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Susan Sontag: On the Torture of Others

Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
he's a politician. I'd suspect him to be lying at all times, especially in the period leading up to the elections (which means at all times).


I don't think I've seen a more fitting description of politicians.

For me there are two categories:

1) Politicians that lie on purpose (Clinton)
2) Politicians that lie by accident because they're confused (Bush)
Jeff Langr
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Joined: May 14, 2003
Posts: 762
yes. the classic answer is of course, "A: when he opens his mouth."


Books: Agile Java, Modern C++ Programming with TDD, Essential Java Style, Agile in a Flash. Contributor, Clean Code.
Jeff Langr
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Joined: May 14, 2003
Posts: 762
Originally posted by Joe King:
For me there are two categories:

1) Politicians that lie on purpose (Clinton)
2) Politicians that lie by accident because they're confused (Bush)


Not ten minutes ago, driving to work this morning, I heard a George Carlin routine on Sirius satellite (no FCC censorship!) on bull[stuff] and how the American system was pretty much dependent upon it to survive. He added something like, "the reason the American people elected Clinton into office for eight years is because we like our bull[stuff] right out front where we can sniff it."

-j-
Homer Phillips
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Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 311
If a US citizen is driving a fuel truck for Halliburton in Iraq, and is captured by Saddam's Iraqi army, does he qualify as an unlawful combatant?
Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
If a US citizen is driving a fuel truck for Halliburton in Iraq, and is captured by Saddam's Iraqi army, does he qualify as an unlawful combatant?


No.
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
If a US citizen is driving a fuel truck for Halliburton in Iraq, and is captured by Saddam's Iraqi army, does he qualify as an unlawful combatant?


The article you posted says the following:


Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.

This suggests that the hypothetical fuel driver would be protected by the Hague convention, which goes on to say that they should be given the same rights as prisoners of war. If the fuel driver is also not armed, it would be hard to qualify them as a combatant of any kind, unlawful or not.

The article also defines lawful combatants as having the following criteria:

1. To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
2. To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
3. To carry arms openly; and
4. To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

While these clearly apply, in most cases, to the soldiers of the coalition, its not so clear if they apply to the private security guards and mercenaries that are guarding a lot of the coalition infrastructure:

1) Is the head of a mercenary group responsible for his/her subordinates? Probably, as he/she would likely be sued by someone if the subordinates misbehaved, but in a relatively lawless place such as Iraq, it may not be so clear cut as to who has responsibility for the subordinates, and under which law they are operating.
2) Again probably true - the mercenaries will most likely be showing a corporate logo at least, but is this true of all of them?
3) Most likely true
4) This is the most contentious issue. There have been many accusations of defence contractors mistreating prisoners - this would definatly discount them from (4), but I doubt that all mercenaries are misbehaving, so we can't say that they all fail this point.

Overall its not entirely clear if they would be covered or not. Its probably a bit of a non-issue - the current enemy are unlikely to be taking legal action against the mercenaries, or to be worried about being the subject of legal action for mistreating captured mercenaries.
Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Joe King:
the current enemy are unlikely to be taking legal action against the mercenaries


What do you mean? They already have.
John Smith
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Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
The term "unlawful combatant" is really quite bizarre. It's almost as if you must have a lawyer by your side each time you throw a grenade, or yelling to the guy on the other side of the fence: "Hey, your military hat is missing, get the fuck out of my battlefield, you unlawful bastard, or I will sue you in court to the full extend of the law!"
[ June 21, 2004: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Jason Menard:


What do you mean? They already have.


Wow. I wonder which country's law this will be processed under? It didn't happen in the US, so US law should not apply, and Iraq is hardly a stable country with a definite law and legal system at the moment. I suppose the main point of cases like these aren't so much to win as to draw attention to a particular issue.
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
The term "unlawful combatant" is really quite bizarre. It's almost as if you must have a lawyer by your side each time you throw a grenade, or yelling to the guy on the other side of the fence: "Hey, your military hat is missing, get the fuck out of my battlefield, you unlawful bastard, or I will sue you in court to the full extend of the law!"

[ June 21, 2004: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]


"Hey! You can't play in my game any more because you dont have the right clothes on!". :roll:

It is a bit odd. In my mind, a group of armed people in the middle of a battle count as soldiers even if they are not wearing a flag anywhere on their clothes. Just because the other soldiers may not have been wearing a uniform does not make them any less likely to want to shoot you. In Afghanistan, for example, very few soldiers wore uniforms. This didn't make them any less a soldier, despite what some clever legal side-stepping may say.

Its not quite as strange as the medieval wars though - the two armies would often agree upon a battlefield and then wait until the opposition was ready to start. The leaders would then meet in the middle of the two armies and insult each other for a few mins, then agree on some basic rules of the battle (ie should crossbows be used) and then signal the start of the fight. They may even squeeze in a couple of duels before it all begins. At the end of the battle, surviving leaders (many were captured instead of being killed, especially if they were rich) sat down and discussed what the battle should be called (after the battle of Agincourt the English and the French had an almighty arguement over what the battle should be called. Eventually they settled for naming it after a place that was not at all involved in the battle). After all this, the rich people would be ransomed back, ready for the next battle. There was none of this "is that soldier wearing uniform?" malarky either - brightly coloured coats and shields were the order of the day.
Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Joe King:
Wow. I wonder which country's law this will be processed under? It didn't happen in the US, so US law should not apply, and Iraq is hardly a stable country with a definite law and legal system at the moment. I suppose the main point of cases like these aren't so much to win as to draw attention to a particular issue.


I am pretty sure it will be rightly tossed out of court.
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Jason Menard:

I am pretty sure it will be rightly tossed out of court.


Possibly. I don't think an American court is the right place for this kind of thing - the crimes happened in Iraq, and any people accused of them should be tried and potentially punished there as well. If any of the military were at fault then they should also face military disciplinary procedures.

One thing that these kinds of cases may bring out is the truth about how far up the chain of command these crimes went. If it turns out that Bush or Rumsfeld ordered or condoned any abuse of prisoners, then its vital that the public find out.
 
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