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post #1 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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The Pirates Challenge Obama's Pre-9/11 Mentality

Distinctions between lawful and unlawful combatants go back to Roman times.


When Somali pirates hijacked the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama this week and took 20 Americans hostage, President Barack Obama refused to comment. It seems that our new president is desperate to do everything he can to distance himself from his predecessor, which is why his team has launched a campaign to rebrand the War on Terror. The results are mystifying. "Overseas contingency operations" is the new name for the war, while "man-caused disasters" is a euphemism for terrorist attacks.

In this new rhetorical regime, the administration criticizes President George W. Bush for his "illegal" policies with respect to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and claims that the treatment of the detainees themselves constitutes "torture."

But while they've certainly made cosmetic changes, many claim the Obama administration has left the substance of Bush's approach intact.

Attorney General Eric Holder added to this perception when, after visiting Guantanamo, he acknowledged that the facility is very well run and that implementing Mr. Obama's promise to close it down will be difficult. While renouncing the term "enemy combatant," the Obama administration acknowledges the reality that no matter what we call those detained at Guantanamo, the detainees are still not entitled to prisoner-of-war status because they have violated the laws of war by killing civilians and fighting out of uniform. Instead of calling the detainees enemy combatants, the administration has opted to refer to them as "individuals captured in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations," or "members of enemy forces," or "persons who [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for the September 11 attacks."

Though these changes might seem superficial, unfortunately, they represent a substantive shift. They signal a return to the policy mindset that existed before 9/11, and the consequence will be material harm to U.S. security.

First, in holding that the president's power to indefinitely detain without legal charges is derived from Congress's authorization for the Use of Military Force Act (passed in the aftermath of 9/11), the Justice Department has undercut the president's own war power under the Constitution. This is an inherent executive power that has been recognized since at least the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

As Lincoln wrote to James Conkling in August 1863, "I think the Constitution invests its commander-in-chief, with the law of war, in time of war." In addition to the commander-in-chief clause of Article II, Lincoln found his war power in his presidential oath "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Second, the various new substitutes for "unlawful enemy combatant" abolish an important distinction in traditional international law. As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence. According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands and outlaws).

Bellum became the standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.

Though they don't often employ the term, many legal experts agree that al Qaeda fighters are latrunculi -- hardly distinguishable by their actions from pirates and the like. Robert Kogod Goldman, an American University law professor has commented: "I think under any standard, the captured al Qaeda fighters simply do not meet the minimum standards set out to be considered prisoners of war." And according to Marc Cogen, a professor of international law at Ghent University in Belgium, "no 'terrorist organization' thus far has been deemed a combatant under the laws of armed conflict." Thus al Qaeda members "can be punished for all hostile acts, including the killing of soldiers, because they have no right to participate directly in hostilities." But the Obama administration is about to extend legal rights -- intended to protect civilians -- to the very latrunculi who want to blow them up by considering the possibility of trying them in U.S. courts. Indeed, Attorney General Holder did not rule out trying the Somali pirates.

Some in Congress want to go further than the Obama team. Rather than focusing their attention on the terrorists, these politicians wish to criminalize the behavior of Bush administration officials for actions they took to protect Americans, and that fell well short of those taken by Lincoln in suppressing the Rebellion of 1861. Thus Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), aided and abetted by my own Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I), have begun hearings on Mr. Leahy's proposal for a "Truth Commission" to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation policies.

The mantra of Bush critics has been that the previous administration "tortured" detainees. But this is nonsense. At issue is the CIA's waterboarding of three high-ranking latrunculi who had been instrumental in planning and executing attacks that killed thousands of Americans. These individuals had been trained to resist conventional interrogation methods and were thought to have information about impending attacks.

What makes the Leahy-Whitehouse show trials most appalling -- and hypocritical -- is that Congress was briefed on the enhanced interrogation methods in September 2002. At the time, according to the Washington Post, members of Congress from both parties -- including current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- wanted to ensure that the interrogations were tough enough to get the necessary intelligence from the captured terrorists. As the Post reported, "there was no objecting, no hand-wringing," and according to a U.S. official present during the briefings, "the attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'" But of course, according to a source looking back on that period, "the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic."

And therein lies the problem. Too many of our leaders have forgotten that we are at war with latrunculi who wish to destroy us. Anyone who doubts this need only read the recent statement by the five detainees at Guantanamo charged with planning the 9/11 attacks in which they describe the charge that they murdered Americans very clearly -- as a "badge of honor."

Pirates Challenge Obama's Pre-9/11 Mentality - WSJ.com

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post #2 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 11:21 AM
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Hey Somalia is not far from Kenya, do you think that a couple of those pirates could be related?
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post #3 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 11:29 AM
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Hey Somalia is not far from Kenya, do you think that a couple of those pirates could be related?


They are all covered under the same Koran........
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post #4 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 12:52 PM
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So the author now wants to consider Al Qaeda Pirates? Would this be yet another way to try and get around those annoying international "law" thingies.

Now all we need is a big assed gangplank. The Bushites will finally be happy.

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post #5 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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'Failure to act'...

Senior Obama administration officials are debating how to address a potential terrorist threat to U.S. interests from a Somali extremist group, with some in the military advocating strikes against its training camps. But many officials maintain that uncertainty about the intentions of the al-Shabab organization dictates a more patient, nonmilitary approach.

Al-Shabab, whose fighters have battled Ethiopian occupiers and the tenuous Somali government, poses a dilemma for the administration, according to several senior national security officials who outlined the debate only on the condition of anonymity.

The organization's rapid expansion, ties between its leaders and al-Qaeda, and the presence of Americans and Europeans in its camps have raised the question of whether a preemptive strike is warranted. Yet the group's objectives have thus far been domestic, and officials say that U.S. intelligence has no evidence it is planning attacks outside Somalia.

An attack against al-Shabab camps in southern Somalia would mark the administration's first military strike outside the Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan war zones. The White House discussions highlight the challenges facing the Obama team as it attempts to distance itself from the Bush administration, which conducted at least five military strikes in Somalia. The new administration is still defining its rationale for undertaking sensitive operations in countries where the United States is not at war.

Some in the Defense Department have been frustrated by what they see as a failure to act. Many other national security officials say an ill-considered strike would have negative diplomatic and political consequences far beyond the Horn of Africa. Other options under consideration are increased financial pressure and diplomatic activity, including stepped-up efforts to resolve the larger political turmoil in Somalia.

The most recent discussion of the issue took place early this week, just before the unrelated seizure of a U.S. commercial ship in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates who are holding the American captain of the vessel hostage for ransom.

The administration has not shied away from missile attacks, launched from unmanned aircraft, in Pakistan, targeting what U.S. intelligence says are top members of al-Qaeda. Evidence against al-Shabab in Somalia is far murkier and the argument in favor of a strike is based on the potential threat the group poses to American interests.

"There is increasing concern about what terrorists operating in Somalia might do," a U.S. counterterrorism official said. According to other senior officials, the camps have graduated hundreds of fighters.

The FBI and intelligence officials have said that at least 20 young Somali American men have left this country for Somalia in recent years to train and fight with al-Shabab against the Somali government and occupying Ethiopian military forces. In February, a naturalized American -- 27-year-old Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis -- killed himself and many others in a suicide bombing in Somalia.

The U.S., Canadian and European fighters at the al-Shabab training camps are, for now, being used primarily as cannon fodder in Somalia's chaotic internal wars, Philip Mudd, the No. 2 official at the FBI's National Security Branch, told Congress last month. "We do not have a credible body of reporting right now to lead us to believe that these American recruits are being trained and instructed to come back to the United States for terrorist acts," he said. "Yet, obviously, we remain concerned about that and watchful for it."

Some officials have said that those trained at the camps could leave Somalia, making their way through countries such as Yemen, where al-Qaeda has a stronger presence. But officials said there has been little movement outside Somalia.

Al-Shabab was formed from the remnants of an Islamist government overthrown in 2006 by a U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion. Many of its recruits joined to fight the Ethiopians, who have now largely withdrawn, and officials said U.S. intelligence believes most al-Shabab fighters have been drawn to the organization for nationalistic reasons rather than an interest in global terrorism.

The group has become the strongest force inside Somalia, holding a large swath of territory in the south and contesting the current government's hold on power.

Mudd compared al-Shabab to other nationalistic movements in places such as Chechnya and Bosnia that have drawn fighters from abroad. Foreign recruits raise the profile of the local militant groups and make it appear as though they are part of a broader struggle, Mudd said. "They're accepting non-Somali fighters. . . . I think it adds to their credibility. It's a public relations bonanza for them."

Some of the widespread anti-Ethiopia feeling in Somalia redounded on the United States. "Certainly the Ethiopians weren't very popular in Somalia, and the perception that anybody was helping them wasn't popular there," Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, said at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last month.

The Bush administration asserted that some of al-Shabab's original leaders were responsible for the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and maintained ties to al-Qaeda. Last year, it added the group to its list of terrorist organizations. "There are indications that al-Qaeda has provided support for training activity" in the camps, said a U.S. counterterrorism official.

American officials do not discount the threat of an attack on the United States or Europe. "To the extent that the al-Shabab leadership talks to the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan," the counterterrorism official said, "if that occurs with increasing frequency, then our concerns will grow even stronger."

For the moment, however, U.S. officials are more concerned about attacks in Somalia and in the region. "We're talking about . . . U.S. and Western interests, as well as potential attacks against other countries in Africa."

Similar debates over how to deal with perceived threats in countries where the United States is not at war occurred during the Bush administration, which on several occasions canceled strikes because of insufficient evidence or concern about inflaming the local population and making a politically explosive situation worse. The newness of the Obama administration, one senior military official, has slowed the decision process even more.

They are "walking slowly," the official said, "and for the players with continuity, the frustration continues to grow."

But many on the national security team insist that it is their caution and willingness to consider all aspects of the situation that differentiate them from the overly aggressive posture of the Bush administration that they say exacerbated the terrorist threat.

washingtonpost.com

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post #6 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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PIRATES TAKE ANOTHER ONE: HIJACKED TUGBOAT HAS 16 CREW ON BOARD

This is what a "Failure To Act" will get us!

NAIROBI, April 11 (Reuters) - Pirates captured an Italian-flagged tugboat with 16 crew including 10 Italians on Saturday, in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden.

The tugboat, with enough fuel and food on board to last a month, was believed to be heading toward the Somali coast, the head of the Italian company that owns the boat told Reuters.

"I've entered into contact with the families (of the crew)," Claudio Bartolotti, head of Ravenna-based Micoperi Srl, said, adding there were also five Romanians and one Croatian on board.

Bartolotti denied reports the 75-metre-long tugboat was U.S.-owned, saying his company had recently purchased it.

NATO alliance officials on a warship in the region had previously described the boat as U.S.-owned, Italian-flagged.

Andrew Mwangura, of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the tugboat's crew were believed to be unharmed.

He said the tugboat was towing two barges at the time of capture but there were no details about their cargo.

"This incident shows the pirates are becoming more daring and violent," Mwangura told Reuters by phone.

NATO alliance officials on board the Portuguese warship NRP Corte-Real, which is patrolling the Gulf of Aden, said a distress call came from the MV Buccaneer tugboat but communications were lost six minutes later.

Bartolotti said he received an email around midday (1000 GMT) informing him that the pirates had taken the ship. He said it came from the tugboat captain's email address but did not appear to be written by him.

He said calls to the boat so far had not been answered.

Bartolotti said he had received word that an Italian navy warship, the Maestrale, was heading toward the area where the tugboat was hijacked.
Somali pirates have stepped up attacks in March after a lull at the start of 2009.

Reuters AlertNet - Pirates seize Italian-flagged tugboat, 16 crew

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post #7 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 04:33 PM
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^So you're sayin' Obama is doing the right thing? That is strange to hear from you.
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post #8 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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^So you're sayin' Obama is doing the right thing? That is strange to hear from you.
You've been living w/ wolves and fags too long...

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post #9 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 05:44 PM
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post #10 of 172 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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"Guys, we’re talking about housing right now..."
I'll make a note...

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