So what [I]should [/I] we do with the Gitmo detainees?

Charge them with what exactly? Under what law?

You know they could have been lawfully killed on the battlefield. Somehow keeping them alive is more difficult. If we follow that logic its conclusion, we might soon have many fewer living prisoners.

That would be very bad indeed.

Charge them for violations of the Geneva Convention under a military tribunal.

I have no doubt that the Military Tribunals are fair, because they are made up of fair minded people (witness the military lawyer from a story in the Washington Post yesterday who complained to the media that he was being forced to tell his client, a Gitmo detainee, to plea-bargain guilty… instead he took up a spirited defence for his client and told all to the media. That sort of thing will keep the tribunals honest).

There are crimes under either the Laws of Armed Combat or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that these guys could be tried under; nearly all of them also have a prison term associated with them if they are found guilty. But the fact remains - as long as they are held in limbo, it does nothing but stir up more and more resentment against the prosecution of the War on Terror both within and outside our borders.

What are those laws specificly? What sentances do they carry?

We invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. {not discussing the reasons in this thread}
If there was a war declared then those wars are over at this point. Men captured while fighting in their own country can’t be charged as being terrorists can they?
We need to abibe by the laws as they exist now. Trumping up charges and bending the law to suit our own purposes only erodes our already fadeing credibility.
We are in a new era and laws may have to be changed to deal with terrorism but the US can’t make those laws up as we go. On our on soil we can prosecute terrorist but in other countries we need international cooperation and agreement.
We can’t have a president that spouts off about freedom liberty and democracy and then violates human rights openly.
There’s something more subtle and even more dangerous at work. Ever since this administration started it’s “criticism is unamerican and aideing the enemy” BS there’s been a gradual eroding of our civil rights. Read the thread on the canandian teenager being charged. There’s also the ongoing quest to control what information the public hears, most recently with efforts to squelch NPR and PBS. If they can successfully detain prisonors indefinately without abideing by any rule of law then who’s next? As distasteful as it is there is an historical similarity between what this administration is doing and what happened in Nazi Germany.
In our arrogence and pride we are sure that could never happen here. I hope thats true. It seems more Americans are fed up with this president but the changes take place subtley and gradually and before we know it there are new laws in place and the violation of civil rights is now legal to protect the state.
Gitmo is the test. If they get away with that the erodeing of civil rights will continue.

I noticed I didn’t address the OP. whoops.

I don’t know what the exosting laws are on POWs. Those captured in combat upon their own soil should be released. Those wars are over.

After WW2, we arrested, incarcerated, and executed Germans and Japanese war criminals, down to the level of sergeant. We did it legally. Why not do the same again? The same laws would effect them as would effect us.

The UCMJ was probably a bad example, as that only pertains to US servicemen and -women. But the Laws of Armed Combat reflect a codification of the Geneva Convention.

What John Mace said. Anything those people know is probably hopelessly outdated.
They cannot be kept in perpetual limbo- figure out how to try them and then do it. Those found not guilty should be given a cash stipend and repatriated from whence they came. To charge them with crimes against the Geneva Convention is laughable as the US has maintained that the GC does not apply to them, it can’t have it both ways.

Then we need to defne war criminal. Japanese or German officers who tortured or executed military and civilian prisoners in violation of the Geneva convention were indeed war criminals. German and Japanese POWs were not.

My point is that the US needs to apply the existing laws whatever they are and stand by them. That means a trial and evidence so that the world can see we are a law abiding nation. What they see now is that we are making up new rules as we go to suit our own purposes and are willing to violate international law to do it.

Maybe most have been or maybe not. Some are still being released, so I’ve no reason to assume others wont be in the future. It’s been years after the fact. The detainees report long and repeptitive session of interrogation (and of course not being told why they’re there). Years of interrogating to figure out there was no reason to jail the guy at the first place??? And, still according to the former detainees they don’t get an explanation about why they were held at the first place, nor an apology, let alone compensation for having been essentially abducted and detained for years in harsh conditions for no reason at all.
So, how would I know whether “most” of the innocent have been freed? Maybe actually most of the detainees are completely innocent for all we can tell. And maybe, as mentionned previously by another poster, those who did something, for the most part couldn’t be convicted of anything (fighting the american army, for instance, isn’t a crime, nor is being a member of a religious organization, even an extremist one, nor is receiving military training in a camp).
This situation is a shame, plain and simple. These people should be tried and either freed or sentenced. And by a regular court, not by a fucking military court, except if they’re guilty of something a military court is ordinarily competent for . They also should receive the deepest apologies and lots of money for having been detained without basis and in such harsh conditions for years in a row.
Once again an absolute shame in a supposedly democratic country.I just can’t get how people are still supporting detaining them indefinitely without charges, without lawyer, without trial, without any concern for any kind of “rule of law”. Especially, since most of these people would probaly say they’re deeply commited to the respect of said rule of law…well…except for this guy…and this one…and this othjer one…actually except for anybody the government decided on its own didn’t deserve to benefit from the most basic rights. For unknown reasons.

Maybe because probably none of them has been incarcerated as a war criminal. I assume most of them are suspected to belong to a terrorist organization, but this isn’t a war crime. It’s a “regular” crime. A war crime would have been killing american war prisonners, for instance.

Conspiracy to kill Americans.

You can’t “lawfully” just kill people on the battlefield. You can do it and look the other way, but it’s not lawful in any meaningful sense of the word. Some of these guys were handed over to us by their fellow countrymen. Should we have shot them with the hands tied?

How exactly are we violating ‘international law’ then? I don’t see it. When we attacked Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban, we were authorized to do by the UN. That’s where we captured the vast majority of the people held at Gitmo. What law did we break by taking them? I think none, but am willing to be convinced otherwise.

Please note - I am not defending Gitmo. I think we should either charge or release those held there. But I am honest in saying that I really don’t think we actually broke any international laws by capturing and holding these people. Whether we broke US law is another matter (I think we are breaking habeas corpus federal and immigration laws to hold them)

Killing Americans in battle is not a crime, nor is it immoral under the twisted morality that takes hold on the field of battle. If were to try them on such a fabricated ‘crime’ we would he offering nothing more than ‘Victor’s Justice.’

I would write more, but I am as drunk as a suskunk. I cannot even spell ‘skunk.’ There I got it that time.

I’m not talking about the battlefield, but if they are memebers of al Qaeda, there should be a case to be made. After all, how the hell did we grab Noriega and try him? If we can do that, we can try these guys. If we can’t, then let the guys go.

Pineapple face came into our hands (on a battlefield) and was charged for crimes committed in the the US. He had been indicted by a Granf Jury (in Atlanta?) and tried as anyone else would be who was indicted.

Shooting at Americans (or at Iraqis, to take the converse) is not a crime.

A battlefield whose only purpose was to nab him!!

I said “conspiracy” not actual shooting. Tie them to activities that happened or were planned to happen in the US.

By your logic, we couldn’t charge ObL with a crime.

If they obeyed the G.C. they should be treated like enemy POW’s, if they did not they should be treated like spys (not afforded GC protections).

If they were illegally detained (non-combatatians) then the group who brought them in should face a US military tribunal.

Honest question: how could they possibly fit into the “spy” category? I mean what, exactly, could they have been spying in the traditional use of the word?

IIRC ‘spy’ was the general non-uniformed combatant status in the older versions of the GC…basically the quasi-category most of these Taliban fighters fall into, as they aren’t distinguishable from civilians yet are combatants. I think the GC needs some serious work updating to the way warfare has evolved in the last few decades.


There are essentially three types of detainees in Gitmo.

One type is the innocent farmer who was rounded up for no particular reason except he was in an area where fighting occured, and where captured along with the enemy fighters. Those guys can be let go, except there’s no particular way to tell the difference between a farmer with a gun who wasn’t fighting against the US and a farmer with a gun who was. Lots of people in Afghanistan carry guns, so how do you tell the difference between fighters and farmers when the fighters are just farmers who shoot back?

The second type would be equivalent to POWs. They fought against US forces. This is not a crime, however, under the Geneva conventions enemy soldiers can be detained indefinately as long as fighting continues. As long as we’re still fighting guerillas in Afghanistan those people can be detained without trial indefinately. They haven’t commited a crime, it isn’t a crime to fight against US forces as long as they do so openly as members of a militia. Enemy POWs aren’t criminals, so they don’t have to be charged. However, extrajudicial killing of enemy soldiers is perfectly legal, you can shoot enemy soldiers even if they are asleep. But if you capture them you aren’t entitled to convict them of crimes. And the whole point of this provision is to enable soldiers to surrender without fear they will be executed by the enemy. Allowing the enemy to surrender without fearing summary execution is good for the capturing army, since it makes winning easier if the enemy surrenders without fighting to the death.

The third type would be criminals. You aren’t given a pass to murder someone just because your murder victim is a US soldier. You have to do so as a member of a militia…otherwise you’re just a bandit and a killer and a criminal. A guy in Afghanistan has no more right to fire a rifle at US soldiers than you or I do. It doesn’t matter if those US soldiers invaded your country, you can’t grab a rifle and shoot them any more than a random US citizen can shoot illegal immigrants crossing the US-Mexican border.

But the truth is that in a pre-state region like Afghanistan there isn’t much difference between an armed farmer who isn’t shooting at you…today, an armed farmer who shot at you but did so as an enemy soldier entitled to protection by the geneva convention, and an armed farmer who illegally tried to murder a US soldier. Most of the people at Gitmo are simply people who fought against the US as members of the Taliban or some other militia, and could thus be considered enemy soldiers. However, if their militia still exists and is still fighting against the US, they are still legitimate POWs and can therefore be held indefinately. Even if they never actually fired a weapon in anger, if they were a member of a militia fighting against the US they are POWs and until the war is over they can be held perfectly legally, and perfectly morally.


I think when kanicbird said “should be treated like spys” he meant like Unlawful Combatants (of which a spy is one type…though all the types are treated the same in all the different GC’s afaik). As the Taliban fighters and other insurgents captured were not in uniform, nor displaying any badges to identify them as combatants, they fall in the ‘unlawful combatant’ category. As I said, I think the GC needs to be revised to take these developments into account, but the US actually is within its rights to capture, hold and try these folks with a military tribunal. Of course thats really the issue though isnt’ it…we AREN’T putting them on trial. Which is really the problem.