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US torturers non-terrorists
US torturers non-terrorists
The problem with torture and denying due process to suspected terrorists, apart from giving the US a terrible reputation and destroying our ideals of liberty and human rights, is that we injure innocent people! Same problem with the death penalty. We execute some innocent people. Human justice is quite fallible and incompetent. US moral authority to confront true tryrants and totalitarian regimes suffer from our own torture camps!
The US has released 300 suspected terrorists without charges, after years of inhumane treatment and torture. Without compensation or apology! the US now claims only 8% of those detained are terrorist fighters! Yet the Bush admin wants to continue the status quo!
The only good news is that in two years Bush will be gone and perhaps America will wake up and replace him with a decent sane human!
Reflections on War, Detention and Rights
By ADAM LIPTAK
Mamdouh Habib, an Australian who says he was tortured in Egypt before being sent to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for intense interrogation and indefinite detention, had reason to be wary when a man claiming to be his lawyer came to see him in the fall of 2004.
The lawyer, Joseph Margulies, had anticipated the reasonable fears of a client who for years had been tricked, disoriented, humiliated and worse. He had a letter of introduction from Mr. Habib’s wife, Maha. But American interrogators had once falsely told Mr. Habib that his wife was dead, and Mr. Margulies feared that his client would think the letter a forgery or the product of coercion.
As backup, Mr. Margulies came armed with a few memories Mrs. Habib had shared with him about her husband: “the location of their first date, the first gift he gave her, and the people who looked after their youngest son when their oldest boy was ill.”
“There is no reason to repeat those private reminiscences here,” Mr. Margulies writes in “Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power,” “but suffice it to say, they worked. When I shared that information with Mamdouh, he began to cry.”
The detention center at Guantánamo Bay, created in early 2002 to hold suspected terrorists, is still home to about 450 prisoners. Mr. Margulies filed suit on behalf of four of them, including Mr. Habib, just months after the first Guantánamo camp was built. For the next two years the Bush administration refused to let the four men know about the suit, much less meet with their lawyer.
It was in that case, Rasul v. Bush, that the Supreme Court in June 2004 landed the first body blow to the Bush administration’s assertion that it has the unilateral power to designate people as terrorists and then hold them forever without charges. Mr. Margulies’s meeting with Mr. Habib followed the Rasul decision.
Last month, in a kind of sequel to Rasul, the Supreme Court said the administration’s plans for trying Guantánamo prisoners using secret evidence offended both military justice and international law. The administration and Congress are at work recasting those plans, and the Pentagon announced this week that it will comply with an important provision of the Geneva Conventions, the one prohibiting “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”
Mr. Habib was lucky in his lawyer, as Mr. Margulies is a resourceful advocate, a serious and sober legal analyst and a fine, sometimes luminous writer. In his new book Mr. Margulies weaves together a history of wartime interrogation, a consideration of the legal standards that apply to it and an assessment of the toll that Guantánamo has taken on the men and boys held there, and on the nation’s reputation and values.
The book’s title, with its dry allusion to the separation of powers, does not do it justice. “Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power” represents the best account yet of what Mr. Margulies calls “a human rights debacle that will eventually take its place alongside other wartime misadventures, including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the prosecutions under the Espionage and Sedition Acts during World War I, and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War.”
The first problem in considering Guantánamo is one of metaphor. It is a prison, certainly, but not one meant to mete out punishment for past crimes. It is a kind of prisoner-of-war camp too, a way to incapacitate supposed combatants for the duration of hostilities so that they cannot return to the field of battle. But here the hostilities – the so-called war on terror – may last forever. And the battlefield is the globe.
Most crucially, Guantánamo is an interrogation chamber. To be effective, administration strategists said, it should operate outside the American legal system, “without the risk,” Mr. Margulies writes, “of interference by courts and counsel into the delicate ‘relationship’ between interrogators and prisoners.” And to be more effective yet, they went on, the prisoners had to be denied the protections of the Geneva Conventions.
Until Guantánamo, the United States had an excellent reputation for the humane treatment of captured combatants. During World War II, for instance, Mr. Margulies writes, when more than 400,000 German, Italian and Japanese prisoners of war were held in the United States, their captors followed the Geneva Conventions “with an almost compulsive regard.” Because the conventions require that prisoners be afforded the same living conditions as their guards, for instance, American camp commanders ordered their own soldiers to sleep in tents until barracks for the prisoners were completed.
The Guantánamo prisoners, by contrast, were made to endure stress positions, extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation, blaring music, strobe lights, religious insults and sexual humiliation. Three prisoners there recently committed suicide.
In “Oath Betrayed” Dr. Steven H. Miles, an expert on medical ethics, collects evidence that “armed forces physicians, nurses and medics had been passive and active partners in the systemic neglect and abuse of prisoners” at Guantánamo, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
In his short, passionate and disjointed book, made up mostly of information from raw documents, reports and news accounts, Dr. Miles allows outrage to substitute for analysis. Still, he collects countless examples of medical complicity in abuse that is all the more disturbing for the lack of any notable protest. Doctors have, Dr. Miles writes, certified prisoners as healthy enough to withstand harsh treatment, monitored them during interrogations and concealed evidence of their mistreatment.
“Enough practitioners complied when they should have resisted, or kept quiet when they should have spoken out,” Dr. Miles writes, “to allow abusive interrogational practices and a neglectful prison environment to operate largely without medical opposition or disclosure.”
Lawyers were also slow to rise to the challenge of Guantánamo. In the early days the establishment bar and even some of the major civil rights groups held their fire, leaving it to Mr. Margulies and a handful of other lawyers – notably those of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, Thomas B. Wilner of Shearman & Sterling in Washington and Clive Stafford Smith in New Orleans – to file the most important American lawsuits since the Sept. 11 attacks. In an aside on page 158 of his book, Mr. Margulies notes that he was not paid for his work on the Rasul case.
Inside the government, though, the situation was more complicated. Lawyers in the military and the State Department fought an honorable if largely losing battle to try to preserve the Geneva Conventions.
In 2002 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld described those held at Guantánamo as “among the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.” But a recent study prepared at the Seton Hall University School of Law shows that just 8 percent of the detainees were even said by the government to be Qaeda fighters.
More than 300 Guantánamo detainees have been released or transferred, Mr. Habib among them. The United States government never charged him with a crime, and he is back in Australia, a free man.
7/13/2006 3:20 pm
I just have to ask....If you think what we do is so bad, then how do you feel about the civilians in iraq who are there helping rebuild, providing care for the injured, or just simply reporting what is going on having their heads chopped off or attacked. What we do is just what the media wants you to think we do. They will do whatever they can just put down our president. It has been like that for every single president and always will. Just because people say they were tortured doesnt mean they were. The media shows you the pictures of what happened at Abu Ghraib yet though dont show what the soldiers guarding these prisoners go through. A civialian will never know. You would have to be there to understand what truly goes on.|
7/14/2006 8:17 am
I don't want to know. I want our soldiers out of that hellhole! I don't justify our torture by their torture. I want due process for the accused and following the Geneva convention. I want innocent men not tortured and then released after the mistake is recognized years later. I feel sorry for the Iraqi civilians and think they should end their civil war or split apart like India and Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia did. I do not think the cost is worth it is Iraq. I say mission accomplished and come home NOW!|
8/12/2006 11:24 pm
We have a good and wonderful country, with many good and wonderful people that make the USA great. I am proud of our country, and the service men and women who serve it and are willing to pay the ultimate price to keep it safe and free for generations to come.|
Nothing is perfect. So don't make a few issues a reason to maliciously malign or slander our country, our people, and our military.
OUR country is the most giving and the most considerate country in this entire world. Our military doesn't just fight wars. Our military has always been involved in more humanitarian missions, than any other military ever. We have good, decent citizens and non-citizens serving our country. Did you hear me right? Both citizens- and non-citizens serving our great country. We have the most diverse military on this planet, with people who are not citizens willing on sacrificing their lives for the good of our country and our people as well.
If you like to throw around your opinions, I have one to throw back at you. I think you should throw on a uniform, and spend a 6-8 in a soldiers shoes, do a deployment, having a family back at home, live off a low ranking soldiers pay check, learn to live outside the blanket of our constitution, freedoms and rights that our soldiers give up when they swear in to serve us, and see the world in its reality, and try to come back home after doing your gruelling job, with hardly any sleep or appreciation, and try to come back and smile and still be proud to be a US soldier, still loving our country as much as you love your family, and say you will do it all over again if you had to..after seeing the slandering and unappreciated media coverages that make the enemy and everyone else look so much better than us and make us sound like dirt.
Do you ever think about how they feel when they hear stuff like what you spew on a constant bases? They still remain proud of our flag, our people and their families (who also sacrifice with them everyday). They are what Honor, humility, loyalty, love, and sacrifice is about.
I just hope most people like you ingrateful, freeloading, whining, sympathetic to anyone that hates us, realize that your group is a minority here. The majority of our great nation, are really patriotic. You are heard more often only because people like you can't think of anything constructive to do with your time or energy but whine and complain as often and as loud as you can.
8/14/2006 11:50 am
I respect our soldiers and honor their sacrifice. I am a true patriot, by not whitewashing our mistakes and violations of civil rights. Only a person who is corrupt in his or her thinking accepts all acts of our government no matter how immoral. The reason we have due process and juries decide criminal indictments is because sometimes the police and military authorities make mistakes and punish an innocent man or woman. That innocent person could be you, your family or friends. |
300 detainees were released as mistaken terrorists! How would you feel about being tortured, detained for years and then it turns out to be a mistake?
Happy with a "never mind" from the US Government? One downside of being a lawyer is seeing the justice system opperate up close and personally and occasionally make a big mistake!