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I'm amazed by the twisted logic:
"These are unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens"

Even assuming that they all are unlawful combatants (what does it even mean? Fighting for the wrong side? Is bombing civilians lawful? If not, all American soldiers are unlawful combatants), I can only ask: "so?".

They are not American citizens -well, that should not change their right to habeas corpus. Whatever you charge them with.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 07:42:13 AM EST
Cyrille:
They are not American citizens -well, that should not change their right to habeas corpus. Whatever you charge them with.
That's why even afterand if Obama get elected I'll be wary of going to the US.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 07:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As you should be.  If you are liked by the PTB, you have no problem.  Otherwise, your legal protections are zero.

Speaking practically, that is.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 12:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they are unlawful, when are we going to see the members of the CIA who fought alongside them against the rssians in the dock?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They are unlawful now, they weren't unlawful then. Don't you know anything?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 08:12:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

members of the CIA

They are our unlawful combatants.  There is a difference. Can't you see that?  Why do you hate Amerika first?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One could make a case that the American invaders and occupiers of Vietnam were illegal combatants - and that would include John McCain.  The war itself was illegal and so were a multitude of strategies, tactics, and individual actions.

One can make an even stronger case that the American militias that fought King George were "illegal combatants."

The alleged distinction between legal and illegal combatants is toxic.

by cambridgemac on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 09:50:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't think this is correct. There is a pretty well established definition of the differences between "combatant" and "civilian," and it includes the wearing of uniforms. So the American soldiers in Vietnam were formally combatants, while anybody (spy, irregular soldier, terrorist, innocent bystander) who is not wearing a uniform is a civilian.

The definition of illegal combatant is much more difficult to nail down, and there's a good argument that such a concept isn't valid. Basically, if you're not a soldier, then you're a civilian, and are entitled to all of the normal rights that any other civilian has. If you shoot somebody, you get tried for murder in the civilian legal system of the country you're in.

by asdf on Sat Jun 14th, 2008 at 11:03:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
-- But if a fighting force constitutes an army in every respect but the wearing of uniforms (but what is a uniform? -- red coats? -- camouflage suits? -- gang colors? -- arm bands?), does this make them not an army? -- Wouldn't prosecuting them as civilians overwhelm a system intended for a different purpose? -- Aren't there some precedents to consider (whatever they may be)? -- As a long-term question, shouldn't all this be reassessed with due consideration of the inevitable future context, that of fine-grained, universal surveillance?

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 03:09:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are precedents for that: The various resistance movements in the Axis-occupied territories during WWII. I believe that they are treated as regular combatants. But note that IANAL.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:11:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The resistance movements were considered ad hoc defencive formations by the Allies, of course. The Axis called them "terrorists."

Not to put too fine a point upon it, but there seems to be something of a similarity here...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:14:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
-- But if a fighting force constitutes an army in every respect but the wearing of uniforms (but what is a uniform? -- red coats? -- camouflage suits? -- gang colors? -- arm bands?), does this make them not an army? -- Wouldn't prosecuting them as civilians overwhelm a system intended for a different purpose? -- Aren't there some precedents to consider (whatever they may be)? -- As a long-term question, shouldn't all this be reassessed with due consideration of the inevitable future context, that of fine-grained, universal surveillance?

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, no.

The point is that there are only two categories of people, civilians and combatants. And there are legal systems to handle each case. Bush's trying to invent a new category and then a new legal system to handle it is the problem.

by asdf on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 08:23:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf:
Bush's trying to invent a new category and then a new legal system to handle it is the problem.

I don't think Bush is trying to invent a new category. I think Bush is saying 'I can do wtf I like and you can't stop me heh heh heh.' He's then leaning on the government machine to cover his ass with rationalisations - which he doesn't personally care about, and probably doesn't even understand.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 02:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IANAL, but I did read the Geneva convention's definition of combatants once, and there are a couple of provisions for non-uniformed combatants.

If non-uniformed combatants are used regularly by conventional armies, I believe that it is considered a war crime - i.o.w. they are combatants and when captured become PoWs, but can post-bellum be put on trial for war crimes.

If the non-uniformed combatants are irregulars - that is, militias, resistance groups, saboteurs and other armed groups that take up arms against an invading enemy when there is no time or opportunity to organise a conventional defence. They are combatants and thus become PoWs when captured, are subject to the laws of war, etc., etc.

To my admittedly non-lawyerly ears, the second part sounds like it fits the combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq pretty much perfectly.

The legal status of spies in wartime is somewhat unclear to me, as is the status of foreign nationals from third countries who travel to a belligerent country to throw bombs on their own private initiative.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:09:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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