A Guantánamo Exit Strategy

Hopefully this will do for a link to spark a discussion as to how we progress on Guantanamo. It is quite an interesting article anyway:

foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3117

This is probably the most pertinent paragraph

Clarify the President’s War Power: The current authorization for the use of military force was introduced in the Senate a mere 72 hours after the Sept.11, 2001, attacks, with the Pentagon still smoldering across the Potomac. It contains broad, sweeping language of the sort one would expect at such an uncertain moment in American history. The predictable result has been litigation over its exact meaning, particularly in the area of detention. The Bush administration has argued that the law authorizes all wartime measures, including the detention of foreigners and U.S. citizens captured on foreign and domestic battlefields as unlawful enemy combatants, without charges or process, for the duration of hostilities. (In June 2004, the Supreme Court circumscribed this power with its Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decision, but the exact contours of that decision remain uncertain.) Congress should act now, with the benefit of four years of hindsight, to define and limit the president’s power in the war on terrorism. Ambiguity begets abuse, and we now know enough about the nature of the war to start making wise, detailed policy choices.

The question is, if these people are being held in a situation analogous to ‘prisoners of war’, at what point can the war be said to be over in order that these people can be tried or released?

In other words, even though this is also a wider question, what are the exit criteria for the ‘war on terrorism’? When will we know if it has been ‘won’?

Mike

Two questions here. But you know that.

As to when the prisoners will be released. I think it has been made clear that they will be released when:

They are no longer considered a threat to the United States and when a recognized nation takes them in. You have to extradite them to someplace. Many countries won’t take them in.

The second question is when will the war on terrorism end. The president made that pretty clear in his speeches. When terrorism is no longer a threat to the United States. In other words when it is marginalized.

Someone might think this is impossible, but I have seen a course of action outlined in a number of places. The latest one is: Blueprint for Action : A Future Worth Creating by Thomas P.M. Barnett

[quote=MikeWM]Hopefully this will do for a link to spark a discussion as to how we progress on Guantanamo. It is quite an interesting article anyway:

foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3117

This is probably the most pertinent paragraph

The question is, if these people are being held in a situation analogous to ‘prisoners of war’, at what point can the war be said to be over in order that these people can be tried or released?

In other words, even though this is also a wider question, what are the exit criteria for the ‘war on terrorism’? When will we know if it has been ‘won’?

Mike
[/quote]

A “war on terrorism” like a “war on crime” can never truly be over, only managed. That’s why I’ve always been very uncomfortable with the language of warfare in discussions of terrorism. Depending on your level of cyncism, it either gives a false hope, or, worse, leads to a Orwellian1984-type constant war where just about anything can be justified by a situation of perpetual crisis.

The best approach is to re-commit ourselves to the strenghts of our society which most strongly distinguish us from the terrorists - rule of law, democratic governance, a culture that nurtures a free and open exchange of ideas.

Practically, we could start by charging all current detainees and setting a court date. (Mr. Cheney, that includes the “secret” detainees).

[quote=Philip P]that nurtures a free and open exchange of ideas.

Practically, we could start by charging all current detainees and setting a court date. (Mr. Cheney, that includes the “secret” detainees).
[/quote]

So they can be released to attack us again?

You don’t set a court date and hold a trial for prisoners of war, because they have not violated your laws. If you do subject them to your laws, you end up accusing them of crimes that demand the death penalty.

Beware of what you are asking for.

[quote=gilliam]So they can be released to attack us again?

You don’t set a court date and hold a trial for prisoners of war, because they have not violated your laws. If you do subject them to your laws, you end up accusing them of crimes that demand the death penalty.

Beware of what you are asking for.
[/quote]

In civilized countries, you don’t just throw people in the dungeon and let them rot. If they have not committed a crime, we have no moral authority to hold them. If they have, they should be tried according to the rule of law.

I’d like to believe I live in a civilized country.

[quote=Philip P]In civilized countries, you don’t just throw people in the dungeon and let them rot. If they have not committed a crime, we have no moral authority to hold them. If they have, they should be tried according to the rule of law.

I’d like to believe I live in a civilized country.
[/quote]

  1. Gitmo is hardly a dungeon
  2. Prisoners of war, spend a long time in prison camps and can be held for the duration of the war according to the Geneva Convention.
  3. Prisoner’s of war are not tried according to the rule of law of the capturing country according to the Geneva Convention.
  4. A lot of prisoners have been released to other countries
  5. Many of who are left no one wants in their country.

More information is in the Geneva Convention.

[quote=gilliam]Two questions here. But you know that.
[/quote]

Well, yes. I was just pleased I managed to find such an appropriate link so quickly :slight_smile:

As to when the prisoners will be released. I think it has been made clear that they will be released when:

They are no longer considered a threat to the United States and when a recognized nation takes them in. You have to extradite them to someplace. Many countries won’t take them in.

I don’t know that both of those parts follow. Firstly ‘no longer a threat’ basically implies they are prisoners of war. When will they be ‘no longer a threat’? Surely if they are terrorists, they will always be a threat? It’s not the same as keeping German foot-soldiers until Germany has fallen. If they are effectively ‘prisoners of war’ there has to be a time when the ‘war is over’, and they are tried or released.

Also, are the US actively trying to extradite them anywhere? The UK detainees (who, as far as we have ascertained, did basically nothing wrong in the first place) only got returned after a LOT of diplomatic pressure, for example.

The second question is when will the war on terrorism end. The president made that pretty clear in his speeches. When terrorism is no longer a threat to the United States. In other words when it is marginalized.

Someone might think this is impossible, but I have seen a course of action outlined in a number of places. The latest one is: Blueprint for Action : A Future Worth Creating by Thomas P.M. Barnett

I haven’t read this book, but I have a very clear idea what will happen the day the war against terrorism iis declared ‘won’. There will be a proliferation of terrorist attacks, at least for a short while, to make the West look foolish. I see absolutely no way this can be prevented.

Hence… the ‘war on terror’ will never be declared ‘won’. There will be a regime change in the US, of one sort or another, eventually, and it will quietly get dropped.

Mike

[quote=MikeWM]Well, yes. I was just pleased I managed to find such an appropriate link so quickly :slight_smile:
[/quote]

me too :slight_smile:

I don’t know that both of those parts follow. Firstly ‘no longer a threat’ basically implies they are prisoners of war. When will they be ‘no longer a threat’? Surely if they are terrorists, they will always be a threat? It’s not the same as keeping German foot-soldiers until Germany has fallen. If they are effectively ‘prisoners of war’ there has to be a time when the ‘war is over’, and they are tried or released.

To my knowledge, the only people we tried from Germany were those who committed war crimes. Everyone else was released after the war or if they committed crimes (like rape or murder) in the POW camps turned over to German authorities. We now have international courts which, IMHO, should try such people.

I think there will be a time for each country and for each person at Gitmo, when the war will be over for them and they will no longer be a threat to the US. It will not be for the duration of the “war on terror”. For some, that time has already come.

Also, are the US actively trying to extradite them anywhere? The UK detainees (who, as far as we have ascertained, did basically nothing wrong in the first place) only got returned after a LOT of diplomatic pressure, for example.

Yes, we are actively trying to extradite a number of them.

I haven’t read this book, but I have a very clear idea what will happen the day the war against terrorism iis declared ‘won’. There will be a proliferation of terrorist attacks, at least for a short while, to make the West look foolish. I see absolutely no way this can be prevented.

Hence… the ‘war on terror’ will never be declared ‘won’. There will be a regime change in the US, of one sort or another, eventually, and it will quietly get dropped.

Mike

Read the book. It paints a picture of a much different world than we have today.

The Guantanamo detainees are NOT analagous to prisoners of war. They are analagous to pirates. It used to be that pirates were summarily executed. They were outside the bounds of both civil and military law.

Prisoners of war are citizens of soverign nations that have declared a state of war. That does not apply here. POW’s also must be in uniform… that also does not apply here.

The Guantanamo detainees would therefore appear to be in an awkward position. Someone referred to them as terrorists. But I prefer the label “pirates”.

Differences between pirates and al-Qaeda:

  1. A pirate’s goal is making money. al-Qaeda’s goal is to establish a caliphate.
  2. In the past most pirates lived what amounted to a democratic life aboard ship. al-Qaeda is a theocracy

[quote=Al Masetti]The Guantanamo detainees are NOT analagous to prisoners of war. They are analagous to pirates. It used to be that pirates were summarily executed. They were outside the bounds of both civil and military law.

Prisoners of war are citizens of soverign nations that have declared a state of war. That does not apply here. POW’s also must be in uniform… that also does not apply here.

The Guantanamo detainees would therefore appear to be in an awkward position. Someone referred to them as terrorists. But I prefer the label “pirates”.
[/quote]

You have it 100% correct.

Even pirates are subject to the law, irrespective of how that law may work or be applied. In the case of Gitmo the law has been sidelined.

What seems to have been either forgotten or ignored is the image this paints in the rest of the world. Here you have a situation where a country expects others to apply the law to protect them, i.e. Afganistan should not shelter Al Qieda because Al Qieda is a terrorist organisation apposed to us and yet this same country ignores the rights of the individual (something enshrined in its OWN constitution) on the ASSUMPTION that these people are terrorists. I use the word ASSUMPTION with a very definate intent, in the Western World EVERYONE is presumed inoccent until PROVEN guilty, that is a fundamental right that must NEVER be put aside.

The major problem in this situation is a lack of definate knowledge about the actions of the people interned at Gitmo. In other words it comed back to the credebility of the intelligence in connection with each of the individuals. For example, one of the “returnees” to the UK from Gitmo insted he had been picked up in Pakistan, along the border, that he had no connection with Terrorism and that he was “arrested” by a couple of normal American soldiers. Now, NO evidence was produced showing a connection with terrorism, NO evidence was produced showing he was carrying arms, NO evidence was produced showing he was in any way connected with Afganistan. It was shown that he had family in the area, it was shown that he had only left the UK a few weeks prior to his arrest and it was shown that he had entered Pakistan quite legally and travelled to the area quite openly. So who do you believe? the guy who has travelled quite openly and against whom nothing is proven, or the two soldiers who may have strayed into a foriegn country against orders and who would probably be in hot water if it came out they were not telling the truth? This does not mean that ALL the inhabitants of Gitmo are innocent, I have no doubt that many may well be terrorists but, it is encumbant on all of us to ensure the rule of law applies to all and not to be sidelined for political reasons.

Many people in the Western World have a problem with this attitude and, if some of us have a problem how much bigger is the problem in the Arab world? Again what the normal Arab in the street sees is a double standard, one law for us and another for them. It is for this reason that what we see as a “War on Terror” they see as a “War on Islam”.

The asnwer is really very simple, IF YOU HAVE THE EVIDENCE, PUT IT IN FRONT OF A COURT AND PROVE IT. Treat everyone the same and demonstrate you are treating everyone the same. Do that and much of the criticism is negated and you may start to win the respect you are trying to earn through the barrel of a gun.

It is impossible for the US to earn the respect of the Muslim countries, short of declaring war on Israel and converting the country.

[quote=mjdonnelly]It is impossible for the US to earn the respect of the Muslim countries, short of declaring war on Israel and converting the country.
[/quote]

If you feel that America could never earn the respect of the Islamic world then what chance for the future? You will never defeat the islamic world by force of arms, no more than the Romans could defeat Christianity by oppression and murder. Even the Romans finally learned that co-existance and fairness leads to respect and peace.

[quote=mjdonnelly]It is impossible for the US to earn the respect of the Muslim countries, short of declaring war on Israel and converting the country.
[/quote]

It’s not about them, it’s about us. Are we a civilized nation or not? Rule of law and due process aren’t just nice little “extras,” they’re essential to our identity as a civilization. Give up on that and the only thing separating us from those attacking us is that we have bigger guns. I believe in civilization; does the Bush administration?

[quote=Philip P]It’s not about them, it’s about us. Are we a civilized nation or not? Rule of law and due process aren’t just nice little “extras,” they’re essential to our identity as a civilization. Give up on that and the only thing separating us from those attacking us is that we have bigger guns. I believe in civilization; does the Bush administration?
[/quote]

Since the administration is fighting for civilization to carry on in freedom I guess it’s not too hard to say, “yes” to your question.

Gitmo is the rule of law. The detainees are being held in accordance with those rules. They are not covered by the Geneva Convention, for reasons that have been well articulated. However the detainees have acted against the US in a warring manner. That’s why they have been detained. They are not US citizens; therefore they do not get afforded the rights of US citizens. If they get held indefinitely, well I guess that’s what happens when you chose that course of action.

[quote=gilliam] So they can be released to attack us again?

You don’t set a court date and hold a trial for prisoners of war, because they have not violated your laws. If you do subject them to your laws, you end up accusing them of crimes that demand the death penalty.

Beware of what you are asking for.
[/quote]

If they are truly guilty, then why would they be released?

[quote=b_justb]Since the administration is fighting for civilization to carry on in freedom I guess it’s not too hard to say, “yes” to your question.

Gitmo is the rule of law. The detainees are being held in accordance with those rules. They are not covered by the Geneva Convention, for reasons that have been well articulated. However the detainees have acted against the US in a warring manner. That’s why they have been detained. They are not US citizens; therefore they do not get afforded the rights of US citizens. If they get held indefinitely, well I guess that’s what happens when you chose that course of action.
[/quote]

Part of the rule of law is due process. This means you can’t hold people forever just because you feel like it. Also, you said that’s what happens “when you choose that course of action” What course of action is that, exactly? Provide an answer to this and you’ve gone much farther than the Bush administration, which has not seen fit to even bring charges in most cases.

Ask yourself, what entitles someone to rule of law and due process? Is it just an accidental, haphazard thing (e.g. you were born in America, so you’re a citizen), or is there something real and substantial at stake? If it’s the former, law is just a game people play to justify their own power. If it’s the latter (which I believe, and I think most Americans also believe), then indefinite detention is indefensible.

[quote=Philip P] What course of action is that, exactly?
[/quote]

As I just said:
Gitmo is the rule of law. The detainees are being held in accordance with those rules. They are not covered by the Geneva Convention, for reasons that have been well articulated. However the detainees have acted against the US in a warring manner. That’s why they have been detained. They are not US citizens; therefore they do not get afforded the rights of US citizens. If they get held indefinitely, well I guess that’s what happens when you chose that course of action.

[quote=Philip P] Ask yourself, what entitles someone to rule of law and due process? Is it just an accidental, haphazard thing (e.g. you were born in America, so you’re a citizen), or is there something real and substantial at stake? If it’s the former, law is just a game people play to justify their own power. If it’s the latter (which I believe, and I think most Americans also believe), then indefinite detention is indefensible.
[/quote]

The rule of Law is as per each sovereign nation’s statues. Since the detainees are not covered by the Geneva Convention we can’t look to that as a source of what is or is not lawful to do with the detainees. However, I do think it can be looked at as a governing principle, even if it is not applicable. As in we don’t treat these people inhumanly. They are not starved, etc.

The US does not belong to the World Court, so this is not the standard of Law either. So what DO we have? We have people that acting in a warring manner towards the US, they are not in uniform, nor part of any official foreign government military. We cannot charge them with a crime according to US law, they are not US citizens. Because they are not US citizens they are not entitled to the rights granted under the US Constitution. Now if you want something else to be done in Gitmo then cool, what are your ideas to move in a different direction? But if your points are what is the Lawful thing to do, you’re not making that argument logically here that I can see.

Laws are a set of binding social contracts between citizens of a given sovereignties. The detainees at Gitmo are not bound to any US Law. But they acted in a warring way towards the US and as such there are military consequences for their choices. Detainment is far more human than summary execution, which used to be the way we dealt with these types of situations.

[quote=walstan]If you feel that America could never earn the respect of the Islamic world then what chance for the future? You will never defeat the islamic world by force of arms, no more than the Romans could defeat Christianity by oppression and murder. Even the Romans finally learned that co-existance and fairness leads to respect and peace.
[/quote]

Actually, force of arms did exactly that at least several times in the past.

There would be no peace treaty or formal declaration of surrender. What would happen is that gradually, the “terrorists” would give it up as hopeless. During World War I, the Turks and other Islamics sided with Germany. Poor choice. Same thing happened in WW II. The interest in Jihad waned as adherents became dispirited. The idea of re-establishing the Caliphate and taking back Spain became dormant. It wasn’t until recently, that, swollen with oil money, that Jihad became popular again.

Same situation happened from 1500 to 1800, when the Barbary pirates preyed on European coastal towns and on Mediterranean shipping. Finally all the countries that had had ships hijacked attacked the pirates and ended it. Read “Jefferson’s War”. Probably it didn’t REALLY end until France and Italy occupied North Africa.

Middle Eastern oil countries were running budget deficits until recently. With the increase in oil prices, they could afford the luxury of subsidizing Jihad.

What can be done?

Four things: 1) bring down the cost of oil. We have forced energy prices to increase by cutting our own supplies of energy. (No drilling in the U.S.; no more construction of nuclear power plants to generate electricity or steam; no more construction of oil refineries; restrictions on coal where restrictions are totally unnecessary, etc).

So if we increase supply, then the price of energy will come down and the Islamic support for Jihad and terrorism will go down. Look up Howard Hayden; he has a great book on why solar energy won’t cut it. He also has an exellent newsletter. Also look up Art Robinson; he has a newsletter

  1. Quit the policy of political correctness. The Europeans are once again engaging in a policy of appeasement. What makes it worse is that OUR media are simply not publishing what is going on in Europe. Appeasement is not going to work. Some of our politicians in the U.S. want to do the same thing. There have been court cases in “Western countries” in which people who present the case directly have been punished. Fortunately, we now have the internet, blogs, and newsletters (the modern equivalent to Committees of Correspondence). [For example, there is a Canadian e-newsletter that is getting the word out… I will publish the URL in a future posting.]

  2. Engage in a war of information. We are not getting our history or our story out there. Support for Jihad will evaporate once its supporters realize there is no future in what we are choosing to call “terrorism” and that the best way to get ahead is by democracy and education. [They may not WANT to get ahead… they want Jihad and the spread of Islam by conquest. But if that doesn’t work, as has been demonstrated in the historical past, then they will have to look for outlets elsewhere.] We used to have Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. But nowadays it is politically incorrect to verbally defend ourselves.

  3. Continue the military and diplomatic pressure. Continue turning Iraq into a meatgrinder for Jihadists. 50,000 gone so far. Afghanistan and Iraq are being converted to democratic republics. Libya has been neutralized without military action. Syria and Iran are next.

Whether democratic republican forms of government will in the long run be beneficial is open to discussion. Will they embrace Sharia and become more aggressively Jihadist? Maybe not, … IF-- big if – if we set up the right conditions and stop acting with both our hands tied behind our backs.

What’s the alternative, though??? Embrace Islam?

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