Monday, January 9. 2006
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Monday, January 9. 2006
Chancellor Merkel, who is scheduled to meet President Bush on Friday in Washington DC, told Der Spiegel (In English): "An institution like Guantanamo can and should not exist in the longer term." She would discuss the issue with President Bush, but would not allow Germany and the United States' long-standing relationship to be trivialized into one focused on differences over the fight against terror and the Iraq war. An amnesic American lost in Berlin criticizes "Angela Merkel's Lecture Tour."
The German site of Der Spiegel reports about a German-Turkish initiative for the release of Murat Kurnaz, who was born and raised in Bremen, but has Turkish citizenship. This would mean that the Merkel government is much more active than the Schroeder government, who has cooperated with the US in Guantanamo according to some reports. Dialog International writes:
The neoconservative gang was anxious to see Gerhard Schroeder leave office, but Angela Merkel could be a much bigger headache, since she is seen (so far) as having a much more independent position (outside the Schroeder - Chirac - Putin axis).The Atlantic Review wrote in November that Kurnaz has been detained at Guantanamo without charge since 2002, although U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked him to a terrorist organization. The Court of Appeals currently contemplates the case of Murat Kurnaz and other detainees on the basis of habeas corpus. The Observer, however, writes on January 8th:
Last week, President Bush signed into law a measure removing detainees' right to file habeas corpus petitions in the US federal courts. On Friday, the administration asked the Supreme Court to make this retroactive, so nullifying about 220 cases in which prisoners have contested the basis of their detention and the legality of pending trials by military commission.If Murat Kurnaz is released, he may not immediately return to Germany, because the German authorities believe that his four years long detention at Guantanamo without charge radicalized him, writes Der Spiegel, but his lawyer points out his valid residence permit for Germany. What an irony it would be if Murat Kurnaz were only to be considered a threat due to his experiences at Gitmo.
Many of our posts have led to thoughtful and provocative debates in the comment sections. Steve commented on our previous post about the Guantanamo Detainee from Germany:
The evidence to date overwhelmingly makes clear that jihadi terrorists are provoked by American weakness, not the harshness of American policies. (...) When [former Syrian president] Hafiz Assad leveled Hama, he went out of his way to show the devastation on TV for a reason--jihadi terrorists are intimidated by brutality greater than their own. On the other hand, our humanitarian interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo have won us no credit in jihadi terrorist circles. These are not people you can cozy up to. They treat friendly gestures with contempt.You find both of Steve's elaborate comments by scrolling down here. Many great and thought provoking arguments are made by our wonderful readers in the comments section of Europe vs. America and Isolationism on the rise.
UPDATE: The full interview with Chancellor Merkel is now available on Der Spiegel's English site.
Sind die Fulbrights unkritisch?
Bei der Atlantic Review wird nicht besonders kritisch gepostet. Da wird Commenter Steve mit folgender Einfuehrung praesentiert:Many of our posts have led to thoughtful and provocative debates in the comment sections. Steve commented on our previous post about the Guantanamo
Weblog: Amerika Blog
Tracked: Jan 16, 22:01
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Shawn Beilfuss - #1 - 2006-01-09 02:43 -
Personally, I think the interview is pre-visit positioning or perhaps a diplomatic mistake from a fresh leader. But the thing to remember is that President Bush will probably mostly dismiss this until she says it face-to-face on American soil. There is an update on Guantanamo conditions here, which was also posted below but I am posting again for this thread: [url=http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012722.php#012722]Guantanamo Update[/url] The professor's column there that is reprinted in English was actually published in Germany first in German in the paper: Sueddeutsche Zeitung Lastly, and unfortunately the full interview is not yet up in English, why is this such an urgent issue for the German people? It seems there are more pertinent issues of concern such as the economy and as mentioned on this blog talent leaving for other markets. On the other hand, they want to focus on bringing back a dude that is likely a terrorist versus the engineers that keep leaving Germany every day. Ok, we will take your engineers for terrorists anyday. In the meantime, buy a Club Gitmo t-shirt: [url=https://members.premiereinteractive.com/store/28566/41862_7.html]Your Tropical Retreat from the Stress of Jihad[/url] Ok, I'm not usually so blunt but I'm really sick and tired of hearing about Guantanamo when a lot of really bad things are happening in the world to much, much better people than those at Gitmo.
ROA - #2 - 2006-01-09 02:48 -
Thomas - #3 - 2006-01-09 03:29 -
ROA - #4 - 2006-01-09 04:17 -
Thomas, the only reason we would be punishing tourists is because the terrorists are not following the Geneva Convention and wearing uniforms.
At the Zoo - #5 - 2006-01-09 05:00 -
Oh, we waste our time on tourists on purpose? And we are "imagining" the terrorists? Then what's that big hole in Manhatten? Anyone who sees no threat is the one imaginging things. Apparantly all America can do to satify anti-Americans is just stand wide open for it and be killed with good grace. This is a new kind of war with despicable scum who stoop lower than anyone ever has. So Congress will have to establish new jurisdiction to cover this new breed of illegal combatants as prisoners of war. Don't worry, the civilian courts will never get jurisdiction over prisoners of war. Because prisoners of war are prisoners of war, not just criminals. I was surprised and disappointed at Merkel. She can't be serious. She must just be pandering to Germans' hatred of America. And if she has to pander to it, then it is so potent that relations between the two countries are down the toilet. -- Kathy K
Flex Blue - #6 - 2006-01-09 05:42 -
As an American, I am very sensitive to the rights of all people, especially the right to move freely without being detained unless there is evidence of criminal behavior. I also recognize that extraordinary measures are required in combatting terrorism; that's why this is such a complicated and difficult issue. Nothing is solved by focusing on Gitmo - or Abo Ghraib for that matter - as symbols, nor on such hot-button issues as "ethnic profiling." Illegal behavior on the part of prison guards, government officials or military personnel must be, and are being, condemned and punished. Political posturing, the clamor of armchair experts, and in fact the whole concept of war as a law enforcement exercise, won't accomplish the goal of protecting the public from murderous sneak attacks. It's a delicate balance which must be struck between individual rights and self-defence. I believe the anti-terrorism experts are doing the best they can. You have a right to point out mistakes where you think they have occurred. Just don't let emotion make you lose sight of the real enemy.
Tom P - #7 - 2006-01-09 05:45 -
"I was surprised and disappointed at Merkel. She can't be serious. She must just be pandering to Germans' hatred of America. And if she has to pander to it, then it is so potent that relations between the two countries are down the toilet. -- Kathy K" Maybe that's the point. By exerting her independence to Washington for the benefit of the German public, Merkel is given herself cover for closer cooperation with the US. Think of all the headaches Blair had to go thru because he's labeled Bush's Poodle. Diplomacy after all is saying one thing and doing another. Keep in mind that she's new to her office and must work within her governing coalition. What is the most telling aspect of the trip is the trip itself. What is important is not so much what is said in public but what is said behind closed doors.
Adam - #8 - 2006-01-09 09:33 -
I cannot believe that a political culture like the United States, founded on respect for human rights and dignity, has such contempt for human rights for people from other countries. You should be ashamed of yourselves. People in Guantanam have been locked up and tortured for FOUR YEARS without trial access to a lawyer or any legal process in place. Abu Ghraib is apparently part of a systemic apporach to torture and murder of political opponents which is ineffective and an insult to human rights and dignity everywhere. The Right Wing Merkel whose political formation took place under a repressive Communist regime has respect for human rights and the rule of law which the US would do well to follow.
Gregory M. Kelly - #9 - 2006-01-09 14:54 -
[url=http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2006/01/europes_hidden_conservatives.html]Europe's Hidden Conservatives[/url] a current post on the Weekly Standard.com is very informative about the who, what and why of the state of politics in Europe and the US and why there is such a rub. Do not be so quick to judge Chancellor Merkel. Let her have her say and then let the chips fall where they may.
Liam - #10 - 2006-01-09 14:55 -
Why do people think that condemning Guantanamo bay is anti-American. America is defined by it's constitution. Goerge Bush once said "You're either with us, or against us". Well I say to any body that thinks Guantanamo bay is acceptable, you either believe in the constitution, or you don't. The only true anti-American is the one that does not believe in its constitution, we know the terrorist's don't, maybe it's time we asked ourselves where we truly stand.
ROA - #11 - 2006-01-09 16:21 -
If Guantanamo is unacceptable, please propose an alternative.
Liam - #11.1 - 2006-01-09 18:51 -
If the constitution is unacceptable please propose an altenative.
David - #12 - 2006-01-09 16:28 -
The New York Times Magazine yesterday has a cover story of another Guantanamo detainee:"The Bush Administration vs. Salim Hamdan" http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/08/magazine/08yemen.html It is worth reading. Here is a key excerpt: "As Hamdan's lawyers and other critics see it, the administration, by unilaterally creating the tribunals, defining the offenses and handpicking the panels, is not only denying detainees fair trials, it is also violating bedrock principles of the American government. To put an even finer point on it, they say the Bush administration is undermining the very values it purports to be defending in its war against Islamic extremism. They would like to see Hamdan and other enemy combatants tried before a traditional military court, a pre-existing legal system approved by Congress with built-in provisions for the complications that arise during wartime."
Avi Green - #13 - 2006-01-09 17:21 -
Well, if Guantanamo Bay is meant to be a maximum security prison for people suspected of terrorism, defendants in terror related cases, and especially convicts, then that's why it's important to have it around, mainly because the purpose is to see to it that the convicts aren't on US soil where they might escape and cause trouble again. Now I'm not familiar enough with the Kunaz case to know, but if he was in involved in any shady activity in the US, then that may be why he's being held there. Still, you've probably got a point that more clear reasons and explanations should be presented for why Kunaz is being incarcerated in the Bay jail.
Brigitte - #14 - 2006-01-09 18:03 -
Why do so many of you guys not care about detaining innocent people in Guantanamo for years? I am wondering: What is a fair price to pay in the war on terroism? After 9/11 is it justified to detain and perhaps torture more than 500 innocent people or more than 1,000 or more than 10,000? Where do you draw the line? When do you say "Enough"! Avi, the German detainee was not involved in any shady activity in the US, but he was arressted in Pakistan. Why don't you read the links provided here before you comment?
At the Zoo - #15 - 2006-01-09 18:16 -
On having read more about Merkel's interview, I have changed my mind. It's not clear that she didn't just mean that the system needs to be changed, and I doubt most Americans disagree. If so, there's no offense in her remarks, and I'm not surprized that the propaganda rag, Der Speigel, makes it sound worse. Asymmetrical warfare is something new, not covered in the Geneva Conventions. Our constitutional system isn't set up to deal with illegal combatants. What we Americans don't understand is this: On that mere technicality, willfully obtuse anti-Americans captiously seize on another false accusation to blow up into an uproar and hurl at America. They act too dim to see the difference between an alleged criminal (with the full rights of a citizen) and a foreign prisoner of asymmetrical war, in which "the enemey" is a diffuse coalition of loosely affiliated underground entities rather than a state actor. Prisoners of war have no right to trial in our civilian justice system. To say they do is ludicrous. Did captured Germans have this right during World War II? Would ANY country grant such rights? Do scum who cheat by fighting as UNLAWFUL combatants thus gain MORE rights than lawful combatants ever had? It's ludicrous to say so! The reason GITMO exists is because the Geneva Conventions and our laws don't cover this situation. But we couldn't wait for more Geneva Conventions or Congressional debates. We had to immediately do something with the prisoners we take, and this was the most sensible thing to do. As I mentioned before, Congress must legislate the jurisdiction. We are most concerned with Congress legislating carefully on just what methods of interrogation may, and may not, be used. Are all the methods every country's intelligence agencies used during the Cold War okay? Some of those are the methods you see being used at GITMO. Odd that Europeans should be morally outraged about this when their own intelligence agencies are doing the same thing. I doubt any other country has worked out the proper legislation to deal with these issues yet, either. So why the smear campaign against America? Americans generally don't disagree that the system needs study and perhaps revision. What angers us is the claim that this terrorist scum has the rights of American citizens accused of a crime. Rubbish. They don't even have the rights of lawful foreign combatants. Because of the nature of assymetrical warfare, we are more likely to capture an occassional "tourist." So there must be provision to review appeals from prisoners who say they are poor, little innocent farmers just hitching a rise with the bad guys. The military has already gone to great lengths to sort out these matters itself, for it doesn't want to waste its time on noncombatants. But many reasonably think there should also be judicial or Congressional oversight in this process. Also, because terrorists never end their wars, imprisonment "for the duration" needs consideration. We are not so sympathetic here. If a terrorist spends his life in captivity, whose fault is that? Ours? the people he helped attack? Or his terrorist bosses? Let OBL declare an end to the war if he wants his people set free. If not, let them rot in prison. That's a good deterrent. So I say: "Terrorists, you will rot for the rest of your life in prison if we catch you. So, don't you think you had better give up and get a life instead?" The bottom line is that Merkel is an improvement, but Americans are justly offended by the narcissistic envy coming from Germany and are coming to see Germany as hostile, not an ally. There will be consequences. And perhaps the average German should begin to consider what those consequences will be. For, if the average German doesn't stop going along with the shrill anti-Americans in their midst, the average German will suffer the consequences of what they bring about. -- Kathy K
Kuch - #16 - 2006-01-09 19:19 -
I couln't agree more with Kathy K. How does "An institution like Guantanamo in its present form cannot and must not exist in the long term" get transformed into "Chancellor Calls for Closure of Gauntanamo?" We would like for this to be something less than permanent as well. Ms. Merkel's statements were a far cry from Schroeder's bash everything American routine. Thoughtful differences of opinion are useful and always welcomed by America. My only question to Ms. Merkel would be in response to "We must find different ways of dealing with prisoners." We are all ears! Have any ideas for us... or are you just saying that our way is wrong... without giving us a way of you own?
Liam - #16.1 - 2006-01-09 19:35 -
Kuch you make a valid point, but I can ask you the same question about the constitution. Have you got an alternative to the constitution ? because you can't do what's being done in Guantanamo if you believe in the constitution. Sometimes protecting what a country stands for, is more important than making sure every individual who wrongs it gets punished. Thats the whole idea of innocent until proven guilty. Alot of the prisoners in Guantanamo don't deserve anything, but this is not about them it's about the USA and what it stands for.
joe - #17 - 2006-01-09 19:47 -
Liam, Whose constitution are your referring to? The German Basic Law? If it is the US Constitution, would you point to which part of it that your posts refer too?
Liam - #17.1 - 2006-01-09 20:00 -
You want me to tell you where in the constitution it says you can't lock someone up, with out due process. What country are you from ?
Martin Hermann - #18 - 2006-01-09 20:38 -
Kathy, what did Spiegel do wrong this time?
joe - #19 - 2006-01-09 21:21 -
Liam - #19.1 - 2006-01-09 22:21 -
Joe, is this the game where I say the American constitution and you say it does not apply because they are on foreign soil. The constitution is not only a document that protects your rights, it a believe system, as strong as any religous one. The president of America saying that it does not apply in Guantanamo bay, is like the Pope saying the 10 commandments don't apply in California. So bring on your technicality if you want, it's embarrassing that it has come to this.
ROA - #20 - 2006-01-10 00:12 -
RE: NY Times article and constitutionality of Guantanamo Tribunals. I did ask someone who does know something about the issued raised in the NY Times article: The primary legal issue mentioned in the article was the fact that the tribunals, as constituted, represent "a historic and unconstitutional presidential power grab. As Hamdan's lawyers and other critics see it, the administration, by unilaterally creating the tribunals, defining the offenses and handpicking the panels, is not only denying detainees fair trials, it is also violating bedrock principles of the American government. To put an even finer point on it, they say the Bush administration is undermining the very values it purports to be defending in its war against Islamic extremism. They would like to see Hamdan and other enemy combatants tried before a traditional military court, a pre-existing legal system approved by Congress with built-in provisions for the complications that arise during wartime." This is the answer I received: President Bush copied what President Roosevelt did during World War II, when FDR created the military commissions in Ex Parte Quirin. The Supreme Court upheld the panels in Ex Parte Quirin. In the Hamdan case, Justice O'Connor says that Quirin is "the law today." In response to Justice Scalia's dissent arguing that the Government cannot detain an American citizen without judicial process unless it suspends the writ of habeas corpus, she says that even if Scalia is right, even if these earlier cases say "that the military does not have authority to try an American citizen accused of spying against his country during wartime-Quirin makes undeniably clear that this is not the law today." Hamdi, 542 U.S. at ___, 124 S.Ct. at 2642 (O'Connor plurality). If you add her plurality (4 votes) with Thomas, you get 5 votes, and that's a working majority. Of course, Quirin applied to at least one U.S. citizen. No U.S. citizen is subject to military trials, because President Bush's order only applies to non-US citizens. The Government contends that it can detain US citizens until the end of the conflict; it does not have to try them. Quirin, and O'Connor's opinion seem to agree. The 4th Circuit so held in Padilla, which is now pending before the US Supreme Court. We don't know yet if the Court will grant cert. There is a lot of rhetoric surrounding the law of detainees, but little scholarly analysis, at least from an historical perspective. During WWII, the United States held over 400,000 POWs in the US and another million abroad. Between 30 and 300 were US citizens and none were ever charged in the civil courts. After the way, the Government did charge a few with war crimes. The Administration, relying on the Geneva Convention, says that the detainees are not POWs, because they don't wear uniforms, do not have a recognized command structure, and do not agree to abide by the rules of law (they, e.g., attack civilians). If the Administration is correct, these non-POWs surely do not get more rights than POWs.
David - #20.1 - 2006-01-10 02:05 -
ROA, You bring up an interesting historical analysis. Just after Germany surrendered in WWII the status of over 1 million German POWs changed to "Disarmed Enemy Forces". They were no longer subject to the rules of the Geneva Conventions and were held in deplorable conditions. Tens of thousands of these "DEFs" died, many of starvation. Their fate was researched by the late historian Stephen Ambrose in his book "Eisenhower and the German POWs".
ROA - #20.1.1 - 2006-01-10 03:13 -
David, I didn't know that. I just finished Ambrose's "Eisenhower, Soldier and President" and thought it was very good, so I placed a library request for the book you mentioned. Thanks.
At the Zoo - #21 - 2006-01-10 00:39 -
Liam, can't you make sense? The American constitution is not a religion. It grants US CITIZENS these rights. It says nothing about POWs. Neither Germany nor any other country affords POWs such rights as you wildly claim they have. And it is backwards to claim that because terrorist scum violate the rules of war they have GREATER rights than lawful POWs have. Your claims are as impossible as ludicrous. You would make war in self-defense defense impossible to wage legally. That violates Natural Law. The bad guys, not the good guys, dream up such perverted rules. -- Kathy K
At the Zoo - #22 - 2006-01-10 01:47 -
Oops, forgot -- about "due process." Due proces is just that -- DUE process. The ignorant think it's always the right to trial by jury in a civilian court of law. No. There's what's DUE for a job action by your employer. A different level of "process" is DUE for a court order to be issued. Military tribunals do afford due process. The prisoners at GITMO are afforded more-than-due process. The military has made abundantly sure that it cannot be faulted on the grounds that it has denied these people due process. So people screaming bloody murder are ignorant of the law and what is actually being done. The problem is jurisdiction and rules. The President has followed precedent. But only Congress can assign jurisdiction make the laws. There's little doubt that Congress will do what it should -- assign jurisdiction to a military tribunal with some form of Congressional or judicial oversight to keep the executive branch and the military on their toes and doing things right. But the fighters in an irregular ARMY will never be tried as INDIVIDUAL CRIMINALS in a civilian court of law, so anti-Americans had better just get used to the idea. -- Kathy K
joe - #23 - 2006-01-10 01:54 -
GM Roper - #24 - 2006-01-10 02:45 -
I am always amused at folk who assume that because the United States has a constitution that the constitution is to be applied to the world by American officialdom. Nothing could be further from the truth. The US Constitution applies to foreigners and Americans detained in the United States for suspicion of crimes. The constitution sets forth what can and cannot be done in terms of holding someone, arresting someone and searching someone. It specifies that one can be tried before a jury of their peers. There are countless appellate court and supreme court rulings that require additional effort (Miranda warnings for example). But please know people, the Constitution of the United States does NOT apply to citizens of other lands captured in armed combat or in suspicious circumstances when armed combat is going on. That is what treaties are for. We have a number of treaties including the Geneva Convention that states very specifically, what is required in the treatment of those captured on the battlefield or suspected of terrorism whether they be in or out of uniform. The Constitution does not apply to the prisoners being held at Gitmo. PERIOD. Get used to it. Oh, I know the lefties will all decry the big bully United States for beating up on these poor defenseless folk. Berlin or Frankfurt or Stuttgart didn't have four aircraft crashed into them by islamo-fascists. Apparently, you did not hear the mullah's of Iran state that they would be willing to stop nuclear bomb making if the WORLD submitted to Islam and Sahria. Get this through your collective thick skulls, this is a war and the islamo-fascists will kill you, your friends, your family or they will force you into dhimmitude. That is how they think. They are dedicated to that course of action. You had better learn to fight back, or soon, you will not have the chance.
joe - #25 - 2006-01-10 03:15 -
Liam, It is not a technicality. It is the Law in the US based upon the US Constitution. Now you might not like that part of the Constitution. There are many parts of the Constitution that different factions object to. My suggestion then would be for you to go about amending the Constitution. But you already know that is going to be difficult. Your entire position is nothing more than an emotional circle. You say you support the Constitution but when laws are passed which conform to the Constitution that you do not like you view them as only technicalities. Not very intellectually persuasive. But emotionally satisfying I would think.
ROA - #26 - 2006-01-10 04:14 -
Thomas - #26.1 - 2006-01-10 10:25 -
No surprise. That blog constantly complains about bias in the German media, but they are strongly biased themselves: Pro-Merkel and anti-Schroeder, pro-CDU and pro-FDP, but anti-SPD and anti-Greens. They are biased Pro-Bush and anti-Democrats, anti-Muslim. Do not forget: The Merkel government is going to lobby for Murat Kurnaz' release from Gitmo. Schroeder did not do much at all for him. Merkel criticized the US for kidnapping a German citizen in Macedonia in 2003. Schroeder never did that. You guys are only angry at Schroeder because he was right about Iraq.
ROA - #27 - 2006-01-10 17:11 -
joe - #28 - 2006-01-10 17:27 -
Actually there is new funding of $114 million in the National Security Language Initiative for the study of "critical need" foreign languages, including Arabic, Farsi, and Chinese
ROA - #28.1 - 2006-01-10 20:11 -
Shawn Beilfuss - #29 - 2006-01-12 08:07 -
I finally got to reading the full interview in English. I feel now that the GITMO portion of the whole interview comes off as less sensational when putting it in context with the other questions. Once Merkel meets President Bush, we will see how she responds. One thing that strikes me is how much more knowledgeable the Der Spiegel comes off as an interviewer versus the American press when approaching President Bush. When I come away from an interview, I like to come away feeling I have deeper insight into the subject matters discussed. I feel I know a lot more about Germany reading this interview, which is great. But when some reporters interview our leaders in Washington, D.C., I often don't come away with greater insight into the subjects discussed and so go further on my own to develop personal knowledge.
Shah Alexander - #30 - 2006-01-13 18:10 -
I did not expect that Merkel request to close Guantanamo base. But I am neither disappointed nor surprised. I understand Europeans are critical to US attitude to detainees of terror suspects. Even in Britain, the most cooperative ally to the US, government officials are concerned about human rights abuse at the base. This gap comes from their positions on the global stage. The US is more directly involved in the war on terror than Europe is. However, I am not so pessimistic. It is widely known that Merkel is shifting German foreign policy from the Franco-German alliance to the transatlantic alliance. Whether right or left, this option is appropriate for Germany in the post Cold War era.
Subcomandante Bob - #31 - 2006-01-16 20:01 -
National Nitwit has [url=http://nationalnitwit.blogspot.com/2006/01/guantanamo-prisoners-relish-opening-of.html]more on the situation at Guantanamo Bay[/url]. Guaranteed at least 50% truthful.
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