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
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.
On Junior High
I went to Roxboro Junior High in Cleveland Heights, Ohio from 1971 to 1974.
The first two years were the most interesting. Viet Nam was reaching it’s genocidal conclusion and the east side of Cleveland was a hotbed of radicalism. Cleveland had I think the fourth-largest SDS chapter at one time. Twenty six thousand people? That’s the membership number I remember. Never actually had any documentary evidence of it tho’ just word of mouth.
There had already been down-and-out fighting between some in the city’s black community of Hough and the police and 1600 National Guardsmen in the summer of 1966 (June 18-23, 1966). These were characterized as riots by the press and government but had some revolutionary characteristics. A Grand Jury investigation later found that , “The jury finds that the outbreak of lawlessness and disorder was both organized, precipitated and exploited by a relatively small group of trained and disciplined professionals at the business. They were aided and abetted, willingly or otherwise, by misguided people of all ages and colors, many of whom are avowed believers in violence and extremism, and some of whom are either members or officers of the Communist Party.”
There had been major tension in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, culminating in the “Glenville shootout” of July 23-28, 1968 in which seven people were killed (officially), including three police officers, and (officially) 15 were wounded.
On September 20, 1969, there was a demonstration at the Davis Cup tennis finals about a half mile from my house in which about 300 SDS’ers, including Bernadine Dohrn, were beaten and thrown in garbage trucks (the kind for fallen tree branches) They had marched around chanting, “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh is going to win”. Mental facepalm once again. Nixon was supposed to come and they repaved all the roads from the airport right to the Clark courts (which was oddly on the Junior High grounds). But Nixon didn’t show. Officially 20 were arrested. I saw the whole thing from inside the stadium. News coverage, despite presence of the international media? None.
Later there were some bombings, popularly (and probably wrongly) attributed by the press to the Weatherman faction of SDS, in which things like one of Rodin’s “Thinker” (March 24, 1970) and the Shaker Heights police station (February 1, 1970) were blown up.
And then there was Kent State about 40 miles from us, where on May 4, 1970, Ohio national guardsmen shot and killed four unarmed students, wounding at least nine others. This led to a student strike by an estimated four million people.
Events are somewhat jumbled in my mind but I remember a lot of chaos (and fun) in that time. The school was essentially ruled by the AV club. They had keys to everything kept on a big keyring hidden in a false bottom of a “safe locker” (and spare sets). They held “trials” of students accused of stealing things without authorization or misusing access to the keys. Or losing them.
A key amnesty was used to turn in the worst malefactors and tighten up on key security. Some people also ran a pirate TV station, 1/4 watt, broadcasting Star Trek in black and white up to 5 hours a day on school days.
The AV crew also spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to write “Page Bites” in the most improbable places, including in invisible ink on a white sweater which became visible after drying poor Mrs. Page’s sweater.
Kids who were thought to be wimpy got a rough time. Beaten with wet towels, clothes stolen, locked in wet used towel box. I let several of these go. In those days nobody wanted to fight me as I was heavyweight intramural wrestling champion of my grade in 7th and 8th grade. Well I did get punched in the mouth in the library, which aggravated me and prompted me to tell them they should leave now. lol. “No fighting in the library”.
The worst malefactors were kept somewhat under control by quite rough treatment when we played “Bloodball” or rugby football. Some, who stole AV equipment or keys or who repeatedly tear-gassed Ms. Barber’s science class, were strongly encouraged to mend their ways after being subjected to drumhead student courts.
I guess I would consider myself to be a liberal then. I refused to boycott school, and said we should Occupy instead. I did not participate in any of the big fights, like when about 200 people put the beatdown on some gangsters who had come looking for one of our brothers. Mr N_____ who was a former Marine Corps Sergeant, saved them from being beaten unconscious or worse. Or when the Nazi’s were invited to speak to the 9th grade Humanistic Curriculum program and ended up leaving abruptly pursued by a student version of the basic Frankenstein’s monster chasing mob. With baseball bats, knives and a machete in place of pitchforks and torches.
There were frequent bombings in the school, ranging from strings of firecrackers, to M-80′s, to toilet bombs, homemade incendiaries, and finally the bombing of the administration offices, which left them a burnt out shell and did more than a quarter million dollars worth of damage. All other kinds of monkeywrenching and Anarchist Cookbook stuff was done. Such as the old wrap a wet sponge with rubber bands tightly, let it dry hard, take off bands and flush it down the toilet. I didn’t do that I found it annoying as well as not in accord with my nonviolent principles, even moreso annoying when the toilets were actually exploded.
The Paris Peace Accords of Jan 27, 1973, changed the revolutionary ardor of the students completely. We had won the right to make a Student Union, but after the war “ended” only one person (and me) ever showed up to another meeting and it fell apart. The war of course was not over for the Vietnamese. What changed was US American student’s older brothers were no longer being drafted and coming home insane or in a box.
I was more inspired by the Yippie’s pranksterism. I remember in the Humanistic Curriculum getting the teachers to agree that we should study bipedalism by going around on quasi all fours like apes one day and the traditional school teachers and administrators being quite disconcerted as we ran around on all fours eating bananas and pant-hooting at them. The Yippies continued to be a presence up through the end of high school in 1977. But basically the antiwar movement, which pretended to such high ideals, was dead, its leaders dead, imprisoned, underground, or exiled and the self-interest in avoiding the draft gone as a major motivating factor. That year after 9th grade they re-keyed the entire school at a cost of 60 thousand dollars and brought in security guards/police to “monitor” the halls.
Then came high school where the real fun began.
Copyright © 2012 Henry Edward Hardy
President George Bush Jr. was not “swiftboated” — his Democratic opponent in the Presidential election of 2004, Senator John Kerry, was. Kerry was a Vietnam combat veteran who received three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star.
Bush Jr. had served stateside in a National Guard unit, and was later accused of failing to report for duty or take his required physical for more than a year.
To counter the possible impact of the contrast between the military record of the two candidates, a group of prominent Republican supporters helped to organize and provided most of the funding for an organization critical of Kerry’s war record called, “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” (SBVT). According to wikipedia:
“SBVT characterized itself as a non-partisan group both in the legal sense and in spirit, yet several prominent individuals who assisted SBVT also have had close ties to the Republican Party. According to information released by the IRS on February 22, 2005, more than half of the group’s reported contributions came from just three sources, all prominent Texas Republican donors: Houston builder Bob J. Perry, a longtime supporter of George W. Bush, donated $4.45 million, Harold Simmons’ Contrans donated $3 million, and T. Boone Pickens, Jr. donated $2 million. Other major contributors included Bush fundraiser Carl Lindner ($300,000), Robert Lindner ($260,000), GOP contributor Aubrey McClendon ($250,000), George Matthews Jr. ($250,000), and Crow Holdings ($100,000).”
Copyright © 2010 Henry Edward Hardy