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Alleged "Guantanamisation" of Germany (UPDATE)

"The New York Times has a front-page article today about how the fear of terrorism in Germany is leading to a slow but inexorable erosion of civil liberties," writes David Vickrey in Dialog International.
David also translates an editorial in Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which accuses Germany's Interior Minister Schaeuble of hysteria and of talking "as if it were vital to prepare the way for the Guantanamisation of Germany's judicial system."
Personal sarcastic comment: Great that the Sueddeutsche Zeitung is not hysterical...
Besides, I agree to some extent with the professor of law quoted in the NYT: "If something happened, the same people who are criticizing him [Schaeuble] for going too far would criticize him for not going far enough." A serious debate about the usefulness of certain counter-terrorism measures and their impact on civil liberties is good.

UPDATE:
German president joins in debate over terrorism policy
Koehler urged Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to show restraint in presenting ideas which he said could unnecessary unsettle the population. It was the duty of the minister 'to wrack his brains' over the best way to protect citizens, the president said in an interview on Germany's second television channel ZDF. But the staccato 'manner in which the suggestions came about' was not ideal.
Schaeuble called for legal powers to intern terrorist 'combatants' before they struck and said that Germany might have to introduce a US-style criminal offence of conspiracy to commit a crime. The minister, who outlined his thoughts in the news magazine Der Spiegel last week, also proposed a ban on the use of the internet and mobile phones by people the state deemed to be dangerous. Schaeuble also called for clarification under what conditions the constitution permits the state to target and kill terrorists. President Koehler said he had his doubts whether 'the killing of a suspected terrorist without a court ruling could be treated so lightly.' The minister's remarks, particularly those about targetted assassinations, provoked outrage in Germany, with opposition Greens party leader Claudia Roth calling on him to resign.

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Don S on :

"The shock of learning that the 9/11 attacks had been plotted in Hamburg was not enough, Mr. Waldmann said, because Germans comforted themselves that the threat was directed against the United States, not at Germany itself." Yes. Germany 'exported' the 9/11 plot to the US (albeit not intentionally) and comforts itself with the fact that the 9/11 terrorists showed gratitude for their safe refuge by refraining from attacking Deutschland itself. Some of the objections are ludicrous - such as the prohibition against shooting down hijacked aircraft to prevent them being used as bombs against civilian targets. Only fascists (such as Americans) would consider doing such a thing! Frankfurt may have to lose one of it's famed towers to change certain minds. Perhaos not even that would do it.

David on :

I guess I'm not the only one who is alarmed by Schaueble's over-reaching. I'm reading today about the strong criticism coming from (Bundes-President) Horst Koehler. An official representative from a democratic nation should not be publicly advocating "targeted killings" of suspected terrorists as well as other police-state policies. I'm reading that Schaueble's fear-mongering could even lead to a collapse of the coalition.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

So Köhler has indirectly called Israel a police state? I missed that. Köhler criticism came last night, I think. I wrote an update.

David on :

No, that is what I call it: targeted killing of suspects, confiscating cell phones and internet from suspects, preventive detention (of G-8 protesters), massive surveillance of citizens. Welcome, George Orwell.

Don S on :

So they have jailed George Orwell, David? Quite a difficult thing to do! Have they interned Aldous Huxley are well? What what about Franz Kafka?

David on :

Don, I know you don't give a damn about civil liberties (or the constitution or the Grundgesetz), but some of us do. I am pleased that Schaueble is now forced to backpeddle.

Don S on :

Actually I do, David. What has made very clear to me is that many people styling themselves as 'civil libertarians' are no such thing. They don't give a curse for my civil liberties - not excluding my right to live in a peaceful society without the threat of public political violence being perpetrated on my body. I live in London - remember 7/7 and 7/21? Probably not. But I do. I am reminded every day of my life.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Wow, you guys respond so quickly to each other. Great! How do you get notified about responses? Are you subscribing to comments via email? Or via RSS? [url]http://atlanticreview.org/feeds/comments.rss2[/url] I used to have links to the latest comments in the drop down menu, but I took it down, because hardly anybody clicked on it.

Don S on :

Pure coincidence, Joerg. At least in my case.

David on :

Most Londoners I know are proud of and fiercely protective of their civil liberties. The last thing they'll tolerate is a police state. Very similar to New Yorkers - Americans who actually experienced terrorism first hand. The vast majority of New Yorkers have nothing but contempt for the way the Bush administration has waged the "war on terror". Try taking away civil liberties from a New Yorker (I'm married to one so have some knowledge).

Don S on :

There is no police state in London OR New York - or anywhere in the UK or the US. There are limits upon my freedom but they are limits set by the tyranny of the terrorists - not by either government. To see Police states go to Terahn or Pyonyang.

Greg on :

What often gets missed in the debate about counter-terrorism measures is that Europe's rules are usually more strident than those in the US. And few in Europe complain of loss of civil liberties. Too much emphasis is placed on GITMO, which is a place to hold the worst of the worst islamic supremacists. Only people the US catches on the foreign battlefield who are not US citizens have even a chance of being sent there. And they are sent there because international treaties set up to deal with POWs never contemplated the type of warrior the West faces today. As to the run-of-the-mill counter-terror laws - like sneak and peak warrants, roving wiretaps, investigative detention in extreme cases - I don't know too many people who can say this has affected their lives. In fact, I know no one who can. There simply has been no erosion of civil liberties since 9/11 in the US or in Western Europe, that I am aware of. What can't you do now that you could 9/11? Anything? Seems to me these laws have been highly successful without doing much, if any, harm.

Axel on :

[i]Too much emphasis is placed on GITMO, which is a place to hold the worst of the worst islamic supremacists. Only people the US catches on the foreign battlefield who are not US citizens have even a chance of being sent there. And they are sent there because international treaties set up to deal with POWs never contemplated the type of warrior the West faces today.[/i] The majority of the Guatanamo detainees -- according to the DoD's own accounts -- were not engaged in hostile acts against the US. Here are the main points of an analysis of Guantanamo detainees based on DoD documents. You might want to read the [url=http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=885659]whole report[/url]: 1. Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies. 2. Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban. 3. The Government has detained numerous persons based on mere affiliations with a large number of groups that, in fact, are not on the Department of Homeland Security terrorist watchlist. Moreover, the nexus between such a detainee and such organizations varies considerably. Eight percent are detained because they are deemed "fighters for;" 30% considered "members of;" a large majority - 60% - are detained merely because they are "associated with" a group or groups the Government asserts are terrorist organizations. For 2% of the prisoners, a nexus to any terrorist group is not identified by the Government. 4. [i]Only 5% of the detainees were captured by United States forces[/i]. 86% of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody. This 86% of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were handed over to the United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies (One representative flyer, distributed in Afghanistan, states: "Get wealth and power beyond your dreams....You can receive millions of dollars helping the anti-Taliban forces catch al-Qaida and Taliban murders. This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life. Pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people.") 5. Finally, the population of persons deemed not to be enemy combatants - mostly Uighers - are in fact accused of more serious allegations than a great many persons still deemed to be enemy combatants. I'll leave it to you to figure out why the rest of your remark is questionable.

Greg on :

Axel, even assuming this analysis is totally correct (and I don't, since we've seen several cases of people who we were told there was "no evidence" against leave GITMO and go on to commit acts of terrorism), we're still talking about a relatively small number of people. I'm saying people exaggerate its importance and use it as a poltical tool. And please do not leave it to me to figure out why the rest of my comment is questionable - I obviously already agree with myself. You tell me what's wrong with the various anti-terror measures put in place in the past 5-6 years. Any problem with sneak & peak warrants? Or roving wiretaps? Any problem if someone shoots bin Laden? I don't know - I hear a whole lot about "loss of civil liberties" and the like, but from where I stand, I don't see it. So, I'll ask again - what is practically different in your life since 9/11? Nothing for me, except I have to take my shoes off at the airport occassionally.

Don S on :

Axel, the link you provided is actually an executive summary of what appears to be a legal brief. It does not appear to be a DOD document at all but rather defense lawyer's summary of what they say the document shows. "1. Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies." This sounds like a statement that the US authorities do not have 'smoking gun' proof against 55% of the detainees. This is new news? This does not mean that 55% of the detainees are 'innocent'. In lawyerese what this means is that for 55% of the detainees the case is not open and shut. Given that these are detainees from a war zone this should come as no surprise - police detectives are not commonly found in free fire zones. By the time the detectives show up weeks ior months later what has happened to the battleground? Given similar 'rules' of evidence how many German POW's could have lawfully been held by the Allies during WWII? Perhaps they just liked to dress up in Army uniforms - how could anyone know or sure? Release them!

Pat Patterson on :

I read the entire report and what eventually leaped out at me was that this figure of 55% being held(with the implication that this was unlawful) and identified as not having committed hostile acts almost matches the number of men released from Guantanamo after the military determined their status. Of the original 775 held over 340 have been released, as of November 2006. While another 110 are ready to be released, 70 are not going to get a trial and some 250 are to be held indefinitely. It turns out that the figure of 517 studied are made up mostly of those released and those ready for release. In other words the military and the government have already determined their status and released or trying to release them. Of course then this group would skew the numbers toward counting as unlawfully held noncombatants. But the report implies that 55% of those currently being held are being held even after their noncombatant status has been determined. It's almost like saying that 100% of the people that were acquited of crimes proves that they never should have been charged in the first place. Or that 100% of those convicted are criminals.

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