aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

What's the fuss?

So, the CIA has secret prisons in foreign countries: What did you think "undisclosed locations" meant? Where did you think we were holding all these high-ranking captures to pump info from them? Most of the guys at Gitmo are small fish (very nasty fish, but not high up the food chain).

So the various bigwigs and middlewigs we've caught, who really have something to tell, and whom it takes time to get everything they've got to tell out of, are being held in secluded places where they can be interrogated.

Why aren't they being held in US prisons (military or civilian)? Because that puts them in the whole Fort Habeas Corpus deal, where American lawyers can interfere with proper intelligence gathering. If we were prosecuting them for civil crimes, they surely ought to be in an ordinary prison, with all the ordinary routine of law enforcement and representation by counsel attendant upon them. But we don't need to Mirandize these guys. When we're done with them, we're not putting them on trial for ordinary crimes.

So why aren't these offshore prisons, jails, or "secure houses" (whatever they are) all listed in a catalog where the Red Cross can go find them and visit? Well, because they're -- ready? -- they're, well, you know -- supposed to be -- *ahem* -- secret. Now, the Red Cross doesn't need to be visiting (see below). And besides, if they're kept secret, terrorists can't try to arrange jail breaks and smart-ass protestors can't take vacations carrying placards around them for their 15 minutes of fame, etc.

Whaddya mean the Red Cross doesn't need to visit these places? Somebody's got to. Well, I agree that Somebody needs to, and I wouldn't deny Congressional oversight of these facilities, if and where they exist. But let's review the whole legal theory under which we hold these guys.
1. Ordinary criminal defendants are held in ordinary jails and get the full panoply of rights, whether they're American or not. This includes American soldiers held in military jails for commiting ordinary crimes under the cover of wartime service. These guys all get lawyers and can refuse to say squat, and there's a dozen dodges to get evidence thrown out. ALL of which I would fight and die for: that's the American legal system.

2. Ordinary enemy forces in a war-time situation are held as POWs and get the full panoply of Geneva Conventions (including getting PAID by the gov't holding them captive). They don't get lawyers unless they're being prosecuted for crimes -- after all, they're just captured soldiers. They don't have to say squat, either, though we ask them very nicely. They don't have to be charged with anything, and can be held until the war is concluded, after which they must be repatriated. No harm, no foul.

3. Terrorists (or pirates, if you will) are private individuals and organizations waging war against governments and societies. If we catch them, what do we do with them? Our first interest is in putting down their activity, not in prosecuting them for crimes -- so the whole American criminal justice routine is secondary. On the other hand, they're not lawful combatants, so the Geneva Conventions DO NOT APPLY TO THEM. They're not just being penned up until we sign an armistice, and then they all get to go home.

That doesn't mean we should feel free to torture them -- absolutely not. And there should be Congressional oversight of these procedures (and probably is, since when Congress handles other CIA stuff, they don't report it to me and you). But it means that we're going to hold most of them "for the duration," or until they have nothing more useful to tell. Then we're going to put them in front of special tribunals, and the really nasty ones are going to be given a version of LWP (Life without Parole) -- and may get transferred to a more normal military prison when we reach that stage.
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