Formulating a Reliable Detainee Policy

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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16 Responses

  1. Roque Nuevo says:

    I agree.

    Now, would you also agree that your logic applies to formulating a reliable coercive interrogation policy, along with a better detainee policy?Report

    • I think the logic applies equally to both. However, I should emphasize that in no case would Congressional action occur in a vacuum; the courts would still have the right and authority to deem specific elements of any policy unconstitutional or in violation of international treaties.Report

      • I’m so happy to have my cynical hypotheses confirmed so baldly and so early on in our new, happy life under the Obamamama. Thank you, Mark Thompson! All we needed for it to be logical for Congress to formulate reliable detainee and coercive interrogation policies was a change of administration based on mass psychosis, aka Hope n’Change. During the Bush years, reliable detainee and coercive interrogation polities were not needed. They already existed, of course, in their final and revealed forms as the Turd Convention of the Geneva Conventions I, II, and III. Whatever. Whatever.Report

        • Huh? I’m quite certain I’ve said all along that Congress dropped the ball by neglecting to clarify detainee policy. But that’s a far cry from vindicating Bush-era policies. Certainly, it doesn’t make those policies any less constitutional. There is a huge difference between a court being asked to make policy and a court being asked to strike down as unconstitutional or illegal under international treaty a particular element of a statute or a particular policy of the executive branch.Report

          • For one, I wasn’t referring to you, specifically, since I haven’t made the effort to track your views in any detail. For another, I’m not defending Bush’s record here. Just the opposite: he “dropped the ball” more than anyone since the President can at least light a fire under Congress’s butt so that it gets the job done, somehow.

            But the idea that “Congress dropped the ball” on these two issues was never part of the debate back in the Bush years—far be it for anyone to blame anyone but Bush for the mess we’re in. As far as I know, only a few writers, like Wittes or Amos Guiora, have addressed this at all, and who knows or cares about them?

            My point stands: during the Bush years, people were not aware of the need for Congress to formulate reliable detainee or coercive interrogation policies. They were only aware that the sacred precepts of the Turd Geneva Convention were being willfully violated by Nazi-like Repiguclans. Now, under Hope n’Change, the Obamamama cannot be blamed, since he is pure of thought. Now, after eight years or more, it’s suddenly time for Congress to act. Whatever.Report

            • I don’t this criticism holds much weight in this case, though, because whatever one think of Goldsmith and Wittes, they’ve been pounding this drum in one form or another for awhile. Wittes in fact wrote a relatively influential book on the subject in 2008 (before Bush left office).Report

              • Also, based on the lack of comments on this post until today, I’m guessing that it remains a subject that people are pretty unenthused about.Report

              • Wittes et all have been pounding this drum for a while in isolation. The lack of interest in the theme you note is not an explanation; in fact, it begs the question of why Congress and the President do not act to remedy the obvious lack of reliable policies here.

                If I wrote a post on Mexican politics, I’d get very little response because “people are pretty unenthused” about it. But people are pretty enthused about the topics of detainees and coercive interrogation. But they’re not enthused about formulating policies that would allow effective national security in the face of the Islamicists’ asymmetric war against us. That would entail making compromises and the famous hard choices that are the stuff of democratic politics. This is not something people “get enthused” about. Therefore, they’re enthused about casting blame, displaying righteous wrath, and parading their own moral uprightness. Thus, they’re enthused about blaming Bush. Now that Bush is out of the picture, they can’t blame the Obamamama—he’s naturally blameless, since Bush failed entirely to inherit him a nation with no problems to solve and he’s inherited so many problems. So now, finally, we may get some action. Who knows?

                I distinctly remember debating here and on other blogs about this and either being brushed off, because I was not blaming Bush, exactly, but blaming Congress for the lack of reliable policies, or being called evil names because of the same. I’m sure you weren’t one of either group, but they’re here.Report

  2. Scott says:

    We have had multiple detainee policies but members of the left kept filing suits claiming it wasn’t humane enough. Then they turn around and complain that the poor detainees aren’t being given a trial fast enough, oblivious to the fact that they are slowing things down. It reminds me of lawyers that get to court and then improperly object to everything hoping that eventually they can wear the judge down into grating their silly objections. The detainees were lucky to get POW status under the Geneva Conventions.Report

    • Barry in reply to Scott says:

      Oh, bullshit. The policies were basically ‘we can grab anybody we want, do to them anything that we want, so STFU’.Report

    • Barry in reply to Scott says:

      ” The detainees were lucky to get POW status under the Geneva Conventions.”

      More f*cking lies. The US went into areas and paid lavish sums of cash, no questions asked, for bodies. In Iraq, the US swept up huge numbers of people almost at random, without a clue, and kept them because US forces had not much better idea of who was a guerrilla/terrorist and who wasn’t than I do.

      By your standards, the US can go into countries, sweep up thousands or tens of thousands people and do what they wish to them, and it’s all fine with you.Report

      • Scott in reply to Barry says:

        Yes, Barry, I’m sure the U.S. said please only pick up innocent people. Do you even know what standards you have to meet to be afforded the protections of the Geneva Conventions?Report

        • Barry in reply to Scott says:

          Your first sentence doesn’t make sense, Scott, perhaps you should revise it. As for your second sentence, please do tell me, please read what I said, think about it, and try again. Perhaps you should get a friend to help you.Report

          • Scott in reply to Barry says:

            What no cussing this time? Is your cussing a way to make up for your lack of vocabulary or cogent thought? Yes, the US picked up some people innocent people as did our afghan allies but we didn’t seize whole villages for no reason. We didn’t pay or tell our afghan allies to go out and seize innocent folks for no reason as you accuse the US of doing. As for those detainees not released, they are lucky to get the protection of the Geneva Conventions as they don’t meet the requisite standards.Report

      • Roque Nuevo in reply to Barry says:

        How come nobody but you knows that the US military has been off on a massive scalp-hunting expedition in Iraq and Afghanistan, to rival the Indian Wars of the 19th century? How “lavish” were these “lavish sums” paid for the death and/or torture and imprisonment of the Muslim masses?Report

        • Scott in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

          Last time I checked, we asked our allies to capture enemy fighters not just any guy off the street. If they didn’t act in accordance with our instructions that is a different matter than what due process, if any, detainees should get. I’m not convinced that most, if not all, of the Afghan/Gitmo captives should even get the protection of the Geneva Conventions but they certainly should not get any more protection/ rights which is what the liberals seem to want to give them. In WW2 all the Axis POWs got were the protection of the Geneva Conventions as opposed to civil trials with full American constitutional rights.Report