What I think about Guantanamo
I think President Obama has been thrown off-stride by the Karl-Rove-orchestrated assault on his perceived strengths (a very Clausewitzian and typical Rove strategy if you follow him).
With Guantanamo Obama had hoped to solve the issue by attrition and by devaluing the issue to the point where he could wrap it up with spending little or no political capital.
But now the issue is forced by the hunger strike, now in its official 100th day.
I think he must spend capital on this and if he does he will be rewarded.
The legal basis for holding these guys without charge or trial is that they are taken under the Hague and Geneva conventions in a war zone.
This runs into problems right off the bat because you are not supposed to exfiltrate prisoners of war or interned civilians from whatever country they were captured in except to return them to their country of origin.
For the same reason, the idea of returning these folks to some third country should be a non-starter.
Here is what is should be done.
Continue to hold military tribunals, but only for the purpose of status determination: prisoner of war or interned civilian.
Those who were captured under arms, had a command structure, some kind of uniform, may be found to be prisoners of war. The remainder of these folks will be found to be interned civilians.
Prisoners of war cannot be charged for fighting the enemy so long as they themselves obeyed the laws of war. The UN has also recognized the right of civilian people under arms to fight for national liberation, but that is not as well-ensconced in international law as is the rights and responsibilities of nation-states.
Civilians can be charged with criminal offenses, but they should be tried in theatre by local judges under local law (which can't be done since they have been illegally exfiltrated out of theatre) or else in their country of origin or by an international tribunal. The military commissions cannot be allowed to act as judge, jury and executioner. When military tribunals have been allowed to exceed their proper scope in the past, such as during the Civil War, the result has not been pretty.
As soon as is practicable, these men must be returned to their countries of origin, whether or not their tribunal proceedings are closed or complete.
Our intelligence should keep tabs on these guys in an open manner but otherwise let them lead their lives as best they can. It is very much in everyone’s best interest to help these folks with compensation for time during which they were improperly held or mistreated, and they all should be given enough to live and to receive medical and psychological assistance on an ongoing basis.
We are going to pay a price for letting these guys go. Here's 166 guys who are going to be very messed up and not feeling like Uncle Sam is their friend. That is the price we will pay for kidnapping, assassination, rape, torture, war crimes, running concentration camps, and 10 years of low-intensity conflict, which is what we call terrorism when we do it.
But you have to consider there’s already a lot more than 166 guys out in the world who don’t like the US.
By bringing this very real scandal front and center and highly publicizing the commissions and the procedures to return the prisoners of war and interned civilians, the ginned-up Rove scandaloids will be driven off the TV and front pages perhaps indefinitely.
What’s the reward? The issue is so corrosive of the moral authority and therefore of the power of the United States. Quite simply, it makes the US the bad guys and that’s not good. Time to end a bad situation which only festers as time goes on.
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
A response to Ron Suarez’ A New Ann Arbor City Council Resolution to End the War in Iraq?
Note: the antiwar resolution mentioned on Ron’s site was passed by the Ann Arbor City Council in March, 2007.
I received this request from Michigan Peaceworks to support a new Ann Arbor City Council resolution that would hopefully push Congress to bring an end to the war in Iraq…
Here is their [Michigan Peaceworks] Proposed wording for a City Council Resolution:
We urge Congress to move in a bi-partisan way to address war policies in the Middle East. The United States now spends more on military defense than all other nations combined, but the world is less safe than when we embarked on our present policies. It is time for Congress to provide leadership by:
* re-establishing its on-going, joint authority with the President over war powers and war expenditures
* using Congressional appropriations authority to protect our troops by establishing conditions for their mobilization and deployment, conditions and time-lines for their return home, and needed assistance to veterans of our recent wars
* providing international humanitarian leadership
* developing a humanitarian budget to meet non-military needs of the worlds’ people, including our own
* using Congressional oversight to help strengthen international cooperation in peace-building
…But, I could use help identifying other government officials who could use a nudge in the correct direction.
John Dingell. He often wears red.
His recent antiwar resolution, HR 3938 sounds good at first in that it reportedly withdraws the use of force authorization. The full text was not yet on Thomas when I wrote this. But the 2009 timeframe is too long. And this is a political cover for Dingell in that it distracts from what matters, which is his votes for the appropriations for the wars. Dingell’s resolution won’t pass both houses, and if it did it would be vetoed. He knows that.
If a majority of the House would refuse any more defense authorizations the war would end. Soon. Maybe some mainline Democrats want the war to continue. It is good for the business of the people who give them money. One hopes Dingell would not be in this category.
We need to focus in the short term on amending or defeating war appropriations. Resolutions like the proposed council resolution and HR 3938 give political cover to mainline Democrats who feel pressure from an increasingly frustrated public. But they don’t end the war. They give it political cover to continue.
What does Peaceworks mean that Congress should “move in a bi-partisan way?” Isn’t that kind of like a three-legged sack race? Seriously are the Democrats supposed to wait to defund the war until the Republicans turn into a pro-peace, anti-war party? This is a poor idea at best.
The Peaceworks resolution’s reference to “joint authority” between the president and Congress over “war spending and war powers” is inaccurate. The Constitution reserves these powers to Congress alone.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; ….
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; …
The president is an executive of the People, who acting through their Legislature, make the laws and raise taxes. We rely on the President to obey and fairly enforce the laws, not to ignore, make, or break them. The president is not a sovereign. Bush is not “King (or warlord) of America”.
HR 2638: Making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes, in committee.
HR 2642: Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes, in committee.
And we need to oppose any more continuing resolutions like Democratic sponsored H.J.RES.52: Making continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 2008, and for other purposes, which Bush signed September 29, 2007.
Bush and the House and Senate Democrats like Dingell and Stabenow are pretending to disagree over the war to appeal to their base constituencies, while they are collaborating in continuing to fund it. I don’t have the same issue with Carl Levin, he and John Rockefeller have been fighting very hard behind closed doors on the war, concentration camps, and surveillance issues for a long time now.
What’s the cost to the citizen? Tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead; Thousands of American casualties; Military suicides and fragging incidents on the rise; America’s democracy and reputation in ruins; and $8,000 per person in the US through the next ten years. Or, if you want to look at it another way, $80,000 per person in Iraq. We could have bought all of Iraq intact for less than what it is costing to destroy it.
Feel-good resolutions without the force of law are a distraction and an impediment to holding our legislators accountable for real effective actions to end this garrison state of permanent war and neoconservative-neofascist oppression.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Back on January 28, 2007 there occurred one of the biggest battles of the post-invasion phase of the Iraq War. Hundreds of civilians were reported killed and hundreds more civilians reported captured after significant ground and air activities in the area.
I was reading the still messy and not-well-organized wiki page on The Battle of Najaf and found an interesting update:
10 Iraqi cult members sentenced to death
Middle East Times/September 2, 2007
Najaf, Iraq — Ten members of an Iraqi doomsday cult were sentenced to death Sunday, and 394 jailed for their roles in a January rebellion against Iraqi and US troops that left hundreds dead, police said.
“The criminal court passed judgement on 458 accused,” Najaf police chief Brigadier General Abdel Karim Mustapha said.
“It sentenced 10 leaders of the Soldiers of Heaven to death, and decided to release 54 of them,” he said. “The rest were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 15 years to life.”
In January, the militant sect, dubbing itself the Jund Al Samaa or “Soldiers of Heaven,” clashed with US and Iraqi forces outside the holy city of Najaf, three days ahead of the Shiite Ashura festival.
The fighting left 263 sect followers dead, including their messianic leader Dhia Abdel Zahra Kadhim Al Krimawi, also known as Abu Kamar, who believed himself to be a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Iraqi security forces reportedly lost three soldiers and three policemen.
After the battle, police rounded up hundreds of sect members and put them on trial.
“With today’s sentencing, the curtain has fallen on the Soldiers of Heaven group,” Mustapha said.
Abu Kamar has also claimed to be a descendant of the Imam Mehdi, an 8th-century imam who vanished as a boy and, who, Shiites believe, will return to bring justice to the world.
At the time of the attack, Najaf deputy governor Abdel Hussein Attan said that the well-structured group planned to attack senior Shiite clerics and seize control of religious sites in Najaf, in a sign the Mehdi was about to reappear.
According to wikipedia (currently) the Middle East Times parent company is owned by the Unification Church. Can anyone confirm, add to or refute the accuracy of this MET report?
See also: Scanlyze tag Najaf
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
George W. Bush made one of his most bizarre pronouncements yet at his news conference yesterday, outdoing even Miss Teen South Carolina in his seeming lack of knowledge of what she called “The Iraq” and South Africa. This has to be seen to be believed, if even then:
I thought an interesting comment was made, somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, now where’s Man-deh-la — well, Mandela’s dead. Because–Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas [Bush makes a weird grin, grimace or smile]. He-he-he-he was was a brutal tyrant–that divided people up–and split families and people recovering from this. So there’s a psychological recovery that is taking place. It is hard work for ‘em and I understand its hard work for ‘em. Having said that I’m not going to give them a pass when it comes to the central the central government’s reconciliation efforts.
I also said in my speech that local politics will drive national politics, and I believe that. I believe as more reconciliation takes place at the local level you’ll see a more responsive government.
Scanlyze: From the context it seems that Bush was talking figuratively, meaning that all the Nelson Mandela-like figures had been eliminated by Saddam. But he discusses it in such a strange abstracted way. It really makes one wonder as to Mr. Bush’s state of mind. Best wishes to him, for all of our sakes.
After Bush Remark, Mandela Foundation Says Former President Still Alive (Voice of America)
Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark (Reuters)
Bush’s News Conference Almost Makes News (Washington Post)
Mandela condemns US stance on Iraq (BBC–from 2003)
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
“The security situation is changing,” Bush told reporters during the visit [to Australia]. “There’s more work to be done. But reconciliation is taking place.”
But according to the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia, the president gave a more-to-the-point assessment to Australia Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile.
“We’re kicking ass,” Bush said to Vaile Tuesday, according the Herald, after the deputy prime minister inquired about his trip to Iraq.
Scanlyze: Another dramatic turn of phrase from the begetter of “Mission Accomplished“, “The Smoking Gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud” and, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job“. How shallow, and callow, and cruel can this man be? In a speech in Philadelphia on December 15, 2005, Bush estimated Iraqi deaths to be “30,000, more or less”. (Speech audio | Video).
Is killing tens of thousands of civilians “kicking ass”?
US Army suicides are the highest in 26 years, according to a recent Army report. Is that “kicking ass”?
Colin Powell, the former 4-star General and your own former Secretary of State says the US Army is “about broken“, Mr. Bush. Is that “kicking ass?”
The Pew Global Attitudes Project reported in 2006 that, “America’s global image has again slipped and support for the war on terrorism has declined even among close U.S. allies like Japan. The war in Iraq is a continuing drag on opinions of the United States, not only in predominantly Muslim countries but in Europe and Asia as well. And despite growing concern over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the U.S. presence in Iraq is cited at least as often as Iran – and in many countries much more often – as a danger to world peace.” Is that “kicking ass?”
President Bush told the author of a new book on his presidency that “I try not to wear my worries on my sleeve” or show anything less than steadfastness in public, especially in a time of war.
“I fully understand that the enemy watches me, the Iraqis are watching me, the troops watch me, and the people watch me,” he said. Yet, he said, “I do tears.”
“I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on. And I cry a lot. I do a lot of crying in this job. I’ll bet I’ve shed more tears than you can count, as president. I’ll shed some tomorrow.”
Bush tells biographer: ‘I do tears’
A tear runs down President Bush’s cheek as he takes part in a Medal of Honor Ceremony for Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham of Scio, N.Y., Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
article and photo removed from Charlotte Observer site 2007-09-20, google cache (w/out photo)
Cropped version of the photo which was above:
Yarg! Elusive image. . Another cropped version, from Salon.
Are you really “kicking ass”, Mr. Bush? Are you proud? Are you very happy now? Despite the “enemy” you say who “watches” you?
Think about it sir, please think.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy