General Question

kevbo's avatar

What would you ask a Brigadier General who helped run Gitmo?

Asked by kevbo (25634points) February 9th, 2009

I haven’t decided yet, but I have the opportunity to hear this guy give a talk to a local military retiree club. I assume there will be room for Q & A.

As many of you know, I’m pretty much on the side of the War on Terror being a facade and masking an ulterior agenda; however, I’m not interested in making this a “We Are Change” moment. I would be open to asking an informed, “fair” question that is evidence-based and attempts to draw out some kind of candid response.

So what would you ask? If I go and ask the question, I’ll post his response.

(By all means, though, feel free in your response below to take a pot shot if that will make you feel better.)

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46 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Sooo… Do you really think the “just following orders” defence is going to hold?

shilolo's avatar

If you had anything to do over, what would it be?

Grisson's avatar

“Did you get to meet Tom Cruise?”

Bluefreedom's avatar

“When they close down Guantanamo Bay, what will be the protocol for releasing the current detainees?”

“If a new detention center needed to be built or you could have had the chance to do things differently at Gitmo, what would you do for the former and what would you have done differently for the latter choice?”

Bri_L's avatar

I would be interested in the following

“what do you think of the closing?”

“What do you think should be done in its place?”

“How do you feel about what was done there?”

aprilsimnel's avatar

Why were the detainees not given a status as defined by the Geneva Convention?

There have been others accused of terrorism before Al-Qaeda; how were they detained and why hasn’t that protocol been followed for these people?

augustlan's avatar

“WTF were you thinking?”

asmonet's avatar

@augustlan: If he says that the next words out of his mouth are going to be:

DON’T TASE ME BRO!

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

“Do you agree with this statement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?”

asmonet's avatar

Remember you high school English class, Chris. Some are more equal than others.

TaoSan's avatar

Equal not same, lol

Sorceren's avatar

@chris6137—Yes, unless they’re shooting at me or my troops. Then they only have karma.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

@sorceren
Who shot first?

wundayatta's avatar

I’d like to ask him what he thought of the place, but since he is on active duty, I doubt if he could answer it. I guess you can’t ask him anything that’s classified. I mean, you could, but it would be a waste of time. So you can’t ask about interrogation techniques.

Maybe I’d ask him how this tour of duty compared to other’s he’s been on. Or what were the special challenges of the post. Or how could they have done a better job? This could be good, because it’s somewhat vague, and he might duck it, or he might take it in an interesting direction, that sheds light on what happened.

Or, I might ask him a question about duty and private ethics. Say, did he ever have a conflict between the two on that post? Hoo boy. I’d pay money to see you ask that question.

Sorceren's avatar

@chris6137—anybody not in uniform who is shooting has questions to answer. Whether he shot first or not. Let’s not turn this into an argument about the war; it’s a question about Gitmo. Your question to the General assumes he was wrong from the git-go because the war was wrong; it implies that no one in such a hypothetical general’s position could possibly believe those statements.

You may find this difficult to believe, but he was a civilian once. He learned the Declaration too. And unlike you he chooses to fight to defend the country that holds up its truths as “self-evident.” As @daloon suggests, ask him a question his position can answer. Please?

Sorceren's avatar

I would ask, “Do you still believe in a free press?”

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I dont necessarily believe he was wrong. I believe he enlisted in the military and was taught to obey orders. I support the troops. I do not believe in the policy passed down to the troops, but I understand that troops are taught to obey authority.

I recently watched Taxi to the Dark Side, on HBO. It is interviews with troops at Gitmo and shows footage. From all the interviews in that documentary, the number one reason given for doing being involved in “harsh interrogations,” was that they were obeying their orders.

Gen. Zanetti was simply obeying orders. Its easy when you are taking the oath on elistment to say, “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

But it’s kinda hard to defend the Constitution against domestic enemies when everyone is only obeying orders. How easy is it to not obey orders if they are unconstitutional? Which brings me to my new question for Gen. Zanetti…
“How would you define enemy combatant and how would you determine if someone is an enemy combatant or not?”

Of course I believe in free press. Why do you ask?

Sorceren's avatar

@chris6137 “Of course I believe in free press. Why do you ask?”

That’s what I would ask Zanetti!

wundayatta's avatar

I heard once that service members could disobey immoral orders. Is that right?

cschack's avatar

“Was it worth it?”

fireside's avatar

“Did you order a Code Red? I want the truth!”

augustlan's avatar

“You can’t handle the truth!”

fireside's avatar

I’d ask him where he thought the detainees should be held once they are released from Gitmo. What happens to those who other countries don’t take?

Sorceren's avatar

@daloon, it’s true that a soldier can refuse to obey an illegal order. The UCMJ is a very big code.

wundayatta's avatar

Are orders that violate the Geneva convention illegal?

Sorceren's avatar

TTBOMK, yes. Since when does an asshole who fights not just counter to the rules of war but in civilian clothes — that is to say, dressed like an innocent, not identified or identifiable as a member of the opposing side’s army and thus “innocent until” he proves himself guilty by shooting at you from behind a bus full of school kids — fall under the Geneva Conventions?

The GC is conventions agreed to by civilized countries who all agreed on what war was and how to fight it in a civil fashion: “Let each side have its own distinctive uniform, so that friendly fire is minimized and everyone knows who the enemy is.” That was a big one. You don’t follow that one, we don’t have to follow the rest.

They’re fine with war as long as they can disguise themselves as civilians. We’re not fine with that; too many civilians get hurt. So we take these “enemy non-combatants” (that is, not bearing rank or identification as an enemy soldier, but verifiably shooting at or bombing our soldiers) out of the picture, to Gitmo. And then we try to find out WTF, over?! It had to be done. It could not be done here, and it sure as hell can’t be done in our court system — they have no rights under our legal system, because they are not American citizens!

augustlan's avatar

@Sorceren But don’t they have the right to be treated like human beings?

Sorceren's avatar

You bet! Evil, demonstrably inimical human beings — and yet I heard no reports that they were starved, beaten, not sheltered or not clothed. They even had religious materials given to them, and their medical needs were not ignored.

They were and are treated about 100% better than prisoners in our own jails and prisons — who are American citizens. Think about what you would ask this general, and then ask it of any warden in the country.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

@sorceren

How about the sleep and sensory deprevation? How about waterboarding and sexual embarassment? What about solitary confinement?

When you completely break down a person’s sense of being, how do you think these people will react if they ever are found not guilty and released?

Most of the insurgents are regular people, doctors, lawyers, etc., who have an outside country bombing and occupying their land. Of course they are going to fight back. I guarantee if another country came here and tried to take over, you would have plenty on ununiformed civilians trying to resist.

The fact that non Americans are not entitled to the same rights to a fair trial is absurd to me. In my opinion, the constitution and decleration of independence is a philosophy that should apply to everyone. To me, people are people, not Americans, Iraqis, etc. Also, how can we promote freedom abroad without actually giving certain people no rights rights should be taken away after a fair trial, not just because the president says so.

fireside's avatar

Don’t forget about the open-air cages

augustlan's avatar

@Sorceren I don’t see how you can possibly say they were/are treated better than prisoners in our jails. Any mistreatment our prisoners receive is generally at the hands of other prisoners, not the United States government.

Sorceren's avatar

@augustlan, I can say it because I know how badly treated our prison population is. I know a man dying now in a Virginia prison of incompetent medical care, and sadly I also know he’s not alone. America’s prisons are a national shame and disgrace; medical conditions alone are scary — especially when you’re 70, like he is.

IINM, each Gitmo prisoner had his own cell — yes, open-air, shaded, because that’s what works in Cuba. I lived in Puerto Rico for three and a half years without air conditioning, because my father was serving in the USAF. Enlisted housing had no AC and no space for a dryer, on a clothesline out back. It’s not that bad.

@chris6137, I know I’d be one of the non-uniformed civilians putting up a hell of a fight — defending the unarmed and disarmed civilians. But anytime you take up arms, whether in or out of uniform, whether with or against a country’s military forces, you have to know there’s a chance you won’t just be bravely killed in heroic action. If you’re taken prisoner, you’d better hope your prison’s as nice as Gitmo.

kevbo's avatar

@all, I don’t mean to ask you a question and tell you the answer, but I think I might ask these questions-

1. What are the conditions of victory for the War on Terror (i.e. how will we know we’ve won).

2. Do you believe our rights and freedoms will be restored to what they were prior to 9/11 when the War on Terror is won. Will we see restored the freedoms we are fighting for?

Bluefreedom's avatar

@kevbo. With the Patriot Act in place, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back the rights and freedoms we used to enjoy. Even after the War on Terror is over.

kevbo's avatar

Yeah, I would doubt that as well, but I would hope to make dialectically the point that we are (supposedly) fighting for freedoms that we are likely not getting back.

Sorceren's avatar

@chris6137 Wow, what a place to get your “news” — they’re also carrying a “news” story headlined, “Colbert undergoes anal exam in honor of Glenn Beck.” Seriously, you really need to check the accuracy of that site and similar sources. The Russians have been scaring and demoralizing Americans for years with that kind of tripe.

If it were even close to verifiable, don’t you think the Democrat-controlled news media would have it all over CNN?

fireside's avatar

@Sorceren – Are you disputing the accuracy of the story about Colbert? Or do you just think that one of the highest rated shows in late night tv isn’t “news“worthy?

Sorceren's avatar

My concern isn’t about the newsworthiness of the story so much as about the site’s value as a news source. You can get an equally biased view of the “news” at any rabid right-winger site, but then you have to discount their slant, too.

Getting back to Gitmo and the General, maybe we should just get him on the Colbert Report. Stephen will tell us what not to think.

Sorceren's avatar

@kevbo, where are we fighting for rights that we’re likely not getting back? That hasn’t made the news either! (If you mean states’ rights, that’s covered elsewhere.)

kevbo's avatar

@Sorceren, I’m talking about Bill of Rights rights vs. Patriot Act rights and whether we will have the full measure of those rights restored as opposed to riddled with exceptions. Would you not agree that your 4th amendment rights have been compromised by warrantless wiretaps, etc? Similarly, do you think it’s okay for reporters to be arrested on the street or for protesters homes to be preemptively raided using terrorism laws as justification?

As for the criticism of the rawstory report, what, exactly, is biased about reporting what was contained in a government document that was acquired via a FOIA request? Harper’s Magazine, which has been published since 1850, is also reporting this story. Are they an unreliable news source, too?

Here’s a hint. CNN is already a military-corporate propaganda machine, so no, they wouldn’t cover something like that. That’s another subject for another day, but it’s kind of scary how watered-down, fluffy, and slanted they are.

Sorceren's avatar

@kevbo — oh, that fight for truth, justice and the Murkin way. I thought you were talking about a war I hadn’t heard about. I tried to warn folks before those two laws were passed last year, and everybody was too busy hyping Hillary over Obama to listen. I’ve tried to tell folks here about the detention centers, tried to get them to ask “why” — there’s just not much lurve in the collective fluther for “serious” navel-gazing, I guess.

As for my quibbling about the value @fireside‘s chosen news site, visit www.newsmax.com for the other end of hype. And similarly, not everything they carry is apocryphal. I don’t doubt that there is some data, some fundamental issue behind the story or, as you say, Harper’s probably wouldn’t have used it. But as you also say, journalism everywhere is getting fluffy and weak minded.

CNN’s HLN kind of journalism,NB, thrives on scandal and torture. So why are they not covering this?! <sigh>

kevbo's avatar

IMHO, the most CNN does is provide an authorized outlet for moral indignation about “safe” left vs. right topics. So, they’re going to report on the bailout and then show some duped viewer reaction on Twitter about “why can these guys figure it out, they should all be fired!” and carry on with business as usual. I don’t think they ever take the lead on breaking scandalous or damaging stories like that unless it’s been leaked and sanctioned by the powers that be so that they can sacrifice a lamb or scapegoat to appease the public.

I would say they aren’t covering this, because it’s damaging in a way that the public won’t accept and because it’s not a big enough story yet that they can’t ignore it. As long as it stays that way (and there’s a plane crash or something else to distract us) they’ll probably never cover it.

(I think you and @chris6137, by the way, have more in common on your views than you realize.)

HLN? NB?

Also, I’ll check out the newsmax site for a while and see how I like it. (Although, I don’t think I really need to know that Sarah Palin is dropping the puck for NHL games.)

Sorceren's avatar

@kevbo, Now CNN makes sense. I’m sorry, I was caught thinking ractionary, back when they actually led real stories before anyone else. The White House used to tell CIA to stay tuned to it.

(I think you’re right, but it’ll be a while before he internalizes it. Or admits it.)

“HLN? NB?” HeadLine News and Nota Bene, or “Note Well” or “notice ye!” Sorry.

Sending you a fairly useful (IMHO) news link in a Comment.

kevbo's avatar

That’s true about the past, I’m sure, but a little weaponized anthrax probably helped change the game.

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