Hilzoy on Obama on the Uighurs

Another item in my list of reasons to be disappointed in the Obama administration, and to fail to muster the True Believer zeal required to be fully onboard with supporting his agenda. As explained by Hilzoy, in Shameful:

We set up a system that gave people incentives to turn over people they claimed were foreign fighters, whether they were or not. We then dismantled all our normal procedures for separating combatants from non-combatants. It should not surprise anyone that we ended up detaining people who were innocent.

I have no problem with the government taking some reasonable period of time to try to identify another country that is willing to take detainees who cannot be returned to their own countries. But these detainees have been held for seven and a half years. That’s not a reasonable amount of time to tie up loose ends; it’s a tenth of a normal lifespan.

We screwed up. We should step up to the plate and do what’s right. Seven and a half years is too long.

That’s not change I can believe in. That’s continuing the worst aspects of the Bush administration.

28 Responses to “Hilzoy on Obama on the Uighurs”

  1. shcb Says:

    Now this is interesting. What do we do with these people? We don’t want to fight this war unilaterally so we take on China as a partner. But when we catch people who are terrorists against our partner but not against us, and our partner wants justice their way and that conflicts with justice our way what do you do? Considering that one of the reasons the Uighurs’ compatriots are fighting us is that we are partners with Israel, is it to far fetched to think that the Uighurs consider us their enemy since we are partners with their enemy China? Do we really want them running amuck in beautiful downtown Washington DC? Remember they went to terrorists to learn how to kill people and break things the al Qaeda way, they went to great personal pains and risks to learn the tricks of the trade, why would we think they will become productive citizens. It would seem the rest of the world doesn’t want them running amuck in beautiful downtown Paris or Frankfort or Sydney. Quite a dilemma this emotional decision of closing Gitmo is causing.

  2. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    10 of these guys that were picked up admitted they were connected to Abdul Haq of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement. This guy is classified by the UN and the US Treasury as a terrorist. They say they’re conflict isn’t with us, but I’d be uneasy turning them loose. Did we ever catch IRA members in the US? Seems like it would have been a similar situation.

  3. shcb Says:

    Aside from my snide remarks this is really interesting on several levels. If no one else will take them I think our only two options are to let them loose or deport them to China for execution. I suppose we could put them in some sort of witness protection plan for lack of a better term. They obviously want to kill Chinese, I think they will take second best option and kill Chinese here, and all the Americans that get in the crossfire. I’m not basing that on anything I’ve read or heard, just a gut feel.

  4. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Where it’s interesting to me is how the whole thing is a ‘lie down with dogs, get up with fleas’ situation. With at least some of these Uighur men, they chose to go the jihadi route instead of the route of say the Dalai Lama or Ghandi. If they were those type of freedom fighters then there wouldn’t be nearly the issue of releasing them to the US. I don’t have any gut feelings on what they will or won’t do, but the argument that they represent a potential security threat for us definitely has a ring of truth to it.

    Then there’s us. Because of the greed of our corporate and political ‘leaders’ we’ve come to a point where we’re deeply connected to the Chinese to the point where keeping them happy has become a very real concern. If we don’t send them back, that tells our big totalitarian buddy what we think of them. The Chinese government has repeatedly assured us that these men would be treated in accordance with Chinese law. Right now we’re saying ‘Uh yeah, Chinese law, that’s a good one..’ Too bad no one is ever smart enough to figure some of this out before it becomes and incident.

    I read somewhere that the mayor of Munich wants these guys. Maybe he can convince the German government. That’s currently what I’m hoping for.

  5. shcb Says:

    That would be the cleanest solution.

  6. Steve Says:

    We imprisoned innocent people for over 7 years. We continue to imprison them even though we know they are innocent. That makes us tremendous assholes.

    We should be better than this.

  7. shcb Says:

    They aren’t innocent, they have killed innocent Chinese and were being trained by terrorists so they could be more efficient at killing Chinese. No doubt one of the things they were being trained in was recruiting and training other local terrorists to kill even more Chinese. The question is will they kill non Chinese people if they are released somewhere else.

  8. NorthernLite Says:

    Nobody knows if they’re guilty or innocent because they haven’t been given their day in court. Just locked up for over 7 years without trial.

    As stated above, that has all the makings of a tremendous asshole and it’s something a few years ago I never would’ve thought could take place in the West.

  9. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I don’t think these 17 guys actually are responsible for any deaths, I haven’t found any writings indicative of that they are accused of murder. As previously stated 10 of them were seeking jihadist style paramilitary training and were associated with Abdul Haq and the ETIM, this is by their own admission. So this goes back to the thing I say a lot. It is not a simple problem with a simple answer, ignoring the complexity of the issue precludes rational discussion.

  10. shcb Says:

    And it also goes back to what I keep saying there is a difference between war and criminal activity. That is one of the intriguing aspects of this story, are they criminals or warriors? If they are warriors then they don’t have to have actually killed someone to be held as POW’s, they just have to be associated with our enemy. What makes this more complicated is that they are associated with our partner in this war’s enemy in a conflict that is only partially connected to our cause. To complicate matters even more we would probably be sympathetic to these gentlemen’s cause more so than China’s if China weren’t our partner and we didn’t owe them so much money and need so much more of their money. This story has so many levels to it.

  11. knarlyknight Says:

    Is America at war with the Uighurs?

    If you are talking about the “war on terrorism” then please note: (1) that catchphrase died with the Bush administration; (2) it never was a real war, it was (a) a collection of laws and international conventions to deal with dangerous malcontents and (b) another false pretense to invade Iraq:

    Cheney said in an interview on Fox News:

    “On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9-11, there was never any evidence to prove that,” he told the Fox host. “There was “some reporting early on … but that was never borne out… [President] George [Bush] … did say and did testify that there was an ongoing relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq, but no proof that Iraq was involved in 9-11.”

    How important is Cheney’s admission?

    Well, 5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”.

    He also said “Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

    One would – if one were to look at the rational rather than emotional arguments or economic arguments (!) – come to the conclusion that terrorists are essentially politically motivated criminals, as McDonald has concluded:

    The Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom, Ken McDonald — Britain’s most senior criminal prosecutor — has stated that those responsible for acts of terror such as the 7 July 2005 London bombings are not “soldiers” in a war, but “inadequates” who should be dealt with by the criminal justice system. He added that a “culture of legislative restraint” was needed in passing anti-terrorism laws, and that a “primary purpose” of the violent attacks was to tempt countries such as Britain to “abandon our values.” He stated that in the eyes of the British criminal justice system, the response to terrorism had to be “proportionate, and grounded in due process and the rule of law”:

    “London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered…were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, ‘soldiers’. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London there is no such thing as a war on terror. The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws, and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement.”

    So yes Jayson, let’s not simplify things too much, but on the other hand there is a need to weed out some of the crap.

    The Uighurs were not even picked up in China, cannot be tied to any crimes via any reasonable application of a valid justice mechanism, and have been detained for an ungodly length of time.

    It is time to set the imprisoned Uighurs free and make reparations for their improper imprisonment in America’s Guantanamo torture gulag. If no country will take them back, then the best option I can think of – this late at night – are to drop them off in Antarctica with a year’s worth of provisions (as a partial reparation payment) and a promise to return each year with another years worth of provisions as a sort of annuity payment of reparations for the survivors. It worked in Australia. ;-)

  12. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Actually, what you’re saying seems to validate my point completely.

    I never said anything about the phrase war on terror. The case of these 17 men doesn’t have anything to do with the justification of failure thereof for the Iraqi invasion.

    I never said the US was at war with the Ugihrs.

    I never said I was in favor of holding them indefinitely. I’ve always been in favor of prosecuting and trying terrorists as criminal conspirators.

    What I said, is that 10 of these guys were apprehended, and admitted to they were in Afghanistan to receive paramilitary training to join the ETIM, an organization that is recognized by the UN as a terrorist group, or call it a criminal conspiracy.

    I said that there was a sticky situation regarding them and that I could see the argument that 10/17 of these guys constitute a potential security risk.

    If the other 7 guys where there on business fine, then release them, give them a million dollars and a new Cadillac.

    However, as you spelled out the 10 guys seeking to join ETIM can, and I believe should be treated as criminals.

    The fact they weren’t picked up in China _is_ the evidence, they were picked up in Afghanistan, looking for paramilitary training and to join a terrorist organization or criminal conspiracy, whichever you prefer; again, this is by their own admission.

    ETIM is the same as RIRA or ETA are or the FLQ were. Then we should charge them with criminal conspiracy to commit murder and set a trial date or return them to China.

  13. shcb Says:

    Has anyone else noticed how completely flummoxed we as polite, civil society we have become by these guys simply sidestepping imaginary lines on a map? They don’t claim to be from one of our counties on our maps so they can use our own rules against us, more accuratelywe are using our own rules against us. This of course violates DW’s number one rule “don’t beat yourself”. It is an interesting tactic, too bad it is so dangerous and frustrating.

  14. knarlyknight Says:

    Yes, Jayson, I was validating your point. Sorry for the confusion, my post was not to you but was mostly prompted by shcb’s pre-occupation with calling these people POW’s of some war, of which I am not convinced actually exists. The last part of my post, starting with “So yes Jayson” was also in agreement with your objection to oversimplification, but was more general and not directed as a response to anyone in particular.

  15. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    You know me and my level of reading comprehension.

  16. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson, – Yes, generally it is very good and your responses well balanced, but there is an occasional tendancy to take things personally or the wrong way or (especially in response to my 911 questions) assume that the writer is completely bonkers (when they are just saying things do not add up) and then go on with a sugar coated defence of the popular thinking. But we all do that to some degree, especially me, and usually you are far better than most.

  17. NorthernLite Says:

    “The Holy Quran tells us, ‘O mankind! We have … made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.’ … The Talmud tells us: ‘The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace. …'”

    “The Holy Bible tells us, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’ … The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.”

    President Obama – Cairo, Egypt June 2009

    Best. President. Ever.

  18. shcb Says:

    We’ll see….

  19. NorthernLite Says:

    Well, earlier you were claiming that you haven’t seen any hope or change. Yesterday both were on display, bigtime!

    Turns out our government won’t take these Uighurs either. So apparently China is the dominant nation of the planet now? I say this because nobody seem to want to “upset them”. Am I right?

  20. shcb Says:

    There is plenty of hope and plenty of change in Mid East policy, my point was in regard to the war on terror, we’ll just have to wait and see if the hope is misplaced and the change for the better or worse. One thing for sure, Republicans won’t have to become very conservative in the next couple elections to distinguish themselves from Democrats. Again, I’m not sure if that is for better of worse.

    Actually we have taken the Uighurs, they are under our custody? protection? Everyone else has the same problem, if they take them can they imprison them? Do they have to release them? Can they make them stay in the host country? Do they want them to stay? It’s a tough call.

  21. NorthernLite Says:

    The Obama admin made a request to us yesterday to take them from Gitmo, but our government refused.

  22. NorthernLite Says:


  23. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Yes, China is currently the dominant country on the planet. Either that or there is nothing to gain from any national government to flip them the bird by taking these guys. And yes, no one wants to upset them.

  24. shcb Says:

    But remember, everything in China is fake.

  25. knarlyknight Says:

    They tend to do things in a big way, 3 Gorges Dam- now this:

  26. shcb Says:

    They are an industrious people, they don’t seem to have the innovativeness that created gunpowder anymore, some do of course, but for the most part they just copy. Communism robbed them of many of their cherished traits, and yet they remain some of the most pleasant people I have ever met. I think their heart is in the right spot of genuinely wanting to clean up the mess, I’m just not sure they can without a drastic drop in their population. They have an appreciation of nature and are happy living in small cramped quarters so open space can remain, they have that going for them, but the sheer size of their population is making even that difficult.

  27. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    And with that, they go to Palau.

  28. shcb Says:

    This will be interesting to watch. Their lawyer calls them “harmless” and yet I don’t think anyone is denying they were learning to be better terrorists when they were caught. This is “temporary” solution, what ever that means. The lawyer also said they may not want to go to this island paradise because they don’t speak the language, and yet they don’t seem to have a problem coming to America where we too speak English. My money is that they will take the deal and hightail it back to their homeland as quickly as possible to use the training they received. But we’ll see, maybe they are just a bunch of poor farm kids that made a wrong turn on the way to Macau for a three day gambling spree.

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