Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama, Guantanamo Bay and the ‘CIA prison’ in Poland


The phone rang at work this afternoon, as the gloom of the winter’s afternoon descended on Warsaw.

On the other end was a sunny, North American lady who said she worked for the BBC. She had a question, which went exactly like this:

“President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay and all rendition camps, one of which was in Poland. Are Poles pleased with Obama for that?”

To tell you truth, I was slightly at a loss how to answer this. But this is what I came up with:

“Well…um…you do know that the evidence for a ‘CIA prison’ in Poland is deeply controversial? No government has admitted knowing anything about this and if you ask Joe Kowalski if he thought there were these places in Poland he might tell you that there probably weren’t any?”

“Poles don’t believe there were prisons in Poland,” she said, slightly taken aback that this story was not a done deal. “Yup,” I said, maybe slightly presumptuously, as I have never seen an opinion poll on this.

But I still think I am right. The very idea of a “CIA prison” in Poland is still quite an exotic one here. And it’s not really an issue that Poles feel connected too, anyway. I suppose ‘prison’ is preferable to early stories on this, which described this supposed place as the “new Auschwitz”, a deeply dumb and offensive idea. So, some progress of sorts, I suppose.

But it shows how it has now become common sense that there was these prisons in Poland to those like the journalists at the BBC. My own opinion, after following this story for over two years is that there was indeed something in Poland up until autumn 2005, but to describe what was probably a stopping off point while prisoners were rendition to somewhere else is not quite the same as saying there was a ‘CIA prison’. I think some elements of the Polish secret services did know about this - but how much politicians knew, and how out of control the secret services were at that time, is open to speculation.

Whatever - I hope I didn’t spoil one of the BBC’s “Obama good news” stories. Closing down the obscenity of Guantanamo is deeply welcome. Obama will also outlaw methods of interrogation which involve the “enhanced techniques” like water-boarding which Bush and his cronies always maintained “were not torture”, but, in fact, were just that. As to the slightly naive reporting of the BBC, well, that’s what they mean by a “dumbed down news media.”

40 comments:

Phelonius Monk said...

Didn't Radek Sikorski just issue a press release to the effect that he will welcome the relocation of Gitmo to Poland? You have to do something with all those prisoners, no?

beatroot said...

i didn't see that...I know countries are lining up in the "we will take them/not take them...".But this is gonna get very complicated. Lots of legal stuff. He is going to suspend the trials as well...

jannowak57 said...

The Associated Press
Published: December 27, 2008
“WARSAW, Poland: Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski rejected the idea of taking in detainees freed from the Guantanamo military prison in comments published Saturday.”

I expect no EU country will take these people, so it’s off to the third world with them. I am curious as to what’s the plan if no one takes them?
I would be interested in some one explaining the international treaties and laws that cover such a situations. These are combatants not in uniform or part of a countries armed forces, what are the recognized international conventions for such circumstances?

ge'ez said...

Now if he just has enuff sense to reject the missile base (which is going to turn out to be just another example of Bush's traveling medicine sideshow anyways).

jannowak57 said...

Still want those missiles!

beatroot said...

jan, you ask a decent question, but not let's get bogged down in the legalistic details. Do you except that the way these people have been treated is humane and "in keeping with America's values...?"

I don't. I think the Bush people have acted like thugs.

Let's not beat about the Bush here..

jannowak57 said...

With respect to the use of torture and abusive prison conditions, the US was acting illegally not to mention such tactics yield questionable results when carried out by amateurs.

With respect to military trials for the prisoners, I think the US met it’s obligations under international law. These prisoners do not meet the legal criteria for protection under the Geneva Convention with respect to being prosecuted by a military court.

"in keeping with America's values...?" - this is a joke, at no time in American history from the revolutionary war to the present has such a concept been exercised when America was in a conflict. I should point out German POWs were torched when a need was seen for such methods. This is a part of the American myth. The Americans deeply believe their own bullshit, just ask any American school child about the British loyalist tortured to death in the revolutionary war and they’ll look at you as if you were crazy.

“I don't. I think the Bush people have acted like thugs” – People seem to forget that 911 was carefully organized plot to both inflict damage and gain the maximum publicity in the process, in a sense it was a restrained assault on America. The administration simply made a decision to stop at nothing to prevent another even more devastating attack from taking place.

ge'ez said...

57, it seems like you admire the tactical skills of the KGB when you quip that torture "yield(s) questionable results when carried out by amateurs."

Uh and last I looked, bin & hiz boyz @ aQ got what they most wanted from the attack: the US took out its military bases in Saudi Arabia. So another attack was not viewed as all that necessary. Those signs in Arabic script behind bin in dem caves read: "Mission Accomplished!"

roman said...

Now to find a place for these so-called "torture victims". I know..
drop them off at Hamas HQ in Gaza. This way they can finally martyr themselves.
We would just be granting their utmost request.

Here are my thoughts on this matter from my site:
The Gitmo prisoners never had it so good. All the visitors (without an axe to grind) reported seeing prisoners treated like kings.
Three meals a day.
The meals consistent with their religious restrictions.
A Qu'ran and prayer rug for each upon request.
Clean sheets and towels every day.
Restrictions on the guards to keep quiet during the six prayer periods.
Footsteps imprinted on the hallway floors for the Marines to keep them from disturbing the prisoners.
Daily periods of exercise in the balmy air of a tropical Caribean paradise.
The only thing missing is the virgins.
This fiction of Gitmo being a "stain on the virtue of America" is a disgraceful exaggeration by gullible intellectual posers and left wing bloggers who actually believed the fake media narrative and repeated hysterics. One can easily predict that once Gitmo is closed they will just find another excuse to hate the USA. The Bush Hate Syndrome is just another emanation of the same hystrionics.
The vitriolic stance by the press against the victims of terrorism and their efforts to insure future safety is inexplicable and puzzling on many levels. Constant excuses for the perpetrators are proferred in order to stay in lock-step with the indoctrinated PC narrative prevalent in Journalism 101.
Victims are too quickly forgotten. The lessons of history once again are way too outdated and out of place with today’s progressive modernism.
This is just another example of moral and ethical relativism running wild. The only silver lining in these dark clouds is that it is a means to an end which must, by its own design, ultimately seal the fate of its adherents.

ge'ez said...

I hope you enjoyed Obama's inauguration festivities, Roman.

The only thing missing in Gitmo was the virgins? What about due process and a trial? Imprisonment without even being charged with anything specific? And no doubt waterboarding is something like hanging ten, right? Great American values. All right there in the consitution.

Who is this Bush guy you mention?

jannowak57 said...

For the most part the American interrogators were untrained amateurs, which made the whole thing even more stupid. And yes the KGB/FSB did and continues to train their personal to properly interrogate people using physical persuasion. Ask the Chechens if you have any doubts.

American efforts at torture pale in comparison but the journalist’s mostly hysterical leftists have exaggerated the situation to heroic proportions.

Reducing American presence in Saudi Arabia was only one objective on a long list and I would go along with “partially accomplished!"

ge'ez said...

It was still number one on their hit parade, the equivalent of the Brits' top of the pops, or something like that.

My guess is that the Chechens think it was improper, not proper, for the Russians to torture them. Of course, they think its entirely proper to torture Russians, a position you no doubt find no argument against.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

ge'ez said:

"Of course, they think its entirely proper to torture Russians..."

Exactly! But Western media doesn't seem to give a damn about that.

mjn said...

When I was in Mazury a couple of years ago, we were taken on a guided car trip by the owner of our rented house. On the way he suddenly announced, like it was the most natural thing, that "here was the CIA prison". It was a military base, with very fancy new, shiny barb wire in double rows and cameras.

So at least to people living in the area the CIA prison was real. The guide didn't buy at all the story about training centre for spies/Grom or whatnot that was the official reason for the extra security.

jannowak57 said...

"So at least to people living in the area the CIA prison was real."

Or were they parroting what they heard in the media?

beatroot said...

I remember a UK Daily Mirror article saying that locals told them that the large hanger that had been errected in the base about 3 kilometers from Szymany airstripairport as being "where they kept the prisoners". This was seen as proof that there was a prison there. But no local has ever seen a al-quaeda type prisoners there, so maybe they did get the idea fron media reports.

coffee said...

Obama is smart in more ways than one for ordering the closing of Guantanamo. It has been a long time coming -- well done Mr. President.

heat_seeker said...

At 12:18 57 said: "With respect to military trials for the prisoners, I think the US met it’s obligations under international law. These prisoners do not meet the legal criteria for protection under the Geneva Convention with respect to being prosecuted by a military court."
Unfortunately, american jurisprudence provides only 2 methods of judicial disposition: (1) by courts controlled by the Judisciary, or (2) military justice. "Special tribunals" are creatures of the statute which does not withstand constitutional muster.
As to what Roman said at 1:05 regarding great accomodations at Gitmo, I must say: you must be really retarded! Since it's so appealing to you (heaven without virgins...) maybe you should try getting yourself detained based on unverified information, with no end in sight, no access to the outside world, no ability to see evidence against you, being subjected to torture and rendition, etc. Call me when (and if...) you get out and let me know how it worked out for you.

mjn said...

"Or were they parroting what they heard in the media?"

Of course that's a likely reason, but it was just as a comment to beetroot's "Kowalski thinks no prisons". Some of them do.

But since the prison, did it exist, has been closed for years, I don't think anyone would really care about Obama's stance on other CIA prisons.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

bet its the nest thing that ever happened to the local area. Top international journalists (and journos from Daily Mirror) in late 2006 and since were staying in all the little hotels..its put an obscure area of Poland on the map.

When you go to Inverness in Scotland, by Loch Ness, all the local hotelliers believe in the Loch Ness monster!

jannowak57 said...

Re Heat_seeker 8:09PM

You’re just wrong on this point, under international law the US is free to decide which way to deal with these people and a military tribunal is allowed and customary in such situations. The Geneva Convention was revised in 1949 and further revised on this point in the 1970’s. These people do not meet the legal criteria to avoid trial or be called lawful combatants.

At present the US Supreme Court has not struck done the military justice system at best the only debate here is which system has jurisdiction. Considering that these people have been captured outside of US territory by US forces than military tribunal is the precedent.
Having said this the administration is free to handle this in a jurisdiction of its choice.

There exists no precedent for what you are suggesting.

By any standards of housing and care Gitmo is the Holliday Inn of prisons whether you compare it to any other American run or foreign run prison. And lets face it these guys are having the best food, medical care and housing that most of them ever experienced in their lives, yes it’s cage but a gilded one. I understand the folks in the Twin Towers only got a coffin out of this; care to consider equalizing the treatment.

beatroot said...

And lets face it these guys are having the best food, medical care and housing

Jan, this is not the Hilton or the Ritz. These people are being tortured. I never had that for room service in any posh hotels I stayed in.

Gitmo plus Iraq Abu Graib etc...and it all adds up to a Bush regime trying to "defend a way of life" that they themselves didn't believe in.

Bush has been a foreign policy disaster. And anyone linked with him, like Blair or Poland, has been tarnished with this shit.

roman said...

heat seeker,

detained based on unverified information, with no end in sight, no access to the outside world, no ability to see evidence against you, being subjected to torture and rendition, etc. Call me when (and if...) you get out and let me know how it worked out for you.

I would if I could! Hey, I wasn’t the one trying to kill coalition troops and commit terrorist acts. You say there's "no end in site" but yet this very post reports Gitmo's closing. Kind of disproves that, hey?
Since when does the US Constitution extend to non-citizens? What business does the US judicial system have extending its reach to perpetrators of crimes committed overseas? Over-reaching authority? A couple of dirt-bags had some water dropped on a hankie covering their nose... BIG FRIGGEN' DEAL.
Your impossible absolutist belief in the fictional concept of a perfect justice utopia is incredibly naive and dangerous. These same individuals who you're so keen on defending would never return the same concerns. Your child-like idealism and lack of common sense puts your family and mine in danger.
Side-note: Your use of the word "retarded" as a put-down gives me clear insight into the state of your intellectual development. Elementary at best and not ready for prime time.

beatroot,

These people are being tortured.

I say "harsh interrogation techniques" and you say "torture". Torture, in its conventional interpretation, has never been proven to have taken place but yet you insist on calling it that. Is it the wet handkerchief and loud music the CIA admitted to for a couple of the 9/11 masterminds? These same individuals are alive, have no debilitating after-effects and are doing well at this writing. Your blanket statement implies ongoing torture for all inmates. Totally unfounded and based on pure conjecture and speculation, wouldn’t you agree?

ge’ez,

Red Sox want Manny back!

heat_seeker said...

"Since when does the US Constitution extend to non-citizens?"
Since always. I don't recall anything in the Constitution saying that you have to be a citizen to be subject to its provisions... Constitution governs how our government acts on our behalf. That applies to the agents of our government. Those people are not being held by a bunch of guys who bought a parcel on an island outside of the US and decided to imprison there some foreign nationals. "The guys" work for the US Gvmnt and "the parcel" is leased by the same government. You right - you are not retarded. That was a wrong choice of words. You are ignorant and immature. Your trust in the government propaganda is truly scary... you still believe that the people held in Gitmo have anything to do with 9/11 and terrorism even though the government has not produced even a shred of evidence. Not sure where you get off telling me I'm child-like naive...

jannowak57 said...

Heatseeker if I understand correctly are you suggesting extending writ of habeas corpus to these prisoners? If you are, this has already been decided in the courts and the answer was no.

“The writ of habeas corpus had never been understood to benefit enemy prisoners of war. The United States held millions of POWs during World War II, with none permitted to use our civilian courts (except for a few cases of U.S. citizens captured fighting for the Axis). Even after hostilities ended, the justices turned away lawsuits by enemy prisoners seeking to challenge their detention. In Johnson v. Eisentrager, the Court held that it would not hear habeas claims brought by alien enemy prisoners held outside the United States, and it refused to interpret the Geneva Conventions to give new rights in civilian court against the government. In the case of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the court refrained from reviewing the operations of military commissions.”

The military commissions are not offside in legal terms. These people are captured unlawful combatants which makes them subject to prosecution and they can be held forever or at least by custom to the end of hostilities.

ge'ez said...

Red Sox ain gittin no Manny back 'n Republicans ain gittin no power back.

Keep on talkin' that Rush Limburger talk, Roman!

You've noticed that the folks in power now look at things very, very differently than you, heh?

And for the life of me I can't understand how you keep calling your politics conservative when you ain't about conserving the constitution, the environment, or even the American economy. Seems to me you're just a nihilist.

ge'ez said...

Gitmo and the other detention sites will be closed, the use of torture has been stopped, so the current discussion is now moot. But keep on defending that shit guys!

More interesting to see that Hillary is getting feted in DC while:

Mr Obama said veteran politician and deal-maker George Mitchell would head to the Middle East as soon as possible, in an effort to pursue a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

George Mitchell: 'There is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended'

Mr Mitchell is a former senator who under former president Bill Clinton chaired the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

Long-serving diplomat Richard Holbrooke was appointed US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan and charged with leading "our effort to forge and implement a sustainable approach to this critical region", Mr Obama said.

ge'ez said...

And a Polish American guy might get appointed to be emissary to the Vatican:

Pepperdine School of Law's Douglas Kmiec, professor of constitutional law and advisor to Obama's presidential campaign, was especially privileged with proximity to the new president during inauguration festivities.

Following a national day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Kmiec and his wife Carol attended a private worship service with Obama on Tuesday morning, as well as the Illinois inaugural ball in the evening.

Additionally, Kmiec, who has also served as legal counsel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Herbert Walker Bush, confirmed that Obama may be considering appointing him to the position of Vatican Emissary.

"The President is nowhere close to determining such things because of the order of events … everyone's first order of business is economic recovery," Kmiec said. "At the appropriate time, when diplomatic relations through the State Department need to be addressed, I think my name would be part of the discussion."

roman said...

ge'ez,

George Mitchell: 'There is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended'

Are you offering this statement as a sign of the improved foreign policy wisdom of the new Democratic administration?
BWHA HA HA HA HA!!!ROTFLMAO!
Sure, one side always has the option to CAVE IN and SURRENDER. Only an Obama sycophant would deem this statement as significant and worthy of pronouncement.

Also, only a Democrat president would be so totally irresponsible as to close Gitmo just because he used this promise as a ploy to get votes from the wacky moonbat side of the far left. Even before knowing what to do with the prisoners housed there, he's made the decision to close? This is blunder #1 for the Obama team and it will come back to haunt him.
Blunder #2, Geithner… putting a man in charge of the IRS who has openly and consistently cheated on his taxes. Blunder #3, Hillary... Yea right, Bill's getting big bucks for his library and god-knows-what from nations that she will make important decisions about and she refuses to release information as to who and how much. Blunder #4… 850Billion for infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy. It has been tried many times and has NEVER stimulated anything. Any possible tiny improvement would not be seen for at least one and a half years and by then the recession will be over. Blunder #5 ..Holder for Atty Gen .. This is the guy who gave Bill Clinton the go-ahead “neutral leaning favorable” to pardon Marc Rich, the rich crook. I’m sure no money changed hands here, eh?
I could go on and on but you get the picture, don’t you?

Yep, Democrats... Change is coming..NOT!

roman said...

heat seeker,

you still believe that the people held in Gitmo have anything to do with 9/11 and terrorism

I don't recall making such a claim. It would help significantly if my comments were quoted accurately and not edited to suit one’s side, thank you.
The statement waskill coalition troops and commit terrorist acts is somewhat different from what you falsely ascribe to it.
Let's stick to the facts and not embellish them to fit our side of the argument.
On point: So what you're saying is that none of these prisoners at Gitmo had anything to do with 9/11 or terrorism? Only someone that’s omniscient can draw such concrete conclusions. Congratulations.
FYI….a couple of them have, in fact, already been convicted of masterminding 9/11.

ge'ez said...

Roman, why don't you just cut and paste Limburger's rants?

Funny how you seem to ditto Rush that Obama didn't have the left vote locked up so that he had to resort to some kind of "ploy." Then in the same breath, you accuse him of now bringing his ploy to fruition -- and then conclude it'll come back to haunt him, blah, blah, woof-woof, ditto, ditto, ditto.

roman said...

ge'ez,

I have'nt listened to "Limburger" for at least two years and even before that I only caught his radio show a couple of times in my car while en route to a client on business. Why do you obsess about this guy? He's a far right shock jock who along with Ann Coulter, enrich themselves with over-the-top statements that leftists keep dwelling on. It's really creepy! The only time I ever hear of him these days is when someone from the left brings up his name.
Ascribing his ideals to mine is like me ascribing Al Franken to yours. That is..unless you like Al?
Now if you said Bill O'Reily that would be valid.

ge'ez said...

Sorry, I didn't realize there was that much difference betwixt Limburger, Coulter, and O'Reily, etc. Franken was elected by the people of Minnesota but I prefer Zdeno Chara.

roman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roman said...

ge'ez,

Franken was elected by the people of Minnesota

Coleman's disputing the recount and some judge will decide the outcome. Sounds like Bush/gore all over again.
I like Zdeno myself. He can make a puck fly at over 105 MPH.. I'd like to see Franken do that.

O'Reily's fair. Both Obama and Hillary were on his show. Can't be that bad.

ge'ez said...

Yea, he loofahs everybody.

I like hockey more than politrix.

Zdeno can also make a guy he checks fly into the boards at 105 mph.

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