Netroots Nation: Close Gitmo and Use the Legal System

I’m going to be liveblogging today’s panel discussion, Close Gitmo and Use the Legal System at Netroots Nation 2010. Panelists featured are Adam Serwer, Matthew Alexander, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Vince Warren, and your very own emptywheel, Marcy Wheeler. (Video of this panel may be available later, technology permitting.) This is a rough paraphrase, not a word-for-word transcript.

Wheeler: Lists good news and bad news about the topic of detention and Gitmo; we have seen some positive changes but over the big picture, no real change.

Nadler: Very frustrated as not much has happened this year. Notes that the administration has not behaved as anticipated prior to taking office. Congress has enacted bills to restrict transfers of detainees; although it’s possible to try detainees in court, nothing has happened.

Gitmo used as a tool of political fear. 192 detainees remain at Gitmo; 35 have been identified as those who could be charged with offenses, the majority could be released.

President has outlined procedures which are different, but outcomes are the same. Detainees may be charged, tried in civilian court, tribunals, or detained indefinitely — simply because we say a detainee is dangerous. Habeas corpus has not been recognized. We still have people who have been cleared altogether who have been detained because we can’t release them. The refusal to take some of these people into the U.S. has made it difficult to negotiate with other countries to take some of the same. If they are not dangerous, there’s no good reason why they cannot be released into the U.S.

Gitmo is not under writ of habeas corpus; also a question as to whether Bagram airport is also under writ of habeas corpus. Also in contention whether black sites are as well. May be maintained that battlefield sites may not be covered by habeas corpus, but what about detaining individuals seized in Sweden? Or case of individuals who were taken into detention by locals and turned over for bounties.

Prisoner of war is used as an excuse for indefinite detention, but it’s the war is not clear. No uniform, taken away from battlefield, no change over the year on this issue. Not an optimistic assessment.

Serwer: Not one of the happier panels here at NN10 because so little has happened. One of the places where uniformity of Republican opposition has been affected has been on issue of Gitmo; even Bush said Gitmo should be closed, Republicans agreed, and yet the resolve has changed. The lack of urgency now gives impression that Gitmo is not as bad as it is.

Alexander: Aware that al Qaeda uses Gitmo as a recruiting tool, showing our hypocrisy in detaining people, making this a key reason why Gitmo should be closed. We compromised our principles in using and keeping Gitmo open, partly out of fear, partly out of prejudice against Muslims and Arabs. One of the fundamental reasons Gitmo should be closed is one the left doesn’t use — it should be closed for patriotic reasons. It should be closed to remove it as a recruiting tool for terrorism.

Warren: Points out that Nadler is his congressman; Nadler had fought the defunding of ACORN as an unconstitutional bill of attainder. Believes Alexander’s point about Gitmo as a recruiting tool is important, but brings a couple other perspectives to the table. This is Obama’s Guantanamo. Previously fought against the Bush administration on the Boumediene case, but now this is the current administration.

Roughly 177 men in Gitmo, some have been cleared. The underwear bomber incident stopped the release of the 60 men cleared, brought process to a halt.

Obama’s story is about what we hear as well as what we don’t hear. Chinese Uighurs were ordered released as they were no threat; Bush administration fought the order. Now the Obama administration maintains that the Uighurs should not be released because China might detain and torture these individuals. Yet Obama administration has vigorously opposed release Uighurs into the U.S. as it was in conflict with immigration laws. Abdul Aziz Naji has been injured, poorly treated, could be released to Algeria, but could be tortured or killed by one of two factions — Algerian government or fundamentalists, which Naji described as being caught between two fires. His case went to Supreme Court, was released to Algeria but “disappeared” as no record of his arrival in Algeria has been recorded. A source has said Naji has been taken into custody for “routine interrogation” but the Algerian government itself has not acknowledged. This is a situation which Obama administration claimed it was trying to get away from.

Obama administration is now itself caught between two fires.


Wheeler: one difference between Bush and Obama administration was that Bush said the president can do whatever he wants. Obama says that AUMF provides authorization. The courts have made decisions which go in either direction,but more often in favor of the AUMF. There are 50 al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. Kagan agreed in questioning that there is a continuing war. What about the AUMF, when does this war end?

Warren: We have failed to get a court decision about the war. Bush hedged his bets with the AUMF (which received congressional supports to If we can say we’ve exceeded the authority of the AUMF, then we can make a case for the release of detainees. But a new AUMF is likely to be worse. Obama admin appears to want a new AUMF as well as legislation on Gitmo and detention.

Nadler: Question went a different direction. Courts are likely to favor president and refrain from limitations due to war.

Wheeler: If they withdraw from Afghanistan (ending the war) they will lose their “super powers” and aren’t likely to do so.

Warren: (sorry, I missed this brief comment)

Audience: What has John Brennan been telling congress?

Nadler: Doesn’t know what Brennan has told congress.

Wheeler: Current admin looks like Bush in part because people like Brennan continue to shape the intel for administration.

Serwer: Brennan is an interesting character as he has tried to improve relationship with Muslim community. Courts pushing back at military commissions because of use of non-war arguments/charges like material support. Others has said this would happen, like Jack Goldsmith. Military Commission unsustainable.

Nadler: Military Commissions untested, material support not considered a war crime, not typically used before commissions. Argument made that detainees “do not deserve” a civilian trial, that trying them in civilian trial is “giving them something.” Everyone is entitled to a civilian trial if they are not war criminals but terrorists.

Warren: Everyone knows this is a straw system. Obama administration can be quickly put into a charade position in which it adheres to military commissions.

Serwer: Bush tried most terrorists in civilian courts. This is most relevant piece of information which never appears in media reports. Wants to discuss the “liquor store” argument used by Lindsey Graham (“these guys didn’t rob a liquor store”). Bellinger said that DOJ was sending down personnel to train military commission personnel to try terrorism cases, which should tell us plenty, that military commission is not suited to trying terrorism.

Wheeler: Do you want to talk about Marc Thiessen’s argument that detainees don’t deserve civilian trials?

Alexander: Malcolm Nance talked about about al Qaeda as a post-Islam cult; in trying these individuals as warriors — holy warriors — we elevate their position, should simply try them as criminals.

Wheeler: The discussion on this topic has been depressing, with Cheney making it into an industry. The messaging asks, “don’t you want to kill Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?” Don’t want to kill KSM, wants to try him.

Nadler: Right to want to try this on the merits, but the Republicans aren’t going to support this.

Wheeler: Polling shows that the Dems do better when we try detainees in civilian court.

Alexander: Can go after the efficacy argument, but we can also go for patriotism as an argument by adhering to American ethics.

Audience (Daphne Eviatar): What might work, how to we change the conversation?

Nadler: Arguments will not win the day on this, Obama should try KSM in civilian court and KSM gets a stiff sentence out of this. They simply have to do the right thing, people need to see this and this will change the conversation.

Eviatar: Do you see this happening, maybe after the election?

Nadler: Holder wants to. Tremendous push back, police commissioner in NYC said security measures to be taken would shut down Manhattan. Could certainly hold a civilian trial in Southern District of New York, same venue as where crime occurred, crime occurred in several places, could look at Newark, Boston, where planes were hijacked. Important point that civilian trial held, and in constitutional venue.

Serwer: Once you do something like this, you take away the boogeyman factor. This administration, when faced with this problem, has instead retreated.

Audience (Jason Leopold): Can you shed light on the politicization? Republicans aren’t calling for this, it was Democrats who largely supported defunding ACORN, it appears to be Dems supporting the military commissions.

Nadler: Doesn’t know more about the politicization beyond what’s been written. Decision to prosecute KSM and terrorism should be made in the DOJ, not by White House or other entity. In re: ACORN was one of the most shameful situations; there may have been challenges of growth and management of this useful organization, but this was about a smear. Democrats in general didn’t push back but joined the smear.

There is a problem obviously to get anything on the floor of the House that will be interpreted by 30-second television ads that could be construed as “Congressman so-and-so supported terrorism.” There is an effort to protect the marginals.

Wheeler: The numbers so far have kept a Lindsey Graham-John McCain nutso amendment from passing; the Dems threatened have been blue dogs (good riddance). but the numbers are getting closer.

Nadler: Was commenting

Audience (Rachel Meyers, ACLU): Is Article 3 trials in Guantanmo the best we can hope for?

Nadler: Not constitutional, trial in that case doesn’t happen where crime occurred.

Wheeler: The government has been trying to prevent the facts about the interrogator who threatened Omar Khadr with rape and death — facts that show the interrogator was involved in detainee deaths — from being disclosed. Civilian courts typically have more access.

Nadler: Concurs on access.

Wheeler: Is Ghailani’s trial, Abdulmuttalab’s trial going to remove the boogeyman factor?

Serwer: Aside the ability of al Qaeda to claim legitimacy under Islam, these are whackos, some of which are recent converts to al Awakism. It’s like Branch Davidians being called Christians.

Warren: What is the real fear? the radicalization is a red herring. It’s used as leverage. In a pre-9/11 world we knew there were many small groups who were radicalized on their own who’d light their underwear on fire. Other attempts have been labeled subsequent waves of attacks instead of independent events. We conceded defeat to this thinking which will affect us for years to come.

Serwer: Republicans are fighting hard against KSM’s trial in NYC because they lose their fear chip if KSM successfully tried and humiliated in court.


That’s a wrap, folks. Again, this is a rough paraphrase and not an exact transcript. There are several comments which were not captured (and in some cases were quite funny) that video will reveal once we have video processed and loaded.

  1. Jeff Kaye says:

    Thanks for the liveblogging, Rayne. Go Marcy.

    Nadler, your own party has played into the Guantanamo fear-mongering. A Democratic ruled Congress passed the MCA, it has called for Inspector General investigations into attorneys that defend prisoners there.

    The situation in Guantanamo is not unlinked to the question of the general militarist agenda of the Pentagon and the U.S. government as a whole.

    Why doesn’t Congress repeal the AUMF? There’s no overriding need for it at this point, nine years after 9/11.

  2. Jeff Kaye says:

    Damn, everyone on the panel looks depressed. They have good reason to be.

    Nadler: I didn’t like that “tail wagging the dog put-down of Marcy’s observation how the Afghanistan war plays into the military/govt being able to utilize all their toys (I took to mean, or be inclusive of, legal toys).

  3. bobschacht says:

    I’m at the Netroots Nation conference, at a session chaired by Marcy Wheeler on Closing Gitmo, and tracked here by Rayne, who I finally had the pleasure of meeting. Before the seesion started, I went up to the table of panelists, and, after being introduced to Rep. Nadler by Marcy, I impetuously asked him if we still had a Constitution, or words to that effect. He gave me a thoughtful answer. After a moment of reflection, he said that our country does not do very well with such issues in wartime– He spoke about the Alien & Sedition Act around WW-I, and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WW-II. Then I asked him if this “war” would ever end, and he assured me that it would.

    What that tells me is that our efforts, as a group, will be futile until our wars end. And they will not end by conventional means– e.g. a treaty, but by a unilateral declaration by Obama (or his successor). This suggests to me that in order to achieve our goals, we have to work to end the war.

    My preferred solution is for Obama to declare that we are not actually in a war, and that the War on Terror is impossibly defined and poorly conceived, and that therefore he is declaring an end to the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ and a beginning of the United State’s campaign against international criminal terrorism on legal grounds, as a criminal issue.

    Bob in AZ

    • Leen says:

      Not a declared war.

      Marcy “look at little progress we have made in closing Gitmo and returning to the rule of law”

      “Addington was a big jerk” Yoo more polite than Addington. Not surprised

      Nadler “not much has changed from last year”

  4. Jeff Kaye says:

    Nadler says he doesn’t know about the politicization of the decision making process at DoJ over the question of civilian trials vs military commissions. I don’t believe him, though I’ll note Nadler does say that it shouldn’t be that way. (answering a question from Jason Leopold in the audience)

  5. Jeff Kaye says:

    Nadler admits the Democrats on civil liberties have “not been the most courageous”.

    To Bob @6 – hope you’re having a good time. I totally agree with your points.

  6. JohnLopresti says:

    Rayne reported much of the complex interrelated exchanges in the ten minutes of the streamed video I observed. Technically, the light-dark contrast of the stream was defective, much like viewing a panel in a near-dark studio with almost no light. The remarks, however, were clear in audio, their content thoughtful and measured. The humor and hospitality at the close reflected the insight which is characteristic of ew*s work. It would be nice to visit an archived copy of the panel video.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      I couldn’t hear the exchanges,unfortunately.

      It would seem that it would be a great idea if these conferences could have compilations of all panels each year as a boxed set-or whatever media of your choice-for sale …especially with closed captioning.

      (BTW, I am not hearing impaired…but there are many who are and certain media forms leave them at a disadvantage.)

      • thatvisionthing says:


        I’m watching the foreclosure one right now — — I left a comment for Cynthia Kouril that I wished she’d liveblog the video — Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Ryan Grim and FDL’s David Dayen. Every panelist has must-see moments… and again you can’t hear the audience questions.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          This is just a stream of consciousness remark on my part, but dang, if this Net Roots Convention could have been held in New Orleans, imagine the MSM coverage,considering the BP issue.

          I know, I’m just iffin’….*G*

          • thatvisionthing says:

            Well, there was a location location location moment in the foreclosure panel, when the topic was residential vs commercial strategic default, and the panelist (which one? go to transcr— oh) told the audience to just look out their hotel window at all the unfinished hotels and condos to see commercial default. America is scenic all over. (Detroit?) But I DO hear you about New Orleans.

          • thatvisionthing says:

            Fabulous! THANK YOU.

            (got thrown for a second seeing EW in the liveblog script — because I knew Marcy was moderating the Gitmo panel elsewhere at the same time ….Elizabeth Warren :-)

  7. bobschacht says:

    One of the questioners– a lady in the front row– was from ACLU; Rayne might remember her name. Sorry,, I don’t know about the others (except, of course, for Jason Leopold, whom I finally had the pleasure of meeting face to face.)

    A small FDL caucus did meet briefly– half a dozen or more of us, including Marcy. I got there late, so I may have missed a few, but I did meet Lisa Derrick and a few others– sorry, I’m terrible with names!

    Bob in AZ

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One would think that waving normal immigration laws in the cases of prisoners we have wrongly detained for years and abused would be the simplest of things to do. Mr. Obama, like Mr. Bush before him, doesn’t want it done. He doesn’t want our former prisoners loose on the American public, not because they might break our laws – they would be under intense surveillance – but because they might speak too freely about the gap between our aspirations and our actions.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Your take on the “reason” why no administration, Republican or Democrat, will allow the release of illegally detained, and criminally abused “prisoners” or “detainees” (which sounds more “compassionate”) in America (or elsewhere, for that matter) if the truth might out, is spot on.

      It also is the “reason” that Bradley Manning will be punished as severely as our now fully compromised “legal” system may manage, assuming that Manning ever has the real opportunity of defending himself, simply for allowing the people of America the opportunity to know the truth – should they care to listen, of what is being done in their name, just as torture and the use of predator drones is also done in the name of the people and their “security”.

      But hiding the truth? That is done for the obscene protection of those who have undermined, with great glee, the fundamental principles of this nation and the rule of law. Those who have deliberately done this are: the Executive “branch”, the Congressional “branch”, and the Judicial “branch”, which, together, comprise the entirety of the Federal government of the United States of America.

      This site is one of the very few places where that truth is understood and pursued: the thoughtful souls who gather here are among the few who are even bothering to ponder, “Why”?

      (And, EOH, you are among the very best and most eloquent of those who ponder and then share understanding with the rest of us …)


      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Re: John Walker Lindh aka the Original Bush era torture victim,(from an earlier posting of mine)

        RE: Michael Chertoff,Lindh plea deal and gag order-July 15,2002

        The court scheduled an evidence suppression hearing, at which Lindh would have been able to testify about the details of the torture to which he claimed he was subjected. The government faced the problem that a key piece of evidence — Lindh’s confession — might be excluded from evidence as having been forced under duress.

        To forestall this possibility, Michael Chertoff, then-head of the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, directed the prosecutors to offer Lindh a plea bargain, to which, Lindh would plead guilty to two charges: — serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons. He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his 20-year sentence, and he would have to drop any claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002. In return, all other charges would be dropped.

        Lindh accepted this offer. On July 15, 2002, he entered his plea of guilty to the two remaining charges. The judge asked Lindh to say, in his own words, what he was admitting to. Lindh’s allocution went as follows: “I plead guilty”, he said. “I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to December. In the course of doing so, I carried a rifle and two grenades. I did so knowingly and willingly knowing that it was illegal.”~~~~~~~~~~Wiki

        NOTE: This Lindh pleading could have explained to some degree why Chertoff said “You cant write a get out of jail free card,” the very next day,July 16,2002, the day of the “Yoo” meeting.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Thank you, Gitchee, for the expanded “reminder” of how it all appeared to “begin” …

          The soul-destroying hypocrisy continues to drip, soon it will gush … perhaps we will drown in it?

          What will they do when the truth, inevitably, and likely sooner than the “astute” calculators imagine, those who think they have covered themselves with sufficient “protections”, does come out?


          • Gitcheegumee says:

            It’s a funny thing about truth…

            The harder one tries to conceal it, the more determined it seems to make itself known.

            Rather like the little wildflower that inexplicably reveals itself from the most minute crack in the concrete.. the unlikeliest of places at the most unexpected of times.

            • DWBartoo says:

              The truth will blossom in the most inhospitable of places, and sometimes it blooms when attempts to eradicate it are … app-lied …

              (Gitchee, I very much appreciate the deft and beautiful bouquets with which you gift the rest of us … you get the old grey-matter of mine agoing …)


            • thatvisionthing says:

              Mexican fan palms that grow out of storm drains in curbs — my heart just goes out to them, so plucky, so doomed. Nature telling us something…

              • DWBartoo says:

                “Nature …” is, indeed, “… telling us something …”

                May we human beings open our eyes, our ears, our hearts, and our minds?

                We have the immense good fortune to live on a planet that is paradise, one hopes we that may have the wit to realize it, tvt, however belatedly …


                • thatvisionthing says:

                  unobtainium. green on earth. (you see Avatar?)

                  only money talks on the consumer road to hell

            • ghostof911 says:

              It’s a funny thing about truth…

              Deceptions all have half-lives. Truths are eternal.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          Did you see Amy Goodman’s interview of the Lindh parents? An amazing hour.

          Lindh left his studies in Pakistan to go to Afghanistan to join the side the US was backing, the Taliban, in the civil war against the side the Russians and Iranians were backing, Northern Alliance warlords who were committing atrocities on the villagers Lindh went to help. Then 9/11 happens, America switches sides, the Northern Alliance takes him captive, and he is wounded and one of the less than 100 survivors out of 400 of terrible imprisonment (“Convoy of Death” film). Then he gets handed over to Americans, yay!, except not, because Donald Rumsfeld personally takes charge.

          FRANK LINDH: He was already wounded. He had a bullet wound in his thigh, and he had shrapnel wounds in his legs. He was dehydrated. He suffered hypothermia. He was very close to death in that media interview there.

          And instead of being treated humanely—it’s a difficult subject for us, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—this is a document that came out in the discovery in John’s case—ordered, “Take the gloves off.” Juan referred to this. This was his order, direct order from the Secretary of Defense. And from that point forward, they severely abused John to the point that I would say constitutes torture. He was stripped naked in the winter. His bullet wound was left untreated. They put painful restraints, plastic restraints, around his wrists and his ankles, and he was tied to a gurney and placed naked in a metal—unheated metal shipping container in the desert and left there for two days and two nights shivering. His wounds were left—

          AMY GOODMAN: Donald Rumsfeld—

          FRANK LINDH: His wounds were left untreated.

          AMY GOODMAN: Donald Rumsfeld’s words? This is on his orders?

          FRANK LINDH: Yes, it’s in a document that John’s lawyers received from the government, and those are the words in the document: “Take the gloves off in your interrogation of John Walker Lindh.”

          Lindh is Detainee 001.

          His parents get a lawyer, who immediately writes to Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet and Ashcroft and asks to see his client, but Lindh isn’t allowed to learn that, and the Red Cross is prevented from seeing him or delivering his parents’ letters to him. Interesting quote here:

          FRANK LINDH: Well, the government never told him. They held him for fifty-four days incommunicado, until he was brought back to Washington, DC area, northern Virginia.

          AMY GOODMAN: Questioning him?

          FRANK LINDH: Oh, yes, yes, questioning. After the torture, he was brought in and said, “If you’ll talk to us, we’ll stop torturing you.”

          Is that on videotape I wonder?

          Great interview.

          • thatvisionthing says:

            But the thing I don’t get is the charge he was convicted of, which was breaking economic sanctions imposed by Clinton, by serving in the Afghan army. Joining the Afghanistan army (the side we were then backing!) is trading with the enemy, by Clinton rules — but donating hundreds of millions of dollars to that army’s government isn’t?

            JUAN GONZALEZ: And at that time [early 2001], the new Bush administration was providing some degree of support for the Taliban, wasn’t it?

            FRANK LINDH: Yeah, I think fair to say, Juan, more than “some degree.” We were the largest single donor of money to the Afghan government. In the first few months of the Bush administration in early 2001, we contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the Taliban government. Our government did. And these were—this was all public. Secretary of State Colin Powell in April, around the same time John went [to Afghanistan], had a press conference and a public announcement about a grant of $46 million to the Taliban government. But that was just one of several grants that we made during that time.

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            Sorry to be so late in replying.

            Here is an EW thread from earlier this year that goes into a great deal of detail re: John Walker LIndh and the surrounding circumstances of his capture.

            Although the title is about Passaro ,the commentaries discuss Lindh extensively. Definitely worth a look see.

            David Passaro Threatened to Expose the SERE-Torture Tie | Emptywheel Apr 9, 2010 … He is kicked in the head by Dostum’s troops as the two Americans move among them. … US torture of John Walker Lindh exposed Jun 25, 2002 … …


            • thatvisionthing says:

              Thanks for the link, I’ll try to read deeper, I’ve only skimmed it. But, question, people here are so good with doc dump analysis — has the Rumsfeld document about “taking the gloves off “specific to John Walker Lindh been released and reviewed here? Is there a link?

              I also don’t know if there’s one or more specific torture tape/s re Lindh identified to be destroyed. It almost seems like there has to be, though I always thought of the victims as foreign Muslims. If we saw them torturing an American kid… ! Do you know?

              • Gitcheegumee says:

                TVT, I do not have the answer for you.

                In fact, my understanding of the events surrounding Lindh’s capture and consequent plea, is still a work in progress.

                I do think,however, that Jeff Kaye might provide a source of info that you request,as he and Andy Worthington have devoted much analysis to the torture issues…going way back.

        • ghostof911 says:

          He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his 20-year sentence…

          Just how binding is that 20-year gag order if the confession was made while under a threat of continued torture?

          Extending an invitation to Amnesty International to work to have this gag order lifted.

      • bobschacht says:

        Your take on the “reason” why no administration, Republican or Democrat, will allow the release of illegally detained, and criminally abused “prisoners” or “detainees” (which sounds more “compassionate”) in America (or elsewhere, for that matter) if the truth might out, is spot on.

        Another “reason,” crappy though it may be, is that they can hold these detainees for the duration of the “war.” If Obama were to say that the war is over, and we’re just going to treat terrorists as the criminals they are, rather than soldiers in a fight against American imperialism, he’d lose one more justification for holding most of the detainees.

        Bob in AZ

  9. Rayne says:

    Nuts, looks like my comment I left earlier was eaten by the crappy wifi here at the Rio.

    Let me just say these folks on the panel talk fast. FAST. They know their material, they know their audience, and they are pretty unhappy — which means this stuff rolls out of them.

    I am working on trying to get video together of the event, but it may not go up until Monday because the file is pretty big and the wifi will probably blow it up. I may have to wait until I have access to a more stable network to put it up, sorry.

    • pdaly says:

      Rayne, the video to this session is archived and freely available at

      It even begins with comments among the panelists just before the session begins about a minute later (at 00:52), so don’t be confused by the impression that the archive caught just the end of the session.

      Thanks for liveblog summary.

      • thatvisionthing says:

        But what if you wanted to transcribe it verbatim? An audio file that you could stop and go back in small increments as you type? And post said transcript? Is any of that technically/legally possible? I’m imagining that there’s software to record streams, and I’m also imagining that since FDL is part of Netroots Nation there would be a way to post it. But I dunno, and I don’t have that software.

        • pdaly says:

          There is a pause bar and a time bar, so I suppose you could rewind in small increments, although I have not tried it.

          Transcripts would be nice. Hearing voice inflections is sometimes helpful, too, and lost in a transcript.

          I just wanted Rayne not to stress about getting the video out in the short term. A separate issue may be archive access in the long term, so having an FDL video library for future access is a good idea.

          • Rayne says:

            Yeah, I know, it’s really for archival purposes that I’d like to see the video up.

            And a real transcript would be great, simply because it could offer some searchable text for key comments.

  10. Gitcheegumee says:

    Alas, the viccissitudes require that a bid all here a fond,bon soir.

    Thanks to all at the wheelhouse for an informative and inspiring afternoon.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If the political leadership were responsible, surely we would not need for the courts to show them the way out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Is this a problem of regulatory/outsourcing capture, corruption, weakness, ineptitude?

  12. Garrett says:

    Talking about Torture

    After this panel, I went to the Talking about Inequality panel. Anat Shenker-Osorio, who presented the material, was simply excellent.

    Talking about torture has, self-evidently, failed.

    Matt Alexander’s point that a moral framing of torture does not work, but a patriotic framing does, has to be considered. He said he himself is surprised that a moral framing is unpersuasive.

    At the inequality panel, Anat said that the framing used to discuss a problem can be very leading on the solutions people will come up with. A moral framing on torture might be an example: if the problem is moral, the solution would not be governmental or legal.

    Matt said, stopping terror is whack-a-mole. We need to stop terror recruitment. And torture is terror recruitment.

    A general analysis of the question, what works in discussing torture, and what does not, seems certainly worthwhile.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think the best answer about “why fear” comes from Eric Blair: Fear is the quintessential weapon of tyrants, whether of fascistic, communistic or profit-centered systems; it suspends disbelief, makes every conflict a holy war between good and evil, and empowers ludicrous and lucrative excess.

    • DWBartoo says:


      Fear is the primary weapon or “tool” of those who seek to dominate entirely and control completely.

      It is bad enough that a tyrant may make use of it, but now tyrants in America have the assistance of psychologists in the “application”. Austria appears to have its own fear mongers, aided by mental health authorities: consider the plight of Jane Burgemeister, who may well lose her civil rights because the government has decided it may be necessary, “for Jane’s own good” … plus, it will silence her questions and dissuade other uppity souls from challenging the status quo.


    • ghostof911 says:

      Fear is the quintessential weapon of tyrants,

      The script for the “War on Terror” was on the sheft at the MSM outlets well before Cheney’s missiles hit the towers.

  14. victoria2dc says:

    Thanks for the diary Rayne. Marcy, the information contained in that discussion was very clear and it made it much easier to comprehend what’s really going on. I read your blog every day, but don’t necessarily do well at connecting dots. The panel connected them for me and I want to thank all of you for a job well done. It was smooth.


  15. Mary says:

    Thanks for the live blogging!

    Is this a typo -the lead off for the 6th paragraph? “Gitmo is not under writ of habeas corpus”

    That’s not what Boumediene says and there are a whole lot of habeas cases that would have gone away (instead of resulting in 3/4ths or so rulings against Obamaco)

  16. Mary says:

    I’d disagree with Alexander a bit on “the left” not using the recruiting tool aspect of GITMO – it is actually one of the themes I hear the most but here in the middle of red where I am, it doesn’t budge many people.

    That framing leaves them with this kind of takeaway, “the guys at GITMO are terrorists, the worst of the worst, and we’re supposed to just let them go bc it recruits other bad guys if we hold them – well then, don’t turn the terrorists at GITMO loose – kill the recruits.”

    What they don’t have an answer to, if you get past their disbelieve and determination that there is no way you could know more than Sean Hannity about GITMO, is the fact that we sent lots of people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and al-Qaeda to GITMO. Specific, personalized stories.

    And that is the point that I don’t see really brought out and framed by anyone much – innocence and stories of innocence.

    “These guys didn’t rob a liquor store” v. “No, Errachidi didn’t rob a liquor store – he made souffles. In Mayfair. He was sold to the US out of Pakistan as an al-Qaeda General and held in depravity for years, when the least and most minimal of efforts would have revealed he was cooking in London during the time he was supposedly working as an al-Qaeda trainer. What derranged nation would set up military commissions to try chefs just to pad out a convincing set of *terrorist* convictions?”

    Releasing the Uighurs to the US is only “in violation” of immigration laws if Obama refuses to grant them assylum. This is one of the many things for which Bush cannot be blamed – Obama’s failure of principle, integirty and courage to come forward, tell American the Uighurs were a mistake, and grant them assylum. Dana Rohrbacher has actively worked for the relase of the Uighurs – Obama and the Dems in Congress who let him get by with posturing instead of leadership are far far to the right of an uber conservative like Rohrbacher on this. And Obama is putting someone like Kagan on the Sup ct, but we’re supposed to buy into the theme that we had to elect Obama, with all his failings, and now re-elect him, bc of the Sup Ct nominations. No way would McCain have been allowed to put someone as pro-Exec power and as BLATANTLY political as Kagan on the bench. The Republicans are smart not to fight her much – she’ living proof of why we don’t need an Obama to first involve his hand picked friend and lawyer in all kinds of Exec power cases, then plant her on the bench.

    • fatster says:

      “[W]e sent lots of people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and al-Qaeda to GITMO. . . . And that is the point that I don’t see really brought out and framed by anyone much – innocence and stories of innocence.”

      Yes! Absolutely yes!

    • thatvisionthing says:

      And that is the point that I don’t see really brought out and framed by anyone much – innocence and stories of innocence.

      John Walker Lindh, had sided with the Taliban when WE were supporting the Taliban. He saw bin Laden in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001 but had never heard of al Qaeda. His dad gave a speech in 2006, published on AlterNet as The Real Story of John Walker Lindh. A few things:

      They weren’t terrorists:

      Gunaratna has been employed by the U.N., but also by the government of the United States as an expert in al Qaeda, and he interviewed John extensively. After all these interviews, he made this following conclusion: “Those who, like Mr. Lindh, merely fought the Northern Alliance, cannot be deemed terrorists. Their motivation was to serve and to protect suffering Muslims in Afghanistan, not to kill civilians.”

      It was unjust beyond recognition:

      I think it’s clear that the United States really made a mistake in treating Taliban footsoldiers and the Afghan army as if they were al Qaeda terrorists. This was unjust in the eyes of the whole world, but especially among Muslims.

      And it was stupid:

      What I find most troubling about this treatment, however, was that it was completely gratuitous and unnecessary. John Lindh did not need to be tortured in order to tell American forces what he knew, where he had been and what he had seen. He was glad to be rescued, he had nothing to hide. I cannot fathom why the military would have felt it necessary to humiliate him in this way.

      Detainee 001.

      We got the first, first, first thing wrong.

  17. Mary says:

    What about the AUMF, when does this war end?

    To give what’s due – a long time ago when she was still in the Senate, Clinton was pushing to have the AUMF revisited (to scale it back). I thought it was very smart at the time, but it got no support. Now Obama is picking up on her then idea, but to take it completely the other direction.

    There is a problem obviously to get anything on the floor of the House that will be interpreted by 30-second television ads that could be construed as “Congressman so-and-so supported terrorism.”

    You know, that was tried in the Republican primary here in KY with respect to Paul -for all his failings, he has had some of his father’s take on GITMO originally. The “omg, he supports terrorism” failed so badly it was laughable and that’s here in KY. It’s not the charges, it’s how they are handled. So far, most Dems respond in a way that makes it clear they are speaking from poll-centric talking points, not their hearts. It’s a plasticism that doesn’t sell. Right now, Ellsworth in Indiana is giving away Rangel contributions to charities and talking about consequences for wrongdoing and it falls so completely flat, bc he hasn’t been concerned with wrongdoing anywhere else.

  18. Mary says:

    Wheeler: Is Ghailani’s trial, Abdulmuttalab’s trial going to remove the boogeyman factor?

    It’s made torture mainstream for the courts. Also, since it focuses on pre9/11 activities, it’s a no-lose for the Obama admin – lose, and they still hold under their “forever detentions in the forever war” theory and don’t jeopardize the future Republican admins from that either. Win under the approach they’ve taken – to let the torture become blessed by the courts – and the trials get to be at least as strong for recruiting tools as the lack of trails.