Most Guantanamo Detainees Guilty of Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Paul likes to argue about semantics when he has no leg to stand on in our debates. Take for instance his assertion that the Guantanamo detainees would be found "not guilty" in a court (if a trial were allowed) but not "innocent". He also said how could they be "not guilty" if they haven't been tried.

Mr. Hue, you're arguing about the terminology because you can't defend the practice of torture, unlawful detainment and war crimes by a Bush administration that you support.

So here is a February Slate.com article that says:

Two major studies conclude that most of them have done very little wrong. A third says they are being tortured while they wait.

The first report was written by Corine Hegland and published two weeks ago in the National Journal. Hegland scrutinized the court documents of 132 prisoners—approximately one-quarter of the detainees—who have filed habeas corpus petitions, as well as the redacted transcripts of the hearings that 314 prisoners have received in appearing before military Combatant Status Review Tribunals—the preliminary screening process that is supposed to ascertain whether they are "enemy combatants," as the Bush administration claims. Hegland's exhaustive review concludes that most of the detainees are not Afghans and that most were not picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The vast majority were instead captured in Pakistan. Seventy-five of the 132 men are not accused of taking part in hostilities against the United States. The data suggests that maybe 80 percent of these detainees were never al-Qaida members, and many were never even Taliban foot soldiers.

Most detainees are being held for the crime of having "associated" with the Taliban or al-Qaida—often in the most attenuated way, including having known or lived with people assumed to be Taliban, or worked for charities with some ties to al-Qaida. Some had "combat" experience that seems to have consisted solely of being hit by U.S. bombs. Most were not picked up by U.S. forces but handed over to our military by Afghan warlords in exchange for enormous bounties and political payback.


Paul Hue said...

Calm down, Nadir. I support your 100% denounciation of torture. The only sensible torture policy for a modern civilization is zero.

As for formal charges and criminal prosecution for persons captured by GIs, I think that is impossible, impractical, and illogical.

I support your desire for congressional oversite for all federal powers under discussion here, including an investigation of who these prisoners are.

I also support a great deal of leniancy afforded to these persons captured on battlefields, with more regard paid for the liklihood of innocent people getting captured than for guilty people getting captured.

Paul Hue said...

Nadir: The issue of "not guilty" and "innocent" constitutes much more than mere semantics. I don't really understand your argument here, as I share your opposition to torture, as I have made plain repeatedly. Given that I clearly oppose turture, unless you can't comprehend my assertions against torture, how could I use some other discussion (not guilty vs. innocent) to hide something that I don't even possess (support for torture)?

Now, how would you have combat troops conduct themselves if the people they capture will be subject to criminal courts. Would you have combat troops now collecting evidence, as police officers do? Do you really think that's practical?

Saddam Hussein kept Iraqis from killing each other in the current widespread manner. He did this by practicing much more destruction and widespread and severe torturing than US forces do no. Perhaps the US troops should adopt Hussein tactics? The various warring parties now (Baathist Sunnis, Shia KKKers, Al KKKiadars, gangsters) use these tactics, without any one emerging yet as a dominant tyrant who may yet obtain "stability" the old Hussein way.

Paul Hue said...

I fully support non-partisan/multi-partisan congressional-sponsored, ongoing investigations into who is getting captured, how and why. I cannot imagine a worse war tactic than capturing and holding non-combatants. Since I am certain that police in the US -- if not the best in the world, nearly so -- regularly arrest innocent people (I suspect 5%, but have no hard evidence) -- then surely GIs on the battle field under much worse circumstances will.

Last night I watched a PBS documentary on the Taliban in 2006, both in Afghanistan in the Pakistan's "tribal areas." These people are hundreds of years behind civilization. Hundreds! They are not even where the US founders were in 1770s. These are very primative, backwards, ignorant people, engaged -- among other aweful things -- in brutal, generations-old tribal fighting. Offering them cash for prisoners of any sort will naturally lead to all manner of dastardly deeds, such as snatching members of enemy tribes and labeling them whatever the purchasers are buying.

Can the actions of external members of civilization affect the advance of these people into civilization? I don't know. I believe that the neo-cons believed this to be the case. I think of these people like the white folks in the US during the 1950s, also dominated by ignorance and backwardsness. But of course then, in the 1950s, even they represented the hieght of civilization. They had no example on earth of racial toleration. So what of today's backwards people, devoted to impoverished lifestyles, fostering as it does senseless violence against prosperous, civilized "outsiders" whom they blame for the horrible consequences of their own life choices?

Nadir said...

"Now, how would you have combat troops conduct themselves if the people they capture will be subject to criminal courts. Would you have combat troops now collecting evidence, as police officers do? Do you really think that's practical?"

In most wars, POWs are people who have been captured on the field of battle. Because "Most were not picked up by U.S. forces but handed over to our military by Afghan warlords in exchange for enormous bounties and political payback," the US troops have no way of knowing what "crimes," if any, these people had committed.

Nadir said...

"These people are hundreds of years behind civilization. Hundreds!"

You say this all the time. Let me ask you:

What is your definition of "civilization"?

Webster.com defines it as:

"1 a : a relatively high level of cultural and technological development; specifically : the stage of cultural development at which writing and the keeping of written records is attained b : the culture characteristic of a particular time or place"

Now despite the obviouse cultural bias of that entry against people who use the spoken word to maintain records, I believe the Taliban still fit this definition. "The culture characteristic of a particular time or place" refers to the Taliban when they were in power in that place. How did they not have a civilization?

You think "civilized" means we wear suits and ties, drive SUVs and let our militaries kill civilians for us rather than taking their lives ourselves?

Paul Hue said...

A word like "civilization" is inherently subjective. The first definition above helps enormously, and drives my usage and understanding: "a relatively high level of cultural and technological development." If you believe that the highest level of culture involves people self-ruling and self-controlling themselves, following laws that a majority of them have formally approbated and which afford all a list of personal liberties, etc., then you would lable the US has having achieved today's international standard for civilization... or Canada, or Japan, or South Korea, or Holland. Take your pick.

According to this first definition you've introduced, humans achieve "civilization" when the obtain the ability to write, and begin to keep records, which provides us an absolute standard for "civilization", though subjective in the sense that some might not recognize writing and record-keeping as the definiative standard.

Which takes us to your second definition, which lacks any standard: any humans living together have achieved "civilization". This definition qualifies, in my opinion, as a non-definition, as it renders the word "civilization" indistinct from the word "culture". The Taliban certainly achieved having a "culture". Obtaining running water, public sanitation, literacy, durable housing, transportation and mail service that connects all residents to each other, transparant self-government involving checks-and-balances that ultimately answers to the approbation of all citizens and which affords all citizens effective reliable ownership of their own bodies, ideas, and property, etc. would not help them advance their "civilization" further by your second definition. Using your second definition, by elminating standards, simply by existing together in the same time-space, Afgahnis achieved the height of "civilization" when their lives included getting executed for flying kites, playing soccer, or being a woman with exposed ankles.

But at some point we may wish to employ standards and our own opinions into our discussions. I will only use your definition number one. By this definition, the US does not qualify as a perfect civilization. But it's closer to perfection today than it was 50 years ago, and was then more so than 50 years before. Holland of course sets the civilized standard with regards to municipal levees, an area where the US qualifies as relatively uncivilized. But in terms of women and minority groups having rights, where can you find a higher level of civilization on earth today than in the US? 2001 Afgahnistan, by a definition of "cvilization" that utilizes standards, was hundreds of years behind.