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The New Legal Principle: The Presumption of Guilt

The New Legal Principle: The Presumption of Guilt

By Dennis Loo (2/28/14)

You’ve all heard the lesson in school or in citizenship classes, repeated many times with great pride: what distinguishes the US from tyrannies is that we are all treated as “innocent until proven guilty.”

Candidate Barack Obama made a special point of invoking this principle while running for the presidency in 2007-8. After convincing millions that the presumption of innocence and his opposition to torture and to warrantless surveillance were what distinguished him from the despised Bush White House and why we should vote for him, he has … since … stopped talking about it.

Instead, in his speeches since assuming office, he’s spoken about the importance of “balancing” our freedoms and liberties with “security.” He’s warned that there are those who are “out to harm the United States” and that these people cannot be tried and he will not release them.

Here is what he said in his May 21, 2009 speech:

[T]here remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people… We're going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted [he means obtained through torture], but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who've received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people.

Somehow “balance” is now the applicable term rather than the core principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Somehow while most people weren’t looking, the Bureau of Pre-Crime took over the US government and is guiding its work. It is now permissible under this former Constitutional Law Professor to punish people on the basis of what they might do rather than what they have done. Let us assume that what Obama said above was true of every single one of these dozens of people that he refuses to try and will never release – that they all received al Qaeda training and/or they have “made it clear that they want to kill Americans” – something that we know is not true of dozens that he won’t release. (See Andy Worthington’s work on Guantanamo detainees). But let us assume that what Obama claimed is actually true for each and every one of these individuals. This raises the question: How do you legally hold someone without charges and without a trial forever on the basis of something they might do in the future?

By slyly presenting his policy of preventive detention in this way, what this former Constitutional Professor is doing is overturning the principle that you cannot be punished for what you have not yet done. If this were the only manifestation of this precedent being set by him, it would be serious enough. But Obama’s preventive detention is only part of an overall shift of enormous magnitude in governance. While most of the mainstream media have been snoozing, the new legal principle in statecraft is that everyone is assumed to be guilty.

The right of kings has now been re-established, when most people weren’t looking, and what the king (president) decides is right, is now the law, even though the king (president) is not being supervised by any other branch of government and is acting solely under executive powers. The POTUS can now publicly maintain a “kill list” in which he is judge, jury and executioner, and we and the world are supposed to sleep at night secure that this POTUS and every future POTUS will use this unfettered power to assassinate only really bad people. Thousands have died by drones, hundreds of them children. But of course, all of these children must have been really bad people.

As Obama said about the CIA in 2009, these are fine men and women and he isn’t going to “lawyer them up” by investigating and prosecuting those who are guilty of torture. Here were his words in January 2009 shortly before taking office:

I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that for example at the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up.

No one is above the law, he says. That’s a good thing since it’s the core principle of jurisprudence since the Magna Carta of nearly 900 years ago when the king finally accepted that there were limits to his powers and that everyone including the king must be subordinate to the law. This is the meaning of the “rule of law.”

The reason this is so critical is that prior to establishing the rule of law, the king or other executive power (such as a president) could exercise his or her powers arbitrarily and capriciously, executing or imprisoning anyone they pleased, as they pleased, without any supervision and without having to abide by laws that protect individuals and groups from the arbitrary use of executive powers over them.

Right after affirming his adherence to the rule of law above, however, Obama proceeded to violate the rule of law. He declared that because he doesn’t believe that we should look “backwards” - which is the only thing you can do if you’re going to follow the law, prosecute people for crimes that they have already committed as opposed to those that they haven’t done – the CIA has “extraordinarily talented people” who are keeping Americans safe and they should feel safe from being lawyered up. In other words, "as POTUS I will never stop saying that I believe in the rule of law, but I am not going to apply that principle. Instead, I’m going to look forward." And what he is saying here and has in fact been doing, is exactly this, punishing those who he designates as criminals based on what they might do in the future. That is forward looking all right.

This is what underpins the philosophy behind public order policies. Public order policies began being employed in the 1970s in Europe and have since spread worldwide. They are designed to control populations based on precluding people from doing things rather than punishing people for breaking the law. In other words, instead of only being subject to governmental repression if you violate the law, under public order policies everyone is now treated as a suspect and their actions and even thoughts can be suppressed because who they are or what they might believe are contrary to what those in authority want.

Public order policies is a term that very few people have even heard and yet it precisely describes what has happened to both public and private authorities and their use of their coercive and persuasive powers. If the public were to be told that the “rule of law” is no longer the guiding principle they would be justifiably alarmed and resist these changes. What they have been told instead are deliberate lies intended to disarm the people in the face of these dramatic and consequential changes. We have been told that incursions on civil liberties and the elimination of privacy through NSA spying are necessary because of the “war on terror.” Anti-state terrorists, in other words, real as they are, are being used principally by governments such as the US as the cover for carrying out public order policies. The WOT did not begin until after 9/11, whereas public order policies date from the 1970s and massive warrantless surveillance began al least as early as the 1990s.

When Obama claims that the NSA is only spying on Americans when they have a warrant, when he says that he is protecting the rule of law, and when he says that he is “balancing” people’s rights to privacy and civil liberties with the need for “security,” he is telling people what he knows the people expect from their government. He is, however, knowingly lying about all of these things.

***

The presumption of innocence is the hallmark of a society that recognizes civil liberties. This is not something that came about because some brilliant people thought it would be an especially fine idea. It is not some abstract principle without any real concrete, living consequences. You don’t sacrifice the principle because some individual or group of people are especially horrid and you want to punish them even though you don’t have the evidence to prove it so you decide to ignore the principle that evidence is necessary to punish someone. The presumption of innocence is a principle that had to be fought for and for which many people sacrificed their livelihoods and lives because in the absence of it we would all be living under tyrants. The definition of tyranny is one in which authorities can overlook the rule of law.

Principles are like that: they have to be struggled for against tremendous resistance. They don’t come ready-made. They are not something you can just pop into the oven and in a few minutes they’re done. Fighting for principles is hard and it’s supposed to be hard because upholding principles is not the popular position to take.

Those who have faced those in power and not blinked but taken the consequences - when all around them there were those near and dear to them as well as friends and strangers who told them to be quiet - we and all of humanity now and forever owe the greatest debt to. Without them we would have no principles except that “might makes right.”

For centuries people have had to die for principles and others have had to face ridicule, social isolation, the ruining of their careers, threats against and the loss of loved ones, beatings and torture. If the right thing to do were easy, then we would have no need for principles. People could just go merrily along on the path of least resistance, pleased as punch with the company of so many others dancing along with them. “What wonderful patriots we all are! What fine fellows and gals we are, for we all agree with one another, which just proves that what we all agree on must be right!” Going along with popular opinion and/or going along with authority are easy. Anyone can do it unthinkingly.

What humanity needs, especially now, are those who are willing to break with convention and stand up against what authorities are doing. The basis for mobilizing very large numbers of people over time to support these efforts is there because what the authorities are actually doing and why they are doing it are diametrically opposed to what they are claiming that they are doing. The reason why authorities are saying the exact opposite of what they are doing to the public is because they know that if they told the people the truth that the people would demand the end to these authorities’ power over us.

In any society at any time the norms of the society are set by those who set the terms overall. The terms are not set by the mainstream. The mainstream follows the lead of those who are the opinion-leaders and opinion-makers. Those in the leading positions now are carrying out profoundly illegal and immoral policies, including the use of torture, assassinations, pre-emptive wars (wars of aggression), and spying on everyone. People in the mainstream are correspondingly acting out these policies and philosophy. The most unhinged of these such as Michael Nunn and George Zimmerman are acting out the attitudes and behaviors they see being promoted by those in leading positions in our society. The behavior of US forces in war theaters such as Afghanistan and Iraq and prison camps like Guantanamo finds its corollary in the murderous actions of people like Nunn, Zimmerman, James Holmes - the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre killer - and Sandy Hook, Connecticut elementary school killer Adam Lanza. When the POTUS has a kill list, then why should we be shocked when certain individuals domestically decide that they too can take things into their own hands and assassinate those who they despise?

We need a minority of people to set new terms to change the overall atmosphere and alter the balance of political forces. Humanity has always depended upon the courage, determination, and far-sightedness of those who can see the big picture and who act on behalf of the public interest rather than either feeding at the trough in their self-interest or cowardly running and hiding in the face of difficulty and danger. Groups like World Can’t Wait are committed to this.

Comments   

 
0 # AP158 2014-03-01 01:08
(part 1)This article makes me think how stupid the criminal justice and government are. For example, Loo raises a very good point regarding the Guantanamo prisoners “How do you legally hold someone without charges and without a trial forever on the basis of something they might do in the future?” something that many of us find ridiculous and hard to answer. But the government makes these kinds of decisions every day to decide the future of many Americans. The war prisoners are not given the opportunity to prove their innocence because if they succeed and are set free there is the possibility that they might plan an attack against the United States. These decisions are based on what they “might” do in the future. Very similar to those who are convicted to life sentences due to the Three Strike and You’re Out law.
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0 # sas13 2014-03-07 18:18
The presumption of guilt has allowed the government to incarcerate those who have been targeted by police under the presumption that someone is going to commit a crime merely based on profile. This is as Alexander states is the “rebirth of the caste” she uses this referring back to slavery. The presumption of guilt is a rhetoric that has allowed the government to enslave people of color.
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0 # princessdah 2014-03-26 14:00
There are many innocent people behind bars. In the new jim crow,. Alexander states on page 88 that…it is impossible to know for certain how many innocent drug defendants convicted themselves every year by accepting a plea bargain out of fear of mandatory sentences…” th in the story of The central park 5 those boys were tricked into confessing to a crime they didn't do by the cops. Innocent people are tricked or tortured into confess3 to something they didn't do everyday this is also a reaso. Y the incarnation rate is high
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0 # AP158 2014-03-01 01:09
(Part 2)This law convicts many individuals to a life in prison even if their third crime was a non serious or violent crime. Like those who are imprisoned in Guantanamo they are given prison time for life to prevent both of these populations from committing any future crimes. I think this is a very ignorant way to think about solving problems. If that were to be the case then we would not let the government make any future decisions because clearly they have committed many stupid ones already. It is very unfortunate to know that prisoners in Guantanamo have no hope for a future. Some states like the state of California have reconsidered this law, and have put Proposition 36 in order to maybe give some of the non-serious or violent criminals from the Three Strike and You’re Out law hope of someday seeing freedom.
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0 # sas13 2014-03-01 02:12
Our government is very sophisticated at tricking the people of the United States that we are incarcerating people because it is for our own good. We see this in our prisons today, where people of color are being told to take plea bargains before they are found guilty. Alexander states on page 88 that…it is impossible to know for certain how many innocent drug defendants convicted themselves every year by accepting a plea bargain out of fear of mandatory sentences…” Innocent people are being locked up behind bars because the police is arresting innocent people on mere suspicion of drug possession.
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-02 03:15
I believe that the gov't, especially Obama, all too often give us this false sense of security by claiming that they are taking all the necessary measures to protect us. Whereas, in reality we should be fearing the measures they are taking to ensure people of their choosing's incrimination. Obama wants the people on his kill list dead so he is willing to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of innocent people in order to maintain authority. Meanwhile, the CJS wants to keep minorities at the bottom of society so it sacrifices people's innocence and compromises their entire lives in order to maintain their own authority. According to Michelle Alexander, "the critical point is that thousands of people are swept into the criminal justice system each year pursuant to the drug war without much regard for their guilt or innocence" (89). This reflects Obama's way of handling Guantanamo and the "kill list" because their innocence or guilt is not being taken into account, just the fact that a higher
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-02 03:17
(part 2) higher up authority wants it that way. I find it quite disturbing that the people who makes the laws to protect us, are so quick to destroy others lives, despite not having a very valid reason.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-09 09:09
I agree with "Beks113" if you do not have money nor power in society today you are no one. You do not have a say nor a voice on things. The one set of group of people who we tend to look up to and have faith in. Turn their backs on us and only tend to make society worse then we, as people, are already facing in. Why pretend to act like they valuable our lives when they don't?
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0 # Daniel Carrillo 2014-03-01 04:39
While Obama's actions certainly violate the rule of law, I can't help thinking this isn't the first time the U.S. government has ignored the Constitution and subjected individuals to unlawful incarceration. About a hundred years ago our government imprisoned individuals for speaking of the war effort in a negative way. If you had any criticism of the war or war effort, it was literally a crime to voice it, or to make it known. Free speech, as we know it, did not exist. Fortunately, both the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act were repealed in 1920. Twenty two years later, however, Roosevelt would (by executive order) force all Japanese Americans into internment camps because the possibility existed they might be disloyal. It seems to me the U.S. has been interpreting the law to suit its needs for a long time.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-01 05:14
The difference here is that the other wars WWI and WWII had an end to them. The current "War on Terror" has no end to it in sight since it's a war on a tactic.
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0 # KG7 2014-03-02 15:56
I agree with Daniel. It would seem that President Obama started his violations even before he was president. In 9/08 his political camp sent out threatening cease and desist letters to TV and radio stations in both Ohio and Pennsylvania that were running pro NRA ads showing then Senator Obama's record on actions against the 2nd Amendment. Stop running your ads or risk losing your broadcasting license. These shameless bullying tactics have become a staple of his current presidency. Cross me and risk the consequences. These and his many other clear violations of the Constitution since then should worry even those that once believed in him and maybe still do.
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0 # sickmacias89 2014-03-01 06:16
I see our "War on Terror" as this, we are bound to run out of money that goes into funding a war right? And from what i understand were not the richest country in the world if such a title exist, so why continue this unsatisfied hunger for war? There must be something that i am missing but what the end game to being in a war? Those on top must really have daddy issues because i see it as they wanting approval from someone.
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0 # Screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-01 06:24
I can understand that certain issues or information regarding our nation may be needed to be kept private within government sectors for the well being of our nation. I also think this may be a common idea among Americans which gives the government the opportunity to almost freely go about making poor and inhumane decisions at times without the public even being aware. Unaware citizens only benefit those in power. As Weber states in Economic and Social Consequences of Bureaucracy, "Bureaucratic administration always tends to be an administration of 'secret sessions': in so far as it can, it hides it's knowledge and action from criticism."
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-01 07:14
While reading this article it is ridiculous on how the government can just keep someone incarcerated based on the assumption of "what they might do" instead of what they have already done. How does someone plea guilty or not guilty for something they haven't done? As the saying goes, "The punishment should fit the crime not the person." As in the book by Michelle Alexander stated on page 179, "He suggested we will find our black men when we rediscover God, family, and self-respect." This statement is not only aimed toward black men but those who are incarcerated in general.
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0 # Rod24 2014-03-01 21:03
Toward the end of this article where you give the examples of Zimmerman, James Holmes, etc. I had never thought of Obama's kill list in this way. I guess it was so shocking to me because it is true, how can we be shocked by the hideous acts these ppl have committed but yet have no feeling toward Obama choosing who is going to be killed next. It also makes me think of the CJS because it is a way to keep minorities suppressed. It might not be as intense as being on a kill list but it is definitely unfair to the men and women that are falling victim to the system after the War on Drugs was started. Basically anyone is subject to being in danger when it comes down to it, in "The New Jim Crow", Michelle Alexander states "...dozens of people have been killed by police in the course of these raids, including elderly grandparents and those who are completely innocent of any crime" and she also says, "...those who survive SWAT raids are generally traumatized by the event."
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-09 06:00
I think the feeling of being shocked is attributed to how highly we believe or we want to believe that our president is someone of high principal and moral. This is the same feelings we have towards our country as well. Also the same reason why many can't see the state system for what it is (myself included until recently).
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0 # Rod24 2014-03-01 21:07
Not only do we have to come together to put a stop to places like GTMO but we must bring awareness to what is occurring within the U.S. There are many areas in which the gov't looks very faulty because the truth is that we do live in tyranny. What we have to say or feel about the way the gov't is running things really does not matter. As Loo mentioned in the article, why is Obama saying that he is doing something if he is in fact doing the complete opposite? It is a way for him to keep the masses controlled, what if the ppl realized we did live in tyranny. I wonder how he would handle that, he cant throw all of us in jail.
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-02 07:07
I think you bring up a good point about maintaining the masses controlled, the best tool for him to do this through is the mainstream media. Most news that are aired serve to the benefit of mass incarceration and negative views on terrorism, therefore fueling the idea Obama is giving off to the American people that their safety is the reason GTMO is still open.
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0 # dawahba 2014-03-09 07:35
I agree, but I also feel that the government's actions go far beyond that of simply domestic affairs and keeping us (Americans) controlled. GTMO is being used as an intimidation camp. GTMO is an example of what the U.S. uses to maintain its superpower stance in the world.
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0 # KG7 2014-03-02 00:35
It would seem Obama just told the American people what they wanted/needed to hear to get elected while never really having any intensions of closing GTMO or stopping any form of torture. It would in turn then seem that the statute "innocent until proven guilty" is all subjective. Both Department of Homeland Security and the ATF (and maybe even others) are also branches of the government that seem to operate outside the laws being that they can enter a residence/busin ess and detain anyone person/persons they wish without warrant or probable cause. It is because of actions like these that many Americans will never really feel safe, even in their own home.
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-02 05:38
Being "presumed innocent until proven guilty" is a major pillar in American society and how America is perceived by those that dream of coming here to start a better life for themselves and their families. The fact that this part of society is, in actuality, no longer true, is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and recognized. Many people may not realize that this presumption is being taken away because it is hidden under the guise of fear of attack by terrorists. The government justifies the abolishment of this presumption, as well as the privacy of American citizens, by saying it is for our protection and security; that we are under attack by terrorists that want to harm Americans. While this is admittedly, in a minute portion, true, it is still no excuse to deprive people of the right of being innocent until proven guilty...
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-02 07:18
As Alexander states in The New Jim Crow "Criminals, it turns out, are the one social group in America we have permission to hate...They are entitled to no respect and little moral concern."(PG 141) This is a perfect example of what Obama is doing by labeling these men terrorist and "for our protection and security", as you say, treating them inhumanely. I agree that this is something that needs to be addressed and recognized. This very much can be related to mass incarceration here in the states and it makes me wonder if we aren't able to value our citizens lives what makes me believe we will value other countries citizens lives any time soon?
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-02 05:43
...Without the security of being innocent until proven guilty, we are living in a society that is quickly becoming one akin to that of which is in the film "Minority Report", starring Tom Cruise. The premise of this film is that there are three people who have the ability to see the future, specifically who will commit a crime in the future. A government agency exists to arrest these people before they even commit the crimes in which they are believed they might commit. This is exactly what is happening in our society today. Not only is it visible in the treatment of the inmates at Guantanamo Bay, but nationwide. Many inmates at Guantanamo have been cleared for release by a specially trained team of investigators, who say that these individuals pose no quantifiable threat to America or its citizens, yet they are still denied their freedom because of the fear of what they might do in retaliation for their treatment while incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-02 05:49
...In her book, "The New Jim Crow", Michelle Alexander makes two very poignant references that pertain to this issue in particular. First, on page 135, in regards to the Stop and Frisk laws (these are laws that allow Law Enforcement Officials to legally stop and pat down any individual they believe pose a possible threat to the officer, or the general public in that vicinity, for anything that pose a threat, whether it be narcotics or weapons. In essence this is open season to stop anyone with impunity based on how the officer feels). Alexander states, "...The NYPD dramatically increased its number of pedestrian stops and continued to stop and frisk African Americans at grossly disproportionat e rates. The NYPD stopped five times more people in 2005 than in 2002-the overwhelming majority of whom were African American or Latino..."
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-02 05:56
(Continuing Alexander's quote from page 135) "...By 2008, the NYPD was stopping 545,000 in a single year, and 80 percent of the people stopped were African Americans and Latinos. Whites comprised a mere 8 percent of people frisked by the NYPD, while African Americans accounted for 85 percent of all frisks. A report by the New York Times found that the highest concentration of stops in the city was a roughly eight-block area of Brownsville, Brooklyn, that was predominately black. Residents there were stopped at a rate thirteen times the city average." This excerpt from Alexander's text speaks volumes concerning the new system of "being guilty until proven innocent". It is unfortunate that this is the new system for our country; a fact made only more troubling by the racial disparity that occurs. It is a very troubling issue, to be sure, that anyone can be stopped and frisked merely for looking like a criminal, or if the officer feels like seeing if you are...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-02 06:01
...participatin g in any illicit activities. However, a serious issue arises when racial profiling comes into play. People of African American or Latino decent, have historically been targeted as the stereotypical common criminal. Yet, following 9/11, individuals of Middle Eastern decent have been vilified as well. This is seen all too often in the media, such as in television shows and movies. Whenever an person of Middle Eastern decent boards a plane, the "classic" white Americans are shown to be scared, wondering if that individual is a terrorist. This too, points towards the new presumption of guilty until proven innocent...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-02 06:07
...The second excerpt from Alexander's text that expounds upon this issue pertains to President Clinton's 1996 "One Strike and You're Out" legislation on page 145, "In its final form, the act, together with the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998, not only authorized public housing agencies to exclude automatically (and evict) drug offenders and other felons; it also allowed agencies to bar applicants believed to be using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol-whether or not they had been convicted of a crime." This excerpt later states that these individuals who have been kicked out of their homes on the mere belief, with no evidence, that they have committed a crime, can indeed appeal to remain in their homes. However, these appeals are rarely successful without a lawyer. This too is all too indicative of a society in which all presumption of innocence until guilt is proven is, essentially, gone...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-02 06:14
As an American, I am outraged that this blatant abuse of power is being allowed to occur. Unless we, as a people, stand up against this abuse of power and push to have that fundamental right of being innocent until proven guilty reestablished, I believe that things will only continue in the constant state of decline in which we are currently living. People are blindly following those in power, believing them when they say that we need to be monitored "for our own security", and that people on the streets, who are merely trying to go about their business unmolested, are stopped and frisked for weapons or narcotics. Drastic changes need to be made in order for these fundamental rights, which were implemented to protect the freedoms of the American people at the birth of our nation, to be reestablished and protected as they were meant to be.
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0 # katgrl15 2014-03-02 06:17
Michelle Alexander mentions in her book, "Race has always influenced the administration of justice in the United States. Since the day the first prison opened, people of color have been disproportionat ely represented behind bars." If innocence becomes the new presumption of guilt, I can only imagine what obstacles and struggles people of color will have to face. If they are already looked at as guilty currently, then it will be easy to speculate that they are not innocence with this new policy. She also goes on to mention that, "Biased police practices are also nothing new, a recurring theme of African American experience since blacks were targeted by the police as suspected runaway slaves”. If police start to implement the policy of assuming someone appears to be a threat is guilty, the criminal justice system will become even more destructive then it already is. Obama should never taint the image and definition of being innocence because people should be proven guilty.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-02 08:10
While reading this article it is ridiculous on how the government can just keep someone incarcerated based on the assumption of "what they might do" instead of what they have already done. How does someone plea guilty or not guilty for something they haven't done? As the popular saying goes, "The punishment should fit the crime not the person." As in the book by Michelle Alexander stated on page 179, "He suggested we will find our black men when we rediscover God, family, and self-respect." This statement is not only aimed toward black men but those who are incarcerated in general.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-04 20:31
This again?

There is nothing new, or illegal, about holding people without charges in wartime. It's always been this way, and the U.S. Constitution makes room for it. The military manual for handling such detainees was last updated in the 1990s.

It doesn't have to be forever. They must be released or charged when the war ends.

Some people may wish to complain that they don't see an end to this war, but that's hard to do if they don't want our enemies to stop fighting. Afghans had elections since a decade ago, and yet Moazzam Begg, currently locked up pending a hearing or trial, is not asking for an end to his side of the war. Perhaps you should complain to him.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-05 03:06
Unlike those who viewed the GTMO program we had on our campus and who learned to their shock that those who they'd been told were the "worst of the worst" were in fact almost all being held indefinitely without benefit of any hearings or any charges whatsoever and that the commission appointed by Obama who reviewed their situations and recommended that scores be released because there is no evidence against them, they continue to be held, you continue to insist against all evidence that they can be held. Why do you refuse to learn the facts?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-05 03:10
Unlike those who viewed the GTMO program we had on our campus and who learned to their shock that those who they'd been told were the "worst of the worst" were in fact almost all being held indefinitely without benefit of any hearings or any charges whatsoever and that despite the commission appointed by Obama recommendation that scores be released because there is no evidence against them, they continue to be held, you continue to insist against all evidence that they can be held. But I suppose asserting things absent actual evidence is so much easier to do than finding out the facts.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-05 03:12
Unlike those who viewed the GTMO program we had on our campus and who learned to their shock that those who they'd been told were the "worst of the worst" were in fact almost all being held indefinitely without benefit of any hearings or any charges whatsoever and that despite the commission appointed by Obama's recommendation that scores be released because there is no evidence against them, they continue to be held, you continue to insist against all evidence that they can be held. But I suppose asserting things absent actual evidence is so much easier to do than finding out the facts. Witness your convicting by your words Moazzam Begg. Apparently, to your mind, being a human rights advocate such as Begg = being a jihadist.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-05 05:07
You're factually wrong -- and I don't simply mean as a matter of opinion.

They've had tribunals since 2004. Not full trials, but you did say "hearings." Even from the beginning, in 2002, the analysts weeded out and sent hundreds home in the first two years. Everyone who's there now has had tribunals, annual reviews, and federal judges reviewing their cases.

Furthermore, for all the ill they did, Wikileaks did us one favor by showing us the detainees' files. These aren't gov't propaganda. They show what the analysts actually believed. Some of it, such as for the Tipton Three, matches what we've learned about them since their release, such as that they did indeed train with the jihadis.

You may be getting your wish for Moazzam Begg. It looks like he'll be getting his trial. If he was really a human rights advocate, wouldn't he oppose torture even when his friends do it? Well, he hasn't.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-05 13:40
Let's begin w/ the fact that GTMO was selected in the first place by the Bush Regime precisely because it was off of US territory. Why was that if the prisoners have rec'd the proper rights due to suspects? Then, let's look at the point I was making about "hearings." If you read the article(s) about this here, which I don't know if you have since you don't address them, you would know that what I'm talking about here are not the kangaroo courts called the military commissions but habeas corpus hearings where a defendant gets brought before a judge and the gov't must produce at least a modicum of a basis upon which the gov't may continue to hold someone. Your "reviews" conspicuously do not include habeas hearings. That is why the Supreme Court was brought in because Bush and now Obama have refused to acknowledge that suspects have habeas rights. See for ex., http://open.salon.com/blog/dennis_loo/2009/03/14/undermine_the_foundation_what_happens_to_the_structure.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-05 19:44
The date on that article is 2009.

Yes, the Bush admin originally wanted GTMO to be 100% under military law with no federal court involvement. They lost that a decade ago. I was answering about the facts as they stand today for detainees still there.

The detainees did indeed have habeas hearings before civilian federal judges in 2009. The gov't did "produce at least a modicum of a basis upon which the gov't may continue to hold someone."

For a handful of detainees, those judges ruled that the evidence wasn't sufficient, and those detainees were freed. For the rest, the judges decided those others were legally held.

If you want them all released then you should ask Moazzam Begg to tell Al Qaeda to end their wars.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-05 20:27
As Stephen Colbert has put it, you're entitled to your opinion but not to your own facts. As the NYT wrote on 4/10/09 ("Obama to Appeal Detainee Ruling"): "The Obama administration said Friday that it would appeal a district court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release. The decision signaled that the administration was not backing down in its effort to maintain the power to imprison terrorism suspects for extended periods without judicial oversight.

"In a court filing, the Justice Department also asked District Judge John D. Bates not to proceed with the habeas-corpus cases of three detainees at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Judge Bates ruled last week that the three — each of whom says he was seized outside of Afghanistan — could challenge their detention in court."
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-05 21:28
I was giving you *the* facts, not merely mine.

As your source says, it's talking about detainees in Bagram, Afghanistan. We were talking about GTMO.

Bagram detainees are being held under different rules. Most, and perhaps almost all of them, will be transferred to the Afghan gov't in a couple of years. Many already have, and many of those were already freed.

You're not entitled to your own facts either.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-06 16:13
The prisoners at GTMO who've been held for years should be charged and tried. If convicted then they should be sentenced. If they are not charged and/or not tried, then they should be released. This absurdity and crime of holding peo indefinitely without trying them, or declaring as Obama has, that there are those (dozens) that he can't try (because the US has tortured them) but he won't ever release, needs to end. Those like RandyB who think it fine to hold people until the war ends without trying them - a war that Cheney has said will last "generations"- and who are and have been tortured are complicit in war crimes.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-06 19:53
I didn't say it's fine to hold people until the end of the war. I said it's legal to hold enemy combatants after tribunals and some judicial oversight. It's the best alternative short of peace.

You're entitled to your opinion but you cannot rewrite international laws of war developed and ratified over centuries.

Cheney's statement isn't much different than Begg's position as far as the war goes -- except that Cheney wants to us to keep fighting until that region is at peace with U.N.-monitored elections, and Begg wants Al Qaeda to keep fighting until they've taken over.

If you don't want the war to last generations then tell Begg to support peace.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-06 20:07
You have said that they can be held until the war ends. You've said it numerous times, including in this thread. What is your disagreement with the principle that if someone is possibly guilty of something then they should be charged and tried? These men and boys have been held and continue to be held in legal limbo. Obama has said about dozens of them that he will not try them nor will he release them. By supporting these policies you are complicit in war crimes and judicial injustice.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-06 21:52
I said it's always been legal and proper under the laws of war. I didn't say it was nice. I'd be much happier if Al Qaeda and Moazzam Begg supported peace.

Charging and trying everyone isn't generally possible in a war.

Think of the Nuremberg trials: Those trials didn't happen until WWII was over. Some Allied secrets could be open for the prosecution to make its case, and for defendants to make theirs. With Germany defeated, there were almost no German secrets that couldn't be accessed as evidence. The trials could be public.

Those Germans who weren't found guilty, or could only be charged with small offenses such that they'd quickly be released, would then go home and live the rest of their days in peace.

Quite simply, the Nuremberg trials would not have happened before that war ended. And yet, that's what you're asking for here.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 00:49
WW II lasted from 1939-1945. The War on Terror, given that it's a war on a TACTIC, has no perceivable end. You continue to convict Moazzam Begg as a jihadist on the basis of the fact that as a former unjustly imprisoned GTMO prisoner he has become a human rights activist. Where is your evidence that he is a jihadist? In your mind if someone is a human rights activist and has a beard, does that make him a jihadist?

When you say that GTMO is not "nice," that's quite a euphemism for the torture of prisoners. Is torture "not nice?" The Geneva Conventions were passed specifically in part to prevent the repeat of the crimes committed by the Nazis such as and especially wars of aggression. Let's see, who launched a war of aggression on an entire country and its entire population, based on lies? Hint: 2003. Another hint: over a million have died since that 2003 invasion. That's not counting the more than 70k Americans to die due mostly to suicide as a result.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 01:01
Errata: I meant to say above the Nuremberg Verdict and the UN Charter, not the Geneva Conventions.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-07 04:03
We're not at war against a tactic. "War on Terror" is only the name of the war. Legally, we're only at war against Al Qaeda. The war ends when they choose to stop fighting.

I didn't convict Moazzam Begg. I simply noted that he supports the people on Al Qaeda's side of the war. There are millions of Muslims with beards who don't support his side of the war.

Nobody was waterboarded at GTMO. (The CIA waterboarded three at black sites, but we're talking about GTMO.) GTMO only crossed the line into "torture" with one detainee, and that ended in 2003. The Nazis committed real torture, as does, for that matter, Al Qaeda with its truly horrific methods.

Yes, this war is going on too long. But it hasn't been long enough to make Moazzam Begg change his mind and call for peace.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 04:43
Quoting RandyB:
Legally, we're only at war against Al Qaeda. The war ends when they choose to stop fighting.


This view of yours here is interesting given the fact that you previously claimed in another comments thread at this site that Bush didn't use 9/11 as the rationale for attacking Iraq. You said: "The Bush administration used 9/11 only to remind people that there are threats out there, and to see the consequences for not dealing with them. They did not use it to justify the Iraq War itself." (http://dennisloo.com/Sample-Data-Articles/support-the-gitmo-hunger-strikers.html)

This would be news to hundreds of millions of Americans and any others who've been following this story since 911. Bush didn't invoke 911 to justify his Iraq invasion.

If al-Qaeda started this WOT and it only continues because al-Q won't stop, what event is it that started the WOT? It's not 9/11, according to you.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-07 06:20
You're mixing different things.

9/11 was the primary legal and moral rationale to go to war against Al Qaeda. That could not be said about the war in Iraq.

I'm speaking about this as a matter of law. The Bush administration never said that its *legal* authorization to go to war against Al Qaeda gave it the legal authority to go to war in Iraq. For the Iraq War, the Bush administration received a *separate* authorization from Congress.

Again, the war against Al Qaeda ends when Al Qaeda stops fighting.

You act as though we'd keep using that authorization to fight unrelated wars elsewhere but I think you need to wait for Al Qaeda to end their war before you can make that case.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 14:51
Quoting RandyB:
9/11 was the primary legal and moral rationale to go to war against Al Qaeda. That could not be said about the war in Iraq.


Au contraire: the whole argument by the Bus Regime was that the US needed to invade Iraq BECAUSE of al-Qaeda and 911. Where were you in 2001-2003? Where you reading the press and watching the news? Did you somehow fail to notice the constant juxtaposition by Bush et al of 9/11, Iraq & al-Qaeda and their false connection between them? The fact that they refused to acknowledge and deliberately reversed the fact that Hussein & al-Q were mortal enemies and that under Hussein any al-Q forces were to be executed if found in Iraq? As a result of the US invasion of Iraq, al-Q fighters were for the first time able to penetrate Iraq.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 14:55
Quoting RandyB:
9/11 was the primary legal and moral rationale to go to war against Al Qaeda. That could not be said about the war in Iraq.


Au contraire: the whole argument by the Bush Regime was that the US needed to invade Iraq BECAUSE of al-Qaeda and 911. Where were you in 2001-2003? Were you reading the press and watching the news? Did you fail to notice what everyone else did: the constant juxtaposition by Bush et al of 9/11, Iraq & al-Qaeda and their (false) connection between them? They deliberately reversed the fact that Hussein & al-Q were mortal enemies and that under Hussein any al-Q forces were to be executed if found in Iraq. As a result of the US invasion of Iraq, al-Q fighters were for the first time able to penetrate Iraq. The US brought al-Q into Iraq. That is an ex. of why your belief that the WOT is due to al-Q is wrong. This WOT is a conflict fueled by both the USG & al-Q. They both gain from its existence.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-07 19:59
I'm not talking about the political argument. I'm talking about the legal authority.

Yes, people do remember the politicians talking about 9/11 when saying why we should invade Iraq. The Bush administration also talked about WMDs.

But those were just two reasons given for the war. There were also twenty-one others that had nothing to do with 9/11.

The bottom line is that the Bush administration did get a separate authorization from Congress. That was really the point I was making.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 00:56
Quoting RandyB:
You act as though we'd keep using that authorization to fight unrelated wars elsewhere but I think you need to wait for Al Qaeda to end their war before you can make that case.


Precisely. That is exactly what they're using it for, to justify wars everywhere, including here at home.

"The war authorization that Congress passed after 9/11 will be needed for at least 10 to 20 more years, and can be used to put the United States military on the ground anywhere, from Syria to the Congo to Boston, military officials argued Thursday.

"The revelations came during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee and surprised even experts in America's use of force stemming from the terrorist attacks in 2001." (From HuffPost, 5/16/13, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/16/war-powers-obama-administration_n_3288420.html] cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 00:57
"'This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I've been to since I've been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution today,' Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told four senior U.S. military officials who testified about the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and what it allows the White House to do.

"King and others were stunned by answers to specific questions about where President Barack Obama could use force under the key provision of the AUMF -- a 60-word paragraph that targeted those responsible for the 9/11 attacks." From HuffPost, 5/16/13, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/16/war-powers-obama-administration_n_3288420.html]
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-08 01:48
Yes, but it's not because of new wars.

It's because they expect Al Qaeda to continue fighting for another 10 to 20 years.

Let me put it this way: If Hitler kept fighting for another 20 years then WWII would have lasted an extra 20 years. It wouldn't have been because the U.S. was finding new wars to get into.

If you don't like the War on Terror taking 30 years (I don't) then you should get Begg to tell Al Qaeda to end their war.
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0 # LexTalionis 2014-03-06 21:36
The degradation of said individuals held captive in Guantanamo Bay, reminds me starkly of enslaved peoples bound by chains, lack of rights, oppressed, etc. . .slaves without an image however. Trial for these men will never come to fruition as more political jargon justifies their captivity without trial and transfer to the "states" impossible. Some may argue that these individuals have done their deed, yet if they have done so, shouldn't they be tried to understand the root cause if any? The expectation of a mere inclination of future crime is ridiculous, NDAA being signed in 2012 (Obama)brought forward a reminder of Bush(Jr.) and similar claims to worldwide detention authority. This continuation of past policy can lead to detainment: "to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody," many in Congress still assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again.(ACLU)Let 's really take the veil off the puppets in "house."
https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/ndaa
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0 # LB11 2014-03-07 02:41
By allowing the government to disregard the rule of law under the state of exception, we are also indirectly telling the government that it is okay for them to exercise relentless power at their dismay as long as they can come up with a justification that sounds ethically pleasing to the public regardless of how false that statement may be. In this article it is mentioned that the things Obama says to the public about using mass surveillance are typical of the government. I agree,why is it so hard for people to notice that many things President Obama and the Bush administration have said in regards to the WOT, are all political scripts that we have all heard time and time again. They say whatever sounds pleasing to the ear and whatever will keep the people at ease with their government. This is why Obama can say a thousand times that he "wants to close GTMO" because he knows people will cheer and pat him on the back even if he has no real intentions of actually closing GTMO.
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0 # KLR 2014-03-08 13:35
I have to agree with this. The masses are willing to believe anything the government tells them, as long as they feel that the government is protecting them for the evils of the world. This in turn gives the government free reign on administering its own from of protection, such as illegal surveillance and illegal detainment. It is a shame that the general masses just want to hear what will make them feel better instead of seeking the answers to the truth.
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0 # Jasmin Burgos 2014-03-09 07:24
I have to agree with this as well. The US Government manipulates us into thinking that everything that they do is for our benefit when in reality the only one's who benefit are them. The US Government manipulates everything around us (media, etc.) as well to make us believe that they are correct.
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0 # KG7.5 2014-03-07 13:32
While it is not "nice" to hold those considered to be enemies of the state indefinitely, or as Randy B. likes to call it, until the WOT comes to an end, one can't help but think that if released they would continue their acts of terror on America or anyone else they consider to be friends of America. Remember, their minds don't quite work like ours. To them it is not only an honor to die for their cause, but a privilege, one I can't help but think they would pursue with even greater vigor after being released from captivity for so many years. As much as we like to demonize our government (me included) I still do believe that the captives being held are there for a reason. They (our government) didn't just pick up random individuals, call them terrorists and are holding them indefinitely. I believe if you are in GTMO, you are there for a reason, and it's for doing/conspirin g to do something really evil.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 14:43
Quoting KG7.5:
Remember, their minds don't quite work like ours. To them it is not only an honor to die for their cause, but a privilege
On the contrary, that is exactly the way at least some Americans who fight think: that they are honored if they die to be doing so for their cause. That is what the US military preaches - not suicide, but honor.

You're assuming GTMO prisoners are militants. 92% are not, according to the USG itself. 86% were turned in for bounty. Only 5% were picked up on a battlefield by US forces. Contrary to your statements, the gov't does in fact "just pick up random individuals, call them terrorists and [holds] them indefinitely." That's EXACTLY what it's doing.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-07 15:10
Quoting Dennis Loo:
You're assuming GTMO prisoners are militants. 92% are not, according to the USG itself. 86% were turned in for bounty. Only 5% were picked up on a battlefield by US forces.


That's a bogus statistic cooked up by detainees' lawyers.

The number they imply were picked up for bounty is mostly detainees who've been turned over by the Northern Alliance forces. That 92% includes detainees who received combat training, but whose primary jobs were not necessarily on the front lines.

Wikileaks has some of their files online. You can see that the analysts believed them to be jihadis.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 16:02
Quoting RandyB:


That's a bogus statistic cooked up by detainees' lawyers.


The "bogus statistic" come out of the US government itself. See, Combatant Status Review Board Letters, Release date January 2005, February 2005, March 2005,
April 2005 and the Final Release available at the Seton Hall Law School library, Newark, NJ.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 16:08
Quoting RandyB:


That's a bogus statistic cooked up by detainees' lawyers.


The "bogus statistic" [actually statistics] come from the US government itself, as I indicated above. See: Combatant Status Review Board Letters, Release date January 2005, February 2005, March 2005,
April 2005 and the Final Release available at the Seton Hall Law School library, Newark, NJ.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-07 20:02
It's exactly as I said: Seton Hall law professor Mark Denbeaux and his son Joshua Denbeaux are attorneys for two GTMO detainees. In any other situation, you wouldn't consider them independent.

They used the government's Combatant Status Review Tribunal records and twisted their meaning.

Read the Wikileaks files on the individual detainees. Try to separate them into categories yourself and you won't come to that same 92% conclusion. Those lawyers were extremely misleading.

For example, look up Abdul Latif Nasir (ISN 244) on Wikileaks. He wasn't categorized as "fighter" in the records Seton Hall used, so he's part of the 92% you're referring to. And yet, not only was he trained in RPGs and mines, he was also an instructor.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 00:12
Quoting RandyB:
They used the government's Combatant Status Review Tribunal records and twisted their meaning.

Read the Wikileaks files on the individual detainees. Try to separate them into categories yourself and you won't come to that same 92% conclusion. Those lawyers were extremely misleading.


And if you have gone through the detainees' files and you're not getting the 92% figure, then what are you getting? 80%? What percent do you come up with? And of the 86% turned in for bounty? What is your figure? 80%? And the 5% captured by US forces on a battlefield? What is your figure? 8%? Do you see my point?
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-08 01:04
Your point seems to be that, if not 92%, then there is still some number that were innocent.

Indeed. There were a number of innocent detainees. Those guys had left GTMO years ago.

After the Wikileaks revelations, the press reported there being as many as 150 possibly innocent detainees released in the first two years. Wikileaks really did a good job of discrediting the Seton Hall report.

There were very few captured by real bounty hunters. As I recall, the Seton Hall report only mentions one, and then lets the reader make assumptions. In reality, a lot of those attributed to bounty were captured by the Northern Alliance, who then realized they had someone who met the criteria that the U.S. was looking for.

There are no innocents held there now.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 01:12
The Obama administration' s own appointed commission called for 77 of the currently held to be released. They are still there. Your statement that "there are no innocents held there now" is so stupid and wrong that I can hardly stand to read it.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-08 01:41
Yes, the Obama administration wants to release more when the situation in their home countries becomes more stable.

But no, the Obama administration did *not* say they were innocent. They're just not worth keeping.

Each one of those 77 had their cases reviewed by federal judges who decided they were all being legally held as enemy combatants. I think you can understand there's a difference between being legally held as a jihadi, but still not worth holding longer than necessary. That's the way it was for most of the hundreds that the Bush administration released.

About half of those 77 can only be released into a rehabilitation program such as the Saudis built for detainees we sent them. The Yemenis are not as willing to build that kind of a facility.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 01:53
"Enemy combatants" is not a legal category.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 02:02
You of course overlook the fact that if someone's guilty of a crime they should be tried and not held forever.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-08 04:08
You overlook that this isn't a case of criminal law. It's about the laws of war, which are part of international law.

Very few people agree with you here. Moazzam Begg is effectively recognizing it's a war when he says he supports "defensive jihad." Amnesty is supporting it, too, when they condone it.

As for "enemy combatants," that certainly is a legal category. Prisoners have been taken in most wars. Just because Al Qaeda is a bunch of savages who don't qualify for the Geneva Conventions doesn't mean that those savages get upgraded to non-combatant status.
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0 # RandyB 2014-03-08 04:18
Sorry, I should have said very few people agree on this not being a war.

It's a war, and the laws of war apply until the war ends.
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0 # LB11 2014-03-07 20:46
Its one thing to not trust the government, but to also believe that they are evil people who like to torture others just for the fun of it sounds way to extreme for most people to believe. (part 2)
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 00:27
Quoting LB11:
Its one thing to not trust the government, but to also believe that they are evil people who like to torture others just for the fun of it sounds way to extreme for most people to believe. (part 2)


What is too "extreme for most people to believe" is irrelevant if the facts are what the facts are. And that's what the facts are. Do you doubt them because you find them too extreme and not in correspondence w/ your beliefs? If so, what will you do, deny the facts because they conflict with your beliefs, or change your beliefs to correspond with the facts?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 00:34
Also, who said that they're torturing people just for the fun of it? That's isn't why gov't tortures people, by the way. People who torture don't generally do it because they're evil individuals. They do it for ulterior reasons that have to do with how states use terror to terrorize people and torture is terror inflicted on a single individual designed to scare a whole population. It works better for that purpose when they torture entirely innocent individuals because that scares peo into thinking that they better slavishly obey or else they cd be the next arbitrarily and capriciously chosen victim by the occupiers.
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0 # KG7.5 2014-03-07 22:33
I think if one were to conduct a poll of our enlisted on whether or not it would bother them if they died on their next mission or not, I would be shocked if even 1 out of 100 said, "No, I don't mind if I die or not." There is a big difference in saying it's an honor to die for your country and I can't wait to strap an IED to my chest and run into a crowded building full of civilians so I can be with my 100 virgins after blowing everyone up, myself included. Also, I never said I believed any of the detainees are military. You don't need to be in the military to be a terrorist & build an IED from items purchased from the local Home Depot as Dzhokhar & Tamerlan demonstrated at the 2013 Boston Marathon. They were motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs and learned to build explosive devices from an online magazine of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. These 2 brothers before this event were just "ordinary" citizens. These are the type of "citizens" in GTMO.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 22:51
You're misreading my comment. I said "militants" not military.
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0 # KG7.5 2014-03-07 23:00
You are absolutely right, my mistake. However, I still hold to my beliefs that many may not be militants. Hiding in a basement out of harms way building an IED does not a militant make
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 19:51
Quoting KG7.5:
I can't help but think they would pursue [terrorist actions] with even greater vigor after being released from captivity for so many years.


Did you ever see the movie Minority Report? Do you know the plot? Do you think that it's alright for Obama to hold dozens of people forever without trying them because he fears that they might want to retaliate for being unjustly held - and tortured - for so long? Do you understand the difference betw punishing someone for something they have actually done vs. punishing someone for something they MIGHT do? Do you realize that this principle is the keystone of a just judicial system and that the principle of punishing peo for something they MIGHT do is tyrannical?
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0 # LB11 2014-03-07 20:45
Even though there may be "evidence" saying that the people being held at GTMO are innocent and only being held because they MIGHT do something evil,its just a really hard to see the government as #KG7.5 stated "picking up random individuals" off the street and torturing them. The prisoners are constantly being described as being regular citizens who deserve fair trials like the rest of us but if they are indeed random individuals, what gain would the government be getting from detaining them? they wouldn't benefit from capturing random innocent joes off the street. Like many Americans I cant find any logic or incentive for the government to do so since it wouldnt benefit them in any kind of way. I think once the prisoners start being compared to everyday Americans people start to not believe the government are doing these things because that would mean nobody is safe from being ceased by the government, even the most patriotic tax paying citizens. (part 1)
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 21:13
Why is "evidence" in quotes? Empires deliberately carry out acts of terror on innocents as well as their conscious adversaries because they are trying to create an atmosphere of generalized fear and terror. When entirely innocent bystanders are tortured, beaten, killed, or unjustly imprisoned you're supposed to think that you could be the next capriciously and arbitrarily chosen victim. This is how empires operate.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 21:16
Quoting LB11:
Even though there may be "evidence" saying that the people being held at GTMO are innocent and only being held because they MIGHT do something evil,its just a really hard to see the government as #KG7.5 stated "picking up random individuals" off the street and torturing them.
If you read up on the war on terror you will find copious accounts of exactly this being done constantly. You need to supplement your "commonsense" reasoning with actual data.
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0 # sas13 2014-03-07 18:44
The presumption of innocence is something I believe we have only applied to whites. As Alexander states on page 99 that “one study, for example published in 2000 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that white students use cocaine at seven times the rate of black students, use of crack cocaine at eight times the rate of black students, and use of heroin at seven times the rate of black students” Not that I believe in inequality but if government officials are targeting blacks at higher rates than whites because they believe they are guilty shouldn’t they also believe in statistics and target whites at higher rates considering the numbers? The reality is that the government will not use these statistics in their rhetoric because it works against their plan of subordinating minorities.
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0 # KLR 2014-03-08 13:28
I am amazed that our government can function at all with all of the double talk that it puts out there. It sickened me to realize that our own President tries to bend the rule of law so that it doesn't apply to him while making us believe that it does. It is interesting to see how both the Bush and Obama administrations used the WOT to publicly justify picking and choosing when to follow the rule of law under the veil of national security. They basically used the fear of terror to get the masses to be okay with whatever they did, as long as the people felt like they were being protected.
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0 # OLI 2014-03-09 03:18
Quoting KLR:
...They basically used the fear of terror to get the masses to be okay with whatever they did, as long as the people felt like they were being protected.



I fell under this category. I believed that these tortures were justified because of how the mass media portrayed how valuable torture was to get vital information to capture even the worse terrorists. etc (movies and TV series) I am fighting my self subconsciously for whether I should speak up or just continue to be in fear. So, what I am trying to understand is can we become positive forces anonymously and stay in our comfort zone or would it be better to just stand up to the fear?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-10 05:02
Quoting OLI:
[quote name="KLR"] what I am trying to understand is can we become positive forces anonymously and stay in our comfort zone or would it be better to just stand up to the fear?

You do have to stand up to the fear whatever you decide on doing as far as how much of it is done anonymously. As I wrote under "The US Government is a Paper Tiger" the people have far more power than the gov't tries to make us believe. They really are paper tigers. Tyrannies are like bullies and they rely on intimidation to scare peo into meek acceptance. Courage is contagious and once it breaks out it is very hard for it to be stopped.
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0 # Katgrl15 2014-03-08 20:00
My group project I am working on is about the Innocence Project. The innocence project is an organization that works towards releasing innocence people from prison and overturning wrongful convictions. The reason I bring my project up is because most of my research shows that the people that are wrongfully convicted usually experience the theme of "presumption of guilt". I was examining one case and simply because a man was African American and a women claimed he raped her, police officials had a presumption based off of race that this man was guilty. Not once did investigators look into the factual evidence at hand, instead all their eyes saw was a black man and black men are notorious for being guilty of rape. It was later found that the women was lying and the man was innocence. It is somewhat stunning and uncomfortable to know that our criminal justice system is not following through with correct procedures and taking matters as personal assumptions and predispositions .
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-09 01:04
(Part 1) I believe that the statement Dr. Loo makes that “the presumption of innocence is the hallmark of a society that recognizes civil liberties” is profound for many ways. The first being that when looking at our criminal justice system it is quite clear that the term “innocent until proven guilty” dies not reign true for everyone equally. For minorities, especially blacks, a better saying would be “guilty until proven innocent”, because due to the War on Drugs this is how the cards are stacked against them. As a nation we boast about our civil liberties and our equality for all, but in reality that is far from the truth. We are hypocrites to claim that we all have civil liberties, and then target blacks and minorities due to the War on Drugs. Then we have 70% of cases end in plea bargains because, as Michelle Alexander explains in her book, The New Jim Crow, even the minimum mandatory sentencing for first time cocaine possession is 5 years (53). The presumption of innocence is
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0 # elver gonzote 2014-03-09 05:54
I cannot agree with you any more. Minorities terms are more of guilty until proven innocent. With the case of Trayvon Martin, we can see that our society has also made it that minorities are not only guilty until proven guilty but also guilty for being a victim.
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-09 01:06
(Part 2) not found when it comes to minorities because very few cases even go to trial any more. Alexander equates this to the harsh mandatory sentencing laws and the fear that it creates in defendants. Alexander says that “it is impossible to know for certain how many innocent drug defendants convict themselves every year by accepting plea bargains out of fear of mandatory sentences, or how many are convicted due to lying informants and paid witnesses” (88). So, how is it that a country that advocates for civil liberties around the world as our platform, denies minorities true civil liberties on out own home turf? Dr. Loo states that “you don’t sacrifice the principle because some individual of group of people are especially horrid and you want to punish them even though you don’t have the evidence to prove it so you decide to ignore the principle that evidence is necessary to punish someone”. I find this to be exactly what the courts are doing to countless numbers of minority
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-09 01:07
(Part 3) members. They find justification of it through the War on Drugs and parameters that accompany it, including pretext stops, stop and frisk laws, etc. The truth is that we are selective about when we want to practice the presumption of innocence and until we apply equality for all, how can we recognize civil liberties without being hypocritical?
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0 # debdawg91 2014-03-09 04:02
Part 1: Professor Loo, this article is great. You hit it right on the money. When the war on terror began, the whole country was all for what the government wanted to do especially with the prisoners at Guantanamo. Yes. We were all for detaining these people as the country was led to believe that there was going to be a tribunal or even court hearings here in the U.S. but as time passed, nothing was done except talk about hearings.
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0 # debdawg91 2014-03-09 04:03
Part 2: In time the American public forgot about Guantanamo and faded from their life and memory. In the beginning it seemed ok but now some are wondering when these prisoners will be tried or released. So much for a speedy trial. Yes, You are right when you say the government lies to us because if they told us the truth we would be outraged. We are being lied to and we don't seem to care. One of the reasons I believe is the media being in step with the administration and report whatever they are told. There must be something the administration has promised the media if for reporting the way they do.
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0 # debdawg91 2014-03-09 04:03
Part 3: If we knew all the details about the bailouts and if we knew all the details about this new healthcare I believe people would revolt in some form. As we are seeing now, as more details of the healthcare are being know, people are not too happy. Now we hear I'd the healthcare does not pan out for the insurance companies, they will get a bailout. It seems the only way we find out what lies the government is telling us is through whistle blowers. As we read more and more today about people being arrested for videotaping of police officers and then being released usually with their video being erased. Police know this is legal but use this as an excuse to be able to erase evidence. Talk about presumed guilty until proven innocent; this is a perfect example. Only by people being brave and speaking up will the American public will ever know the truth.
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0 # GA23 2014-03-09 04:39
It seems that "innocent until proven guilty" is not necessarily truthful especially for minorities. It seems that the system only makes it seem that its goal is justice for all just that they exclude certain groups. In class we were discussing how some lawyers upfront tell their clients that they should plea guilty in order to get a plea bargain. That way these people get less years than those that would be given to them to begin with. These people are most likely innocent but just so they will get less time they plea into guilt mainly because they do not know what is going on. In the Michelle Alexander book it states that "'All too often, defendants plead guilty, even if they were innocent, without really understanding their legal rights or what is occurring" (85-86). It is sad to know that people are not told their rights and what can be done to prove their innocence and instead are just locked up because in reality that is what the system wants to do keep those who get in the way in
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0 # GA23 2014-03-09 04:44
prison or jail to control them in that way. These minorities make up the system and that is why Michelle Alexander's book is called The New Jim Crow. Mass incarceration is used to regulate these people by keeping them incarcerated and this is being fueled by these plea bargains. Michelle Alexander also states that "the pressure to plead guilty to crimes has increased since the advent of the War on Drugs" (87). The War on Drugs was launched by the government as an excuse to arrest minorities in vast majorities so all this correlates.
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0 # elver gonzote 2014-03-09 05:50
"It is now permissible under this former Constitutional Law Professor to punish people on the basis of what they might do rather than what they have done." Clearly this is the case seen from Guantanamo, but I believe it is more of what capitalism truly leads to, "the iron cage of rationaly". This kind of rationality is that which relates to Webers idea of zwecrkrational, or the use of rational means to reach rational ends. Obamas rationality is to imprison those who THEY believe to be a threat to America's domestic or foreign interests. this rationality is illegitimate because our so called "innocent until proven guilty" no longer exists. There is no prove that the prisoners are of any threat yet, suspicion makes them guilty enough to be detained. What then is it that makes us different from tyrannies? our name?
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0 # CH 2782 2014-03-09 07:14
We need a minority group that will stand up to the system and the government in a non-violent way though. If we fight against the system and government with our fist and weapons in our hands, we are not being better than them, we will become even worse. We are going to lose our self if we indulge in violent riots and fights. I agree we should fight, but in a very strategic way.
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0 # CH 2782 2014-03-09 07:23
Even though many can argue these prisoners are not U.S citizens, they still deserve to be treated with respect just like anyone else. It is not acceptable to torture people, who ever that person might be. No one can limit or restrict people’s rights, especially if the cause of being incarcerated consisted of false accusations and pretenses. Prisoners should have the right for habeas corpus and the right to have a fair treatment. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, a case Alexander mentioned in chapter three was the Terry V. Ohio where police man have the right to stop anyone with “‘reasonable articulate suspicion’ that someone is engaged in criminal activity and dangerous” ( Alexander 63.) Policemen have no “reasonable suspicion” to suggest these individuals as criminals or terrorist. Arresting individuals just because of race and ethnicity is not a sufficient explanation to all those arrest in Guantanamo.
to be continued...
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0 # CH 2782 2014-03-09 07:24
This connects to what we have discussed in class because the privileged people are the ones that have the power and control to put the rules of the system. It is implied that people who belong in the working class or minority groups, since they have no power, have no say in office and no opportunities.
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0 # dawahba 2014-03-09 07:32
I'd first like to address a couple of phrases that stuck out to me in this article. The first is "clear danger." I'd like to know what is stopping this danger that is so evident from being made clear in a court of law. This would be my question for Obama. Secondly, his entire bit on "no one is above the law" should be changed to "no one is above the law except the lawmakers and enforcers themselves." Throughout his election, (and much like any other candidate) Obama swayed the country into hearing what they want to hear and his charisma has certainly gotten him a long way. His leadership has gotten him so far that most Americans are accepting of the government's unwelcomed intrusion on our freedoms, both domestically and in GTMO. This comes back down to what we discussed in class about the (necessary) minority group that is standing for fundamental, honest, true rights despite the size and strength of the government.
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0 # rrr96 2014-03-10 04:45
That is a very good point that you make about Obama’s charisma. President Obama’s way of speaking is very persuasive. When I hear him I cant help but agree with him. Although, Obama is charismatic, as mentioned in class people need to learn to peel away the packaging as Dr. Loo would say. In order for us to obtain the truth we need to dig deeper into the subject and find the truth where it is not being told.
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0 # rrr96 2014-03-10 02:00
The United States is very much a bureaucracy. According to Weber’s theory bureaucracies are very goal oriented structures designed to have information flow upward to the higher officials. Bureaucracies are designed to be secretive just as the United States government is. Obama said that he will do one thing (close GTMO) and does something completely opposite. People in hierarchy positions have this ability to abuse laws that are designed to protect people. Individuals should take resistance against unjust governing, because everyone, not just Americans, are entitled to live free and equal lives. People should not be held without being told why they’re there, it’s simply unjustified. Holding people for no reason simply takes away all boundaries for imprisonment. Anyone is at risk!
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12