June 28, 2007

Save for future battles.

Here's something you might want to save, just in case you have an opportunity to counter-attack against the torrent of lies spread by those who hate this nation. And it's from the NYT, so it's not like anyone can say it's pro-administration propaganda... The Guantánamo I Know:

LINDSEY GRAHAM, a Republican senator from South Carolina, is right: “The image of Guantánamo Bay and the reality of Guantánamo Bay are completely different.” It is disappointing that so many embrace a contrived image. Reality for Guantánamo Bay is the daily professionalism of its staff, the humanity of its detention centers and the fair and transparent nature of the military commissions charged with trying war criminals. It is a reality that has been all but ignored or forgotten.

The makeshift detention center known as Camp X-Ray closed in early 2002 after just four months of use. Now it is overgrown with weeds and serves as home to iguanas. Yet last week ABC News published a photo online of Camp X-Ray as if it were in use, five years after its closing.

Today, most of the detainees are housed in new buildings modeled after civilian prisons in Indiana and Michigan. Detainees receive three culturally appropriate meals a day. Each has a copy of the Koran. Guards maintain respectful silence during Islam’s five daily prayer periods, and medical care is provided by the same practitioners who treat American service members. Detainees are offered at least two hours of outdoor recreation each day, double that allowed inmates, including convicted terrorists, at the “supermax” federal penitentiary in Florence, Colo.

Standards at Guantánamo rival or exceed those at similar institutions in the United States and abroad. After an inspection by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in March 2006, a Belgian police official said, “At the level of detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons.”

Critics liken Guantánamo Bay to Soviet gulags, but reality does not match their hyperbole. The supporters of David Hicks, the detainee popularly known as the “Australian Taliban,” asserted that Mr. Hicks was mistreated and wasting away. But at his March trial, where he pleaded guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization, he and his defense team stipulated he was treated properly. Mr. Hicks even thanked service members, and as one Australian newspaper columnist noted, he appeared in court “looking fat, healthy and tanned, and cracking jokes.”...

It's an indicator of the level of deception going on, that I didn't know Camp X-Ray had been closed after only 4 months. I just assumed things were the same...

The deeper issue is, that if you are in a war, you need a place to put prisoners. And the Geneva conventions reserve the status of "prisoner of war" to those who fight by the rules. (The conventions are not about prisoners; the POW provisions are just "carrots" to encourage nations to fight by certain rules, mostly about keeping fighting away from civilians.) So, under International Law it would be illegal to call our prisoners POW's. In fact it would be perfectly legal to just shoot them. Since we are humane, we treat them in a way similar to how we would treat POW's. But this opens us up to a torrent of accusations and "legal" attacks by dishonest people who really want to undermine the war.

(I put the rest of the article below, in case the original is unavailable...)

...Some imply that if a defendant does not get a trial that looks like Martha Stewart’s and ends like O. J. Simpson’s, then military commissions are flawed. They are mistaken. The Constitution does not extend to alien unlawful enemy combatants. They are entitled to protections under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which ensures they are afforded “all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

Justice John Paul Stevens, in the Hamdan decision that rejected an earlier plan for military commissions, observed that Article 75 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions defines the judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable. A comparison of Article 75 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 shows military commissions provide the fundamental guarantees.

Each accused receives a copy of the charges in his native language; outside influence on witnesses and trial participants is prohibited; the accused may challenge members of the commission; an accused may represent himself or have assistance of counsel; he is presumed innocent until guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt; he is entitled to assistance to secure evidence on his behalf; he is not required to incriminate himself at trial and his silence is not held against him; he may not be tried a second time for the same offense; and he is entitled to the assistance of counsel through four stages of post-trial appellate review ending at the United States Supreme Court.

One myth is that the accused can be excluded from his trial and convicted on secret evidence. The administrative boards that determine if a detainee is an enemy combatant and whether he is a continuing threat may consider classified information in closed hearings outside the presence of the detainee. But military commissions may not. The act states, “The accused shall be permitted ... to examine and respond to evidence admitted against him on the issue of guilt or innocence and for sentencing.” Unless the accused chooses to skip his trial or is removed for disruptive behavior, he has the right to be present and to confront all of the evidence.

Morris D. Davis, a colonel in the Air Force, is the chief prosecutor in the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions.

Posted by John Weidner at June 28, 2007 1:52 PM
Weblog by John Weidner