The economist: Time for Obama to man up

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The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Thanas » 2013-05-06 03:38pm

Enough to make you gag

THE authorities at Guantánamo Bay say that prisoners have a choice. They can eat or, if they refuse to, they will have a greased tube stuffed up their noses, down their throats and into their stomachs, through which they will be fed. This can cause gagging and bleeding in a compliant patient, and is a lot nastier when done against his will. It takes up to two hours, during which time an unco-operative prisoner must be restrained to stop him pulling out the tube. Lawyers for the 23 or so men who are being subjected to this treatment report that it is deliberately being done roughly, with unsterilised tubes that are too large: those claims are denied. But even if they are false, the business clearly violates an individual’s rights; according to the president of the American Medical Association, it also breaches the “core ethical values of the medical profession”.

Roughly 100 of the 166 detainees still in Guantánamo are now on hunger strike, and extra doctors were brought in this week to help with what the administration refuses to call force-feeding (see article). No matter what they have done, this is wrong. This newspaper has condemned Guantánamo as unjust, unwise and un-American for a decade. The spectre of prisoners denied either a fair trial or the possibility of release is Orwellian. Nothing has done more to sully America’s image in the modern world. They should be tried or set free, just as terrorist suspects are in every other civilised country.

Four years and three months ago, Barack Obama, in one of his first official acts as president, wrote an executive order to close the prison camp. This week he said Guantánamo “is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.” And yet it goes on. Some of the 166 have been there as long as 11 years, without ever even having been charged.

Most of the blame lies with Congress—with politicians from both parties. Mr Obama’s original plan to close the camp was scuppered by the Senate in 2009 when it voted, by 90 to six, not to let him use federal money to transfer the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo to a prison in Illinois for trial in a civilian court. Votes seldom get more bipartisan than that. In subsequent legislation Congress made it virtually impossible for detainees to be sent anywhere at all.

Mr Obama should have vetoed those bills, or exercised the power that he retained to override the restrictions they imposed. And he has made matters worse in one important way. After the attempted bombing of a plane bound for Detroit by the “underpants bomber” on Christmas Day 2009, the Nigerian culprit claimed that he had been in contact with a Yemeni jihadist preacher. The Obama administration promptly halted all attempts to transfer prisoners back to Yemen—even those who are reckoned to have done nothing that could successfully be tried in court and who do not pose a significant security risk. The largest group among those still in Guantánamo are of Yemeni origin.

Mr Obama and Congress have thus ensured that even the 86 detainees whom the administration has slated for release are stuck. The remainder, whom the Americans reckon have cases to answer, cannot be tried in civilian court because Congress has blocked that route, and the administration has given up trying to change its mind. With the Republicans now in control of the House, the chances of a reversal on that score look unlikely. Some are supposedly being tried by Donald Rumsfeld’s “military tribunals” at Guantánamo itself: but that process is so ugly and has run into so many legal difficulties that it has more or less ground to a halt. Sending them abroad for trial would not work, in most cases, either: the evidence is generally too weak or too tainted by torture (thank you, Mr Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney et al) to try them anywhere.

The lesser evil

America is in a hole. The last response of the blowhards and cowards who have put it there is always: “So what would you do: set them free?” Our answer remains, yes. There is clearly a risk that some of them would then commit some act of violence—in Yemen, elsewhere in the Middle East or even in America itself. That risk can be lessened by surveillance. But even if another outrage were to happen, the evil of “Gitmo” has recruited far more people to terrorism than a mere 166. Mr Obama should think about America’s founding principles, take out his pen and end this stain on its history.
From the accompanying article
[...]most have been at Guantánamo for over a decade. In fact, only seven of the 779 prisoners who have passed through the camp have been convicted by its military tribunals (and two of those verdicts have been challenged). Of those still there, only three have been convicted and only six currently face trial, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11th attacks. Subject to multiple legal challenges, beset by scandals over hidden microphones and leaked defence documents, the tribunals are now regarded as a failure even by those untroubled by their dubious legal status.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Flagg » 2013-05-06 03:54pm

Obamas first executive order was to close Gitmo, he was then set upon by congress who effectively made it illegal to transfer prisoners from Gitmo. What the fuck is he supposed to do, sell missiles to Iran in order to fund the closing of Guantanamo?
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Terralthra » 2013-05-06 04:01pm

Yes, Obama should have vetoed the bill...that passed 90-6. Um...what good would that have accomplished?

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2013-05-06 04:06pm

Flagg wrote:Obamas first executive order was to close Gitmo, he was then set upon by congress who effectively made it illegal to transfer prisoners from Gitmo. What the fuck is he supposed to do, sell missiles to Iran in order to fund the closing of Guantanamo?
I don't think Obama is innocent. At the very least he should take a stand and be more insistent about ending this atrocity. But this situation is mostly the fault of the Bush Administration and Congress.

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Jaepheth » 2013-05-06 05:13pm

Just to check on my understanding of things...

Obama could unilaterally set the prisoners free, right? He could just write up a bunch of Presidential pardons and use his position as commander and chief to order the military to ferry these guys to the cities of their choice?
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Flagg » 2013-05-06 05:19pm

Jaepheth wrote:Just to check on my understanding of things...

Obama could unilaterally set the prisoners free, right? He could just write up a bunch of Presidential pardons and use his position as commander and chief to order the military to ferry these guys to the cities of their choice?
Nope, congress has made it illegal to fund transfer of prisoners.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2013-05-06 05:21pm

Maybe they could just open the doors and let them go in Cuba.

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Darksider » 2013-05-06 05:22pm

Assuming Cuba wants them.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2013-05-06 05:33pm

Flagg wrote:
Jaepheth wrote:Just to check on my understanding of things...

Obama could unilaterally set the prisoners free, right? He could just write up a bunch of Presidential pardons and use his position as commander and chief to order the military to ferry these guys to the cities of their choice?
Nope, congress has made it illegal to fund transfer of prisoners.
What you do is talk to Cuba. Give the cubans a sum of money in "foreign aid" or somesuch. Such transfers are not subject to congressional approval. If necessary, go through a few intermediaries. Part (only part, of course. We want to make it worth Cuba's while) of those funds will be used to arrange transport for prisoners. This will, of course, be arranged with the cubans under the table. Just sort of... leave the gates open and not stop the prisoner transfers.

Similar in form to what we did before the Lend-Lease act, wherein we would put planes and other military assets on the canadian border and pointedly leave them unguarded. The canadians would "steal" them, and offer "reparations" for the lost hardware after the stolen material "could not be located".
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Flagg » 2013-05-06 05:35pm

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Flagg wrote:
Jaepheth wrote:Just to check on my understanding of things...

Obama could unilaterally set the prisoners free, right? He could just write up a bunch of Presidential pardons and use his position as commander and chief to order the military to ferry these guys to the cities of their choice?
Nope, congress has made it illegal to fund transfer of prisoners.
What you do is talk to Cuba. Give the cubans a sum of money in "foreign aid" or somesuch. Such transfers are not subject to congressional approval. If necessary, go through a few intermediaries. Part (only part, of course. We want to make it worth Cuba's while) of those funds will be used to arrange transport for prisoners. This will, of course, be arranged with the cubans under the table. Just sort of... leave the gates open and not stop the prisoner transfers.

Similar in form to what we did before the Lend-Lease act, wherein we would put planes and other military assets on the canadian border and pointedly leave them unguarded. The canadians would "steal" them, and offer "reparations" for the lost hardware after the stolen material "could not be located".
And when Obama is impeached for treason, what then?
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Jaepheth » 2013-05-06 05:41pm

Flagg wrote: Nope, congress has made it illegal to fund transfer of prisoners.
But if they're pardoned then they're no longer prisoners.


I could see the republicans trying to bring up charges of treason though :?
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Flagg » 2013-05-06 05:42pm

Jaepheth wrote:
Flagg wrote: Nope, congress has made it illegal to fund transfer of prisoners.
But if they're pardoned then they're no longer prisoners.


I could see the republicans trying to bring up charges of treason though :?
I don't know if Obama could pardon them or not since most of them aren't even being charged with anything and are cleared for release.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2013-05-06 05:45pm

Flagg wrote:And when Obama is impeached for treason, what then?
They would have to really stretch the definition of treason there. I mean, they did not prohibit prisoner transfers. They prohibited the use of federal funds for prisoner transfers. The cubans assisted us in the transfer of prisoners as a "gesture of good will and friendship".

They are not being released (except for the ones cleared for release). They are being tried, in accordance with a legally binding executive order. It just so happens that all the movement and transfer costs were shouldered by the cuban government with money they got we-know-not-where. Executive Privilege.

I am just illustrating how the shady tactics of the Bush and Obama administrations might well be used for good. Think of it as a Reverse Rendition. :angelic:
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Flagg » 2013-05-06 05:50pm

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Flagg wrote:And when Obama is impeached for treason, what then?
They would have to really stretch the definition of treason there. I mean, they did not prohibit prisoner transfers. They prohibited the use of federal funds for prisoner transfers. The cubans assisted us in the transfer of prisoners as a "gesture of good will and friendship".

They are not being released (except for the ones cleared for release). They are being tried, in accordance with a legally binding executive order. It just so happens that all the movement and transfer costs were shouldered by the cuban government with money they got we-know-not-where. Executive Privilege.

I am just illustrating how the shady tactics of the Bush and Obama administrations might well be used for good. Think of it as a Reverse Rendition. :angelic:
Yeah, but you have the president illegally funneling money to a "hostile state". All to circumvent an act of congress. Sounds a lot like Iran-contra to me.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2013-05-06 05:53pm

Yeah, but you have the president illegally funneling money to a "hostile state". All to circumvent an act of congress. Sounds a lot like Iran-contra to me.
I will note that no one got impeached for Iran-Contra. A bit of prep work might need to be used. Normalizing relations with Cuba for example. Alternatively, intermediaries. There are a lot of friendly countries, NATO nations etc who have normal relations with Cuba.

Besides, much of the congressional objection stems from... vote-whoring, and not actual objection to civilian trials. That is my read, anyway.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Flagg » 2013-05-06 05:57pm

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Yeah, but you have the president illegally funneling money to a "hostile state". All to circumvent an act of congress. Sounds a lot like Iran-contra to me.
I will note that no one got impeached for Iran-Contra. A bit of prep work might need to be used. Normalizing relations with Cuba for example. Alternatively, intermediaries. There are a lot of friendly countries, NATO nations etc who have normal relations with Cuba.
No, a republican Demi god wasn't impeached for Iran-contra. They already want to go after Obama for pissant shit like Benghazi, and they already went after Clinton for getting a blowjob from a Jew on Easter.

As far as the rest, good luck normalizing relations with a country that has its own hate lobby against them ready to kill any bill doing so.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by General Mung Beans » 2013-05-06 10:07pm

Maybe Obama might survive impeachment, but assuming even part of this scheme leaks out to the media you can kiss goodbye to any other legislative initiative Obama might pass, to Democratic control of Congress in 2014, and to the control of the White House in 2016.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Mr Bean » 2013-05-06 11:18pm

People ask what Obama could have done when faced with a 90 to six bill. He could have taken a page from any number of Presidents books. Take the bill set it on his desk and after ten number of days it becomes law despite not being signed or veoted.

I figure ten days is more than enough time to clean up 200 cells across the country and put the 177 odd prisoners on planes to their new jails. If your worried about people objecting the US military has over two thousand military cells across the country in twenties and thirties on bases. Heck I know of at least a hundred cells within a fifty mile radius of Pensacola.

Figure that takes five days. Spend day 6 explaining to the media while you won't sign the bill. Days 7 and 8 can be sent cleaning every inch of gitmo for classified materials and triple checking everything has been moved or shredded. On day 9 hold and open house to the people of Cuba and invite them to take anything they like home as a keepsake including the fences. Day 10 the bill becomes law and there is exactly dick congress can do as passing any emergency legislation again runs up against the ten day window.

If you want examples of Presidents doing similar acts in the past I can name a few (Roosevelt, Johnson, Nixon, Regan) who made a happy habit of exploiting this loophole.

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Losonti Tokash » 2013-05-07 12:07am

One fine day, you guys will realize that Obama is not a character in an Aaron Sorkin production.

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2013-05-07 12:25am

Are you referring to the people criticizing Obama, the people defending Obama, both, or some other group of people?

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Losonti Tokash » 2013-05-07 12:30am

I was referring to the folks coming up with absurd, pie in the sky fantasy scenarios that have approximately a negative percent chance of ever happening, regardless of who the actual president was.

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Simon_Jester » 2013-05-07 06:11am

Yeah.

It's one thing to ask "well, what if Obama had fought harder to accomplish XYZ?" It's another matter entirely to propose that he do this huge, weird, massively complex end-run around the law, in a way that's very, very sketchy from a constitutional point of view.
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Irbis » 2013-05-07 08:03am

Alyrium Denryle wrote:They would have to really stretch the definition of treason there. I mean, they did not prohibit prisoner transfers. They prohibited the use of federal funds for prisoner transfers. The cubans assisted us in the transfer of prisoners as a "gesture of good will and friendship".
Oh, but the point is not catching the rabbit, it's chasing it. Just think of the headlines in Fox Lies and the rest of the pack - "Evil Muslim Obama cooperated with Communist state we should be Freedomizing right now to illegally hand them TERRORISTS so Castro has more assets with which to attack the FREEDOM EAGLE". If they could try to impeach Clinton for cigar, they can certainly run with it, and use it as headline for the next 20 years before any election. Also, with Congress banning any funding, even gas tank of fuel in truck used to transport them to Cuban border is breaking the law, and all that assumes Cuba even would take them.

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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Siege » 2013-05-07 08:21am

I certainly wouldn't expect Cuba to help the USA out of the titanic hole it's dug for itself. Why would they?
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Re: The economist: Time for Obama to man up

Post by Lord Revan » 2013-05-07 09:39am

doing what some people suggest would more or less be a political suicide not just for Obama but the whole democratic party and that's assuming Cuba was even willing to help in the first place.
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