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Thread: It's not easy, running a gulag

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    L'Etranger Senior Member Banquo's Ghost's Avatar
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    Unhappy It's not easy, running a gulag

    It seems that every time the law brushes up against Guantanamo internment camp, the Bush administration comes off worse.

    Such experience explains why the administration wants to cut out any dalliance with legality, but does it foster any more qualms amongst supporters of the policy? Or shall we dismiss the whole story as a mere technicality?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Guantanamo pair's charges dropped

    A US military judge has thrown out charges against two Guantanamo Bay detainees, casting fresh doubt on efforts to try foreign terror suspects.

    Both cases collapsed because military authorities had failed to designate the men as "unlawful" enemy combatants.

    In one case a Canadian man, Omar Khadr, was accused of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan with a grenade.

    Charges were also dropped against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni accused of being Osama Bin Laden's driver and bodyguard.

    The BBC's James Westhead in Washington says the rulings deal a stunning blow to the Bush administration's attempt to bring its detainees at Guantanamo Bay to trial.

    Under a new system of military justice approved by Congress last year, detainees facing trial must be designated "unlawful enemy combatants".

    When they were assessed years earlier they were described only as "enemy combatants". The word "unlawful" did not appear, giving the new tribunals no jurisdiction.

    It seems the same may apply to all the other 380 detainees, leaving the tribunal system in legal limbo while Bush administration lawyers race to clarify the situation.

    The US government has basically three options, our correspondent says:
    throw the whole system out and start again, which would be very embarrassing for the Bush administration:

    a)throw the whole system out and start again, which would be very embarrassing for the Bush administration

    b)redesignate all the detainees as "unlawful enemy combatants", which would require a separate administrative hearing

    c)appeal against the ruling - but this would need to be handled by an appeals court, the military commissions review, which has not yet been established
    Tribunal issue

    Defendant Omar Khadr, 20, appeared in court on Monday wearing a prison uniform, light sandals and a straggly beard.

    He was just 15 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan, and was accused of killing a US soldier during a battle at a suspected al-Qaeda base in 2002.

    He appeared in court charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing support for terrorism.

    The judge left open the possibility that Mr Khadr could be re-charged if he appeared before an official review panel and was formally classified as an "unlawful" enemy combatant.

    He said prosecutors could lodge an appeal within 72 hours, although it was not immediately clear who they could appeal to. Prosecutors have indicated they intend to appeal.

    All charges were dropped in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, accused of serving both as chauffeur and bodyguard to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

    Lawyers for Mr Hamdan said: "It was a victory for the rule of law and the law of war."

    Legal limbo

    The tribunal's chief defence counsel, Marine Colonel Dwight Sullivan, said the rulings were not a technicality, but another demonstration that the system did not work.

    Senator Chris Dodd, a Democratic presidential candidate, said the system was corroding America's foundation of freedom.

    Senator Arlen Specter, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the New York Times that Monday's ruling could prompt Congress to re-evaluate the legal rights of detainees.

    "The sense I have is that there's an unease, an uncomfortable sense about the whole Guantanamo milieu. There's just a sense of too many shortcuts in the whole process," he said.

    The Guantanamo Bay facility was set up by the US in January 2002 to detain foreign prisoners suspected of links with al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

    About 770 inmates - many from the conflict in Afghanistan - have been at the camp on Cuba, which is not subject to normal US court rules.
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    Senior Member Senior Member English assassin's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    I've said it before, but lawyers are teh bomb. well, Bush's lawyers are obviously not teh bomb. They are teh low watt bulbs. But in general, lawyers are teh bomb.

    This is as far from a technicality as can be imagined. Being an enemy combatant is perfectly lawful, which will come as good news to members of the US and UK armed forces who would otherwise be criminalised en masse. Charging and proving that these were unlawful enemy combatants is absolutely central.
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    Member Member Spetulhu's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    When has Bush the Divine Messenger cared about embarrassment? He's right and, well, that's it. The lawyers and judges here are clearly un-American terrorist supporters. If the administration puts time and money on locking up suspects without due process then the legal system should cooperate!

    Nah, good to see that the rule of law is still in the fight.
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    Filthy Rich Member Odin's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Banquo's Ghost
    It seems that every time the law brushes up against Guantanamo internment camp, the Bush administration comes off worse.

    Such experience explains why the administration wants to cut out any dalliance with legality, but does it foster any more qualms amongst supporters of the policy? Or shall we dismiss the whole story as a mere technicality?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Guantanamo pair's charges dropped

    A US military judge has thrown out charges against two Guantanamo Bay detainees, casting fresh doubt on efforts to try foreign terror suspects.

    Both cases collapsed because military authorities had failed to designate the men as "unlawful" enemy combatants.

    In one case a Canadian man, Omar Khadr, was accused of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan with a grenade.

    Charges were also dropped against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni accused of being Osama Bin Laden's driver and bodyguard.

    The BBC's James Westhead in Washington says the rulings deal a stunning blow to the Bush administration's attempt to bring its detainees at Guantanamo Bay to trial.

    Under a new system of military justice approved by Congress last year, detainees facing trial must be designated "unlawful enemy combatants".

    When they were assessed years earlier they were described only as "enemy combatants". The word "unlawful" did not appear, giving the new tribunals no jurisdiction.

    It seems the same may apply to all the other 380 detainees, leaving the tribunal system in legal limbo while Bush administration lawyers race to clarify the situation.

    The US government has basically three options, our correspondent says:
    throw the whole system out and start again, which would be very embarrassing for the Bush administration:

    a)throw the whole system out and start again, which would be very embarrassing for the Bush administration

    b)redesignate all the detainees as "unlawful enemy combatants", which would require a separate administrative hearing

    c)appeal against the ruling - but this would need to be handled by an appeals court, the military commissions review, which has not yet been established
    Tribunal issue

    Defendant Omar Khadr, 20, appeared in court on Monday wearing a prison uniform, light sandals and a straggly beard.

    He was just 15 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan, and was accused of killing a US soldier during a battle at a suspected al-Qaeda base in 2002.

    He appeared in court charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing support for terrorism.

    The judge left open the possibility that Mr Khadr could be re-charged if he appeared before an official review panel and was formally classified as an "unlawful" enemy combatant.

    He said prosecutors could lodge an appeal within 72 hours, although it was not immediately clear who they could appeal to. Prosecutors have indicated they intend to appeal.

    All charges were dropped in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, accused of serving both as chauffeur and bodyguard to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

    Lawyers for Mr Hamdan said: "It was a victory for the rule of law and the law of war."

    Legal limbo

    The tribunal's chief defence counsel, Marine Colonel Dwight Sullivan, said the rulings were not a technicality, but another demonstration that the system did not work.

    Senator Chris Dodd, a Democratic presidential candidate, said the system was corroding America's foundation of freedom.

    Senator Arlen Specter, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the New York Times that Monday's ruling could prompt Congress to re-evaluate the legal rights of detainees.

    "The sense I have is that there's an unease, an uncomfortable sense about the whole Guantanamo milieu. There's just a sense of too many shortcuts in the whole process," he said.

    The Guantanamo Bay facility was set up by the US in January 2002 to detain foreign prisoners suspected of links with al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

    About 770 inmates - many from the conflict in Afghanistan - have been at the camp on Cuba, which is not subject to normal US court rules.
    Lets dismiss it as a technicality. Why?

    Source
    b)redesignate all the detainees as "unlawful enemy combatants", which would require a separate administrative hearing
    Obtaining a new administrative hearing smells like a technicality to me, but I dont want to ruin yet another thread beating the dead horse that is george bush.

    Go ahead fella's line up, all you have to do is cut and paste your prior posts.
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    Senior Member Senior Member English assassin's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Obtaining a new administrative hearing smells like a technicality to me, but I dont want to ruin yet another thread beating the dead horse that is george bush
    Well, I would hope not. "Administrative" should not be a dirty word. Presumably the hearings at which people are designated unlawful or not have some content, and apply criteria. If I want to designate something as a spade it has to be a long handled, bladed digging impliment, and if someone presents me with a fork is not open to me (lawfully) to designate it as a spade.

    Point taken that no one is very likely to change their minds on Gitmo on this one but it is still comment-worthy.
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    Filthy Rich Member Odin's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by English assassin
    Well, I would hope not. "Administrative" should not be a dirty word. Presumably the hearings at which people are designated unlawful or not have some content, and apply criteria. If I want to designate something as a spade it has to be a long handled, bladed digging impliment, and if someone presents me with a fork is not open to me (lawfully) to designate it as a spade.

    Point taken that no one is very likely to change their minds on Gitmo on this one but it is still comment-worthy.
    Well thats the rub. Bush was granted the power to determine the title of the combantants under war powers resolution act after 9/11. In that legislation, he can issue a presidential military order, and he did the order.

    thus its really a technicality, because the war powers resolution has not been recinded by congress, he still has the same auhtority to make the designation. It was ruled unconstitutional but upheld by the supreme court, and replaced in 06, but military commissions, as convened by the president still make the designation(unless I have read it wrong)

    The article is a nice read but its more beating of the dead horse that is Bush, while I dont have a problem with it, it hardly progresses the argument.

    Yep we all know he's an idiot and bad for the world overall, lets get on with it all ready.
    Last edited by Odin; 06-05-2007 at 15:55.
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    Senior Member Senior Member English assassin's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Yep we all know he's an idiot and bad for the world overall, lets get on with it all ready.
    That bang, my fellow euroweenies, was the sound of our fox being shot
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    Master of the Horse Senior Member Pindar's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Banquo's Ghost
    It seems that every time the law brushes up against Guantanamo internment camp, the Bush administration comes off worse.

    Such experience explains why the administration wants to cut out any dalliance with legality, but does it foster any more qualms amongst supporters of the policy? Or shall we dismiss the whole story as a mere technicality?
    Changing an accused person's filing status from "enemy combatant" to "alien unlawful enemy combatants" is not a legal set back. The individual cases were dismissed without prejudice. This means once the change is made a trial can then proceed per normal. The article and any larger judgement confuses minutia with substance.

    As to the thread's title: to equate Guantanamo with the Gulag where millions died under the Soviets is both hyperbolic and irresponsible.
    Last edited by Pindar; 06-06-2007 at 01:45.

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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    As to the thread's title: to equate Guantanamo with the Gulag where millions died under the Soviets is both hyperbolic and irresponsible.
    So magnitude is more important then direction?, So size matters?

    I agree that it is hyperbolic, but is it really irresponsible to equate the two? Can you name a more accurate example?
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    Oni Member Samurai Waki's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Papewaio
    I agree that it is hyperbolic, but is it really irresponsible to equate the two? Can you name a more accurate example?
    Japanese Internment Camps

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    Member Member KafirChobee's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Geesh, thank zeus the inmates at Gitmo don't have any rights - like to a speedy trial. Five years to trie a child, now a man? Sad, and now he probably will be a full blown terrorist should he ever get out of the "Bush" system.

    The entire affair stinks. Had Bush let our justice system work for him, rather than trying to create one, all this would be behind us - and he might even have justification for some of it. Instead its just one more example of the ineptness we've put up with for six years.

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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    The thread title is highly disrespectful towards all those who suffered under soviet oppression.

    Maybe some deeper reading into what actually took place at the real gulags is in order? Those poor souls would love to only have to endure standing for a long time and unscented deodorant.

    Edit. Pindar made my post redundant..
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 06-06-2007 at 06:37.

  13. #13

    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Thread title is highly misleading in my view.

    Bush in fact has a very easy time running a gulag. He has proven he can do whatever he wants irrespective of any laws, and absolutely nothing will be done about it. Where is the "hard part" in that for him?

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    Master of the Horse Senior Member Pindar's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Papewaio
    So magnitude is more important then direction?
    Magnitude is important, so is direction. The referent fails on both counts.

    I agree that it is hyperbolic, but is it really irresponsible to equate the two?
    Yes.

    Can you name a more accurate example?
    Is this a serious question? The answer(s) should be obvious.

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    L'Etranger Senior Member Banquo's Ghost's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    As to the thread's title: to equate Guantanamo with the Gulag where millions died under the Soviets is both hyperbolic and irresponsible.
    gu·lag [goo-lahg]
    –noun (sometimes initial capital letter)
    1. the system of forced-labor camps in the Soviet Union.
    2. a Soviet forced-labor camp.
    3. any prison or detention camp, esp. for political prisoners.
    [Origin: 1970–75; < Russ Gulág, acronym from Glávnoe upravlénie ispravítel?no-trudovýkh lageré? Main Directorate of Corrective Labor Camps]

    My emphasis. The word is widely used in the context I presented, especially when lacking the capital letter.

    I'm irresponsible for using a rhetorical device to highlight human rights abuses?

    If you are more concerned with possible hyperbole in the Backroom than the appalling abuses of human rights going on in Guantanamo Bay, then I shall leave you to enjoy PanzerJager's outraged company.

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    Master of the Horse Senior Member Pindar's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Banquo's Ghost
    gu·lag [goo-lahg]
    –noun (sometimes initial capital letter)
    1. the system of forced-labor camps in the Soviet Union.
    2. a Soviet forced-labor camp.
    3. any prison or detention camp, esp. for political prisoners.
    [Origin: 1970–75; < Russ Gulág, acronym from Glávnoe upravlénie ispravítel?no-trudovýkh lageré? Main Directorate of Corrective Labor Camps]

    My emphasis. The word is widely used in the context I presented, especially when lacking the capital letter.
    You had no intention of suggesting any connection to the Soviet Gulag?

    Note: a political prisoner is typically one held by the state because of his ideas. It turns on notions of free speech and authoritarianism. Is that the direction you want to go to attempt to justify your language?

    I'm irresponsible for using a rhetorical device to highlight human rights abuses?
    Reference to "using a rhetorical device" is telling.

    As to human rights abuses: what human right are you referring to?

    If you are more concerned with possible hyperbole in the Backroom than the appalling abuses of human rights going on in Guantanamo Bay, then I shall leave you to enjoy PanzerJager's outraged company.

    I am concerned with uncritical assumptions and judgments, whether it be by ignorant authors of articles on law proceedings or others.

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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    Magnitude is important, so is direction. The referent fails on both counts.
    Not really the vector has certainly not reached the same magnitude but it is certainly on the go from Western to Eastern justice systems. It is a mini-me gulag not a diet coke evil one.

    Direction is going towards:
    Torture
    Worse conditions for prisoners.
    Length of time increasing between detention and trial
    Less and less standard defendant means to address the crime they have been accused of.
    etc

    Also the occasional prat party thrown in. You know naked pyramids and dog bites.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    Yes.
    No. A system that is degrading faster then normal is not in a good state of affairs. If it was a brand new car it would be referred to as a lemon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    Is this a serious question? The answer(s) should be obvious.
    Yes it is, and no the answer isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    I am concerned with uncritical assumptions and judgments, whether it be by ignorant authors of articles on law proceedings or others
    I must be ignorant but that post seems to refer to others (being posters) as being ignorant?
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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    As to human rights abuses: what human right are you referring to?
    I can't speak for him, but I'll name the obvious ones:

    Article 5.

    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    Article 6.

    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

    Article 7.

    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

    Article 8.

    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

    Article 9.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

    Article 10.

    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

    Article 11.

    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
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    Master of the Horse Senior Member Pindar's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Papewaio
    Not really the vector has certainly not reached the same magnitude but it is certainly on the go from Western to Eastern justice systems. It is a mini-me gulag not a diet coke evil one.

    Direction is going towards:
    Torture
    Worse conditions for prisoners.
    Length of time increasing between detention and trial
    Less and less standard defendant means to address the crime they have been accused of.
    etc
    I don't understand your examples. It sounds like you are confusing criminal and martial legal codes. One thing I'll point out is there is no requirement under the law that trials be held. They are discretionary.

    Also the occasional prat party thrown in. You know naked pyramids and dog bites.
    Are you talking about Guantanamo Bay or something else?

    No. A system that is degrading faster then normal is not in a good state of affairs. If it was a brand new car it would be referred to as a lemon.
    If we assume system degradation that is faster than normal degradation (I'm not sure what you're referring to) that equals gulag?

    Yes it is, and no the answer isn't.
    I see. Those in Guantanamo were primarily captured in a theater of war as illegal combatants. The closest parallel would be POW Camps minus the legal designation as prisoners.

    I must be ignorant but that post seems to refer to others (being posters) as being ignorant?
    Did other posters write an article on the legal proceedings?

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    Master of the Horse Senior Member Pindar's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore
    I can't speak for him, but I'll name the obvious ones:

    Article 5....
    Hello,

    Are you making a legal argument?

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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    Did other posters write an article on the legal proceedings?
    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    I am concerned with uncritical assumptions and judgments, whether it be by ignorant authors of articles on law proceedings or others.
    The article quoted would be the authour you refer to. The others is a blanket statement that may or may not include posters in this thread and may or may not refer to them as ignorant. I am asking for a clarification of the sentence before I pass my own.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Wow - I thought moderators were at least supposed to make an attempt at objectivity.

  23. #23
    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Yes, I only ever give warning points to lawyers, Jesus and the right, apart from when I'm giving warning points to hippies, satanists and the left that is.

    So hard being a Kapo in the Gulag, everyone thinks you are against them...
    Last edited by Papewaio; 06-07-2007 at 06:07.
    Our genes maybe in the basement but it does not stop us chosing our point of view from the top.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    It may just be me, but it seems like quite a long stretch to come up with anything objectionable about that statement, and it seems like you're making that stretch(along with the vague threat that accompanied it) due to the position you've taken in this thread.

    I dont know if he meant to question anyone's intelligence, but I do know that it is commonplace in the backroom and in all political debates, in far less refined ways. Your rather limited (to one patron) crackdown on the practice is telling.. or, like I said, it may just be me.

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    L'Etranger Senior Member Banquo's Ghost's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    You had no intention of suggesting any connection to the Soviet Gulag?
    No. The Backroom is the equivalent of a pub where friends go to discuss ideas. The word "gulag" is a common shorthand (at least where I reside) to denote an internment camp where human rights abuses are common. I could have used "concentration camp" which would have been accurate to the original meaning of the phrase, but that has acquired other popular connotations which may well have been overly hyperbolic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    Reference to "using a rhetorical device" is telling.
    I'm not at all sure what else you think it was. I might venture that you defensiveness is also quite telling.

    I am a writer, and use words to express ideas, provoke responses and elicit emotions. Metaphor and simile are tools of my trade. The practise of law may well require much more precision, but we are not in a court of law here. Of course, I would never suggest that a lawyer may have used language to sway judgments towards their point of view.

    For example, I have, in past posts, referred to the United States as a great beacon of liberty that I admire. I do not recall you objecting to my imprecise language that clearly inferred your country was an enormous bonfire upon which sundry freedoms were burning.

    The thread title was intended to be a slightly wry attack on the inadequacies of the Bush administration. Even if you dismiss the setback as a mere technicality (and there are many lawyers across the world that disagree, including one member here) it demonstrates the woolly thinking of the administration you admire so much, insofar as they cannot get their own terminologies accurate enough to pass a judge. The lack of precision of which you accuse me is surely more properly challenged in your political officers, even if you believe Guantanamo is a good thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    Note: a political prisoner is typically one held by the state because of his ideas. It turns on notions of free speech and authoritarianism. Is that the direction you want to go to attempt to justify your language?
    Since inmates are not being accorded rights under the Geneva Conventions, but on an intepretation of the law that is unique to the United States, they are clearly political prisoners.

    I don't intend to "justify" my language to you beyond the explanation given above. Swallowing camels whilst straining at gnats is not (if I may mix metaphors shamelessly but in the fine tradition of cartoons) my cup of tea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    I am concerned with uncritical assumptions and judgments, whether it be by ignorant authors of articles on law proceedings or others.
    I understand your concerns, but there are quite a number of lawyers who disagree with your position, including the Colonel Sullivan quoted in the article. They are not all ignorant.

    ********************

    @PJ:

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    Wow - I thought moderators were at least supposed to make an attempt at objectivity.
    Then you would be wrong. I am as entitled to post my opinions as anyone else.

    Objectivity applies when exercising our job in enforcing the forum rules. We are still human, and thus err occasionally, but it is possible to separate our personal views from our actions as moderators.

    You of all people should be aware of how even-handedly the staff behave.

    If anyone has a problem with the way staff moderate the forum, the Backroom Watchtower or PMs are there to help resolve the issue.
    "If there is a sin against life, it consists not so much in despairing as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this one."
    Albert Camus "Noces"

  26. #26
    L'Etranger Senior Member Banquo's Ghost's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Here's a different lawyer's view. No doubt his language is imprecise too, uncritically equating the camp to a metaphorical inferno where billions of souls are condemned to eternal agony by a just and loving God, but at least he's had the advantage of actually having been to Guantanamo.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Zachary Katznelson: In Guantanamo, men shadow-box for their lives

    Have your hopes dashed enough and you start to question if there is ever a way out
    Published: 07 June 2007


    Imagine that this is your world: a 6 ft by 8 ft cell where everything is steel - the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the toilet, the sink, the bed. Walk two steps in any direction and you hit a wall. There are no windows. The lights are on 24 hours a day. You are allowed out of your cell two hours a day, sometimes at 6am, sometimes at midnight. For those two hours, you are placed in a 6.5ft by 16.5ft outdoor cage with a deflated football. You can go weeks without seeing the sun.

    Imagine five and a half years away from your family, your wife, your children. You can't call them. They can't visit. Mail takes months to get through. When it does, it is heavily censored. Imagine being beaten, stripped naked, humiliated, again and again and again. This is the life of my clients in Guantanamo Bay.

    Since 2005, my colleagues and I at Reprieve, a legal charity based in London, have been representing 37 prisoners in Guantanamo. Two of us have passed through the United States military's screening process and have been to the base. We are the only people in Britain who can actually go and talk to these men.

    Every time I visit them, the prisoners ask for just one thing: a fair trial. "I know mistakes are made," Jamil El Banna, a British refugee from Jordan, told me when we met last month. "I'm not upset about that. But why has it taken this long to correct them? I've been here for years and I've never seen a judge. Put me on trial. Just give me a chance. Doesn't anyone care that I'm an innocent man?"

    No prisoner in Guantanamo will see a judge any time soon. On Monday, military judges threw out the charges against the only two prisoners actually charged with crimes. As a result, their trials are on hold and no one else's will start.

    Sadly, there is no question that trials in Guantanamo will be unfair. The judges can hear evidence gained from torture. They can sentence someone to death based on hearsay evidence - second, third or even fourth-hand information. The prisoner is not allowed to see the evidence against him. It's like shadow-boxing for your life.

    But despite the patent illegality of the trials, in the bizarre universe of Guantanamo, many of the men actually want to appear before a military commission. The prisoners look at David Hicks, an Australian citizen who pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism and was sent home to Australia to serve a nine-month sentence. They see this result, and they see hope. Maybe they too could cut a deal, whether they are guilty or not. They too could go home. The hell of Guantanamo would end. Then they learn of a ruling like the one on Monday. They are happy, because the process masquerading as justice has been exposed. But at the same time, it means yet another door has slammed shut. And as it does, it crushes that kernel of hope.

    Have your hopes dashed enough and you start to question if there is ever a way out. Three men apparently took their own lives last year. Days ago, another man was found dead in his cell; the cause of death is unknown, though he had been on hunger strike for an extended period. Virtually all my clients have told me they have thought about killing themselves.

    Despite the fact that they desperately want to be home with their families, despite the fact that Islam prohibits suicide, many have tried. I am a lawyer, but far too often, my role when I visit Guantanamo is social worker and psychologist. I am a poor tool in this regard, but I am all the men have.

    Ahmed Belbacha seems to shrink a bit every time I see him. We meet alone in a claustrophobic, windowless room, monitored constantly by a video camera. You can hear the camera shift to track us if we change position. As he sits across from me, shackled to the floor, Ahmed is despondent. "My cell is like a grave," he said to me four weeks ago. He tells me how everything echoes off those steel cell walls. Doors slam constantly as guards come and go. Large fans drone and screech. Even footsteps seem cacophonous. There is no such thing as quiet in Camp 6. There is no peace. "If I could just sleep..."

    Ahmed has never been charged with a crime. He has never been before one of those military judges. Yet, finally, after five and a half years, Ahmed has been cleared to be released. He should be celebrating. But his nightmare may just be beginning. Ahmed is originally from Algeria. He fled there to the UK, seeking asylum after he was threatened repeatedly by Islamic extremists because he worked for a government-owned oil company. But now, the UK is washing their hands of him, refusing to help because Ahmed was a resident, not a citizen. As a result, the United States wants to send him back to Algeria.

    The Algerian intelligence services have told Reprieve that if Ahmed returns, they cannot ensure that he will be safe - from their own personnel. And so Ahmed sits in that steel box, freezing in the constant flow of air-conditioning. The only things in his cell are a Koran and an inch-thick mattress. He is denied even a pen. He has nothing to do but contemplate his fate. Does he resign himself to the likelihood that he will go back to abuse and torture in Algeria? Or does he let himself believe the British government might change its mind, that Gordon Brown will have the courage to act where Tony Blair has not? Can he allow himself to hope?

    The writer is senior counsel for Reprieve
    "If there is a sin against life, it consists not so much in despairing as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this one."
    Albert Camus "Noces"

  27. #27
    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Woah, everyone calm down and take a deep breath. Let me work this in reverse order here....

    @BG: Panzer was referring to Pape's cheeky 'allow me to review the judgement before I pass my own'. I don't think he was in any way stating that you weren't entitled to open a thread to take a stance and then defend said stance.

    @PJ: You're really reaching to imply that Pape was being threatening. If he wanted to pull a Soly, the clever witticisms would come out after he issued the warning point.

    Now, as to the topic, calling it a technicality is inaccurate by means of oversimplification. Being no serious student of the law, I'm sure my interpretation will be legally inaccurate. But that doesn't really matter, because even more than a legal question, Guantanomo poses some pretty serious political questions. Yes, Bush is 'election-proof', and one could assume he is above petty politics, vying for votes. But 'poltics' means something larger than just dodgy behavior to gain votes.

    Some of the questions I see raised:

    -President Bush, after being ordered by the Supreme Court to release the prisoners at Gitmo or charge them, managed to coeerce the Congress into passing a law effectively stating that when it comes to enemy combatants, red is blue, if he says so. Even with such broad sweeping powers, he managed to screw up the designations on prisoners at Gitmo. Regardless of your views on the legality or morality of Gitmo, it doesn't speak highly of the White House. Frankly, I think it confirms my own personal suspicion that the White House is so arrogant in their assumption of unchecked power, they are grossly inept and bumbling, because they believe themselves to be beyond reproach.
    In other words, when you have the power to declare somebody an unlawful enemy combantant handed to you on a silver platter, how do you still manage to screw this up?

    -Now, let's not just gloss over that whole ethical/moral question. Gitmo goes a long towards telling the world what kind of people we ourselves are. Suspending Habeus Corpus, for whatever you want to call the planefuls of people getting shipped over from Afghanistan and Pakistan, was dicey at best. But the one caveat that made it even vaguely palatable was the assurance from the top that these represented 'the worst of the worst', men so dangerous that normal POW camps would just become a platform from which they may launch more mayhem. Now, 5 years down the road, we're starting to hear things like "Abdul's cousin's friend's hairdresser's gardener once heard that Abdul might have attended a training camp once (after we gave him a $10K reward)". Hmmm, not exactly what I had in mind for the 'worst of the worst'. In fact, as time goes on, and one after another, EVERY prisoner at Gitmo is being shown to be of questionable detention-worthiness. The so-called 'worst of the worst', and I do agree they exist, never came to Gitmo. They're at prisons we're not even aware of. With the benefit of 5 years of hindsight, I'm left to draw one conclusion about Gitmo: It was a PR move that blew up in the Administration's face. They wanted to show the American people just how tough they could be. When we reacted with "Wait, aren't you going overboard", they immediately responded with a defensive lie about the dangers posed by those interred. Now they're stuck: They cannot release the prisoners without admitting the lie.

    I'm sorry, I'm willing to tolerate a lot in the name of safety for the US. I have no problems with special rendition WHEN IT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO MAKE SENSE. But so many of these practices, especially Gitmo, come down to one statement made by the White House "Trust Us". In light of the gross mishandling, the bungling, the deliberate misrepresentations... I don't. I don't trust any of them as far as I can throw them any more. For all we know, the 500 down in Gitmo were randomly selected off the streets of Kabul. And frankly, based on the way the White House has acted, and continues to act towards the detainees, its more likely that they actually were.

    We like to tell ourselves that life in Gitmo isn't that bad anyways? What has that got to do with the price of tea in China? I don't care if Hef and the Playmates swing by once a month for mojitos. Every day we continue to hold people in that state of 'no defined status but indefinite detention and we cannot say why' is another victory we hand the terrorists around the globe. We are destroying our own good name far better than they ever could and for what? So that the White House doesn't have to admit it made a mistake in the first place as far as I can tell.

    Stop the ride, I want to get off.
    Last edited by Don Corleone; 06-07-2007 at 14:12.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
    Don Vito Corleone: The Godfather, Part 1.

    "Then wait for them and swear to God in heaven that if they spew that bull to you or your family again you will cave there heads in with a sledgehammer"
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  28. #28
    L'Etranger Senior Member Banquo's Ghost's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Thank you Don, for pointing out my mistake.

    I'm sorry PJ, for misunderstanding your post.



    Don, your summary was well constructed and whilst I can't agree that Guantanamo and special rendition were ever necessary, your analysis bears a lot of reflection.

    "If there is a sin against life, it consists not so much in despairing as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this one."
    Albert Camus "Noces"

  29. #29
    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Quote Originally Posted by Pindar
    Hello,

    Are you making a legal argument?
    You asked which human rights Guantanamo Bay violated, I copied the relevant ones from the human rights charter...
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

  30. #30

    Default Re: It's not easy, running a gulag

    Thanks for clearing that up Don.

    Pap's a good guy and moderator and definitely no Soly so you are probably right. It just seemed as though in that one instance he may have been blurring the line between his personal opinions and his moderator duties. No big deal, though.

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