July 14, 2007


Lock terror suspects up indefinitely say police< (Mark Townsend and Jamie Doward, July 15, 2007, The Observer)

One of Britain's most senior police officers has demanded a return to a form of internment, with the power to lock up terror suspects indefinitely without charge.

The proposal, put forward by the head of the Association of Police Chief Officers (Acpo) and supported by Scotland Yard, is highly controversial. An earlier plan to extend the amount of time suspects can be held without charge to 90 days led to Tony Blair's first Commons defeat as Prime Minister. Eventually, the government was forced to compromise on 28 days, a period which Gordon Brown has already said he wants to extend.

The Observer understands that the Acpo proposal has been discussed in meetings between Brown and senior police officers.

How much fun would it be, after all the Brit bitching, to ship the guys we're holding to them for permanent detention.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 14, 2007 7:47 PM

Since we are closing Gitmo dispersing the jihadists, shouldn't we lease the place to Britain to intern their suspects indefinitely? The Brits save a bundle from not having to build new facilities, we can recoup our investments in the air conditioned facility. Just rename it Club Caribe. Win-win.

Posted by: ic at July 14, 2007 9:44 PM

But, wait. Do you believe the Brit "bitching" was unjustified? Should America's government have the power to arrest and detain people indefinitely without bringing charges against them? Should Britain's?

Posted by: Will Warner at July 14, 2007 9:57 PM

Of course, when have we ever charged prisoners of war?

Posted by: oj at July 14, 2007 11:27 PM

Long Kesh, the Maze; really the Brits should really shut their piehole.

Posted by: narciso at July 15, 2007 12:00 AM

Nuremberg, right? Back when the French, Russians, and British wanted to hang 'em high, and the Americans said we'd use justice, fair-minded examination of evidence, and the rule of law instead?

Posted by: Will Warner at July 15, 2007 12:03 AM

Will, Nuremberg was a war crimes trial. The question at Guantanamo is whether we can hold prisoners of war for the duration of the hostilities.

This war is the first war I've heard of where the right to hold POWs has been attacked

Posted by: David S. at July 15, 2007 12:36 AM

But what about the detainees who aren't from Afghanistan or Iraq, weren't arrested there, and aren't proved ever to have so much as held a weapon? What makes them prisoners of war, instead of just ordinary people?


Posted by: Will Warner at July 15, 2007 1:07 AM

Oops-- I should've added, David, that you're quite right about Nuremberg being a different situation, since hostilities had ceased.

Posted by: Will Warner at July 15, 2007 1:08 AM

Must I draw the distinction, yet again, one more time?

One should hope that someone might write this down: war criminals are indeed charged, and tried by military commission, as soon as may be practicible. This may be at the end of a war, but it need not be. Prisoners of war are never charged. These are merely sent on their way at the conclusion of hostilities.

Perhaps we may excuse the seemingly endless confusion because of the criminal way in which the jailhouse fights. Perfidy and treachery are their stock in trade, abuse of non-combatants their preferred tactic.

Thus most of those who fall into our hands are war criminals. They fight out of uniform; they target civilians, and take cover among civilians; they employ indiscriminate weapons; they abuse their prisoners; they misuse the protections of the law of war, by fighting out of religious and medical buildings.

Now I have not determined the following assertion to a reasonable degree of professional certainty. The answers are not found in the general literature, and I have been too busy to drag my tired old butt down to a library with access to the needed sources.

But what I am seeing, including things on various websites dealing with LoW and JAG issues, leads me to believe that some of us, and here I mean the JAG community, are misintrepreting international law so as to acquiesce in the systemic war crimes of the spiritual jailhouse.

Why? I suggest that it is a combination of professional cowardice and national diplomacy. As to the first concern, individual military lawyers are advising not on the law as the United States recognizes it, but as the enemy and the axis of weasels claim it, to avoid being accused themselves of having given unlawful advice. As to the second, I see a reticence to name the entire spiritual jailhouse for what it is, a gigantic criminal conspiracy, a criminal organization, as the Schutzstaffel had been a criminal organization.

But it is, you know. Just as the Shinto way of war had been criminal, the jailhouse way is criminal. Please remember that military incompetence is not a defense. If a side has lost and cannot fight lawfully, it has lost indeed, and cannot claim necessity for its list of crimes.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 15, 2007 3:44 AM

We're not at war with Afghanistan or Iraq. The enemies are from all over. We didn't try the Confederates we captured either...and they were all American citizens.

Posted by: oj at July 15, 2007 5:51 AM

A post-hostilities trial followed by mass hangings sounds like a fine idea.

Posted by: oj at July 15, 2007 5:53 AM

A post-hostilities trial followed by mass hangings sounds like a fine idea.

Why wait until hostilities are over? If I read the Geneva Convention correctly, we can skip the "trial" part and go straight to the hanging.

Posted by: Mike Morley at July 15, 2007 6:48 AM

Indeed, the most important lesson of Gitmo is that summary executions are preferable to incarceration.

Posted by: oj at July 15, 2007 8:12 AM

We indeed did try Confederate war criminals. The difference was that the Confederate army was an armed force, and not a criminal organization.

Perhaps this may be writen down also. This time the confusion is between the enemy's cause (jus ad bellum) and his way of fighting (jus in bello). It is unheard of in modern war to punish soldiers because they have been ordered to fight on the wrong side.

However, we may prosecute them for how they fight, without regard to the rightness or wrongness of their county's cause. We revile the SS not because their country waged aggessive war, but because their acts against civilians and prisoners were criminal.

There is no need to retype the list of jailhouse war crimes. No one questions their proven criminality: evil is their good.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 15, 2007 9:50 AM

The Confederacy was a mere criminal organization and we didn't try the prisoners we took.

Hard to see why an al Qaedist deserves better.

Posted by: oj at July 15, 2007 4:14 PM

Only hard to see if you do not want to see it. If Confederate soldiers had fought the way the crimninals of the jailhouse fight we should have hanged them--not for being Confederates, but for being crimininals. The whole list, fighting out of uniform, mistreating civilians and prisoners, misusing protected places, using indiscriminate weapons: the crime is not the cause, the crine is the way of fighting, jus in bello, not jus ad bellum.

Why is this so hard to understand?. I think I know--it is Spencer's "greatest of infidelities": the fear that the truth will be bad. Justice demands that there be no truce, no bargaining with evil itself. We can no more settle with this abomination than we could have with the Nazis and Japanese.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 15, 2007 8:11 PM

More Americans died at Andersonville than have been killed by al Qaeda. As a %, astronomically more.

Islamists don't owe America anything. Confederates were traitors. All of each deserve the rope.

Posted by: oj at July 15, 2007 11:41 PM

And so the traps springs. Of course Wirtz was hanged for Andersonville. See how much more effective it is set the bait and wait for the other side to walk in.

The fighters of the spiritual jailhouse owe humanity adherence to the law of war. That they fight as criminals makes them ipso facto enemies of mankind. This is not because of theier cause, but because of their crimes.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 16, 2007 4:18 AM

The law of war is written by the powerful to oppress the weak. We ignored it when we were weak.

A token hanging is the same as none. The South was responsible for every death in the War, not just one guy for a few discrete ones.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2007 8:41 AM

Now you sound like Harry - start with Mecca and work out from there.

I recently corresponded with a WSJ reporter who wrote a story about how hated George Bush is among the world, and why holding suspects in Gitmo is hurting us around the world. I asked him how Mohammed Atta should have been treated, had he been presciently arrested in Portland early that September morning? A war criminal or just a suspect? Put him in a city lock-up, or give him to the military/CIA?

The guy didn't answer (although Jerrold Nadler, congress-critter from Manhattan) apparently told a witness at a hearing a couple of weeks ago that all the 9/11 terrorists, had they been caught first, should have been processed as criminal suspects, ostensibly to preserve the dignity of America.

There's a vast gulf between these two poles - and it's getting wider every day. Just last night, I heard a BBC reporter ask a retired Pakistani general if Musharraf's move against the Red Mosque was going to force leading Army officers to rise up against his personal fight against Islam. What drivel. At least the interviewee had that sense to tell him that the Army has its dignity and that Musharraf wasn't directing every move from his bunker (as the reporter breathlessly wanted him to say).

The hard-core nutjobs (like Zawahiri and Gahlzi and Mullah Omar and the rest) are not just my enemies, they are the enemies of civilization. They aren't criminal suspects - they are hosts of a murderous virus. But not just them - the Wahhabist loons and the gangsters in Iran are just the same (as are Nasrallah, Mashaal, and Haniyeh). These guys have made their choices, and have strutted on the world stage. That is 'evidence' enough.

Posted by: ratbert at July 16, 2007 2:41 PM

There are rather few Islamicists to hang.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2007 5:14 PM

Assume that you are right about the purpose of the LoW. You are not, but let's pretend.

And that would change things how, exactly.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 16, 2007 10:06 PM

Even if there are just 10,000 (from England to Waziristan), they still need to be hanged.

Most of them have already self-identified.

Posted by: ratbert at July 16, 2007 10:42 PM

The law is whatever the winner says it is, so first you need to win. Al Qaeda's tactics are wrong because they don't work, not because "illegal." Ours are always right because they work, even when illegal.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2007 11:12 PM

A [ity that this thread is getting so old. It is to be hope that we may visit these issues again,when someone may actually see what is written.

Now someone is indeed inching toward wisdom. The Low is indeed supported by such pratical concerns as you allege. Y.O.S once taught this material. JAGs do more than prosecute and defend snuffies who came back late from vacation.

Thaer are good, practical reasons why the way we fight is superior to the way they fight. Military Spencerism ratifies the adaptive folkway.

Yes, there is a kind of feedback loop in effect here. Wise ways of fighting bring victory, and victory establishes the ways of the victor.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 18, 2007 5:19 PM

Yes, because the "law" reinforces our advantages. When it's inconvenient we ignore it, knowing no one can enforce it against us. Law of war is a mug's game.

Posted by: oj at July 18, 2007 10:26 PM