Obama to close Guantanamo within a year? - U2 Feedback

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Old 01-21-2009, 12:43 PM   #1
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Obama to close Guantanamo within a year?

I just read this over at msn.com but they only had the headline, no story. Does anyone know about this?
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Old 01-21-2009, 12:48 PM   #2
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I just read this over at msn.com but they only had the headline, no story. Does anyone know about this?
He had his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel circulate a memo yesterday that asked that all trials at Gitmo be halted for 120 days and today a judge granted that order. It is presumed as well that this will make provisions for the closing of Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible, thank God.
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:44 PM   #3
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Amen to this!
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:01 PM   #4
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yeah and what are we going to do with all these guys, throw them into the regular justice system?

Remember Zaccarias Moussawi? Since we were able to give him a lawyer, it took 4 years for a final verdict, and clogged up the justice system unbelievably. Not to mention, there wasn't a lot of evidence against him, he had to plead guilty himself...
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:13 PM   #5
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yeah and what are we going to do with all these guys, throw them into the regular justice system?

Remember Zaccarias Moussawi? Since we were able to give him a lawyer, it took 4 years for a final verdict, and clogged up the justice system unbelievably. Not to mention, there wasn't a lot of evidence against him, he had to plead guilty himself...
So not having real evidence is a reason for holding them indefinately for you?

Wow, I love the conservative logic...
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:16 PM   #6
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yeah and what are we going to do with all these guys, throw them into the regular justice system?

Remember Zaccarias Moussawi? Since we were able to give him a lawyer, it took 4 years for a final verdict, and clogged up the justice system unbelievably. Not to mention, there wasn't a lot of evidence against him, he had to plead guilty himself...
You are not making a good case here, the problems which Obama will have to deal with are the same ones that Bush did with those captured in Afghanistan; although now the Bush hatred is gone there should be a little more nuance.
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:11 AM   #7
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It might be today, the beginning of it. I saw that mentioned on the news last night.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:41 AM   #8
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By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer 2 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, review military trials of suspects and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

With three executive orders and a presidential directive signed in the Oval Office, Obama started reshaping how the United States prosecutes and questions al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to Americans.

The centerpiece order would close the much-maligned U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year, a complicated process with many unanswered questions that was nonetheless a key campaign promise of Obama's. The administration already has suspended trials for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo for 120 days pending a review of the military tribunals.

"We intend to win this fight. We're going to win it on our terms," Obama said of the war on terrorism. But he also said he didn't want to have to make a "false choice" between successfully waging war against terrorist organizations and hewing to U.S. human rights ideals in the process.

"This is following through not just on a commitment I made during the campaign but an understanding that dates back to our Founding Fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct — not just when it's easy but also when it's hard," the president said.

"We will be setting up a process" to figure out the logistics of closing down Guantanamo, Obama told reporters gathered in the Oval Office of the White House.

In other actions, Obama:

_Created a task force that would have 30 days to recommend policies on handling terror suspects who are detained in the future. Specifically, the group would look at where those detainees should be housed since Guantanamo is closing.

_Required all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while interrogating detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture by critics. However, a Capitol Hill aide says that the administration also is planning a study of more aggressive interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual — which would create a significant loophole to Obama's action Thursday.

_Directed the Justice Department to review the case of Qatar native Ali al-Marri, who is the only enemy combatant currently being held on U.S. soil. The review will look at whether al-Marri has the right to sue the government for his freedom, a right the Supreme Court already has given to Guantanamo detainees. The directive will ask the high court for a stay in al-Marri's appeals case while the review is ongoing. The government says al-Marri is an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

An estimated 245 men are being held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, most of whom have been detained for years without being charged with a crime. Among the sticky issues the Obama administration has to resolve are where to put those detainees — whether back in their home countries or at other federal detention centers — and how to prosecute some of them for war crimes.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:43 AM   #9
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^Wow. I don't know how to react to a President that makes intelligent, reasonable, and all around good decisions. It's been so long.
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Old 01-22-2009, 01:58 PM   #10
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I was reading through this morning the small - but nevertheless, important - moves he's already made in his first day, and I must say I'm impressed. He's obviously keen to get things moving fast
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:24 PM   #11
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"Pentagon: 61 ex-Guantanamo inmates return to terrorism"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Tuesday that 61 former detainees from its military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appear to have returned to terrorism since their release from custody.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said 18 former detainees are confirmed as "returning to the fight" and 43 are suspected of having done in a report issued late in December by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Morrell declined to provide details such as the identity of the former detainees, why and where they were released or what actions they have taken since leaving U.S. custody.

"This is acts of terrorism. It could be Iraq, Afghanistan, it could be acts of terrorism around the world," he told reporters.

Morrell said the latest figures, current through December 24, showed an 11 percent recidivism rate, up from 7 percent in a March 2008 report that counted 37 former detainees as suspected or confirmed active militants.

Rights advocates said the lack of details should call the Pentagon's assertions into question.

"Until enough information is provided to allow the press and the public to verify these claims, they need to be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism," said Jennifer Daskal, a Washington-based lawyer for Human Rights Watch.

Rights advocates contend that many Guantanamo detainees have never taken up arms against the United States and say the Defense Department in the past has described former detainees as rejoining "the fight" because they spoke out against the U.S. government.

"The Defense Department sees that the Guantanamo detention operation has failed and they are trying to launch another fear mongering campaign to justify the indefinite detention of detainees there," said Jamil Dakwar, human rights director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office next Tuesday, is expected to issue an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also favors shuttering Guantanamo.

But the prison is unlikely to shut until after U.S. officials settle a myriad of legal and logistic issues, including a solution on where to house its occupants.

About 255 men are still held at the U.S.-run naval base in Cuba, a symbol of aggressive interrogation methods that exposed the United States to allegations of torture.

Pentagon officials say that about 110 detainees should never be released because of the potential danger they pose to U.S. interests.

Washington has cleared 50 of the detainees for release but cannot return them to their home countries because of the risk they would be tortured or persecuted there.

The Pentagon said it considers a former detainee's return to terrorism "confirmed" when evidence shows direct involvement in terrorist activities. U.S. officials see a "suspected" terrorism links when intelligence shows a plausible link with terrorist activities.

"Propaganda does not qualify as a terrorist activity," the Pentagon said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Gray, editing by David Alexander and David Wiessler)
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:30 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by The_Pac_Mule View Post
"Pentagon: 61 ex-Guantanamo inmates return to terrorism"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Tuesday that 61 former detainees from its military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appear to have returned to terrorism since their release from custody.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said 18 former detainees are confirmed as "returning to the fight" and 43 are suspected of having done in a report issued late in December by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Morrell declined to provide details such as the identity of the former detainees, why and where they were released or what actions they have taken since leaving U.S. custody.

"This is acts of terrorism. It could be Iraq, Afghanistan, it could be acts of terrorism around the world," he told reporters.

Morrell said the latest figures, current through December 24, showed an 11 percent recidivism rate, up from 7 percent in a March 2008 report that counted 37 former detainees as suspected or confirmed active militants.

Rights advocates said the lack of details should call the Pentagon's assertions into question.

"Until enough information is provided to allow the press and the public to verify these claims, they need to be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism," said Jennifer Daskal, a Washington-based lawyer for Human Rights Watch.

Rights advocates contend that many Guantanamo detainees have never taken up arms against the United States and say the Defense Department in the past has described former detainees as rejoining "the fight" because they spoke out against the U.S. government.

"The Defense Department sees that the Guantanamo detention operation has failed and they are trying to launch another fear mongering campaign to justify the indefinite detention of detainees there," said Jamil Dakwar, human rights director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office next Tuesday, is expected to issue an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also favors shuttering Guantanamo.

But the prison is unlikely to shut until after U.S. officials settle a myriad of legal and logistic issues, including a solution on where to house its occupants.

About 255 men are still held at the U.S.-run naval base in Cuba, a symbol of aggressive interrogation methods that exposed the United States to allegations of torture.

Pentagon officials say that about 110 detainees should never be released because of the potential danger they pose to U.S. interests.

Washington has cleared 50 of the detainees for release but cannot return them to their home countries because of the risk they would be tortured or persecuted there.

The Pentagon said it considers a former detainee's return to terrorism "confirmed" when evidence shows direct involvement in terrorist activities. U.S. officials see a "suspected" terrorism links when intelligence shows a plausible link with terrorist activities.

"Propaganda does not qualify as a terrorist activity," the Pentagon said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Gray, editing by David Alexander and David Wiessler)



so what do you propose we do? can you agree that holding people in a legal purgatory where they aren't accused of crimes is not a good thing?
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:38 PM   #13
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"This is following through not just on a commitment I made during the campaign but an understanding that dates back to our Founding Fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct — not just when it's easy but also when it's hard," the president said.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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Old 01-22-2009, 06:10 PM   #14
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We're discussing that article over here as well:

An open letter to George W. Bush
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Old 01-22-2009, 06:16 PM   #15
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edit: found it!

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Yesterday, a Pentagon spokesman said:

"I can disclose with you the fact that we have a new -- we have updated recidivism numbers of people who have been at Guantanamo, and these are the latest numbers we have as of the end of December. And it shows a pretty substantial increase in recidivism. I think prior to this report, I think the rate had been about 7 percent of those who had been held at Guantanamo and released who have been confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight. At that time we suspected that 30 -- confirmed or suspected that 37 former detainees had returned to the fight. We now believe that that number has increased and that the overall known terrorist reengagement rate has increased to 11 percent. The new numbers are, we believe, 18 confirmed and 43 suspected of returning to the fight. So 61 in all former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.

So there clearly, Barbara, are people who are being held at Guantanamo who are still bent on doing harm to America, Americans, and our allies. So there will have to be some solution for the likes of them, and those are among -- that is among the thorny issues that the president-elect and his new team are carefully considering."

Reuters helpfully wrote a story on this headlined "Pentagon: 61 ex-Guantanamo Detainees Return To Terrorism", and CNN headlined its piece: "Pentagon: Ex-Gitmo Detainees Resume Terror Acts". So I suppose it's no surprise that some bloggers on the right described these detainees as having "returned to their terror-waging ways", "returned to jihad", or (from the Heritage Foundation's Foundry) "returned to the battlefield to fight the United States".

The Pentagon spokesman did not say which detainees he was talking about, or what constituted "returning to the fight". However, the last time the Pentagon released figures like these, Mark Denbeaux at the Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research examined their claims (pdf). At that point, the Pentagon claimed that thirty detainees had "returned to the fight". Based on the DoD's own evidence, he concluded (p. 5) that "There appears to be a single individual who is alleged to have both been detained in Guantanamo and later killed or captured on some battlefield."

Among the people the Pentagon counted as having "returned to the fight" were the Tipton Three -- three British citizens who were thought, wrongly, to have belonged to al Qaeda.
They were subsequently cleared by British intelligence (one of them was working at an electronics store in Birmingham when he was supposed to have been at an al Qaeda rally in Afghanistan), and released to the UK. Since they were not in "the fight" to begin with, they can hardly be said to have "returned" to it. But even if they had, their "return" consisted in participating in a documentary about their experiences.

The Uighurs in Afghanistan were also supposed to have also "returned to the fight". Since the DoD found that they were not enemy combatants, it is, again, hard to see how anything they did could count as "returning". What the DoD actually counted as their "return to the fight" was-- I hope you're sitting down -- the fact that one of them published an op-ed in the New York Times. Here is part of his act of war column:
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"I learned my respect for American institutions the hard way. When I was growing up as a Uighur in China, there were no independent courts to review the imprisonment and oppression of people who, like me, peacefully opposed the Communists. But I learned my hardest lesson from the United States: I spent four long years behind the razor wire of its prison in Cuba.

I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America’s war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guantanamo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the United States military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.

It was only the country’s centuries-old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right — or began to. (...) Without my American lawyers and habeas corpus, my situation and that of the other Uighurs would still be a secret. I would be sitting in a metal cage today. Habeas corpus helped me to tell the world that Uighurs are not a threat to the United States or the West, but an ally. Habeas corpus cleared my name — and most important, it let my family know that I was still alive.

Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the United States Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail. Continuing to permit habeas rights to the detainees in Guantanamo will not set the guilty free. It will prove to the world that American democracy is safe and well."

Well, that's an act of terror if ever I saw one! I hope you weren't injured by any of the incoming shells on the battlefield to which Abu Bakker Qassim returned by writing that op-ed. Another Uighur's "return to terrorism" consisted of giving an interview. I thought of excerpting it too, but there are limits to the perils to which I am willing to expose my readers.

I'm not trying to argue that no Guantanamo detainees have ever taken up arms against the US. I imagine that some have. I do think that it's important to be clear about how many of them there are, and what the Pentagon is counting as a "return to the fight". Claims about detainees "returning to the fight" figure in arguments about whether we should release those who remain. It matters how many of them have actually taken up arms, and how many have just exercised their rights to free speech in ways our government doesn't care for.
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