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October 17, 2006

Damned right they can keep you forever


Did you know that the US is still holding a guy they picked up on a sweep after 9/11 in Arizona, without charge?

The Associated Press has learned that Ali Partovi is still in custody five years after he and 1,200 other Arab and Muslim men were rounded up after 9/11.

Partovi is representing himself in several civil rights lawsuits. He reports being tortured in prison.

Partovi is currently housed at the Florence Correctional Facility in Arizona. The government insists that Partovi is the last detainee from the 9/11 sweeps, but several other arrestees remain unaccounted for.

In other habeas corpus news, AP photographer Bilal Hussein is still being held without charge in a US prison camp. The Pentagon is refusing pleas from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Associated Press to charge Mr. Hussein with a crime or release him. Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people being held by the US without charges.


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The government insists that Partovi is the last detainee from the 9/11 sweeps, but several other arrestees remain unaccounted for.

That sentence is truly terrifying.

We're starting to develop a human rights track record that would make Argentina under the colonels look good.

Maybe young people, at least, are paying attention. What happens when you plot the political party affiliations of Amerticans by age, overlaid on a chart of who was president when they were twenty years old? You">">You get this huge gap, as Bush creates more young Democrats than even Nixon did.

The article doesn't really seem to go with this post very well. 1) Partovi was not in the US on 9/11 and has apparently never been a resident; he was arrested trying to enter the US with a fake passport sometime after 9/11. 2) The DHS spokesman claims that Partovi was offered the chance to return to Iran after serving his sentence, but Partovi refused. Partovi didn't talk to the AP reporter much but what he said doesn't contradict this -- he's staying in jail pending legal action over his mistreatment and, probably, is appealing his denial of asylum status.

I'd certainly like to know more about him, though.

--We're starting to develop a human rights track record that would make Argentina under the colonels look good.--

Oh, yeah sure. Argentina under the colonels threw people out of airplanes, executed parents and stole the children children, forbade any dissent.

Yeah, Bush is doing worse than that. We've really learned our history, eh?

oops children should only appear once. Mea culpa.

Oh God, I can't believe I'm getting into it with Phanty again. Oh well, here goes nothing. Phanty, the point is that we don't know what the Bush administration has done and will do in the future, and we may never know, due to a combination of the recent laws and Bush's willingness to cry "national security" to prevent release of any incriminating documents. But beyond what happens here, you seem to have forgotten the phrase "extraordinary rendition." Why is it that the American record shouldn't include what is done in places where we send people to?

I'm going to speculate here, but I'd be happy to have you dispute this. You seem to have some sort of touching faith in American exceptionalism, such that you reject out of hand any idea that the US might be like other empires in history. Have you read, just to cite the 20th century, of our record in the Philippines? Specifically regarding the Argentines, why do you seem not to want to entertain the entirely plausible possibility of back-channel connections between the US and the Argentine generals (Madison guy must be confusing the Argentines with the Greeks, who had "colonels" -- an understandable confusion, as the US had a direct hand in putting the Greek colonels in power)? Does the phrase "School of the Americas" mean anything to you?

Just to head off any objections, I'm perfectly willing to hear Realpolitik arguments that our imperial position requires these sort of actions, just as it requires the charade whereby we let others do the dirty work, under our tutelage and support, so that tender-hearted people here can maintain their naive beliefs in our essential goodness. What I can't understand is why we adults need to hide *our* heads in the sand, just so you won't get lonely with yours down there.

I don't deal in Chomsky baby-talk about "imperial position" and the like. My city, my friends, and my country were attacked. I support a very robust response and make no apology.

I fail to see the slightest comparison between the Argentina of the generals and the United States of today. For starters, the crimes/excesses of the Argentine military were in the main directed against Argentines. The largely effective action (as I see it)/human rights catastrophe (as you may see it) in Guantanemo et al are directed against noncitizens, enemies of this country.

And yes, I know about the Canadian guy. Mistakes were made. Some mistakes were ineveitable. I will not make excuses for the US or the Canadians who turned us on to him.

But to compare this country today with Argentina in the 1970s is, frankly, stupid and uninformed on many different levels; it does not really merit discussion.

Phantom, noncitizens aren't automatically "enemies of this country."

Phantom, I made two basic points that you completely miss or duck, either through inability to understand my points or unwillingness to examine your presuppositions. So I'll repeat them.

1) Bush's position is that neither you nor I nor anyone should be able to know what is being done. So what I'm saying is that we *can't* compare the US and Argentina. You seem, somehow, to think that I *am* comparing them.

2) Much of what is being done is being done elsewhere, via extraordinary rendition or CIA secret prisons. While we can never know what is being done, I want to know why *you* seem to think it is out of the question to compare what is being done there to what was done in Argentina. I speculated that this is because of an unexamined and untenable belief in American exceptionalism on your part.

My point #2 is badly formulated. Let me rephrase it: While we can never know for certain what is being done around the world in our name, given our historical record of torture by our own agents in the Philippines and in Vietnam, and the record of our allies in South America, including Argentina, and our documented teaching of interrogation tactics and robust responses at the School of the Americas, then any out-of-hand dismissals of comparisons between the totality of actions done by and for Americans all around the world and the Argentine situation seems to me to suggest an unexamined and untenable belief in American exceptionalism.

Lindsay, you left out this part of the article:

Boyd said the department would like to remove Partovi from the United States but that he refuses to return to his homeland of Iran.

Kind of changes things a bit, yes?

Oh, I see Neil kind of hit on that aspect of the situation already.

"My city, my friends, and my country were attacked. I support a very robust response and make no apology."

Throwing people in jail forever who don't have any connection to terrorist attacks is not a "robust response", since it's not aimed at the guilty party. It's entirely possible to have a "robust response" without throwing away the rule of law, unless you have some problem with democracy as a concept.

FWIW, I've lived in twocities that suffered major terrorist attacks and I'm not foaming at the mouth with mindless vengeance towards anybody and everybody with brown skin.

The implication behind Phantom's garbage, and indeed the populist "kick ass vengeance" attitude is that the 9/11 attacks somehow represent a unique point in the history of mankind, so all of the institutions and attitudes developed in, say, the past five hundred years must be discarded. After all, the most effective way to fight terrorism is to transform the United States into some kind of medieval monarchy, complete with Divine Right, torture, and denial of habeas corpus.

Thanks for f*cking up the United States, a$$hole! 1984 isn't a user's guide, you twit!

Where have I heard that before? :)

Its not about comparison, who is, or was, the meanest bastard in history. This is about giving a very little group of money- and blood-thursty gang of thugs the total "carte blanche" to do what they like, to every living skin on this planet, without ever have to be taken responsible for it. Whatever they did in the past or will do in the future, they are in the clear. As long as they are in office. From Holland with love, Ptr
PS whatever happened with WTC7 and the ENRON-dossiers.
Who where in that?
Follow the money, they'll show.


The original point that I responded to was Madison's comparison of the USA to 1970s Argentina. I accept that you are not comparing the situations.

What was done in the Philippines was done a long, long time ago. I recently made comment about what Gerry Studds did in 1983, and the essential response was "who cares, that was more than 20 years ago". So yes, I can think about what happened in the Philippines, even though it was "like so long ago" but I do not see any direct relevance to what is happening now vs our Islamic-terrorist friends.

I want us to prevail in the war on terror, a war that must be fought in the world that exists, not in the world that we may all want it to be. Does that mean doing deals with bad countries, as FDR did with Stalin? Yes.

Does that mean that special places like Guantanemo Bay are necessary? Emphatically yes. With a tribunal appeal system.

Does it mean that extraordinary rendition should exist? Though it will shock some, I'll say yes to that too. We don't have an abundance of Arabic translators or people with local knowledge in the US. Our Arab allies do. If that means that some of these guys get a flight to Egypt courtesy of the US taxpayer, then off they go. I'd be opposed to ER of people nabbed in the US, but if they're found in Iraq or Aghanistan, then that is fine.

I do understand the awful mistake that happened with the Canadian citizen, and I would want steps taken to prevent that. But extraordinary rendition, yes, I support it, as would many US citizens.

Rick D
You may learn as you mature that calling people assholes wins neither friends nor arguments.

Those who are tied to terrorist organizations should be held until the terrorist war is over. Once it ends, I'd be all for giving them a business class ticket back to Kandahar or wherever. But until the war ends, we have a moral duty to keep them off the battlefield, which is anywhere to those guys.

A number of those released from Gitmo have been found in hostile activities against the US/allies. Which kinda gives the lie to the argument that there is no appeal process and that these boys are all peaceful villagers unfairly seized.

This is a unique time. There has never been a terrorist threat of worldwide in scope before. I oppose any effort to fight this war as we fought previous wars. This is a different enemy, playing by different rules entirely.

Fight them by the rules of WWI and loss is certain.

Those who read my blog will know that I met some wounded veterans two nights ago, including one who lost a leg in the Afghan mountains, another who lost one to an IED in Iraq.

Without seeking to steer the response, I asked them if they agreed with the war and the mission. While both were critical of different decisions, both emphatically believed that cause was right, and their only regret was that they could no longer serve in a combat capacity. Anecdotal I know, but anecdotes are worth repeating.

The dinner was for a good cause, one that I hope opponents of the war policy would share, so if anyone cares to, take a look here

Phantom (I'm sorry I've stooped to invective in the past and will not do so again), you make a perfectly reasonable Realpolitik argument. I disagree with it, on Realpolitik, not moral grounds, that is, on the basis of what I understand to be a large slice of expert opinion that agrees that torture-derived information is less than useful: it wastes time tracing down false leads, and it destroys the potential for alliances and information sharing with a number of nations. There is also the bait and switch involved in intuition-pumping memes like the ticking bomb scenario and the real life of routinizing torture in Gitmo and elsewhere.

The root of our disagreement I think is that I believe you have completely overblown the current menace with your "unique time" argument.

But all that is to the side of the present topic, which is my proposal that you are invested in a belief in American exceptionalism. It seems that by your endorsement of ER you have agreed to broaden the scope of the human rights record to beyond the US borders. So, leaving aside the inability to know for certain what is going on, we come back to the issue of why you wanted to so quickly dismiss Madison guy's point in which he wanted to compare the US record (which should not be restricted to what happens here) with the Argentines. Madison guy's suggestion that we must at least be approaching their ballpark by now, with no end in sight (remember that Rumsfeld has spoken in terms of decades, a "Long War") perhaps doesn't warrant out-of-hand dismissal.

Regarding the Philippines and Vietnam, I'm not sure what the temporal limits in discussing torture techniques is, nor how we should calculate our share of the reponsibility for Cold War and post-Cold War torture done by proxy or by client states.

Anyway, I'm glad that you could meet with the wounded vets, and I'm glad that they have preserved a belief in the mission. It must be a solace to them to think that their sacrifice has not been in vain. I wonder how long they will be able to preserve that belief, particularly the Iraq vet, as the Iraq campaign unfolds. I wish them nothing but the best in the long years of psychological and physical struggle ahead of them.

Phantom, just a point of clarification. Gerry Studds was *censured* in 1983, along with Dan Crane (R-Illinois), for sexual relations with a page in 1973. (Crane's relations occured in 1980). Wikipedia has a decent article on it here.


No apology necessary.

Re the vets:
Separate and apart from war discussions, which were brief, they are amazing to be around. These people were more positive about the future than any of us nine to fivers in the room.

Having come close to death, they have an appreciation for life that knocked me out. To a man or woman they're very positive about the future, more than any group I've met.

I wouldn't think for a minute that all wounded vets are this positive, etc. But it was great to see these people, I intend to support this Wounded Warriors group and help it as I can. I'll write a bit more about them soon.

As will not surprise you, there is a very strong bond between Wounded Warrior and the FDNY.

Hey, Phantom, I'm not much of an expert in this whole war on terrorism thing. I mean, hell, I think that if we have 100,000 terrorist enemies - an estimate that far outstrips any estimates I've seen - then we can handle that threat using ordinary means. I mean, heck, we have 1.5 times as many people whose time we can waste in an invasion of Iraq.

I'm just curious: you've made some strong statements:
I want us to prevail in the war on terror, a war that must be fought in the world that exists, not in the world that we may all want it to be. Does that mean doing deals with bad countries, as FDR did with Stalin? Yes.

Does that mean that special places like Guantanemo Bay are necessary? Emphatically yes. With a tribunal appeal system.

Necessary? How, specifically, are "special places like Guantanemo Bay" necessary? What, specifically makes them necessary?

Now, let's not try to impugn your expertise with the tyranny of low expectations! I expect nothing less than a demonstration that *without* such a place, failure is either guaranteed, or so incredibly unlikely that we can not reasonably expect it.

You could do this by showing two situations, exactly equivalent to modern America, facing similarly small, similarly manageable threats by similarly small numbers of people, where one had an unlawful torture house, and the other didn't.

I suppose this isn't a fair comparison; if they're just like modern America, it would seem that one is led by cowards who think unlawful detention and torture are necessary, and the other is lead by brave people who aren't willing to compromise their moral values. Still, give it your best shot.

I suppose an alternative method of proof would be you proving that the threat and numbers aren't as small as the experts all suggest.

Regardless of what method you choose, be assured I await your response with a paucity of expectations.


Can't respond now, will respond later

I'm not sure there's any alternative to insulting The Phantom and other people like him here. His position is immoral and criminal. He himself is immoral. That's basically the point here.

I mean this isn't some small point. He's essentialy a genocide advocate. You can't discuss this with an attitude that you might discuss whether vanilla is better than chocolate ice cream.

At issue here is in part what it means to be human and the necessity of society to utterly reject moral monsters like The Phantom.

There's no nice way to say what needs to be said is there?


Hey, you have a lot of funny posts here

I loved this one

If you don't like me, I must be doing something right!

Phantom (Moral Monster)

"If you don't like me, I must be doing something right!"

I'm not sure that's how it works.

Also: digging up dirt? Wow, extra classy!

I do like to know the caliber of individual I am dealing with.

And DavidByron may take offense at your calling his "essays" dirt!! The man's a genius I tell you!

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