GITMO Military Arrests

A Muslim Chaplain in the US Army who was administering to the detainees at the Guantanoamo Bay camp was arrested recently.

The Muslim military chaplain who ministered to suspected Al Qaeda terrorists at a U.S. detention center in Cuba can be confined under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for up to two months without being charged.

Army Capt. Yousef Yee, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Col. David McWilliams, spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said Sunday in a telephone interview from command headquarters in Miami that military authorities are awaiting the investigation’s outcome.

He said the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division was in charge of the investigation.

Is that what’s known as an Article 32 hearing?

[…]McWilliams refused to characterize in any way what Yee is suspected of having done. He said the chaplain raised the suspicions of U.S. Customs officials when he arrived in Jacksonville on a flight from Guantanamo Bay.

A senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saturday that FBI agents confiscated documents Yee was carrying and questioned him before he was handed over to the military.

[…]On Sept. 15 a military magistrate determined that there was sufficient reason to hold Yee in confinement, McWilliams said, pending outcome of the investigation.

Yee is being held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. — the same place where officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who allegedly fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member charged with plotting to detonate a bomb.

McWilliams said a military lawyer has been assigned Yee, but the spokesman would not identify the lawyer.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, the military organization that runs the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, will decide on the next step in the Yee case after he receives results of the Pentagon investigation, McWilliams said.

If charges are brought, Miller could decide to proceed to a court-martial, recommend administrative action or opt not to pursue any charges.

Today, there was news of two more arrests of military personnel, one of whom appears to be an Arab-American from his name and the other’s identity is not known.

An Air Force airman who had worked at the U.S. prison camp for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has been charged with espionage and aiding the enemy — charges that could carry the death penalty — a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi worked as an Arabic-language translator at the prison camp, spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said.

Al-Halabi knew Yousef Yee, the Muslim chaplain at the prison arrested earlier this month, but it was unclear if the two arrests were linked, Shavers said.

The enlisted airman has been charged with nine counts related to espionage, three counts of aiding the enemy, 11 counts of disobeying a lawful order, and nine counts of making a false official statement.

Espionage and aiding the enemy are military charges that can carry the death penalty, said Eugene Fidell, a civilian lawyer in Washington and president of the National Institute of Military Justice. The commanding general in charge of al-Halabi’s case would have to decide whether military prosecutors could seek the death penalty in his case, Fidell said.

If the death penalty is an option, the 12-member military jury that hears the case would have to vote unanimously to impose it, Fidell said.

Al-Halabi, who was based at Travis Air Force Base in California and assigned to a logistics unit there, is being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Shavers said.

Earlier Tuesday, senior military officials told Fox News that a member of the Navy was also in custody, under suspicion of espionage and possible improper communications with the camp’s detainees. The Navy member’s role at the camp has not been disclosed.

Fox News has learned al-Halabi and the Navy member both were detained roughly two weeks before Yee was arrested. Officials said the two were being surveyed for some time before Yee came to their attention.

It seems that al-Halabi would face charges in a court martial then.

If you are expecting profound analysis from me, I don’t have any. I don’t know what to think about these cases. They could be innocent or guilty. I have only two comments. One, they should be given the regular military treatment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) instead of being detained indefinitely like Yasser Hamdi and Jose Padilla. Two, if these guys are guilty, it is their individual act and should not be construed as making all the Muslim chaplains or even all Muslims in the military.

There also is these comments in the Fox News story which highlight something that is pretty common, i.e., improper handling of classified material.

Yee, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla., after getting off a flight from Guantanamo Bay and is being held at the consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C. A senior law enforcement official said authorities confiscated classified documents Yee was carrying.

Determining what Yee’s intentions were may be difficult, according to one senior official. The official told Fox News he was having a difficult time assessing the meaning of the articles said to be in the chaplain’s possession when he was arrested.

Yee was detained in part because he carried classified information without having something called a “courier card” in his possession. Such mistakes are not uncommon, the official said.

Yee also possessed a laptop equipped with a modem, which are strictly forbidden at the base. The official pointed out that nearly every laptop now sold is equipped with a dial-up modem.

A Pentagon official told Fox News that classified information was also found on the laptop of the Air Force member now in custody. But the official said slip-ups such as this —- which he described as “sloppy computer security” —- are somewhat common.

Classified material, especially in the military and defense-related work, needs to be very carefully guarded. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t follow the rules on such things strictly. This is a plausible explanation in this case, but I have no idea whether it’s true or not. I think we’ll all have to wait and see.

UPDATE: According to the New York Times:

The translator, Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, faces 32 criminal charges, including accusations that he tried to slip prison maps, cell-block information, names of prisoners and messages from them to an agent of the Syrian government. If convicted of the spying charges, he could face the death penalty.

UPDATE II: Things didn’t turn out well for the military and the charges against these guys. Read my later post.

UPDATE III: Also, see this New York Times article.

Are You a Terrorist?

Here comes a stupid judge with a stupid remark:

Mrs. Khoder, a United States citizen who arrived from Lebanon 14 years ago, appeared in court last Thursday before the judge, William R. Crosbie, to challenge two parking tickets left on her dashboard within an hour of each other. She said the judge repeated her name and asked if she was a terrorist. “I smiled a big smile and said, `Look at me, do I look like a terrorist?’ ” she said.

Then, according to Mrs. Khoder, after she gave an explanation of the tickets, the judge again referred to terrorism. “He said, `You don’t want to pay a ticket, but you have money to support terrorists,’ ” she recalled. “I felt the blood go to my head. I wanted to throw up. I screamed and fell to the ground.”

For his part, the judge, 79, acknowledged making the initial query about her being a terrorist, but said he was “probably kidding,” according to an article in The Journal News, the Westchester newspaper.

Today, he told a television reporter that he regretted the remark because “it caused a lot of problems for a lot of people.” Judge Crosbie, who rejected a request for an interview, denied to both the Westchester paper and the television reporter that he made the remark about money for terrorists.

He was “probably kidding”? Probably?? He regrets it? Why can’t people simply apologize for their stupidity?

Protestors are Terrorists

Via Unqualified Offerings, here’s the strange case of the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC).

CATIC spokesman Mike Van Winkle said such evidence wasn’t needed to issue warnings on war protesters.

“You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest),” said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department. “You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act.”

In fact, CATIC — touted as a national model for intelligence sharing and a centerpiece of Gov. Gray Davis and Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s 2002 re-election bids — has quietly gathered and analyzed information on activists of various stripes almost since its creation.

[…]Yet causing a traffic jam can be enough to trigger a CATIC analysis and bulletin. At the Port of Oakland, where trucks would be blocked from reaching shippers such as APL, a protest target, that logic might have been more compelling, Manavian and Van Winkle suggested.

“If we receive information that 10,000 folks are going to a street corner and going to block it, that’s breaking a law,” Manavian said. “That’s the kind of information that we’re going to relay.”

Said Van Winkle: “I’ve heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact, and shutting down a port certainly would have some economic impact. Terrorism isn’t just bombs going off and killing people.”

Both men say CATIC merely supplies information, but it’s up to police to decide what to do with it.

Seems like the Left Coast really is crazy.

Stupid Security Measures

Privacy International has come up with a list of the stupidest security measures all over the world. They have divided them into five categories:

Here are a few of the choice measures:

  • Last September 2002, I was flying through Heathrow Airport. Just ahead of me in the queue at the hand luggage X-Ray checkpoint was an elderly gentleman of Mediterranean appearance whose bag contained some items of interest to the security staff.

    Firstly they found about a dozen disposable butane gas cigarette lighters, which they confiscated on the grounds that these were not allowed as either hand or hold luggage. Why are these lighters sold at airports ?

    Then they found about 4 small screwdrivers of the sort used to fit plugs to electrical devices, still in their cardboard and plastic blister packs. These were allowed, provided that the gentleman went downstairs and checked his bag in as hold luggage. Are these small screwdrivers more of a risk than the cutlery and glassware and glass bottles available on any flight ?

    The third item was a dual quarter pound cellophane wrapped cardboard package of loose leaf Chinese tea. Unfortunately, it was of a well known variety known as Gunpowder Tea, and had this printed on the packaging.

    Obviously this was of such importance, that, despite already forcing the passenger to check his hand bag as hold luggage, it was decided that the tea was allowed, but that the evil word “Gunpowder” was not. Consequently the security staff then rummaged around (thereby delaying me and the rest of the queue) and found a plastic bag into which they decanted the fragrant tea leaves, and confiscated the cardboard packaging !

  • Briefly, commuters from the island of Bornholm (here for a map. … Bornholm is the island all the way to the right) are as of 7 February required a fingerprint scan to board the boat to mainland Denmark.

    When buying a 30-day card for the boat commuters will have their fingerprint scanned and stored in a memory chip on a personal card. On boarding commuters are then required to insert the card and place their finger on a scanner verify their identity. These measures are taken in order to make sure that the card is only used by one person.

    In the rest of Denmark we use a picture ID system.

    I find these biometric measures to identification quite worrying for something as simple as using public transportation.

    … something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Via Winds of Change.

Torture Again

Via Eve Tushnet, I read a very disturbing passage about the torture by right-wing squads in Latin America on Late Night Thoughts. You’ll have to follow the link to read that passage, but here is her conclusion:

The human gene pool sometimes throws out monsters. There are psychiatric terms for them, but their common denominator is the inability to sympathize with others. At the deepest darkest end are those who feel delight in others’ pain; these are damaged humans, and we must understand that even as we remove them from society.

But when a healthy human finds it expedient to categorize others as “lesser than I” he has stepped across a line that ultimately leads to the destruction of the soul. I am not being mawkishly pacifist. I would have no difficulty in killing to defend myself, my loved ones, or my country. But there is a difference between killing someone and savaging his spirit, and we cross that line at our own peril. In Christian terms, when we destroy a human spirit, we are destroying God’s image, and that is an iredeemable act. What does it matter that we gain our revenge if we lose our souls?

It isn’t any good to claim that the other is evil. Accepting the necessity that there is evil in the world and that we cannot always fight it is the bitterest part of the human condition. And our most heroic moments come when we rise against it and lay down our lives to stop it. But ultimately, the question is whether we are willing to do evil ourselves. Once we accept that, we have taken upon ourselves the traits of those that we fight. And what is then the difference then between them and us?

You should also read the posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) on Eve Tushnet’s blog in which she demolishes the case for torture.


A debate has been raging in the blogworld recently about using torture on Al-Qaeda members. Here are some of the posts on the topic:

No Conclusions: Volokh Conspiracy
For: Oliver Willis, The Agitator
Against: CalPundit, Unqualified Offerings, Light of Reason, Path of the Paddle, Head Heeb.

I would especially like to quote from Head Heeb who connects the War on Terror with the War on Drugs:

A running theme throughout these comments is that subcontracting torture is something new to the terror war —- a “canary in the coal mine” indicating a trend toward repressiveness in the United States. The truth is, however, that this particular canary has been dead for at least thirty years. Subcontracting of torture by American authorities is an old, old story, originating in another dirty war —- the “war on drugs.” There is a subgenre of Federal case law, beginning in the 1970s, involving the claims of alleged drug traffickers who were tortured by Latin American police, often with American law enforcement agents in the room.

[…]Similar treatment was meted out to Rafael Lira, who was tortured by Chilean police in 1974 after being arrested on the request of the United States; Raul Perez Degollado, shocked with cattle prods by Mexican authorities in the presence of DEA agents; and Juan Ramon Matta-Ballesteros, who was arrested in Honduras in the mid-1980s and “beaten and burned with a stun gun at the direction of the United States Marshals.” In the Degollado case, DEA agents actually admitted to being in the room while the Mexican police began to torture their captive, although they ducked out to preserve their sensibilities when things got too rough.

In Matta-Ballesteros, the Seventh Circuit went even farther and held that even active participation in torture by American law enforcement agents did not divest Federal courts of jurisdiction. The difference between Matta-Ballesteros and Toscanino, however, may be more style than substance. As the Matta-Ballesteros court noted, no Federal court, including that in the Toscanino case itself, has ever granted a motion to dismiss by a defendant who was tortured abroad.

I discuss these cases at such length because it has become clear to me that the closest comparison to the war on terror is not World War II, Vietnam or even the intifada, but the war on drugs. The enemies in both wars are very similar —- organized groups who are not state actors but who are well-armed and financially sophisticated. The line between political terror and drug trafficking is often very blurry; terror groups often make use of the drug trade to finance political violence, and many drug cartels have political connections or even act as de facto territorial warlords.

The methods by which the terror war is being fought are also reminiscent of the war on drugs. Complicity in torture and abduction are only two of the parallels. The drug war also involved subornation and corruption of foreign law enforcement authorities, support for repressive governments as a quid pro quo for counter-drug cooperation, low-level military entanglements in drug-producing countries and unprecedented expansion of search, seizure and surveillance powers within the United States. We’re already seeing all these things again in the terror war – the Patriot Act and this year’s possible sequel, the United States’ embrace of Musharraf, the open-ended troop mission in Afghanistan, the recent landings of American troops in Turkey with the cooperation of its military but against the will of its government.

Most importantly of all, the nature of the two conflicts is very similar – both are open-ended wars against largely unseen enemies in which the moment of victory can never be certain. This means that the war on terror will lend itself to the same mission creep as the drug war – the slow abandonment of political and social engagement in favor of an exclusive focus on enforcement, and the gradual conception of enforcement as an end in itself rather than a means to an end. The fact that international terrorism is a direct political threat to the United States is only likely to accelerate the mission creep. For at least the duration of the current administration, the terror war will resemble the war on drugs fought with the intensity and single-mindedness of the Cold War – and, for the first time, our European allies are experiencing what it’s like to be on the receiving end.

He’s got a very interesting take and I hope, fervently hope that the prosecution of the war on terror is better and different than the war on drugs.

Regarding torture, I can only advise my potential torturers: If you do torture me, please, do not act on any of the things I tell you because they are NOT true; I will only be saying them to get out of the torture chamber as fast as I can.

Also to proponents of torture: That technology you have which tells you who is guilty and hence deserves torture, can you make it available to prosecutors and courts so that we don’t waste so much time and effort on investigations and trials and also save the innocent and punish the guilty.

Japanese American Internment

Representative Howard Coble (R-NC), chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, agrees with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II (“for their own protection”).

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., made the remark Tuesday on WKZL-FM when a caller suggested Arabs in the United States should be confined. Another congressman who was interned as a child criticized Coble for the comment, as did advocacy groups.

Coble, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said he didn’t agree with the caller but did agree with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who established the internment camps.

“We were at war. They (Japanese-Americans) were an endangered species,” Coble said. “For many of these Japanese-Americans, it wasn’t safe for them to be on the street.”

Like most Arab-Americans today, Coble said, most Japanese-Americans during World War II were not America’s enemies.

Still, Coble said, Roosevelt had to consider the nation’s security.

“Some probably were intent on doing harm to us,” he said, “just as some of these Arab-Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) disagreed:

Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., a Japanese-American who spent his early childhood with his family in an internment camp during World War II, said he spoke with Coble on Wednesday to learn more about his views.

“I’m disappointed that he really doesn’t understand the impact of what he said,” Honda said. “With his leadership position in Congress, that kind of lack of understanding can lead people down the wrong path.”

Eric Muller, who is an expert on the topic, had this to say on his “is that legal?” blog:

Representative Howard Coble (R-NC), who explained today that 120,000 Japanese Americans were placed into internment camps during World War II for their own protection, did not come to his bizarre views of the internment recently. Fifteen years ago he rose on the floor of the House of Representatives to speak and vote against the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which offered an apology and a token redress payment of $20,000 to the surviving internees.

Folks, this is the guy running the show on homeland security in the House of Representatives. The guy who will have oversight over how well Tom Ridge’s new department is balancing national security with individual liberties.

If he’s not already doing so, Dennis Hastert should be looking for a new Chairman for Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

Dave Neiwert of the Orcinus blog also has a good post about this.

My take on this is the same as it was for Trent Lott. This is not a freshman representative. He has been in Congress since 1984. He is in a position to decide homeland security policy. I think Howard Coble should either apologize profusely, resign or be thrown out from the homeland security subcommittee.

Japanese-American Internment: Continued

Commenting on the Instapundit post I referred to earlier, David Neiwert has this to say:

In this post today, Reynolds tries to suggest that maybe there might be some rationale later on down the road for a blanket internment of Muslims:

The wrongfulness in the World War Two internments, after all, wasn’t that they happened, but that they were unjustified. Had significant numbers of American citizens of Japanese descent actually been working for the enemy, the internments would have been a regrettable necessity rather than an outrageous injustice.

In other words, if someone establishes by some “official” means that a “significant number” (could we be more vague?) of Arab-Americans is actually working for Al Qaeda, that might justify rounding up and interning Arab-Americans. (Or will it be Muslim-Americans? Hard to tell.) Thus we slide merrily down a slope already proven by history to turn quickly into a sharp cliff.

[…]The centerpiece of the Japanese-American internment was FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which set a precedent that has never been overturned: It gave to the U.S. military, for the first time in history, the power to control entire populations of citizens — to arrest and intern them in concentration camps, if necessary. All that needed to happen was that the Pentagon needed to make a finding of military necessity.

[…]Finally, it is worth remembering that the courts (in the Hirabayashi, Yasui and Korematsu cases) specifically upheld the terms of the internment, a precedent that has never been overturned. Moreover, the courts’ precedent in conceding to the judgment of the military in its power over citizens has never been overturned. As Frank Chuman puts it: “After 1943 the national policy of the United States government would be grounded on the legal precedent that whether military intentions be good, wicked, or merely capricious, the actions of the military, if based on ‘findings’ of ‘military necessity,’ would be upheld by the United States Supreme Court.”

[…]I was struck by this passage from a letter writer Reynolds cites:

This is in stark contrast to many Muslims (not all) who howl about perceived civil rights violations and yet refuse to assimilate American values and culture, treat their wives and daughters as slaves and seek to supplant religious freedom with Islamic tyranny.

This passage nearly duplicates the very arguments raised by a lot of the people who were agitating for the Japanese-American internment at the time. Probably the most popular rationalization for internment in the spring of 1942 came from truisms about the Nikkei that had been established over forty years of racial propaganda. Primary among these were that the Issei — who actually were forbidden from naturalizing as a matter of American law — were still “loyal” to Japan by force of their citizenship; that they came to this country and never intended to return; that their clannishness and insularity were indications of potential treason among all Japanese; and that their children were being “indoctrinated” into emperor-worship at the Nikkei communities’ Japanese-language schools.

All of these truisms, as it happens were either demonstrably false or only partially true and ultimately gross distortions of the real nature of the immigrant community. Many Issei indeed emigrated fully intending to stay here. Many considered themselves loyal Americans who harbored the hope that through their hard work and good citizenship, one day the prejudice against them would subside and they would be granted the right to become citizens. And certainly their Nisei children were deeply if not fully Americanized, and certainly were patriotic citizens. The schools existed almost solely for the purpose of helping the Nisei children, for whom English was their primary language, communicate with their Issei parents, who often themselves were poorly educated anyway and found English a nearly insurmountable mountain to climb.

(Found via Atrios.)

Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans

Instapundit had some thoughts on the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the patriotism of Muslim Americans now. I have strong disagreements with most of his post except for the following about a Pakistani American saving a synagogue from arson by a Bosnian:

And those who favor extensive profiling should note the photos of Ali — the hero — and Jakup — the alleged terrorist — and think about which one of the two would be more likely to come in for close attention under most profiling proposals.

So I was thinking was writing a post about it when I saw Jim Henley’s excellent post on the topic.

No, the wrongfulness in the World War Two internments was that they were based on the principle of collective guilt, and applied to US citizens, and the internees were dispossessed of all their property without compensation. I’m not sure what Glenn thinks would be “significant numbers” but it would still not be okay to rob the innocent Japanese-Americans of the bulk of their belongings, as the Roosevelt Administration allowed to happen as part of the internments.

[…]The wording [“there are American Muslims who are quite loyal”] implies that these wondrous creatures are prodigies, like saying “There are Snowy Owls as far down the Appalachians as Eastern Kentucky.” Gosh, but the surefire sign of disloyalty to the United States would seem to be committing terrorist acts against it and a bare handful of American muslims, almost none of them citizens, have tried to do that. As Gene Healy has pointed out, it would be a trivial matter for “significant numbers” of American Muslims to raise all kinds of caine around here. Doesn’t seem to be happening.

Go read his whole post.

NOTE: Thanks Jim for the link.

Racial Profiling

CalPundit points out about racial profiling by police in Los Angeles:

Among people who were pulled over:

  • 3.5% of whites were frisked and 5% were searched.
  • 12% of Latinos were frisked and 18.5% were searched.
  • 14.7% of blacks were frisked and 18.7% were searched

Then responding to criticism, he looked up the raw report and deduced from it that:

  • Police searched blacks at about four times the rate of whites, but also found contraband at about four times the rate, which makes the search rate seem defensible on non-racial grounds. On the other hand, they found contraband on Hispanics at only twice the rate of whites, which makes the 4x search rate look pretty dubious.
  • The arrest rates seem even more troubling, since this is a good indication of whether anything serious was going on. For both blacks and Hispanics the search rate is 4x the white search rate, but the arrest rate is only about double. This seems to indicate that the LAPD’s “suspiciousness radar” was tuned rather higher for blacks and Hispanics than for whites.

It’s true that data like this needs careful study, certainly something more careful than an amateur like me can give it. On the other hand, it does seem to indicate that the LAPD treats blacks and Hispanics with rather more suspicion than is justified, and race seems to be a part of it.

POSTSCRIPT I: One last comment: my snarky remark about affirmative action in yesterday’s post had a serious side to it: conservatives typically claim that, yes, there is probably still some racism in our society, but the best way for the government to respond is to just set a good example and be absolutely color blind. Eventually society will follow.

But if that’s true, then why isn’t it equally true for racial profiling? The liberal response might be, sure, maybe blacks commit more crimes than whites, but the best way to respond to this is to ignore it and have police act in a completely color blind manner. Eventually the problem will solve itself.

Is racism still alive? I would say pretty much so though it has definitely decreased from historical levels. Is racial profiling a good thing? I concede that in some cases it might provide police with some help but it also impedes them in a number of ways. For example, a profile of Middle Eastern men would never have caught Richard Reid or Jose Padilla. Also, racial profiling of African Americans smacks too much of Jim Crow. Another very important way in which racial profiling creates problems for the police is by fraying the relationship between law enforncement and the minority in question. And that is something most conservatives, especially those belonging to the white majority, don’t understand at all. Randall Kennedy in an article in the New Republic argued for banning racial profiling due to the same reasons.