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View Diary: Why no U.S. Gov't report on human rights in Afghanistan? (54 comments)

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  •  In a study of respect for human rights (0+ / 0-)

    within the Afghan regime and society, it's no surprise that Bagram isn't there.  Should it be?  Technically, it very likely should, given the location of the base and the title of the report, but I highly doubt that it would be part of the authors' assignment.  U.S. behavior is a separate topic from the legitimate topic addressed in the report.

    This next bit is not primarily directed at you, but nevertheless:

    I have to say that I'm amazed the by response to this diary.  I've publicized an overlooked and apparently valuable report that can inform our debates on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, and in response I find one of the highest proportions of carping about what is not in the document that I've ever seen.  This is armchair grousing: "Oh, let us sing a chorus together of how bad the U.S. has been" without a focus on what we can do now, armed with this information, to make it better.

    On your point about "unlawful enemy combatants" -- you know, when the phrase first graced our media, I thought that it must be a lot of hooey.  Now, I think about it somewhat along the lines of the Bush-Cheney treatment of "signing statements."  Both are valid concepts that have been used appropriately in the past.  In both cases, Bush and his lawyers intentionally tried to stretch them well beyond the bounds of reason and to apply them inappropriately.

    It turns out that, when you do the research, there is such a thing as an "unlawful enemy combatant" and there can be justification for some limited use of military tribunals -- which doesn't make the choice to use them a good policy.  In any event, BushCo was not in the same galaxy as using them as good policy.  They just wanted to suspend habeas corpus to make the point that they could.

    I note this to you because the way you fashion your argument affords easy and effective rebuttal by anyone who knows about, for example, In re Quirin.  We should not be hanging our hats on the non-existence of the concept -- someone picked up while attacking us on a battlefield in Afghanistan should be held captive -- otherwise, I leave it to be to make the case that they should be released or given over to the tender mercies of the Afghan government -- and so the question arises of why is it OK to so hold them.  What is their proper status?  (Hint: it's in your comment.)  This should be done in accordance with international law, should not involve torture, should not extend past the time that it is necessary to protect lives.

    I'm interested in learning about whether you think that no one should be held in Bagram, what you think should be done to people who are legitimately attacking U.S. forces instead (because many would make the case for summary execution and I expect that you like me are not among them), and what is wrong with following international law while avoiding such abuses -- a course of action that would likely leave Bagram in place.

    The problem, I submit, is not that we have held persons who we call unlawful enemy combatants in Bagram.  The problem is who we have held, how we have identified them as such, and what we have done to them once there.  Let's not give up that high ground in our debates with the progeny of BushCo.

    "So if you don't have any teeth, so what? ... Isn't that why they make applesauce?" -- GOP leader Rush Limbaugh

    by Seneca Doane on Sun Mar 28, 2010 at 10:18:03 AM PDT

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    •  US behavior may be a separate issue to some. (0+ / 0-)

      But to others considering a report on Human Rights in Afghanistan, the continued allowance by the Afghan government of that behavior on its sovereign territory would figure quite heavily.

      The problem, I submit, is those who would try to insinuate it doesn't.

      Would you insinuate it doesn't speak to the human rights record of the United States if they knowingly allowed a torture chamber run by a foreign government to operate on its soil?

      Not that such a thing would ever be necessary, what.. with us doing such a fine job running our own chambers around the world...

      More and Better Democrats

      by SJerseyIndy on Sun Mar 28, 2010 at 03:58:28 PM PDT

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      •  Right, like they could stop it (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sorry, but critics of this U.S. Government report on the grounds that it does accuse the U.S. Government itself of war crimes and crimes against humanity seem to me to be taking the doctrine of the best being the enemy of the good and raising it to the nth power.  If you don't find this report useful at all because it doesn't mention Bagram, then I suggest that your standards are out of whack.

        "So if you don't have any teeth, so what? ... Isn't that why they make applesauce?" -- GOP leader Rush Limbaugh

        by Seneca Doane on Sun Mar 28, 2010 at 07:14:03 PM PDT

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    •  "law w/o court is righteousness w/o expression" (0+ / 0-)

      I highly doubt that it would be part of the authors' assignment. U.S. behavior is a separate topic from the legitimate topic addressed in the report.

      I agree, and don't think it detracts from the importance of the report, which I appreciate you sharing. I certainly hadn't heard of it.

      This is armchair grousing: "Oh, let us sing a chorus together of how bad the U.S. has been" without a focus on what we can do now, armed with this information, to make it better.

      I don't know about everyone else, but I know why I spend so much time bitching lately - I don't know how to advocate to this administration.

      I just keep thinking about the public option. Our president had said he wouldn't sign a bill without a PO, and 65 representatives pledged not to vote for a bill without one. We were kept in reserve as a threat to keep conservatives from pushing the bill to the right, but encouraged to not push too hard for the PO through a perception of I-got-thisness. As late as 8.20.09 Obama continued insisting on a public plan, and chastised people on the left who "got a little excited" when he started talking about non-profit health co-ops.

      I've only been paying attention to politics for about 18 years; I've never seen a government that speaks the language of the left, that knows our shibboleths, but doesn't share our goals, except perhaps in the most trivial sense, like we all agree that we want world peace, but so few of us are willing to work for it.

      someone picked up while attacking us on a battlefield in Afghanistan should be held captive

      I agree - and I think the vast majority should be held as POWs, and accorded protection under Geneva III. I think its opportunism to treat non-uniformed soldiers as spies. In Rose's Washington's War he notes that most American soldiers in the Revolutionary War had no uniforms, yet the policy (though not always the practice) of the British was to treat them as soldiers when captured, uniform or not - not spies.

      I'm interested in learning about whether you think that no one should be held in Bagram... and what is wrong with following international law while avoiding such abuses

      I don't care where we keep them, as long as we run it humanely enough that my Amnesty International mailers stop assuring me that its Hell on Earth. I'm tired of fighting my government to get them to accord people minimum standards of human decency.

      I don't think there is anything wrong with following international law, and I wish we'd join the ICC and do so. As we adjudicate our compliance on a national level, I think its solipsistic to claim we follow international law... as if one declared oneself the winner of a World Series of baseball wherein only one nation played. Its as if a judge whose family has been attacked would preside over the trial of the attacker.

      The problem, I submit, is not that we have held persons who we call unlawful enemy combatants in Bagram ... Let's not give up that high ground in our debates with the progeny of BushCo.

      We may hold the high ground, but I'm not sure if its worth the trouble to drag their phrasing up the hill. Can we use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house, or do we empower them by defining them as acceptable through our use?

      "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange ... including a public option" President Obama, 7.18.09

      by efraker on Sun Mar 28, 2010 at 09:25:00 PM PDT

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      •  Good post -- I don't know why my page (0+ / 0-)

        didn't show I had new comments on this diary in time for me to recommend.  Or maybe I just missed them.

        "So if you don't have any teeth, so what? ... Isn't that why they make applesauce?" -- GOP leader Rush Limbaugh

        by Seneca Doane on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:21:39 PM PDT

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