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12-05-2003, 08:38 AM
Paul Campos: The terrorists within

By PAUL CAMPOS, Scripps Howard News Service
December 3, 2003

This is the story of a man who was taken into legal custody under false pretenses and thrown immediately into solitary confinement. He was held in a tiny cell, illuminated for 24 hours a day, which he never left except to be interrogated. Guards would hammer on the cell door every half hour around the clock, to keep him awake.

After a month of this, he couldn't walk any more. He wasn't allowed to talk without being punished; he could not shower or shave; he had no access to any reading material, a lawyer, or anyone in the outside world.

After two months, the government that seized him decided it had made a mistake, and that he wasn't guilty of the crime they had suspected he had committed. But they kept him in solitary confinement for another five months anyway.

During this time, the government fabricated a criminal charge against him, so that he could be kept in prison. A warrant was issued for his arrest (he was not "arrested" until he had spent three months in solitary confinement), but he was never informed of this, nor was he allowed to contact a lawyer.

After seven months, the government finally let him out of his tiny, constantly illuminated cell, and offered him a deal: If he would plead guilty to the criminal charge they had fabricated, they would release him from prison. He refused.

So the government kept him in prison. The government's lawyers did everything in their considerable power to keep the prisoner from getting a hearing. Indeed, they did their best to obscure that the prisoner even existed: His name didn't appear on any list of arrested or detained persons, so his family assumed he had been made to "disappear," as people do sometimes under totalitarian regimes.

Luckily for the prisoner, the fact that he had finally been arrested meant the government couldn't keep him from getting a lawyer indefinitely. An attorney was appointed to handle his case, and he started filing motions. The government's prosecutors threw every legal roadblock they could find in front of this lawyer, but he kept at it. When asked why, he replied that what his government was doing offended him as a citizen.

It took the lawyer 17 months to get a judge to rule that the government was illegally abusing his client, in violation of the most basic principles of the government's own laws. But that was hardly the end of his client's troubles. The government then decided to deport his client to his native country, even though there was a real chance the government of that country would kill his client if it could get its hands on him.

This story did not take place in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia: It is taking place today in the United States. The prisoner in question is an Algerian man named Benemar Benatta, and the story of what has been done to him over the course of the last 27 months would make Franz Kafka cringe.

Benatta's tale, as told in the Nov. 29 edition of the Washington Post, is the kind of thing that would lead to the immediate firing of those responsible, assuming that the authorities in question had any sense of shame.

Since the authorities in question include John Ashcroft it seems unlikely that any heads will roll, metaphorically speaking. As for Benemar Benatta, he is remarkably understanding: "I don't blame the United States," he says. "They've never had to deal with terrorists, and 3,000 people died."

We do have to deal with terrorists -- and some of them are employed by our legal system.

Paul Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado.

12-05-2003, 11:00 AM
Scary, tragic story ... truly.

Nothing new, though.

Let us not be so naive as to blame Ashcroft, et al, for inventing this, simply to support an anti-Bush agenda (not that you, LaMess, are doing such a thing; however, many will use that story as simply an agenda-pushing opportunity ... not giving a rat's a$$ about the actual man involved).

Been happening here since 1776, and before ...

These cases are unfortunate.

edited for spelling :rolleyes:

[ 12-05-2003, 11:09 AM: Message edited by: brad9798 ]

Jack Heinlen
12-05-2003, 11:05 AM
These cases are unfortunate.
And fortunately rare, as yet. But we all should be outraged. If it can happen to one of us, it can happen to any of us. This is the sort of thing protestors should be demonstrating about, NOW.

12-05-2003, 12:05 PM
I remeber at my Army induction (before I got dropped for being too violent or gay - can't remember which it was) that I raised my right hand and swore to defend the Constitution. I think law enforcement folks take a similair oath. They should be held to it.

[ 12-05-2003, 12:07 PM: Message edited by: LaMess ]

Bruce Taylor
12-05-2003, 01:08 PM
Maher Arar's Story (http://www.counterpunch.org/arar11062003.html)

12-05-2003, 01:13 PM
Hell he was just a Canadian. And Ashcroft did assert that the Syrians promised not to torture him. I mean, what more do expect?

12-05-2003, 01:16 PM
Being held without counsel, uncharged, never tried, no access to family, no rights: those used to be rare, but now it's just another day in Guantanamo Bay.

We've never treated POWs like this before.

Jack Heinlen
12-05-2003, 01:30 PM
You're gonna fall down on this one Donn, or you should. 'Illegal Combatants' indeed. By whose law?

Our treatment of these fellows is a really bad thing, there is no getting around it.

[ 12-05-2003, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

12-05-2003, 01:36 PM
Yea, at this point, we need to figure something out, or move them on/out of Guantanamo ... it is becoming a source of problems for the gov't.

However, there is nothing illegal about it ... based on the term 'illegal combatants.'

So, really, they are within the constitution-- whether folks agree or not.

High C
12-05-2003, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by Jack Heinlen:
You're gonna fall down on this one Donn, or you should. 'Illegal Combatants' indeed. By whose law?
That's the problem. They fall outside of the law, and of our experience of past warfare. They don't wear the uniform of a particular country, and they can't be expected to just return home and resume their lives happily building Porsches, or pressing olive oil. They are members of a fanitical cult that has vowed to destroy Western civilization, and they're off to a hell of a start. They can't just be released like POWs at the end of a war.

12-05-2003, 01:55 PM
Any legal norm that expands the rights of civilians to function as combatants is certain to erode that basic immunity. Spell after me... M I L I T I A

We invaded their country, whether by birth or immigration.

According to the law, persons held on US federal installations are subject to all the protections and penalties of US law. Guantanamo Bay is a US federal installations. Ergo, they should have access to counsel and be charged and tried in a timely manner. Not following those rules is illegal.

You might have a case if the Hessian mercenaries captured during the Revolutionary War where held as "illegal combatants". tongue.gif

Jack Heinlen
12-05-2003, 02:00 PM
My question is, Donn, if anyone can be seized, accused of being an ENEMY, put in prison indefinately without recourse to the courts, then what is left of our dear republic?

I've no problem with imprisoning people who are frightful, but at a point a prison ceases to be a prison and becomes a concentration camp.

They should have due process.

[ 12-06-2003, 01:40 AM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

Jack Heinlen
12-05-2003, 02:20 PM
...I didn't say "anyone" Ah, but that is what the law currently says, and there's the rub.

Jack Heinlen
12-05-2003, 02:30 PM
I;m late for my nap.

Under the provisions of the first 'Patriot Act' they are holding a certain Jose Pedillo, a US citizen, on suspicion of making a radiological bomb. After a year and a half he has yet to have access to counsel.

Guantanamo is another argument, but I think one could argue that because they are on US soil they are protected by our Constitution, and have a right to a lawyer. If not, they should anyway, because they are human beings.

12-05-2003, 02:41 PM
I'd also question your characterization of terrorists as 'human beings.' That's not surprising Donn, but do keep trying to recognize that you are what you reject and nobody sinks lower when they denigrate other human beings just for not being their idea of "human".

Andrew Craig-Bennett
12-05-2003, 03:34 PM
Originally posted by Donn:
A guy who is suspected of making a radiological bomb can hardly be considered just 'anyone.' I'd also question your characterization of terrorists as 'human beings.'1. These men have not been found, by any court of law, to be terrorists. Indeed, they have been released without charge, which is a pretty good indication that no charges could be preferred against them that a judge and jury might uphold, else they surely would have been charged.

2. Yes, a man suspected of something is, precisely, "just anyone". The legal system that our nations share is built on that.

3. I am sickened and disgusted by the conduct of the United States administration, and its paid officials, in these cases.

4. As an apologist for these depraved specimens of humanity, who have refused to admit the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court because they stand to be convicted by it, you make me feel physically sick.

5. I hope that you may soon be seized without pretext, bound, sent to a foreign country, held in a jail in solitary confinement and tortured.

6. You disgust me.

[ 12-05-2003, 03:36 PM: Message edited by: Andrew Craig-Bennett ]

12-05-2003, 03:57 PM
Nah. Ad hom would be if he said you where disgusting! :D

One can be physically ill and not be disgusted and disgusted and not physically ill, so it's not redundant at all! tongue.gif

12-05-2003, 04:03 PM
No it is not redundant. You can be disgusted without feeling ill and you can feel ill without being disgusted.

No it is not ad homomeanie. He is not making an arguement he is simply describing stuff about himself.

Contrast it with the following.

Person A: Those MFers don't need a hearing they wouldn't be held by our honorable administration if they weren't evil personified. Kill them all and let God sort them out.

Person B: Well you are a Right Wing anti-American Whacko so everything you say is wrong.


12-05-2003, 04:06 PM
Dang it Suricata suricatta you must type faster than me. How many fingers do you use?

12-05-2003, 04:06 PM
Person C: "homomeanie"? ROTFLMAO!! :D :D :D

12-05-2003, 04:09 PM
Originally posted by LaMess:
Dang it Suricata suricatta you must type faster than me. How many fingers do you use?Meep! smile.gif

All them ones attached to my hands, oh brave fellow crusader for truth, justice and one way or another! ;)

I keep my nails trimmed too - I hate the clacking when they get too long and the impact hurts my finger tips after awhile! smile.gif

12-05-2003, 04:10 PM
Isn't that redundant? No, Donn, it is not. Disgust and feeling ill are quite separate, one being a state of mind and the other being a state of being. You have exhibited a propensity to Google such words in the past to discover how they differ, I'm suprised that you did not do so in this case. After all, ACB is quite likely the one of the most erudite of contributers to this forum and I doubt that he would use such words out of context.

Does it qualify as ad hominem? Again, no. ACB is describing his personal feelings brought about by external stimuli, in this case, your commentary. He did not attribute any appelation, scurrilous or no, to you; he just commented upon how he felt after reading your words. Again, I am sure you can Google the precise meaning of ad hominum if you are a bit rusty on its precise meaning.

How come you are so punctilious in correcting others' spellings, yet are so imprecise in determining meanings of sentences? It seems you search for insults to rise up to. I had such high hopes that you would lead by example when you stated a while ago that you would turn away from ill-mannered and slanderous remarks rather than perpetuate the ill wind.

12-05-2003, 04:18 PM
Again you are wrong. You must add lie to get ad hominy (or for the RWWs - grits).

The question remains for discussion - why the disdain for the principles of the Constitution?

[ 12-05-2003, 04:23 PM: Message edited by: LaMess ]

12-05-2003, 04:21 PM
To heck with disdain for the principles of the Constitution! What about de stain fo' de blue dress? :D

I think the neocons keep their copies of the constitution cut up into little squares and hung on their outhouse walls. :(

12-05-2003, 04:31 PM
Originally posted by Donn:
It's a new world, and it has new rules.Didn't Karl Marx say something along those lines? :eek:

Ed Harrow
12-05-2003, 05:02 PM
Seems to me that the real concern here should be relative to our own. Certainly things here are at least a bit muddy, but enlight of the potential for a reversal of fortunes, it seems we may have limited how many legs we can stand on should we find ourselves concerned about our own POWs.

Secondly, what is the expression about getting more flies with honey. Here's a chance, slim probably, that we could create a good impression, and maybe turn the heads, however slightly, of those in our custody. They might, just possibly, leave thinking that ice cream and pizza aren't so bad after all. Assuming they ever leave that hell hole we have them in at all, can we hope that they will like us, or, heaven forbid, RESPECT us in the morning...

"People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a concession of their charecter."

12-05-2003, 05:09 PM
Once again, Donn, you take a word out of context so that it's meaning is obscured but it's impact is to your advantage. At risk of impropriety, for ACB is quite capable of defending himself, I shall endeavour to illustrate that his posting was not slanderous. Ill mannered is another topic, for I feel that with the level of bile and animosity usually present in the bilge, ill manners is de rigeur in order to fit in around here.

1. "These men have not ..." A personal opinion prefaced with a statement of facts as known by the correspondent, the non-attribution of same being an accepted form of dialogue in non-legal discourses.

2. "Yes, a man suspected of something ..." As above.

3. "I am sickened and disgusted ..." An admission of personal opinion followed by a naming of the person/thing that caused the emotion.

4. "As an apologist for these ..." Once again, an admission of personal opinion preambled by a naming of the person/thing that caused the emotion, using colourful terminology for the collective persons being addressed secondarily. The word "depraved" may assign a strong scent of exaggeration for effect, but as depravity is a mental state as measured against one's surrounding societal norm and societies differ in their viewpoints, it is quite concievable that calling a foreigner depraved is perfectly logical from another societies' persepective. This is, however, the nastiest word in the posting, so maybe ACB can come up with a more appropriate derogatory word, such as "misguided" or "specious".

5. "I hope that you may soon be seized ..." A statement by the author to encourage you to entertain the vicarious thoughts of what it would be like to experience the events that your country has visited upon others not so fortunate as to have your nationality.

6. "You disgust me." An admission of personal opinion, clear and unadorned.

There is no slander here, Donn, just a clear opinion that happens to fly in the face of your notion that your government is infallable, and one that may be an impediment to your seemingly comfortable assumption that all persons detained by the US government officials are guilty.

Reasonable security is a reasonable thing to ask for, but is this level of abrogation of personal rights what you and your fellow soldiers fought for?

[ 12-05-2003, 05:18 PM: Message edited by: mmd ]

12-05-2003, 05:27 PM
Maybe not, but they would have imprisoned you for murder (and should have shot you) if you had shot him after taking him prisoner.

Under our hallowed system of justice, we determine guilt or innocence according to the rule of law, with assistance from someone trained in the law. Can you say, with absolute certainty, that each and every person at Guantanamo is guilty? How about certainty beyond a reasonable doubt? How would you even know this if a trial was not held, witnesses called and evidence presented? You trust the government that much? If so, I believe that you trust the government a lot more than they trust you!

12-05-2003, 05:32 PM
A possibly defensible stance, Donn, predicated on the firm knowlege of the guilt of the terrorist at hand. But the devil resides in how do you know he's a terrorist if you didn't catch him in the nefarious act, but merely arrested him while walking, innocently, legally, and without restricted materials, in-transit through an American airport on the way to a plane heading out of your country? Without due process or witnesses, how can a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who has lived in Canada for decades and travelled freely in the USA with Canadian passport and INS documentation, be suddenly known to be a terrorist merely because he fits a racial sterotype?

12-05-2003, 05:34 PM
mmd; It's the new world order: faith based justice ;)

12-05-2003, 05:53 PM
I'm not the one who has to know the reasons for their status, their captors are. The people, being sovereign, you are one of the captors when you accede to the practice! The military is merely the agency of captivity.

I never said the government should never be trusted, but my level of trust varies based on the subject and the administration.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
12-05-2003, 05:59 PM
I should not have used the word "depraved" to describe paid officials of a foreign Government which is on terms of amity with my own and which, until a little over two years ago, was generally inclined to observe the rule of law.

I believe that the correct term, these days, to describe the conduct of a public servant who violates the principles of his own nation's Constitution, who subjects non-citizens of that nation who have the misfortune to come into his power to seizure, imprisonment without trial and torture, safe in the knowledge that his nation will never hand him over to an international tribunal for trial, and that a venal Administration has so contrived matters that he will not come before the Courts of his own nation, insofar as these may continue, for a while, to offer justice, may be "ethically challenged".

12-05-2003, 06:52 PM
A wonderfully put bit of testosterone-charged patriotic hyperbole, Donn. Good for you! I'm sure it plays well at the local Legion. However, I detect that you are ducking the essence of my question to you - how do you come to terms with the fact that your government's recent policies regarding foreign nationals of Arabic descent have created hardship and imprisonment for innocent people who were caught in a net that was, as opined by some, cast too far and with too much vigour? Do you agree that innocents are expendable in the greater battlefield? Would you feel the same if an American was whisked away to confinement without representation in a foreign land because he fitted the profile of someone else? What if it was your relative? Would you then trust the foreign government's assurances that they were indeed "bad guys" without evidence and that they were being treated nicely? Can you not see the other side of the argument placed to you by nations friendly to you, that some of your government's actions are causing unnecessary distrust of you?

The crux of the argument, Donn, is truly an ad hominum attack, in that I accuse you of being unable or unwilling to personally formulate a reasoned, personal response to the specific questions I've posed above. I don't expect you to change your government nor its policies, I just want to see you say something a bit more introspective and reasoned than (paraphrased) "anybody that an INS or Homeland Security guy arrests in an airport is guilty, and there are no mistakes in that".

Please, suprise me with your graciousness.

Scott Rosen
12-05-2003, 07:38 PM
The danger, to state what should be obvious, is that the government could mistake me or Donn or anyone else for a terrorist, take us into custody and deny us the basic right to establish our true identity.

It seems to me very basic. If a suspected terrorist or "illegal combatant" is seized by friendly forces either in battle or otherwise, the captor should be able to prepare an affidavit or a statement establishing probable cause for believing the prisoner is who we say he is. For example: "I, Capt. John Doe, USMC, apprehended the prisoner at a location in Baghdad, known to be a safe house for insurgents. The information was based on statements made to USMC personnel by local residents. Also found at the location were small arms and amunition."

I wouldn't give the prisoner the right to confront witnesses at that stage of the proceeding. I would give the prisoner the right to present contrary evidence of identity.

In cases where doing so would reveal secret or confidential matters, the review could be by a judge, in camera, sealed from the public. Such a procedure would satisfy my concerns about due process for alleged illegal combatants.

Jack Heinlen
12-05-2003, 08:05 PM
If I think my country is intentionally denying human rights, for purposes of security, Given that people, US citizens as well as others, are allowed under current law to be seized and held without access to the courts, how would you know one way or the other? And if it can be done to people with evil intent, it can be done to people who are 'evil' in the book of whoever is in power, even if they just don't like the way you think, or your mother's genes, or what you read or write.

I don't see that it's been badly abused at this point, but I surely don't like the precedent. And I don't like that under the rubric of 'enemy combatant' we are holding people at Guantanamo with absolutely no knowledge of their future. If they are bad guys let them have their day in court, under provisions such as Scott outlines, and tell them after conviction that they are going to be locked up for a long time. To leave them in limbo is 'cruel and unusual' in my book. A man can stand prison if he knows what he faces. Alone, with no counsel, no notion of what's ahead is torture to the soul.

Scott Rosen
12-05-2003, 08:10 PM
Originally posted by Donn:
Scott...all of that may be being done. We aren't in a position to know.You're right. I have no idea what procedures are used in these cases. For all I know, there are even more protections than I proposed. It shouldn't be too hard to find out what the process is for an "illegal combatant."

12-05-2003, 10:19 PM
It shouldn't be, but under the terms set out in the EO that created the "illegal combatant" status, NO ONE has the right to make enquiries - not any federal or state judicial officer! I can hardly wait for the courts to strangle that monster! The USSC is hearing a case this session.

12-06-2003, 01:03 AM
Come, come, Mr. Westervelt! You annoint me with fragrances above my station. How can I be percieved as being "holier than thou" when I am in the shadow of the Dean of Spell-checking and the Master of Google? I can't hold a candle! ;) Could it be that such direct questions cause you discomfort enough to lash out in accusations rather than face the dilemma of the query?

I ask again, in light of your statement of "I think that there will always be mistakes made by imperfect people who are honestly trying their best..."; without due process and legal representation, how can your government agencies separate the real terrorsts from the innocent bystanders who happen to get caught up in the dragnet for true "bad guys"? What do you feel should be done to redress the wrongs done to innocent people - not terrorists - caught in the net of ill use and fear cast by "imperfect people"? How do you personally feel your government should deal with those hapless souls who are abused by the protection you so righteously acclaim? What should Maher Arar expect from your government in compensation for the loss of income, loss of freedom, torture, and trauma to his family that was outrageously delivered to him by your government's agencies' unwillingness to take the time to determine whether he was innocent or not prior to sending him (at great expense, I might add) to a location that they knew would be injurious or deadly to their detainee? How can you hold yourself up proud as a beacon to the weak, the homeless, and the opressed when you knowingly agree that your government can send innocent travellers off to torture in foreign lands without fear of redress? Would you be so circumspect if it were an American who suffered Mr. Arar's fate at our hands?

You ask, "What would you have me do?" I suggest that you lower your mantle of righteous indignation and, when your government makes a mistake - as all people and governments do - you be courageous and step up and announce publicly that, "My government made a mistake and I am sorry for that. I trust that, as a fair government that represents me, they will try to right the wrong. I shall be a voice to that end by contacting my elected representative and tell him or her my opinion of what is right and just." Many innocents have been grieviously wronged by your current government, and for most a simple and honest admission of error and a heartfelt apology would be sufficient recompense. Instead we see indifference, belligerance, and denial. It is disheartening to see the nation that most of the world regarded as the paragon of a free nation become less than its former self, rife with paranoia and lashing out at friend and foe alike.

I am not here to kick you about and call you names, I am asking you questions pertinent to your personal sense of integrity to determine whether you really do see no wrongdoing in your government institutions or if you see it but allow patriotism to hide your chagrin. I agree with you that terrorism is a blight on our civilization that we must find a way to overcome. I am sure that our ideas of how it should be handled differ considerably, but just because I don't kill the rat in the same manner as you would doesn't mean that I am on the rat's side. I am your neighbour encouraging you to stand up and face your opponents with all the fairness and equality that you tell us you possess, and if that means telling your government that they are exercising a policy that is harmful to innocents, than that is what a fair and honest citizen must do in a democracy. Do not sit idly by and let ordinary folk suffer the fate of terrorists because you haven't taken the time to sort them out; stand tall and demand of your government that they need to be the beacon that they once were in the world and live by your wonderful motto of "Justice for All!

stan v
12-06-2003, 04:01 AM
Donn, are you seriously discussing the treatment of our containment of terrorists with, anti-Americans? Yes, I know those that are against our policy are far sighted, intelligent, above the fray, and those that are American, are Patriotic, virtuous and have only America's best interests at heart. :rolleyes: Why would anyone defend such vermin?

Jack Heinlen
12-06-2003, 09:42 AM
Michael will have a difficult time fitting that in.

What have you been reading lately Mike? I love it when language is correct, the argument sound, and I have to wretch in the middle of paragraph.


You're allowed to be wrong now and again. You're wrong about this. Relax, it happens.

12-06-2003, 04:40 PM
mmd well said - thank you. Apparently you haven't heard that our Pledge of Allegiance has been modified to read 'with Liberty for Justus'

As for patriotism it seems virulently un-patriotic and un-American to let fear and hate to cause you to deny and discard the cherised American principle of due process. True patriots question their guvmint when they believe it to be wrong. They are not slavish apologists for the wrongs commited in their name. True patriots are willing to accept discomfort and insecurity rather than sacrifice principles on the alter of their fear.

12-06-2003, 11:34 PM
Is a "combat ant" like an army ant, but without a uniform? :D