GITMO: Obama’s Sincere Conviction & Insincere Action

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gitmo orange.jpg
Part of the path that America must take to regain leverage in global affairs is addressing the moral lapses that occurred during the last administration — ranging from domestic spying authority to the torture and abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo.
Closing the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was a marquee pledge of President Obama during his campaign — and Wednesday evening when the President offers his “State of the Union” thoughts in a joint session of Congress, Obama will have to admit that he has not only failed to close the facility — he is continuing some of the worst human rights abuses of the Bush administration.
Putting his personal seal on the indefinite detention of prisoners there is antithetical to everything Obama was supposed to be about.
After a number of discussions with senior White House staff about GITMO, I have learned that as long ago as nine months ago, there were dispensation plans for every single detainee at GITMO and that the Illinois “Thompson Facility” had been identified three months into the Obama administration.
What was missing was political will to proceed.
Rahm Emanuel, ever watching the currents and mood of election-fearful Congressmen and Senators, convinced Obama to step away from his own GITMO pledge.
There was no effort that Rahm Emanuel would authorize to push for the appropriations to make GITMO’s closure work — and would not do the arm-twisting and political work to overcome the predictable concerns about bringing detainees into federal prison facilities and inside the borders of the United States.
So, the story of GITMO is not one in which those handling the portfolio failed to perform — it is rather a President with sincere convictions and insincere follow-up, a failure to fight for the strategic benefits of closing that facility.
Rahm Emanuel is the architect of the failure to proceed on GITMO, but the President was complicit in the decision.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

57 comments on “GITMO: Obama’s Sincere Conviction & Insincere Action

  1. Carroll says:

    Orwell lives.
    “WE ARE ARE AT WUR , WE ARE AT WUR’….so said Bush, so says Obama.
    So…. all the captured whatevers must be PRISONERS OF WUR….
    I have sincerely wondered why I have so few intelligent comments to offer lately and lapse into the snide.
    Finally I realize it’s because there is no sign of intelligence in most of the government actions we comment on so it’s really not possible to say anything intelligent about the absurd.
    And it’s boring to autopsy the same corpse over and over.

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  2. TonyForesta says:

    The “silence of the Oval Office” does not absolve and cannot be allowed to perpetuate crimes, and in some instances – unspeakable crimes. It is the WRONG thing to do? It is an violent and chaotic world man has created, and no doubt there are times when dastardly deeds are, and perhaps must be done. But once exposed to the harsh light of day, – there are laws, and prinicples, and civilized people, leaders, and nations abide and honor those laws, – or – there are no laws. In a world where there are no laws, – there are no laws for anyone buy 32gb high speed card.

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  3. TonyForesta says:

    True that POA. US oligarchs arm, train, and fund a freedomfighter one day, – then hurl the might of the US military and intelligence apparatus against an insurgent, terrorist or evildoer another day, who just so happens to be the same individual once welcomed as a freedomfighter. The fascists in the bushgov were pernicious abusers of the law. Honoring and abiding by the law would demand disclosure of damning details and facts concerning the bushgovs machinations, hence the reason we (America’s leaders) do not abide or honor the law.
    How long until our socalled leaders prosecute these same pernicious policies and tactics on us? If we allow our leaders to savage and redefine our own laws, and we refuse to force our leaders to abide by and honor our own laws, or pick and choose when and what law to abide or honor, – we are guilty by association and party to injustice, crimes, and tyranny.
    The law is tricky, and easily manipulated, but not the spirit of the law, and the principle of the rule of law.
    No citizen, soldier, enemycombatant, “evildoer” or whatever perception management term is applied should be held indefinitely without the right to know and defend specific charges, or denied the right to legal counsel, and a fair and impartial trial. Torture can never be sanctioned, condoned, or tolerated in a civil society.
    Obviously we no longer inhabit a lawful or civil society.
    Gitmo is one of many searing proofs of America’s decline, de-evolution, and rapid descent into lawlessness and kleptocracy.
    Put collars on the badguys, strategically implant GPS and/or semtex charges in humane ways on individuals deemed to dangerous to release or try, and let them go. If they get spooky, – puff them. Continue the drone and ninja hits on highvaluetargets. Better to kill these freaks then, hold them indefinitely, without charges, or a trial, and torture is an unspeakable crime against humanity, and suspect as a means of gleaning actionable intelligence.
    If we a nation allow our leaders to violate, dismember and reengineer our own laws principles, – then how can we honestly condemn any other leadership or nation for savaging the same laws and principles. We cannot!
    Gitmo is all about cloaking the US governments attachments to, and longtime dirty relationships with insurgents and evildoers today, that were once armed, trained, and funded as freedomfighters in years past.
    Look to the intertwining and labyrinthine darkside dealings with Pakistan for a real horrorshow peak into, and proof of the reality that something is rotten in Amerika. My fellow commentarians might also wish to revisit that thing we call the Constitution, and particularly the I, III, IV, V, and VI amendments.
    In a world where there are no laws, – there are no laws for anyone!!

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “No one would want to be liberated by Saddam, that US sponsored rottweiler, who bit his master’s hand and happily gassed and killed millions of Iranians (with US made supplies no doubt)…………”
    Its a matter of record. Saddam’s possession of these weapons is the DIRECT result of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld’s efforts. Its no “conspiracy theory”, it is recorded history.

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  5. nadine says:

    If “illegal combatant” is an absurd term then the Geneva Conventions are absurd, for they invented it.

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  6. rsc says:

    “… just not legal combatants who wear a uniform and bear arms openly” — ahhh, … a bit like the CIA then who regularly kill innocent people (these days with remote control drones) and set up reactionary freedom loving fighting groups like Al Qaida? No wonder the AQ is so good at it — they learned their nasty tricks from the best!
    “Illegal combatant” is an absurd term invented to mean nothing more than a loophole in the law.
    And where does that put your mercenary “Blackwater” Inc. ‘army’? What a joke.
    But you are right in one thing — one prime cause to all this ME mess is the tin-pot Saudi regime of ex-goat herders who’s claim to ‘kingship’ is about as authentic as mine.
    No one would want to be liberated by Saddam, that US sponsored rottweiler, who bit his master’s hand and happily gassed and killed millions of Iranians (with US made supplies no doubt) in an 8-year war designed to reinstall another peacock puppet shar/king after a people’s revolution.
    But perhaps the Arabs would enjoy some democracy there — including women driving on the roads and asking US troops to leave their holy land? The latter was bin Laden’s original issue.
    Almost everything in that zone, even the Palestinian issues, can be interpreted as keeping the spot light off the Saudi family dictatorship in the Arabia: that includes using their vassal US mercenary armies if/when needed. Owner’s rights I guess, like flying out of the US on 9/11 when everyone else is grounded.

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  7. nadine says:

    Don, what rubbish. Osama bin Laden was defending his country from US military imperialism? In his wacko jihadist view of the universe, maybe. And yours too (amazing how the far left is in bed with the jihadists these days). But in reality, the US military saved the lives and fortunes of the entire Saudi ruling class, of whom Osama bin Laden was a member. If Saddam had been allowed to roll in, anybody who didn’t flee (trust me, the princes all had their bags packed) would have died or suffered greatly. That’s why King Abdullah turned down Osama’s ludicrous offer of protection and opted for the US army instead.

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  8. Don Bacon says:

    Nadine, they’re “illegal” because they’re defending their country against US military imperialism. That’s illegal! (Just kidding.)

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  9. nadine says:

    The term the US actually uses for captured terrorists is “illegal combatant”. That is used to differentiate them from “legal combatants”, who are solders. So whatever point you thought you were making about terrorists not being soldiers isn’t valid. They are soldiers, just not legal combatants who wear a uniform and bear arms openly.

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    Nadine, you conveniently chopped my comment when you quoted it. Here’s the par you chopped: “That’s why the US always refers to people opposing its nefarious wars as terrorists, not soldiers. So your parallel to Germans is misguided.”

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Al Qaeda has declared war on the US blahblah lah….blahblahblah…..If Al Qaeda destroys a US base in Afghanistan….blahblahblah…..”
    You mean all 200 of them nasty Al Kady heathens, Nadine? I kinda doubt any US “bases” are in much danger of that.
    And, uh, care to show me where your rag tag band of boogie men “declared war on the US”. And you wanna show me where WE “declared war” on Al Qaeda? We “declared war” on drugs too. So do prosecutors going after drug dealers get to skip the Habeaus Corpus inconvenience as well?

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  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Shall be removed …” by whom?”
    The criminals on the Hill, who else?
    Damn. We’re screwed.

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  13. nadine says:

    “Nadine, terrorists are not soldiers. These “detainees” are alleged to be terrorists, and acts of terrorism are crimes and not acts of war. Terrorists, by definition, are non-state actors whereas soldiers are the opposite.”
    That is a false distinction. If you had actually read the Fourth Geneva Convention, you would know that it specifically does not limit combatants to state actors. Being in a military hierarchy and waging war is the criteria. Al Qaeda has declared war on the US and its members are waging jihad against US. That is war and not crime.
    If Al Qaeda destroys a US base in Afghanistan, do you say it’s a crime and not war? Of course not. So why do you say it if they dispatch one of those same fighters to bring down a civilian airplane? Only the tactic has changed, not the goal.

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  14. rsc says:

    “Shall be removed …” by whom?

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  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
    We already missed the boat on that one, as demonstrated by the Bush presidency.
    Perhaps if Bush and Gonzales would have been held to the letter of the law, these two criminals, Obama and Holder, would not feel so empowered to use our Constitution as toilet paper.
    Just imagine what our NEXT President and AG will feel they can get away with.

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  16. Don Bacon says:

    The US Constitution has a remedy for US officials who choose not to obey the law, and allowing “detainees” a habeas hearing is the law according to a 2008 Supreme Court decision.
    “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

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  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But it requires an ethical person to defer to the rule of law. Someone has to set the legal train in motion, reinforce the assumption and pattern of good governance”
    Yes, but that chain of events should not be based, or expected to arise from the ethereal realm of personal morality, but rather on the solid ground of sworn duty. And it is Obama’s failure to do his duty that is the deficiency, even if his sense of morality may or may not be what we should expect from our president.

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  18. DonS says:

    Uh, POA, I assume upholding the law is paramount. Maybe the word is ethical, in the public sphere, not moral. But it requires an ethical person to defer to the rule of law. Someone has to set the legal train in motion, reinforce the assumption and pattern of good governance.
    Ethical as in 1) reasonable self awareness 2)recognition of alternatives 4) choosing what is right/ethical versus what is political or expedient or personal.
    Rule of law doesn’t just happen on it’s own. It requires an environment of emphasis and support. It may be quaint but it still depends on the individual in charge to let the message go forth.

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  19. rsc says:

    I agree in part with Don Bacon’s post except for the fact that they are either prisoners-of-war or they are criminals. In either case there are internationally accepted procedures to follow in dealing with each situation.
    The US government is using military not police, and the campaign title is “war on …” so I’d assume they are prisoners of the war on …!
    The most dangerous trend today in western democracies is the “political convenience” issue you raise. Today, elected representatives are acting like Monarchs. Why? Could it be the system they step into is reason? Or the plutocrats they are, or dine with?
    Obviously the US democratic system is failing under relatively slight provocation from a handful of fanatical reactionaries responding to US foreign policy. I suspect the “general pattern of behavior” is the Generals’ preferred pattern of behavior. Business as usual imo.
    Obama was too busy preening himself for the gullible youth and dreaming middle classes to really formulate a new vision. His speeches were flat (except for the believers) — listen to a Martin Luther King speech for real content — and his actions without will.
    “Change (the curtains) we need.” Why not just use plain English and say “We need Change! … and I’m here to do it!” The gap in meaning between these two phrases is the space of plausible deniability and room to maneuver. With these initial conditions, who can expect actual systemic change.
    You get what you pay for with lawyers, and Wall Street have got their man working hard on changing his change.
    Osama bin Laden is changing America: not Barak Obama!

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  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Sorry Questions, on this you are entirely too timid. It is the responsibility of the president to set the moral example, not to just read tea leaves, take temperatures and split the baby in half”
    Setting the moral example IS akin to reading tea leaves. Whose morality would you have him be an “example” of. George Bush’s?? Cheney’s???
    No, Don, it is his responsibility to UPHOLD THE LAW, no matter his “moral” convictions. In truth, he is failing to do so, as is his vassal Eric Holder. I really don’t give a shit what Obama and Holder consider “moral” or ethical. It is not up to them to impose those beliefs on us. Thats why we have LAWS.

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  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Pentagon’s Gitmo Recidivism Claims Don’t Add Up
    Researchers at Seton Hall and New America Foundation track the Pentagon’s claims that released Guantanamo detainees ‘returned to battle.’
    By: David Rosenfeld | January 22, 2010 |
    Researchers at Seton Hall and New America Foundation refute Pentagon claims that released Guantanamo detainees are returning to fight.U.S. Army
    As the Obama administration struggles to decide what to do with roughly 200 remaining detainees held at Guantanamo Bay prison, the Pentagon says more of those previously released may now be on the path to terrorism.
    The day after President Obama announced the United States would stop releasing Guantanamo prisoners to the country of Yemen, a Pentagon spokesman said the number of recidivist detainees — those who allegedly returned to terrorist activity — had increased.
    A similar report that surfaced in May said 1 in 7 detainees likely returned to battle. Now, the Defense Department says that number has risen to 1 in 5 without offering additional evidence.
    Professor Mark Denbeaux, director of the Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy and Research, has analyzed similar Pentagon claims previously made about Guantanamo recidivism and found them to be false.
    “This is the 46th time the government has spoken on the question of recidivism,” Denbeaux said. “It’s the fourth time the DoD has. Their numbers have changed every time. At no point have they ever matched names with numbers. There is the following statement. We have no names. We have no numbers. We have approximate percentages for which we have some trends, and it’s an inexact science.”
    The last claim by the Pentagon in April involved less than half the confirmed cases and only 15 named suspects, two of whom were never held at Guantanamo, according to Denbeaux.
    The researchers noted that “returning to the fight” has included speaking critically of the U.S. detention policy. It has also included five Uighur separatists — members of a Chinese Muslim community seeking independence from China — who have been peacefully staying in an Albanian refugee camp, but one of whom wrote The New York Times asking the American government to respect the right of habeas corpus.
    Seton Hall researchers detailed their findings here.
    Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann at the New America Foundation conducted a similar analysis of the government’s claims.
    “Our analysis — based on previously released Pentagon reports, news stories, and other publicly available documents — indicates that when threats to the United States are considered, the true rate for those who either have taken up arms, or may have, is barely 4 percent, or 1 in 25,” the report states.
    continues….
    http://www.miller-mccune.com/politics/pentagon%E2%80%99s-gitmo-recidivism-claims-don%E2%80%99t-add-up-1754

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  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    To pen such an essay while failing to note Scott Horton’s recent revelations, as revealed in recent Harpers articles, seems to be a somewhat incomplete depiction of the issue. And not once in Steve’s essay do I see reference to Eric Holder, whose failure to uphold his Oath Of Office is a far more egregious act than Rahm Emanuel’s simple lack of human decency, conviction, or backbone.
    And this is no suprise from Obama. If you took his vocal cords away, he’d be rendered invisible.
    Questions’ usual purposely contrary blather, on this issue, is one of his more despicable displays of “Gee, I think I’ll just throw some shit on the wall, and see if it sticks”.
    And NeoC, my bet is that any competent Mossad agent worth his salt would prefer Nadine would just STFU. Certainly, an self respecting Jew must feel that way.

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  23. Don Bacon says:

    Nadine, terrorists are not soldiers. These “detainees” are alleged to be terrorists, and acts of terrorism are crimes and not acts of war. Terrorists, by definition, are non-state actors whereas soldiers are the opposite. That’s why the US always refers to people opposing its nefarious wars as terrorists, not soldiers. So your parallel to Germans is misguided.
    The Supreme Court has found that habeas hearings in a court are required for these people. And then if the US wants to provide a list of those that they merely think are in al_Qaeda, and are co-conspirators, then they’re not thinking properly.
    The problems may indeed be hard, most problems are. The fact remains that any issue like this ought to be a matter of law and not a matter of political convenience, which is what Obama has made it. It’s his general pattern of behavior.

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  24. TonyForesta says:

    Nothing is going to change. Our leaders (all of them left and right) work for, shield, and advance the best interests of the predatorclass, and predatorclass oligarchs exclusively. We agree on the principle that “…the underlying assumption is that you cannot present evidence against a captured enemy soldier (whether legal or illegal) in open court without blowing up your own intelligence operations, which you still need because the war is ongoing.” We divide however on the why’s, because many of these socalled “evildoers” have deepstate ties to our socalled intelligence operations, and that alone is the primary reason they are kept at Gitmo in a lawless state of limbo.
    Personally, I don’t care what happens to any jihadi. I applaud snuffing those freaks out anytime, we have the opportunity and a sniper, and or drone in range. Burn every single one of those shaitans and freaks off the face of the earth, and the sooner, the better.
    Gitmo however is simply another piece of hard evidence proving Amerika has shapeshifted into a lawless kleptocracy, wherein the government is owned and controlled by the predatorclass and select predatorclass oligarchs. We have crossed the rubicon. The America most of us were born into, no longer exists. Now we are a nation of thefew, by thefew, and for thefew exclusively, and nothing short revolution is going to alter that sad fact.

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  25. Neo Controll says:

    It’s so exciting to eavesdrop on a conversation with Nadine and her Mossad handlers. Never been this close to a real Mossad agent before.
    Or is it CIA? HELLO Langley, you there?
    Good morning America!
    –NCHQ

    Reply

  26. not impressed says:

    “Why do you find it so hard to understand that basic rule of civilized society?”(JohnH, Jan 25 2010, 3:14PM)
    I think because basically these types are not civilized. The Golden Rule for them is: those with the gold rule.
    Yes, this is one of the key images of the ugly face and heart of America today. A shame there is no shame. I agree the humans are in orange. Those bullies standing, and perhaps the one behind the camera taking pictures of the zoo’s torture cages are only missing the Nazi swastika. Are these prisoners of war getting their American porno Abu S&M dog sex sessions as well? They look pretty drained to me!
    IF THEY ARE NOT TRIED, THEN THEY ARE NOT GUILTY, AND PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE APPLIES. AT LEAST IN CIVILIZED COUNTRIES.
    But America has lost its way and the mandate from heaven is rising in Beijing. Obama is a flake and could not change his underwear imo. Like most so-called ‘leaders’ these days, this one-term-wonder is looking to his next contract rather than a new world.
    These poor bastards must be preying that Palin gets in next time — at least they’ll get shot and be free of this inhumane fascist torture.

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  27. nadine says:

    “The underlying assumption here, especially on the right, but also on the left, is that the government wouldn’t detain anyone unless he was guilty, and in these cases dangerous”
    No, Don, the underlying assumption is that you cannot present evidence against a captured enemy soldier (whether legal or illegal) in open court without blowing up your own intelligence operations, which you still need because the war is ongoing. That is why we never tried German POWs either.
    For instance, Ramzi bin Yusef, who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, was tried as you wish, in open court. The government was required to present a list of unindicted co-conspirators to the court as part of discovery. They produced a list of everybody they thought was in al Qaeda at the time. This list was in Osama bin Laden’s hands within a couple of weeks. Think it was useful to him, hm? We told him whose cover was blown — and whose was not.
    That’s what happens when you try terrorists in open court as if they were burglars.
    These problems are hard. Obama is just discovering that they are intractable for a good reason. While reasonable people may disagree on the best solutions, the crowd of people saying (here and in the White House), “oh you’re just eeeevil, there’s a good simple solution” is Sophmoric.
    Horrifying to think that the White House needs to learn that Sophmoric solutions won’t cut it in the real world.

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  28. Carroll says:

    BTW, I am curious….how many people here have read the entire text of the Goldstone report?
    If you haven’t here is the UN link….download the first pdf at the top that says report to the UN.
    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm

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  29. Carroll says:

    Posted by erichwwk, Jan 25 2010, 4:23PM – Link
    “There is no problem releasing all these prisoners if you don’t mind most of them rushing straight back to jihad and maybe killing thousands of Americans in the future
    nadine, how do you sleep at night>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    nadine sleeps upside down like the rest of the bats in the cave, can’t you tell?

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  30. DonS says:

    “waging violent jihad against the US . . . protecting americans from the next attack . . . many thousands of additional innocent american would have been dead . . .” (Nadine)
    Nadine, you old patriot, you know damn well its really only old Zion in your heart. These
    arguments’ you proffer are mere sideshows in the big circus. It’s pretty sickening for you to pretend to be a real murcan patriot when we all know what your bottom line is.

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  31. DonS says:

    WTF does “right to silence” mean in the face of legal interrogation. It means I ain’t giving you shit. It has nothing to do with convictions being nullified due to improper procedures. It has everything to do with ‘you can’t beat it out of me” regardless of whether the torturer is a county deputy, a city cop, an Army interrogator, or a CIA specialist.
    Stop trying to sell us the Fox line and see if you can raise your sights to a decent level that real, informed, people here at TWN aspire to be.

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  32. Don Bacon says:

    “GITMO: Obama’s Sincere Conviction & Insincere Action”
    How did this become a matter of one man’s (Obama’s) opinion? Isn’t the US a nation of laws? What ever happened to cause the current non-observance of the the Supreme Court finding eighteen months ago (Boumediene v. Bush) that the detainees at Guantánamo Bay have a constitutional right to go to federal court to challenge their continued detention?
    Boumediene: “It is uncontroversial, however, that the habeas privilege entitles the prisoner to a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that he is being held pursuant to “the erroneous application or interpretation” of relevant law. . . and the habeas court must have the power to order the conditional release of an individual unlawfully detained. But more may be required depending on the circumstances.
    The logic escapes me. If these “detainees” (detain: to stop or delay) who have been held for years are too dangerous to release then there must be some evidence that they are dangerous, and if there is such evidence then why can’t that evidence be presented in a court of law? The “high level task force” should be required to explain that to those of us who don’t understand.
    The underlying assumption here, especially on the right, but also on the left, is that the government wouldn’t detain anyone unless he was guilty, and in these cases dangerous. The facts are otherwise — many of these folks are innocent and were captured in random sweeps and by bounty hunters, merely to show that the US was doing something.
    Unfortunately, Gitmo is only been the tip of the iceberg. The US has held thousands in Iraq, currently holds over 800 in Afghanistan as well as who knows how many at other unknown US-controlled and foreign-controlled sites.

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  33. DonS says:

    Nadine darling, do your research.

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  34. nadine says:

    “Closing GITMO is harder than he thought; securing a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is harder than he thought; passing climate and energy legistlation is harder than he thought; Afghanistan is harder than he thought; Iran is harder than he thought; passing financial reform is harder than he thought.” (Wigwag)
    You forgot healthcare legislation. That’s harder too. A lot harder, when you keep spouting nonsense about it and don’t even realize it’s nonsense.
    The Emperor has no clothes. People are waking up from their 2008 intoxication. But the Hopium hangover is a bitch.
    “But let’s no[t] lay all the blame at Obama’s feet. The people who voted for him to get the Democratic nomination certainly share alot of the blame.”
    Do you think the Dems have acquired any immunities that will prevent such an obviously unqualified candidate from being nominated again?

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  35. nadine says:

    JohnH, the protections of American citizens belong to American citizens, not the rest of the world, esp. not that portion of the rest of the world that is waging violent jihad against the US. At some point you have to choose between protecting Americans from the next attack and preenning about your moral superiority. Had your policies been followed after 9/11, many thousands of additional innocent Americans would now be dead. We KNOW that from what Abu Zubaidea and KSM told us.
    “As to interrogation, Miranda does not prevent questioning a suspect if there is a chance of an imminent ongoing enterprise …”
    What an idiotic assertion. Of course it does. A Mirandized suspect has the right to a lawyer and to stay silent, which of course the lawyer will tell him to do.

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  36. WigWag says:

    “It is astonishing to think that the President of the United States came into office without understanding that intractable problems of long standing were not going to melt away…” (Nadine)
    I regret that I have to agree with you about that. The list of problems that the President now understands are more intractable than he originally thought is truly astonishing.
    Closing GITMO is harder than he thought; securing a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is harder than he thought; passing climate and energy legistlation is harder than he thought; Afghanistan is harder than he thought; Iran is harder than he thought; passing financial reform is harder than he thought.
    Perhaps if he had ever done an honest days work before becoming President he might be less surprised at how difficult this all is.
    But let’s no lay all the blame at Obama’s feet. The people who voted for him to get the Democratic nomination certainly share alot of the blame.

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  37. JohnH says:

    Nadine, I have posted numerous times complaining about the innocents killed by drone strikes on wedding parties and funeral processions. But you don’t care about that, either, because you refuse to criticize similar Israeli strikes that killed more than a thousand mostly innocent people in Gaza a year ago.
    But you still haven’t addressed my point about your being fingered by a powerful figure, secreted away to a black hole site, tortured repeatedly, and left to rot in Syria. It happened to Maher Arar, a Canadian, and it could happen to almost anyone.
    http://muslimmatters.org/2009/11/03/outsourcing-torture/
    Think not? Well, consider the case of Darrell Cannon, an American, who was tortured.
    http://www.law.northwestern.edu/macarthur/police/torture.html
    Once you start excluding certain groups from the rule of law, it’s not long before more and more groups get excluded. Your group could be next. It happened before.

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  38. DonS says:

    “Just like the current leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Pennsula (whose existence we didn’t even know about until the undie bomber. We still don’t know much because we didn’t interrogate him.) are released Gitmo prisoners.” (Nadine)
    Lie, lie, and lie.
    As to interrogation, Miranda does not prevent questioning a suspect if there is a chance of an imminent ongoing enterprise (e.g., multiple plane bombers), the “public safety exception”. If there was a screwup in this investigation it was the FBI bringing in the wrong team.
    The only thing you are really asserting is that on the civilian side “torture” is not permitted; but that has never stopped jailhouse beatings. I’m sure the Israelis could give us a few pointers on torturing without leaving marks, and even be willing to train the police.
    What you are really interested in is retribution.
    Lies.

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  39. nadine says:

    “The President isn’t “complicit” in decisions that his Administration makes; he’s ultimately responsible for those decisions.” (Wigwag)
    You’re right of course. I notice Steve’s implicit acknowledgment of Obama’s weakness. Obama ran around during the campaign promising the sun, moon and stars with no care (or understanding imo) as to what he could possibly do; now he begins to pay the price.
    It is astonishing to think that the President of the United States came into office without understanding that intractable problems of long standing were not going to melt away at his coming; but so it seems. Great, at least he has learned by now that he doesn’t walk on water. Can’t say his first year was a total waste.
    However, meanwhile Iran has moved closer to the bomb, real problems remain unaddressed, and if our adversaries haven’t pressed harder it’s because they can’t believe their good fortune in having such a naive weakling as US President. They still suspect some trick.

    Reply

  40. John Waring says:

    Sam Rayburn has to be rolling over in his grave at the fecklessness of the Dems.
    Rahm Emanuel has to decide whether he is fish or fowl.
    Does he work for Mr. Cheney, or does he work for Mr. Obama? Or should I say, when is he going to start to work for Mr. Obama? Mr. Emanuel strikes me as have successfully mounted a palace coup d’etat against the last election.
    I think he is reinforcing the previous eight years of failure.
    I also think we are at a turning point in American history. The president has to do more than set the moral tone. He has to reestablish the moral universe of the rule of law. Our nation’s “rules of the road” are set by precedent. If the president and his chief of staff do not act forcefully, the deplorable precedents set by the last administration will become part of the fabric of American government.
    And the world is watching.

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    JohnH, it is you who do not understand the rule of law, not the history of the laws of war.
    Never in the history of the US have alien enemy combatants received the rights of US citizens, never! Legal combatants (i.e. obeying the laws of war) became POWs without charge and without trial where were held for the duration of the conflict.
    Illegal combatants (e.g. saboteurs) received trials by military tribunal or were liable to be executed out of hand. That is actually what the Fourth Geneva Convention says about captured enemy saboteurs masquerading as civilians: you can shoot them. Go read it if you don’t believe me.
    Think about this: every day Obama is using Predator drones to shoot suspected terrorists in Yemen or Pakistan. No charges, no trials. That’s apparently okay with you. But if one of these same al Qaeda terrorists gets on a US plane and tries to blow it up, suddenly he acquires the due process of a US citizen. What possible sense does this make?

    Reply

  42. WigWag says:

    Rahm Emanuel is the architect of the failure to proceed on GITMO, but the President was complicit in the decision. (Steve Clemons)
    I don’t know what to say about GITMO other than the fact that it was another promise that the President didn’t keep.
    I don’t necessarily blame Obama too much for breaking his campaign promises; all Presidents do that. Of course, Obama assured us that he would be different. Weren’t we assured that “change we could believe in” was on the way?
    Whatever anyone thinks of all of this, the last sentence in Steve’s post is silly.
    The President isn’t “complicit” in decisions that his Administration makes; he’s ultimately responsible for those decisions.
    What happens in GITMO is a big deal. Saying the President is “complicit” in the decision not to close it is like saying Obama is “complicit” in proposing the stimulus bill or dropping the public option in health care reform or deciding who to nominate for the Supreme Court.
    George W. Bush was right about one thing; when it comes to making the big decisions, “complicity” has nothing to do with it. It’s the President who is “the decider.”
    If anyone deserves ultimate opprobrium for the GITMO decision, it’s not Rahm Emmanuel, it’s Barack Obama.

    Reply

  43. Paul Norheim says:

    “Peanut butter food poisoning cases top 500
    updated 9:39 p.m. ET Jan. 26, 2009
    Confirmed cases of salmonella infection linked to tainted peanut butter continue to grow, rising to 501
    in 43 states, according to latest figures from federal health officials.
    New cases were reported as of late Sunday by states involved in the outbreak, including Arizona, Iowa,
    New Jersey, New York and Oregon. One ill person has been reported from Canada.
    The mounting numbers of foodborne illness have been accompanied by a deluge of recalled cakes, crackers,
    cookies, ice cream, energy bars and more from dozens of manufacturers and retailers who bought peanut
    butter and peanut paste products from a Blakely, Ga., commercial processing facility.
    (…)
    Peanut butter is not normally thought of as a high-risk product for salmonella infection. The bacteria,
    a frequent source of food poisoning, are supposed to be killed off in the roasting process. Officials
    say the bacteria remain dormant in the peanut butter until eaten, when they start growing and cause
    infection.
    Originally the problem appeared limited to peanut butter shipped in big tubs to institutional customers
    such as nursing homes. But then peanut paste was implicated. Made from ground roasted peanuts, it is
    used as an ingredient in dozens of other products sold directly to consumers.
    Investigators from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are continuing to look for a
    precise source of the contamination, a spokeswoman said.”
    More here:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28864316/

    Reply

  44. erichwwk says:

    “There is no problem releasing all these prisoners if you don’t mind most of them rushing straight back to jihad and maybe killing thousands of Americans in the future
    nadine, how do you sleep at night, knowing all these boogey men are out there? And how do you sleep, knowing that 45,000 yr. die because of US medical nonsense (lack of insurance) and another 100,000 due to sloppy medical IT? Or do you care only about your OWN life, seeing all others as worthless
    has it ever occurred that to you that perhaps WE (the USA) should stop killing and screwing so many others???
    http://bit.ly/7bjXjk+
    😉

    Reply

  45. sanitychecker says:

    >> it is rather a President with sincere convictions and insincere follow-up.
    Steve is making a common philosophical mistake. The sincerity of one’s convictions is measured by the will to follow up, not by speculation about someone’s heart. Schopenhauer, and later, the Existentialists, explained why sincerity divorced from action is meaningless, what Sartre called “bad faith.”

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  46. JohnH says:

    Nadine, you don’t seem to understand what the rule of law is all about. If the GITMO detainees have violated the law, try them, convict them, and put them in jail. If not, set them free.
    Why do you find it so hard to understand that basic rule of civilized society?
    Applying your approach, you could easily by fingered by someone in power, sent to GITMO without trial, and rot there forever. What’s to prevent it?

    Reply

  47. nadine says:

    Steve, What was lacking about Gitmo was not political will. What was lacking was the most basic understanding of what made the problem difficult, not to say intractable.
    There is no problem releasing all these prisoners if you don’t mind most of them rushing straight back to jihad and maybe killing thousands of Americans in the future. Just like the current leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Pennsula (whose existence we didn’t even know about until the undie bomber. We still don’t know much because we didn’t interrogate him.) are released Gitmo prisoners.
    Better Obama understands late than never, but he has spent his first year learning the ABCs of global politics.

    Reply

  48. Carroll says:

    One of the reason I didn’t vote for Obama was because I saw Rham listed as the most likey to be
    Obama’s COS on a list of possible appointees positions over at Politico shortly before the election.
    Lay down with dogs, get fleas.

    Reply

  49. Paul Norheim says:

    “I know people who get their news from Fox and I know how self-certain they are about a wide
    range of issues.”
    “…I don’t see an institutional support for what clearly is the right thing to do.”
    “…on the we still have Fox News side, seriously, what would you advise?”
    —————————————————–
    Accepting Questions’ premises, the only option left for the POTUS would be to ask his staff
    every morning: “What would Sarah Palin do?” – and then head straight toward the abyss.

    Reply

  50. Mr.Murder says:

    The most dehumanized persons in that picture are the ones standing up. There is a toll exacted on people tasked to do these things. People are not expendable politcal capital on either side of the captive/captor equation.
    If you want to expedite transparency and justice, impose a penalty tax on those who withhold.
    Penalty tax on state budgets that come up with shortfalls will line out health care reform. You don’t want health care reform, fine, get off the gov’t teets for your own budget, red states.
    Penalty tariff on countries that lack transparency would be incentive enough to inspire certain compliance items.
    Incentives could exist otherwise for policy adherents. That is how you usually end conflicts, bribe both sides into an agreement on terms.

    Reply

  51. questions says:

    Timid, maybe. Too timid, I might even grant.
    BUT, the alternatives seem to me to be huge losses in the next round of elections and basically Republican rule ever after.
    I know people who get their news from Fox and I know how self-certain they are about a wide range of issues.
    I routinely deal with people whose views are utterly opposed to mine, who are convinced that Obama is the worst thing since — can’t even think of a time frame here.
    I know how manipulable many of these people are to half-truths and panics and fear of the brown-skinned other. It’s really amazing how intense those emotions are in people who seem rational in other aspects of their lives.
    That moment of horror is really easily brought to the surface in large numbers of people. And those people scare their representatives in Congress into a kind of paralysis that you KNOW no one ran for office to feel. But paralysis it is.
    Rahm Emanuel has been in Congress, knows the political feel and seems to be tasked with some of the re-election thinking.
    Obama seems to be fairly future-oriented and process-oriented. While this notion got slammed somewhere above, the fact is that if the dems lose control of everything, we may revert back to Bush/Cheney style rule, and I don’t think that that end is one to be courted.
    Our political system is really unable to deal with an issue as serious and scary as Gitmo/terror. There’s always someone who benefits personally/politically from undermining what’s right and so that undermining can be taken as a given. This dynamic pushes the country in whatever direction the loudest or sneakiest underming voice determines. For now, I think that voice is Fox News and its ilk and all the people who drink Foxade.
    I had some small hope at one point that Air America might turn into something. Aside from bringing Rachel Maddow, goddess to the masses, into the public eye, it was something of a lost cause.
    The left needs to be able to talk, and our fears need a context so that they end up less fearful. So far, no one knows how to provide this without significant risk to re-election.
    If Obama goes on TV and loves him up some ter’ists and commies…. Can’t you just hear the noise machine?
    The long run thing to hope for is Rupert Murdoch’s and Roger Ailes’s retirement and some realization among the right wing demagogues that they are demagogues.
    So I think I’ll take “timid” for now because I don’t see an institutional support for what clearly is the right thing to do. The US works via institutions, and without that support, there’s not going to be a morally right response.

    Reply

  52. DonS says:

    “BUT — on the Emanuel side, on the populist side, on the connect with the people side, on the we still have Fox News side, seriously, what would you advise?”
    Sorry Questions, on this you are entirely too timid. It is the responsibility of the president to set the moral example, not to just read tea leaves, take temperatures and split the baby in half. Considering there is exactly perhaps close to 0% of any actual risk (except ‘political’) in restoring a moral posture vis a vis detainees, Obama’s action, or lack, only mire him further in the lackey of Cheney/Bush/necon morass.

    Reply

  53. LizDexic says:

    Does anyone ever discuss to what extent the CIA and the NSA really
    run the country? That seems to me to be one of the plausible
    explanations for how a president’s desire and determination to do
    what’s right (i.e. constitutional) may be undermined and
    circumvented by some other (higher?) power.

    Reply

  54. questions says:

    Emanuel and Obama are both right.
    Of course Gitmo should be closed and people should have access to justice and if we need to create special courts with judges and juries who have the highest security clearances, then we should. Heck, if Obama can be called for jury duty in Illinois, perhaps he should sit for one of the Gitmo trials.
    BUT — on the Emanuel side, on the populist side, on the connect with the people side, on the we still have Fox News side, seriously, what would you advise?
    Fox could easily scare up a huge crowd of scared populists. (I suppose if we’re playing that word game where you pick a name for a collective, we could talk about a “populist of people” to name that crowd.)
    As soon as you legitimate populism you run into trouble. You can’t get entirely away from it, and clearly the admin is now trying to court it, but on Gitmo, Cuba, and likely a few other issues, the right is going to rule because the right is really good at manipulating populist anxiety.
    Politics and justice are sadly sadly sadly not commensurate. And the right is so good at playing on the distance between the two to gain the edge.
    If you really want to take on the enemy, take on Fox and its ilk. People can be reasoned with if they’re given reason. At least, I think this to be the case when I’m in a good mood.

    Reply

  55. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    It is an irony that the good convictions are jeopardized by wrong policy revision. Even after the lapse of one year, the closing of the Guantanamo Bay’s prison yet remains a policy challenge for the White House administration.So what ever the legal complications, so whatever remain the political expediencies entailed or indoctrinated by the strategic interests and so whatever remain the administration’s limitations regarding the security concerns,the fact is that the fidelity to words seems and should be given more important value since the dignity of the office of the US president must be positively established. And of course, keeping in view this evaluation, any further delay in closing the Guantanamo Prison would cause great damage to the official pledge that President Obama promptly committed with the international community.

    Reply

  56. Paul Norheim says:

    “The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50
    detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force
    has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release, an
    administration official said on Thursday.” (from the NYT article Steve linked to in his
    post.)
    I assume that this implies that they’ll stay at GITMO, and that the prison will not be
    closed as long as Obama sits in the Oval Office.
    After one year, one has to conclude that they didn’t even manage to change the “optics”
    – as Emanuel promised in a conversation with you, Steve, one year ago. Except for the
    cowboy hat, even the optics remain the same as during Bush/Cheney. They created a
    convincing illusion during the campaign, against which only fools wouldn’t notice that
    it’s been business as usual for the last 12 months. The Cairo speech and the early
    promise to close GITMO don’t count as efforts to change the optics: they are just
    reference points to measure broken promises. I guess Obama suddenly realized that he
    was in charge of an empire.

    Reply

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