Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's not that what's happening to Omar Khadr is particularly shocking....

...it's that it's happening to this particular person, for the particular crime he's accused of.

The release of the Khadr interrogation tape isn't particularly shocking to me in what it shows (more on that in a sec) and personally, I don't even think he's been subjected to anything that we should prohibit as a general principle. However (and it's a big however) that this is all happening to Omar Khadr IS pretty damned shocking.

Just to be clear, Khadr is ACCUSED of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. medic. No witness saw him throw the grenade, and the person who, frankly, is more likely to have thrown the grenade is dead (he was shot several times, Khadr's lawyers would say right after he threw the grenade). What's more, every other non-American involved in the fight is dead too (and I don't disagree particularly with those of you who just said "good riddance"). Now, maybe Khadr threw the grenade, maybe he didn't, but to me it seems at least possible that the reason he's the one who's been accused of throwing the grenade is that he's the only one left alive who can be accused of throwing the grenade. I often wonder, if Khadr hadn't survived the two gun shot wounds to the back would anyone have said after the firefight "I bet that kid's the one who threw the grenade that killed our medic". There's really precious little evidence to support the accusation, which is the first point worth noting.

That said, if Khadr threw the grenade he's (arguably) a murderer. Many will say that's not the case; that you don't need to be in uniform to fight back at armed foreign soldiers attacking your village, but I'll gladly concede that point for the sake of argument. He's a murderer (allegedly) and should be held accountable for that crime. However, there's a system of justice for these types of things, and on the crime itself, there's no reason, imho, to set aside due process and natural justice just for that.

But what about "intelligence"?

The problem, as I see it, is that we're (the U.S., but by extension, us) not keeping him locked up without due process because he has valuable intelligence either. Even if he did, don't tell me they haven't broken him in 6 years, or that after 6 years locked up in Cuba, this guy who was 15 years old when he was captured still has intelligence to give up that is of any use half a decade later.

And, for the record, I don't have a general problem with sleep deprivation either, nor do I think it's torture (Abuse? Maybe.) But to be clear, I wouldn't particularly object to such a technique being used on a bin Laden, or an al-Zhawahiri, or a Saddam Hussein. I certainly object to torture, but in the right circumstances, I think what;s allegedly been done to Khadr could get a pass from me. There was nothing in that video, or in the description of Khadr's treatment, that shocked my conscience, or that I would consider particularly reprehensible. However, the point is, why are we using such techniques on a kid like Khadr? I don't think a 15 year old like Khadr is worth using sleep deprivation on. After a couple of years, just what the Hell was he still going to give up? The kid may be a criminal; he may even be a terrorist; but he ain't bin Laden. What exactly is it alleged we’re going to get out of this kid interrogation-wise? More to the point, what actionable intelligence can we get from someone (anyone) whose been locked up in Cuba for 6 years? Even if he knew something worthwhile (which I kinda doubt), how could the first few years of interrogation not have broken him, and what could he possibly know that’s still useful 6 years later?

It seems pretty clear to me that they're keeping him in Gitmo because even a military tribunal couldn't actually convict him of anything if they wanted to. They're keeping him in Gitmo because the only other alternative is to let him go entirely. Now, many will argue that he deserves to stay locked up forever without ever needing to be convicted of anything whatsoever. Fine. But let's at least be honest that that's the argument that's being made. We're keeping him locked up without a trial because we can't convict him of anything if we hold a trial. It's really as simple as that.

What is happening to Omar Khadr wouldn’t be shocking, imho, if it were happening to someone else. But as it’s happening to Khadr, it is pretty damned shocking. He's a fifteen year old kid (or, he was the last time he was outside of a cell) accused of throwing a grenade at a soldier. For this we give up due process and the rule of law? This kid's such a threat that we need to keep him locked up forever without a trial? (and that's what it's gonna take... not even a legally dubious, Supreme Court defying, military tribunal is going to be able to ever convict him of anything).

If Omar Khadr needs to be kept locked up forever without a trial, and it was necessary for us to use sleep deprivation to squeeze as much intelligence out of him as we possibly can, then we're screwed. If we set aside due process and use dubious interrogation techniques on some 15 year old kid accused of throwing a grenade at an attacking military unit, no matter how bad he is, it's already over. If a little punk like Khadr is really worth all that; if we're really that desperate - we're never going to win.

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25 comments:

Muslims Against Sharia said...

"Lt.C. Ralph Peters on Omar Khadr Gitmo Tape: We Should Have Killed That Punk on a Battlefield where it was legal to do so!"

Watch video at http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/07/ltc-ralph-peters-on-omar-khadr-gitmo.html

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Hypocrisy of the "Repatriate Omar Khadr to Canada" Movement

As soon as the Gitmo interrogation tape of Omar Khadr hit the Internet, the blogosphere was flooded with demands to repatriate him to Canada. This wave is reminiscent of a Soviet campaign to free Luis Corvalán from the "fascist regime" of Augusto Pinochet thirty five years ago. The scenario is strikingly similar. A "victim" held by "fascist regimes" this time run by Bush and Harper, and a public outcry for justice. Except for the fact that Luis Corvalán didn't kill anyone and didn't fight for a terrorist group that wants to impose Sharia.

The "repatriate Khadr" crowd describes him as "a child", "a kid", "a boy", and even "a torture victim", with no facts to substantiate the torture claims notwithstanding. They complain about Khadr being mistreated, again, without anything to back up their claims. Some of them are outraged about "child abuse." And they all scream for justice.

They want justice? OK, let's talk about JUSTICE. What about justice for Sgt. First Class Christopher J. Speer, who was (according to an eyewitness) murdered by this "child"? What about justice for Tabitha Speer, who is a widow because of this "kid"? What about justice for Taryn and Tanner Speer, who are left without a father by this "a boy"? And what about all those Afghani civilians and NATO troops who are a little bit safer because this "torture victim" is behind bars? How many of these "repatriate Khadr" hypocrites concern themselves with justice for real victims? In literally hundreds of posts, we couldn't find a single one.

One would ask, what is the reason for this idiocy? The answer is simple. Ignorance. Complete and utter ignorance. Let's forget for a second that Omar Khadr killed Christopher Speer. Let's forget that Khadr's father was an al Qaeda financier. Let's forget that Khadr's family is known for it being al Qaeda sympathizers. Let's just remember what this "child" was fighting for in Afghanistan.

This is what Taliban-imposed Sharia looks like in real life: http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2000/07/hypocrisy-of-repatriate-omar-khadr-to.html

Why don't all of you, bleeding heart demagogues go to Afghanistan and spend a day in a Taliban-controlled territory? And let's talk about Khadr when you get back. If you get back.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

muslims agains sharia,

First, Khadr is ALLEGED to have killed Sgt. Speer.

Second, the original report on the incident EXPLICITLY STATED that ANOTHER militant (NOT Khadr) threw the grenade that killed Speer (it was later changed, after the fact, and back-dated to make it LOOK like Khadr was guilty).

Third, there are no eye witnesses that say Khadr threw the grenade. The most definitive statement identifying the grenade thrower was the original report on the incident, which said someone else threw the grenade.

Finally, as for the "boy" and "kid" bits, well, Khadr was 9 (NINE) when his father moved him to Afghanistan to fight, and 15 when he was captured. If 15 no longer counts as a boy; if we're gonna call 15 year olds who have been placed in the midst of militant extremists since the age of nine "men", then let's at least be explicit about it and admit that we're redefining the notion of what a kid is.

Finally, sorry for not replying to your first comment. I thought from the quote you posted that you were pointing you thought that light colonel was a bit nuts, and I didn't go to your site to see that I misinterpreted the meaning of your comment. Now I see that you were saying you agree that they should have killed him on site (and frankly, it sounds like Khadr himself might actually wish they had). In the Americans defence, they did try pretty hard to kill him on site. They shot him twice in the back after all.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

"the original report on the incident EXPLICITLY STATED that ANOTHER militant (NOT Khadr) threw the grenade that killed Speer"

Did you read the report or are you repeating someone else's bullshit?

"Third, there are no eye witnesses that say Khadr threw the grenade. The most definitive statement identifying the grenade thrower was the original report on the incident, which said someone else threw the grenade."

Doesn't this statement contradict itself?

"Khadr was 9 (NINE) when his father moved him to Afghanistan"

So, if bin Laden were 5 when he started to radicalize, does that make any difference?

"In the Americans defence, they did try pretty hard to kill him on site."

Let's just hope that if he gets out the only family he'll be able to blow up is yours.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, point by point:

No I haven't read the report (it's classified, of course), but Khadr's military lawyer has, and frankly, news that it was changed months after the fact is pretty common knowledge and I'm not sure it's even disputed (rationalized and defended, yes; disputed, no). The argument is that the report was wrong before, and is right now, but I don't think anyone denies it was altered months after the fact.

Also, the report that Khadr wasn't in fact the only person alive in the compound when the grenade was thrown was actually released by the prosecutors themselves (though, admittedly, they did so by accident) so that's just out there for all to see.

As for my statement on the eye witness bit, no, it's not contradictory at all. Now, I'm not convinced there are any witnesses to the grenade being thrown at all (in fact ,I'm pretty certain their weren't) but there's certainly no witness who says Khadr threw the grenade. The original report said someone ELSE threw the grenade, though that's not from a "witness" either, it's just in the report (which was later amended to say something different). I'm more than willing to stipulate that there was no WITNESS that said someone other than Khadr threw the grenade (the initial report notwithstanding). But there's no witness who says he DID throw the grenade either. The REPORT first said someone else threw it, and now it says Khadr threw it, but no one actually witnessed him throw it. The argument is that Khadr was the only one alive when it was thrown, so the assumption that he threw it is based on that (though that too has been contradicted by a report accidentally released by the prosecution). If there was a witness, this would be much less complicated, but there's not, so the prosecution is relying on "he was the only one alive so it had to be him" and hoping that holds up. Of course, that they accidentally released a report that said he WASN'T the only one still alive doesn't help that argument.

Now, bin Laden's a nice straw man for you, but that doesn't wash either. If bin Laden started to radicalize at 5 and we caught him at 15 then yes, I think that would make a difference. As it is, if you need to compare bin Laden (who was 44 when the Towers were hit) to a boy of 15 to make your point that the boy should be denied due process well, then we've already lost, imho.

Oh, and I'll just ignore that you brought my family into this, as disturbing as that is. Don't push it though. I reserve the right to delete comments around here that go too far, and boy did that come close.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

"No I haven't read the report (it's classified, of course), but Khadr's military lawyer has"

Believing a lawyer, whose primary obligation is to get his client off by any means possible? Doesn't that make you a bit gullible, euphemistically speaking?

"pretty common knowledge"

Again, consider the source of that "pretty common knowledge".

"I'm not convinced there are any witnesses to the grenade being thrown at all"

How smart is that to take a word of a lawyer over the word of Sgt. Layne Morris? Unless, of course you have an agenda.

"The original report said someone ELSE threw the grenade"

Did you read that report or is it also "pretty common knowledge"?

"If bin Laden started to radicalize at 5 and we caught him at 15 then yes, I think that would make a difference."

But that you mean that he should have been released? What do you think the chances are he wouldn't be who he was at 44?

"Oh, and I'll just ignore that you brought my family into this, as disturbing as that is."

A dumbshit like you has a luxury of never have lived under Sharia. If you had, you'd have a slightly different perspective.

"I reserve the right to delete comments around here that go too far, and boy did that come close."

Do you really think any of us would give a shit about a pathetic threat to delete our comments when we LITERALLY risking our necks every day?

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

OK, so that's what I get for expecting people to argue in a serious manner and act like adults.

On that, I'll give you, I was naive.

Just so you don't waste any time, this will be the last of your comments I'm going to bother responding to as rational argument doesn't seem to be something you're interested in pursuing any longer.

Mainly, I'd just like to take issue with your bringing up of Sgt. Lanyne Morris. I'm more than willing to take the Sgt. at his word. However, I also think if we're going to set aside agendas, the most important thing Layne Morris tells us about the death of his friend Sgt Speers is that HE WASN'T THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED. He was on a helicopter being medivac'd out when Sgt. Speers was killed.

You can call me naive (or worse, and you have) for believing the word of Lt. Commander Bill Kuebler just because he's a lawyer in addition to being a Navy officer, but I'm also apparently more willing than you to believe Sgt. Morris, since I believe him when he says he was on a helicopter when the grenade was thrown, and didn't see anything.

Here's an important section of Sgt Morris' interview with the CBC:

SO: SO HOW DID THE OTHER SOLDIER, CHRISTOPHER SPEAR, GET MORTALLY INJURED?

LM: After there was no more fire from the compound, and it was just destroyed, the rest of the team went into the compound to clear it, just to get the intel, see who was in there. Just your normal exploitation of a seized compound.
And Omar was still alive in one of the corners and waiting with a pistol and a hand grenade. And when they got close enough, he popped up and threw the hand grenade, shot the pistol and Chris didn’t see him, didn’t see the hand grenade.
So when he hit the ground, he just, he was too close to the hand grenade, so the shrapnel from that hand grenade got him in the head and mortally wounded him.

SO: YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT BY THEN?

LM: No. I was gone before the guys went into the compound. I think they were going into the compound as the Medivac helicopter was lifting off.

SO: WITH YOU INSIDE?

LM: With me inside. So I watched the 500 pounders hit, and soon after that, the guys went inside. So no, we thought it was over. So when I was at Bagram and got the word that it was another casualty coming in, I – I didn’t understand that.
(emphasis added)

Now, Morris was asked, since HE didn't see the grenade thrown (being on a helicopter lifting off at the time) did anyone else see it thrown:

SO: SO DID ANYBODY SEE KHADR THROW THE GRENADE?

LM: You know, I’ve heard a couple of guys say that they, the direction that the grenade came from was the direction that Omar was hiding. But him being the only one alive left in the compound, I think everybody just – you almost have to assume – I mean there’s nobody else in there. Who else is going to throw the hand grenade?
So it was pretty obvious that Omar threw the hand grenade, shot the pistol and that’s why he got shot at that point. No one else was in, was – no one else in there was alive.
(emphasis added)

No one saw Khadr throw the grenade. As I said before, they felt (and many probably still feel) that Khadr was the only one left alive in the compound and therefore they assume that he threw the grenade, but NO ONE (let alone Sgt Morris who was in the air in a helicopter at the time) actually saw him throw the grenade.

Now, if Khadr was the only militant alive in the compound then I suppose it could be argued that it doesn't matter that no one saw him throw the grenade, since who else could have thrown the grenade? (We'll leave aside his lawyers argument that forensics experts will testify that the grenade that killed Sgt. Speers was an American grenade, and that his death was likely the tragic result of friendly fire, 'cause I know how you feel about lawyers). However, there is documented evidence that Khadr wasn't the only one alive when the grenade was thrown, so "he's the only one who could have thrown it" isn't a valid argument.

None of which is to say that Khadr DIDN'T throw the grenade, maybe he did. However there's no "witness" who says he did, and there was at least one other person in the compound who could have (even if you don't count "friendly fire" as a possibility). I may be a dumbsh*t, but I know what the definition of "witness" is, and "person who's pretty sure he knows what happened even though he wasn't there" isn't it.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

For the purpose of this argument, I would concede ALL disputed facts. The UNDISPUTED fact is that Khadr was fighting against US/NATO troops. This fact alone makes it legal to hold him until cessation of hostilities.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Ok, so I just realized, having been a little taken aback by the rudeness and not seen the different user name, that it was actually a whole different commenter defending the invocation of the exploding of my family and calling me names, so presuming it's not just the same poster with two aliases, feel free to comment again "Muslims Against Sharia" and I'll continue to respond (if it doens't go down the path of my family dying and me being a "dumbsh*t" that is).

:-)

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Also, american muslim not muslim american,

I believe that it's legal to hold a prisoner of war until the cessation of hostilities, that's absolutely true. So are you saying Khadr is a prisoner of war? 'Cause that does change things. If he's a prisoner of war then legally you can hold him until the cessation of hostilities, but only so long as you're treating him as a prisoner of war.

I think the main idea is, you can hold a POW basically indefinitely (until the cessation of hostilities) because you have to simultaneously respect his rights as a POW. Or, you can say he's not a POW, in which case he's not entitled to POW treatment, but you can't hold him indefinitely. One isn't supposed to be able to have their cake and eat it too.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

Consider everyone from Muslims Against Sharia, including me, as one commenter. We comment on behalf of a group.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

"So are you saying Khadr is a prisoner of war?"

Not really. He does not qualify as a POW under Geneva Convention. He is an unlawful combatant, which is not defined by international treaties yet.

"I think the main idea is, you can hold a POW basically indefinitely (until the cessation of hostilities) because you have to simultaneously respect his rights as a POW."

No, the idea is to confine enemy combatants so they couldn't fight the capturer until the war is over. Otherwise all POWs would have been killed on the spot. To get a POW status, one has to qualify for it. Khadr/Taliban do not qualify for at least two requirements: no visible insignia and no adherence to the rules of war.

"One isn't supposed to be able to have their cake and eat it too."

Just because the appropriate law does not exist, it doesn't mean that YOU get to pick the one that YOU like.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, OK, but "unlawful combatant" isn't defined by international treaties yet because governments didn't assume that a single nation would just decide to unilaterally codify a term like "unlawful combatant" and start applying it to international prisoners unilaterally. So, basically, the U.S. gets to hold people for literally years in offshore prisons without trial because they've chosen to create a class of prisoner not recognized by international treaties such as the Geneva conventions.

I don't think it's me "picking the law I like" because a law doesn't exist. I didn't write a law defining "unlawful combatants" because there was no international law in existence that did so. I think that was the U.S. Congress.

Now, THAT being said, has Khadr ever actually been classified as an "unlawful combatant" by any type of tribunal, or judge, or well, any competent authority? To my knowledge, no. Back when all charges against him were dropped in 2004 it was because the judge felt that since Khadr's Combatant Status Review Tribunal had classified him as an "enemy combatant" (NOT an "unlawful combatant") back in 2004, that the Military Commissions didn't have jurisdiction to hear his case (being tribunals set up for trials of "unlawful combatants" something Khadr's CSRT hadn't classified him as).

Now, a subsequent judgement ruled that they could continue to hold Khadr because while "The review court agreed that the military tribunals, known as Combatant Status Review Tribunals, did not determine whether Khadr was an "unlawful" combatant", a key distinction that U.S. law mandates for such cases to go to trial. (The) court ruled that trial judges can hear evidence on a detainee's combatant status and therefore can proceed with the trials."

I'm not sure Khadr has, to this day, ever been classified legally as an "unlawful combatant". Here, the argument seems to be "well, we haven't legally determined that he IS an "unlawful combatant", but the judge in charge of a Military Commission can hear evidence on that question, so it's possible that the presiding judge at his trial COULD come to that determination, so we still get to hold him until his trial.

To me, it seems a rather circular argument. We can hold you for 6 years without trial because you're an unlawful combatant, and it doesn't matter that you've never been adjudicated to be an unlawful combatant because the trial judge can make that determination during your trial.

Now, don't ask me what happens if the trial judge determines (some day) that the original Combatant Status Review Tribunal of 2004 was correct to deem Khadr an "enemy combatant" and not an "unlawful combatant" but it'd be fascinating to see (I don't expect it to happen, but it'd be fascinating). I imagine the argument would go something like this: "Sure, your Combatant Status Review Tribunal didn't classify you as an enemy combatant, and sure, the judge at your Military Commission Trial agreed, but we're not sure your Military Commission Trial will actually hold up to a Supreme Court challenge anyway, so we're going to put your case before a civilian court just like everyone's always demanded. And, since the civilian judge at your civilian trial can hear evidence as to your status as a combatant, it's possible the judge at your NEW trial might determine that you were an unlawful combatant, so we get to keep you locked up until that trial.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

""unlawful combatant" isn't defined by international treaties yet because governments didn't assume that a single nation would just decide to unilaterally codify a term like "unlawful combatant" and start applying it to international prisoners unilaterally."

That is correct. However, GC does not apply to Khadr either, so what do we do?

"has Khadr ever actually been classified as an "unlawful combatant" by any type of tribunal, or judge, or well, any competent authority?"

Yes. US government. You may not recognize it as a competent authority, but what's the alternative? A bunch of bleeding heart demagogues regurgitating each other's bullshit?

"... To me, it seems a rather circular argument. ..."

That's one of the reasons that civilian courts are not equipped to deal with terrorism.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

The "U.S. government" classified Khadr as an unlawful combatant? I'm not saying it didn't happen, but it hadn't happened as of the September 2007 ruling I linked to above, and I can't find any reference to it anywhere. When and where in the last 10 months was the determination made? What specific representative of the government made the determination, and where was the determination written down? (was it written down?)

As far as I can tell, the "U.S. government" (in the form of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal) classified Khadr as an enemy combatant, not an "unlawful combatant". I'm pretty sure that even under current U.S. law you need something more than a statement on a blog by a pseudonymous commenter that "the government did it" for it to actually be true. I grant you that, under U.S. law at least, there are probably several competent authorities who could make this determination. As far as I can tell though, the only agent of the government to actually make an official determination is Khadr's CSRT, and they DIDN'T classify him as an unlawful combatant. If "the government" classified Khadr as an unlawful combatant, then one ought to be able to point to the person or body that made the determination, and the place where that determination was made and recorded. I'm not asking for a full sitting of the Supreme Court to make the determination, just that the determination be officially made. For the purposes of this argument, I'd settle for a napkin on which the President scribbled "Omar Khadr was an unlawful combatant, Gerorge W. Bush" but it doesn't seem even something THAT "official" has ever been done (which is why prosecutors didn't argue in September that the CSRT ruling was moot, having been superseded by a more recent determination, but simply that the determination of his status wasn't important, because it could be made later, by the judge at his trial).

I'm also not so sure what about my comment that the argument around his status seems circular constitutes a reason that "civilian courts aren't equipped to deal with terrorism"? Are you saying that because civilian courts are bound by the space-time continuum they're therefore not competent to deal with terrorism? That only a system of justice capable of enacting the effect of a ruling before the ruling itself is made is competent to deal with terrorism?

Though, come to think of it, if such a tribunal really exists, it would certainly be efficient. Then again, if we have some sort of device that is actually capable of effecting the linear nature of time and causation, I think I might be able to figure out better ways to use it to fight terrorism.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

"As far as I can tell, the "U.S. government" (in the form of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal) classified Khadr as an enemy combatant, not an "unlawful combatant""

You're right, our misstatement. The idea was to draw a distinction between POW as defined by the GC and "enemy combatant" as defined by the US government.

"Are you saying that because civilian courts are bound by the space-time continuum they're therefore not competent to deal with terrorism?"

No. We're saying that civilian courts (law enforcement) use reactive approach. When they attempt to use proactive approach, the only thing they have is a conspiracy. Since it is often impossible to prove intent beyond the reasonable doubt, prosecution does not work. Ample examples include Nossair, al-Arian, HLF, Liberty City Seven, etc. That's why terrorism should be dealt with as a military issue and kept out of civilian justice system.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

So then, it's not about keeping Khadr locked up until he can be tried (a "reactive" approach) it's about keeping him locked up forever (the "proactive" approach). From your last comment, your problem with the civilian justice system seems to be that it waits until a person commits a crime before locking them up, while a military system can proactively lock people up BEFORE the fact. Now, that's not "justice" it's "security" (which is why the justice system doesn't act that way, the justice system being about, well, justice).

It's a legitimate argument I suppose (though rarely so blatantly put forward). We should lock up people we suspect are terrorists because if we're right, then we'll have stopped terrorists (of course if we're wrong we'll have locked up innocent people...). The question always becomes though, who decides? Who decides who has rights and who doesn't? Who decides who has to be convicted before imprisonment, and who we can just imprison?

I guess I'm just with Benjamin Franklin on this one. "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." I actually like the fact that we believe in freedom and justice so much that we think even our worst enemies deserve due process and open and fair trials. That we're not willing to sacrifice our values to stop those who are attacking our values. I thought that was one of the main things that separates "us" from "them".

I was even naive enough to think that's what we're fighting for.

I guess I'm just worried if we're not careful, we'll wake up one morning and realize we've become the thing we hated.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

"So then, it's not about keeping Khadr locked up until he can be tried (a "reactive" approach) it's about keeping him locked up forever (the "proactive" approach)."

Either until the war on terror is over or until he dies, whatever comes first.

"Now, that's not "justice" it's "security""

No, a military JUSTICE system has different standards. For example, fighting for Taliban is enough of a crime to be held until the cessation of hostilities.

"We should lock up people we suspect are terrorists"

No, but we should try them in military courts.

"I guess I'm just with Benjamin Franklin on this one. "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.""

I prefer Lincoln' "The Constitution is not a suicide pact". Every major war that the US was involved in proved Franklin wrong.

"That we're not willing to sacrifice our values to stop those who are attacking our values."

Nice words, but nothing more than a demagoguery. You can't bring a knife to a gunfight.

"I guess I'm just worried if we're not careful, we'll wake up one morning and realize we've become the thing we hated."

You mean like that asshole Lincoln who suspended habeas corpus? No, we definitely don't want that!

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Lilcoln suspended habeas corpus (not everywhere but in several states) after 8 states had already seceded from the Union and established the Confederacy, and Fort Sumter had fallen. It was done principally because Maryland was threatening to secede, which would have left Washington D.C. completely surrounded by hostile territory.

Talk to me again about Lincoln if al Qaeda ever manages to occupy and hold a half dozen states and is on the verge of completely surrounding the capital.

I guess I just have more confidence in the United States than you. I just don't think al Qaeda presents the same existential threat to the United States as the secession and open hostility of 8 entire states declaring open war on the federal government.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

"Lilcoln suspended habeas corpus ..."

Does this mean that you find Lincoln's actions justifiable? If so, how do you reconcile it with your previous statement of "I guess I'm just with Benjamin Franklin on this one. "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.""?

"Talk to me again about Lincoln if al Qaeda ever manages to occupy and hold a half dozen states and is on the verge of completely surrounding the capital."

You may have missed it, but al Qaeda's tactics are slightly different. And if you don't believe that al Qaeda will try to blow up the capital, you might want to have you head examined.

"I just don't think al Qaeda presents the same existential threat to the United States as the secession and open hostility of 8 entire states declaring open war on the federal government."

Maybe it's because you never considered some possibilities. One terrorist infected with small pox could criss-cross the country in the airplane for a week. Considering that symptoms do not appear for a couple of weeks and present level of mobility of the population, vast majority of Americans will be infected. Mortality rate is about 1/3. That's 100 million people. If EVERY American had dies in the Civil War, the death toll would have been much smaller. So, how's that confidence of yours doing now?

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

To tell the truth, I haven't given a lot of thought as to whether Lincoln was justified in suspending habeas corpus. I just don't think Lincoln suspending habeas corpus is a justification for suspending it today. That's like saying that Truman nuked Hiroshima, so it'd be fine to nuke Iran. Totally different contexts and one would be comparing apples to oranges.

You can throw out literally DOZENS of terrifying hypotheticals about what al Qaeda might do, or could possibly do, or that we could possibly conceive of them doing. Lincoln was facing an actual army that had actual control of actual states and was engaged day to day on the ground in open combat. My point was merely that the invocation of Lincoln is a ridiculous comparison (as you seem to now acknowledge given the differing tactics of al Qaeda).

Again, for me, I'm still with Franklin. I know members of al Qaeda are willing to die for what they believe in but frankly, so am I. I think there's a limit to how much liberty I'll sacrifice for security, and we're getting close to it (if we haven't passed it in some cases).

There's ALWAYS going to be something else you could do to make yourself more secure. Clearly we disagree on where the line should be drawn.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

"if you don't believe that al Qaeda will try to blow up the capital, you might want to have you head examined"

I never said I thought al Qaeda would never try to blow up the capital. I just don't think they'll ever have total control of the state of Virginia (and substantial support in Maryland) with the backing of the majority of local population. The Confederacy wasn't trying to "blow up" the capital, they were trying to capture it, and they had the backing of MASSIVE numbers of Americans. America will never face the kind of threat from al Qaeda that was faced by Lincoln in the Civil War. That was my only point.

American Muslim, not Muslim-American said...

"I just don't think Lincoln suspending habeas corpus is a justification for suspending it today."

Neither do we. However the right of habeas corpus as other American Constitutional rights do not apply to non-citizens. You don't demand Chinese government releasing Tibetan political prisoners, on the basis the protection of American Constitution, do you?

"Lincoln was facing an actual army that had actual control of actual states"

Al Qaeda IS an actual army that has thousands of followers inside the US, whose religious duty is to destroy it. Just because you don't see the threat, it doesn't mean it's not there.

"My point was merely that the invocation of Lincoln is a ridiculous comparison"

Mind was that you have to do what you have to do. Providing terrorists with the same rights as regular criminals is a path to suicide.

"Again, for me, I'm still with Franklin."

Good thing Lincoln felt differently. Otherwise we could have still had slavery.

"al Qaeda are willing to die for what they believe in but frankly, so am I"

That's good to know, because most of the "bring Khadr home" crowd seem to be willing to let someone else die for what they believe in.

"Clearly we disagree on where the line should be drawn."

Yes, and unlike some others we can do that without cutting each other heads off.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

While habeas corpus is referred to in the U.S. Constitution, I think it's important to point out that your reference to habeas corpus as an "American Constitutional right" is a bit of a misrepresentation. Habeas corpus is not a right bestowed by the U.S. constitution, it is a much older and more fundamental right dating back to the 1300s and first codified in 1679.

The U.S. constitution is not the fount of all rights. There are some rights which are more fundamental than a mere constitution.

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