The ACLU’s “Justice Denied: Voices from Guantánamo”

The ACLU interviews five British citizens held by American forces at Guantánamo for years without charge and denied any meaningful opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention…. Discuss.

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39 Comments

  1. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    That’s governments for ya.

  2. Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    So, you think that every government conducts itself in this manner?

  3. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Not only do I think that every government ever made conducts itself in this exact manner, down to even the smallest local governments replicating the smallest detail, but my whole political philosophy hinges on it. If there is even one exception, then I will hang myself from your front porch and put a big sign around my neck that says: “I was wrong about everything except the Ypsitucky thing and urban chickens.”

  4. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I am trying to think of a government that doesn’t have some history of violence, fraud, or corruption though, now that you mention it. My knowledge isn’t exhaustive; someone help me find an exception.

  5. Sam
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Brackinald,

    So you choose to measure things at their worst? Have you ever committed violence, fraud or corruption? Did government make you do it?

    I am trying to think of a government that doesn’t have some history of courage, benevolence or grandeur. My knowledge isn’t exhaustive either … so what’s your point? That in groups people behave worse than in isolation? So what’s your evidence?

    Oh, and if you choose to measure the actions of “government” by a representative group of individuals following the orders passed on to them by other individuals then be prepared to explain the every act of heroism by a soldier or firefighter or officer that was acting in the name of government. Wouldn’t it be as easy to point at acts of heroism and say, “That’s government for ya.”

    Again, what’s your point?

    Are we to suppose that people don’t engage in “violence, fraud or corruption” outside of government? Is government the cause or are you engaging in the logical fallacy of guilt-by-association?

    People associated with government do bad things. Shocker. People associated with nylon socks do bad things. And good things. In order to have any ooomph, you need to demonstrate that people do bad things BECAUSE of government and that in your fantasy world without government things would be different.

    Review a million years of history, please give one example.

    Otherwise, you are saying exactly nothing.

  6. HauntedChickenCoop
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting, Mark

  7. jorj
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    To say the concept of human government is inherently evil because of abuses made in the past is about as ridiculous as saying someone’s views on gay marriage are invalid because they made a porn video in the past.

  8. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Government gives corrupt, abusive people the means and motivation to commit acts of fraud, violence, and corruption on a far grander scale and with more impunity than they would normally be able to achieve without government. That’s my point. Take the worst private (nongovernment) individual mass murderers in history and compare their combined body counts to WWI alone.

    I doubt, when government propaganda to the contrary is seen for what it is, that the same is true of true virtue and heroism, since virtue and heroism do not require government force to illicit motivation or cooperation. Virtue and heroism can certainly exist in the context of government, but they aren’t dependent on it exclusive to nongovernment means. Private church-funded hospitals that didn’t necessarily charge insane prices before government got involved in regulating healthcare is one example.

    One must also factor in the costs of the “virtuous” benefits governments offer in terms of taxation and violence, and ultimately economic sustainability in the long run. If well-funded acts of government “virtue” eventually bankrupt the state, are dependent on foreign wars, ruin the economy, and erode citizens’ characters by making them dependent (for instance), then they weren’t really virtuous. At least, not anymore than taking ecstasy makes you a truly loving person. Artificial government virtue tends to end badly, like it did in the USSR, and like it is here right now.

    Is there anything else I can help you with?

  9. smackdown
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    I’m sure a couple hundred rednecks could conceivably kidnap a bunch of English muslims living in Afghanistan and torture them in Cuba for a few years as private individuals without any government motivation or aid.

    In fact, if it weren’t for government, they’d probably do it way more.

    You’re so stupid, Brackinald.

  10. kjc
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    it’s true. the only thing that makes people act right is the market.

  11. tommy
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    and the market doesn’t do that good of a job because as soon as those in the market realize that advantage can be made, advantage is made. Invisible hand job at work. Balance is a beautiful thing.

  12. kjc
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    tommy, i hope you’re not thinking of regulating the freedom to screw people.

  13. stella
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Viktor Frankl speaks about this kind of (indefinite) detention being probably the most deleterious, demoralizing and psychologically debilitating. I’m betting he would compare it to the nazi concentration camps despite the internet rules against doing so.

  14. Sam
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I must remember to run down to the fire department and chastise them for their false virtues and making me dependent on them.

  15. EOS
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Indefinite detention is certainly better than their treatment of our soldiers and civilians. Chopping off their heads and leaving them on the side of the road or hanging off bridges. Viktor Frankl was an innocent child as opposed to a hostile enemy combatant. Big difference.

  16. kjc
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    and there’s a big difference between innocent people and people who chopped off heads. unfortunately we’re not doing much sorting.

  17. EOS
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    kjc –

    “unfortunately we’re not doing much sorting”

    I knew if I waited long enough we would agree on something. We were so worried about being PC that we didn’t sort out the Ft. Hood terrorist. U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with Al Qaeda, and yet we did nothing.

  18. Nobody
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    All countries are not the same when it comes to human rights. And, believe it or not, there are several countries that would not have locked up and tortured individuals without charge. This country of ours is never its best when it acts out of fear instead of principle.

  19. kjc
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    don’t wanna talk about guantanamo i see.

  20. Steve
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Quite a few of the people who wound up in G-Bay got there not by being radicals, but by being disliked by individuals in power in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, or elsewhere. Warlords, when approached by the CIA and asked for the names of Taliban, in several cases apparently turned in their political adversaries, enemies, and people with property that they desired. Several cases like this have been documented.

  21. WTR
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I’d like to think that we’re all in agreement that torturing innocent people is reprehensible, but I believe there are some in the audience here today who feel as though Muslims deserve the treatment simply by virtue of their being Muslim.

  22. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Government gives corrupt, abusive people the means and motivation to commit acts of fraud, violence, and corruption on a far grander scale and with more impunity than they would normally be able to achieve without government. That’s my point. Take the worst private (nongovernment) individual mass murderers in history and compare their combined body counts to WWI alone.

    I take it that since no one seems willing or able to take issue with the meat and bones of my argument, above, but instead is relying on attacking more tertiary points and/or putting words in my mouth in an attempt to find a chink, that you’ve conceded my main point. Thank you.

  23. Oliva
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    We were so worried about being PC that we didn’t sort out the Ft. Hood terrorist. U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with Al Qaeda, and yet we did nothing.

    Apparently, it was discovered and dismissed in December 2008, when we were still under the incompetent sway of Bush-Cheney. The evidence of their monumental ineptitude keeps being revealed. What else is going to come to light?

  24. kjc
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    i guess it depends on what you find tertiary. when it comes to holding our govt accountable for torturing innocent people, i like to stay on that subject. talking about how all govts suck and shouldn’t exist seems tertiary to me when the issue is the particular injustice perpetrated by our own. but we have different political philosophies so not surprise there. i think the not taking issue is more about this difference than anything else.

  25. Curt Waugh
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    BA, if you modified your statements to include ANY powerful entity, then you might have more support, your position might make sense. But you seem to think that government is somehow worse. But there is no evidence to support such a statement.

    Governments are bigger than most groups, so their sins appear bigger. Governments can “legally” kill. No other entity can do so. Governments have coercive revenue. Again, they stand alone there. Governments have more news coverage than most other entities. We simply hear more about the evil ways of the petty little people there.

    Are you trying to tell me that Goldman Sachs’ continuing theft of billions of dollars is somehow better or different that any other similar abuse? It’s PEOPLE who do these things, not governments and not “Goldman Sachs”, whatever that is.

    I’m right there with you that the people at overpowerful entities abuse power like mad. But those same people would do that no matter what setting they found themselves in. People are opportunistic and crazy and greedy and all that wonderful stuff? Why single out “government”?

  26. Posted November 10, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Curt, it’s precisely because of the differences you mention that government is, and should be, singled out.

  27. Posted November 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Goldman Sachs’ continuing theft of billions of dollars has been, and is, largely enabled by the government.

  28. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I think that detaining without a trial for years and torturing of people is evil, and we need to make sure no one has the power to do it with impunity, from individual kidnappers to Gitmo to Jackson prison, where brutalization and forced sodomy are par for the course.

    Right on, cmadler; you took the words right out of my mouth.

    I respect you for the way you worded your response, Curt.

  29. Money Trail
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    “I’m sure a couple hundred rednecks could conceivably kidnap a bunch of English muslims living in Afghanistan and torture them in Cuba for a few years as private individuals without any government motivation or aid.

    In fact, if it weren’t for government, they’d probably do it way more” – SMACKDOWN

    Take out English Muslims and Afghanistan, and insert Africa and Black People, and I would say that this has happened already…wasn’t it called slavery? Government is just the tool evil men use, or the sword they swing, to get what they want. In the end, all it is, is smoke & mirrors. They just want the money. That’s where the true power in this world lies. Broke people try to come up with catchy terms to get ahead…like “grass roots” and “community outreach” because they can’t just buy what they want, like the big boys. But…there is one thing in this world still more powerful than the dollar…it’s called the bullet. No one ever runs in fear of a dollar. They chase it…but the bullet chases you.

  30. Posted November 11, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    And here’s a new headline from today…. CIA Sent Prisoners Abroad to Be Boiled Alive and ‘Raped with Broken Bottles’.

  31. dp in ypsi
    Posted November 11, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Barack Obama on accountability for Cheney/Bush, et. al.: none, no action, nada.
    … on GITMO: study it and we’ll see if we can close it.
    … on extraordinary rendition: defends it.
    … on the FOIA of remaining torture pictures: block it in the courts.
    … on excessive use of State Secret’s: defend it in court.
    … on the Nixon/Cheney infused powers of the Unitary Executive: assumed by precedent.

    Now some of you might say , “you can’t source that stuff”. Sure you can, just pop over to the Google News search engine and read till your heart is content.

    Let’s try a similar exercise with the Congress.

    The Congress (Dingell, Conyers, Pelosi, et. al.) on meaningful investigation of any member of the Cheney/Bush administration: didn’t Brattleboro, VT, already do that? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0svk1i6YPV8
    … on military contractors being shielded from rape lawsuits: lawsuits are bad for business. http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/11/rape-victim-grills-vitter-on-franken-amendment-vote.php?ref=mp
    … on auditing the Pentagon: too hard, why bother, it’s just too hard. http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1622315920071017
    … on a US military installations around the world, 737: it’s good for business. http://www.alternet.org/story/47998
    … on record sales of American made weapons and munitions: it’s fabulous for business. http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSTRE5A559G20091106

    I’ve commented on this site plenty on these topics, search at will. No accountability for Members of Congress at the ballot box means that reasonable and prudent action will likely never be taken to check the unbridled and unregulated powers of the military industrial complex and the crimes they commit in the name of profit.

  32. dp in ypsi
    Posted November 11, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah… those profits, that’s on the taxpayer (my and your) tab:
    http://costofwar.com/

  33. Carl
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the links, DP. They’ll keep me busy this morning.

  34. dp in ypsi
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    No problem, Carl!

  35. Left Cross
    Posted November 14, 2009 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I’m gonna one-up the right wing anti-government stuff and say that all hierarchical systems of domination and exploitation inevitably lead to misery. That includes Capitalism and that so-called Socialism of the USSR et al., which did away with the owning class but kept the planners – hence, no classless society and therefore utter failure to achieve the aims of the people on whose back Lenin and the other scumbags stood.

  36. Posted November 14, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    When people in power aren’t held accountable for their actions, there are abuses. That is true. That does not mean, however, that all government is, by its very nature, abusive.

  37. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I really love this blog sometimes.

  38. Posted November 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    And the blog loves you back… sometimes.

  39. Left Cross
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Mark: Held accountable by what? There aren’t many mechanisms in place to keep “abuses” from occurring. Now, it really isn’t controversial to point to institutional sources of antisocial behavior – elite deviance is really a norm.

    You know damn well that to get into most positions of power, you have to ignore a whole lot of suffering around you. That’s a very basic component of what it means to be successful in American society.

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