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
The idea of establishing a secret “drone court” modeled on the FISA court is an exceptionally bad one. Here in brief are some of my objections:
The court and its proceedings would be secret. It would be even worse than the infamous English Star Chamber. Even in the Star Chamber you had to be accused of doing *something*. As I understand it, the standard being articulated by the US administration now is “imminent danger”. Hello, “Minority Report” scenario anyone?
These death warrants would constitute a “Bill of Attainder” which is very expressly and categorically prohibited in the US Constitution Article I Section 9.
It is a fundamental and blatant violation of customary international law, in particular the 1923 Hague Convention. No you cannot bomb civilians. No you cannot bomb mosques and hospitals. No you cannot bomb people away from the battlefield.
Granted these prohibitions were blatantly ignored in the latter phases of WWII by all major participants. Nonetheless the principals in the German V-2 rocket program were tried for war crimes in the Dora trial of 1947. But they were acquitted of all charges and found refuge in the US, where their work became the basis of the US space and missile programs.
It is murder. It is lying. It is covert and unaccountable. It is a grim violation of international law and simple human decency. It is clearly unconstitutional.
Come on Congress and President Obama. Think about this. How hard can it be to see what is right?
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
Around the world, something quite extraordinary is happening. Muslim and Hindu, Shiite and Sunni and Sufi, religious and secular, Pakistani and Afghan, are united in praying for the swift and complete recovery of Malala, who is called, “beloved,” “The Ambassador of Peace and Education,” “braveheart,” “the brilliant brain,” “saviour of girls.” Pakistan and Afghanistan have both held special ceremonies and a national day of prayer. People have been photographed in the streets with tears running down their faces. We see pictures of girls holding up signs saying, “I am Malala.”
Though she has been transformed by myth and the coincidence of her name to the national heroine of Afghanistan, Malalai of Marwand, we should not forget that Malala is a 14-year-old girl with dear friends and a loving family whose hearts ache for her.
My Malalai is living, and they praise others’ beauty.
Though they have eyes, they are blind.
“When gun-toting men stopped their school wagon in Mingora last Tuesday around 12.45 p.m. asking for Malala Yousafzai, none of the three girls inside spoke. This, despite the terrorists threatening to shoot all of them if they did not identify Malala.
Today, stirred by the braveheart, who dared to stand up to the Taliban, and her friends, Shazia and Kainat, who refused to identify her even under threat, girls across Pakistan are saying ‘I am Malala.’
This is happening not just on the social media – which offers a degree of anonymity and security – but also on television and on the streets; some with their faces uncovered. ‘I-am-Malala’ has been trending not just in Pakistan but also in Afghanistan where girls’ education is equally at risk from the very same elements.
On Saturday, the Afghanistan Education Ministry organised a nationwide prayer for her at schools. She is being likened to ‘Malalai of Maiwand,’ the ‘Afghan Joan of Arc’ who rallied the Pashtun army against the British in 1880.”
Friends of Pakistani girl shot by Taliban vow ‘never to be subdued by militants
Malala Yousafzai: a young Pakistani heroine
OVER A COFFEE : Attacking Malala: the soul of Pakistan — Dr Haider Shah
Copyright © 2012 Henry Edward Hardy
Okay more shoes are dropping about the “Consulate” and “safe-house” in Benghazi where a total of four American personnel were killed.
The “Consulate” was not a Consulate. The Libyans just called it that. “What is clear, however, is that those who arrived at the mission — not officially a consulate, though Libyans call it that informally — came intending to inflict maximum damage on the building.”
The “safe-house” was not a safe-house. The Libyans just called it that. “Neither was heavily guarded, and the second house was never intended to be a “safe house,” as initial accounts suggested. “The seven un-uniformed, but very heavily armed men who broke through the two ambushes awaiting them and rescued the remaining US persons along with our allied militia? They were never there. “At no point were the Marines or other American military personnel involved, contrary to news reports early on.”
The first incoming mortar, in the dead of night, hit square on the “alternate location’s” gate and killed the two ex-Seals. Terrorism? You bet.
Did Ansar Al-Sharia have support from a state or states with significant HUMINT, SIGINT and satellite capability? Almost certainly.
UN Security Council Announces “No-Fly” Zone over the United States
Geneva November 15, 2011
The United States defiantly announced it would continue its crackdown on peaceful anti-government protesters even as warplanes of a dozen nations in a “coalition of the willing” prepared to enforce a “no-fly” zone over the entire United States.
Speaking for the Security Council after a 13-0 vote from which the US and China abstained by being not present, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said:
“Russia is a democratic and peace-loving nation. Nonetheless, the international community cannot permit that the gross violations of human rights and international law by the United States against their own citizens, be allowed to continue. We have seen the arbitrary arrest and detention of thousands of protesters from the non-violent “Occupy” movement, plus numerous documented examples of excessive use of force against the protesters. The continued use of toxic chemical weapons is a clear violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol on Gas Warfare. The documented use of lead shot filled “beanbags” fired from shotguns at non-violent protesters from point-blank range is an egregious violation of human rights and international law. The US has shown it is unable or unwilling to abide by its own Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly.
“Consequently, today we have taken the following actions. All assets of the United States and US-owned corporations and persons around the world are frozen. A “no-fly” zone is in place over the United States and its dependent territories and colonies. We are establishing bases in Mexico and Canada to enforce this zone, including the option, if necessary, of destroying all land, sea and air-based defensive capabilities of the US. The United States has been placed on the list of terrorist nations, and a list of public officials and corporate leaders is being added to a sanctions list. The President of the United States, his cabinet, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as intelligence officials, are being referred to the World Court for possible war crimes prosecution. Our Spetsnaz forces are on the ground in the US assisting and supporting the dissident groups.”
In response, the US President, Barak Obama, released a statement saying, “The United States is a proud and independent nation. We do not accept that we should be dictated to by an arbitrary consortium of enemies and former allies who think that they can dictate the internal policies of the United States at gunpoint. We will crush these rats, these germs of internal dissent, and we shall never surrender to blackmail by foreign powers. Long live the United States of America!”
[yes this is satire! and hopefully remains so]
Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy