Dishonest Discourse

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When a presentation is entitled "Transferring GITMO Detainees to Michigan: State Assisted Suicide" you get an idea right away where the conversation is going to head. Spoiler Alert: it's heads to Crazytown as quick as a high-speed train, and crashes just as spectacularly.

It irritates me when there are people who think so little of their audience that they disrespect the importance of the debate about Guantanamo Bay prisoners. This debate includes our own constitutional rights, our international responsibility and so on; you all know the drill.

Some time ago, Governor Granholm proposed a controversial way to bring some money into Michigan and save a little town called Standish from having the prison that supplies the bulk of jobs in that community close down (I hate that prison closure is a job issue, in that we find ways to keep prisons open just to sustain jobs, but that's a post for another day): move the Gitmo prisoners here! Fool-proof, right? It's cold as fuck here, everybody in Michigan owns guns, etc.

Obviously, this brings serious debate, including having to declare an actual, definable status for these prisoners once they enter U.S. soil and the declaration's implications on extradition treaties, the means by which many were incarcerated and so on.

But last Tuesday, did we have that important and heady debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee here in the mitten state?


We get a retired Army Lt. Colonel (Lt. Colonel Cucullu, which at first glance reminded me of Cthulhu) and a former Defense Department analyst named Peter Leitner, who was the Treasurer of the National Republican Trust PAC, which was responsible for that well-balanced ad in 2008 that included a shot of Obama's face superimposed over Muhammed Atta's driver's license. Already, you see the quality of debate we're about to engage in when you've got a guy willing to fund an ad that relies on fear and dishonesty. Turns out, by the way, this Trust PAC is chock-full of birthers and has helped fund that movement.

You can find the presentation here. It is full of real gems, but the best shit comes on page 14 of 15.

In a slide entitled "What's likely here" we learn that if we house Gitmo detainees here in Michigan, we will get:

  • Terrorists striking simultaneously at multiple schools, or:
  • a Beslan-type attack with fewer terrorists but better bombs
  • Middle schools without a police presence are preferred, [because] the girls are big enough to rape; the students are not big enough to fight back; staffed largely by females
  • schools with external surveillance cameras are preferred so terrorists can observe LE [law enforcement] response
I don't quite know what the last point has to do with the consequences behind our actions, but it is a great example of the gloriously disjointed presentation.

Look, when that is your bottom line, and when you show pictures of a terrorist bombing at a school that has nothing to do with Al Queda as proof of what Al Queda will do here, then you don't actually have a point in the argument. You're just making noise.

When you call Beslan a "dress rehearsal" for what will come in America, despite no factual link between angry Chechens and detainees in Guantanamo Bay, you are not interested in engaging in debate. You just want to freak people out because you don't really get the issue either. I'd love to do a point-by-point debunking of this power point presentation, but there's no point. It's just sensationalism and an attempt at the delay of a wildly necessary conversation. Why not here? Why not define detainees' status? What can we really expect?

Instead, we get more fear-mongering and avoidance.

I added a link to the actual presentation above. Go take a look.


Bob 7:46 AM  

Will Al Queda be more pissed becuase their buds are locked up in Standish versus Gitmo? I think not. If there were going to be terriorist attacks due to a prison, it would be happening now. Why do they make the leap that Al Queda needs to attack the prison site/city to get their point across? Heck, they could abduct some American in Rome to get their point across.

I haven't heard of prisoners escaping from Michigan prisons and even if they did, I wouldn't be worried. An Al Queda member wouldn't exactly hang out in Standish once they escaped. They couldn't exactly blend in, in Standish, Michigan.

I say bring them here and charge the U.S. Government a shit load to do it.

steves 7:57 AM  

Excellent analysis, Smitty. I don't know how much of a debate there would have been on issues related to status, as they have been pretty well hashed out by the Supremes. That, along with the Obama's Justice Department saying that they could continue to detain the Gitmo gang as long as they wanted, even if a trial said otherwise. While I think that closing Gitmo is a positive step, there is nothing I have seen since then that suggests actual due process, but instead a continuation of Bush-era BS.

I remember when the possibility of Gitmo prisoners coming to Michigan was first discussed. Bart Stupak made a push to bring them to the UP, as they were seeing some prison closures. While I generally agree that we spend too much on prisons and incarcerate too many non-violent offenders, I have mixed feelings about closing them, as we have such serious problems with unemployment.

That being said, if these people are going to be held, why not Michigan? I don't know how the people of Standish feel, but I thought it sounded like a good idea to me. I know not everyone feels that way, but what connection does Lt. Col. Cthulu and Paul Leitner have to Michigan? Who brought them here.

I am no security expert, but why should we expect a terrorist attack? For one thing, there hasn't been one yet in response to holding these people in Gitmo. I realize that Standish is much more accessible, but that brings me to my next point.

Have any of these people ever been to Standish? I have been there probably over a hundred times. We drive through the town on the way to my in-laws and stop there every time, whether it is to buy gas, eat, or pick up something at a store. It is like many other small towns in the northern part of Michigan (population 1,581). There isn't a lot of growth and many of the people that live there have lived there for a long time and know each other.

If a group of terrorists moved there to plan some type of massacre, they may have a difficult time staying hidden, as people are going to notice strangers coming into the area. I am not saying it would be impossible, but it is certainly not likely. Morons.

steves 7:58 AM  

I haven't heard of prisoners escaping from Michigan prisons

It happens from time to time, but not as often from the Maximum Security ones. They are usually caught pretty quickly.

Smitty 8:32 AM  

Heck, they could abduct some American in Rome to get their point across.

EXACTLY. It's not the town, it's the country. Nab an American elsewhere, or kill a ton of them in a huge city upon which our economy depends, and you've made a statement. Sorry, Standish. Your 1,500 people just isn't that big a statement as, say, oh, two huge towers that house thousands of people and half of our financial infrastructure.

They couldn't exactly blend in, in Standish, Michigan.

No offense to my small-town colleagues, but Standish is not exactly a bastion of open-minded acceptance. See, terrorists can hit places like NYC or Washington DC because there are indeed thousands of other non-terrorists there who look like them. They blend in and can walk around in the open. In Standish? Thinking not.

I don't know how the people of Standish feel

The mayor of Standish actually proposed it. It's Standish's idea for all intents and purposes.

Mrs. Smitty 8:55 AM  

Dept Of Corrections has reported previously that there has not ever been an escape from Standish Prison. I don't see why anyone would expect the detainees would be able to escape any easier.

Smitty 9:38 AM  

I've got to say this: the "big enough to rape" comment really concerns me. This guy singles-out middle school girls as big enough to rape and that middle schools themselves are predominantly run by women.

What...does this guy think about at night? I mean, is he using words and phrases and age groups that are guaranteed to shock us? Or does he have torture/rape fantasies of middle school girls?

I do not recall, in the Al Queda intel that we have gathered so far and in their twisted practices we have thus far witnessed, that they are training their little zealots to rape, let alone rape specifically middle school girls.

Also, I cannot substantiate that middle schools are in fact, statistically, run mostly by women. I think he made that up too.

Bob 9:41 AM  

It is possible that those two are even more twisted than the average Al Queda member.

Pete,  10:57 AM  

I don't see why anyone would expect the detainees would be able to escape any easier.

Because the terr'ists are evil super-villains! Think Legion Of Doom, only on crack!

Rickey Henderson 3:05 PM  

It seems like the lunatic who drafted this presentation started off with the knee-jerk reaction that GITMO must remain open at all costs then worked outwards from there.

Smitty's spot-on about the dude's creepy comment about the middle school girls. It reminds Rickey of a conversation he had with an acquaintance. Rickey was talking about how his daily job takes him past a school. So the guy says: "what were YOU doing running by a school?" Yeah, fuck you asshole, what were you doing thinking about this issue in the first place you weirdo? Why would anyone suddenly jump to this train of thought?

steves 3:19 PM  

Creepy, but I would expect someone in the security field to come up with worst case scenarios, much like profilers try to understand serial killers and mass murderers. That being said, they should confine their scenarios to events that are plausible and ones where there is some evidence that is being planned. Otherwise, it is just fear mongering.

Smitty, I did read that the local population may not be excited about the detainees coming there. It sounds like the politicians in that area have to work to convince them.

I don't know Rickey. It seems more like they were hired by some group that doesn't want the detainees coming to Michigan and told to scare the shit out of the Legislature.

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