In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Should we bring terrorists onto US soil?



Should we relocate detainees at Guantanamo Bay to a prison facility in Illinois?

This is certainly a question on my mind today.

Like many Americans, I've been spending some time thinking this past year about if the CIA did indeed engage in torture against war criminals, and if we should move prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay. These thoughts are especially paramount today since one of the lead Yahoo news stories today began by claiming that:

"President Barack Obama has ordered the federal government to acquire an underused state prison in rural Illinois to be the new home for a limited number of terror suspects now held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Don't you just love what counts as news?

Never mind that this can not really happen until there is a majority support for this in congress. Later on in the Yahoo article they did mention that:

"Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they could not yet lay out a time frame for when a transfer of detainees from the Navy-run detention facility to Thomson. They said the administration would have to work with Congress to amend laws and secure funding before any prisoners are brought to U.S. soil."

Guess that initial statement was to grab my attention.

It worked.

I'm here thinking about this whole situation. I'm remembering that since he first got into office, President Obama has been been wanting to close down Guantanamo Bay. Not long after he was elected as President, he was quoted as saying:

"But I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution,".

One of the initial big issues was that the former, Bush, administration was criticized for allegedly torturing people at Guantanamo Bay. What has always concerned me about this whole issue is that we all agree that torture is wrong. We just don't agree about if what occurred at Guantanamo Bay was indeed torture.

Our country's own Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 says:

"Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."

This past spring Clifford May wrote on an interesting article for National Review that gives you some of his perspective on if the CIA did torture people. He basically makes the point that if there really had been evidence of illegal (remember torture is illegal) actions that there's been ample opportunity for prosecutions since 2003 and the reason that there have not been any is because nothing illegal was going on. He also raises an interesting point that the Bush administration did keep this country safe from terrorism due to information gained during interrogations.

By far my favorite look at this topic was presented by Engram on his blog Back Talk. Engram makes the point that basically all Americans will say that torture is wrong, but the issue comes in when we set about trying to define torture. Engram points out that he thinks it's even more important to the conversation to clarify what is not torture.

But, weather one believes the CIA did engage in torture, or one believes their behavior did not meet the definition of torture, the question is still if we should continue to house the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

What do you think - Should we make necessary adjustments to the Thompson facility and bring some, or all, of the Guantanamo Bay detainees to Illinois?

18 comments:

GCT said...

"But I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution..."

I couldn't agree more. The fact of the matter is that the Bush admin. captured and detained people without due process to let them anguish in jail with no charges, no trials, etc. We also know that torture happened (Abu Ghraib and that 130 or so waterboardings of one man for 2 examples). What was being done is certainly considered torture by the vast majority of people that are part of nations in the Geneva Convention that are not trying to support Bush.

"He basically makes the point that if there really had been evidence of illegal (remember torture is illegal) actions that there's been ample opportunity for prosecutions since 2003 and the reason that there have not been any is because nothing illegal was going on."

That's a load of BS. Remember that Bush continually tried to re-define was constituted torture, shielded his people constantly, and they contiually dragged their feet when it came to going after torturers, like those at Abu Ghraib. When the public pressure became too great, they sacrificed the pawns and then all walked away from it. That the administration wanted to keep it under wraps to avoid embarrassment and that they felt that they should be above the law and not subject to legal action from committing torture, and that they actually run the justice department is why there weren't prosecutions happening. The argument used by May is the same as claiming that Hitler must have been OK, because he didn't prosecute his generals for putting the Jews in the gas chambers.

"He also raises an interesting point that the Bush administration did keep this country safe from terrorism due to information gained during interrogations."

Maybe, maybe not. We don't actually have any evidence that the information they may or may not have gotten was used in any actionable way to protect the country. Certainly, the soldiers that we put on the ground in a country that had nothing to do with attacking us haven't been protected.

"Engram makes the point that basically all Americans will say that torture is wrong, but the issue comes in when we set about trying to define torture."

That's incorrect. There was a study done during the Abu Ghraib affair where Americans were asked if torture was acceptable and a worrying amount said that it was. The stats also indicated that Xians were more likely to find it acceptable than any other group.

JD Curtis said...

These non-American citizens deserve our judicial system like I deserve free Arab oil.

Give them military trials @ Gitmo being that these are enemy combatants. Invite a member or 2 of the press to cover the proceedings.

GCT said...

"These non-American citizens deserve our judicial system like I deserve free Arab oil."

If we are to have and maintain the moral high ground, we should treat all people respectfully and within our own laws or the set of laws that have been internationally agreed upon. If we violate our own laws and treat these people with contempt and take away their freedom, what does that make us? I'll tell you, it makes us no better than the people who would do violence to us to take away our rights.

"Give them military trials @ Gitmo being that these are enemy combatants."

"Enemy combatants" was a weasel terms conjured up to excuse denying these prisoners basic human rights. At least you seem to be advocating giving them trials. This was something the previous administration was loathe to do, instead wanting to simply hold people in perputuity with no charges brought and no evidence given. Anyone with a grudge could have denounced another as an "enemy combatant" for the US soldiers to come and pick up and throw into a black hole where the person would receive no justice and have no hope for justice. We can not operate in that fashion. It pains me to see what the previous administration was willing to do in order to defend their personal ideologies and beliefs. The animosity that it has engendered towards the US may be felt for generations or more.

Michelle said...

Glad I read this... I have a habit of reading headlines and not the whole story. So, in my mind, these folks were headed over here next week for all I knew! (I really should take the time to read the news more!)

Anyways, on a lighter note, I'm a huge fan of 24. So, torture on! My dream can hold true that there really is a Jack Bauer out there. LOL

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing this.

photogr said...

Torture is wrong no matter what side of the fence you are on.

However, I can recall the torture and killings our soldiers went through in Vietnam, Korea, WW2, and recently Iraq. Those nations had no qualms about dishing out horrendous torture to our combatants. Yet we only went about waterboarding our captives as we are led to believe.I have noticed the Iraq prisoners seem to be well fed. The pictures and stories about our troops I have heard and seen indicates they were not awarded the same courtesy.

The detinees should be given timely trials for their crimes and tried as war criminals or terrorist if the evidence reveals that fact. The penalties for their crimes should also be dealt with quickly.

Ely Biado said...

Torture may be is an effective way of making hardened criminals confess their wrong doings.

But for me, if I will be questioned, I would definitely tell the whole truth during the interrogation.

But when my face is shoved on a bowl full of shit, I will definitely tell all the lies that I can think of.

Then torture, is not effective after all.

JD Curtis said...

"Enemy combatants" was a weasel terms conjured up to excuse denying these prisoners basic human rights....

I will now hear your arguments as to why these enemy combatants should be afforded the courtesies and protection of the Geneva Convention when the organizations they fight for are neither signatories to it nor afford their prisoners it's protections.

GCT said...

"However, I can recall the torture and killings our soldiers went through in Vietnam, Korea, WW2, and recently Iraq. Those nations had no qualms about dishing out horrendous torture to our combatants."

Two wrongs don't make a right.

"Yet we only went about waterboarding our captives as we are led to believe."

That's enough isn't it? Waterboarding is torture.

"The detinees should be given timely trials for their crimes and tried as war criminals or terrorist if the evidence reveals that fact."

I agree, but the last administration did not.

"Torture may be is an effective way of making hardened criminals confess their wrong doings."

Not according to the Army field manual or people who actually specialize in interrogation.

"I will now hear your arguments as to why these enemy combatants should be afforded the courtesies and protection of the Geneva Convention when the organizations they fight for are neither signatories to it nor afford their prisoners it's protections."

Because it's the moral thing to do. Like I said above, two wrongs don't make a right. If we decide that we can torture them since they would do the same to us, doesn't that make us just as bad as them?

JD Curtis said...

This is just breathtakingly stupid G. Even by your lofty standards.. So let me get this straight. Non-US citizens, detained in countries outside the US should be tried in the US at taxpayer expense. Furthermore, said jihadists should be given a platform (our courtrooms) to spout of their virulent brand of anti-semitic hatred. Does this sound about right to you?

Tracy said...

I really appreciate the way our former president Bush put it in a press release dated June 14, 2006:

"I'd like to close Guantanamo, but I also recognize that we're holding some people that are darn dangerous, and that we better have a plan to deal with them in our courts. And the best way to handle -- in my judgment, handle these types of people is through our military courts. And that's why we're waiting on the Supreme Court to make a decision."

Steve said...

I see nothing wrong with Gitmo to begin with.

The prisoners there are treated better than our own (citizen) prisoners.

They are not criminals, but enemy combatants, and as such should not be afforded the same rights as U.S. citizens.

GCT said...

"Non-US citizens, detained in countries outside the US should be tried in the US at taxpayer expense."

Who else is going to pay to put them on trial?

"Furthermore, said jihadists should be given a platform (our courtrooms) to spout of their virulent brand of anti-semitic hatred."

I'm sorry, but everyone deserves a fair and impartial trial, especially since we don't know that everyone we rounded up and detained is guilty of crimes against us.

"They are not criminals, but enemy combatants, and as such should not be afforded the same rights as U.S. citizens."

How quickly Xians forget the golden rule!

JD Curtis said...

How quickly Xians forget the golden rule

I would love to hear your logic on how foriegn fighters who arent even Americans should be tried in our courts. What do you charge them with? Legal precedent anyone?

Deborah Ann said...

Very interesting post, and comments as well. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Tracy!

GCT said...

JD,
There are international standards out there. Whatever standards we use, however, these people need to face fair, impartial trials. We can't toss them into a black hole to rot and never see the light again. We can't use kangaroo courts to ensure that we find them all guilty. We don't know that they are all guilty, and past actions have indicated that there are innocent men locked up in our gulags (and yes, the word is appropriate). If we abrogate our responsibilities to follow the rule of law, then we give up all our claim to any moral standing.

And, yes, the golden rule seems to have been abandoned here.

jenny said...

it's been a while..hope to hear from you..nice posts:D

JD Curtis said...

We can't toss them into a black hole to rot and never see the light again.

I never advocated for that. I mentioned military tribunals earlier.

We can't use kangaroo courts to ensure that we find them all guilty.

How would military proceedings amount to "kangeroo courts"?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin