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Guantanamo Bay

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Maken
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So the issue with Guantanamo Bay must first be defined before one can look into my question. Currently thousands of inmates at Guantanamo Bay have been in prison without trial, where they are tortured and treated as less than human. The current administration seeks to close the prison and move the inmates to US soil (Guantanamo is currently on Cuban/American soil) and try the criminals. This is where i get my dilemma.

If the prisoners are transferred to America, they would be tried, which is always good since innocent people might be set free, but at the same time, we reach a catch 22. The process for which they will be tried will be payed for by tax payers. This presents an interesting scenario. Either the prisoners are left to rot in Guantanamo without a trial (rights violation) or they are shipped to America where they will be tried on the dollar of the tax payer, who had to pay that dollar by force, not by free will (rights violation).

In a system where there WILL be a rights violation regardless of the actions taken, how does one go about making a decision? Does one take a Utilitarianism approach and presume that since the MAJORITY of the prisoners are guilty that they should be left as is, or does one say that the right to a trial by jury trumps private property rights?

Edited by Maken
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So the issue with Guantanamo Bay must first be defined before one can look into my question. Currently thousands of inmates at Guantanamo Bay have been in prison without trial, where they are tortured and treated as less than human.

Not true. They're neither tortured, nor treated as less than human, whatever that means.

The current administration seeks to close the prison and move the inmates to US soil (Guantanamo is currently on Cuban/American soil) and try the criminals. This is where i get my dilemma.

If the prisoners are transferred to America, they would be tried, which is always good since innocent people might be set free, but at the same time, we reach a catch 22. The process for which they will be tried will be payed for by tax payers. This presents an interesting scenario. Either the prisoners are left to rot in Guantanamo without a trial (rights violation) or they are shipped to America where they will be tried on the dollar of the tax payer, who had to pay that dollar by force, not by free will (rights violation).

In a system where there WILL be a rights violation regardless of the actions taken, how does one go about making a decision? Does one take a Utilitarianism approach and presume that since the MAJORITY of the prisoners are guilty that they should be left as is, or does one say that the right to a trial by jury trumps private property rights?

They do not have a right to a trial by jury (or the presumption of innocence, for that matter), they shouldn't be left as is (for two reasons: for one, some of them deserve to be convicted and possibly put to death, and second, I don't trust that there aren't people detained without good reason), and one right doesn't trump another.

Two things should happen:

1. The prisoners should be tried by a military tribunal. Those not found guilty of crimes should be released at the end of the war. Those found entirely innocent (meaning they are proven to not be enemy combatants) should be released immediately. The entire process should be funded from the US Treasury.

2. Taxation should end in the US.

If both cannot happen (as it is obvious that number 2 isn't going to happen anytime soon), at least one of the two should happen.

You are assuming that number 2 is somehow linked to number 1. But that's not the case. Those prisoners receiving the justice they deserve does not logically cause any rights violations. The only cause of taxation is the will of the majority of Americans and the actions of the legislators they elect, who pass the specific laws which directly violate people's rights, not the US government performing its proper functions.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Not true. They're neither tortured, nor treated as less than human, whatever that means.

They do not have a right to a trial by jury (or the presumption of innocence, for that matter), they shouldn't be left as is (for two reasons: for one, some of them deserve to be convicted and possibly put to death, and second, I don't trust that there aren't people detained without good reason), and one right doesn't trump another.

Two things should happen:

1. The prisoners should be tried by a military tribunal. Those not found guilty of crimes should be released at the end of the war. Those found entirely innocent (meaning they are proven to not be enemy combatants) should be released immediately. The entire process should be funded from the US Treasury.

2. Taxation should end in the US.

If both cannot happen (as it is obvious that number 2 isn't going to happen anytime soon), at least one of the two should happen.

You are assuming that number 2 is somehow linked to number 1. But that's not the case. Those prisoners receiving the justice they deserve does not logically cause any rights violations. The only cause of taxation is the will of the majority of Americans and the actions of the legislators they elect, who pass the specific laws which directly violate people's rights, not the US government performing its proper functions.

I see what you are saying...

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You are assuming that number 2 is somehow linked to number 1. But that's not the case. Those prisoners receiving the justice they deserve does not logically cause any rights violations. The only cause of taxation is the will of the majority of Americans and the actions of the legislators they elect, who pass the specific laws which directly violate people's rights, not the US government performing its proper functions.

For one, imprisoning someone innocent would be a violation of rights. You cannot find that out innocence until there is a trial of some kind (military tribunal or otherwise). So I would suggest that since many detainees do not have a trial planned for them (if I'm wrong, please correct me), there is a rights violation. If there is a trial, there would be further costs, which would be paid for by a rights violation, taxation. There is a connection between the two points. How exactly would you decide which is the best option if in either case there is a rights violation in either case? Is it just a matter of accepting that no matter what, there is a rights violation, so what should be done at the very least is to have the government perform its proper role?

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Why not?

War is declared when the danger is greater than law enforcement can handle. The idea of soldiers in the middle of a war collecting evidence, to convince a jury of a captured enemy's guilt, is absurd. There's been a detailed discussion on this, here:

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...18146&st=40

For one, imprisoning someone innocent would be a violation of rights. You cannot find that out innocence until there is a trial of some kind (military tribunal or otherwise). So I would suggest that since many detainees do not have a trial planned for them (if I'm wrong, please correct me), there is a rights violation.

An enemy captured on the battlefield is not innocent. There is no need for a trial to establish his status, and the right to hold him.

There is a need for a tribunal only if a captured enemy is suspected of specific crimes, which need to be punished (crimes beyond fighting for the wrong side), or if there is reason to think the detainement of the person was done in error (he was in fact never an enemy).

If there is a trial, there would be further costs, which would be paid for by a rights violation, taxation. There is a connection between the two points. How exactly would you decide which is the best option if in either case there is a rights violation in either case? Is it just a matter of accepting that no matter what, there is a rights violation, so what should be done at the very least is to have the government perform its proper role?

No. The government performing any of its proper functions does not cause anyone's rights to be violated. There is no causal link between proper government spending and taxation. The idea that there is is a common misconception propagated by those who cannot conceive of the possibility of taxation being unnecessary for the existence of a proper government (most conservatives), or the need for a proper gov (libertarians, pacifists).

If you want an end to taxation, attack taxation, leave proper government spending alone. The fact that the military for instance is spending money that comes from taxation is incidental, they are not causing the taxation by spending the money they receive from Congress (as they should receive it) to defend the country.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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An enemy captured on the battlefield is not innocent. There is no need for a trial to establish his status, and the right to hold him.

I think that is quite a stretch to make. Sure, if the battlefield is like a chessboard in that everything in the field of play is a combatant, but you know that's not the case in modern times. I don't understand why you don't need to establish an inmate's status. You are establishing that a person is an enemy combatant based on where he was caught, which is at best a guess. I'm not suggesting capturing them is necessarily wrong, but having them go without a trial is a violation of rights because you are imprisoning someone without a good reason.

No. The government performing any of its proper functions does not cause anyone's rights to be violated.

But in the *current* state of affairs the government cannot perform any of its functions without having violated rights. That is my issue. It's more a matter of "if there are two ethically questionable actions, one of which is 'do nothing', how do you choose the what to do?"

Edited by Eiuol
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Don't guantanamo bay detainees have an average of $50 spend on them for food, per person per day?

California doesn't treat their prisoners 1/20th as good.

Also, our own Navy Seals are waterboarded as part of their training. I highly doubt our government would torture prospective military personnel.

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War is declared when the danger is greater than law enforcement can handle. The idea of soldiers in the middle of a war collecting evidence, to convince a jury of a captured enemy's guilt, is absurd. There's been a detailed discussion on this, here:

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...18146&st=40

And yet my point wasn't addressed there. Many of the people detained at Gitmo are there simply because they were found in Afghanistan or Iraq and someone thought they should be taken in. Since this all started, some 250 of the approximately 750 detainees have been released and repatriated. Once there they were released due to lack of evidence of any crime. Currently, the DoD has segregated some 60 or 70 of the 162 detainees because the DoD believes there's not enough evidence to prove they are enemy combatants and should be repatriated.

Being on a battlefield is not objective evidence of waging war. Wearing a turban is not objective evidence of waging war. Being a Muslim is not objective evidence of waging war. Being a citizen of a particular country is not objective evidence of waging war - especially in this case since no nation is at war with us.

You're passing judgement upon these people without any objective evidence. You're assuming they are enemy combatants. Yes, an enemy captured on the battlefield is not innocent. But you neither know if these individuals are enemies - since the only way of objectively determining that in this war would be if they're shooting at our soldiers, nor do you know if they were captured on the battlefield - unless you want to designate an entire country, which is not at war with us, as the battlefield.

Suppose you are a soldier. You see a guy walking through the mountains of Afghanistan with a gun slung over his back. Does he have any rights?

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And to add, Lincoln lifted the need for a writ of habeas corupus in the Civil War and citizens in the NORTHERN cities were arrested for criticizing Lincoln and his methods of regulation in the war. There was a ban on slanderous press and that is a direct violation of freedom of speech. Wartime does not call for an abandonment of rights.

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Also, there was no constitutional declaration of war in the "war on terror." So given that is the situation we are in and not the Objectivist position which would have required a declaration of war, how can you hold people indefinitely with no charge, or some of them being held even though they were convicted of charges and have already served their sentences and yet being refused release for political reasons?

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I'm not suggesting capturing them is necessarily wrong, but having them go without a trial is a violation of rights because you are imprisoning someone without a good reason.

I think equating reasons with trials is the stretch here.

But in the *current* state of affairs the government cannot perform any of its functions without having violated rights.

Sure they do. The government can stop taxing and start accepting private contributions for national defense right now. They'd get enough money to sustain the military, too, if they pulled out of everywhere except Afghanistan and Korea, which are the only active war zones. The fact that lawmakers adn their backers (their electorate) refuse to do so does not have any bearing on the morality of people doing their jobs properly, in the government.

That is my issue. It's more a matter of "if there are two ethically questionable actions, one of which is 'do nothing', how do you choose the what to do?"

Again, the military is doing nothing ethically questionable, by accepting money from the Treasury. The causal link just isn't there. They're not ordering Congress to tax people, the majoirty of voters in the country are. They're no more morally questionable than you and I, in the matter of taxation. We live in the system just like they do. It's not immoral to do so, it's only immoral to act to violatie rights.

And yet my point wasn't addressed there.

That's your opinion. Mine is that it was addressed fully. Sorry, I'm not gonna get into the same conversation twice, we'll have to agree to disagree.

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1. The prisoners should be tried by a military tribunal. Those not found guilty of crimes should be released at the end of the war. Those found entirely innocent (meaning they are proven to not be enemy combatants) should be released immediately. The entire process should be funded from the US Treasury.

Good explanation. However, I am concerned that our leaders are not capable of clearly defining our enemies, which brings the risk of detaining these people as long as we are at war with "terrorism," which could be forever. This means, of course, that people who are concerned with the treatment of Gitmo detainees should advocate that our leaders actually identify our enemy in clear, objective terms.

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If he is an American or allied serviceman, yes. Otherwise, no. We are at war with Afghanistan, not with "enemy combatants."

Actually, we are not at war with Afghanistan. Not with the duly elected government thereof. We are at war with Taliban and foreign insurgents who are under no flag, wear no identifiable uniform (other than dirty pantaloons) and swear no allegiance to any specific country.

This makes them an enemy combatant - basically a civilian who has taken up arms. Not a common criminal, yet not a soldier subject to treatment under the Geneva Accords.

Edited by Maximus
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Good explanation. However, I am concerned that our leaders are not capable of clearly defining our enemies, which brings the risk of detaining these people as long as we are at war with "terrorism," which could be forever. This means, of course, that people who are concerned with the treatment of Gitmo detainees should advocate that our leaders actually identify our enemy in clear, objective terms.

Exactly. Instead, they go out of their way not to define them.

Never mention the word "Muslim."

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I agree that there are people at war with us, but we aren't at war with them. The constitution pretty much says in plain language that only Congress can put the country at war. Those words are still there, they haven't disappeared or gotten erased or repealed. And the Congress hasn't officially declared war, which would legally allow the US to detain enemy soldiers in the way Ellison is referring to, so as of now, we basically have a government that claims the right to call someone a terrorist and detain them indefinitely, and forcefully interrogate them. Instead of declaring war and simply killing the people that are making war on us, they've been content to tax the people to fund an open-ended social program involving occupation, nation building, and sacrifice of our soldiers which can go on indefinitely, or for 100 years in the words of John McCain, unless someone puts an end to it and institutes a rational foreign policy.

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Doesn't necessarily have to be a country, you can declare war against the al Qaeda organization, but that is really inconsequential. The point is, you make a list of the people trying to kill you, starting with the most important target, then declare war against them and kill them. You don't do anything we are doing now, and what we are doing now is in my mind a huge racket designed to further advance statism.

So in terms of the Guantanamo Bay situation, you basically have a government that says "you are a terrorist" and then they can do anything they want to you, including forcibly interrogatting you, holding you without charge, holding you indefinitely, etc. and they are doing that. Some of those people are real bad guys that need to be put away, but some of the people aren't, but they aren't being Constitutionally or morally dealt with, it's totally arbitrary. Ellison is essentially explaining the right way to operate a war, but we can't legally do any of that because we legally aren't at war.

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One can only legally declare war against another nation. There was no concept, at the time the constitution was penned, of a religiously based terrorist network. The way to handle that is through covert ops, including assassination and torture to extract intel. All in the shadows. Terrorize the terrorists.

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One can only legally declare war against another nation. There was no concept, at the time the constitution was penned, of a religiously based terrorist network. The way to handle that is through covert ops, including assassination and torture to extract intel. All in the shadows. Terrorize the terrorists.

I hope you can understand the implications of what you're suggesting that is not compatible with individual rights. That is very dangerous, that is not something a free nation does, and not the way to end Islamic terrorism. There is a constitutional way to go about dealing with specific individuals as non-state or non-conventional actors in foreign nations, treating them as essentially private conspirators, and sending headhunters, hired mercenaries, or assassination squads after them through Letters of Marque and Reprisal, not by engaging in perpetual war by skirting the Constitution. Also, you can legally declare war against a non-state entity.

Furthermore, "the terrorists" are NOT just private people sitting in caves somewhere, seperated from all nations. They are wholly incapable of operating without some state support, be it through sanctuary, funding, material support, ideological support, etc. The moral way to end Islamic terrorism is to find out which states are sponsoring them and end those states. Iran is the largest state sponsor of terror.

Edited by 2046
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