Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka gets a job and passes the bar exam


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Editorial Of The Day

Great editorial in today's Wall Street Journal.

Money quote:

Combatants who fail to obey those laws--by not wearing distinctive military insignia or targeting civilians--are not entitled to its privileges. If they were, the very purpose of the Convention would be rendered a nonsense. And this is why the U.S. has refused Geneva privileges to the enemy combatants at Guantanamo, which we hope is an argument heeded by the Supreme Court as it decides the Hamdan case.


The trouble with this is you need to define combatant.
Is a combat someone carrying a gun in an area where US troops are having a military action? Is a combatant an unarmed person in an area where there is military action? Is a combatant whoever our allies of the week in a neighboring village tell us is a combatant? Or is a combatant defined as anyone our a US government official decides is a combatant?

My point here is that we currently have a system with no checks or balances where anyone can end up a jail up in a jail and even be tortured based on essentially one person's opinion. Granted I'll give the benefit of the doubt and say that we catch the right people 99% of the time, but what does it mean to say that 1% of the people rotting in Guantanamo for the past several years are innocent? If you think they are all guilty, provide any bit of information that supports that besides "GWB said so."
Not to mention, torture being legal is one thing. Torture being moral is another. I hope the US follows higher standards than just "what is legal?"
Let the military decide. That's what the tribunals are for.
With the current system (and with ignoring the Geneva conventions) a person could be arrested, tortured, and kept for years before they reach a tribunal. Even if tribunals are convened much more rapidly, if you throw away the Geneva conventions, nothing prevents the torture of people and then information received through torture to be used as evidence at the military tribunal.

In general without the Geneva conventions, between capture and the tribunal (be it a day, week, or year), anything is allowed.

That is why some public standards are required... even if they are less than the full Geneva convention rights.
You gotta throw away the Geneva Convention here. Otherwise, what's the point of the Convention?

And stop with the torture rhetoric. No one is being fed into woodchippers or being hung from their tonails. I'm all in favor of heavy handed interogation tacticts. We're not talking about criminal matters, we're talking about terrorism.
If no one is being tortured, why can't the commander-in-chief say torture is forbidden? Why did he include a signing statement when he signed the anti-torture legislation essentially voiding the law. We currently have a system where before any form of trial or military tribunal, Americans are allowed to torture people. Until we have a clear anti-torture policy, you can't ignore the "torture rhetoric."

What is your distinction between heavy handed interogation and torture? Do you follow the current policy of if there is no long-term physical injury (unless the person dies by accident), it's not torture? Do you have no problem with sufficating people (waterboarding)? How about long periods of forbidding sleep (known to cause hallucinations... great for extracting useful information)? How about some good old-fashioned beatings and broken bones (they'll heal)?
I've got no problem with waterboarding or sleep deprivation or stress positions and such. The way I see it, if we can do it to our own soldiers then we can do it to a terrorist.

I can't imagine you that you would treat a terrorist the same way you treat a common criminal.
Hmmm...blogger won't let me publish under my own name

Since when do we involuntariliy do any of these to our soliders? Perhaps a bit of sleep deprivation, but nothing like what is being done to prisoners. From what I understand, these are sometimes done to soliders that are training for elite units. No one is forced to join these units and you can always quit. Joining the navy doesn't give our government the right to waterboard you. Perhaps training as a Navy Seal (and being able to quit that training) is very different than torturing prisoners.

You also keep calling these people terrorists, but you seem fine allowing torture on them even before military tribunals. Are the terrorists the minute they are arrested?
We do it to all our elite units- read what they do to people trying to become Navy Seals. It's called Hell Week for a reason.

I use them as a reference because the military won't do anything to its soldiers that would permanently harm them. I see no reason then for not being allowed to use these techniques on terrorists.

And yes, there is a presumption that they are terrorists. This is war, not police work.
ok. Just to make sure I understand what you are saying. The United States government can arrest any person in any country at any time. As long as it calls that person a terrorist, it doesn't have to give any reasons for arresting that person and can keep that person in jail indefinitely. The government also has the unlimited ability to torture that person (as long as there's no physical damage... unless the person accidently dies). At some point in the future, it should probably hold a military tribunal where some evidence that was obtained during torture is allowed to convict the person.

What's the difference between this as the Soviet system of "justice"? What was done to Natan Sharansky that wouldn't be allowed in the US according to your reasoning? Was the Soviet treatment of Sharansky and many others fully justified since he was a threat to the State?
For that matter, assuming you read "1984," what happened in that book that you wouldn't consider appropriate for the US government to do? I haven't read it in a while, but I'm pretty sure they never did any permanent physical damage to the main character until after he confessed.

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