Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« The giant concrete dinosaurs of Pablo Escobar | Main | Amanda Marcotte sits in at the LA Times »

June 02, 2008

Ghost ships: U.S. holding detainees in secret floating prisons

The United States is holding detainees in secret floating prisons, according to the human rights group Reprieve.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c61e653ef00e552b08c598834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Ghost ships: U.S. holding detainees in secret floating prisons:

Comments

Well. That's disturbingly easy to believe.

I see the prison ships include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. I'm sure there couldn't possibly be a better way to honor the memory of the American servicemen who died in Bataan and Peleliu fighting a government of thugs and war criminals than by aping that government's thuggery.

(Oh, wait a second, we only kidnap and torture a few people and the tens of thousands of dead in our latest military adventure are the result of mere incompetence not deliberate murder, so everything's ok.)

Or rather "than to ape". Jesus, I'm tired and those BushCo assholes make me even more tired.

Find a Bataan survivor, and I'll bet a dollar to a donut that he'll not be sharing your concerns about these bums and criminals. He'll be on my side, and he'll think that you guys are beyond insane with this fixation on the rights of mass murderers.

For extra credit, see how many (not all) Japanese prisoners were handled. You would have hauled half the American soldiers of WW2 before a show trial and would been crying crocodile tears for the soldiers of the genocidal empire of Japan. After all, none of them got OJ trials, and a hell of a lot of them, especially in the aftermath of Bataan and the like, were treated with extreme prejudice indeed. Look it up.

You guys so do not understand what happened in that era and what those men, who saved this country, were all about.

Find a Bataan survivor, and I'll bet a dollar to a donut that he'll not be sharing your concerns about these bums and criminals. He'll be on my side, and he'll think that you guys are beyond insane with this fixation on the rights of mass murderers.

For extra credit, see how many (not all) Japanese prisoners were handled. You would have hauled half the American soldiers of WW2 before a show trial and would been crying crocodile tears for the soldiers of the genocidal empire of Japan. After all, none of them got OJ trials, and a hell of a lot of them, especially in the aftermath of Bataan and the like, were treated with extreme prejudice indeed. Look it up.

You guys so do not understand what happened in that era and what those men, who saved this country, were all about.

Find a Bataan survivor, and I'll bet a dollar to a donut that he'll not be sharing your concerns about these bums and criminals. He'll be on my side, and he'll think that you guys are beyond insane with this fixation on the rights of mass murderers.

For extra credit, see how many (not all) Japanese prisoners were handled. You would have hauled half the American soldiers of WW2 before a show trial and would been crying crocodile tears for the soldiers of the genocidal empire of Japan. After all, none of them got OJ trials, and a hell of a lot of them, especially in the aftermath of Bataan and the like, were treated with extreme prejudice indeed. Look it up.

You guys so do not understand what happened in that era and what those men, who saved this country, were all about.

Sorry, the comment did not appear to be captured so I did hit it three times. Please erase the duplications.

You should also erase the message where The Phantom asks you to erase the other messages.

And then this one too.

were treated with extreme prejudice indeed

Wow. Just for the record, let's hear you make it explicit and say you actually favor summary executions of prisoners of war.

Where's the proof they are bums and criminals when there's no due process? Anyone can be picked up and held without trial, without access to a lawyer, without charge? There's an extremely high risk of innocent people being abused. Even so, no criminal, no matter what he or she has done, deserves to be secreted away to some secret dungeon to be tortured (we know damn well that's what is going on. In space no one can hear you scream and the ocean is about as space-like as it gets.)

This phantom dude makes me sick. He's sickeningly thoughtless.

cfrost

-- let's hear you make it explicit and say you actually favor summary executions of prisoners of war--

No, I don't favor that at all. But you don't understand a single thing about the history and emotions that went into the Second World War, most especially in the Pacific Theater. The veterans of those campaigns would hardly want you to be speaking for them.

Lesley

The Nazi and Japanese prisoners didn't get lawyers and OJ trials either. Its war. Get used to it.

I'm friends with a Marine, now on his deathbed, who was in no less than 5 island campaigns in the Pacific, including Pelieu- where over 90% of his unit were killed. He's disgusted by what we've done in Iraq and in other parts of the world after the wannabe 'Pearl Harbor' that Bush made 9-11 to be, as any sane person would be.

The US has lashed out like a spoilt child in the aftermath of the Trade Center attacks- which should have been dealt with by the FBI and CIA, not the military- and sooner or later we'll get our comeuppance, as the Japanese did theirs. Invading Iraq was as stupid as FDR taking on Thailand for Pearl Harbor would have been.

In a just world the architects of the Iraq clusterfuck, draft dodgers/service avoiders all, would be tried and dealt with severely- along with their armchair-soldier cheerleaders- but it's hardly a just world, as is evidenced by Bush's black heart continuing to function.

As a veteran of the first of the Bush family Gulf wars, I say, piss up a rope, 'Phantom'. It seems Little Green Footballs has a lost another puppy. Scat.


Ever heard of Nuremburg, 'Phantom'? Jeez you're dumb.

Yes I have heard of Nuremburg. Seems to me that no one was tried for putting terrorist bums on a ship.

I like and share your contempt for "draft dodgers" in the halls of power, believe it or not.

And I will be entirely in favor of a swift release of the Gitmo and other criminals once a permanent end is announced of their terrorist war against us.

you don't understand a single thing about the history and emotions that went into the Second World War

Well sure, I'm not in my eighties (Phantom is?) and I have no direct, personal memories of the emotions at the time, I have my family's history, and that of people I've met who were alive at the time. There's my mother's side. My maternal grandfather was in the army reserve when Pearl Harbor was bombed. From that moment until he was demobbed in 1946, he was on permanent duty. He spent the war in the European theater. My mother's family meanwhile lived in the Marina district in San Francisco where windows were taped and real estate could be had for a song because everyone expected that to be the first place where the Japanese would land. On my father's side, my paternal grandparents were teachers in the Tule Lake Japanese relocation camp. Their kids (white) attended the same schools (it's a long story). My stepfather was a kid soldier in the US army in Europe. He crossed the Rhine on the Remagen bridge and finished the war when his unit met up with the Soviet army in Czechoslovakia.

My family moved to Germany in 1960 where we lived for the next eight years. I was enrolled in a German school. In my first year I had a teacher who was a Yugoslavian partisan, another who was sent to a concentration camp for forging documents to help Jews escape Germany, another who had spent months hiding from the Nazis in a basement room with forty other people with a bucket for a crapper, and another who had lost most of his fingers when the breach of his Wehrmacht artillery piece blew up.
On my way to school, I'd pass whole blocks of bombed-out buildings and factories that were still painted with camouflage. There was no adult German at the time who didn't have a harrowing and/or horrifying story to tell, and I heard plenty. The woman in the apartment above whose story of fleeing Pomerania with her mother and sister through the eastern front and avoiding rape or worse by the Soviet soldiers was as gripping as any I have ever heard or read. The man who worked for my father who was shot through the neck and wound up as a POW working in a US army mess hall and considered himself very lucky because he could eat the fat that that the Americans trimed off their meat. Etc., etc., etc.

So, yes, I wasn't there at the time and don't understand a single thing about the history and emotions that went into the Second World War. I also wasn't in NYC on 9/11, 2001 and therefore, along with three hundred million other Americans who also weren't there, have no understanding about the history and emotions that have gone into the war on terror. I'm sorry to have been so presumptuous to have thought I had. I apologize.

It is a hell of a stretch to say that American servicemen, esp those you speak of who suffered unbelievably, and who truth be told had a very racial hatred of the Japanese at the time, and who did not always observe the protocols of war--it is shameful to essentially put words in their mouths to say that these men would oppose the prosecution of the war on terror.

They often actually did far "worse" to captured Japanese than we now to to the terrorist criminals that are apprehended. So how do you get to the point of logic that its dishonoring them by placing terrorists on a boat?

Be careful about putting words in the mouths of others, the big majority of which are dead. You don't like it when GWB does it. I don't like it when you do it.

Argue this thing on the merits. Though I'm sure that some Bataan survivors might have a problem with the treatment of these modern criminals, I bet most would wonder why we were treating them so kindly.

Having never met him nor being in possesion of direct evidence linking him to any crime or terrorist act other than being an extreme asshole, perhaps phantom should be secretly detained without trial, representation, nor any legal rights. At least until we get this whole constitutional-rule-of-law thing straightened out again.

What knuckle-dragging pants-wetters like phantom fail to understand is that the only thing which separates them from the secret detainees is the word of one very powerful man who has little intelligence, a stunning lack of concern for others, and a deep natural inability to properly wield political power.

Though I'm sure that some Bataan survivors might have a problem with the treatment of these modern criminals, I bet most would wonder why we were treating them so kindly.

American soldiers in the Pacific theater had a racial/emotional grudge against Japanese soldiers, and that justifies any savagery visited upon captured Japanese soldiers in the name of vengeance? The Russian soldiers on the WW II eastern front had vastly greater cause for vengeance; did that justify wholesale raping German women? Would rape of only those women who had voted National Socialist in 1933 have been justified? Were the deaths of hundreds of thousands of draftee axis soldiers in Russian POW camps justified?

The point is that the rules of war for presumably civilized nations have changed since the events of the twentieth century. Going back to the kind of warfare/field justice based on vengeance and ruthless expediency something akin to that of the Roman or Mongol armies won't win wars anymore.

'Phantom',

So sorry, you and I have nothing in common, 'specially in regards to brains and morals- which clearly are in short supply in Phantom-land; as you fail to see the bitter irony in using a ship named for one of the worst abuses of prisoners of war in history, being used to abuse prisoners of war.

I have no problem with draft dodgers- including those that make it to positions of power. It takes guts to dodge a draft; much more than it does to be swept up in jingoism and patriotic fervor, and volunteer for a war of choice.

No one has the right to conscript a person for military service. It's slavery of the worst sort.

I do, however, have a problem with guys who dodged the draft (Dick Cheney- 5 'deferments', Bush- hid in the Guard) as young men, but enjoy- indeed, fist-pumpingly THRILL... to starting wars as old ones. All but 1 of the architects of the Iraq goat-rope (Rummy), along with most 'conservative' Bush/war cheerleaders fit this description.

Now, scat. I've already given you more of my time than you deserve. What a great way to start your day.

cfrost

I will join you in demanding their release when the terrorist war is over.

Till then, they get three hot meals and a cot, which compares very well with the treatment of prisoners in other wars.

The reference to racial anger and very harsh treatment was only to give the lie to the implied message that the WW2 vets would be ashamed of the terribly awful way the poor terrorists were being treated. I think it fair to say that very many of the WW2 vets would think cfrost's concerns were beyond insane and that I was
far too "liberal"

I don't justify any mistreatment. The fact that these guys don't get to be lawyered up and have individual OJ trials does constitute mistreatment.

Phantom, I suspect this is fruitless, but I'd like you to explain what you think justifies secret prisoners held with absolutely zero due process. You say that this is OK because the prisoners are "bums," "criminals," and "mass murderers." What evidence do you have for this? Do you have any reason to think that they're mass murderers, other than that the government is holding them in prison? If that's all it takes to convince you, then should any of us be concerned if tomorrow the government arrests you and holds you without trial? I do not ask this rhetorically. After all, I have as much reason to think you're a mass murderer, as you have to think that that the prisoners on this ship are mass murderers. (I assume you would agree that governments sometimes make mistakes, both in evaluation of individuals and groups, due to both carelessness and malice. For example, I hope you would agree that WW2 Japanese-American internment was a mistake, motivated by both paranoia and racism.)

I will join you in demanding their release when the terrorist war is over.

When do you anticipate the terrorist war being over? Since it's a "war" not against a specific identifiable nation or group, I don't anticipate it being over in our lifetime. Do you? If not, I believe your statement boils down to "I have no problem with people being held in a secret prison their entire life without any due process whatsoever, held on nothing more on the claim of the government that it's necessary?" Is this an acccurate description of your position? If not, why not? If so, how can such a position be reconciled with a belief in the rule of law?

Till then, they get three hot meals and a cot, which compares very well with the treatment of prisoners in other wars.

If you truly believe that they are prisoners of war, than the Geneva convention applies, and international organizations such as the Red Cross should be allowed access; prisoners of war should not be held in secret prisons. And how do you know that they get three hot meals and a cot? I see nothing in the article to indicate that. The Geneva convention requires access by such international organizations precisely to determine that prisoners are receiving such things as three hot meals and a cot.

(I am assuming, for the sake of argument, that this story is correct, as all participants in this debate, including Phantom, appear to be doing. I have no idea if it's true, but it's reasonably consistent with other already known government polcies.)

Autumnal Harvest

That thoughtful response requires a reply that I am unable to give right now. Will respond later tonight.

Phantom, I think you are, for reasons unknown, far too emotionally caught up with your insistance that there's nothing wrong with secret prison ships. Personally, I find your overwrought reaction a bit much and, frankly, I think you just want to think like you're somehow participating in WWII all over again. And since you're so disconnected from reality, I can't say your "arguments" hold any weight.

Leave the secret prison ships for the 2-bit dictators. But if not having that sort of stuff makes you feel weak and inadequate, I can hardly think that's a reason for us to adopt them.

To AH and others

The war that the terrorists have presented us with presents us with some unique issues. Terrorist combatants as we face now are are a class of enemy that we've not fought before, and they use tactics that we've largely not faced before.

They're not uniformed fighters in a regular army. In my opinion they are not and should not be entitled to the protections afforded by the Geneva Convention.

Nor, in my opinion, are they civilians, transgressors against civilian laws.

They're in a third category, that of irregular or lawless soldiers. There's no code of law that is appropriate for them.

The Geneva Conventions were not written with stateless terrorists in mind. Civilian law, US or other, is completely inappropriate for a military situation with large numbers of prisoners.

I'd support creation of a new and appropriate body of international law that suits the situation forced upon us in 2001. I have zero hope that this will happen. I don't see the US, China and Russia agreeing on very much. I don't see Europe agreeing with anything any of the others would endorse. And I'd think that the Human Rights Industry would seek to undermine whatever was accomplished- probably by seeking individual weeks long trials with US standards of jurisprudence. There is nothing that lefty lawyers groups would like better than to tie the US--who does almost all the hard work-- down like a helpless giant.

Until the world evolves so that it can negotiate an effective body of terrorist prisoner law, I'd suggest that we build on what has been begun in Guantanemo Bay. The military tribunal system there has worked. It has not been a Kangaroo Court- prisoners have had their arguments heard, and prisoners have been released. Some, only to return to the battlefield that they say they were never on.

This is a new situation, and requires new law. Unless anyone here can speak to what that should be, then they're not thinking. Saying that the law of the Geneva Conventions should apply signifies that you don't realize the fundamentally different nature of a terrorist war as opposed to say a Falkland Islands War.

I'm not opposed to options other than Guantanemo Bay or the prison ships spoken of here. But any good, just and efficient system will be opposed by the Human Rights Industry and by all of you!

The comments to this entry are closed.