24 thoughts on “35k languish in secret prisons.”

  1. Hard to argue with those bona fide numbers; rock solid they are, and guaranteed to be accurate. Right?

  2. Hard to argue with those bona fide numbers; rock solid they are, and guaranteed to be accurate. Right?

    That’s the trouble, Sam — the prisons are secret. The Bush administration didn’t even acknowledge their existence until two months ago. They’ll release no numbers. There will not be “rock solid” numbers for many, many years, unless Dems sweep Congress next month and have the balls to launch an inquiry.

  3. After the reports we’ve seen from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, I have little difficulty believing these numbers. So many Administration lies have been told, so many Administration atrocities have been committed — and not all against terrorists and POWS or even from the Middle East. If the actual numbers turn out to be less than quoted here — say only 10,000 prisoners and only 30% proven terrorists or war criminals — does that make our oppression of other people any more morally correct?

    Some may think that’s a horrid liberal bias. I feel it’s a larger humanitarian bias. The left has no lock on people of conscience who are (or would be, if they knew) appalled by the conditions and treatment we have meted out.

  4. I thought we only had a dozen or so “high value” detainees such as KSM and Ramzi Binalshibh (sp) in secret prisons and that they were all recently sent to Gitmo.

    Is this something different?

  5. I think that’s correct — there were only a dozen or so “high value” detainees of the thousands of people in these prisons, and they’ve been transferred. At least, that’s my understanding of it.

  6. I’d like to know a little more, particularly since Bill and Hillary’s fixer, Sid Blumenthal of “nuts and sluts” fame, is one of the sources here.

    I mean, are they battlefield detainees or illegal combatants or what? The tone of the original post, i.e., “languishing,” “dark days for America,” suggests to me that Bush is somehow doing something wrong. What exactly?

    Ofcourse, were another 9/11 to occur, many of the same people decrying the use of secret prisons and railing against the use of wiretaps would attempt to crucify Bush for not “connecting the dots.”

    Lest anyone forget, the suspension of habeas corpus and use of military tribunals was good enough for Lincoln and FDR. ‘Sup with that?

  7. I mean, are they battlefield detainees or illegal combatants or what? The tone of the original post, i.e., “languishing,” “dark days for America,” suggests to me that Bush is somehow doing something wrong. What exactly?

    POWs are subject to the Geneva Conventions — they may not be held secretly, tortured, etc. If they’re not POWs than they’re prisoners, and they should be charged and subject to the conventions of law.

    As it turns out that more and more of these people good people who were picked up totally randomly, tortured for months and then released, this whole thing looks more and more horrible.

    Imagine if you had a family member who had been subjected to the same treatment by the Iranian government. Would you question “what exactly” is “wrong”? Or would it suddenly become very clear?

  8. It seems as though anybody who has served anywhere in the government can come up with any story that suits their fancy. By my calculations, the US is locking people away in these “secret” prisons at the rate of ~22 people per day, every day, since we started going after the Taliban. This, of course doesn’t include all the people that are getting put into the “non-secret” prisons. Sounds a little off base to me! As Waldo said, no one will know for a while; when we do know, we might actually have some appreciation for how the government has handled the known terrorists that have been apprehended.
    IF the Dems get control of one or both houses, I highly doubt if they will have the balls or the willingness to change anything. Both parties have proven that they(in general) don’t meet up to their pre-election hype.

  9. One afterthought- could the writer be including the number of detainees that are being held in the prisons of countries such as Egypt? Some opponents of the Adminstration might consider these to be secret prisons that are controlled by the US.
    There have been several stories in the press mentioning Egypt, Sudan, and Pakistan as countries that have held suspected terrorists; the use of torture and grossly inhumane treatment is more common in such countries and is also less visible.

    Last thing- if a terrorist happens to be detained and has clearly identified himself as an operative of a terrorist organization, what would they be categorized as? They wouldn’t be considered a POW with the protection of the Geneva Convention, as they do not meet the criteria. They also are not guaranteed the rights accorded to a citizen of the US. So what, exactly, would be the “conventions of law?”

  10. If the Dems get control of one or both houses, I highly doubt if they will have the balls or the willingness to change anything. Both parties have proven that they(in general) don’t meet up to their pre-election hype.

    Though I clearly hope you’re wrong, I have to admit that I fear you’re right.

    if a terrorist happens to be detained and has clearly identified himself as an operative of a terrorist organization, what would they be categorized as? They wouldn’t be considered a POW with the protection of the Geneva Convention, as they do not meet the criteria.

    I’m aware of no reason why they couldn’t be classified as a POW.

  11. You’re aware of no reason they couldn’t be classified as a POW? Really? What about the prohibition against targeting civilians that’s in the Geneva Convention? Or how about the condition that soldiers wear a uniform to distinguish them from civilians.

    The GC conferred certain responsibilities on nations and their soldiers. In exchange, it guaranteed them certain rights upon capture. Naturally, the terrorists want all of the rights with none of the responsibilities. A out-of-uniform combatant caught mixing with and targeting civilians in any other war would have been shot immediately. And maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

  12. You’re aware of no reason they couldn’t be classified as a POW? Really? What about the prohibition against targeting civilians that’s in the Geneva Convention? Or how about the condition that soldiers wear a uniform to distinguish them from civilians.

    You’re explaining ways in which they have violated the Geneva Conventions. Those are not reasons why we cannot classify them as POWs.

  13. True, I guess, we could classify them as POWs. But under the terms of the GC, we don’t have to.

  14. A very effective ad, but with Bush not on the ballot, I wonder how much effect it will have on local races. I would guess it would hurt GOP Senators more than those in the House.

  15. The problem then, Judge Smails is that you don’t need probable cause to capture a PoW, thus you give PoWs GC protections to offset that fact.

    We are snatching people off the street is what are essentially police actions without probable cause (many are in fact innocent) and depriving them of any opportunity to prove their innocence. These folks are being denied both GC protections and basic protections under our own Constitution. Basically Bush can kidnap anyone, anywhere and spirit them away to be tortured.

    If Bush isn’t stopped soon, he’ll start kidnapping Americans, if indeed he hasn’t already been “disappearing” Americans. He’s certainly shown an unhealthy interest in infiltrating peace groups and other Left wing organizations.

  16. Some interesting and, for my side, problematic points.

    How then do you obtain life-saving information from a Khalid Sheik Mohammed whom you’ve just snatched from the streets of Karachi (or wherever they found him)? A terrorist as savvy (if that’s the right word) as he will figure out pretty quickly if he’s being treated consistent with the protections of the GC. Without sleep deprivation, stress postions, waterboarding, etc, what’s his incentive to give up other terrorist plots he has knowledge of?

    We can’t keep playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules while our advesaries remain unbound by anything. At least, it seems that way to me.

  17. I mean, are they battlefield detainees or illegal combatants or what? The tone of the original post, i.e., “languishing,” “dark days for America,” suggests to me that Bush is somehow doing something wrong. What exactly?

    Smails, are you asking what is wrong with secret prisons? I’ll tell you what’s wrong.

    There is no civilian oversight of prisoner treatment. The families of the prisoners are left uncertain and afraid. There is no accountability for elected officials or the guards, leading to torture. The human rights of challenging one’s imprisonment and of representation are denied.

    Can you seriously ask what Bush is doing wrong?

    Also, what the heck is an “illegal combatant”? Aren’t all combatants illegal? Also, what is a “battlefield detainee” if not a Prisoner Of War? These are redefinitions to support an agenda of dehumanization and distancing from the truth of the situation.

  18. @Judge Smails:

    You’re assuming that the administration somehow has a “terrorist detector”, that is, a device that lets them know which people contain information on terrorism and which don’t. Of course, this is patently false, so we are left with the spectre of torturing innocents for the information they don’t have. Furthermore, I am disgusted that you would consider torture a legitimate mechanism for extracting information. There are other ways of finding what we need to know that do not involve losing our own humanity.

    Not only are soldiers (I’m including terrorists here, for simplicity) of any sort are trained (to some extent) to resist torture, but it only reinforces the soldier mindset. The proper psychological technique for getting at the info is to take the soldier out of the military context. In other words, removing the context of battle destabilises battlefield resistance techniques. I’m not saying it is simple, I am saying it is consistant with being fully human.

  19. How then do you obtain life-saving information from a Khalid Sheik Mohammed whom you’ve just snatched from the streets of Karachi (or wherever they found him)?

    In the pretend situation in which there’s a ticking nuclear device, nobody’s going to care if you flay the guy and then start sawing off limbs in order to stop it. The president can issue a pardon, not that anybody will mind.

    Without sleep deprivation, stress postions, waterboarding, etc, what’s his incentive to give up other terrorist plots he has knowledge of?

    Military 101: Torture doesn’t work. There’s another rule for those who doubt the fundamentals of military’s basics: Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

  20. I’m just not troubled by the “we’ll lose our humanity” argument. We didn’t lose our humanity at Dresden or at Nagasaki, and those involved the wholesale slaughter of innocents that dwarfs anything we’re doing today.

    And when you’re fighting people with NO regard for innocent life who believe they’re divinely inspired, shouldn’t the profligate use of every weapon or tactic at hand be the order of the day?

    I am, however, troubled by the specter of losing an American city because people like you counselled there are “other ways” such as “removing the context of battle destabilises battlefield resistance techniques.” WTF does that mean?

  21. people with NO regard for innocent life who believe they’re divinely inspired

    For a second I thought you were referring to Bush.

    “removing the context of battle destabilises battlefield resistance techniques.” WTF does that mean?

    A person’s actions and reactions are heavily influenced by set and setting. Interrogation-resistance techiniques are taught in the setting of the battlefield, wihch includes torture. Removing that setting causes resistance to be diminished simply because the setting has been altered. You can get this stuff out of a Psych 101 textbook. Just because it doesn’t sound brutal and nasty doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

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