How about this for dealing with "enemy combatants" and the like

This subject is getting kind of old, but at the same time, it’s still current.

Here are two scenarios and how I believe that we (the US) should handle them:

We capture somebody who is actively fighting against our military. Maybe they’re part of a nation’s military, maybe they aren’t. Maybe they’re part of a terrorist organization or maybe they aren’t. It doesn’t matter; if they are picked up on a battlefield, they are POWs and fall under the Geneva Conventions.

Somebody walks into a store/bank/disco/restaurant/whatever. A CIA agen or military personnel nabs them and accuses them of being a terrorist. In this scenario that person should be given a fair and speedy trial, with either them, or their lawyer having access to the evidence against them. I also think that they should have writ of Habeas corpus.

So, since this is GD, where am I going wrong?

Well, the first problem is that it grants immense “rights” to anyone who feels like it, and actively encourages people to break any moral rules of warfare, because they don’t suffer from it. Under your system, why not use civilians as hostages, or hide amongst them, or whatnot?

Frankly, I can’t even parse your second statement. It makes no sense at all - I can’t even tell what you mean. However, it suffers from the same ultimate problem: nations do not use the methods and systems of trial courts because evidence is either impossible to collect and witnesses unreliable. And both of thsoe assume the witnesses and evidence are even available to us. This is frequently not the case, with acts on foreign soil. Will soldiers now be required to learn police procedures as well and carry evidence boxes? And if they don’t do their job according to a domestic court’s standards, is the case then dismissed?

The other problem I have with it is that you’re asserting universal jurisdiction over the entire world, and claiming your government is all-powerful within the law. Hell, why stop there? Why not assert you have legal jurisidiction over the galaxy? Or the universe?

How do you deal with detainees who are turned in by Afghan warlords to collect a bounty from the US?

A: What’s wrong with people having rights?
B: Why would no-one suffer?
C: Terrorists and the like already use civilians as hostages and hide amongst them. Why it get worse under my proposal?

If you’re not picked up actively participating on the battlefield, you shouldn’t be a POW. A lot of people who were picked up as terrorists and held for long periods of time, turned out to be innocent, and the evidence against them was flimsy at best. If such people had trials, there would have been a lot less innocent people in places like Guantanamo.

And I think it’s a problem when the government grabs somebody, puts them in a detention center and says something like, “We don’t have witnesses, he confessed under water boarding, and the rest of the evidence is classified, but trust us, he is guilty.”

I didn’t say they had to be taken to civilian courts. Actually, I wasn’t clear, so that’s my fault. So here’s the minimum that I would like to see in a trial:
[li]The accused has access to a lawyer.[/li][li]That lawyer has a security clearance to see any classified information that is used against the defendant.[/li][li]No coerced statements are admissible.[/li][li]The accuser will actually have to have proof against the defendant, and not just something like “The guy in the other village said that this guy is a terrorist.”[/li][/ul]

Now you’re being ridiculous.

Put the person who’s turned in on trial and see if the warlord has anything to back up his claim that he turned in a terrorist.

blinks Are you actually thinking about what you are writing? People should have only the rights which they can respect in others. For that matter, why not give people a legal right to immortality, youth, superhuman strength, rubyred eye beams, and martial arts training?

They people abusing the law would not suffer because they suffer no retaliation for endangering civilians. The entire purpose of the Geneva Convention is to do this. If we then act in such a manner as to increase the danger among civilians, then the convention itself is pointless. Your scheme rewards the enganderment of civilians.

Because they will then have no reason not to. In Afganistan, they frequently chose to operate openly, and are respected as POW’s for doing so. In Iraq, they do not, and reap the punishment. Other can make their choice based on that.

Yes - because there would probably not be anyone in prison. How can we prosecute them, as a practical matter? And no, I am not going to educate you ont he rules of courts and evidence. And whose law applies? When, where, and how?

So you are, in effect, endorsing Bush’s proposal of military tribunals (which I object to for other reasons)? Secondly, what exactly do you consider “proof”? You have thus far said nothing of use at all.

No, I am not being ridiculous. I am being serious, and am treating your argument seriously. You are being ridiculous by not consider the implications. Furthermore, you have failed to respond adequately to my point.

Please clarify this statement because I don’t know what you mean by it.

:confused: These things are impossible and have nothing to do with the topic at hand which is how to handle those we capture.

I’m still confused as to how treating those we capture on the battlefield as POWs, or demanding that those we capture off of the battlefield have solid evidence against them causes more danger to civilians.

Huh? Are you saying that our lack of giving Iraqi terrorists POW status is a good thing?

We’ve held a lot of people who, when the evidence came to light, it turned out there was really no case against them and they were held for years even though they were innocent. My whole proposal is trying to get away from the government snatching somebody up and then saying, “Trust us, we know what we’re doing.” I think it’s wrong that the government can nab somebody, say that the evidence is classified, and then proceed to hold that person for months or even years. Especially because of the story of so many people being released after it was concluded that the government didn’t really have any evidence against them at all.

Bush’s tribunals were bad for a number of reasons:
[li]The defendants and their lawyers were often denied access to the evidence against them because it was “classified”.[/li][li]There were some people who sat on the tribunals who said that if they returned an innocent verdict, that their higher-ups would order a new trial with the purpose of returning a guilty verdict.[/li][li]These were just kangaroo courts.[/li][/ol]
What I want is a system that gives a fair trial. Something that the Bush administration didn’t want.

My point about only having POW status, and not “enemy combatants” is that the second status has been used to justify torture…I’m sorry, Enhanced interrogation techniques. And I think that saying that these people aren’t part of a country’s military so they don’t fall under the Geneva Conventions is just an excuse to get around the treaty if we don’t feel like abiding by it.

My second point, as I have already stated, is to avoid situations of holding innocent people simply because CIA, or military, or administration officials say that they are guilty.

And I still fail to see how any of this causes more harm than good. You are the one making the claim that it would cause insurgents, terrorists, and so on to behave even worse. So back it up.

Do you think warlords respect subpoenas issued by US courts?

I’m not speaking for or against the practicality of Nobody’s suggested course of action, but you could make payment of any bounty contingent upon the bounty-collector’s transparent cooperation with the process.

The OP is EXACTLY what I would do. It’s not a matter of granting rights. It’s a matter of following the law.

If Congress wants to change the law, that’s one thing. But to just permit the executive to violate the law with a wink is to inspire mistrust.

I see. So it is now OK to torture Americans.

:confused: My point is, a warlord turning somebody over and claiming that they are a terrorist shouldn’t be good enough to hold the person. Especially when the warlord is getting paid. And the warlord wouldn’t have to participate in a trial. He would just have to hand over documents or witnesses to be used in the trial to help reduce the possibility that he just handed over some nobody in order to collect the ransom.

These two statements tie together, and I meant every word. You have not considered the implications of your argument. You simply assert that “having rights” is a good thing. You might as well assert that “having lefts” is a good thing. We can give people rights to anything we like, at least in law, but whether it is a good idea is a question you habve utterly failer to answer.

I am very disappointed in the quality of consideration here. Moreover, since you have completely failed to all but the most pathetic and shallow arguments for your side, there is little with which to even argue.

Yes, I am. They do not deserve it, and they have not earned it, because they are not POW’s.

POW: Prisner of War. That is, a man (or, rarely, a woman), who is a member of a military, taken captive in war. The Iraq “insurgents” (to be nurtal about it), are nothing of the sort. They are not soldiers, but murderers, who do not seek to conquer but to destroy. They hide amongst civilians, dress as civilians, and murder civilians. Their whole act in Iraq has been to avoid actual battle, even on guerrillas terms, in preference of murder. They did not even seem interesting in conquest at all, but simply to ruin. Others were technically guilty of treason, but Iraq had yet top set up even a provisional government at the time. They also refused to even identify themselves as members of any organized force.

Indeed, taking them prisoner was simply our choice for our convenience, and because we did not wish to slaughter them wholesale.

And yet, as this was determined (which can indeed take years) they were in fact released.

So, you would perfer a different heavily biased and unfair court? What lawyers do you trust, and when, and where, particularly in light of the fact that historically terrorist’s lawyers have not always beenentirely trustworthy.

To gain the protection of the Geneva Convention, you do not have to be a part of a national military. However, there are certain things you must do. Most notably, you have to follow the Geneva Convention yourself. If this is not done, it does not apply. Second, while our methods of applying pressure may be unpleasant, it has not historically been considered torture. You may wish to change that designation, but it is hardly unprecedented.

So, instead, you want a court to say they are guilty. Do you think the court will neccessarily be more honest or accurate in its investigation?

I follow the economic dictum: When you subsidize behavior you usually get more of it. Your plan effectively rewards “cheating”.

But I can use historical facts as well. In WW2, Hitler had a stock of chemical weapons. Despite this, the Nazis did not dare use them at any point against England or France or even Russia, despite hating and conquering civilians. The reason was that he knew th Allies had a fuggin bigger stockpile and were quite willing to wipe Berlin off the map in retaliation. This would not have been a quick strike, either, but a mass mustard gas bombing to painfully massacre thousands or millions of Germans, obliterating major German cities.

We are in a similar position. We, though haviong more power and the discretion not to use it, must incentivize our enemies not to use their worst weapons agaisnt us. Some of them will do so, and at such a point we must choose the option to respond with incredible brutality to destroy them utterly. In this manner, other enemies will choose to treat us and our fighting men with respect.

How would you define the battlefield?

I’m guessing active combat against military. If that’s wrong, please correct me.

Would you treat someone picked up in a disco, who funneled thousands of dollars to help support someone actively fighting against the military, differently than someone shooting at us. If so, why?

The implications is that we operate under the rule of law, instead of the President saying that these people aren’t under any defined treaties or laws, therefore he’ll make up the rules as he goes along. And I’m not talking about giving detainees rights, I’m saying that I believe that they already have them and what Bush did was an attempt to get around that.
And asserting that “having lefts” is a good thing? What the hell is a left?

Order and stability are maintained if we follow the rule of law. Yes, there are times when laws are unjust and a bad thing. If you think that this is one of those times, then that’s your opinion. As for mine, I believe that picking people up and holding them for however long we feel like without informing them of the charges against them is wrong because
[li]It makes us hypocrites for condemning other nations when they do it.[/li][li]If gives good justification for other countries to do that to our soldiers, “Hey, it’s OK if the US does it, it must be OK for us to do it to.”[/li][li]It makes a lot of innocent people suffer[/li][li]It’s and end run around the laws and treaties we signed.[/li][/ol]
You obviously disagree, and that’s fine. So be it.

ME? That’s a laugh. Here’s a simplification of our argument:
Me: Here’s how I think detainees should be treated, based on how they are captured.
You: It’s a horrible idea.
Me: Why?
You: You haven’t though about the ramifications:
Me: What ramifications?
You: It will cause terrorists to misbehave:
Me: How?
You: Because it’s a horrible idea.

Tell you what, come up with specifics instead of generalities, otherwise, you’re right, there isn’t much for us to discuss.

Rights aren’t something deserve or earn, you simply have them. They can be taken away, but you at least start out with them.
They aren’t POW’s because Bush declared them enemy combatants because he wanted to be the one to make all of decisions about how to treat them and what to do with them, and not the pesky Congress or Supreme Court get in the way.

Wait a minute, you first told me that my proposals would cause the terrorists to do these things, and now you’re saying that they already do. So since nothing would change, you’ve just invalidated your own argument.

Since a lot of them had flimsy evidence against them at best, and no real evidence against them at worse, they never should have spent years being detained and having “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against them in the first place.

Why yes, that’s exactly what I mean. I mean, it’s so obvious that since I’m against unfair trials, that I’m for unfair trials. It makes perfect sense.

Neither have US lawyers for US citizens in US court cases. What’s your point?

Funny, but from here


So, in the past we’ve treated as more than just “unpleasant.”

Wow, yet another time you dislike my argument so you make things up. This is the last time I’ll say this, and if you once again distort what I’m saying in future posts, then I guess our conversation is through.

I want fair trials. Period. As for the details, I haven’t been through law school, so I’ll those up to others.

Well hell, why not use some of these techniques for people who break local, state, or federal laws in the US. If a person is caught red-handed committing a crime,why have a trial? We already know that they’re guilty. Why reward them with a trial? Just throw them in jail until we feel like letting them out. And while we’re at it, slap them around a bit. Oh wait, my discussion isn’t just about picking people up who were caught red-handed, but also those who were only accused. So I guess for my analogy, let’s do away with the whole innocent until proven guilty system then. I mean, somebody wouldn’t be accused of a crime unless they were guilty, right? And if years later it turns out that they truly were innocent, well, they’ll get to go free eventually, right?

What you are talking about is how we engage our enemy on the battlefield.
What I am talking about is how we treat people once we capture them.

If we have military units combating an enemy, and an enemy gets captured on the battlefield, then yes, I think that they should be held as POWs.

I’m not against creating a different classification for capturing people who aren’t part of a military, but it needs to be done with a lot of though, effort and care, and should ensure that prisoners (or detainees, or whatever you want to call them) are treated humanely and that there is sufficient oversight to help prevent abuses. Our current system of “enemy combatants,” and “illegal enemy combatants” doesn’t meet that criteria in my opinion.

And to your second question, I addressed it in the OP. If somebody is picked up and accused of bad deeds, instead of being caught on the battlefield, then yes, I think that things should be handled differently because it’s a different situation. I find it scary that the government can just pick somebody up and say, “We know that you’re guilty. Even though we’ve accused you, we aren’t going show you or anybody else the evidence, so you’ll get no chance to challenge your detention. You’re guilty because we say you’re guilty, and that’s that.”

I’m assuming you mean even if they’re not technically POW’s (illegal). That’s fine and there’s nothing wrong with that and I can’t necessarily disagree.

They are called detainees (because they are being held without being convicted of a crime). That’s perfectly fine with American justice/norms. It’s preventive detention. Not punishment (it’s in the same line as being held w/o bail before you’re convicted of a crime). Argue the 6th, but that’s another thread (actually probably not, just ask and I’ll respond).

They have common Article 3 of the Geneva conventions no matter what they’re “called” to protect them from “inhumane” treatment, as well as an assortment of international treaties. If you want justice to come from within the United States, I’ve argued why that’s not enough in other threads, but ask and I’ll be happy to tell you why.

Enemy combatants = POW’s. Illegal enemy combatants is what smiling bandit was talking about a few posts ago.

But that’s like treating a marine different than the congressman who ordered him and paid for him to go to battle. Should they be treated differently? Why? Who’s actually doing more harm?

To actually answer your question. The AUMF, passed by Congress, authorized the President to do everything in your " ". They can challenge their detention through the writ of habeas corpus. They’re guilty because a judge/jury said they were. They’re “detained” (see above) because they are supporting the enemy. (I understand being detained and being punished mean no difference to the prisoner, but it’s an important distinction of what a state can legally do to an illegal enemy combatant).

The President has/might have the power to do the above paragraph without Congressional authorization thru some inherent Constitutional powers. Obama, unlike Bush, has said he’s not relying on them, but he hasn’t said they don’t exist.

Well, technically, if you want to go strictly by the constitution, we’re not even at war, and haven’t been in any war in decades. :slight_smile:

As for the point you make about combatants having rights, such as habeas corpus, I wonder what the detainees who are going to be held even though we don’t have enough evidence to convict them think about it site.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Obama is worried and is doing this for our safety, and that there’s a strong possibility that releasing these people could indeed come back to bite us, but it still bothers me a little anyway.

And as for captured on the battlefield vs off of the battlefield

Under US law there are always distinctions made between civilians and combatants. Also, I’ll admit, that I’ve never heard of civilian leaders of opposing militaries being put on trial, but of course that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been done.

Anyway, my point is, if you pick somebody up and accuse them of funding terrorists, you should have to back up your claims. That’s all I’m saying.

I have nothing to disagree about, I just feel like talking.

Technically that’s correct. Practically it doesn’t matter. The constitution can be, and has been, ignored since it was created. That’s the beauty of Supreme Court interpretation. Basically, the President has constitutional powers to respond when attacked which is what we did with the “terrorists”

I don’t know what they’ll think. They’ll be held as illegal combatants until the “war” is over. Then released.

Did it bother you more or less when Bush did the same thing? Just asking, sometimes the President is just a President.

The argument though is whether they are combatants or just criminals.

How long is too long to determine this? What if you “know” they are funding terrorists but can’t prove it in a court of law? Release them? I get it, but it’s complicated right?

Well, it seems that we disagree slightly, but I’m glad that I’m not getting a hostile feeling from you that I got from smiling bandit.

True, and these days, congress giving the president authorization to use military force has come to replace a declaration of war.

Right. They don’t have Habeas corpus because even Obama is admitting that there wouldn’t be enough evidence to convict them if they were put on trial.

You like to ask me questions, so let me ask you a couple. When will the war on terror be over? In fact, can it ever be won?

The same. It doesn’t matter to me who the president is, if I think a policy is wrong, I think it’s wrong.

Legally, they’re being held as combatants, and I don’t see the Congress or the courts changing that.

:confused: You gather evidence, and then go and arrest them. How long it takes should be how long it takes to gather enough evidence in order to make a conviction. In my opinion.

If somebody robs or murder’s a person here in the US and there isn’t enough evidence against them, they get to go free. I’m not saying that I like it necessarily, but I think the same standards should apply to those accused of funding terrorists.