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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 10:08 AM        Torture legalized
We now live in a country that has officially legalized torture.

The language slightly obscures it, but barring 'waterboarding', murder, maiming and rape, all other 'alternative methods' are allowed, and are allowed to go undefined, even by congress. McCain said on one of the Sunday news shows that he did not know what 'alternative methods' were, would not be informed of it, and was okay with that. So much for concience.

The Geneva conventions will be obeyed, but the President is allowed to interpret them, and there will be no oversight of how they are applied by congress or courts.

Violation of the conventions is concidered illegal, but violators who do not kill, maim, or rape are immune from prosecution.

Prisons outside of the US will still be in use, and their 'professionals' will use 'alternative methods' without oversight, for which even if they break the law (and who will know?) in most cases they cannot be prosecuted.

Does anyone at all think this does not, at the very least, encourage torture? Does anyone at all think that under these confitions at least some innocents mistakenly imprisoned will be tortured?

Anyone who is not a US citizen, even people in this country completely legally, can be defined as 'enemy combatants' by the executive branch without judicial or conressional oversight. They cannot challenge this status, and can be confined without charge, or access to the courts, until the "war on Terror" is over, which could easily be a life sentence. Does anyone think such power will not be abused?

That's how I read the new laws. If anyone thinks I've got some aspect of it wrong, please correct me.

This is who we are now. A nation that doesn't just covertly condone torture. It is legal and we use it. No one outside the executive branch has any way of knowing who we use it on.

Don't fool yourself into thinking this means dogs barking and loud music. Do you recall the Ahbu Garib photos which seemed so shocking? With the exceptions of rape and murder (and mostly we did not see those photos) all of the other pictures are now legal. Take a moment and imagine what you could do to another person without raping, maiming or killing them.

If you believe torture is acceptable, you don't even need to respond, although if you've got something to say beyond 'I think torture is okay' you certainly should feel free. And if you believe torture is acceptable, do you think the torture of innocents is regrettable but a neccesary evil, or that innocents will not be tortured? And what about the lack of oversight? Is that American?

I think ths is a deeply shameful moment in Amercian history. I think the three Republicans who could have stopped this and instead crafted a 'compromise' with is little more than a fig leaf and permission not to know should be ashamed.

I also think the Supreme court will strike the detention and interrogation laws down, as they are clearly unconstitutional. But that will take years, and during those years people will be tortured and the law of Habeas Corpus will be suspended. And yes, I now Lincoln did that. It was a stain then, and it's a stain now. There were Prisoner of war camps during the civil war where people starved to death, does that make the practice acceptable?

Are we so weak and scared that we cannot fight terror without torture and secret prisons and imprisonement without charge until "the War on Terror Ends" which is something that could easily last forever?
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 10:17 AM       
Crap. Well, at least we did bar the maiming and raping bit.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 11:05 AM        Re: Torture legalized
Quote:
Originally Posted by mburbank
I think ths is a deeply shameful moment in Amercian history. I think the three Republicans who could have stopped this and instead crafted a 'compromise' with is little more than a fig leaf and permission not to know should be ashamed.
I don't think this is entirely fair. Would you prefer this passed measure, or completely unmitigated torture? I think guys like McCain wanted to get something passed, but this was a tough bill to pass. A lot of the Congressionals (I like that word) think that no rules apply to nationless terrorists, and that they are purely evil, and we need to get info from them however we can. This bill is a step in the right direction, because it lays out a precedent of rights for terrorists. That's pretty big, because up until now the conservative response was "but they isn't protected by the Geneva Convention!"

I don't love any of this. I personally think torture probably only works about 10-15% of the time, and that's not enough in my book to justify the practice. I know some might say, well, the police use interrogation methods and it usually works! But law enforcement offers other things to criminals in order to leverage information out of them, such as reduced sentences, security, etc. To my knowledge, we aren't even promising release to most of these folks, and how the hell could we guarantee them security were we even to let them go? We know some we've released from GITMO have gone right back to the front lines. This puts us in a never ending bind, b/c we can't release them, can't promise them anything, so I guess we're left with anything but 'waterboarding'?
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 11:32 AM       
"Would you prefer this passed measure, or completely unmitigated torture?"

Why are those the only choices? Suppose McCain et al had refused this particular compromise, and the administration was left with the possability of congress going home without acting?

And if this is the best compromise they thought they'd be offered, why give in? I'm sure the people who tortured McCain felt justified in doing it. I cannot believe he has basically signed a compromise that says 'as long as I don't have to know about it, you can do it.'
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 11:45 AM       
I think I elaborated on why those were the options, but anyway. This is considered a do-nothing Congress to begin with. What would one more missed opportunity mean to the American public at this point? What would it mean to a lame duck president?

There are members of Congress who believe we must leave these options on the table if we wish to win this war. There isserious compromise to be had here. No one ever said it's pleasant to conceed certain things, but hey, it's the U.S. Senate!

I think McCain wanted to denounce and forbid torturing rouge combatants, and that is what he has done. If they had held out for a laundry list of every conceivable thing that one could do to another person, nothing would've passed. Then we have torture, and it's back to the drawing board on a decent bill, and the NEXT time they try to pass it they maybe get even less.
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 11:45 AM       
I wonder how long it will take before other countries start comparing Americans to the Nazis?
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 11:55 AM       
They already do, which is why we should ignore them.
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Marc Summers Marc Summers is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 11:56 AM       
If our country is basically allowed to interpret the Geneva Convention however we want, that pretty much gives any other country the right to do the same
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 12:17 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinTheOmnivore
They already do, which is why we should ignore them.
Ignore them? Why? Will that will make them go away?
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 12:49 PM       
"what would one more missed opportunity mean to the American public at this point?"

Well, to this american, it would mean that while torture and the suspension of Habeas Corpus was still going on, there remained debate as to wether they were legal. It also meant that while our sytem of checks and balances was being ignored, that process had not been codified into law. Those things make a largeish difference to me, and if basic civics were still taught in school, it might make more of a basic difference to more people.

A 'do nothing' congress is preferable to one that legalizes torture.

"I think McCain wanted to denounce and forbid torturing rouge combatants, and that is what he has done."

Denounce, perhaps, but forbid? The law leaves interpretation solely to the President, and immunizes interrogators from prosecution, forbidding only murder, rape and maiming. It also leaves entirely and permanently secret what 'alternative methods' are. Do you read the law differently?
You don't need a laundry list. The geneva conventions don't have one. They are broad so that countries will be wary about possibly violating them. In addition, oversight by another branch of government about when and on whom these 'alternative methods' were approved would mean at very least there was the possability of interrogators being told they were going to far.

I can supply you with a handy, non laundry list deffinition of torture, and I think since inncoents can and have been swept up in the WOT, it's certainly applicable. If you were suspected of criminal wrong doing and believed to have information, Kevin, would it be all right to do it to you? Would you concider a speciffic practice an 'outrage upon your dignity'.

If a foreign country kidnapped W and smeared what they told him was menstrual blood on his face, would that be an outrage upon his dignity? If Donald Rumsfeld were made to stand with wires attached to his fingers and genitals, would that be an outrage upon his dignity? If Condi was stripped naked by armed men and menaced by dogs, would it outrage her dignity?

I would argue that it is unamerican to treat guilty parties this way, but lets leave that aside. What about the people we hold who it turns out have done nothing, and the people we catch who have no useful information. You can tell me we would never apply 'alternative methods' unless we were sure, but with no oversight, no check or balance, we are throwing away something essential about our country.

Kev, this isn't some highway bill passed in the dead of night and you can say "Hey, that's congress, whatttaya gona do?" This is torture and permanent emprisonment on the Presidents say so. Even if neither of those things ever happen, it strikes me as fundamentally unamerican to give the executive those powers.

Take a look at how the Presidents ability to define an 'enemy combatant' has been broadened, and concider that enemy combatants can now legally be made to vanish until the WOT ends. Suppose for a moment that this President is totally incapable of abusing that power. Is it a power he or future presidents should have? Doesn't it change the nation to codify those temptations in law?
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 01:15 PM       
Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)
By Molly Ivins
Truthdig

Wednesday 27 September 2006

With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.

Austin, Texas - Oh dear. I'm sure he didn't mean it. In Illinois' Sixth Congressional District, long represented by Henry Hyde, Republican candidate Peter Roskam accused his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, of planning to "cut and run" on Iraq.

Duckworth is a former Army major and chopper pilot who lost both legs in Iraq after her helicopter got hit by an RPG. "I just could not believe he would say that to me," said Duckworth, who walks on artificial legs and uses a cane. Every election cycle produces some wincers, but how do you apologize for that one?

The legislative equivalent of that remark is the detainee bill now being passed by Congress. Beloveds, this is so much worse than even that pathetic deal reached last Thursday between the White House and Republican Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The White House has since reinserted a number of "technical fixes" that were the point of the putative "compromise." It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.

This bill is not a national security issue-this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.

Death by torture by Americans was first reported in 2003 in a New York Times article by Carlotta Gall. The military had announced the prisoner died of a heart attack, but when Gall saw the death certificate, written in English and issued by the military, it said the cause of death was homicide. The "heart attack" came after he had been beaten so often on this legs that they had "basically been pulpified," according to the coroner.

The story of why and how it took the Times so long to print this information is in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. The press in general has been late and slow in reporting torture, so very few Americans have any idea how far it has spread. As is often true in hierarchical, top-down institutions, the orders get passed on in what I call the downward communications exaggeration spiral.

For example, on a newspaper, a top editor may remark casually, "Let's give the new mayor a chance to see what he can do before we start attacking him."

This gets passed on as "Don't touch the mayor unless he really screws up."

And it ultimately arrives at the reporter level as "We can't say anything negative about the mayor."

The version of the detainee bill now in the Senate not only undoes much of the McCain-Warner-Graham work, but it is actually much worse than the administration's first proposal. In one change, the original compromise language said a suspect had the right to "examine and respond to" all evidence used against him. The three senators said the clause was necessary to avoid secret trials. The bill has now dropped the word "examine" and left only "respond to."

In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words "outside the United States," which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has "has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." Quick, define "purposefully and materially." One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

The bill simply removes a suspect's right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon "degenerates into a playground for sadists." But not unbridled sadism-you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving "severe pain" and substituted "serious pain," which is defined as "bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain."

In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: "The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit."

Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary-these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.

I'd like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.
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Cosmo Electrolux Cosmo Electrolux is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 01:42 PM       
anyone care to speculate where this will all end?
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 01:50 PM       
okay, as far as Habeas Corpus goes, why is everyone overreacting to this? it applies to non-American citizens. Lincoln removed HC rights for Southerners, who he still considered Americans, and Northerners suspected of harboring sympathies for the rebellion, yet he didn't go down in history as "Abe the Barbarian."
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 02:16 PM       
You know I've been wondering these "Innocent" people they capture and torture, how "Innocent" are they? Do they have any relation to terrorists at all or is it a loose connection? I mean, i think torture is good for getting information from people who actually have information. I think it'd be great if they captured "Known terrorists" and tortured them.
Do you think there's a difference between torturing a known enemy combatant and a suspected terrorist aid? Does it make it more or less moral?

I find it ironic people voted president bush in for high moral standards. Everything bush does could be considered immoral. Except banning gay marriage, that was real moral.

A question worth asking is how else do you fight terrorists except by limiting rights? Isn't that basically what israel did to fight terrorists? How successful was that?
How many terrorist attacks are there even on US soil a year? I can't remember any terrorist attacks in the past few years at all, but I don't have a television.
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 02:17 PM       
A.) I already called that moment a stain on American history

B.) He remanded that right for the duration of the civil war. W and congress have remanded it for the foreseeable future.

C.) Jose Pedilla is an American citizen. Without even having established the removal of Habeus Corpus, the administration was able to keep him locked up without charge for three years. When charges were finally brought, they did not include much of what he had been accused of and locked up for. In addition, because of legal codification of the term 'enemy combatant' , which can include American citizens captured anywhere, including America, it is no longer clear if citizens classified as 'enemy conbatants' have Habeus Corpus.
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 02:24 PM       
This Time, Congress Has No Excuse
By Andrew Cohen
The Washington Post

Thursday 28 September 2006

Of all the stupid, lazy, short-sighted, hasty, ill-conceived, partisan-inspired, damage-inflicting, dangerous and offensive things this Congress has done (or not done) in its past few recent miserable terms, the looming passage of the terror detainee bill takes the cake. At least when Congress voted to authorize the Iraq War legislators can point to the fact that they were deceived by Administration officials. But what's Congress' excuse now for agreeing to sign off on a law that would give the executive branch even more unfettered power over the rest of us than it already has?

It just keeps getting worse. This morning, esteemed Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman published this fine essay in the Los Angeles Times. His lead? "Buried in the complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

"This dangerous compromise," Professor Ackerman continued, "not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops 'during an armed conflict,' it also allows him to seize anybody who has 'purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.' This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison."

Scary enough for you? But wait, there is more. The legislation also appears to allow illegally-obtained evidence- from overseas or right here at home - to be used against enemy combatants (which gives you an idea of where this Congress really stands on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program). And wait, there is this: the Administration's horrible track record when it comes to identifying "enemy combatants" and then detaining them here in the States. Two of the most famous ones, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both ended up having the highest courts in our land back up their legal claims, which is why the government had to release Hamdi outright and then turn Padilla over to the regular civilian courts (where he is a defendant in a weak case against him).

Do you believe the Administration has over the past five years earned the colossal expanse of trust the Congress is about to give it in the name of fighting terrorism? Do you believe that Administration officials will be able to accurately and adequately identify so-called "enemy combatants" here at home so as to separate out the truly bad guys from the guys who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you want your legislative branch to abdicate so completely its responsibility to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances upon executive power even in a time of terror? You might have answered "no" to all three questions. But your answer doesn't matter. And neither does mine. To Congress, the answer is "yes, sir." Our Congress is about to make yet another needless mistake in the war on terror and this time the folks making it won't be able to say that the White House tricked them into it.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 03:00 PM       
Max, have you read the entire bill yet?

I ask, b/c I honestly have not. I intend to, but I'd like to do so before I let pundits and columnists decide the merits of it all for me.

I'm not entirely sure how this allows the executive branch to encroach more on "us", as this opinion piece states in the first paragraph. Doesn't the law only apply to captured combatants?

I'll respond to other stuff later on.
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 03:20 PM       
I have.

The main problem is the grey area around the now legalized deffinition of 'enemy combatant' which nowhere says it is limmited to non citizens, and the sections on trial and detention, which are said to apply to 'enemy combatants'.

It would make a hell of a legal mess, particularly becuase once declared an enemy combatant, you'd have a very hard time getting access to a lawyer.

There is no oversight at all that I can find regarding the executive branch's determination that someone is an enemy combatant. There are vague reasons they are supposed to have, but no one they need to explain or prove those reasons to.
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 08:32 PM       
I've been reading it I'll get back to you guys later.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/.../~c109yoM8Rd::

There's the bill online(I think it's the right one)

UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT(under definitions, it also defines lawful enemy combatant as well):

Quote:
`(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means an individual determined by or under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense--

`(i) to be part of or affiliated with a force or organization (including al Qaeda, the Taliban, any international terrorist organization, or associated forces) that is engaged in hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents in violation of the law of war;

`(ii) to have committed a hostile act in aid of such a force or organization so engaged; or

`(iii) to have supported hostilities in aid of such a force or organization so engaged.

`(B) Such term includes any individual determined by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal before the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant.

`(C) Such term does not include any alien determined by the President or the Secretary of Defense (whether on an individualized or collective basis), or by any competent tribunal established under their authority, to be--

`(i) a lawful enemy combatant (including a prisoner of war); or

`(ii) a protected person whose trial by a military commission under this chapter would be inconsistent with Articles 64 through 76 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949.
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 09:39 PM       
Well, don't do something suspicious (Be any color than white),
or you'll get punched out nonstop for 3 months :/

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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 10:11 PM       
the next definition is enemy lawful combatant which have the same set of rights as they used to I think. This only applies to people who kill noncitizens or involve noncitizens purposely, basically unjust war tactics.
So even if you're a different color unless you're an asshole you're not a "terrorist" or unlawful combatant. Unfortunately "Aiding" terrorist hostilities could be stretched.

Definitions is the first section by the way.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 03:08 PM       
So whatever happened to this exciting thread?

Nobody cares about torture anymore?
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Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 03:26 PM       
Personally, I think it's a great notion. It legitimizes a lot of my past transgressions. It is retroactive right? *ahem*
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Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 04:44 PM       
i think so it says it applies to any individual considered an enemy combatant before the new law was applied.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 05:07 PM       
You're missing the no oversight part. The executive branch does not have to make the case tht you fit the deffinition of enemy combatant to anyone, and you can't challenge your confinement. It's carte Blanche to disappear anybody anytime, and only the Supreme Court has any chance of pulling your nuts out of the fire. And speedy to them is within five years, and that's only if somebody finds a very creative way to get your case to them.
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