From: Andrew Clough (
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 11:40:07 MDT

At 09:18 AM 10/26/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>Andrew Clough wrote:
> > Though we disagree about quite a few things, I'm afraid I agree
> > with Samantha here. Coercing information out of these prisoners would not
> > be a good idea. First of all, If these people were prisoners of war they
> > would be protected by the third Geneva convention. However, war has not
> > been declared, and these were not troops "captured at the front lines,"
> > "openly bearing weapons," or many of the other things that have to be true
> > for somebody to be a POW. Where does that leave us? These people are
> > technically civilians.
>This is incorrect. The third Geneva Convention says that prisoners are
>not to be tortured. Any other means is perfectly acceptable. Secondly,
>war HAS been declared. It was declared by bin Laden 8 years ago.
>Thirdly, a box cutter is a weapon in the current conflict, and those
>four I specifically described all had box cutters or other weapons in
>their posession. Troops do not have to be captured at the front lines to
>be considered combatants either.

The US has signed conventions that specify that the use of pharmicuticals
on prisoners as part of an interogation is torture. Just because Bin Ladin
declared war on us doesn't mean we are legaly at war with him. A common
criminal in the US could declare war on us to try to legitimize his crimes,
but it would still be just a criminal case. Only when a foreign country
declares war are we at war with them. At least four our of the 150 people
held did have box cutters, but they were not "borne openly." Neither were
any of the people arrested in Uniform at the time, or in a occupied
territory and under a chain of command (the exception to the uniform
rule). Yes, there are exceptions to the front line rule, but I don't
believe any of the conditions were met here.

> > Because Bin Laden's network operates on the "need to know"
> > principle I doubt that any of people we are holding have information that
> > could be used to prevent other terrorist attacks, at least in the short
> term.
>No, it doesn't operate in that manner, it operates by a cell system,
>which is different from 'need to know'. Anyone in a cell is aware of any
>activities planned by that cell, as well as contacts and cutouts for
>subsidiary and superior cells.

An organization that uses a cell structure is different form an
organization that uses "need to know" in the same way that extropians
differ from transhumanists. One is a subtype of the other. Yes, many
members of a cell will know about other individuals in the chain of
command. However, they will have no idea what other parralel cell will be
doing. Thus my comment their infromation not preventing other terrorist
attacks in the short term. In the long run we can try and convict them,
and then use their infromation to slowly pick apart their organization.

> > Until these people are convicted they deserve the protection of US
> > law, including the 5th amendment. After conviction criminals do have to
> > give up some rights, and I could live with the use of truth serum so long
> > as it wasn't "cruel and unusual punishment," just so long as we are dead
> > sure that these people really were terrorists. The evidence against these
> > people was pretty impressive, but the stuff that I know about was
> > circumstantial, and so not enough to violate constitutional rights over.
>Having a) a scheduled flight from Newark to California the day of the
>attack (that was cancelled), and then heading to a Texas border town
>with box cutters (the preferred weapon of the hijackers) and ten
>thousand bucks in cash in their posession is far more than
>circumstantial, especially when one of them was already on the FBI's
>watch list. Then you've got Jechariah Moussawi, who 'only wanted to
>learn to fly the plane in the air' and was also on the watch list.
>If you mean that none of their activities, statements, or posessions
>could be tied to an actual crime directly, that is obvious, because they
>were never able to hijack a plane themselves, but it is rather obvious
>that they were involved in the plot. Only a complete idiot would think

OK, it is very, very unlikely that they are innocent. But if the
circmstances had been different, and the 9/11 attack hadn't happened their
activities wouldn't have made us suspect them of terrorism. So although
there is very,very strong circumstantial evidense, it is still
circumstantial and under our legal system they are innocent until we can
prove those bastards guilty.

>Finally, I highly doubt that you or Samantha has ANY experience in
>dealing with wartime legal issues, dealing with Geneva Conventions, etc.

No, all my knowledge comes from reading the relevant documents. Do you
have any experience with international law as it relates to the treatment
of prisoners?

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