22 thoughts on “The “Indefinite Detention Bill”

  1. maha,
    Enjoy your day!
    Are you going Buddha-‘alming’ in protest to Christmas/Holiday shopping? 😉

    I’ll side on this one against Glenn.
    He’s great on legal issues.
    Or, was…
    Lately, it seems as if he’s been playing footsie too much with Jane Hamsher, so I’ll take a rain-check on believing him on this go-round.
    And sadly, there’s been a lot of those go-rounds of late…

  2. And this will challenged by the ACLU in 3,2,1……….

    And how do Republicans defend voting for this bill? Unbelievable.

  3. PCTC Blog states:

    “The “Indefinite Detention Bill” will only potentially have a negative effect if a Republican wins in 2012, in any case. Obama probably won’t use it, except maybe to trigger a court challenge, which this amendment will probably fail, anyway. The Hamdan case alone would seem to indicate the president cannot have such power over US citizens, at least”

    Wow that’s a dangerous argument. I read Greenwald’s article and he seems to have the facts on his side:
    “The only provision from which U.S. citizens are exempted here is the “requirement” of military detention. For foreign nationals accused of being members of Al Qaeda, military detention is mandatory; for U.S. citizens, it is optional. This section does not exempt U.S citizens from the presidential power of military detention: only from the requirement of military detention”
    The political situation is such that a majority of democrats along with every republicant (minus the Paul’s) are pushing the anti-muslim neo-con pro-war theme. I wish the president would veto the bill, but the politics are very tricky. So like he has done several times in the past he will go along to get along. Writing these detention powers into law is a frightening proposal; maybe in sixteen months Newt will have these powers, scary stuff!

  4. buckyblue,
    Uhm… just a guess, but – because they’re Republicans?

    Did you mean Democats?

  5. OT, interview with Robert Reich in the LA Times. Some key quotes:

    …The question is how bad things have to get before average people begin mobilizing. Sometimes we revert to third parties. Sometimes we take over dominant parties, as the tea partyers have done. Sometimes we make such a ruckus, as we did with civil rights and Vietnam, that we force change. These movements must always start at the grass-roots, and they always start with moral outrage. The tea partyers focus on government, and the Occupiers focus on Wall Street and big corporations. The source of the moral outrage is very similar.

    One reason I love teaching so much is that I’m in contact with young people who, most of them, want to change the world.

    …Every time I go to Washington, I’m struck by how many people are there for the right reasons. Most could have an easier life and could make more money doing something else. Most [are] there because they’re deeply committed to changing the country.

    ….When Gingrich came to town as speaker, he brought in a group of people who were far more ideological and frankly unpleasant. The tone of Washington changed abruptly in January of 1995.

    When I testified [before Congress as Labor secretary], members of [both parties ] would have good questions. Disagreements would be respectful and friendly. But beginning in January of 1995, I’d be treated very differently. One question I got was “Mr. Secretary, are you a socialist?”‘

    I had never seen anything like it, and remember, I [came] to Washington in 1967. It was as if a dark cloud had descended over Washington and it’s still there. I blame Gingrich — not entirely, but he led the charge.

  6. moonbat,
    I wish when Reich was asked that, that he had turned to the person and flummoxed them by asking, “Define Socialism and Socialist?”
    That, would shut up well over 3/4’s, if not more, of the morons on the right, because the only definition of “Socialist” they know is a rather narrow one that comprises anyone and everyone they don’t agree with and/or don’t like.

  7. Gulug, I think all of us have grown over the last decade or more, to the point where we’re all a lot more prepared,equipped and unafraid to push back. I’m sure Reich was knocked over by that question, it so violated the decorum he and the Democrats were used to. A surprise attack, in other words, and he was rhetorically unprepared. The multi-decade, multi-pronged assault by the right has been a wake-up call, a time of maturation and learning how to defend the truth, for so many of us who’ve gotten bruised, and who’ve seen this country get trashed.

    And so much of it is, as you say, simply asking these idiots to define what they mean. Most of them couldn’t, they’ve just been programmed to repeat stuff.

    I often feel that so many of my country-men and women are walking zombies – programmed with sound bites and second or third hand undigested thought, which they blindly accept and repeat, without any reflection or unpacking of its meaning – so skillful is the propganda machine at implanting it within them. It’s sort of the way that computers get infected – once infected with a virus, they simply and blindly transmit it out to any new connection, willy-nilly.

  8. Gulag, actually I did mean Republicans but should have explained myself more (but the same goes for Dems as well). Just the smaller government, the “Don’t take away my freedom” crowd, the ‘pry my gun from my cold dead hands’ group would never give Obama the ability to indefinitely jail them. But then we’re so terror fearful that we will do anything to prevent the next attack, including giving up our basic freedoms.

    Here’s a list from PBS of things that would be considered ‘suspicious activity’ and therefore under the new law worthy of potential indefinite detention.

    · “Individuals who stay at bus or train stops for extended periods while buses and trains come and go”
    · “Individuals who carry on long conversations on pay or cellular telephones”
    · “Individuals who order food at a restaurant and leave before the food arrives or who order without eating”
    · “Joggers who stand and stretch for an inordinate amount of time”

    Read more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/are-we-safer/suspicious-activity

  9. If I’m ever arrested, I want Glenn Greenwald as my lawyer, because he’s able to see and convincingly argue exactly and exclusively what he wants to see. But I would have doubts about Glenn as a political candidate, because he doesn’t seem capable of seeing the ‘big picture’.

    Politics is the art of compromise, and if you are good at it, you manage to GET more than you give. You can make the argument that Obama has made some bad deals – I haven’t always been thrilled, but you are behaving foolishly if you can’t accept that Obama sometimes has to give to get.

  10. buckyblue said, “Individuals who carry on long conversations on pay or cellular telephones”

    Doesn’t that describe every teenager in America?!

  11. OK, I think everyone—especially GG—is missing a major point here. Prisoners of war may be detained indefinitely, w/o trial, regardless of nationality. The authorization to go into Afghanistan can easily be interpreted as a declaration of war against al Qaeda. Therefore, anyone who can be determined to be acting on al Qaeda’s behalf could be put in a POW camp, and the key thrown away. Now, personally, I think this is what we should do with Gitmo—turn it in to a legitimate POW camp, including allowing neutrals in to observe and inspect.

  12. James F. Epperson….Seeing how the Bush administration stocked Gitmo with innocent taxi drivers, goat herders, and smucks who were kidnapped and sold for a bounty to the CIA to settle a personal vendetta..I wouldn’t be so eager to endorse any plan that cuts off the possibility to establish innocence for whoever gets falsely labeled a POW.

    Remember Dilawar?..He’s the innocent Afghan taxi driver who had the misfortune of trying to pick up a fare outside of Bagram AB with a cell phone in his possession. He ended up being tortured to death..he never made it to Gitmo.

  13. If this were an actual “War on al Qaeda,” right now, they would be about the equivalent of Hitler in his bunker, and a few stray Nazi’s running around in mostly occupied Germany and Austria.
    So, we should release the prisoners of war as soon as that war is over, right?
    I mean, our troops (but not the contractors) are out of Iraq, so all Iraqi POW’s should be released.
    We’re about done with Afghanistan, so those people should be looking at some release date pretty soon.
    I mean, after all, when the war was “over,” and, though we DIDN’T WIN, we released our Viet Cong POW’s even though North Vietnam was still our enemy, still Communist., and still a threat to South Vietnam.

    Oh, BUT NO!!!
    THIS is a “War on Terror!” And who knows what shape that may take in the next few decades!
    So, Mr. Epperson, we can’t release the “POW’s” anytime soon because, though as Qaeda is all but destroyed, “Terror” isn’t.
    And never, ever will be.
    So, then, these people must be kept in prison forever.
    Sorry, Mr. Epperson, this should be a laughable position – but sadly, it isn’t.
    This is not even close to the country that I grew up in anymore.

  14. I didn’t expect my comments to be popular, but I stand by their essence—POWs don’t have access to the courts, and can be held w/o trial. That is established law, and has been for over 100 years. The key point is indeed the issue of what defines an “enemy combatant” in a war w/o traditional uniforms and armies.

    Mr. Cundgulag, POWs are typically repatriated at the conclusion of the war, which usually means some kind of agreement entered into by both sides. That is what happened in Vietnam and WW2; in the Civil War, there was no formal agreement, and so some prisoners were kept for months after meaningful hostilities had ended. Frankly, I don’t expect al Qaeda to admit defeat, which might mean they have consigned their soldiers to a long detention.

    I would prefer to close Gitmo by building a traditional POW camp out west.

  15. Well, the USS Missouri is still around just in case we can convince al Qaeda to come out of hiding and sign a formal surrender.

    I think we should try the people in Gitmo in courts instead of tribunals. And if they’re found guilty of terrorism, because they are terrorists, and not detainees or POW’s, sent to an appropriate Federal prison for an appropriate amount of time, if not for life.
    And if there’s not enough evidence, sent either back to their country of origin, or in cases where that is not possible, or dangerous to the former detainee, then a country willing to accept him/her. The same applies to anyone released after serving a prison term.

    Or else, in this endless “War on Terror,” any of our people, soldiers, contractors, diplomats, even civilians, who find themselves held by terrorists or their allies, then they can also expect to be held as detainees until the end of the “war,” with no chance of getting out unless we decide to make a trade, or a formal surrender is declared.
    Because, “What’s good for the goose…”
    We, the US, shouldn’t be allowed to create our own rules whenever we like it. And that’s what we’ve done here in the past decade.
    Too many people in power here felt that “American Exceptionalism” excluded us from having to comply with what are, or at least, were, international laws, treaties, and conventions, as if we decided they were meant for everyone BUT us. After all, WE are, “exceptional.”
    We need to return to abiding by the existing laws, treaties, and conventions. And then, if these people, or any others in the future, truly are POW’s, then they should be treated as such. In a humane fashion, which was not always the case at Gitmo. And that still isn’t the case at who knows how many “Black Sites” we have around the world. Then, we could shine a little light on them, and maybe they those “sites” wouldn’t be so ‘black” anymore. And neither would our souls.

    Them’s my $0.02.

  16. “The United States released dozens of “high-risk” detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison facility and held more than 150 innocent men for years, according to U.S. military files distributed by WikiLeaks.

    In the papers, the U.S. government assesses the alleged terrorist activities of Al Qaeda operatives housed at the U.S. Navy’s detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including those captured as the terror group grew stronger in Afghanistan in the 1990s and prepared for the 9/11 attacks, CNN reports. The files —called Detainee Assessment Briefs or DABs —reportedly describe the security intelligence value of nearly every one of the 779 detainees held at Guantanamo since 2002…”

    James- The seas authenticity

  17. James – the authenticity of these CIA documents is unchallenged. Of 779 prisoners, 150 were innocent. We held them for years without charges, without access to counsel, without even admitting WHO we were detaining. And we tortured them. This isn’t an abstract hypothetical scenario dreamed up by an ACCU lawyer. It’s recent history, and a strong argument FOR habeas corpus, which is why the founding fathers put that provision in the Constitution.

    If you want to decide if something is fair, reverse it. Your Aunt Sally is grabbed by a foreign power, held in a secret prison, denied access to a lawyer for a totally indeterminate amount of time. If you would scream foul if it happens to one of your family, its a foul when the US does it.

  18. I am not in the least “for” Gitmo, I am simply pointing out that indefinite detention of POWs is and has been legal for a long time.

  19. I didn’t expect my comments to be popular, but I stand by their essence—POWs don’t have access to the courts, and can be held w/o trial. That is established law, and has been for over 100 years. The key point is indeed the issue of what defines an “enemy combatant” in a war w/o traditional uniforms and armies.

    That is, in fact, the very issue. A traditional POW is a soldier who surrendered, or was rendered hors de combat, or was captured unaware, and you know they’re an enemy soldier, because there they are, in uniform, or in a barracks, and, let’s face it… a POW camp isn’t all *that* nasty. These people aren’t being punished; they’re being held safely.

    Here, people are declared POWs because someone else said they were unpleasant people. No uniform, no barracks, and only on the “battlefield” by sophistries that stink more than the most putrescent physical reek imaginable.

    Is there justification for *something*? Yes. But given the hideous abuses of the executive thus far, it’s been well proven that they can’t be trusted, and the job of making judgments is best resolved by the judiciary.

    I find the Republican war on the judiciary to be one of their worst crimes against the United States, and I hope the judiciary pushes back against this legislative over-reach.

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