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Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform

by TChris

The United Nations Human Rights Commission advocated the closure of the Guantánamo prison in a report issued this week. Today, a NY Times editorial blasts the Bush administration's refusal to recognize the damage that Guantánamo does to the nation's credibility as a protector of human rights.

The Bush administration offered its usual weak response, that President Bush has decided there is a permanent state of war that puts him above the law. And that is exactly the problem: by creating Guantánamo outside the legal system for prisoners who, according to Mr. Bush, have no rights, the United States is stuck holding these 500 men in perpetuity. The handful who may be guilty of heinous crimes can never be tried in a real court because of their illegal detentions. A vast majority did nothing or were guilty only of fighting on a battlefield, but the administration refuses to sort them out.

And the editorial reminds us that accountability has been erased from this administration's vocabulary.

All are a reminder that the Bush administration has yet to account for what happened at Abu Ghraib. No political appointee has been punished for the policies that led to the atrocities. Indeed, most have been rewarded.

While the administration is predictably defensive about the UN Commission's report (as well as newly released photos from Abu Ghraib), it's stubborn response, delivered by Donald Rumsfeld, is equally predictable: the report is "flat wrong," all is well, we're protecting you from terrorists who will kill you if we release them. Relying on fear as a substitute for due process, the administration appears to be expanding Guantánamo instead of closing it. Feeling safe yet?

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  • Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:10:09 AM EST
    "We have several hundred terrorists _ bad people, people that if let back out on the field would try to kill Americans. That's just a fact." Oh, for sweetfannyadam's sake (profanity elided). Rumsfeld is lying. According to his own department's data, over half of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners "are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies." Is there anyone in the media with the guts to ask Rumsfeld why he's lying like this?

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:15:56 AM EST
    In the past, illegal combatants tended to be summarily executed. Of course, TChris and TL are as befuddled by the concept of illegal combatants as they are by the concept of illegal aliens. Here, let me help: here's a definition of the term illegal. You two might want to study it until it sinks in.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 10:30:03 AM EST
    James R: In the past, illegal combatants tended to be summarily executed. What does this have to do with the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay? Here, let me help: here's a definition of the term illegal. You two might want to study it until it sinks in. Ah. Illegal: not according to or authorized by law. As in the practice of holding prisoners of war in Guantanamo Bay without the protection of the Geneva Convention to which they are entitled.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#4)
    by Al on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 11:24:39 AM EST
    Once again, JR drops the meme "In the past, illegal combatants tended to be summarily executed" as if it were self-evident truth. So, JR, let's hear it: What are you talking about?

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 12:37:02 PM EST
    Also JR is just dropping in the meme that the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are illegal combatants. Yet for most of them, that's simply not true: a majority aren't even combatants, and no competent tribunal has been held to show that the tiny minority who were taken in on the field of battle are in fact not PoWs. Until such a competent tribunal has been held for each prisoner, it is illegal for the US to treat the prisoner as anything but a Prisoner of War.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 12:37:04 PM EST
    1) Illegal combatants don't get Geneva Convention protections 2) The Conventions are reciprocal - and if you think that the enemy is abiding by them, let me stop to laugh 3) Any combatant who is not in uniform (or identifiable as a combatant due to some other marking) is an illegal combatant. A WWII example would be German soldiers attired in captured American uniforms in order to commit acts of sabotage (Battle of the Bulge). When captured, they were summarily shot. No detention, no prisoner camp, zip. That dates back to before the adoption of the Geneva protocols as well - during the US Civil war, prisoners were (with exceptions, such as Andersonville) treated well, and quite often paroled. However, raiders out of uniform were typically executed when captured. The whole idea that combatants should be identifiable is for the protection of civilians. If combatants look like civilians, then massacres are far more likely - soldiers, after being burned by people who look like civilians will start to take a hostile view toward any and all civilians, on grounds that are easily understandable.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 12:39:53 PM EST
    As to the lack of tribunals - the military was ready to run them years ago. The left protested, under the asinine idea that people captured on foreign battlefields deserved criminal trials. That delayed the entire process while that got argued out. When you wonder why some of these people are still stuck there, you might examine two things: 1) The Quixote like quest to afford them criminal trials 2) The recidivism rate of those who have been released.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 12:59:47 PM EST
    James Robertson: As to the lack of tribunals - the military was ready to run them years ago. Please cite your evidence for the military wanting to run competent tribunals "years ago". . The left protested, under the asinine idea that people captured on foreign battlefields deserved criminal trials. One: who do you mean by "the left", and how did they stop the military from running competent tribunals for each prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay or Bagram Airbase, as explicitly required by the Geneva Convention in order to determine that a detainee does not have PoW status? Two: What about the remaining 95% of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who were not taken on "foreign battlefields"? When you wonder why some of these people are still stuck there, you might examine two things: 1) The Quixote like quest to afford them criminal trials Which isn't actually relevant. There was nothing to prevent the military from going through the process required by the Geneva Conventions, releasing the prisoners who were not combatants, and 2) The recidivism rate of those who have been released. "Recidivism rate" is the wrong term. "Recidivism rate" is used of people who were guilty of some crime, arrested and imprisoned, released, and committed another crime. All the prisoners who have been released, were released because the US had no evidence that they had ever committed any illegal act. Therefore, what you're talking about is people who, having been kidnapped at the instigation of the US, handed over to the US, and thereafter illegally imprisoned and tortured, have become active enemies of the US since their release. This is not "recidivism", since recidivism implies a return, rather than a beginning. But, I'll bite. How many prisoners have been released from Guantanamo Bay; and of that number, how many have been shown to have become active enemies of the US?

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 03:15:35 PM EST
    Jesurgislac writes:
    "are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies."
    So? Does that cover planning? Does that cover aiding and assisting? You write to JR:
    Therefore, what you're talking about is people who, having been kidnapped at the instigation of the US, handed over to the US, and thereafter illegally imprisoned and tortured, have become active enemies of the US since their release.
    First, you have no knowledge as to how, or why they were taken into custody. Secondly, you have no knowledge of their guilt or innocence. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that they were guilty, but released because the case could not be proven. Thirdly, is it your belief that someone arrested for a crime, found innocent and released, has the right to commit a "free" crime? As to numbers...link
    Citing a memo prepared for him by his staff, Hunter proceeded to discuss some of the at least 10 detainees who have been released from Guantanamo Bay, or Gitmo, only to re-join the fight against the U.S. coalition bringing democracy to Afghanistan.
    You write:
    and how did they stop the military from running competent tribunals for each prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay...
    Actually, no one stopped them. They received the tribunal.
    So as of this morning, we have conducted 507 CSRT tribunals. So we've had hearings for 507 tribunals or for 507 detainees as of this morning.
    Now that ws 12/20/04. I would guess the remainder have been taken care of. BTW - You and I both know that the GC says that if there is NO doubt that don't meet the POW requirements then the prisoners do not get a tribunal to determine their status. So if we give'em one it is because we are nice people. James Robertson - Sorry for dropping in, but the target was just so easy... I couldn't restrain myself.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 04:02:09 PM EST
    First, you have no knowledge as to how, or why they were taken into custody. Oh, dear, Jim, more of your willed ignorance?
    4. Only 5% of the detainees were captured by United States forces. 86% of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody. This 86% of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were handed over to the United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies.cite
    My facts come from the new and statistical report, authored and released by Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Denbeaux and attorney Joshua Denbeaux, counsel to two of the detainees at Guantanamo, based entirely on data supplied by the Defense Department, which I presumed you were aware of, because it was linked to and discussed on a recent post on TalkLeft, which I had in fact linked to in my comment. Now did you genuinely overlook it, and I should give you time to go away and read it, or are you going to ignore the report the same way you ignore what Article 5 of the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War says? You and I both know that the GC says that if there is NO doubt that don't meet the POW requirements then the prisoners do not get a tribunal to determine their status. You and I both know that's complete nonsense, Jim, because I've explained it to you countless times. Your repetitious lies about what you pretend the Geneva Convention says ceased to amuse a long, long time ago. Now I just wonder why you bother.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#11)
    by Al on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 04:02:50 PM EST
    JR's precedent for Guantanamo is an incident that happened during the Battle of the Bulge, which is regularly trotted out by the apologists for Guantanamo. A German officer called Otto Skorzeny infiltrated a group of soldiers behind Allied lines, wearing American uniforms, to commit acts of sabotage. Skorzeny and 10 others were tried after the war. However, he was acquitted when Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas G.C. of the SOE testified in his defence that Allied forces had also fought in enemy uniform. (See also http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/skorzeny.htm). In any case I doubt any of the prisoners in Guantanamo were captured wearing American uniforms. The military are not making that case, at least, as far as I know. The rest of JR's comments, and PPJ's, are not worth replying to since they commit the very basic error of assuming that the prisoners are guilty of crimes when of course no such thing has been proved to anyone's satisfaction. PPJ tries to say with a straight face of the Guantanamo prisoners that have been released, that
    It is perfectly reasonable to assume that they were guilty, but released because the case could not be proven.
    which is of course complete nonsense.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#12)
    by Sailor on Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 04:20:00 PM EST
    Now that ws 12/20/04. I would guess the remainder have been taken care of.
    Gee, this commenter is so quick to castigate speculation that he engages in it over and over.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#13)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 06:40:52 AM EST
    Must... have... more... torture!

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#14)
    by Sailor on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 10:27:33 AM EST
    illegal combatants
    There is no such term, it is not found in the GenCons, the UN Torture policies or anywhere but bushco's fantasies. Even military lawyers dispute the use of the term. From a report analyzing DoD data and previously linked to by TL
    Only 5% of the detainees were captured by United States forces. 86% of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody
    Here is the motivation for turning the folks over, leraflets dropped by the US said:
    "You can receive millions of dollars for helping the Anti-Taliban Force catch Al-Qaida and Taliban murderers. This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life. Pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people.
    But wait! There's more:
    Examples of evidence that the Government cited as proof that the detainees were enemy combatants includes the following: Associations with unnamed and unidentified individuals and/or organizations; Associations with organizations, the members of which would be allowed into the United States by the Department of Homeland Security; Possession of rifles; Use of a guest house; Possession of Casio watches; and Wearing of olive drab clothing
    Get that? The US says wearing OD clothing is proof. Gee, we call OD clothing 'army uniforms.' So the GenCons apply. Plus, the taliban was the gov't of afghanistan, if the folks captured were taliban soldiers, the GenCons apply.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#15)
    by Sailor on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 01:42:04 PM EST
    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.
    [...]
    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.
    And from the DoD data linked earlier:
    Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies
    So even the DoD notes they didn't do anything. And then there is this quote from the alleged 'competent tribunal':
    The detainee proffered that this witness was an ICRC employee who would testify that the detainee had previously been issued a POW identity card at a U.S. detention facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Tribunal President initially determined that the witness was relevant, but after consultation with the Assistant Legal Advisor, she changed her determination. She based her decision on her conclusion that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals do not have the discretion to determine that a detainee should be classified as a prisoner of war
    So the whole purpose of the tribunal was to dtermine the status and yet the tribunal says do noit have that power.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#16)
    by Sailor on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 01:55:02 PM EST
    And this is a sample of the kangaroo court's work:
    Panel Ignored Evidence on Detainee U.S. Military Intelligence, German Authorities Found No Ties to Terrorists

    n Kurnaz's case, a tribunal panel made up of an Air Force colonel and lieutenant colonel and a Navy lieutenant commander concluded that he was an al Qaeda member, based on "some evidence" that was classified.

    But in nearly 100 pages of documents, now declassified by the government, U.S. military investigators and German law enforcement authorities said they had no such evidence. The Command Intelligence Task Force, the investigative arm of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Guantanamo Bay facility, repeatedly suggested that it may have been a mistake to take Kurnaz off a bus of Islamic missionaries traveling through Pakistan in October 2001.

    "CITF has no definite link/evidence of detainee having an association with Al Qaida or making any specific threat against the U.S.," one document says. "CITF is not aware of evidence that Kurnaz was or is a member of Al Quaeda."

    Another newly declassified document reports that the "Germans confirmed this detainee has no connection to an al-Qaida cell in Germany."
    So we let him go right? Sadly, No!:
    Justice Department lawyers told Azmy last week that the information may have been improperly declassified and should be treated in the foreseeable future as classified.


    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 02:36:15 PM EST
    Sailor - As Henny Youngman said... Take my ....pulaseeeeee.
    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.
    Nope - After the regular armed forces have surrendered they are no longer members of the armed forces. They are guerrillas.
    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:
    Note that conditions is plural.
    (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    Nope - There is no chain of command.
    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
    Nope - Bloody hands don't count.
    (c) That of carrying arms openly;
    Nope - And booby trapped dolls don't count.
    d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
    Nope - Car bombings and booby trapped children's dolls, killing police officers, etc. are not part of 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 P
    ower. Nope - These aren't members of a regular army.
    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.
    Nope - There isn't a regular army to have armed forces to issue ID cards 5. ...the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft Does not apply.
    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.
    Nope - See arms carried openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
    B. The following shall likewise be treated as prisoners of war under the present Convention:
    1. Persons belonging, or having belonged, to the armed forces of the occupied country,...
    Does not apply. In fact, we're training them to fight our mutual enemies.
    2. The persons belonging to one of the categories enumerated in the present Article, who have been received by neutral or non-belligerent Powers on their territory and whom these Powers are required to intern under international law
    DNA Questions?? And, as always, no charge for the education.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#18)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 05:24:01 PM EST
    again.... See, if there is do doubt he doesn't meet the criteria of Article 4... then he doesn't. I mean, you know like, no means no... That means there is no doubt he doesn't wear a uniform, respect the rules of war, has a chain of command, carries concealed weapons, I mean if there aint no doubt, there aint no doubt. Like none.... Like he is a gurellia, also called terrorist... Come on, Jesurgislac. You know you been wrong for a long, long time. But you can get right tonight!

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 05:59:44 PM EST
    Sorry, PPJ, but I have to impinge on your freedom of speech by pointing out that you have no evidence that any of the 'enemy combatants', let alone those taken under 'battlefield conditions' have had any tribunals to determine their status under the GC. You know you been wrong for a long, long time. Telepathy, channelling, or stupid rhetoric? We excerpt, you decide ;)

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#20)
    by Sailor on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 06:41:31 PM EST
    That of carrying arms openly;- Nope - And booby trapped dolls don't count.
    Ever tried to conceal an AK47? There were numerous charges of that in the DoD stat assessment Iinked to. Besides, we don't have a clue as to where 86% of them were captured, what they had on them, what they were wearing or even who capurted them, and neither does the army.

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 08:24:50 AM EST
    Dark Avenger - Under the GC? And your point is what? I linked to a DOD press conference at 4:15PM on 2/18 that said tribunals have happened. Got a problem with that??? Have at'em. Jesurgislac - The statement is "should any doubt arise." What if there is no doubt? Now, you know the answer is.... If there is no doubt the rest doesn't apply. All the hem and haws doesn't change that. And, tribunals were held to determine the status. Some have been released. And some have been released and recaptured.. Why? Because we're nice guys. In the past gurellias were executed on the spot. Sailor - Well dolls can, and so can rifles until they are needed. Look. You know these are gurrellias. Why pretend?????

    Re: Rumsfeld Rejects Guantánamo Reform (none / 0) (#22)
    by Sailor on Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 08:52:24 AM EST
    I linked to a DOD press conference at 4:15PM on 2/18 that said tribunals have happened. Got a problem with that???
    Aside from your snide tone, the constant problem is that your posts deliberately and continually distort facts. here are the facts: according to the GenCons
    2. Article 5 says that "Should any doubt arise" as to the prisoner meeting the criteria of article 4 he will be treated as a POW .."until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal."
    but the tribunal says:
    The Tribunal President initially determined that the witness was relevant, but after consultation with the Assistant Legal Advisor, she changed her determination. She based her decision on her conclusion that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals do not have the discretion to determine that a detainee should be classified as a prisoner of war
    Get it? The tribunal is NOT determining whether or not the prisoners are POWs. In addition, 86% were not captured by americans; we have no idea of their clothing, status, guilt, acyions ... or even how much we bribed some pakistani or afghano warlord to send us their 'marielitos.'