marx on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 11:18:42 AM EST

Why is it that when I criticize the actions of the US today, you start talking about WWII? Since you avoided the question, I assume this means you agree that the US is not, today, supporting human rights very well.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Off topic bullshit ! (4.00 / 5) (#193)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:35:31 PM EST

The US INVENTED the human rights, as a base layout for a state and society ...
Oh, really! What about the Reformation or the Enlightenment ? What about John Locke, Voltaire, the French revolution.

You Americans are really educationally deprived! You need schools with some proper history books! While you are at it, scrap that self centered oath every morning too.

[ Parent ]

Thanks for the insult :) (2.00 / 2) (#210)
by sagie on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:01:57 PM EST

First, I'm not an American, an second - I meant as a base for a state - sure there where big thinkers in Europe, but US is the first country that turned the Ideas in to reality, and in a very successful way (unlike the French revolution). Look - even you, the supposedly "supperior" Europeans, ended up mimicking the US in forming this EU thing (never mind that it's just a burocratic monster dressed up as a humen rights champion).

[ Parent ]
Hmm... (4.50 / 2) (#244)
by QuickFox on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:00:00 AM EST

even you, the supposedly "supperior" Europeans

Superior Europeans? Supposed by whom? In lots of areas Europeans feel that the US is superior, for example in technology, modernity, economic efficiency, and lots of other things. Sometimes I get the impression that people in the US don't realize what a respect we have for them in so many areas. It's a little saddening.

dressed up as a humen rights champion

Human rights champion? In Sweden the EU is definitely not seen that way. More a solution for peace. Centuries of endless warring in Europe ended when the precursor of the EU appeared.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Sometimes!?!? (3.00 / 1) (#279)
by NDPTAL85 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:13:13 PM EST

We RARELY get any compliments from Europe anymore. Everything is either "You big unilaterallist bully!" or "Stop pushing your media on us dammit! We have our own culture!" So forgive us Americans for thinking our European brethren HATE US!

[ Parent ]
Compliments (5.00 / 3) (#332)
by QuickFox on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:32:48 PM EST

I don't think we get many compliments from Americans either. Maybe we all need to find new ways to discuss internationally with more politeness.

But I think it's also part of how discussion works. Suppose Sweden imprisons a US tourist. That might be reported in the news and might be discussed on K5. Now suppose Sweden treats a US tourist well. That happens to practically all the tourists all the time everywhere, so it isn't mentioned or discussed anywhere.

It's also part of the democratic mindset. A democratically minded person will debate things, and especially debate what those in power do. Even if we assume that you're enthusiastic about your Government it's very unlikely that you'll say it's perfect. It's far more likely you'll find issues that are debatable and should change, and spend more attention on those than on compliments. Debate and discussion, not compliments, are the lifeblood of democracy and the democratic mindset.

And the US is the one and only superpower. So, just like you debate your Government more than you compliment it, similarly the rest of the world debates the US more than compliment it.

My article at the top of this page doesn't express the strong respect I feel for the US. Though I have many reservations, at the base of it all there's a strong respect. But I don't think there's any way I could have weaved that into the article without spoilong it.

"Stop pushing your media on us dammit! We have our own culture!"

This is really very strange. If I feel that my TV channel sends too much American material I might complain to my TV channel. Why should I blame the US for the choices that my TV channel makes?

If I'm too lazy to contact my TV channel I might simply switch to a different channel. I wonder if there are people who blame the US for not pushing the channel-switch button for them.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Respect (4.00 / 1) (#298)
by Josh A on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:16:51 PM EST

Sometimes I get the impression that people in the US don't realize what a respect we have for them in so many areas.

Perhaps it's just the sarcastic Brits I chat with, but I would say your impression is accurate and I would say the reason is that the respect you claim exists is never communicated.

<sigh> Well, let us just go on wallowing in our differences. Excellent.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Intellectual Property (4.33 / 6) (#215)
by yooden on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:28:17 PM EST

The US INVENTED the human rights

So they can dispose with them at their leisure?

[ Parent ]
Human Rights (4.66 / 3) (#265)
by krek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:14:29 AM EST

The US hardly invented human rights, and the ones that it chose to apply and live by were applied and lived by in a rather selective manner. Black and Chinese slaves are the primary example that comes to mind. In fact, the truely American Invention, the suburb, was integral in the furtherance of segregation. The guy who came up with the idea, John Levitt I believe, was something of a bigot, and when the soldiers were coming home from WWII he would only sell to white Americans, thus forcing the black soldiers and their families back into the urban ghettos.

Human rights indeed, the US can't even follow the precepts of the Free Market that it touts so highly.

[ Parent ]
Probability (3.80 / 5) (#169)
by QuickFox on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 10:22:01 AM EST

"Islamic studies in Pakistan", attended by a European-born national, has a very high probability

The probability is higher with locals than with Europeans, since Europeans grow up with democratic traditions and Afghanistan locals grow up with civil war and warlords. By your logic you'd have to put almost the entire population in cages.

Good luck.

The guy we're discussing here is a lower probability so why is he in a cage?

has a very high probability

You're saying that a high probability is enough. This means you're renouncing your own rights. That's a very serious step you're taking.

Think it over. Do you really want to renounce your own rights?

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Hate? (3.60 / 5) (#184)
by drquick on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:19:55 PM EST

Actually I agree. There is an element of hate in present day Islamic fundamentalism, be the reasons for that what they may.

But hate is not illegal nor should it be. Also you write about his [sic] "probability". Oh, please! We don't keep people locked up as inmates indefinitely without communication with their relatives on mere probability !

[ Parent ]

Ah, I get it (5.00 / 2) (#266)
by krek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:19:04 AM EST

Knowledge is illegal in the US, that explains everything.

[ Parent ]
Aghanistan (4.00 / 1) (#302)
by Merk00 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:31:03 PM EST

If he went to Pakistan to study in an Islamic school, then what was he doing in Afghanistan? Among the company of militants? He may be an innocent victim but it still doesn't explain the above.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

About "state of war" and POW's (4.33 / 15) (#175)
by zocky on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 11:46:28 AM EST

During the war for Kosovo, 3 US soldiers were captured by Yugoslav forces.

A CNN article at the time includes the following parafraphs.

The Pentagon said the captive U.S. soldiers are prisoners of war and therefore should be covered by the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

But the Pentagon spokesman denied that claiming prisoner-of-war status for the U.S. soldiers meant the United States acknowledged it was at war with Yugoslavia.

"By international law, the Geneva Convention applies to all periods of hostilities," Ken Bacon said Thursday.


---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?

Land lease (3.50 / 10) (#177)
by QuickFox on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 12:31:33 PM EST

The Pentagon said the captive U.S. soldiers are prisoners of war and therefore should be covered by the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

I bet the Serbs regretted that they didn't have some occupied land lease of dubious nationality where they could ship the prisoners for paragraph trickery about their POW status.

Of course the next enemy of the US will be better prepared. The US has shown the way.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

The US is not your father (1.10 / 10) (#218)
by William Franklin Rothman on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:39:49 PM EST

Try and keep your issues with him seperate from your opinions on international politics. It might help you lose that chip from your shoulder.

[ Parent ]
What are you talking about? (3.00 / 1) (#297)
by Josh A on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:00:39 PM EST

If you can't explain, then what drugs did you take?

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
So... (4.66 / 3) (#271)
by Ken Arromdee on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:50:37 AM EST

Amazing things about out of context quotes accompanied by enough context that one can tell that they're out of context.

Here, "the Geneva Convention applies to all periods of hostilities" means that you cannot say that it doesn't apply just because you're not officially at war.

I don't recall anyone claiming "the Guantanamo prisoners aren't prisoners of war because we're not officially at war". The claims have rather been that they don't fit the definition: wearing uniforms, having a chain of command, etc. Someone *might* claim that they aren't prisoners of war because they're thugs not working for any recognized government, but that still wouldn't contradict the US's stance in Serbia, where the captured US soldiers clearly *were* working for a government.

[ Parent ]

legal status (5.00 / 2) (#290)
by kvillinge on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:24:06 PM EST

They are prisoners of war according to the Geneva Convention. It says that:

Article 4

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.



[ Parent ]
Geneva Convention (5.00 / 2) (#300)
by Merk00 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:28:03 PM EST

Al'Qaeda members would most likely fall under the following provisions of the Geneva Convention:
2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

They would fall under this provision because they are not part of the organized armed forces of the Taliban but instead happen to be a part of another militia or volunteer group. However, they do not carry arms openly and, more importantly, do not conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

you are right, but... (4.50 / 2) (#317)
by kvillinge on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:20:19 AM EST

That's correct. But until a POWs status has been confirmed (taliban or al-quaida) they have the full rights that the convention accord them. Since a POW can not be interrogated, I don't see how this can be easily verified. Loads of muslim students from all over the world have joined either of the groups, only being a non-afghani doesn't make a person al-quaida.

[ Parent ]
POWs (4.00 / 2) (#323)
by Merk00 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:07:49 AM EST

Unfortunately there is no mechanism for confirming whether or not someone is a POW. The only way that it occurs is for the party that captured them to declare them so or not. And that's basically what happened. You can see some of my other posts that show why Al'Qaida members don't fall under the Geneva Convention (they're an "other militia or volunteer group" but they don't "carry arms open" or "abide by the rules and customs of war").

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

How about actually reading the convention? (4.50 / 2) (#324)
by zocky on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:24:51 AM EST

The only way that it occurs is for the party that captured them to declare them so or not.

This is true, but according to the 5th article of the convention, only a "competent tribunal" can determine that somebody is not a POW. Until that time they must be treated as POWs.

I'm really repeating myself here, but has anybody heard of ANY tribunal detremining that Guantanamo prisoners aren't POW's?

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Get a grip.. (3.35 / 14) (#178)
by dinedhel on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 01:28:21 PM EST

While the US is a worldleader it can do whatever the hell it wants. But please, don't try to argue ethics over actions which are clearly unethical. Just be the bully. Bullies beat up whomever they want. So, just do so, but stop pretending there's any justification for recent US actions. The US is not the only frustrated power in the world, but it happens to be one of the most well armed.

As long as people are frustrated they will lash out, be it with CIA-dollars to equip Irak vs. Iran, or by riding planes into capitalist monuments. Just respond in force, without any thought beyond the present moment. But stop trying to convince anyone the US is the moral and ethical leader of the world. It never has been, it never will be. The US is the capitalist and military leader. So just spend, and bomb, and be happy..

Then who is ? (2.00 / 2) (#213)
by sagie on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:12:49 PM EST

Regardless of wether you're wrong or rght, I'm curious, who would you suggest deserves to be called the moral leader of the world?  

[ Parent ]
Why, that's easy. (none / 0) (#232)
by Caton on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 08:20:04 PM EST

San Marino. The only country with no international disputes whatsoever.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
The ONLY country? :) (none / 0) (#296)
by Josh A on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:57:04 PM EST

I'm not going to spend time trying to find some other country that seems not to have international disputes.

I'm more interested in knowing why you've chosen this particular yardstick as the measure of international ethics. Ethical countries don't have conflict?

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Well it's like this... (none / 0) (#301)
by Caton on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:30:01 PM EST

...you only need one to make a conflict, but you need two to make a dispute. Disputes are not conflicts.

Most disputes are between neighbors. Most jokes are between neighbors. And usually neighbors know each other.

When a country is the oldest democracy existing, does not have any dispute with anybody, and is not the butt of jokes, it's obvious they're doing something right.

Unlike Lichtenstein, Luxembourg or Monaco, San Marino is a tax heaven not accused of laundering dirty money, or other international bad behavior.

So yes, the lack of international disputes is, IMHO, a good yardstick. What do you think?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

The Dalai Lama, God-King of Tibet (1.66 / 3) (#255)
by Meatbomb on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:17:08 AM EST



_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]
Of course.. (3.00 / 1) (#341)
by dinedhel on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:33:19 AM EST

.. there's no such person or institution. People must be honest about acting out of self interest, which is natural, but don't hide behind false morality, or anything else. A true leader can afford honesty.

[ Parent ]
Regrettably, I must agree. (4.25 / 4) (#251)
by mdevney on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:04:17 AM EST

We have rules in this country.  Big important rules, 10 of them, about what the government cannot do to its people.  Signed by the people who were citizens of the United States of America before it was anything more than a thought experiment.

You cannot hold a man indefinitely.  You cannot hold a man without trial.  You cannot hold a man without access to a lawyer.  And on and on and on, the things that the government can't do without public justification.

There is, however, an unfortunate exemption, and this is it.  Not in law.  As far as law goes, there are no exceptions.  But in time of war, letting possible enemies back out into the field to plan and execute more violence against us and our country is just plain stupid.  

The US soldiers in Guantanamo Bay are breaking some of the most important laws this or any other country has, and they should all go to jail for it, and pay reparations to the men wrongly imprisoned.  After.  That all happens after the danger is past.  For now, we have asked our uniformed men and women to do our dirty work, and it would be unfair to tell them how they shouldn't do it.  

Lest anyone think I'm crazy, we are precedented: Col. Oliver North broke laws in order to do what was right, and he went to jail for it.  For that, he has my immense respect, even though I don't agree with what he did.  Merely the fact that he knew what he had to do, did it, and served his time for it.

[ Parent ]

The easy way out (5.00 / 1) (#340)
by dinedhel on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:31:18 AM EST

So, you condone the action of paying a murderer to do the dirtywork for you while you keep the semblance of a clear conscience? Don't you find that cowardly?

[ Parent ]
It's not easy... (none / 0) (#354)
by mdevney on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 01:28:18 AM EST

If something must be done, then it must be done.  The fact that it's wrong, evil, and will result in punishment later is not really relevant.  

There's a very basic thing called need that people don't seem to understand very well.  When you need something, there is no other option.  There is no way around.  If there was a way around, a better solution to the problem, I'd be all for that.  But, if there were a way around, then it wouldn't be a need.  

At present, there isn't a way to let people who are likely terrorists out into the population.  I'd rather not kill them.  The only other option is to keep them locked up.  That is illegal.  This implacable logic flows on its own, outlining necessity with no regard whatever to cowardice.


[ Parent ]

Logic (none / 0) (#356)
by dinedhel on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 06:21:57 AM EST

I'm sure the average "terrorist" will agree 100% with you: "if something must be done, then it must be done" - a good line to justify anything (since it is a circular argument), including terrorism, or baking a pecan-pie for that matter. You say: "The fact that it's wrong [and] evil.. is not really relevant." I'd say it is very relevant: you claim ethics are not relevant. Describing US-actions like this, wouldn't you consider terrorism against the US?

How are your arguments logical?

Your way of thinking leads to the simplistic action-reaction type situation which seems a US specialty. The US illegaly (you admit) holds "likely terrorists" (i.e. anyone it wants, for lack of a formal definition of what a "likely terrorist" is). By this action, the US has implicitely labeled every human being (including US citizens) as a target for illegal detention, interogation, and possible execution. How is this not a declaration of war on everyone? How can you expect to resolve anything like this? The US may be powerful, but the destruction of the NY WTC buildings has proven it cannot prevent the death of countless of its citizens.

Action-reaction: the US acts out of "human need" (revenge, mostly), other parties react out of "human need" (frustration, mostly) by bombing another WTC. The US strikes back by bombing Irak, or whomever it chooses to include in its allmighty media-war. Ad infinitum. There's no resolution.

My remark about cowardice wasn't directed at the people who illegaly detain anyone. It was directed at you personally, because you argue that you feel it is proper to ask others "to do our dirty work", while you try to convince yourself you're not responsible. Not dealing with your own problems is what I'd call cowardice.

Again, just be the bully, don't argue or try to create a convincing argument. Or at least try harder..

[ Parent ]

Logic (none / 0) (#357)
by mdevney on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 09:05:43 AM EST

Start small.  That's how our math works, from a few simple assumptions combined into theorems and corollaries and the vast knowledge we have.

The purpose of government is to protect its citizens and ensure their prosperity.  

There is my assumption.  I'm sure some will disagree, but that's okay.  That is my assumption, not theirs.  

Given that, and given that there is a perceived threat against the American people, the government's job, then, is to protect its citizens -- obviously, by detaining terrorists before they strike again.  This begs for a definition: Who is a terrorist?  How do we know if they are, until after they've done something we're supposed to prevent?  

Therein lies the problem.  There is no way the government, with all its soldiers and spies, can be sure, until it's too late.  

Options:
- Give up; arrest no one.
- Arrest only those who have a proven themselves to be terrorists.
- Arrest all those who are probably terrorists, though we can't prove it.
- Arrest everyone.

The first, second, and third options are not acceptable.  I imagine you'd prefer to go with option #2, but if our government did that, more Americans would die.  That is unacceptable.  

The only option left is #3.  Problem: It's illegal.  Solution: Do it anyway, out of necessity, and take your licks for it when it's all over.  The person making the decision about whether someone is a "likely terrorist" needs to be right, else he will go to jail for making the wrong decision.

You say it's not logical?  Okay, come up with a better solution.  

How is this not a declaration of war on everyone?  The people in Camp X-Ray were found on a battle field with a history of sympathizing with the enemy, the majority of them with guns in hand.  Those people I think have enough suspicion on them to warrant being held in these very special circumstances.  

Cowardice?  Who cares?  By holding those prisoners, the US military is in all likelihood saving lives.  Rank cowardice against the death of innocents -- which is more important to you?

Ask others to do our dirty work?  What the hell do you think the sole purpose of any military is?  A corps of people trained and equipped to commit murder in the name of lines on a map.  They exist to do our dirty work, and they've been rather good at it over the past 200-odd years.  This is nothing new.

[ Parent ]

Mince, mince (none / 0) (#359)
by dinedhel on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 04:31:07 PM EST

You forgot to mention a number of assumptions you're making. To cut back on tedious quotes, I'll give you a single example:

Assumption #2: "..there is a perceived threat against the American people". Any living entity or group of entities always perceives threats, true or false. This, in logical terms, is called a "trueism" - you cannot draw any conclusions from a trueism, so we don't need to take the rest of your argument in consideration: it is invalid.

Getting back to the issue I raised: I've had enough of the US leadership and military trying to cover up any action not acceptable to reasonable people (both US and non US) by the guise of morality. What kind of actions?

Examples: detaining non-caucasian (read: Islamic) US citizens without proper cause. Threating warfare vs. any country, enemy or ally, detaining US soldiers, be it with proper cause or not. Preparing war on Irak, under the guise of a "war on evil", for which read: "Mad Max is out to find some gasoline" (I actually enjoyed the second movie).

If the US government would come out and say: "you're an Arab, so you're suspect", "he's a US soldier, so he can rape your wife and walk away 'cause otherwise I will bomb the crap out of you", "hi, I'm gonna kill a couple of hundred thousand people, 'cause my car is running low on gas", the whole US circus wouldn't bother me so.

Like you said, it's all just human need. Or in this case, US needs.. It's the pathetic (in the sense of "unsuccesful") attempts to twist these actions into somehow being "right", or evidence of the "American way of life" (by which an American unfathomly means "the better way of life", no?), that could piss people off. Like it does me.

Do you really belief detaining suspected terrorists (or anyone else) will avoid further terrorism? Of course it will not. So, it really isn't a solution at all. And worse, it, and many other US non-politics, are gnawing away at what the average US-citizen seems to see as "freedom": people being locked away because they're disliked and distrusted by the majority, police having the authority to spy on everything you do and detain you without cause, governement officials to propagate and lie to the public.. doesn't that scare you? Well, probably not, US patriotism is comparable to a dog being fateful to an abusive owner.

[ Parent ]

I wish it would do what its people wanted it to do (4.00 / 1) (#334)
by bigsexyjoe on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:44:12 PM EST

I don't know many people who support the constant use of force or the arming of foriegn countries or the support of dicators. A lot of Americans are unaware of the stuff our government does because the media doesn't really want to tell us. The two main parties were bought out by defense contractors a long time ago, but most Buchanan and Nader are both nearly isolationist.

[ Parent ]
Yes (3.00 / 1) (#339)
by dinedhel on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 03:28:37 AM EST

I even think a lot of Americans don't want to know what happens, hiding behind "the governement is doing what has to be done". It's easy to feel like a moral person when you vote for people to make the "though decisions", isn't it?

Maybe the US should swith to a system of equal representation instead of the current system of districtvotes.

[ Parent ]

Custom Does Not Make Right (2.20 / 5) (#196)
by SEWilco on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:57:12 PM EST

OK, so other countries have different customs. Customs should be respected except when they are unacceptable.

    Where do you draw the line?
  • Not eating meat on Friday.
  • Not doing work on Saturday.
  • Doing work on Saturday because you are not required to not work, and you've been hired by those with that requirement to do needed work.
  • Dancing in the streets of Rio during Carnaval.
  • Obey all laws.
  • Dancing during worship service because it's encouraged.
  • Not dancing during worship service because it's forbidden.
  • Wearing required clothing.
  • Voting.
  • Sending your radio/TV signal into a country.
  • Plant sacrifice.
  • Using indentured servants.
  • Animal sacrifice.
  • Joining the armed forces
  • Using slaves.
  • Using armed forces.
  • Capturing slaves.
  • Human sacrifice.

Or, more simply: "All the kids do it" does not mean it is the right thing to do.

All the kids (none / 0) (#264)
by krek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:00:49 AM EST

Since when is treating people with respect not the right thing to do?

[ Parent ]
The problem here is as much lack of information... (3.75 / 4) (#276)
by seebs on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:48:26 PM EST

... as anything else.

We don't *know* why the guy is being held.  Maybe he's a dangerous terrorist.  Maybe he's a student.  We don't know - none of us do.  Look at the state of denial that people enter when their kids turn out wrong.  We don't know what information the goverment does, or doesn't, have about this guy.

Perhaps most interestingly, the reason we don't know is that, just like the Swedish goverment, the U.S. is refusing to disclose a lot of information about the case or the circumstances.

What should they do?  I dunno.  Ideally, free the innocent and try the guilty.  Now... how exactly should they do that?  You can't let soldiers out on bail, in general, especially when at least some of them are religious fanatics who would happily swear to wait for their trials, then disappear.

If we had a certainty that even the "hostile" people wouldn't claim to be innocent, we could just release all the people who claim they're innocent... But for crying out loud, we're talking about people from an organization whose members were willing to fly planes full of civilians into buildings full of civilians, do you honestly think they won't lie?

So... how, exactly, are we supposed to sort this out?  Free 'em all and hope none of them slaughter thousands of innocent civilians?  Not a good answer, IMHO.

Essentially, the answer is easy only if you assume one side or the other is right.  If he's really a terrorist soldier, yeah, he should probably be locked up.  If he's really an innocent student, yeah, he should be set free.

The question is, how exactly do you propose to determine this?  What makes any of us sure that this hasn't already been determined?  It wouldn't be the first time a father's trust in his son's innocence was misplaced.


Nitpick (4.00 / 1) (#295)
by Josh A on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:50:04 PM EST

...free the innocent and try the guilty.

If you're operating under "innocent until proven guilty", you have to try all of them.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Not necessarily... (4.00 / 1) (#308)
by seebs on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:32:12 AM EST

I was talking about a hypothetical ideal situation, in which we already know whether or not a given person did anything worth having a trial over.

I think everyone would agree that, if we *KNOW* that someone is innocent, the trial can be omitted, and the person simply freed.


[ Parent ]

accountability (5.00 / 1) (#304)
by martingale on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:24:58 PM EST

You're right that we the people don't have enough information. There is a simple and correct way to fix this problem: release any and all information the government has gained to the public, and let the public support or outcry fall as it may. Of course, the hawks in government will suggest that is not a reasonable way to go, invoking secret reasons of national security, none of which can be explained to the public.

If you believe that the leaders of government are simply incapable of ever even remotely acting against the citizens' best interest, then it is reasonable to believe that what you aren't being told is for your own best.

If you believe that political leaders are human, greedy, power hungry more or less like the rest of the human population, then it makes sense to believe that what is being hidden is not in the best interest of the citizenry, and since it affects you and others directly, you should demand that the veil of secrecy be lifted.

If they have nothing to worry about, what do they have to hide?

[ Parent ]

I tend to agree, and yet... (4.00 / 1) (#307)
by seebs on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:31:03 AM EST

Wasn't the original poster making comments about how good it is that the Swedish government will not allow accused criminals to be identified until they're convicted, or something like that?

We all want all the information about everyone else, but we want our own information to be private.  Oops!


[ Parent ]

No, that information is made public (4.00 / 1) (#333)
by QuickFox on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:03:01 PM EST

Not quite. If the identity of suspects were withheld from the media we wouldn't have a democracy. The media must check the authorities against abuse such as, for example, keeping a suspect detained for too long without trial. This daily routine checking is one of the most important roles of the media in a democracy. For that the identity is needed.

The difference in Sweden is that there are arrangements that restrict the media from publishing the identifying details.

I'm sure the same daily routine checking by the media occurs in the US. But Guantanamo is of course an exception because of the state of war.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

The self-same cry (5.00 / 1) (#329)
by Control Group on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:17:36 PM EST

If they have nothing to worry about, what do they have to hide?

That's an illegitimate argument when made by government about citizens (well, why don't you want a camera in your living room? You're not doing anything illegal in there, are you?), and it's an equally illegitimate argument when made by citizens against government (albeit for different reasons). "National Security" is a valid concern, and it doesn't go away just because someone calls it a cop out. Might it be a cop out to cover up something we really should know about? Of course. But it might also be an important consideration.

In order to avoid any seemingly contrived examples involving spies, nuclear missiles, or Tom Clancy novels, allow me to use a domestic example. Say a member of the mafia (yakuza/drug cartel/Enron board of directors) turns states' evidence, and gives "information leading to the arrest" of other members. Must the arresting authorities immediately explain to the public where they got the information, or is it ethically defensible to hold the accused without informing the public until the information gotten has been exploited to the fullest?

Yes, I am aware that the example above does not map well onto the real situation at hand. But then, it's not meant to - the point is, it is not inconceivable that information exists of which the public is not, and should not be aware. Of course, this does demand a level of trust on the part of John Q. Public in the authorities at hand. But then, how is this surprising? We already trust government to set and enforce policy, to operate foreign and domestic agencies of policy application, to maintain and enforce standards of quality for food, travel, health care, etc., and countless other things from the the inane to the critical.

The point (look, everybody, there's a point coming!) is that, within the US system, accountability to the public is maintained by electing the authorities. It is entrusted to the public to elect individuals that can be trusted to wield the reigns of power appropriately. Complete disclosure of information is neither required nor correct in all situations.

***
"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."
[ Parent ]

I disagree on all accounts (5.00 / 1) (#319)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:57:08 AM EST

We don't *know* why the guy is being held. Maybe he's a dangerous terrorist. Maybe he's a student. We don't know - none of us do. Look at the state of denial that people enter when their kids turn out wrong. We don't know what information the goverment does, or doesn't, have about this guy.
In a democratic world we are supposed to know! In a dictature the government can arrest you and not declare charges, not try you in a public court, inrerrogate and humiliate you, effectively keep you in a tortuous environment.
Perhaps most interestingly, the reason we don't know is that, just like the Swedish goverment, the U.S. is refusing to disclose a lot of information about the case or the circumstances.
Interesting indeed! What do they have to hide?
What should they do? I dunno. Ideally, free the innocent and try the guilty. Now... how exactly should they do that? You can't let soldiers out on bail, in general, especially when at least some of them are religious fanatics who would happily swear to wait for their trials, then disappear.
You can let soldiers out. That's what the Geneva Convention is about. It's not a crime to fight a war.
If we had a certainty that even the "hostile" people wouldn't claim to be innocent, we could just release all the people who claim they're innocent... But for crying out loud, we're talking about people from an organization whose members were willing to fly planes full of civilians into buildings full of civilians, do you honestly think they won't lie?
POWs go free after end of hostilities, criminal face a just legal process in court. This has been figured out centuries ago, as for criminals milleniums ago.
So... how, exactly, are we supposed to sort this out? Free 'em all and hope none of them slaughter thousands of innocent civilians? Not a good answer, IMHO.
Either you're at war or you are not. Or as the saying goes: "A woman is not both pregnant and not pregnant".
Essentially, the answer is easy only if you assume one side or the other is right. If he's really a terrorist soldier, yeah, he should probably be locked up. If he's really an innocent student, yeah, he should be set free.
It's - for crying out loud - not about who is right in the conflict and soldiers are not "terrorist soldiers". No one caught in Afghanistan was caught "doing terrorism". It's about human right and international law. Further, it is not determined that terrorism is a crime, it might be "a new kind of war" just as GWB himself says. If it's a crime as you suggest then civlian rights apply as based on human rights defined by the UN.
The question is, how exactly do you propose to determine this? What makes any of us sure that this hasn't already been determined? It wouldn't be the first time a father's trust in his son's innocence was misplaced.
A competent court has to determine if they are POWs or not. That court would probably be an international UN court.

[ Parent ]
Of course (4.00 / 1) (#336)
by QuickFox on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:32:55 AM EST

So... how, exactly, are we supposed to sort this out? [...] Essentially, the answer is easy only if you assume one side or the other is right. [...] how exactly do you propose to determine this?

Suppose somebody has been murdered and the murderer must be found. How exactly are we supposed to sort that out? You might end up with a number of suspects and then the answer is easy only if you assume one or the other is right. How exactly do you propose to determine this?

Such things are difficult but they're dealt with all the time all over the world. The fact that it's difficult is no excuse for doing nothing.

What I'm saying is that if you are detained as a terrorist (yes, you) you should be heard. I'm not saying anything about what should be decided once you've been heard. Just that you should be heard.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

I think (2.50 / 4) (#277)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:36:23 PM EST

That the detainees in Guantanimo should be afforded POW status and accorded all the rights due POW's.

However, I do maintain that we do have the right to hold these individuals. After all they are hostile belligerents who were taken in the field.. or they were civillians who were acompying hostile belligerents (and therefore entitled to be taken as prisoners) or in a few cases civillians who may have been mistaken for belligerents... which will be straigtened out in due time.

You folks don't dispute the fact that we have the right to hold belligerents taken under arms whose comrades are still in the field, still actively engaged in hostilities against us and have not capitulated yet, right?

I also think that we should strictly abide by Geneva Convention regulations which means that any prisoners who were "acting clandestinely, or on false pretences, he obtains, or seeks to obtain information in the zone of operations of a belligerent, with the intention of communicating it to the hostile party." (Chapter II, Article 29)
should be put on trial as spies and promptly executed once they were found guilty. Undeniably many members of Al Qaeda conducted such activities and are subject to be punished as spies under the Geneva convention.

We should then (after the conclusion of hostilities) repatriate all other POW's to thier home countries....where most of them will be summarly executed by the U.N. reckognized legal governments of those countries.

Then all the rest of you can go back to finding other things to bitch about the U.S. and be blithely ignorant of the fact that if it weren't for the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of U.S. servicemen you would all be eating schnitzle and watching reruns of Marlene Dietrich movies while waiting for the Gestapo to check your papers
(or eating cabage and watching "Battleship Potemkin" while waiting for the NKVD/KGB).


big words (2.00 / 1) (#289)
by kvillinge on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:13:42 PM EST

Let's make one thing absolutely clear: POWs are not prisoners, nor are they under arrest. They can not be interrogated. POWs are not taken to court and can not be sentenced to anything, neither spying or pickpocketing. Neither can the authorities deny them their rights by calling them illegal combatants.
POWs legal rights include:


Article 13
Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated.
Article 17
Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information.
Article 25
Prisoners of war shall be quartered under conditions as favourable as those for the forces of the Detaining Power who are billeted in the same area.
Article 71
Prisoners of war shall be allowed to send and receive letters and cards.
Article 118
Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities.
On a final note, how are the conditions on Guantanamo better than the nazi concentration camps or the siberian gulag? Is there even one improvement that made the death of hundreds of thousands of american servicemen during WW2 worthwhile?

Geneva Convention relative to The Treatment of Prisoners of War



[ Parent ]
Guatanomo Bay vs. Concentration Camp vs. Gulag (2.00 / 1) (#299)
by Merk00 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:22:55 PM EST

There's one huge difference between Guantanomo Bay and Concentration Camps or the Gulag: the prisoners in Guantanomo Bay aren't doing heavy labor. In fact, they aren't doing any labor at all. They also happen to be well fed. Add to that that they are given religious freedom. The only difference between those held in Guantanomo Bay and Prisoners of War is that they're being interrogated. That's it. Personally, I don't find that to be the most awful thing in the world.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Thier only POW's if the follow the "Rules of (none / 0) (#328)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:43:33 AM EST

According to the Geneva Convention the following persons would fall into the POW catagory from Afgahnistan:

"2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. "

"6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war."

Some of the prisoners at G'tmo might qualify uner these conditions but most would not.

They would fail #2 because they did not:

"
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance"

or in many cases:

"(c) That of carrying arms openly"

and in almost all cases:

"(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. "

They would fail condition #6 because they are not
"Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory"... local Afghan Taliban were all disarmed and released in Afghanistan... the ones in G'tmo are all foreign nationals not Afghans. Nor were any of them non-combatants before the U.S. arrived.
They would also fail #6 on the grounds that they did not "respect the laws and customs of war"

Read the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War, and specificly read what it says about spies.

Here is the URL http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm

[ Parent ]

spying (none / 0) (#344)
by kvillinge on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:49:26 AM EST

Since when is working for your own government considered spying? What does afghan law say about spying on the enemy? The US does not have jurisdiction in Afghanistan, so talking about US courts is quite irrelevant. Laws and Customs of War on Land
Art. 31.
A spy who, after rejoining the army to which he belongs, is subsequently captured by the enemy, is treated as a prisoner of war, and incurs no responsibility for his previous acts of espionage.


[ Parent ]
What were you reading? (none / 0) (#294)
by Josh A on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:47:31 PM EST

You don't provide a link to what you read, but your quoted Article 29 does not match the Article 29 in the link that kvillinge gave.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
One Correction (none / 0) (#327)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:16:54 AM EST

I inadvertantly quoted the Hague Convention (On Rules of War) rather then the Geneva Convention.

However the Hague Convention is just as binding as the Geneva Convention, nothing in the Geneva Convention abrogates the agreements specified in the Hague Convention.

Here is the URL http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm

[ Parent ]

Stand up, America (4.66 / 6) (#305)
by QuickFox on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:54:46 AM EST

I'm amazed by the huge number of Americans here who are ready to renounce their rights at the flip of a hat.

Look, this article is not about how terrorists are treated. I don't care how they treat terrorists. Actual heinous-crime terrorists should be grateful that their captors will not cut off their hands like the regime that they promote sometimes does. Enough said.

This article is about you! Yes, you who are reading this! It's about your rights!

Especially it is about Americans who read this, more than any other readers.

One day some guy asks you for directions on the street. While you're explaining suddenly he's arrested. It so happens he's a terrorist. Clearly you were with him, you were even helping him. Of course you end up in a cage too.

An amazing number of people here are saying that when this happens you should not get any kind of hearing. Nobody should listen to you. The guards can do pretty much anything they want to you. Basically you should have no rights.

Are you really Americans? You, renouncing all your rights so easily? These are not the Americans I'm used to! One thing you Americans are notable for her in Europe is that you will defend your rights no matter what. You will not let anyone trample you. Your rights are holy. But what's happening now? Suddenly you're renouncing each and every right that can be imagined in relation to this matter. Suddenly you allow yourselves to be trampled down till you're flat on the ground and reduced to a mess of footprints.

And for what? What would it take to arrange things so that when you're in that cage you get some kind of hearing? Basically all that would be needed would be a few blokes listening and taking notes, and perhaps some guy you could talk to before so you can sort out which details will interest the note-takers and which details would just waste everyone's time.

Of course normally I'd say the note-takers should be professionals and you should have a professional lawyer. But hey, if you yourselves won't demand any rights at all, fine, your choice. I won't insist on any luxuries. For luxuries like real lawyers you'll have to stand up yourselves.

TANSTAAFL.

Forgive me for presenting this so offensively, but you need to be shaken awake. You can't go on like this. You can't go on abandoning the very fabric of American society. America isn't just some territory dammit! America is people with a mindset, with an attitude. Stand up, America!

I'm not saying what they should do to you after they've heard you in your cage. I'm not saying they should release you. I'm not saying anything about what conclusions they should draw from the hearings. That depends entirely on whatever facts they find about you, the security needs of the nation, the needs to get further information from you, and so on. If every single prisoner must stay in the camp and be isolated from the world, fine, as long as it's based on individual decisions relevant to the real situation.

All I'm saying is that they should hear you and your lawyer or whatever, compile the information, and make an individual decision relevant to your specific case.

Perhaps one possible arrangement would be to divide the prisoners into categories. Those who may possibly be perpetrators of heinous crimes or who might perhaps pose significant security risks are completely isolated from the world. Those who are probably innocent of crimes and pose less of a security risk get to choose (without touching) a preprinted greeting card every week which is sent to their family. Reliable, law-abiding citizens, like you, get to sign the preprinted greeting card (under supervision, using a pen borrowed momentarily for that purpose).

(I don't really think such tight restrictions are called for but hey, you seem to want it tight. Your call. Whatever rights you feel you should have.)

Really, I'm not saying anything about what the security needs are or what they should be. All I'm saying is that you should be heard, and that an individually relevant decision should be made about your specific case, and each prisoner's case.

I'm not talking about laws and conventions either. This is not about laws and conventions. This is about America being America.

If it's done right, the gains can be great. The world can get to feel that the US defends the values that it stands for. As a result, international support can become far less hesitant and divided, much more firm and decisive. Protests from bleeding-heart liberals like me can be reduced to a mere whisper, a barely noticeable trickle of occasional reminders.

But the most important gain, far more important than anything else, is that once again Americans become recognizeable as Americans. That once again America becomes America.

Demand your rights. Stand up, America.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi

Geneva Convention applies to Taliban (4.66 / 3) (#318)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:20:21 AM EST

Here is a funny old BBC link I found. Just read the first paragraph:
US President George W Bush has decided that the Geneva Convention on the conduct of war will apply to captured Taleban soldiers in Afghanistan but not to al-Qaeda fighters.
The rest of the article is quite crap. It's just a list of US statements, decrees and assumptions. Many of them are in my opinion wrong or unjust. The interesting thing with the article is that GWB himself has been caught saying the Taliban are POWs.

This says good things about the U.S. (3.25 / 4) (#325)
by Scratch o matic on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:23:37 AM EST

Think about it: we (the U.S.) have detained hundreds of men on the battlefield. And what is the big complaint among those complaining? That we haven't given the men lawyers. That we haven't "charged" them. When is the last time anyone captured during an armed conflict was "charged" with anything (other than some sham trial prior to execution)? They usually meet one of three fates: 1) they are murdered, 2) they are tortured but returned at some point, or 3) they are treated well and returned at the end of hostilities. We are giving these men the third option.

I for one am proud of how we have treated prisoners and detainees in the last century. I was an officer in the Marine Corps for 10 years, and it may surprise many of you to know that the treatment of POW's is taught right up front. Move them away from the fighting as soon as possible, give them medical care if they need it, secure them appropriately but don't let anyone abuse them, offer them a chaplain if they want one, feed them approximately as well as your own men if you have the resources.

To say that these detainees are being abused is a stretch at best. Most of them have gained weight. They have received medical attention. They are not being beaten or tortured. They have a clean, dry place to sleep. They have been given Korans, prayer rugs, headwear, and compasses. Would an American captured by hostile forces in Afghanistan be given a bible and a crucifix? How about a Yamulka and a Torah?

Whether they should be afforded all the privileges a U.S. citizen receives from our own justice system is open for debate, but the debate should not be based upon the faulty notion that these men detained on the battlefield are being abused.

Take 2 (3.80 / 5) (#330)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:10:01 PM EST

Lets try this one more time. There are 3 possible (legal) categories that a prisoner can fall into.

1) Criminal - This is a private person who has violated the laws of a country while within that countries national territory and is held by civil authority. This person is subject to that nations criminal justice system and is afforded all the rights allowed under such.

2) Militarily Prisoner (POW) - This is a member of a belligerent nations regular armed forces (or a volunteer or militia member) who was taken "under arms" during hostilities and whose nation was a signatory to the Geneva Convention or whose nation/organization was not a signatory but abided by the Convention and the established "Laws and Customs of War" (see the Hague Convention). This person is held by military not civil authority. This person is subject to all the protections afforded by the Geneva Convention to POW's. At the end of the hostilities they are repatriated to their home nation or if accused of a War Crime, are turned over to a regularly constituted military tribunal for trial.

3) Military Prisoner (Non POW) - Two types of people fall into this category. Members of our own military who have violated the "Uniform Code of Military Justice" or  members of a hostile/belligerent force which is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention AND which itself has not abided by the Rules of the Convention or the accepted "Laws and Customs of War". These people are held by military not civil authority. They are to be treated humanely, however they are NOT afforded all the rights and privileges afforded to POW's under the Geneva Convention because they have not subjected themselves to the Rules of the Convention. In the case of hostile belligerents they are held UNTIL the end of hostilities at which time their fate is to be decided by a regularly constituted military tribunal...they may be repatriated or they may be put on trial for war crimes.

Guess what category the folks at X-Ray fall under.... it's #3 and they are being treated exactly according to such.

They don't fall under #1 because they are held by military not civil authority and they are not accused of violating criminal law on U.S. soil.

They have disqualified themselves from #2 because they are affiliated with organizations who are NOT signatories to the Convention and who do NOT themselves abide by the Rules of the Convention or the accepted "Laws and Customs of War". It does not matter what Al Quaidya has or has not done in Afghanistan (although it and Taliban have both clearly violated the Rules of the Convention within Afghanistan) as it is the same organization who has targeted non-combatants outside Afghanistan.

They have not been released yet because hostilities are ongoing (i.e. folks are still shooting at each other over in Afghanistan), their comrades in arms are still active in the field and their leadership has not capitulated. That qualifies as "ongoing hostilities"
They ARE being treated humanely. They are being fed, given exercise, allowed religious worship and given medical attention. In all other respects they are being treated as P.O.W's except that they are NOT allowed communication with the outside world (there are security concerns related to that) and they are being interrogated (interrogation does not equal torture).

Once hostilities have ended they will either be released or brought before a regularly constituted militarily tribunal.

Personally I think we are being damn civil especially considering the type of treatment our civilians (let alone military) recieve at the hands of their comrades in arms. Where were the K5 demands for humane treatment of Daniel Pearl while he was a prisoner, eh?

Damn Civil (5.00 / 3) (#331)
by Amesha Spentas on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:29:37 PM EST

Personally I think we are being damn civil especially considering the type of treatment our civilians (let alone military) recieve at the hands of their comrades in arms. Where were the K5 demands for humane treatment of Daniel Pearl while he was a prisoner, eh?

Yea, lets compare The USA to a terrorist group. That seems to be what your doing. I would certainly hope the USA looks civil in comparison. Now try this comparison. Lets compare the USA with other countries that have dealt with domestic terrorism.

The "damn civil" begins to look a lot less civil. I expect nothing from terrorists. I don't expect them to follow any conventions or agreements. However I do expect the USA to follow those agreements. I greatly fear people who believe that the most powerful nation on earth should have ethics in common with terrorist groups. As for Daniel Pearl, He knew exactly what he was getting himself info, the risks, and the opportunities. He could have decided not to travel to Afghanistan. He made his decision. Was it right that he was tortured and killed? No, A resounding No. But if a person decides not to wear a seatbelt after being told the risks/dangers, that becomes as much his/her responsibility as any one else. When you travel to a war zone you cannot reasonably expect to stay safe. I don't think Daniel Pearl expected to be killed. I also think he was aware of the risks. What happened was a crime. How the media has portrayed it has been a tragedy.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

Democratic debate (4.00 / 2) (#338)
by QuickFox on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 02:29:31 AM EST

Where were the K5 demands for humane treatment of Daniel Pearl while he was a prisoner, eh?

If there had been Talibans here to discuss with you can bet there would have been avalanches of harsh protests and angry demands.

The US is a democracy. This means that debate is possible. And this means you can expect debate. That's not something bad, it's something good. Don't complain about it, rejoice.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

K5 (none / 0) (#342)
by drquick on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:10:03 AM EST

You replied to CENGEL3's comment
Where were the K5 demands for humane treatment of Daniel Pearl while he was a prisoner, eh?
I'd want to add that you can't expect K5 to demand things that are touted from every mainstream propaganda channel anyhow. Most K5ers - including myself - are just happy with silent support.

[ Parent ]
Let's see if I understand this (4.00 / 1) (#346)
by borderline on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 07:39:02 AM EST

Are you saying that the Geneva convention is void for all Al-Qaida members, because Al-Qaida as a whole has not always followed the convention?

Does this mean that if some parts of the army of some nation in a conflict throws away their uniforms, conceal their weapons before attacking, start murdering civilians etc, the Geneva convention is no longer valid for any members of that army?

Or are you just saying that all the prisoners at camp X-Ray have personally broken the rules of the Geneva convention?

I'm not attacking your argument, I just need it clarified. I'm not that familiar with this whole "Rules of War" thing.

[ Parent ]

Explanation (3.00 / 2) (#347)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:42:45 AM EST

"Are you saying that the Geneva convention is void for all Al-Qaida members, because Al-Qaida as a whole has not always followed the convention?"

That's not what I am saying, that is what the Convention itself says.

The Convention (and other Conventions governing the Rules of War) deals with an agreement between Nations (or organized groups) not individuals on how to behave towards members of other nations.

Your status is dependent upon which Nation/Group you are affialiated with.

Thus, if you are a member of the armed forces of a belligerent nation you are eligible to be fired upon.

If you are a member of the armed forces of a neutral nation you are not.

If you are a civilian you are not eligable to be fired upon.

If you are a member of the medical corps you recieve certain treatment.

If you are the member of the armed forces of a belligerent nation which on the whole abides by the Convention and the Rules of War then you are afforded P.O.W. status.

If you are a member of the armed forces of a belligerent nation that as a whole does not abide by the Convention then you are not afforded P.O.W. status.

That is why during WWII German prisoners were afforded P.O.W. status by the U.S. despite the fact that there were isolated incidents (Malmedy) where individual German units disregarded the Rules of War (The current Convention wasn't ratified until 1947 so we are dealing here with previous agreements/Convetions) in regards U.S. prisoners....because on the whole the German Army abided by the Rules of War as far as Western Allied prisoners.

It is also why niether Germany nor Russia afforded each others troops P.O.W status because collectively niether one abided by the Rules of War in regards to one another.

In Wartime it is not only impracticle but impossible for the millitary to conduct operations on anything other then a collective basis.

The millitary can't go around querying individual troops who wear the enemies sigal as to whether they individualy have hostile intent toward our country before opening fire upon them.

The very fact that those individuals are wearing the enemies sigal and have chosen to associate themselves with that organization/group determines thier status and intent.

The same goes for the status of prisoners. The millitary can not investigate each individual prisoner to determine whether he personaly has abided by the Convention (and the Rules of War) or not and therefore deserves P.O.W. status.

The millitary deals with each prisoner according to the group he has chosen to affiliate himself with. Thus, if a prisoner is affiliated with an armed force which as a whole abides by the Convention then he is granted P.O.W status (even though he individualy may not have abided by the Convention)

If a prisoner is affiliated with a group which as a whole does not abide by the convention then he has taken the position (by his affiliation) that he will not abide by the Convention.... and thus is not due P.O.W. status.

Our own troops know and accept this.

The place for individual responsibilty of soldiers is in determining whether or not war crimes have been committed. That is where individuals are held accountable for thier unique actions... and not judged by the collective actions of the group they are associated with.
This normaly occurs AFTER the cessation of hostilties and involves a long and involved inquiry process and trial by a regularly consituted millitary tribunal.

It is not appropriate for such a tribunal to take place while hostilties are ongoing nor is it feasable for it to determine the status for millitary prisoners en mass.

It is abundantly clear that Al-Qaida as a PRACTICE does not abide by the Convention or the Laws and Customs of War. Note this is not one or two isolated incidents where it abrogates the Convention.... It is part of it's POLICY and regular practice to disregard the Convention.

I believe the same is true of the Taliban, although the evidence for that is not as numerous (unless you also consider it's treatment of Northern Alliance forces and it's own civilian populace)

[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#350)
by borderline on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:14:34 PM EST

Thanks for the clarification. Can you point me to a good source for reading more on the subject? When seraching the web, I find many Geneva conventions, but no place where I can get the whole picture.

[ Parent ]
Unfurtunately (1.00 / 1) (#351)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:07:12 PM EST

I have had the same issue as you. I haven't found a good single source for the various Conventions on the web. Mostly I've just used google to look at individual sites for the various Conventions.

The best Source I've found so far on the Geneva Conventions is this URL:

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/intlinst.htm

Note also that in many cases the various conventions use the term "laws and customs of war"
which tends to lead one to ask where can I find info on exactly what these are?

They aren't actualy defined anywhere within the instrument list, however I believe what the framers of the convention based these terms on (and indeed what most Western millitaries base thier millitary justice codes on) is the Hague Conference on "Laws and Customs of War on Land".
Which, though a little antiquated (it predates the U.N. Charter) is the best guide for internationaly accepted practices of War which aren't covered by the various Geneva conventions.

A good source for this can be found at the following URL:

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/lawwar.htm
 

[ Parent ]

The difference being (none / 0) (#348)
by bouncing on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:48:56 AM EST

Only the United States, and possibly China if its human rights record slips further, have a category #3. The "unlawful combatant" is a figment of the imagination of Tom Ridge and Don Rumsfeld -- no other industrialized nation has used such a notion in the past one hundred years.

But go ahead, use the "unlawful combatant" status. Just be aware that the United States of America now affords a veguely defined status, with no international legalities or domestic legalaties, far away from any check on power whatsoever. Not even China or Iran or Iraq has tried to make their false arrests legal.

[ Parent ]

Lets do a comparison. (2.00 / 2) (#349)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 02:09:27 PM EST

"Not even China or Iran or Iraq has tried to make their false arrests legal."

Firstly no one at X-Ray is under "arrest". If you can't understand the difference between civil authority which "arrests" domestic criminals and millitary authority which captures enemy belligerents who are under arms during an armed conflict then I really can't help you.

Secondly lets compare your examples shall we?

What's your main complaint about the U.S. ?

That we have not officialy accorded the prisoners being held at X-ray P.O.W. status according to the Geneva convention.

In particular what are the things we are doing which are not in accordance with the Convention.

1) We are not allowing them access to the outside world (i.e. mail, International Red Cross visitation, etc)

2) We are interrogating them (Note: this is interrogation not torture, they are not being physicaly abused)

Now lets compare this to the example countries you have given.

China:

1) Summary execution of civilian non-combatants  in occupied territory(Tibet)

2) Forcible relocation of civilians inhabitants of occupied territory (Tibet)

Iran:

1) Taking of hostages (U.S. Embessay)

2) Holding civilian non-combatants prisoner (U.S. Embessay)

3) Denying prisoners access to the outside world (U.S. Embessay)

4) Physical abuse of prisoners (U.S. Embessay)

5) Threatening the execution of prisoners in retaliation for any potential millitary action (U.S. Embessay)

Iraq:

1) Use of Chemical Weapons on Non-Combatants (Kurds)

2) Use of Chemical Weapons on Combatants ( Iran - Iran and Iraq war)

3) Indiscriminate targeting of the civilian population of a nation which was not party to the hostilities (Scuds fired at Israel during the Gulf War)

4) Torture of prisoners of war (Allied servicemen during the Gulf War)

5) Interment and torture of non-combatants (Western Reporters during the Gulf War)

6) Seziure of Medical Supplies from facilities which exclusively treated civialian casualties (Kuwait)

Just to name a few examples.

So tell me again, how have China, Iran or Iraq actualy followed the Geneva Convention?

Is your only complaint that they haven't bothered to try to justify what they were doing as "legal" and we have?

Perhaps if we were following the China, Iran, Iraq model we should simple deny the existance of Camp X-ray or refuse to comment on it. Would that make you feel more comfortable?

Is that truely your point?

[ Parent ]

So... (5.00 / 1) (#352)
by DavidTC on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:13:33 PM EST

You haven't heard of Jose Padilla? Or what happened with Osama Awadallah? And Hamdi? And there are people on trial within the military system. You do not put anyone captured in a war on trial.

And I have to point out that the war with Afganistan is over...all prisoners must be returned.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

What part do you not understand? (1.00 / 1) (#358)
by CENGEL3 on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 11:51:11 AM EST

Padilla was a U.S. CITIZEN arrested in Ohare airport in Chicago on criminal charges.

Awadallah was arrested by the FBI while on U.S. soil.

What part of this is so difficult for you to grasp.....

Civil Authorities (i.e. FBI) have the power to arrest people on U.S. soil who are commiting crimes on U.S. soil. Those people are subject to the criminal justice system. Thier no different from some-one who goes out and robs the local convenience store.

Civil Authorties have no power to arrest anyone outside of U.S. soil.

Millitary authority does not "arrest" people (other then it's own servicemen who have committed millitary crimes), it "captures" enemy belliegerents during hostilities these people are not "criminals", are not subject to the criminal justice system and are detained until the end of hostilities. AFTER hostilities have ceased those prisoners are returned to thier home country OR they are turned over to a duely constituted tribunal to stand trial for war crimes (i.e. Nurenburg).

Both Padilla & Awadallah were arrested by civil authorities on U.S. soil for committing crimes on U.S. soil. They are NOT millitary prisoners... they are being put through the criminal justice system just like any other person who knocks over a conveneince store in the U.S.

Hamdi was captured "under arms" in Afgahnistan by Northern Alliance troops. He is a millitary prisoner being detained in a millitary facility in the U.S..... he has not, as far as I know been charged with any crime, he is simply a captured belligerent... like any other enemy soldier captured in Afghanistan he is being held until hostilities are over.

The one complication in his case is that he also happens to be a U.S. citizen ... so when hostilities are over and he is returned to his home country (the U.S.), he might be subject to a criminal charge of Treason (it is illegal in the U.S. to take up arms against your own government). However no such charge has been filled as of yet, as far as I am aware.

As far as your claim that "the war with Afganistan is over" ... tell that to the people still shooting over in Afghanistan.

Hostilities have NOT ceased. In order for there to be a ceasation of hostilities:

1) All active bellieirent forces must cease armed resistance.

2) There must be a peace agreement between the governments/leadership of the parties involved in the hostilities.

3) All active forces still in the field must report themselves and confirm that they are no longer engaging in hostilities.

None of those things have happaned yet.

 

[ Parent ]

International Embarrassment | 363 comments (344 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
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