Talk:Guantanamo Bay detention camp/Archive 2

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To do

I know the article needs work.

I think, when I look at this article in a couple of days, I will see passages that should be trimmed, or made more neutral. I won't have time to take that second look for a couple of days.

In addition, it needs sections on things like:

  • interrogation;
  • medical care;
  • allegations of abusive guards;
  • allegations of abusive interrogation;
  • hunger strikes and the "restraint chair"
  • the suicides, and the after effects;
  • captives who continued to be detained years after they were determined not to have been "enemy combatants";
  • captives who continued to be detained years after they were cleared for release;
  • captives who the DoD claims "returned to the battlefield";
  • the DoD's claims around the "Manchester manual";
  • ghost prisoners and moles;
  • Camp Iguana; Camp Echo (Guantanamo); Camp four (Guantanamo) -- the camp for compliant (Guantanamo) captives;

Cheers! George Swan 18:59, 24 June 2008 (CDT)

Perhaps a first priority

Looking at the lead, would it not be appropriate to define "war on terror" first? After all, you describe Guantanamo as part of the war on terror, so without defining the motivation (good or bad), how can the specifics of the actions make sense? Howard C. Berkowitz 19:25, 24 June 2008 (CDT)

You mean define "war on terror" in the lead to this article? I wouldn't know how to do that. Does the phrase merit an article of its own? Sure. I don't know if I am competent to write a neutral article on it myself however. Personally I see it as a kind of looking-glass term, that means whatever the proponents want it to mean, at the time.
Cheers! George Swan 20:32, 24 June 2008 (CDT)
If I understand my role as a Military Workgroup Editor, I can make the observation that as long as a term of reference essential to an article can't be defined, then a coherent article can't be defined. If Guantanamo is a response to a "War on Terror", but a "War on Terror" can't be defined, how can one possibly judge if Guantanamo is an appropriate response in such a war? If you can't write a neutral definition of "War on Terror", how can you expect to write a neutral definition of anything connected to it?
Now, if you wanted to argue Guantanamo in terms of well-defined U.S. and international law, that would give a solid base. As long as the article depends on an undefined term, I can't see it developing into anything meaningful.
I don't understand CZ to be about looking glasses, but as a reflection of expert opinion on a topic. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:57, 24 June 2008 (CDT)
In Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson's "Alice through the Looking Glass" Alice challenges a character over their use of terms. And the character tells her "the words I use mean whatever I want them to mean, no more, no less." When I suggested the phrase "the war on terror" was a looking-glass phrase I didn't mean a literal mirror -- a literal reflection. The spin-doctors use of terms like "war on terror" is slippery, and inconsistent. I was referring to their surreal, circular reasoning style of Dodgsonian logic.
Cheers! George Swan 02:28, 25 June 2008 (CDT)

Malpractice among spin doctors

There's nothing wrong with regarding "war on terror" as a term of spin doctors -- I do -- but, if it is not substantial, don't use it in your lead. A good neutral opening, within the first couple of paragraphs, might start of with something along the lines of "the George W. Bush administration has said that the continued security of the United States depends on keeping certain individuals imprisoned and under interrogation." There are probably some sources for this on the White House website. Look for the paper "National Security Policy of the United States", if I have the term correct in memory.

Then, go on to cite Court decisions, constitutional attorneys, etc., on why this is not necessarily a good idea.

One interesting, and not irrelevant, point to examine would be "how is this different than the case ex parte Quirin? Alternatively, if the U.S. had declared a competent tribunal in Afghanistan, as allowed by the Geneva Convention, and shot some of these individuals as spies, would there be a problem now? why? why not?

Again, I am not asking you to come up with your own definition of "war on terror". I am asking you not to use it in a lead, or as a justification by the Bush Administration, unless you have an authoritative citation that says the term should be so interpreted.

There is abundant literature that can be cited to show the arguments for and against the Administration policy. You might say that he, or Yoo, or someone, believes it is legal under the doctrine of unitary authority, cite some authorities that do not agree with that doctrine, and move on.

Just don't get caught up in spin doctor terms. Howard C. Berkowitz 09:29, 25 June 2008 (CDT)

I took the easy way out last night

I took the easy way out... I changed "apprehended in the war on terror" to "apprehended in Afghanistan and certain other places around the world".

Ninety plus percent of the captives were apprehended in Afghanistan or Pakistan. But many of the captive who were initially in CIA custody were captured elsewhere.

Bisher al Rawi and Jamil el Banna were apprehended on a business trip to Gambia. Saifullah Paracha and several others were apprehended on business trips to Indonesia.

Dozens or hundreds of captives were apprehended in Somalia, or fleeing from Somalia, in 2007. And a couple of them ended up in Guantanamo. George Swan 13:48, 25 June 2008 (CDT)

It would improve this to add the rationale on why they were arrested, and, perhaps, why that was unjustified. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:37, 25 June 2008 (CDT)

Geneva Convention

The statement in the lead seems inadequate. My recollection is that the US government

  1. 1st said the Convention didn't apply
  2. then said it applied to the Taliban but not al-Qaida, but that the latter would be treated roughly in accordance with it
  3. then decided that al-Qaida prisoners would not be treated in accordance with either the Convention or the 5th amendment to the constitution (whether this is technically torture or not is acadmeic; any sort of coercive questioning is illegal)

Peter Jackson 16:47, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Unambiguously define coercive. Now, the literature of intelligence shows that brutal treatment is rarely an effective means of getting information. The best unclassified reference I know is a paperback by Sedgwick Tourison, Jr: Conversations with Victor Charlie: An interrogator's story. Whether "coercive" includes long, patient discussion, perhaps over tea, and finding inconsistencies, is another matter. The detention is, truly, a separate matter than the coercion.
Legality does get complex here. While there indeed was Rasul v. Bush, it is worth, at least, considering ex parte Quirin and, while mooted, ex parte Milligan. While the lawyers really never got involved, the Anatoliy Golitsyn vs. Yuri Nosenko arguments, which near-paralyzed Western intelligence, are an example why the term "an infinity of mirrors" often gets involved with ostensibly humane interrogation technique.
Again, I believe the points of extrajudicial detention and means of interrogation are distinct, although highly related.
My own feeling is these issues need to be worked out more generally, as in the article extrajudicial detention, which has never moved back off the talk page. Speaking personally, I find some of the Bush Administration arguments to be as coherent as Wikipedia. When one longs for the coherence of Dan Quayle, there is something semantically wrong. Admittedly, Quayle never got quite as creative as claiming the Office of the Vice Presidency was not in any of the three traditional branches of government.
Whom the gods would destroy, they first force to follow the twisty and turny policies of politicians. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:03, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I won't bother with a definition. I'll simply say that some of the things the US government has admitted doing are obviously coercive, & any US court would throw out any evidence extracted by them.
I agree entirely that detention & treatment are entirely distinct issues. I think the US authorities have an absolute right to detain enemy combatants. Of course those who drafted the Geneva Convention never thought of the possibility that some detainees might claim not to be combatants at all, so there are likely to be a shortage of clear legal provisions for that case. Peter Jackson 11:28, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
You are certainly free to say, on a talk page, that something doesn't need a definition, and it should be obvious. Whether or not that standard applies to something that actuallu goes into the text of an article, however, is another matter. You certainly may not say, in an article, that it is obvious that a U.S. court will do one thing or another, given the long history of U.S. courts doing the unexpected.
There is a legal saying that bad cases, under the concept of stare decisis or precedent, make bad law. For that reason, many of these discussions -- and I will say this as a Military Workgroup Editor -- don't belong under a specific instance of detention. The principles apply just as well in Afghanistan, Sudan/Darfur, Russia/Chechniya, Saudi Arabia, and historic examples such as the "Night and Fog" decree of the Third Reich or the "disappeared ones" in Latin America. They need general discussions, as in good articles on extrajudicial detention and prisoner of war.
Yes, there very much is a problem with the Geneva Conventions and the predecessor Hague Conventions is that they really did not attempt to deal with other than conflict with nation-states on both sides. To some extent, they both deal with the idea of someone not claiming to be a combatants, in special cases such as someone acting as what traditional international law calls, as a term of art, a "spy". A spy is someone who acts for a side while denying a connection; the term isn't restricted to one who collects intelligence. Not strictly part of the Conventions, but not irrelevant as an international precedent, is ex parte Quirin..
They also deal with some specialized situations where someone may not be a regular member of a military, but still is entitled to POW status, such as the levee en masse. or spontaneous mass uprising to an invasion. There are even legal POW examples of non-nationals that join in such an uprising, or in a civil war. They do not, however, deal with a claim of allegiance to a non-national body that acts as a combatant, or the criteria of affiliation with that combatant.
Some international law that may be applicable starts from the Treaty of Paris of 1846 and its dealing with piracy and privateering, and subsequent international conventions on such things as the Law of the Sea, agreements on genocide, and on slavery, all of which need to be discussed in the legal concept of hostis humani generis (Latin for "enemy of mankind"). This concept specifically gives a context for action outside one's borders, and is part of the background for the International Criminal Court treaty.
Speaking personally and in no CZ position of authority, I happen to believe a good deal of what has happened at Guantanamo is wrong, for ethical, political, intelligence, and legal reasons. Nevertheless, I try as hard as I can to separate personal indignation from customary international law, cases it doesn't cover, and the theory of counterinsurgency. I hope that you are simply saying that customary international law doesn't cover all cases, not saying sarcastically that even some reprehensible politicians did things no one would ever imagine they do. You have my profuse apologies if I am reading that and it's not what you mean; the medium can make it hard to know exactly what someone means.
Let's work together, as long as we work in accordance with reasonably well accepted general principles, and not try to put things in articles that are not cool and rational. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:35, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting putting that stuff in the article. My original point was simply that the existing wording seems to be misleading. Here as elsewhere I haven't at present got a definite suggestion in its place. Peter Jackson 17:50, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
As I've indicated in previous talk comments, I found problems with the existing wording. My strong opinion, however, is that most of the issues are not specific to Guantanamo and would best be addressed in articles that cover multiple cases.
It puzzles me, however, what you want done as a result of saying you find it misleading. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:57, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
As I said, I haven't thought up a definite answer yet. We might delete the material. We might say the policy changed over time. We might give details ... Peter Jackson 18:14, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
You haven't said whether you think my recollection of the news reports is accurate, or indeed the reports themselves (mostly BBC). Assuming accuracy, the text might go something like this:
"The Bush administration originally said the prisoners were not coverd by the Geneva Conventions, but later said that Taliban prisoners were, but al-Qaida prisoners were not. It said at that point that the latter would in fact be treated roughly in accord with the conventions, but later changed its mind."
Peter Jackson 16:44, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, I can't speak to your recollections, because I have focused on the general Bush Administration policies, not Guantanamo, Bagram, or any other specific site. Frankly, I think it's much more important to establish the general before the specific. If you want to come up with specifics, fine, but I am not going personally go research Guantanamo before the overall extrajudicial detention article. Now, if that is an accurate recollection, it primarily establishes the Administration is at best inconsistent and at worst incoherent, obviously something no government would do. I much prefer to see politicians' statements in a context of law and regulation.Howard C. Berkowitz 17:15, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, I've added some comments there. Peter Jackson 18:10, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Critics may be correct, but cannot be anonymous

There are far too many references to undefined "critics". These need citations. Also, for each kind of critic, one good citation is needed, not many essentially restating the same information.

This is not to say that the criticism may not be completely justified, but it needs sourcing. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:18, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Since this note has been here for two months, as Military Workgroup Editor, I am removing the sections on "critics". This material may be returned with sourcing and neutral language. It should refer, at least in part, to the policy and legal framework I am putting at the beginning of the article. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:54, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
Critics asked why those captives who were involved in terrorist acts could not be charged and tried under either the US civil justice system, like Zacharia Moussaui, Ahmed Ressam, John Walker Lindh, or those convicted of a role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, or alternatively, the US military's court-martial system. Critics challenged that the new system was without precedent -- literally. That it had no established rules of procedure, or rules of evidence, and that there was no legal code upon which offenses could be based. Critics were disturbed that the Guantanamo Military Commissions were allowed to use evidences based on torture, and that they were allowed to consider anonymous hearsay evidence, which the suspect would not have an opportunity to cross examine. The Commissions were allowed to consider secret evidence, which the suspect would not even be allowed to be made aware of.

Substantial revisions

As I have expressed previously, I have been concerned, as a Military Workgroup Editor, about the neutrality of this article, and, especially, that it leapt immediately into details of prisoner handling without setting a policy or legal context. Since there has been no substantial response to this request, I am starting corrections, beginning with removing a lede loosely based on journalistic reports, and substituting much more specific material. Wherever possible, this material is sourced to primary documents. Let me note that I am working on a "parent" article on general U.S. intelligence interrogation practices, which is now in my sandbox but should move soon to mainspace and set even more context.

There is also a substantial amount of material about determinations of legal status of prisoners, such as the Military Commissions Act and Combatant Status Review Tribunal. It is my general understanding that these are not unique to Guantanamo, but were general policy in the Bush Administration. If this is the case after verification, the general discussion does not belong in the article, although this article certainly can talk about how CSRTs, etc. were implemented at Guantanamo. The general material probably needs to move to Military Commissions Act and also top-level policy articles, but I haven't yet had time to do the needed verification. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:54, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Living conditions, areas more needed, formatting and citings

I merged in the Guantanamo captives' uniforms article and recommended it be deleted, since its topic has no meaning outside this article. Not all the graphics from that article were moved here, and they were reduced in size; graphics are there to add information and not drama, and uniforms seemed a relatively minor matter compared, for example, to a map or photograph of the camp. I cut back the captions so simply identified the graphic, not discussed it.

There certainly could be a more general article on attire and grooming as means of both control and individuality in prisons, but that is of wider scope than Guantanamo.

Note that I put in some bullets about religious issues that need work.

Under medical care, I put a good deal of material. Note that while I did use citations from a legal newspaper, I also cited the primary document. Always cite primary documents when available. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:30, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

I have redirected Guantanamo captive's uniforms to this article and merged the talk page to this one and then putting the content in the archive Talk:Guantanamo detention camp/Archive 1. All discussion should be preserved here for both articles. D. Matt Innis 21:22, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Continuing edits

I'm continuing flow and copy editing. It bothers me that it is almost the end of February 2009, yet the last actual event that was there, before I started adding information, spoke of a requirement, issued in July 2006, that things be done. Were there no significant events in the remainder of 2006 or in all of 2007 and 2008? Without any additional research, I am certainly aware of some, but I can't dump the sourcing from my brain alone.

It concerns me when an article is started, in a style that may suggest some indignation at ongoing events, but then isn't updated in over two years. To me, that's more confusing to a random user than no article at all. I really don't want to do the research to clean this up, but, if the article stays and there is no updating, I feel I need to do so; this is a CZ quality issue.

The CSRTs and ARBs are no longer operative. Is it really necessary, in the context of being comprehensive, to focus on the oppressive physical condition of the hearing room, but not give an updated picture of adjudication? Susan Crawford's impact, as one thought? Howard C. Berkowitz 18:01, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

If no one else is editing it, and hasn't been since 2006, I would think that you ought to be able to remove any info that is clearly wrong or outdated. And maybe stick in a judicious "as of umpity-ump, 2006, this condition etc. etc." Hayford Peirce 21:03, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
Without trying to be argumentative, I'm trying to think how to say that coherently...something like "These conditions were true as of xxx. Many were subsequently overruled by (partial list of court decisions, legislation, etc.). Others were true under the Bush Administration but have been repudiated by the Obama Administration" other cases, assertions made about the requirements of international law were simply wrong when written; I've moved and deleted some.
My best advice is that a new major article should have aspects of this as a subarticle, and indeed there are some specifics here that are or were valid. There are policy and legal aspects that have been here, however, that really can't be rewritten in context; they aren't limited to Guantanamo detention camp and suggesting they do confuses the matter. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:32, 28 February 2009 (UTC)


Made a series of copy edits trying to make things a bit clearer. I think this article is a bit tied up in picky detail and it needs a bit of historical perspective, maybe that will be easier once the camp is closed. While things are happening and theres a shortage of information and understanding maybe its important to get the details in, but I think they need to be selected with a bit of retrospective reflection. Some things people are agitated about just lose their apparent importance in a little time. For example, I've deleted the sentence about a failure to meet a Supreme Court deadline - come on, it was just a few hours late.Gareth Leng 11:00, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Just as there's a preference for the scientific name of biological organisms, I'd really like to see the awkward but correct title for the article itself, with redirects. There really is no such organization as Guantanamo Bay detention camp, or even technically Guantanamo detention camp, even though the latter is what I commonly use in conversation. Military matters, especially when they touch upon international law and regulations/politics/legislation, really do need precise names, with recognition of common names. Just because some journalistic or politician's term is the most common Google hit doesn't mean that it is the actual name.
Not to make the real terms clear, as well as acknowledging the common names, can lead to confusion. For example, Barack Obama's order to shut it down never uses the phrase "Guantanamo Bay detention camp" or "Guantanamo detention camp." The military orders for it use an assortment of names, again not either common name. This could be confusing if anyone looks at the primary documents. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:40, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Somewhat reluctantly, I put in additional names and a lot of redirects. I remain quite concerned, however, that this article is quite confused on some of the legal aspects. Just saying "the Supreme Court ruled" isn't terribly useful without a case citation.
Further, a number of the legal decisions were not about Guantanamo, but the status of detainees in U.S. extrajudicial detention. In other words, some of the cases are as applicable to detainees at the internment facility at Bagram Airport in Afghanistan, and at the estimated 12 CIA "black" detention facilities at unconfirmed locations. When talking about Supreme Court rulings and what the Congress and President did, how can it be adequate not to give a specific citation?
Now, yesterday and today, the Obama Administration released a number of now-cancelled Bush Administration legal opinions and directives. Unfortunately, there's no clear place to which they can link or updates be applied, because they weren't about Guantanamo specifically. One of the most key White House documents, for example, was a 3/13/2002 memo from Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee (Office of Legal Counsel) to the White House Counsel, titled "The President's Power as Commander in Chief to Transfer Captured Terrorists to the Control and Custody of Foreign Nations". This, like others, talks about policy about terrorists, not Guantanamo. The Office of Military Commissions wasn't specific to Guantanamo, although the CSRT and ARB were.
This is the sort of thing I mean when I say "unmaintainable". This article seems to assume Guantanamo as a synonym for all the Bush Administration extrajudicial detention and related activities, which is simply not the case. I'll point out that an article on extrajudicial detention long ago was moved from the article to the talk page, and never rebuilt. It's utterly incorrect to keep putting more general legislation, court decisions, and Presidential orders under "Guantanamo Bay detention camp." The whole topic needs a major reorganization and rewrite to be able to "maintain", or to apply information from 2007-2008 to the present. This article is the wrong place and tries to coerce things under the Guantanamo rubric, which simply don't belong there. I really don't want to stop working on more general policy articles (i.e., U.S. concerns with terrorism hardly started on 9/11) and redo this entire area. Does anyone want to work on it, with some guidance? All international lawyers welcome! Howard C. Berkowitz 22:37, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
I have been spending substantial research in tracking the legislation and court decisions here, which even further convinces me that this aspect is not at all specific to Guantanamo. The 2006 Supreme Court decision mentioned, without further explanation, probably is Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. While Hamdan was indeed a prisoner at Guantanamo, the Supreme Court decision focuses on the overall law and authority for military commissions, not anything specific to Guantanamo. As I read Hamdan, the U.S. could have held him at Diego Garcia, and he would have had been able to make exactly the same argument.
Yes, I am finding these things, but I also find they don't belong in a Guantanamo-specific article; having them there is misleading. The original author should not have made a firm assertion about a Supreme Court requirement without sourcing it, at least with a blue link. I'm not going to do that linking here, because I'd first be guessing that was the case in mind, and second I'd be perpetuating the incorrect assumption that this legislation is Guantanamo-specific. This is one of the reasons I believe the article should, at least, go to userspace until it is specific to Guantanamo, with appropriate links to more general articles about legal and other aspects.
The point about shackling the prisoner in the CSRT is really gratuitous to describing the process. Also, there were more than the two camps mentioned; if the article is to talk about camps, it should be comprehensive. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:07, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
OK, but I think the article is now looking quite tight and interesting. I've removed some repetition by reordering. I don't think this reads now as an issue led piece, but as an attempt at cool, objective coverage. Gareth Leng 21:34, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
I've sent you a note about trying to establish an objective framework. Part of the problem is that this is still bottom-up; there's a question of effective use of time in trying to drive coverage from constituent pieces. I've been introducing a number of articles that go to the primary sources of some of the (removed) mention of legal decisions here; some of the journalistic accounts themselves were errored, or did not even relate to the point made in the article. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:25, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

(undent) Ah. I don't get this torture bit at all - permission was asked to use it and denied - am I missing something? Is it worth saying? OK it's awful that these guys even thought it might be OK but ... the article's about the camp not about some morons in the military.Gareth Leng 22:28, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Dunleavey asked to torture and got partial permission. There were places where torture was much worse than Guantanamo, yet we keep focusing on this. Still, the original military approach seems to have been semi-sane, but there was constant Washington pressure to "get tough" — sometimes because the politician had seen something on TV, not that an expert interrogator had said it was a useful technique.
This is about the camp, not morons like Geoffrey Miller, who took the techniques to Abu Ghraib. There are better places to address both the torture (nonspecific), interrogation and the role of torture (working notes in User: Howard C. Berkowitz/Interrogation, and the developing articles about the legal arguments to justify torture. Washington lawyers like Bybee and Yoo and Gonzales are far more important, to understanding the overall situation, than Dunleavey or Beaver or Miller.
Just as an irony, Lenhart, who is decidedly not a moron, is commanding a U.S. military base that has been proposed to hold the truly dangerous few. While Lenhart just set up the camp, there are a number of reports that he got information almost without trying, as he would go into the confinement area and speak with the detainees firmly, but as human beings. People talked to him.
So, my advice is to cut this back and turn our attention to the overall decisionmaking and law — not prisoners, not facilities, not the sins of individual interrogators. I really don't want to go through this struggle with dozens of individual prisoner articles, never getting the full picture. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:04, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

AR190-8: not mentioned in Rasul v. Bush

I have read the Supreme Court decision in Rasul v. Bush, and it contains not one reference to Army Regulation 190-8, as had been in the article:

The Supreme Court advised that this venue should be modeled after the Tribunals described in Army Regulation 190-8.[1] It lays out the procedures American military personnel should follow to make sure the USA's treatment of captives complies with the Third Geneva Convention.
If this is to be in the article, it needs an appropriate sourcing to the Supreme Court. Rasul v. Bush is not it. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:05, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
  1. Military Police: Enemy Prisoners of War, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees and Other Detainees. United States Department of Defense (1997-10-01).