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May 26, 2009

Pentagon backs closing Guantanamo

Don't look now, but those wacky pinko terror-lovers at the Pentagon want to close Guantanamo.

The Senators who voted to deny Obama the funds he requested to close Guantanamo are guilty of epic bipartisan stupidity.

Of course the United States can safely hold terror suspects in its Supermax prisons. There are a couple hundred terrorists in our jails right now, from the Blind Sheik to the Unabomber.

If there's one thing we're good at in America, it's incarceration.

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I wanted Gitmo closed when it seemed to go together with ending military tribunals for people who aren't in the US military.

But closing Gitmo and keeping the Gitmo-related tribunals doesn't mean much.

Gitmo serves an important function in denying civil liberties: it's not on US soil. As Scalia explains, the Constitution protects American citizens everywhere and non-citizens while they're in the US, but does not protect non-citizens outside the US. Without Gitmo, the US will have to respect detainees' Constitutional right to a fair trial.

If there's one thing we're good at in America, it's incarceration.

I assume this opinion is offered somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it raises a question that would reward serious consideration. Is America good at incarceration? The answer depends on what you want incarceration to accomplish, and if "producing a person who, upon release, is less of a threat to his community," I'd say that America isn't very good at incarceration at all.

I'm also disappointed that you rather casually suggest that the U.S. hold terror suspects in Supermax prisons. The conditions inmates endure in those facilities are bad enough that they raise ethical concerns even when the use is limited to a very restricted percentage of convicted felons--"the worst of the worst," so to speak. Would you seriously endorse using them for holding terror suspects, some of whom are likely guilty of no crimes whatsoever, and none of whom has been convicted of any offense?

If there's one thing we're good at in America, it's incarceration.

Yeah, that falls into the pretty true category.

We're particularly adept at locking people up. I believe that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world; not just per capita, but total number of people in jail.

Incarceration, starting phony wars on BS rationals, oppression of minority groups, we do have a few things we're still good at.

TB: I don't think absolute number is true. The official figures are that China and North Korea have vastly lower rates, but the official figures also say that Tibetans are rich and prosperous, and North Koreans are not on the brink of starvation. Some human rights activists have claimed that both countries have incarceration rates somewhat higher than the US once you include forced labor camps, giving China 6-8 times the total number of prisoners as the US (link).

According to http://www.nationmaster.com, the US is #1 in total prisoners and per capita:

Total
# 1 United States: 2,019,234 prisoners
# 2 China: 1,549,000 prisoners

Per Capita
# 1 United States: 715 per 100,000 people
# 2 Russia: 584 per 100,000 people

The figures are for 2002 and 2003, respectively. The number of prisoners in the US has increased since then.

LB said:
"The Senators who voted to deny Obama the funds he requested to close Guantanamo are guilty of epic bipartisan stupidity."

An open-eyed stupidity - the Democrats knew exactly what they were doing, groveling before the mendacious GOP minority whom they had allowed to frame the matter. Next time the likes of the revenant Newt Gingrich says that the "idea [is] we're going to put alleged terrorists on welfare and have you pay for them and me pay for them, so they get to be integrated into American society," or that we should be terrified of the securely imprisoned, they should be ridiculed and shouted down, not toadied to. At least now the Democrats can invoke Gen. Petraeus when they approve the sufficiently detailed plan the president will present. Closing Gitmo will be a big first step to living it down.

Eric: yes, these are the official figures I've alluded to. The number for China comes straight from the PRC government, which isn't known for its honesty.

Guantanemo Bay remains essential, so long as the US has a capricious legal system famous for its OJ Trials etc.

Long live Gitmo!

Phantom, the Innocence Project lists well over 100 examples of convicted prisoners who were exonerated by DNA evidence. I wonder how long it would take you to find half as many examples of guilty men beating the rap. You apparently believe the capricious legal system in the US is famous for not-guilty verdicts in cases of defendants who appear to be culpable. The Innocence Project cases are all from 1975 or later, but I'm willing to give you the whole of American jurisprudence to see if you can come up with 50 examples of what you claim the system is famous for. Are you up for the challenge?

No one has said that innocent people have not been convicted. That is the most powerful ( if not the only ) argument that can be made against capital punishment.

The OJ case is made as an example of a case that could have used a " guilt project " - where an ignorant jury acquitted someone who was clearly guilty.

I agree that the criminal courts are flawed. All the more reason to stick with the superior system for such cases already in place in Guantanemo.

Military trials aren't better than civilian trials.

Iraqi general Abed Hamed Mowhoush surrendered to the US.

He was suffocated to death by the US.

US soldier Lewis E. Welshofer Jr. "placed Iraqi Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush headfirst into a sleeping bag, wrapped the bag tightly with electrical cords, then sat on his chest and held his mouth closed."

The punishment: a fine of $6,0000.
===============================

It was not until the Denver Post ran a series of articles exposing the lenient treatment of the accused that military lawyers commenced prosecution proceedings under military law. Documents revealed during these proceedings confirmed that Mowhoush was physically abused and met his death at the hands of military interrogators:

"It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents."[4]

Punishment

On January 21, 2006, an American military jury convicted Welshofer of negligent homicide in the death of Mowhoush. A military jury ordered a reprimand and forfeiture of $6,000 in pay, and restricted him to his home, office and church for two months.

============================

Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_E._Welshofer_Jr.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abed_Hamed_Mowhoush

The Phantom,

Are you serious? You think the Gitmo system, without the right of confrontation, without full counsel rights, without the right to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, is a BETTER measure of guilt or innocence than our current, albeit flawed, system? You must be smoking some good shit.

The OJ case is made as an example of a case that could have used a " guilt project " - where an ignorant jury acquitted someone who was clearly guilty.

Phantom, since you said the U.S. justice system was famous for these types of cases, I figured you'd be able to share several just off the top of your head. Apparently that's not the case.

Now you seem to be suggesting that your concern about closing Guantanamo includes the possibility that innocent detainees currently held there would be found guilty by imperfect American courts. But do you have any evidence that the system already in place at Gitmo is likely to do a better job of correctly determining guilt or innocence?

Phantom: OJ was exonerated because he had the money to pay for Johnnie Cochran. No terrorist has that kind of money, except maybe for Bin Laden himself, who's no richer than the mafia bosses who're now doing consecutive life sentences.

Speaking of mafia bosses, it's interesting to note the different reactions to the acquittals of OJ and John Gotti. The former was an outrage, at least among white people. The latter made Gotti a kind of folk hero.

Another thing that gets lost in the shuffle re: the OJ case (and which also brings to mind the Kennedy Smith rape case) is what happens when you line up top-flight defense talent for whom every case is a hard case against prosecutors who are used to an easy win. Now, the defense attorneys do not always win, they didn't regarding Robert Blake or Phil Spector. But they do have a lot more experience with complex cases, and it shows.

I thought OJ was acquitted because Det. Mark Fuhrman was caught in perjury (and because the glove didn't fit.)

Blackstone's ratio is, or ought to be, one of the glories of our legal system. Like most goods, we have to pay for it from time to time.

Now, the defense attorneys do not always win, they didn't regarding Robert Blake or Phil Spector.

Blake was acquitted.

我爱皮肤Are you serious? You think the Gitmo system, without the right of confrontation, without full counsel rights, without the right to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

Phantom: OJ was exonerated because he had the money to pay for Johnnie Cochran

But that's my point. Cochran's shananigans would not have been permitted in any military court.

And civilian defense guys try for the most ignorant jury who will be persuaded by John Edwards / Johnny Cochran tricknology and mesmerizing, not the facts.

The Phantom,

You are confusing "military court" (i.e., those used in a court-martial) with military tribunal. They are not the same. And Cochran's "shenanigans" to the extent they cross any lines, can be reined in by a judge in any court.

Dramatic flair: it's not a violation of any laws.

But please, continue to ignore my point about how you can adequately defend yourself without the confrontation right, full conusel, or why it is that you think it would be more fair to place people in a system where there guilt need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

I don't want those prisoners within the U.S., that is, unless they are kept in kryptonite lined cells to mitigate their super powers since these prisoners are faster than a speeding bullet and so forth.

Seriously, it is interesting that paranoia is being whipped up among ordinary folks about security concerns, where the real concern involves jurisdictional concerns.

It's a real shame when people are so easily manipulated.

Kryptonite lined cells won't be nearly enough NoBuddy!

Sweet Jesus, just imagine what would happen if they were to combine forces with some super villain like Magneto or Lex Luthor!

The real question Americans (and I mean all true Americans) should be asking themselves is: Will Superman and/or the Justice League be enough to stop them, or should we start coming up with alternatives now.

And why is the Democrat party not putting forth alternatives?

Why are they so weak on the War on Terror (tm)?

Why? Why-why-hwy?!?!?

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