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DEBATE FINAL. thelibra V WyrdeOne: Guantanamo Base

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posted on Aug, 5 2005 @ 05:01 PM
The topic for this debate is "The Geneva Conventions should apply to the detainees at Guantanamo Base."

thelibra will be arguing for this proposition and will open the debate.
WyrdeOne will argue against this proposition.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

No post will be longer than 800 words and in the case of the closing statement no longer than 500 words. In the event of a debater posting more than the stated word limit then the excess words will be deleted by me from the bottom. Credits or references at the bottom do not count towards the word total.

Editing is Strictly forbidden. This means any editing, for any reason. Any edited posts will be completely deleted.

Excluding both the opening and closing statements only one image may be included in each post. No more than 5 references can be included at the bottom of each post. Opening and closing statements must not contain any images, and must have no more than 3 references.

Responses should be made within 24 hours, if people are late with their replies, they run the risk of forfeiting their reply and possibly the debate.

Judging will be done by an anonymous panel of 13 judges. After each debate is completed it will be locked and the judges will begin making their decision. Results will be posted by me as soon as a majority (7) is reached.

This debate is now open, good luck to both of you.

[edit on 8/5/2005 by Amorymeltzer]

posted on Aug, 6 2005 @ 01:20 PM
For the sake of common ground, let us first define the topic:
  • The Geneva Conventions applicable in this case are The Third Geneva Convention (GC3) "the treatment of prisoners of war" and The Fourth Geneva Convention (GC4) "the protection of civilians during times of war."

  • The detainees mentioned are officially classified as "illegal enemy combatants" by the U.S. government.

  • Guantanamo Base (aka "Gitmo") refers to the six camps comprising Camp Delta detention area, within the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

To illustrate my stance I will present the legal justification for adhering to the Geneva Conventions, the ethical responsibility for humane conditions, and the inevitable consequences that result from ignoring either.

My opponent will likely be arguing the exact opposite, citing the same slippery wording and logic that the U.S. has used to justify the base and torture of "detained illegal enemy combatants". In short, that they were not specifically labeled as one of the terms used in either GC3 or GC4. To that I say the spirit and letter of both conventions has been blatantly violated.

GC3 and GC4 Article 2
...the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance."

Most prisoners in Gitmo are the result of our invasion of Afghanistan and The War on Terror. The rest are from other armed conflicts, the War in Iraq, and American citizens that are being held without charges.

My opponent may also decide to take the ethically questionable angle that, under certain circumstances, torture may be necessary to prevent a greater loss of life. My response to this is that, all moral questions aside, in such a situation, time is the most critical element, and would not be wasted on transfer to a remote facility, processing, and prolonged torture over weeks, months, or years. If the U.S. has that much time to spare, then torture is not an essential tool, and other methods of obtaining the needed info must be arranged instead.

My opponent may even attempt claiming that since Guantanamo is outside of the U.S., the prisoners are not afforded the Constitutional rights one would have on U.S. soil. To that I say the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 (Rasul v. Bush) that the prisoners must have access to American Courts, because "the U.S. has exclusive control over Guantanamo Bay".

The Articles of GC3 and GC4 are clear, and no amount of clever labeling will change the truth. Short of withdrawing completely from the Geneva Convention, the U.S. has a legal and ethical responsibility to adhere and uphold its tenants of them at Guantanamo Base.


About Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo)

Third Geneva Convention (GC3)

Fourth Geneva Convention (GC4)

posted on Aug, 7 2005 @ 01:06 PM
First off all, thanks to the judges and the readers for following the debates, and thanks to my opponent for being so kind as to post the relevant documents right off the bat. However, he was remiss in assuming he knew my arguments. I do not support torture, I do not support the letter of the law alone in lieu of its spirit, and I wouldn’t think to weasel out of the question by pointing to the physical location of the prison in question. The moral high-ground cannot be maintained with such tactics.

The Geneva Conventions are an excellent set of guidelines for warfare. GC1 alone has saved countless lives. There is no reason to withdraw from the conventions, none whatsoever. There is similarly no reason to ignore the conventions. This is what my opponent would have you believe is happening, but that’s simply not the case. I’ll get into this more in depth over the course of the debate. My points will be organized into three sections, the letter of the law, the spirit of the law, and the reality of the conflict. I’ll be able to get more in depth on all those during successive rebuttals.

Principally the conventions are designed to reduce casualties, and improve treatment of soldiers so that nations have a chance to maintain diplomatic relations after the conflict is finished. One must not mistake the Geneva conventions for something they are not, however. The Geneva conventions are NOT a straight jacket willfully donned by the participants during all conflicts, regardless of the character of the conflict. They are designed exclusively for use by nations who agree to the precepts put forth in the conventions. They do NOT apply to any signing country if said signing country is engaged in a conflict with a party that has neither signed the conventions, nor chosen to conduct themselves as if they had. This is common sense, and perfectly in line with the logic that gave birth to the conventions.

The Geneva conventions are meaningless without the mutually binding aspect. They were not designed to be a voluntary handicap for those countries who had signed, while at the same time giving advantage to those that had not. This would not make sense, and if that had been the case, nobody would have signed the damn things. The explicit purpose of the Geneva conventions was to offer incentive for participating nations to wage war in the most civilized fashion possible. It was no doubt comforting to the participants to know that if they faced one another on the field of battle, the war would follow certain guidelines agreeable to both parties, and the horrors of war would be somewhat reduced.

It’s better to fight with gloves on whenever possible, to reduce injury to everyone involved, but only a fool would put on gloves for a bare-knuckle fight. The participants knew this; both the letter and spirit of the conventions reflect this perfectly. The reality of war is ever-present, and it’s nothing but brutality. The signatures on the Geneva convention represent a commitment to civility on the part of the participants, a commitment that still stands.

This commitment is first and foremost conditional on mutual participation. Without that guarantee, the conventions are irrelevant. They apply only in cases where both parties have agreed to them, either officially or unofficially. If a nation conducts itself as though it had signed the conventions, it can expect treatment accordingly. America should not withdraw from the conventions, and it should not break them if it finds itself at war with another nation who follows the guidelines set forth. Perhaps when we find ourselves in such a conflict, we can have this debate again?

posted on Aug, 7 2005 @ 06:08 PM
First, to address a dangerous misconception:

[ed. The Geneva Conventions] do NOT apply to any signing country if said signing country is engaged in a conflict with a party that has neither signed the conventions, nor chosen to conduct themselves as if they had.

Incorrect. As far as prisoners are concerned, signed GC nations must adhere to the tenants regardless of the prisoner nation's GC status. In 1996, the U.S. even signed into law an act forbidding "War Crimes" that include any breach of the Geneva Conventions. Even the GCs themselves state:

GC3 Article 2
Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations.

GC3 Article 5
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

It takes a timeline to understand how my opponent's misconception came about:
  • Jan 2002 - U.S. Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel John Yoo co-authors an advisory memo concluding that the GCs do not apply to the war in Afghanistan. Counsel Alberto Gonzales advises Bush in another memo that prisoners of the War on Terror are outside the protections of the Geneva Conventions, because "the war against terrorism is a new kind of war." (note - there is absolutely nothing new about terrorism, headlines 100 years ago read much the same as they do today). Included was the strategy that American officials would not be subject to the 1996 war crimes act.

  • Feb 2002 - The U.S. consents to apply the Geneva Conventions to the Afghan prisoners, though they are not given PoW status. The Pentagon, however has now reached the decision that Al'Qaeda followers have no rights under the GC. Though GC3-A5 specifically states that there must be a competent tribunal to judge if such is the case, to date, no such tribunal has been held, because the Bush administration refuses to acknowledge such doubts. The CIA is given powers to set up detention centers of "unprecedented harshness" while other prisoners are turned over to foreign powers "who might be able to use more aggressive methods".

    The catch-22 is now set where prisoners are only allowed GC protections if they meet a labeling qualification with no court to determine eligibility. The stage for unofficial but unaccountable torture has also been set.

  • March 2003 - Torture is now allowed under order of the commander-in-chief’s authority. The Pentagon definition of torture now becomes subjective to the amount of pain inflicted, and permanent physical damage caused.

  • Sept 2003 - The U.S. DoD sends Guantanamo commander Major General Geoffrey Miller to direct operations at Abu Ghraib prison. The torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners makes international headlines.

  • March 2005 - The Pentagon signs a doctrine declaring "enemy combatants" as those who fight outside the protections of the GC conventions. Membership, or even affiliation with the list of "enemy combatants" removes one's right to the protections of the GCs. The definition of "affiliation" is left undefined, leaving a broad enough spectrum to cover even those who only contributed to a mutual charitable organization. Additionally the doctrine states that humane treatment is entirely "subject to military necessity."
Over 50 years of nations honoring the Conventions were sidestepped by a team of lawyers within the Bush administration. Now anyone can, by a few degrees of separation, be declared an "enemy combatant", detained indefinitely, without charges, and tortured at Gitmo. This was never in the letter or spirit of the Geneva Conventions.

There are doubts the Geneva Conventions were violated at Gitmo. The International Red Cross (repeatedly given authority by the GCs) as an impartial judge of humane treatment, has reported that three violations of the Conventions occurred just during the inspection time. The entire camp, by its very purpose, was found to be an environment that necessitated and encouraged abuse of the prisoners. Senators, judges, and even former President Carter are condemning the acts at Gitmo. The U.S. government itself has now even formally admitted torturing detainees.

Washington has, for the first time, acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

There are no question that operations at Guantanamo Bay have violated the Geneva Conventions in letter, spirit, and action. The only question now is how long the world, and indeed, American citizens, will stand for it.


Timeline Facts

Torture at Gitmo

Third Geneva Convention (GC3)

posted on Aug, 8 2005 @ 02:32 AM

Originally posted by thelibra
As far as prisoners are concerned, signed GC nations must adhere to the tenants regardless of the prisoner nation's GC status.

The people being arrested and detained have not obeyed the rules of war. They do not qualify for protection under the Geneva Conventions because they have not signed the GC contract and, until they start acting as though they had, by obeying the commonly accepted rules of war, there is no cause for them to be treated as a High Contracting Party. According to your own link [1], GC3, Article 2:

..the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties..

Note my emphasis. It’s right there in black and white. The conventions apply ONLY during conflicts between two or more High Contracting Parties. The current conflict involves ONE contracting party, America. The Iraqi resistance and, so-called, “Holy Warriors” mucking about the Middle East, neither signed the contract, nor act according to the principles thereof.

The Geneva Conventions were not designed to be an all-inclusive umbrella, responsible for mediating every sort of conflict and applicable to every prisoner taken during war. See GC3, Article 6, once again from your own link:

Prisoners of war shall continue to have the benefit of such agreements as long as the Convention is applicable to them..

Note my emphasis. The High Contracting Parties would never place themselves in the unenviable position of fighting an unfettered opponent with one arm tied behind their back. If you’re a nation engaged in a boxing match, you wear gloves because you can afford to, for everybody’s sake, but, if you’re involved in a street fight, you conduct yourself accordingly. This analogy is common sense, and embodies quite simply the purpose of the Geneva Conventions. The conventions are a set of gloves. They encourage nations to box, instead of brawl in the parking lot.

Of course, those nations or parties that desire a no-holds barred fight shall have one. It can’t go down any other way, for the sake of the citizens of the High Contracting Parties. A nation’s first duty is to its citizens, and as such, nations must not pull any punches in war, unless the opponent signals it will do so also.

This argument is not condoning torture, or inhumane treatment, or detention without trial. The mistreatment of captives is deplorable and barbaric.

But let’s remember, this debate is about one thing and one thing only, should the Geneva Conventions apply to the prisoners at Gitmo, and the answer is very clearly NO. This doesn’t mean we should torture them, it doesn’t mean we should kill them, it certainly doesn’t mean they’re not people, it just means they aren’t eligible for High Contracting Party status, or the proxy status granted by allegiance to the principles set forth by the conventions.

Perhaps new conventions are needed?

Originally posted by thelibra
In 1996, the U.S. even signed into law an act forbidding "War Crimes" that include any breach of the Geneva Conventions.

I would have no problem seeing Bush & Co. held accountable for the terrible treatment of detainees, but harping about the Geneva Conventions being broken is not going to accomplish anything except an acquital for the criminals, because the argument is spurious; the facts don't back it up.

I would ask my opponent to be mindful of the facts, and not get carried away with sympathy for the victims. They do indeed deserve justice, but the Geneva Conventions are not the right tools to be used to this end. The perpetrators of the crimes should be accountable, certainly, but the Geneva Conventions supply no framework to prosecute them.

Originally posted by thelibra
It takes a timeline to understand how my opponent's misconception came about.

A timeline of modern events has no bearing on the content of a document written more than five decades ago.

Originally posted by thelibra
There are no question that operations at Guantanamo Bay have violated the Geneva Conventions in letter, spirit, and action.

Clearly that’s not the case, or we wouldn’t be having this debate. Indeed, there is a question, and I hope to answer it definitively. The Geneva Conventions are good for what they are, but they aren’t all-inclusive, and were never intended to be.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and if your aim is to prosecute those responsible for the mistreatment of prisoners at Gitmo, I heartily encourage you to find other ways of going about it. The Geneva Conventions offer nothing towards this end, and this fact alone explains why Bush & Co. aren’t facing trial in the International Criminal Courts at this very moment.


posted on Aug, 8 2005 @ 03:36 PM
My opponent mistakenly assumes all detainees in Guantanamo come from Non-Signatory parties whom do not follow the rules of war. Afghanistan is a High Contracting Party! Included among the detainees are British and American citizens, whom are also High Contracting Parties and just as abused as the Iraqis and Afghans. There are 37 more countries with detainees in Guantanamo, most of which qualify as High Contracting Parties, or adhere to the Conventions.

As previously mentioned, the majority of detainees at Guantanamo are from the invasion of Afghanistan. In lieu of using police action, the U.S. engaged in armed conflict in Afghanistan with organized military operations. GC3 is quite clear on this; it applies to "all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties", and both the U.S. and Afghanistan are HCPs.

GC3-A5 requires a competent tribunal to be held for each individual in which any doubt exists whether or not the detainee should be afforded Prisoner of War status. Doubt certainly exists, as many of the prisoners captured were members of the Taliban forces.

GC3 - Article 4
Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces...

...(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

The Taliban was the de facto government of Afghanistan at the time of invasion, and was a Hight Contracting Party to the Geneva Convention. By the very definition of GC3-A4, the Taliban's armed forces should have been afforded PoW status. However, the U.S. government did not do so because they did not recognize the Taliban as a legitmate government. This is not an excuse to ignore the Conventions, because GC3-A4-3 clearly states that recognition of a government by the detaining party is not neccesary. And for good reason! Were this loophole allowed, any nation could avoid the GCs simply by not recognizing the other government. There is even historical precedence. In the Korean War, captured Chinese troops were treated as Prisoners of War, even though the U.S. and U.N. did not recognize Beijing as China's legitimate government.

In short, Taliban forces taken prisoner are clearly eligible for PoW status (and thus, GC protections), or at bare minimum, a competent tribunal to determine PoW status.

U.S. Officials have repeatedly stated that detainees of Guantanamo include Afghani Taliban forces. That the U.S. refused them even so much as a tribunal is a violation of both the letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions.

My opponent claims that the GCs are the wrong tool to handle the situation at Gitmo. The Conventions and I beg to differ. They are quite specific on the minimum treatment of PoWs, and so far as I have been able to see, every one of the literally thousands of prisoner abuse charges could have been avoided by following the Geneva Conventions.

What my opponent fails to understand is that the Geneva Conventions are being willfully violated, and further, at the behest of a few legal jingoists in Bush's administration. Proof may be found in the GCs themselves, the judgment of The International Red Cross, and even the admission of torture by Washington to the United Nations. What we are currently seeing in Guantanamo is a dark echo of what occurred before the Geneva Conventions ever came into effect. The consequences are a divided White House, international uproar, a symbol of hatred by the Muslim community worldwide, and a chilling precedent for times to come.

The currently skewed policy towards Guantanamo Bay gives the Pentagon the power to imprison anyone, without charges, from any nation (High Party or not), in a terrible environment, to torture them, for an indefinite period of time, merely for donating to the same charity as a terrorist.

Is this the world you want to see? Do you think conditions will even remain as good as it is now?

The Geneva Conventions were specifically designed, in letter and spirit, to prevent and forbid this from happening. They are not only the appropriate tools; they are the established and essential international protocols that bind all civilized nations to a standard of humane treatment for military and civilian prisoners. That the perpetrator is a nation previously known to champion the cause for human rights worldwide should be a huge bright red flag to anyone with an interest in maintaining their life, liberty, and happiness.


Taliban as PoWs.

Notes on Detainees in Gitmo


Third Geneva Convention (GC3)

posted on Aug, 9 2005 @ 06:14 AM
The fact that Afghanistan is a High Contracting Party means nothing if a.) the combat is taking place with extra-governmental forces, as was the case and b.) the enemy is engaged in non-traditional warfare going against the conventions.

They shot themselves in the foot with their own behavior, and then want to run to the conventions for protection after they’ve acted in direct violation of them? I don’t think so.

From your link:

They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.


Note my emphasis, this is highly important.

The nationality of the detainees is hardly meaningful, given the fact that NONE of them were acting at the behest of Afghanistan, in the interests of its people, or under that country’s flag. If they had been, this would be a whole different issue, the conventions would apply. But the holy warriors who took up arms in Afghanistan and Iraq were not representative of their country, they were acting as agents of an international terrorist organization, which is NOT a High Contracting Party. Furthermore, while acting in the employ of this international terrorist organization, the individuals failed to adhere to the commonly accepted rules of war. These men were undone by their own penchant for atrocity. [2]

For that matter, they were NEVER the government of Afghanistan, they were fanatically religious mobsters who graduated from doing caravan protection in Pakistan, to laying siege to Afghan cities with Islamist forces from around the globe. The rightful ruler of Afghanistan, as recognized by 99% of the world was Burhanuddin Rabbani. [3]

The fact remains, many, if not most, of the Taliban fighters were trained by an international terrorist organization and exported for use by barbaric religious zealots in Afghanistan. They cannot in any way be considered a High Contracting Party, despite Afghanistan’s signature on the contract. These men did not represent Afghanistan, they were international terrorists engaged in the unlawful invasion and subsequent subjugation of that country. [4]

In 2003 the POTUS made the decision that the Taliban fighters should be considered POWs, and entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions, an erroneous decision which essentially made him into a war criminal. [5]

This was a serious mistake, because as I’ve pointed out, the Taliban fighters were in no way eligible for that distinction. By all reasonable measures, one cannot invoke the Geneva Conventions for protection unless one is willing to abide by them. It comes right back to that every time, international terrorists should not enjoy the protections of the Geneva Conventions until they learn to behave like a High Contracting Party ought to.

Originally posted by the libra
The currently skewed policy towards Guantanamo Bay gives the Pentagon the power to imprison anyone, without charges, from any nation (High Party or not), in a terrible environment, to torture them, for an indefinite period of time, merely for donating to the same charity as a terrorist.

Donations to charities are not the reason for Gitmo’s crowds. The vast majority of people housed there were engaged in malicious terrorist attacks against America and other coalition forces. They were caught sneaking into a foreign country to do battle, under the flag of a religion, not even a nation. These men are not philanthropists, they’re rapists, murderers, kidnappers, and thugs in the employ of an international criminal cartel. You make it sound as if they were all baking cookies and sewing merit badges before the US came along.

Originally posted by the libra
The Geneva Conventions were specifically designed, in letter and spirit, to prevent and forbid this from happening.

No, the Geneva Conventions were conceived to encourage gentlemanly conflicts for any countries interested in that avenue. In the US, the Army doesn’t recruit soldiers at the barrel of a gun, they don’t rape the young children of dissidents to settle political disagreements, they don’t burn villages, they don’t plunder and pillage. The Taliban did all this and more. These men were NOT soldiers acting in the best interest of their country, fulfilling their duty, these men were criminals, pure and simple. If a foreign nation wants to fight a stand-up, gentlemanly war with the US, captured soldiers of that nation will assuredly be given the full protections and comforts granted a POW.

These terrorists acted foolishly, by engaging in criminal activity to the detriment of the US and Afghani citizens, and they paid the price. If the US were anything like the Taliban, we wouldn’t be talking about detainees, we’d be talking about corpses.






posted on Aug, 9 2005 @ 04:10 PM
I have spent the previous posts proving both how the letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions apply to Gitmo inmates; that my opponent chooses to ignore the facts is not my concern. I will now address the consequences of what happens when international standards for civilized treatment of prisoners are ignored. To illustrate this, despite a certain taboo, I will post a summary of a story that all should read, called "Common Dreams".

Our tale begins with a national leader whom many claimed had not been elected by majority vote. He had little sense of diplomacy, seeing things only in black and white, and offended foreign leaders worldwide with his nationalistic rhetoric. After a terrorist attack on one of the nation's most prestigious buildings, he announced to the media that he was declaring an all-out war on terrorism and those associated with it, citing the Middle East as the responsible party.

The leader, along with a handful of legal and publicity advisors organized a plan, and within weeks, the first detention centers were opened to hold alleged allies of the infamous terrorist. New wartime powers legislation, removing many liberties from the people and granting unprecedented police powers to the state, were rushed through on provision of a 4-year sunset clause. Legislators later claimed they hadn't the time to read the bill before voting.

Immediately following the anti-terrorism legislation, the prisoner population in these camps grew to a few hundred; any objections were drowned out by patriotism and the press. After a brief successful war in the Middle East, justified weakly on a connection to the terrorist, the leader found his power secured.

The definition of who was considered linked to the terrorism broadened, even to include its own citizens, and the ranks of detainees began to swell. The treatment in the camps, harsh at first, became abusive, and then downright torturous. Despite growing outcries from the international community, racial profiling became prevalent among those sent to the Camps. They were held without charges indefinitely, tortured, and, by the end of the war, were being killed by the millions. Those not killed were made test subjects in abominable experiments. Within only a scant number of years, one could be sent to a death camp merely for being a member of the wrong religion, race, or for speaking out against the state.

The nation and leader was Germany and Hitler. And while I would not go so far as to say Bush has become Hitler, yet, his legislation and policies leading up to and including the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo are a damned good start.

This is why the Geneva Conventions were developed in the first place: to prevent a handful of people from leading a nation to commit the sort of horrific crimes that were discovered by the end of World War II. And that is exactly what is beginning to happen, right now, in Guantanamo Bay.

The complete list of abuses of prisoners in Gitmo is far too long to post, but here are some, with the appropriate Geneva Convention Articles they violate:
  • Interference or refusal to allow prisoners religious practices. Muslims targeted for abuse. (GC3:A13, A14, A16, A34)

  • Threatened with mauling by dogs. (GC3:A13, A17)

  • Forced to strip naked in front of others, and photographed in sexually humiliating positions. (GC3:A13, A14)

  • Less than 12 hours of exercise allowed per year (GC3:A13, A38)

  • Denied food and bathroom facilities.(GC3:A13, A22, A25, A26, A29)

  • Denied more than three ounces of water per day. (GC3:A13, A26)

  • Chained into excruciating positions for hours or days on end, forced to void their bowels upon themselves. (GC3:A13, A14, A29)

  • Exposure to extreme heat or cold, without protection, until going into shock. (GC3:A13, A27)

  • Beaten (often with weapons) to the point of unconsciousness, broken bones, sexual dysfunction, mental illness, and even death. (GC3:A13)

  • Detainees are held "in small cages with chain-link sides, concrete floors and metal roofs" which provide virtually no protection from the elements. (GC3:A13, A25)

  • Outright torture, for days on end. (GC3:A13)

  • Medical treatment for wounds, beatings, and tortures withheld. (GC3:A13, A15, A30)

A sample of what Gitmo inmates go through for years, every single day, without hope of representation, trial, release, or even death. My opponent would have you believe that it’s okay, because they’re all “rapists, murderers, kidnappers, and thugs.” I would like to know where his powers of determining absolute guilt or innocence came from, since only 4 inmates of Gitmo have seen trial since its re-opening in 2002.

These abuses happen strictly on the unjudged assumption of guilt. This is not just a place where we stick terrorists; it is the future for anyone easily deemed unworthy of the Conventions by the U.S.



"Common Dreams" (The stories of Hitler and Bush)

FBI Records on alleged torture at Guantanamo

Third Geneva Convention (GC3)

posted on Aug, 10 2005 @ 03:09 PM
Well, it was inevitable. My opponent has mistaken the Hitler card for an ace, and slapped it right down without a second thought. The argument he’s attempting is akin to “If you don’t like genocide and torture, don’t vote for my opponent, because my opponent stands for genocide, and hates bunnies.”

Such tactics are indefensible.

My argument is simple, and it has nothing to do with condoning torture. If I continue to spend a third of every rebuttal clarifying my position and shoring it up against my opponents misconceptions, my message will go unappreciated. This is, assumedly, the point of my opponent’s indiscretions.

Not applying the protections of the Geneva Conventions is NOT tantamount to condoning torture. Just because there’s no law against something, doesn’t make it automatically right. The torture is wrong, and the torturers should be dealt with accordingly, regardless of the legal status of the detainees.

Now, I’ve spent the last two replies laying out the letter and the spirit of the law respectively. It’s time for reality to intrude.

The sleeping giant woke up and is now in the process of angrily stomping around the globe, proving its size in one redundant display of power after another. The Geneva Conventions obviously hold no sway. They did not deter America’s actions, they cannot stop what’s already underway, and they cannot undo the suffering caused.

The Geneva Conventions, in reality, pale in comparison to the might of the world’s largest military. They are powerless against the legions of tanks, war planes, and soldiers. The papers themselves cannot break into Gitmo and free the detainees.

Applying the conventions to the detainees will have about as much effect as throwing a pebble into the ocean. The question of this debate is, should the Geneva Conventions be applied to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and the answer is three times “No.” The letter of the conventions is clear, it doesn’t cover terrorists. The spirit of the conventions is clear, it’s a contract between civilized nations. And the reality of war is clearer still, might equals right at the end of the day.

War is hell. Ideals of justice, law, and chivalry, have no place in a battle fought with cluster bombs and snipers. We have evolved to the point where institutionalized murder is highly efficient, practically unstoppable, and removed from the individual. It takes a lot of effort to murder a man with a knife, it’s much harder than murdering a thousand with air dropped munitions. War is a much different prospect than single combat.

Now, we’re in a situation where one nation has more military might than every other nation combined. What is the practical enforcement value of the Geneva Conventions under such circumstances? Absolutely zero, that is the unfortunate reality we have to deal with.

This is the bottom line folks. The Geneva Conventions are only as meaningful as they are enforceable, and under the circumstances, they are absolutely 100% unenforceable, thus, they are absolutely meaningless. Apply all the ephemeral protections you please, give the detainees official ‘God’ status, recognized by every other nation on earth, it won’t do a damn bit of good. The folks with the biggest guns have always called the shots, and they’re calling them now.

Just once more, for clarity, I do NOT condone torture. I, personally, would never consider torturing someone for information. It’s ineffective and immoral, you get more flies with honey than vinegar. Now, that being said, the people in control of the situation are doing what they believe is necessary. I think they’re wrong, but what I think is immaterial, because I don’t spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on weapons to back up my opinions.

If the world isn’t outraged already, they should be. The abuse was shocking, and in my opinion, worthless from an intelligence standpoint. And if the Geneva Conventions have anything to do with this war, it’s only to serve as a reminder of how little words mean in the face of military might, wielded by decisive tyrants.

Force has always been the lowest common denominator applied to international disagreements. First option is negotiation. If you can negotiate your way out of a conflict, do so, save everyone some aggravation. The next best thing is to put on a threat display, and scare your enemy into negotiating, or high-tailing it out of the conflict. Threats are only as good as the force that backs them up, however, and as any dead desert lizard can attest, the size of your frills is secondary to your ability to bite when some larger creature starts thinking of you as food.

If another nation has the ability to stop America from committing atrocities, I suggest they stop sitting on their thumbs and put an end to this insanity.

posted on Aug, 10 2005 @ 03:59 PM
Should the Geneva Conventions should apply to the detainees at Guantanamo Base?

The Letter...
Even though my statements quoted more fact than speculation, I and my opponent have both given powerful arguments as to whether or not the letter of the Geneva Conventions has been broken. And why not? The very same issues have been the subject of recent Supreme Court and Federal Court hearings alike.

Federal Judge Joyce Hens Green
"Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats, that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over two hundred years."

Green's ruling did recognize the difference between Al'Qaeda and Taliban fighters, and ultimately found the Taliban fighters had been wrongfully denied tribunal as guarenteed under the Geneva Conventions. Judge Green's ruling validates that, at the very least, clear doubt exists as to whether inmates should be legally denied the protections of Conventions.

The Spirit...
The Spirit of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions has been brutally ravaged. The assumption of guilt, before proof, is not justification for the torture and abuse of Guantanamo detainees. Though the writers of the GCs did everything they could to prevent, it, a handful of legal jingoists from one administration has found a way to justify torture and abuse of those not even found guilty in a court of law, and apply it on a worldwide level. Even my opponent has expressed his distaste for the the Gitmo abuses:

I would have no problem seeing Bush & Co. held accountable for the terrible treatment of detainees

The Consequences...
The consequences of abuse and torture to detainees was clear to the national powers that remained at the end of World War II. This is why the Geneva Conventions were written in the first place. Despite the fact that terrorism has existed for centuries, America had managed to officially adhere to these conventions in letter and spirit. Though to be sure,
there were probably times when a blind eye was turned to certain interrogation techniques, officially torture and abuse of prisoners was strictly forbidden, forsaken, and forgotten.

For the first time since Adolf Hitler, a World Superpower has attempted to make it official policy that torture and abuse were excusable against prisoners. The consequences are a terrible precedent for future generations of humanity, a symbol for Muslim hatred worldwide, and the outrage of the international community. Perhaps greatest of all, though, is the almost certain possibility that, at this very moment, at least one innocent man is being tortured, every day, for the last three years.

The Conclusion
As a world Superpower, if we are to set an example of human rights and liberty for the world to follow, the Geneva Conventions not only should, but must apply to the detainees at Guantanamo Base.


Supreme Court Ruling on Guantanamo

Federal Judge Joyce Hens Green's ruling on Gitmo

History of Terrorism

posted on Aug, 11 2005 @ 10:37 AM
Should the Geneva Conventions be applied to detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay? My final opinion on the subject is that it doesn’t matter one way or another.

To get to the heart of the issue, ask yourself a question. Not, “who broke the agreement first?” Not, “who broke the agreement more?”

Indeed, the question is “Do we really need a paper contract to convince us torture is wrong? Do we really need the approval of the paper to stand up against atrocity?” I hope not, the majority of us should KNOW this answer, as surely as we know our own names. Do prisoners really need the 'protection' of that paper? If you mail them a copy they might find it useful as toilet paper, but that's about the extent of it; promises on paper won’t call off the dogs, won’t heal the burns, won’t open the cages. Can they use the paper itself to stop the beatings, the humiliation? NO! Decisions change the world, not papers.

The papers are simply bearers of the words and convictions of human beings. It still comes back to the real flesh and blood people who need to take action to rectify the wrongs that have been committed. While the detainees sit in legal limbo, while lawyers get paid to argue, while politicians do whatever their masters tell them, the suffering continues.

The Geneva conventions have failed to prevent a tragedy so far, because all that they are, in letter and spirit, is the pledge of good men to act according to good principles. As I said in an earlier post, they are useful for what they are, but you must not overestimate their usefulness. It always boils down to human will, and the power to bring that will to life. A promise to act (the conventions) is pathetic and toothless compared to ACTION!

The people who make decisions hold the power, all of it. The men torturing prisoners make decisions every day, so do their superiors. So do you and I. The torture can stop today, if that’s truly the will of the powerful. And make no mistake, WE are the powerful. Every jailer, every general, every nurse, every soldier, every citizen: responsible for their own decisions to the end.

People like to think that there’s some giant sinister conspiracy octopus surrounding the globe, and hell, maybe there is! But that doesn’t change a thing. The power to change the world is not the power of oligarchs alone, it’s the power of every human being, it’s the power of free will and conviction. Every soldier at Gitmo, every interrogation ‘specialist’, every medic has the power to say “No!”

Sometimes all it takes is the bravery of one person. One man or woman to lead by example by saying to their superiors “This place is an abomination, and I won’t be a part of it any longer.”

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world." – Mahatma Gandhi [1]


posted on Aug, 11 2005 @ 02:56 PM
Alright guys, the judges have been rounded up and hog tied, so may the best debator win!

posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 05:00 PM
WyrdeOne! (6-3)

WyrdeOne wins hands down. Both fought well to get to this stage and did not disapoint in the final. However, WyrdeOne presented the better argument and the one tactical error his opponent made was to spend one reply showing violations of the Geneva Convention at GITMO rather than proving it in and of itself was a violation.

This debate centered around the interpretation of a set of legal documents. TheLibra found the relevant portions and presented them in a clear understandable way. I was also impressed with the summary of how these clear guideing principles were subverted in what was an underhanded, and legally dubious, set of tactics.

I found WyrdeOne's arguments to resolve down to a very circular style of logic: Since we are not applying them they really have no meaning and therefore no good would come even if we did apply them.

This was an extraordinary show of debating skills on both sides. Unlike previous rounds, both opponents understood, refuted and picked apart their challenger's arguments. The rebuttals were exceptional, the positions taken were basically unshakeable.

Both debaters had highlights (both opening statements, WyrdeOne's first few posts, thelibra's conclusion are a few examples) however, both hit a few low points (I found thelibra's Hitler argument extremely offensive and WyrdeOne was on the verge of insensitivity with his post that called the detainees murderers, rapists and thieves, which at this point are unproven charges).

As for the topic, both debaters agreed that torture is taking place at Guantanamo. Both condemn the way the detainees are treated. Most people feel the same way. However, the topic is whether or not the Geneva Conventions apply. I feel that the WyrdeOne very effectively showed that the Geneva Conventions are "only as meaningful as they are enforceable." He proved that the detainees claim to be declared prisoners of war is shaky.

This was an excellent debate all around. Great contestants, great topic and great arguments. Even if the thread weren't labeled, you could tell this one was for the championship. Kudos to both participants for proving they had earned their places as finalists.

I found myself alternately agreeing with each challenger as I read through the posts. Each made their case masterfully. I groaned when thelibra played the “Hitler card”, but despite the obvious gamble, he played it well.

WyrdeOne adopted a strong and convincing defense by using the GC themselves to cast doubt on the status of the detainees, and might have won my vote by sticking to it, but undermined his own strategy drifting into claiming that the GC were irrelevant. Perhaps might makes right in war and politics, but in this debate, the question was whether the GC apply, not whether the U.S. can ignore them.

Thus, I feel WyrdeOne sabotaged his own argument and thereby gave thelibra my vote, although I wouldn't be surprised to see the judges closely split over this one.

Well done to both of you, and a hearty congratulations to WyrdeOne for pulling through. I hope to see you both in the future!

[edit on 8/15/2005 by Amorymeltzer]

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