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Republic. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words can give you a feeling that makes your heart warm. Republic is one of those words. - John Wayne

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Portuga Primer
by Cordeiro
It seems that Portuga and I have some fundamental disagreements regarding the status of detainees currently being held at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay - and no doubt other disclosed and undisclosed locations world wide. As the comments differ from the original subject of the post, I've decided to open a new thread for better discussion.

"Illegal Combatant" is probably the best legal term to describe these detainees. If you'd care to explore the Geneva Convention as it relates to the treatment of Prisoners of War, you'd find specific requirements for protection under this treaty/convention.

In order to be considered a "legal" combatant, the following criteria must be met:

4A(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, provided that they fulfill the following conditions:
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign (eg Uniform) recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
Now, if you'll consider the above listed requirements carefully, you'll find that the Al Qeda and Taliban terrorists meet none of them. They represent no recognized country or power, wear no uniforms, use civilian facilities for military purposes, and do not conduct operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Words mean things. The Geneva Convention means something. It means if you don't fulfill the requirements set forth in the convention, you don't get the protections guaranteed by the same document. Period.

So, if the detainees in Gitmo aren't legal according to the Geneva Convention, it means that they are little more than a band of thugs - and will be treated as such.

I will also here reiterate the fact the treatment they receive at Gitmo is far better than any given to American servicemen in similar circumstance.

Now you may not like the way they are interrogated at Gitmo. Hell, you probably don't like the fact they are interrogated at all. Tough. You see, these thugs came at us first. They knocked down the Twin Towers and tore a hole in the side of the Pentagon killing some 3,000 of my countrymen in the process. If the only way to get valuable intel out of them is to make them uncomfortable by blaring the latest Snoop Dog CD in their ears, wrapping them in an Israeli flag and eating Jimmy Dean sausage in front of them - so be it. This is war. War is not won by being nice.

You remind me somewhat of a scene from The Untouchables just after Eliot Ness and Jimmy Malone have captured Al Capone's book keeper. The Book Keeper won't talk and so Malone walks outside the house, finds the corpse of one of Capone's thugs, props it against the window. Sticking a gun in the mouth of the corpse he says:
What's the matter? Can't you talk with a gun in your mouth? I'm gonna give you to the count of three to tell me what I want to know. One...two...three!
With that he blows the head of the corpse off and the mortified Book Keeper spills the beans on Capone. Also mortified was a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman who looked at Eliot Ness and said:

Mr. Ness! I do not approve of your methods!
To which Ness responded:

Oh yeah? Well, you're not from Chicago!
You may not approve of our methods, but don't go around trying to give unearned status and acceptance to terrorists and their band of murdering thugs.

Here endeth the lesson.

8 Comment(s):
Wow, my own post. Thanks, I'm touched. I'll try to go over it at a more convenient time. I do find it amusing how you apparently see yourself as the owner of truth: "Does endeth the lesson", Ha! 

Posted by Portuga
My post, my lesson. For the record, its "Here endeth the lesson". Mas, sendo que fala da lingua bela Portuguesa, vou perdoar. :) 

Posted by Cordeiro
A note on treatment of terrorist thugs. I've previously mentioned this elsewhere.

One of the pictures that drew outrage from the lefties was of a man, handcuffed to a bed, with women's underwear on his head.

They called this abuse. Hell, Clinton would have called that a good day at the office. 

Posted by Bonjo
[Bonjo] - we have already established that Abu Grahib was bad. Should I even answer your comment?

[cordeiro] - I will not have time to go into this before the weekend since I'll be out of the country. But let me point out that it's unelegant of you to point out that kind of error - "Here endeth the lesson". It was obviously a glitch, since as bad as my English might be, I think I have proven I can read. And your text was right in front of me. 

Posted by Portuga
I don't know- I always liked "Here endeth the lesson" and "I return to my capitalistic endevours". It gives each post an idividualistic feel, which is important in a group blog like this.

Also, I too was greatly disturbed by the report that conditions in Gitmo were "tatamount to torture". Typical government screwup. I'm paying taxes for interegation techniques "tatamount to torture"? I want REAL torture, darnit!

Dadblamed government, can't get anything right.  

Posted by The Chainik Hocker
Ok, let's do this. I went to the trouble of following your link and funny enough, the explanation in the Wikipedia mentions the discussion over the definition of "lawful combatant". Namely, it's pointed out that military personnel like snipers and Special Forces using clothing especially designed to “prevent identification of them at a distance and who seek to avoid being visible until the time of their attack” would have their status as “legal combatants” in doubt. Now, for some reason, I don’t think the US would accept that interpretation of the Geneva Convention, if their own military personnel using such equipment were caught by enemy forces. Wouldn’t the US demand better treatment to their soldiers than that being currently applied to the detainees at Guantanamo? Would you be so fast to claim that “words mean things”?

Furthermore, if we look back 60 years and remember of organizations such as the French Resistance fighting against Nazi occupation, you would soon conclude that those were “unlawful combatants” who would have no rights under the Geneva Convention. Is this acceptable? Not in my opinion, even though I have no doubt that the Nazis executed all those they could get their hands on. But then again, Nazis weren’t really an example on what concerns the following of the rules of war.

Let’s carry on, then. You claim that Al Qaeda and Taliban are terrorists. I agree with you that Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization, but things are not that easy when it comes to Taliban. The Taliban, as we all know, are a fairly organized bunch of Islamic fanatics who imposed their law in the Afghanistan and acted as ruling party, years after the end of the soviet occupation. Their law was a particularly fanatic vision of the Shari’ah, the law of Islam. In my view, states based on religion make absolutely no sense, and I find it particularly offensive the way they treated women, namely forbidding them to work and leaving some women no other choice than to beg or prostitute themselves. The fact that they could not work but were allowed to prostitute themselves serves only to prove the hypocrisy of that regime. Now, as you can see, I feel no love towards the Taliban. But even though they were, are, a bunch of fanatic, hypocrite SOBs doesn’t necessarily make them terrorists. Unless you mean that they were terrorists by osmosis, since they no doubt welcomed Al Qaeda’s training camps built by CIA. I don’t dispute that.

And even if we decide to label them as terrorists, let’s not forget that not that far away in the past, they were good enough to get military aid from the US, through the CIA and in the form of training and weapons. Yes, when there was such a thing as a Soviet Union and Afghanistan was an occupied country, Talibans or their mujahedeen predecessors were nice, friendly “freedom fighters”.

But for the sake of argument, let’s accept that they are illegal combatants and that the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply. You say they are just thugs, fine, thugs they are. Thugs, if I’m not mistaken will eventually equate to criminals. And criminals, I believe, are entitled to due process. International and US law says so. Hell, you apply those principles everyday to thieves, bank robbers, rapists, murderers and even serial killers. So, in principle, these criminals that were captured in a war situation are still entitled to the same treatment. You see, the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” applies to everyone and what that actually means is that everyone accused of a crime must be trialled. And one thing more, if you care to check the Wikipedia again, unlawful combatants are protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

As for the interrogations, my only opinion is that these should be conducted under whatever rules there are for interrogations and no matter what, these should never be exceeded. I know that the Al Qaeda was responsible for the September 11 but Civilization and Democracy demand that the Human Rights must be respected at all times, otherwise both will be corrupted. The fact that a wrong was done is no excuse for a second wrong. And in the end, even if inhumane treatment was acceptable under certain circumstances, mistakes might have been made during the arrests. The risk of applying inhumane treatment to innocents is unacceptable as is revenge applied by a state. What you want and deserve is Justice, not revenge. And for Justice to be served, pulling troops out of Afghanistan to invade Iraq was probably not the best of moves.

Finally, I will not go over The Untouchables, but I will answer to your final comment. I do not approve of your methods, I think they are unacceptable under the Democratic principles that we all should follow and defend. That does not mean that I “give unearned status and acceptance to terrorists”. To be honest I don’t know where have I given any unearned status to terrorists.

I think I more or less addressed all the issues you raised, so if I may be so bold as to borrow your own words, “Here endeth the lesson”?

Posted by Portuga
Not to criticize your comment, but the links don't work. I'm sure your sources are sound, but to me unverifiable.

First off, your definition of legal combatants is in error. If you'll remember the actual definition, legal combatants must represent a nation or other recognized entity. These terrorists, and for the record lets just call them what they are - as words do mean things - represent little more than a radical belief system. A radical belief system does not meet the requirements for a recognized entity.

As for your distinction between Al Qeda and Taliban, you forget your history. Yes, the Taliban did run Afghanistan following the Soviet occupation. No, they were not a recognized government by any nation in the world save Pakistan. As for whether or not the murdering terrorist thugs qualify for protection under the Geneva Conventions, said thugs would have to be a signer of that convention. As they were not and are not, there goes your argument all together.

You made frequent references to US support of the Afgan fighers against the Soviets. In international conflict, there is a truism that states "The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend." As history goes, it is not uncommon for former "allies" to find themselves as "advesaries".

Now I have to ask you for your obviously very broad definition of "inhumane treatment". Can you show me any documented instances of actual inhumane treatment at Gitmo or elswhere? I'll grant you Abu Grahib, but not by much. Uncomfortable interrogations do not qualify as inhumane.

As for your equating terrorists captured on a battlefield vs. criminals caught on a street corner - there is no comparison. This is war. War by its very definition is different from law enforcement. The detainees will get their day in court - it'll just be before military tribunals as it should be.

As for your comments regarding September 11, 2001, you'd do well to remember that the terrorists came at us first. They violated every law regarding warfare in the attacks of that morning. By your desire to give them the same protections, rights, and privilidges given to honorable men and women wearing the uniform of nations worldwide (signers of your beloved Geneva Convention) you give them the unearned status and acceptance of which I spoke. By doing so, you make it seem as if they must be respected and negotiated with as equals in the world.

In this conflict, there will be no treaty ending it. There will be no negotiations in Paris or Geneva. The terrorists started this war on their terms. We will end it on ours.

While you may have addressed the issues I raised, you did so with a form of logic that can most liberally be described as 'errant'. Therfore I take offense at your use of my tagline and reclaim it for my own.

Here endeth the lesson. 

Posted by cordeiro
It seems that you have all missed the point. Hypothetically does any person have rights when found in the sniper scope of a Navy Seals Rifle? Not necessarily. Should we be able to beat the hell out of any individual, maybe even shoot at them, and then hand them a football to caress as they die - yes, absolutly. There are some rights that seem to bug other countries - mainly freedom. Freedom to tell you that I will kick your ass, freedom to prepare in broad daylight to kick your ass, and then God willing be able to smite down with terrible vengeance upon those that would stand in the way of my righteous ass kicking. Portuga - I hope someday you realize those rights. I also hope someday that we all realize that the moral needle of the world is not calibrated by the UN, it's subsidiaries, but God Himself.
Thus, Even So, Smiteth Me upon your sorry buttocks.

Posted by Twisted Beak, Part 1
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