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“Prolonged detention”

Watch the doublespeak dribbling out of Obama’s mouth: he’s making up excuses for the extra-legal prolonged confinement of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, all in the name of the Constitution. He’s sounding more like George W. Bush every day.

This is all in the name of our profligate and pointless anti-terrorism policy. Fear is sown to justify weakening the law…just like the Republicans want it.

Comments

  1. Brian says

    I don’t understand why the Republicans aren’t actually supporting him. You think they’d be glad that this is the best the Democrats can do for a liberal candidate.

  2. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    In one of the other parts of the speech, did Obama offer to equip the “prolonged detention” guards with jack boots?

  3. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Soooo. They are detaining people illegally so they’re just going to make up new rules so that it becomes somewhat less illegal? As much as imprisoning people indefinitely outside any kind of law or justice system or anything even remotely morally defensible can be made legal. Sweet. As long as new laws are made up fast enough so that the deeds uphold “the rule of law”. (Is this someone’s new favorite phrase?)

  4. Aaron says

    So where do you propose they stick all those people? He’s already been blocked from bringing them to the US by Republicans who “didn’t want terrorists in their backyards”.

  5. M says

    Well… unless people with progressive idea’s start FIGHTING. Start fighting to win hearts and minds and play dirty if they have to. Then this is what the future looks like.

    Increasingly ruthless and criminal republicans, and a feeble facilitating ‘left’ (that’s really center-right) supporting them and carrying on all the right-wing idea’s.

    Fact is, the right has won the propaganda war. The people who vote for them often don’t actually really even want what the right actually DOES, but the right managed to profile themselves as ‘their kind of people’. They used lies to do it, but the lies stuck.

    Fact is if progressives want to start winning they have to start winning those hearts and minds. And that won’t just happen with logical rational debates. Because the votes you want include the votes of people who are highly irrational and emotional.

    But even those people want to be taken care of when their sick. You just gotta find a way to convince them that doesn’t set of their alarm bells and that appeals to their feelings.

  6. Kris says

    @ #6 Aaron

    Indeed, we should all remember that the Republicans were obstructionists here, too, when Obama tried to mostly do he right thing. But then I say, if these detainees cannot be tried, then why not release them? Or, have we even attempted to get Iraq/Afghanistan/wherever they came from to try them?

  7. says

    So, how much longer will Obama’s apologists insist that true patriots and liberals must hold our noses and vote for him?

    The choice this next election will be between a radical far-right authoritarian extremist who gives great speeches, one of three wackaloon nutjobs, and a Green Party candidate who actually thinks the Constitution is something worth upholding and defending.

    And we’re supposed to vote for the proto-Nazi simply because the other popular candidate is a de-facto Nazi?

    Cheers,

    b&

  8. says

    I allways knew that releasing the detainees was going to be tricky at best. The issue that you have is that there are known terrorists there that in order to prosecute you will have to release confidential information. Information that could seriously undermine ongoing operations. Information that if released could put lives in danger or get informants killed. Informants that are still highly valued.

  9. Gregory says

    The basis of the illegal detensions is the claim that they are being held outside of the United States and thus outside the reach of the Constitution. The solution seems obvious to me: let’s amend the Constitution.

    All persons subject to the laws of the United States will have all the rights and priviledges granted under the laws of the United States, including those provisions provided by this Constitution.

    If these people are (as has been claimed) being held in accordance with the law, then they are protected by the law. If they are not protected by the law, then their detention is patently illegal.

    Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either.

  10. typhun says

    To be fair, how many presidents have changed their views upon entering the White House? Thomas Jefferson was initially quite opposed to doing things not expressly written into the constitution. He was quite opposed to the First Bank and Hamilton’s methods. He wanted the First Bank shut down. However, he came to appreciate and use the bank, and even went and used powers not prescribed to the president int he constitution to do things like buy the Louisiana Territory from the French.

    So yes, I do not exactly agree with Obama backtracking on some promises, but I can understand that actually becoming President and having the big picture thrown in front of your face can cause him to change his views, just as Jefferson had his views changed.

  11. pinkboi says

    It’s sad because I voted for him almost entirely because I thought he’d close Gitmo down. Not making that mistake again. The war on terrorism is a scam.

  12. says

    So yes, I do not exactly agree with Obama backtracking on some promises, but I can understand that actually becoming President and having the big picture thrown in front of your face can cause him to change his views, just as Jefferson had his views changed.

    I think it’s the backtracking on his sworn oath to uphold the Constitution that’s troubling people.

  13. says

    Not that this isn’t still a serious problem, but the video was posted back in January, so this seems like kind of old news. Has Obama done something recently that’s revived this?

  14. otrame says

    This. This is the only reason I am totally pissed at our president. The rest of the disappointments, I never really expected to be any different and I think he is honestly trying to complete many of his campaign promises.

    But Guantanamo is an abomination and I thought he thought so too. It is a betrayal of everyone who suffered and/or died in the Revolution and the Civil War to defend the idea of a nation of LAW. I am furious with him for not shutting the place down. If those guys are guilty, I am sure we have the proof, right? So fucking try them in a court of law. And shut that place down. It is a continuing obscenity that is the antithesis of what the US is supposed to be about.

    I figured out when I was still a young person that the ones screaming the most about loving our country are the ones who hate our country, hate what it stands for, hate that (to the extent that human nature allows) this is a country of law. Yes, I can name as many times that it has failed to be a nation of law as anyone else, but at least the IDEA is out there and the achievement of that idea is a goal worthy of the sacrifices of every man and woman who ever fought for it. And the continuing existence of Guantanamo is a disgrace that makes me cringe inside every time I think of it.

  15. Left Handed Atheist says

    I’m trying to figure out why a speech from 2009 is causing such a stir right now. Am I missing something?

  16. George says

    I think Obama is mostly in the right spot with what his ideal America would look like. Perfect, maybe not, but close enough.

    Unfortunately, he’s one of the weakest Presidents we’ve EVER had. He has some good ideas, speaks well, but goddamnit can he fight for one goddamned second? Hell, even if all he did was finish explaining his side before caving that would be an improvement.

  17. Felix says

    @PZ:The only way it would matter that it is from 2009 is if Obama has since retracted his claims.

    Sure, it’s still shocking and appalling and wrong.

    But surely it would be polite to tell us when a video you post is 2 years old?

  18. F says

    Anne C. Hanna, Felix, possibly others:

    PZ should be forced to apologize for violating 15-minute attention spans, shouldn’t he?

  19. F says

    Felix:

    No, nothing wrong with indicating the date of the original statement. Is it really important, though, since nothing has changed? You figured it out, anyway, and anyone with minimal cognitive facilities could. No one was trying to deceive you.

  20. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    The video may date from 2009 and thus be two years old. What that tells me is the prisoners in Guantanamo have been held for an additional two years.

  21. Felix says

    @F

    Yeah … you’re right … I should have remembered the text of a speech I’ve never heard and the commentary of (brilliant) Rachel Maddow on it … that I’ve never seen.

    Apologies!

    PZ is obviosuly completely correct in his use of the present tense in presenting this clip:
    “He’s sounding more like George W. Bush every day.”

  22. brokenSoldier, OM says

    Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says:

    The video may date from 2009 and thus be two years old. What that tells me is the prisoners in Guantanamo have been held for an additional two years.

    This. Barring you posting a video, link, or citation showing a reversal in policy or even intent, there is absolutely no argument that time has changed the situation in any way. If your beef is solely that PZ didn’t warn you it wasn’t from today, you’re either saying it was intentionally dishonest, or you’re just quibbling for quibbling’s sake.

  23. Infophile says

    @10 Rick:

    I allways knew that releasing the detainees was going to be tricky at best. The issue that you have is that there are known terrorists there that in order to prosecute you will have to release confidential information. Information that could seriously undermine ongoing operations. Information that if released could put lives in danger or get informants killed. Informants that are still highly valued.

    You do not have to release confidential information to prosecute any of them. Courts have ways of handling that so that no confidential information is released (such as “in camera” hearings).

    As far as I can tell, the real reason that we don’t see more detainees facing trial is that there simply isn’t any evidence against them – or at least any evidence that would be admissible in court (for instance, evidence obtained under torture would be unacceptable). However, the right-wing noise machine has convinced the country that everyone there is a terrorist, even though few have been proven to be terrorists. So, if the government tries and fails to prosecute a detainee, it looks like they’re letting a terrorist go free.

    The only way to win is for the left to repaint the narrative as the government detaining innocent people with no evidence against them. Maddow is trying to do that, but almost no one else in the national media is.

  24. F says

    Felix:

    I expected something completely irrational, or a hint of understanding. Instead, you give us a strawman, and I have no trouble with crows in my garden, so thanks but no thanks.

    Yeah … you’re right … I should have remembered the text of a speech I’ve never heard and the commentary of (brilliant) Rachel Maddow on it … that I’ve never seen.

    Uh, what?

  25. says

    ‘Tis has it nailed.

    Obama campaigned on closing down the Gitmo Gulag. Here he is, ramping up another campaign, and the Gulag is still going gangbusters.

    This man whom I hoped would be a modern-day Kennedy has turned out to be the rightmost plutocrat to ever preside over our country — and he’s following the man who previously held that title.

    Yes, the Republican candidates are even worse. But when Obama has moved to the right of W, how can any sane American of good conscience continue to support him?

    Cheers,

    b&

  26. says

    Ben Goren, #31:

    This man whom I hoped would be a modern-day Kennedy has turned out to be the rightmost plutocrat to ever preside over our country — and he’s following the man who previously held that title.

    I take exception to any favorable mention of Kennedy, and I’m surprised when others don’t. Or does nobody remember/learn about the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban Missile Crisis anymore?

  27. says

    Anne C. Hanna, Felix, possibly others:

    PZ should be forced to apologize for violating 15-minute attention spans, shouldn’t he?

    F, I’m really not sure why you feel it’s appropriate to be nasty towards me just because I was wondering why this was mentioned today in particular, seemingly as if it were new news. Yes, it’s bad. Yes, we shouldn’t forget that there are still people in detention who are being denied the right to a fair trial, and I do appreciate PZ not letting the issue be forgotten. But I did find the presentation a little confusing, and I was wondering if I’d missed some more recent revelation which this was linked to.

  28. says

    That’s why I don’t vote for either the Democratic, or Republican party. I’m not choosing between the lessor of two evils when the evil is so fucking evil.

  29. Frog says

    Pres Obama’s flip-flop on Guantanamo Bay was and still is the most disappointing thing about his presidency. It is the one promise that I never thought he would break. But I will vote for him again. I look at the field of candidates put up by the opposition and I simply cannot vote for them. All cold-hearted or hypocrites or religion-doused maniacs. They are certainly not better presidential material than Pres Obama.

  30. MadScientist says

    Now the thing with Guantanamo Bay is that the Prez can turn off the bullshit in an instant – he does not need congressional approval. And yet even when the GOP can’t block an executive decision, he fails to deliver on one of his promises. All I can say is at least he’s not McPalin, but he’s not a great president. The truth is, he seems like some sort of puppet of the GOP who spouts what people want to hear but in the end does the bidding of his political masters (Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers?).

  31. snarkmatter says

    @STS #32
    I learned about that embarrassing and ridiculous Bay of Pigs fiasco. Just another on the long list of stupid missions green-lighted by misinformed or, more likely, clueless presidents. That still doesn’t mean it was a mean-spirited jaunt into smearing the US’s name. It’s mainly up to interpretation whether you think the mission was something that would have helped (or in this case, if it was something you thought up at the bar last night). It doesn’t really mean that there was anything necessarily wrong or pathetic about Kennedy. If you are alluding to the fact that his entire, albeit short, presidency was mired with such instances, then that’s entirely different.

    The Cuban Missile Crisis is just more cold war bullshit that added to the fear. Sure, missiles are bad and devastating and Castro may have been crazy enough to use ‘em, but obliterating the US was certainly not going to happen–let alone a Cuban invasion. I wasn’t alive during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but all this fear-mongering about terrorists sounds a lot like what I learned about life during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Now, excuse me while I finish building my secret fallout shelter so it can double as an untraceable hideout when the Re’s take over again in case they try to pick me up for not practicing the “official state religion” and, in lieu of evidence, decide they are going to hold me indefinitely because I might: eat babies, rape virgins, and bomb churches full of people.

  32. says

    At least Obama signed: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/EnsuringLawfulInterrogations/

    Ensuring Lawful Interrogations

    EXECUTIVE ORDER — ENSURING LAWFUL INTERROGATIONS

    By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to improve the effectiveness of human intelligence gathering, to promote the safe, lawful, and humane treatment of individuals in United States custody and of United States personnel who are detained in armed conflicts, to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions, and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, I hereby order as follows:

    Section 1. Revocation. Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007, is revoked. All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order. Heads of departments and agencies shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all directives, orders, and regulations of their respective departments or agencies are consistent with this order. Upon request, the Attorney General shall provide guidance about which directives, orders, and regulations are inconsistent with this order.

    It then goes on to define “torture” as what we already know it to be.

    As well:

    (a) CIA Detention. The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.

  33. Rob says

    @11:

    There’s no need for that amendment. Applicability of due process is assigned to a Person, not a Citizen.

  34. says

    BTW, that was 2009. CIA still is alleged to be operating interrogation centers in other countries. What they’re doing is operating in other countries’ detention centers; almost Clintonesque parsing of bureaucratic fine-lining.

  35. truthspeaker says

    Rick says:
    29 August 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I allways knew that releasing the detainees was going to be tricky at best. The issue that you have is that there are known terrorists there that in order to prosecute you will have to release confidential information. Information that could seriously undermine ongoing operations.

    Great, now you’re talking like Bush too.

  36. truthspeaker says

    Aaron says:
    29 August 2011 at 3:57 pm

    So where do you propose they stick all those people? He’s already been blocked from bringing them to the US by Republicans who “didn’t want terrorists in their backyards”.

    Blocked my ass. He didn’t need congressional authority to bring those inmates to federal prisons and federal courts. He could just do what Bush did whenever he wanted to pay for something – pull the funds from the “war on terror” budget.

    Now I know why the Democratic party didn’t pounce on all these issues when Bush was in office – they thought they were great ideas that they wanted to eumulate.

  37. Mox says

    Im not voting for this clown again, nor am I supporting him again with my time and money. I was in New Hampshire during the 2008 primary as a volunteer for his campaign. I bought into his rhetoric – he seemed to be the perfect alternative after two terms of Bush junior. I really believed in him.

    Guess I was a fool – He has been a colossal disappointment. The Bush tax cuts for the rich are now the Obama tax cuts. He has caved and “compromised” with these radical teabaggers at every turn. He has a horrendous track record on the environment which will culminate with the very likely approval of that awful Keystone XL pipeline. And now we have him sustaining the same illegal and unconstitutional policies that Bush junior did.

    Total madness. What can we do? I don’t even know how we can actually implement effective change in this country.

  38. truthspeaker says

    Anybody remember the original terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center, in 1993?

    The guy who masterminded that was prosecuted in a federal civilian court and is now serving life in a federal prison.

    It’s not like there isn’t precedent. Obama almost acts as if the objections of Republican pundits and politicians are legitimate objections instead of just rhetoric.

  39. says

    I’d like to know what Obama or any of us can do about this, until a Congress can be voted in to repeal the defense appropriation provisions regarding Guantanamo. The money doesn’t really matter if he is prohibited by law from spending it.

    On Jan 7, 2011, President Obama signed the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill which contains provisions preventing the transfer of Guantánamo prisoners to the mainland or to other foreign countries, and thus effectively stops the closure of the detention facility. However he strongly objected to the clauses and stated that he would work with Congress to oppose the measures.[16]

  40. ReasonPlease says

    So do we vote Ron Paul now? He is way wrong on most everything, but the only things that he could actually change… well he is right on those.

    I think he would pull the troops home and stop this disaster of foreign policy.

    There aren’t enough votes in congress for the rest of his agenda to be implemented I think.

  41. Anthill Inside says

    Apart from the underlying evil here, two statements are flat-out wrong.

    Those that we capture, like other prisoners of war, must be prevented from attacking us again.

    A fundamental part of the Geneva Convention is that prisoners of war can attack you again. The previous administration tried to classify everyone in Guantanamo as an ‘unlawful combatant’, which was its own type of evil. I endorse Gregory’s amendment at #11 to avoid this loophole.

    If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to prevent them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight.

    I thought ‘acts of war’ were a privilege nations reserved for each other, not for individuals, and you can’t just lock up people to prevent one. While we’re on the subject, do you mind declaring war on Libya before you start bombing in 2011? War is vile and uncivilized, declared or not, but don’t make it worse by pretending it’s not a war.

  42. truthspeaker says

    tytalus says:
    29 August 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I’d like to know what Obama or any of us can do about this, until a Congress can be voted in to repeal the defense appropriation provisions regarding Guantanamo. The money doesn’t really matter if he is prohibited by law from spending it.

    On Jan 7, 2011, President Obama signed the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill

    Not signing the bill would have been a good start. Bush’s threat to veto a bill was apparently powerful enough to get Congress, including Obama, to vote for the FISA amendments that gave immunity for warrantless wiretapping. Now that Obama is president, he gets to use the veto threat to try to force Congress to pass the laws he wants. But for some reason he chooses not to. It’s almost as if he doesn’t really want to close Guantanamo or repudiate the unconstitutional powers Bush claimed for the presidency.

  43. says

    Re: truthspeaker

    When you can make defunding the military popular enough to be a viable political strategy, that would be a great idea. Because that’s what you’re suggesting. And your skepticism towards Obama’s evident complaints about that bill are just as applicable to a veto bark with no bite. Clearly, only rejecting military spending would do.

  44. Tim DeLaney says

    I must admit that I am seriously conflicted by Gitmo. On the one hand, I abhor the obvious violations of the rights detainees must be accorded by any society that values freedom. But let me pose a hypothetical:

    John Doe, a suspected terrorist, is in custody. There is strong, but not conclusive evidence that he is intimately involved in a plot to buy a nuclear device on the black market and detonate it in downtown Manhattan. He has the contacts, the expertise, and the will to do this. We just don’t know if he’s capable of pulling it off.

    Two courses of action are open to us:

    1. Release him, and take our chances. Of course, we’d be committed to a major intelligence effort to keep track of him and his associates, but we would have no certainty of thwarting his (presumed) terrorist plans.

    2. Detain him indefinitely, subject him to torture, or even murder him. Admittedly, this risks doing grave injustice to a single human being, but the argument is that the lives of a million people or so are at stake. How many citizens are we willing to put in harm’s way in order to safeguard the legal rights of a man we strongly suspect to be our mortal enemy?

    I admit that there are probably very few detainees that fit the description of my John Doe. I freely concede that the majority of detainees ought to be charged or released, or … what?

    Is there another course of action? Can we devise a reasonable legal process that allows us to defend ourselves against people who are strongly suspected of being our mortal enemies? How strong must that that suspicion be? How much potential harm might the suspect be capable of?

    I don’t want my country to sacrifice either our principles or our population. Somebody please help me to understand this issue.

  45. ss123 says

    I’m guessing after one gets in office, and after getting brought up to speed on reality, they soon realize that there are campaign promises they simply cannot keep. This goes for all presidents.

    It’s apparent that shutting down Gitmo is not as easy as he imagined or he would have by now.

  46. TimKO,,.,, says

    The thing that’s always bothered me about this is that it ruins our standards internationally, ex. how can we bitch about civil rights abuses to China?

    Though I don’t like the GitMo thing, looking at how much Obama has just blatanly put great stuff through (nukes cuts with Russia, START treaty, removed drug czar, new emission regs, the student loan reform, stopped nuclear arms production after Clinton talked and talked about it, repealed the Bush anti-wilderness edict, demanded 2-state solution for Israel, rolled back crack-cocaine sentencing, raised the mpg requirements early, etc.) even though he was opposed, it’s clear that there is some other hurdle involving GitMo. There has to be something beyond the fact that no states wanted the prisoner transfers. So, as transparent as this admin as been compared to past ones, what is that hurdle?

  47. Anthill Inside says

    @Tim DeLaney:
    The direct answer to your thought experiment is deportation. If you’re afraid of someone attacking your country, don’t keep them there. Yes, he may go and plan other attacks, but the success rate of terrorist attacks from outside the country is insignificant.

    In a more general sense, your thought experiment is a variation on the ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ argument, replacing ‘torture’ with ‘imprisonment’.

    I have never heard of the ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ scenario playing out as described by its fans. If you have enough information to find the one solitary person who must be tortured/imprisoned to foil the plot, you already have enough information to find the bomb without torturing/imprisoning them. If the CIA/SIS/Mossad wish to claim otherwise, they need to tell us who they torture and what information they got on our behalf. The examples they’ve cited so far (usually Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) are not compelling – they tortured one person they thought was a terrorist, and got information leading to other people they thought were terrorists. If they’d found a pile of actual explosives I’d be more convinced. However, even if they found a bomb under my own house or city through torture, I personally would not endorse it.

    To turn your example into what we see in the real world: if you have 100 suspects and all you know for certain is that just 1 of them is planning to set off the bomb, do you lock them all up? What about 10 suspects? What about 2?

  48. Tim DeLaney says

    Anthill:

    Your reply is cogent, but my implied question remains this:

    If we determine that a very significant threat exists, but that no legal countermeasure exists, are we ever justified in applying an illegal countermeasure? I’m not sure your reply answers my question.

    I don’t know how to answer your questions in your final paragraph. On one hand, if I were 100% certain that a Manhattan nuke could be averted by illegally locking up 99 innocents and one guilty party, I would surely do it. But, of course, we can never be 100% certain of anything.

  49. Anthill Inside says

    @Tim DeLaney:

    If we determine that a very significant threat exists, but that no legal countermeasure exists, are we ever justified in applying an illegal countermeasure?

    Generally, no. I do not think it is ever worth violating our principles, even to save the lives of millions. If we compromise on our already tattered principles, we condemn many future generations – billions of people – to a bleaker, more dangerous, less trustworthy world.

    I can imagine defending some ‘illegal countermeasures’ – but only if the perpetrators take public responsibility for their actions. Let’s say you torture John Doe, or lock him up indefinitely to protect Manhattan. If so, you should voluntarily surrender to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and argue that your actions amounted to self-defense on a national scale. If they find you guilty, acknowledge that what you did was wrong and should not be repeated. I’ll post you a fruitcake every Winterval during your sentence.

  50. Grant Gordon says

    Wait, didn’t this guy win a Nobel Peace Prize? What was that for again? One would think that you’d have to respect people’s human rights… Politics in the US seems to be headed one way and it’s frightening.

  51. James says

    I’d just like to point out that pace Rachel Maddow, the UK does indeed have a Bill of Rights, the original Bill of Rights, from 1689, which inspired parts of the American version. What the UK doesn’t have is a constitution.

    Of course, the particular rights we’re talking about are those regarding detention, which are about habeas corpus, codified in Magna Carta (1225) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

  52. Haruhiist says

    @Tim DeLaney:

    It sure would be nice to be able to convict citizens for possession of illegal arms…

    But to be honest, I don’t think anyone imprisoned in Gitmo presents a threat of the level you’re describing. The fact that the detainees don’t have to be convicted means the administration can decide to simply accuse people they don’t like of being a terrorist and lock them up. Not saying this happens already, but it’s too much power for a government to have.

    Another thing to remember is, that a good proportion of prisoners who have been convicted are innocent. Now imagine how many people who are innocent would be locked up if a trial was unnecessary.

    Another thing that bothers me about reasoning like this, is the blatant US-centrism. ‘If people might be a threat to american citizens, we must do everything we can to stop them. Even if that means ruining innocent, non-american lives. Because obviously their lives don’t matter as much as american lives.’

  53. 'Tis Himself says

    if I were 100% certain that a Manhattan nuke could be averted by illegally locking up 99 innocents and one guilty party, I would surely do it.

    The end justifies the means is the excuse people use when they know they’re being evil. How are you different?

  54. Aquaria says

    if I were 100% certain that a Manhattan nuke could be averted by illegally locking up 99 innocents and one guilty party, I would surely do it.

    You are a monster.

    You would put people through the humiliation and terror of prison—-you would cause untold financial hardship for 99 people–take their fucking liberty–because of your paranoia?

    And just how the fuck do you know, cupcake, that you won’t be the one in jail–and maybe not getting out for as long as people want to keep you there.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking something so disgusting and stupid.

  55. lord_aarons says

    Amnesty international teamed up with cassetteboy to give us this:

    Barack Obama vs. Cassetteboy

  56. Carbon Based Life Form says

    Ah yes, the “preventing a nuclear explosion by breaking the law” argument. Anyone who makes that argument is actually saying “I don’t give a damn about obeying the law.”

    Obama used to teach constitutional law. I am certain that he has read Federalist 84, in which Alexander Hamilton says

    The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or, in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments, have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. The observations of the judicious Blackstone, (Vide Blackstone’s Commentaries, Vol. 1, p. 136.) in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital: “To bereave a man of life, [says he] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.” And as a remedy for this fatal evil he is everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas corpus act, which in one place he calls “the BULWARK of the British Constitution.” (Idem, Vol. 4, p. 438)

    Obama is proposing legalizing what both Hamilton and Blackstone call “tyranny.”

  57. illuminata says

    On one hand, if I were 100% certain that a Manhattan nuke could be averted by illegally locking up 99 innocents and one guilty party, I would surely do it.

    Lol wow. That’s an impressive amount of privilege. Unexamined, 100% clueless privilege.

  58. Carbon Based Life Form says

    Another thing that Blackstone said is

    Next to personal security, the law of England regards, asserts, and preserves the personal liberty of individuals. This personal liberty consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, or moving one’s person to whatsoever place one’s own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due course of law. Concerning which we may make the same observations as upon the preceding article, that it is a right strictly natural; that the laws of England have never abridged it without sufficient cause; and that, in this kingdom, it cannot ever be abridged at the mere discretion of the magistrate, without the explicit permission of the laws. Here again the language of the great charter is, that no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned but by the lawful judgment of his equals, or by the law of the land. And many subsequent old statutes expressly direct, that no man shall be taken or imprisoned by suggestion or petition to the king or his council, unless it be by legal indictment, or the process of the common law. By the petition of right, 3 Car. I., it is enacted, that no freeman shall be imprisoned or detained without cause shown, to which he may make answer according to law. By 16 Car. 1. c. 10, if any person be restrained of his liberty by order or decree of any illegal court, or by command of the king’s majesty in person, or by warrant of the council board, or of any of the privy council, he shall, upon demand of his counsel, have a writ of habeas corpus, to bring his body before the court of king’s bench or common pleas, who shall determine whether the cause of his commitment be just, and thereupon do as to justice shall appertain. And by 31 Car. II. c. 2, commonly called the habeas corpus act, the methods of obtaining this writ are so plainly pointed out and enforced, that, so long as this statute remains unimpeached, no subject of England can be long detained in prison, except in those cases in which the law requires and justifies such detainer. And, lest this act should be evaded by demanding unreasonable bail or sureties for the prisoner’s appearance, it is declared by 1 W. and M. st. 2, c. 2, that excessive bail ought not to be required.Of great importance to the public is the preservation of this personal liberty; for if once it were left in the power of any the highest magistrate to imprison arbitrarily whomever he or his officers thought proper, (as in France it is daily practised by the crown,) there would soon be an end of all other rights and immunities. Some have thought that unjust attacks, even upon life or property, at the arbitrary will of the magistrate, are less dangerous to the commonwealth than such as are made upon the personal liberty of the subject. To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole kingdom; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government. And yet sometimes, when the state is in real danger, even this may be a necessary measure. But the happiness of our constitution is, that it is not left to the executive power to determine when the danger of the state is so great as to render this measure expedient; for it is the parliament only, or legislative power, that, whenever it sees proper, can authorize the crown, by suspending the habeas corpus act for a short and limited time, to imprison suspected persons without giving any reason for so doing; as the senate of Rome was wont to have recourse to a dictator, a magistrate of absolute authority, when they judged the republic in any imminent danger. The decree of the senate, which usually preceded the nomination of this magistrate, “dent operam consules ne quid respublica detrimenti capiat,” was called the senatus consultum ultimæ necessitatis. In like manner this experiment ought only to be tried in cases of extreme emergency; and in these the nation parts with its liberty for a while, in order to preserve it forever.

  59. truthspeaker says

    tytalus says:
    29 August 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Re: truthspeaker

    When you can make defunding the military popular enough to be a viable political strategy, that would be a great idea. Because that’s what you’re suggesting

    In this case, Congress would have been defunding the military by sending Obama a bill they knew he would veto.

    Remember, this was the exact excused Obama made for voting for the FISA amendments. If Congress had sent Bush a national security bill that didn’t contain immunity for warrantless wiretaps, Bush would have vetoed a national security bill and blamed Congress for it.

  60. truthspeaker says

    Tim DeLaney says:
    29 August 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I must admit that I am seriously conflicted by Gitmo. On the one hand, I abhor the obvious violations of the rights detainees must be accorded by any society that values freedom. But let me pose a hypothetical:

    John Doe, a suspected terrorist, is in custody. There is strong, but not conclusive evidence that he is intimately involved in a plot to buy a nuclear device on the black market and detonate it in downtown Manhattan.

    The problem with your analogy is we know damn well most of the prisoners in Gitmo are not involved in any plots like that. Most of them were fighters in Afghanistan who worked with the Taliban.

  61. truthspeaker says

    ss123 says:
    29 August 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I’m guessing after one gets in office, and after getting brought up to speed on reality, they soon realize that there are campaign promises they simply cannot keep. This goes for all presidents.

    It’s apparent that shutting down Gitmo is not as easy as he imagined or he would have by now.

    That’s what he would like you to think, yes.

  62. truthspeaker says

    TimKO,,.,, says:
    30 August 2011 at 12:10 am

    The thing that’s always bothered me about this is that it ruins our standards internationally, ex. how can we bitch about civil rights abuses to China?

    Though I don’t like the GitMo thing, looking at how much Obama has just blatanly put great stuff through (nukes cuts with Russia, START treaty, removed drug czar, new emission regs, the student loan reform, stopped nuclear arms production after Clinton talked and talked about it, repealed the Bush anti-wilderness edict, demanded 2-state solution for Israel,

    Oh, please. Obama, in public, supports a 2-state solution, but then he turns around and vetoes a UN resolution calling for one.

    And Obama still has a drug czar who’s just as bad as the old one.

    Don’t judge him by his propaganda – judge him by what he actually does.

  63. Matt Penfold says

    I’d just like to point out that pace Rachel Maddow, the UK does indeed have a Bill of Rights, the original Bill of Rights, from 1689, which inspired parts of the American version. What the UK doesn’t have is a constitution.

    Total rubbish. The UK does have a constitution. What I suspect you meant was that it does not have a fully written constitution. Parts are written, parts are not, but is not correct to say the UK does not have one.

  64. says

    Re: truthspeaker

    In this case, Congress would have been defunding the military by sending Obama a bill they knew he would veto.

    Remember, this was the exact excused Obama made for voting for the FISA amendments. If Congress had sent Bush a national security bill that didn’t contain immunity for warrantless wiretaps, Bush would have vetoed a national security bill and blamed Congress for it.

    I didn’t remember this offhand, so I looked it up. Obama’s explanation doesn’t seem to match up with your ‘excuse’. Maybe I don’t understand your point.

    In any case, the ‘they know that we know’ etc. is nice, but may have little to do with the public’s opinion on the matter and who gets stuck with the blame.

  65. truthspeaker says

    Sorry, I was imprecise. That was the excuse Obama’s supporters made. Obama actually supports warrantless wiretapping, as he has demonstrated in office.

  66. Tim DeLaney says

    Truthspeaker @ 71

    The problem with your analogy is we know damn well most of the prisoners in Gitmo are not involved in any plots like that. Most of them were fighters in Afghanistan who worked with the Taliban.

    It wasn’t an analogy; it was a hypothetical. It was designed to explore the moral dilemma that Gitmo presents. We all know–even those of us who find war abhorrent–that wars are not fought according to the same rules as we employ in criminal justice.

    So maybe the first question should be: Are we justified in applying the rules of war just because we call it a “War on Terror”? I don’t think so. Al Qaeda is not a country; it is essentially a gang of criminals who use military weapons. We are, I argue, entitled to arrest individuals upon reasonable suspicion as long as we follow the rules of criminal justice. That means prolonged detention is illegal. I think the standard is 24 hours, then charge or release. we should follow it.

    I am surprised that Illuminata and aquaria are so vehement in their condemnation of detaining 99 innocent and one guilty party to prevent the 100% certain nuking of Manhattan. Certainly, our government would be under very heavy pressure to respond in kind. If we managed to exercise restraint, we might even avoid a full nuclear exchange.

    Sorry, guys, I would still lock up the 99 innocents rather than sacrifice a couple million New Yorkers and all of Manhattan. The ends do sometimes justify the means. (BTW, “detention” doesn’t always mean prison-for-life.)

    Consider this: We routinely violate the Fourth Amendment rights of thousands of air travelers every day for the purpose of preventing a few nutcases from blowing airliners out of the sky. The principle has already been established.

  67. truthspeaker says

    And really, Obama could just break the law and move the detainees anyway. It’s not like Congress impeaches the president for breaking the law anymore. Bush broke it nine ways from Sunday and the Democrats didn’t mention impeachment, even after they had won a majority in both houses of Congress. Obama broke the law when he failed to seek approval for hostilities in Libya and hasn’t had to face any consequences.

    Since Obama obviously subscribes to the Nixon/Cheney doctrine that the president is above the law, he doesn’t get to use the law as an excuse for not closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

  68. truthspeaker says

    Tim DeLaney says:
    30 August 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Truthspeaker @ 71

    The problem with your analogy is we know damn well most of the prisoners in Gitmo are not involved in any plots like that. Most of them were fighters in Afghanistan who worked with the Taliban.

    It wasn’t an analogy; it was a hypothetical. It was designed to explore the moral dilemma that Gitmo presents.

    But Gitmo doesn’t present that moral dilemma, for the reasons I gave.

    Consider this: We routinely violate the Fourth Amendment rights of thousands of air travelers every day for the purpose of preventing a few nutcases from blowing airliners out of the sky. The principle has already been established.

    That example supports our point, not yours. You won’t find many fans of the TSA on this blog.

  69. says

    Snarkmatter, #39:

    If you are alluding to the fact that his entire, albeit short, presidency was mired with such instances, then that’s entirely different.

    Yeah, that’s what I was getting at, but I didn’t have the time to enumerate the many ways in which JFK was a giant fuckup. Anyway, the point about the Bay of Pigs is that it was another in a long line (which continues to this day) of attempts by America to destabilize a region using armed rebels backed by the CIA. I am baffled as to why we as a country continue to believe that we can improve the world’s opinion of us by causing chaos in other sovereign nations.

    I’ll be saying the same thing about the CIA’s involvement in Libya in a couple years, I’m sure, just as I say the same thing about the CIA/USSOCOM mission into Afghanistan. We seriously need to stop fucking doing that.

  70. truthspeaker says

    Tim DeLaney says:
    30 August 2011 at 1:30 pm

    So maybe the first question should be: Are we justified in applying the rules of war just because we call it a “War on Terror”? I don’t think so. Al Qaeda is not a country; it is essentially a gang of criminals who use military weapons.

    Actually I disagree with this. War doesn’t necessarily have to be between nation-states. In my opinion one of the major failings of the “War on Terror” was the failure of Congress to declare war against the organization known as Al Qaeda. Instead, they let Bush wage an open-ended war on anyone he felt like designating a “terrorist”, whether they threatened the US or not.

    The problem, to me, is that we aren’t applying the rules of war and treating the Gitmo detainess as POWs. The US has signed agreements saying we’ll give the ICRC access to POWs – we denied them access to some Gitmo prisoners. The US has signed agreements not to torture POWs – and we know what happened with that.

    Applying the rules of war would have been fine with me. Applying criminal justice laws would have been fine too. But Bush chose to apply neither. Instead he just made up his own rules, using authority the constitution does not give to the president, and both parties in Congress thought that was just hunky-dory.

  71. truthspeaker says

    Sour Tomato Sand says:
    30 August 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Snarkmatter, #39:

    Anyway, the point about the Bay of Pigs is that it was another in a long line (which continues to this day) of attempts by America to destabilize a region using armed rebels backed by the CIA.

    Much like Haiti just a few years ago. The coup happened under Bush but Obama has been pressuring Haiti to maintain the status quo and keep Aristide’s party from participating in elections.

    I am baffled as to why we as a country continue to believe that we can improve the world’s opinion of us by causing chaos in other sovereign nations.

    We don’t. We just don’t give a shit about the world’s opinion of us. We have the biggest military and one of the biggest economies, so we don’t care what anyone else thinks about what we do.

  72. Tim DeLaney says

    Truthseeker:

    You may not be a fan of TSA, but isn’t it clear to you that passengers ought not to be allowed to bring certain items onto an airliner? I’m not sure I understand your objection. Do you have a way to insure airliner safety without violating the Fourth Amendment? We cannot very well rely on prosecuting the terrorist who is killed along with the other passengers.

  73. Tim DeLaney says

    Truthspeaker @ 81:

    I agree with almost the entirety of this post, except for one detail. I don’t think Congress should be empowered to formally declare war against an organization that is not a sovereign state. The potential for abuse is just too great.

    You might feel differently about this if Congress declared war against all atheist organizations. Please don’t argue that it couldn’t happen.

  74. truthspeaker says

    Tim DeLaney says:
    30 August 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Truthseeker:

    You may not be a fan of TSA, but isn’t it clear to you that passengers ought not to be allowed to bring certain items onto an airliner? I’m not sure I understand your objection. Do you have a way to insure airliner safety without violating the Fourth Amendment?

    Searching luggage is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment, because an airliner is a private facility.

    I do object to the TSA using back-scatter scanners, and I object to the secret no-fly lists. And I especially object to the focus on security theater rather than actual security.

    If, somehow, you have never heard of these objections before, then I can only surmise that you have lived in a self-imposed news blackout until last week sometime.

  75. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    My favorite Blackstone quote: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.”

  76. Tim DeLaney says

    Truthspeaker:

    Searching luggage is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment, because an airliner is a private facility.

    There are several things wrong with this. First, the searches are carried out on the person of the traveler, not just the luggage. Second, the searches are carried out in a public facility, an airport terminal. These are not owned by the airlines; they are analagous to public highways. The searches are not carried out in the airliner itself. Third, they are carried out by agents of the government, not by agents of a private company.

    Any reasonable reading of the Fourth Amendment would conclude that the searches of airline passengers are violations. Yet we accept those violations because they are (presumably) minor inconveniences we endure for tha sake of public safety.

    Your objections to some of the methods the TSA uses have some merit IMO, especially the last. But I think these are details that wander from the original topic.

    If, somehow, you have never heard of these objections before, then I can only surmise that you have lived in a self-imposed news blackout until last week sometime.

    The discussion is not advanced by personal insults, however mild.

  77. freemage says

    I’m going to take up Ben Goren’s challenge @9, since no one else seems to want to (I admit, it’s frustrating).

    Yes, I’m going to “hold my nose and vote for Obama”. Like it or not, we live in a two-party country. If a third party rises up, historically, it is either co-opted by an existing party, or it supplants one of the two that exists. This latter option never seems to happen without massive state-level uprisings, first.

    The Greens, whom I support locally, do not have a national infrastructure capable of supplanting the Democratic Party, much as I might prefer that (and be willing to support those efforts in my own state).

    I do not have the luxury of comparing a future under Obama to a future under whoever the Greens, Libertarians, Socialists, et al put forth. My choices, in the voting booth, are between Obama and whoever the Republican candidate is.

    And just like with the last election, the Republican option is shaping up to be so terrifying that I cannot afford to accept it as some sort of collateral damage for actually bringing down the “centrism” hold on the Democratic Party.

    I just have to look at what we have now, and compare it to what would have been under a McCain presidency, to convince myself that as horrible as some bits are, they could have (and would have) been worse.

    In particular, Mr. Goren, we wouldn’t have Sotomayor on the bench. We’d have someone who would consistently vote with the Scalia wing. We’d also still have DADT on the books, and I can guarantee you that McCain would STILL be mounting a full-scale defense of DOMA. These are not small things; they are significant and, in the case of the SCOTUS, long-range.

  78. Carbon Based Life Form says

    I too am probably going to hold my nose and vote for Obama, especially is the alternative is Perry or, even worse, Bachmann.

    I had real hopes that Obama would bring real change, hopes that he has failed to live up to. One thing I do not understand about him is that he should have realized years ago that the congressional Republicans were not going to compromise, so why didn’t he tell them to go fuck themselves?