June 11, 2006

"Not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. characterizes the three suicides that just took place at the Guantanamo prison.


Michael Farris said...

Because who would be driving to desperation by being held indefinitely with no rights and no prospect for that ever changing.

We is _way_ over the other side of the looking glass.

Meade said...

"[Hermann Abu-Göring is] the latest [victim] and the most serious so far in the ongoing effort of [the Coalition] to impose a lawless system that denies justice, fairness and due process to [so-called "war criminals"] throughout the world," Goodman said. "This is an act of desperation because [he would] have no way to prove [his] innocence [and no way to drive an airliner straight into a Manhattan skyscraper filled with thousands of innocent civilians]. A system without justice is a system without hope."

Bissage said...

Perhaps not the most facially credible of soundbites. Oh, well. Close enough for government work.

Had I been asked for comment, I would have explained that the three detainees suffered from "intermittent explosive disorder" and had passed through their phase of "sense of relief" and had gone on to their phase of "remorse for the incident."

Joe Baby said...

At least these suicides didn't take any innocent victims in the process.

The Drill SGT said...

These guys were taken for the most part on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Historicly, prisoners taken captive on the battlefield faced the following alternatives:

1. Immediate execution
2. Slavery
3. Ransom
4. Recently indefinite internment, til the war was over.

Which is the preferred alternative?

Did I mention that even if we wanted to, we have a problem sending these folks back to their countries of origin where the locals would either:

1. Kill them, See rule 1
2. Torture them, see rule 2
3. Free them, see rule 3

1st world Do Gooders, be they individuals or EU nations who wish us to free these savages, should agree to adopt prisoners by taking them into their homes or societies?

what?, NIMBY!!! why? because these are very bad people for the most part and can't be trusted.

Jacques Cuze said...

Many of the folks in gitmo captured in Afghanistan were sold to the United States for money and to curry favor.

If it was asymmetric warfare than it was a nice piece of jujitsu. If we were treating these people humanely, there would not be nearly so many (45 I believe) suicide attempts and we would not have to be force feeding them, a form of torture that everyone but the DoD and Professor Ann Althouse shuns.

Jacques Cuze said...

Gah! Jackie Northam (no relation) NPR's reporter just said "what was interesting was that the gitmo commander called this an act of asymmetric warfare...."

With all due respect to the commander and the Army, what the hell does NPR's reporter think the gitmo commander is going to say?

"Liane, this morning the commander of Gitmo said these men were driven to suicide by desperation. We asked if this could be some form of warfare against us, and he said, no, no, it was desperation."

Jebus, NPR really sucks these days.

Bissage said...

Mary: My advice is don't take the Drill SGT's advice. Simple mountain men make terrible roommates. No matter how innocent they may be, you'll find they're always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Joe said...

I would be in favor of free rope and noose tying lessons for these subhumans.
Seriously, unlawful combatants have no rights, under Geneva or otherwise. In other wars they would have been summarily executed. In this first politically correct war, they live in relative comfort - I wager that conditions at Gitmo are far better than some state prisons in the US are for people who actually have rights under our constitution - while clueless Western dhimmis agitate for their release and our ultimate defeat.

Joe Baby said...

Keep Gitmo open, publicize it even more. It sends a clear message to those who wear no uniform and hide among civilians, with a side benefit of really bugging the authors at Huffington Post.

PatCA said...

As to the the asymmetrical warfare angle, I must note that the suicides happened at the same time as Fox News made a visit to the prison. O'Reilly's (sympathetic I'm sure) report will air Monday. Coincidence?

No, Mary, we are not infallible, but we still have to make war occasionally to make sure more of our people don't die than theirs. Our police are not infallible either, yet we must continue to arrest people for rape and murder because, oddly enough, all criminals have not yet bought in to your utopian world view. I feel like I am talking to a child, but grow a spine: that's life, full of grey when despite your demand for black and white.

MadisonMan said...

PatCA: Normally, when the police arrest the wrong man (woman), they aren't then held indefinitely.

Joe: and if these people are innocent of all they've been accused of, then what? You classify them as subhumans -- I wager you and the subhumans have far more similarities than differences. I don't mean that as an insult to you, but to point out a basic truth.

Bissage said...

Apologies to the Drill SGT. My 10:17 wasn't meant as a criticism of your point, with which I mostly agree.

I really need to improve my commenting skills.

PatCA said...

You are agreeing with me that sometimes mistakes are made. Sometimes the wrong people are executed or held for life. That is not enough of a reason for me to stop catching criminals and terrorists! If we tried like them like US citizens, some would still no doubt be convicted in error, correct? And if you think the prisoners in Cuba are legitimate military, would you tolerate them being shot, like we shot German saboteurs in WWII?

Again, what do you and Mary want?? Tell us, please, what "level of accuracy" you approve of and tell us how we accomplish that.

Elizabeth said...

Some of these guys were sold by other Afghans for the bounty. There's every reason to believe that not every man held in Gitmo is a combatant or terrorist. To assume each is "subhuman," and to taunt those who believe America ought to follow the rule of law as being childish reveals the cavernous holes in your own character. The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 have had far more success in bringing down what is good and right about America than I could have imagined.

Elizabeth said...

"That is not enough of a reason for me to stop catching criminals and terrorists!"

It is enough reason to hold trials, to prove that the individuals are indeed criminals and terrorists.

Joe Baby said...

Give the interrogators some credit. If anyone was "sold for bounty" they would likely already be released, as many have been.

The most likely candidates for suicide are those who have come to realize they are an empty shell casing, so to speak. If no longer able to take some infidels w/ you, might as well get on with cozying up to the six-doz virgins.

Finally, asymmetic warfare is not an irrational possibility. It was only weeks ago that several prisoners attempted/faked suicide in order to attack the guards.

P.S. Terrorists wearing no uniform neither deserve nor are entitled to a trial.

Elizabeth said...

Joe, baby, how would you know the most likely reasons for someone's suicide? Are you using the same super mindreading power that lets you identify terrorists who aren't wearing their terrorist uniform?

Joe Baby said...

Seems like there's plenty of mind-reading, motive-judging, and guilt-weighing to go around in here.

Be nice if the Marines at Haditha got the same benefit of the doubt.

Ricardo said...

"The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 have had far more success in bringing down what is good and right about America than I could have imagined."

Elizabeth: Actually, the vast majority of the damage post-911 has been a "self-inflicted injury" on our part. We should have known better, we should have acted better, but we didn't, for a number of now very obvious reasons. It was like a "perfect storm", all coming together at the right (or wrong) time in our history. But I understand what you're saying.

Elizabeth said...

Joe, comparing the Haditha case to this is inane. The Marines are being given every bit of due process, and that's occuring only after attempts to cover up the incident. There are people commenting here today that assume there's nothing to be learned about the guilt or innocence of the subhumans in Gitmo, and they're just lucky they weren't shot on sight, sold into slavery or ransomed (I'm not sure citing medieval warfare practice really means squat in this context, but there you go, that's what we've devolved to.) I would hope our own Marines don't get that kind of "benefit of the doubt."

Joe Baby said...

Point was, not only the right-wing engages in what-if's and betcha-what-happened theories.

Assumption is the mother of chat rooms and blog commentry. Offering a counter-theory to the "ransomed innocent prisoners at Gitmo despair and make homemade neckties" line of thought hardly seems outrageous, esp. considering what politicians and bloggers have been known to theorize.

PatCA said...

Here we are again at the Big Wall, a place where we cannot even agree who the real enemy is.

So see you--and have a good Sunday (even tho that's Christo-normative).

J said...

"I would hope our own Marines don't get that kind of "benefit of the doubt.""

That's exactly the "benefit of the doubt" our soldiers get when captured by the enemy.

Brendan said...

Cry me a river. Did we kill them? No. Did we torture them? No. Were they in despair? Probably. After all, it's prison. US taxpayers will now save about $150,000 per year. Gracias.

Mary said...

"...a place where we cannot even agree who the real enemy is."

Pat, if it helps you and the right any, the real enemy is not folks like Elizabeth and me. Everybody who's not in lockstep with this administration is not against America.

I know y'all are frustrated by current events, but taking it out on those you perceive as "leftists" or liberals is not really helping the country any.

Sean said...

Gee, Mary, what are you saying? That no American is the real enemy? Are you just as mad at people who say that George Bush is the real enemy? I was on the Yale campus this weekend, where there were a bunch of fliers advertising a colloquium on how George Bush should be impeached: are you going to go the colloquium and protest?

The Drill SGT said...

When you look at the folks we have in custody at Gitmo, I think you need to make two successive subdivisions.


1. Afghan nationals
2. Non Afghans

I would suspect, but don't have the demographics but suspect that if we still hold any afghan we and the Afghan government think they are guilty and have some level of group. Because we are fairly certain that the current Afghan government has the same alignment we have on this issue, I also suspect that most of the other afghans have been returned. To the extent that any of this second class of prisoners were sold into captivity, it would seem that locals would know of the possible grudges, etc.

As for the second major group, 2. Non Afghans, they are more problematic. I suspect that in this group we have less proof of guilt, but a higher confidence in their guilt\, albeit with less proof. Yes, I suspect that many of these folks were sold to the US in return for rewards. The operative question in my mind is: In the middle of war-torn Afghanistan, after 9/11, under rule by the Taliban, in a country that has few sights, and little export economy beyond opium, what were these non afghan nationals doing there except preparing for Holy War?

The three suicides were 2 Saudi's and a Yemeni. Apparently captured in Afghanistan. What were the odds that they were Taliban or AQ recruits and what are the odds that they were tourists?

Jennifer said...

The Marines are being given every bit of due process, and that's occuring only after attempts to cover up the incident.

It rather sounds like you're pretty convinced of their guilt. Where's the benefit of the doubt? If you're interested, read this. I don't think there's any certainty of either an incident of wrongdoing or a coverup.

There's every reason to believe that not every man held in Gitmo is a combatant or terrorist.

I have to admit that I don't understand this at all. Why is there every reason to believe that? I'm interested in specifics.

My question to all is what would you have them do at this point? Release every prisoner to the country they came from? To the country they were caught in? To the country they want to go to?

Keep the worst offenders and release the rest? Where do you draw the line? People that tried to kill US soldiers and civilians? Only people that succeeded? Only people that promise they won't do it again?

If you don't think we are doing the right thing, I'd really like to know what you think the right thing is.

Because who would be driving to desperation by being held indefinitely with no rights and no prospect for that ever changing.

Claiming they have no rights is pure horseshit. They have limited rights. They are most certainly granted some rights. The fact that many of them have been released makes your claim that there is no prospect for that ever changing horseshit too.

Clearly this was an act of desperation, though. A well timed and coordinated act of desperation on the part of three desperate souls. Who were clearly just at exactly the same desperation level at exactly the same time.

Elizabeth said...

No, Jennifer, I'm not convinced that we know what happened at Haditha yet. We do know that whatever happened there has gone through several stages of reporting, and that some involved in the chain of reporting might have acted to head off any further investigation.

J, what the enemy does to our captured service people, and to civilians they kidnap, is no example for us to follow. Any step we make in that direction diminishes us, and our values.

As for impeaching the president, was Clinton your enemy? Even if some people are arguing that Bush has committed acts that call for impeachment, that's hardly synonymous with calling him a terrorist, or our enemy.

Jennifer said...

Mary - I'm confused. It sounds like the appeals court ruled that what we're doing at Gitmo is ok. Am I reading that wrong?

Elizabeth - Good - those guys deserve a fair trial. With all the politics, I don't know that they'll get one if public perception is overwhelmingly negative - regardless of the facts.

Elizabeth said...

Last week, I believe Bush commented that we're waiting on the SC to deal with the Gitmo issue. Whatever they rule, we will eventually, within no more than a couple of years, have to close the place, and how we do it will go a long way toward defining our image. Our own allies (Germany, Britain, other Euro allies) are not behind us on Gitmo, even while they support us in crucial aspects of the war. However we disband it, we'll need to put the inmates through some sort of justice system, ours or their own nations' perhaps. We can't run it indefinately.

Katherine said...

I've read a whole bunch of the CSRTs....

I wouldn't assume the Afghan nationals are guilty, or that we're on the same page as Karzai. Whole bunch of conscripts who surrendered at the first opportunity. Whole bunch of dirt farmers. People in there for opposing certain warlords; other people in there for supporting the exact same warlords. A couple of Hazara who described the Taliban massacres of their villages--I thought "boy, I hope the panel had read the Kite Runner."

There's a set of 6 prisoners who were taken from a Taliban prison to GTMO, who were tortured by the Taliban and/or Al Qaeda--4 of them are still there, 3 still deemed enemy combatants.

All of the Uighurs tell basically the same story, so I don't know why 5 were thought not to be enemy combatants and 15-odd were.

In general, a whole lot of very, very unlucky people. And not much rhyme or reason to it.

Some are accused of a lot more serious stuff, but it's all incredibly vague--these aren't real hearings; the panel hasn't even seen the classified evidence when the prisoner speaks to them. They just read vague charges, listen to his explanations, then open the classified file & find he didn't meet his burden of disproving the evidence he's not allowed to see.

Katherine said...

There are two separate sets of GTMO cases making their way through the courts. The first is Hamdan, a challenge to the military commissions. There are only ten prisoners charged before those commissions right now, but that case does affect everyone, ESPECIALLY now that it is also dealing with the attempt to strip juridiction from GTMO.

The other case, the one that's actually Rasul on remand, called Boumedienee or In Re Guantanamo Detainee Cases, is still before the D.C. Circuit. That one is the habeas corpus challenge to the detention itself. The Supreme Court ruled that the courts have jurisidiction over the habeas case, but now the gov't argues that jursidiction is meaningless because they can legally do whatever they want to these people--they have no rights. The prisoners' lawyers argue that they are protected by the U.S. Constitution, and that they are protected by the habeas statute itself (i.e. it's illegal to detain them as enemy combatants unless they're actually enemy combatants, or there's some evidence of this.)

It's a bad panel for the prisoners at the DC Circuit, but if Hamdan gives a ringing endorsement of their rights and the courts' of authority that might change things.

Al Maviva said...

I believe that any captured AQ should be immediately given Permanent Resident Alien status, and released in Berkeley, Madison, Manhattan, and Lawrence, KS. Heck, we should give them a government stipend.

That way we could test the assertion I see constantly, that most of these detainees are just poor innocent people swept up by the big bad Uncle Sam.

FWIW, there's no clear legal answer for what to do with them. If we are treating them as EPW, then they cannot be tried in U.S. courts. If they are not covered as EPW, then the traditional remedy under the laws of land warfare are field courts martial for sabotage, as they are illegal combatants. Trial in U.S. civilian courts would be a travesty, violating all our principles of territorially-linked jurisdiction. I guess there's always the Hague... good luck on getting anybody in that part of the world to take on these trials. Simple repatriation to their home nations is probably illegal, as they places most AQ fighters hail from - outside of Chicago and Northern Virginia - torture AQ members, so repatriation would be forbidden under the C.A.T.

So I reiterate: why not give them resident alien status, and let them go in Madison? Who could it hurt, right Elizabeth?

knoxgirl said...

This comments thread is, for me, a microcosm of left's take on the war on terror.

The assumption of the commenters on the left is that: whatever is going on at Gitmo, U.S. motivations are suspect; whatever American soldiers have been accused of, it is an outrage, not an anomaly; and whatever the U.S. military is accused of, they are likely corrupt, and likely to cover it up.

Yet the prisoners of Gitmo should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

People with suspected terrorist connections are given every nonsensical benefit of the doubt. Our own young men, none. They don't meet whatever warped standard the left applies to those with suspected terrorist connections.

And the left wants us to believe it really loves America, and loves and respects our soldiers. I call bullsh*t.

MadisonMan said...

whatever is going on at Gitmo, U.S. motivations are suspect

My problem with Gitmo is that there seems to have been absolutely no foresight. No one seems to have asked: How will we close this place down? And this is entirely consistent with the dreadful planning that accompanied almost all aspects of this war.

And why shouldn't US Soldiers be held to a higher level of behavior than your garden variety terrorist? Sorry, but that's what I expect of my fellow citizens. Even a whiff of scandal works against what is supposed to be accomplished in Iraq.

Elizabeth said...

So I reiterate: why not give them resident alien status, and let them go in Madison? Who could it hurt, right Elizabeth?

That's good, Al. It's a legal connundrum! What can we do? Turn a serious issue into a petty little whine about the terrorist loving lefties.

Elizabeth said...

madisonman, your mistake is trying to respond to a simple-minded, stereotyped projection of knoxgirl's imaginary leftwing bogeymen. No one here has said anything even remotely denying the Marines accused in Haditha presumption of innocence. No one has said anything remotely indicating a belief that the U.S. military is routinely committing atrocities. But conservatives dont' have to let the truth get in the way of their rhetoric. Lefties are bad, they hate America. If there's not actual evidence of that, it's okay. We all just know it. And if you don't agree, you have no sense of humor.

knoxgirl said...

big-talking lady

LOL! Oh Lord, that makes my day! If that dorky portrait was ever proved accurate, it's here!

knoxgirl said...

Chief Seattle say: "Big-talking lady heap big criticism on lefties."

Elizabeth said...

Sorry, Mary, I have to disagree with you on rhetoric.

But however politely or crassly they're phrased, don't expect a response to any substantive questions. It's all about LOL, chortle chortle.

MadisonMan said...

It's all about LOL, chortle chortle.

Or denigrating the patriotism of you or your state, when there are very few who live in states with higher per capita deaths of soldiers in Iraq than Wisconsin (where I am) and Louisiana (where Elizabeth is).

Elizabeth said...


Add Texas and California to that list, where my family has in the past two years celebrated the return of two servicemembers, one from Iraq and one from Afghanistan. But of course, in righwing fantasy land, lefties don't actually know any people in the military. We're just full of false concerns for them.