Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Little Scottie brings the gaggle to an abrupt halt when he is pressed on GITMO.

Q A couple questions. What are the criteria here, then? Is it the plan of the President that at least some of these detainees would be held through the duration of the war on terrorism? And how would that be defined?

Q Right, but the President has said this is a long, long struggle. Adding two and two here, it’s conceivable, and, in fact, likely, that some of these people will be held by the United States somewhere for decades.

Q I’m just trying to get a fix here on how long Guantanamo Bay, or whatever comes after Guantanamo Bay, would —

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t think you can speculate — I don’t think you can speculate about that. We remain a nation at war. And we are going to go after —

Q Can you define for me the end of the war?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, the President has talked about this. There are those who espouse an ideology of hatred and oppression. What we are working to do is defeat the ideology of hatred and oppression by spreading freedom and by taking the fight to the enemy. That’s why we’re staying on the offensive and going after those who seek to do us harm. We’re fighting them abroad so we don’t have to fight them here at home. So there’s a comprehensive strategy that we have for winning the war on terrorism, which I think is what you are getting at. But it is a war that continues.

Q Right, so just as a matter of policy now, the United States is, then, claiming the power and the right in its national self-interest, at least until the ideology of hatred is defeated and freedom and democracy are spread —

MR. McCLELLAN: I think eventually, you would hope —

Q — to nab people around the world and hold them indefinitely.

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I think eventually, you would hope that Guantanamo Bay would not be necessary, because you’ve either returned people to their countries of origin, or you’ve otherwise moved forward on the legal process and dealt with their situation. But you’re asking a very hypothetical question at this point.

Q I’m trying to get the parameters of the policy —

[And Later…]

Q Scott, on Guantanamo Bay, understanding that you’re saying — well, but the Geneva Convention does not apply to the prisoners there, looking at part three, section one, article 17, it talks about prisoners of war, but there’s also, in the third paragraph, the first five words, “each party to a conflict.” So I’m trying to figure out — to understand where you are. “Conflict” with people, meaning not soldiers or soldiers, that’s still something — that still covers those people that you have in Guantanamo Bay, correct? Even if you try to say it’s not war.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know how many times we’ve walked through how we came to the decision we did and why the President made the determination he did. Secretary Rumsfeld went back through it yesterday. You can go back and look at the information we put out back in 2002 that addressed this. These are individuals that do not represent a nation, they do not wear a uniform. There are reasons why we came to the conclusion they are not a party to the Geneva Convention. And the President made the determination that they were enemy combatants.

That doesn’t change the way we treat detainees. Our military upholds high standards and the values and laws that we hold dear. And the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being treated humanely and they are being treated in a way that is consistent with the Geneva conventions, as we have pointed out. They are being provided meals, clothing, medical care; they are being treated very humanely. That’s the way the United States military operates. If there are individuals that act contrary to the military’s standards and our own laws and values, then they are held accountable, and they have been held accountable.

Q Okay, but the line has been obscured between the Geneva Convention and your law. But you’re saying they’ve been treated humanely. The Geneva Convention, even in this article, article 17, it talks about each party to a conflict, okay. And then going down a couple paragraphs, it says, no physical or mental torture. Is dropping water on the head, keeping them up all night, making them stand, is that consistent with your laws? It is consistent with the Geneva Convention, saying no physical or mental torture, but —

MR. McCLELLAN: I talked about this the other day, about all interrogation techniques that have been approved are lawful and consistent with our obligations. That was pointed out in a briefing a year ago here at the White House, a briefing with the White House counsel, with the Department of Defense counsel and his deputy, and the deputy head of Army intelligence. And they walked everybody through this.

Now, I think one of the individuals you may be referencing is a gentleman named Mr. Kahtani. Mr. Kahtani was someone that we believe intended to be one of the hijackers on September 11th. Those attacks killed 3,000 innocent civilians. This is a very dangerous individual who has provided us with valuable intelligence. And so I would encourage you to go back and look at the briefing that took place a year ago, and that walked you all through all these very issues, because these questions have been addressed.

And in terms of individuals who have taken actions that are contrary to our military standards and to our own values and laws, let’s talk about that for a second, because I want to point that out. We’ve had some 525,000 people serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or at Guantanamo Bay, men and women in uniform who are committed to not only upholding our values and laws, but helping to advance freedom around the world and give people rights that they have not had previously.

And so I think you have to look at the overall context here. And I take strong exception to any characterizations that try to diminish what our military is doing, and the standards and values that they adhere to, because the 99 percent plus of our men and women in uniform who are serving and sacrificing in defense of freedom are also making sure that those laws and those values and those standards are upheld.

Q But Scott, you —

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

Q No, no, no, Scott —

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

Q You have given — he did not say thank you. (Laughter.) Scott, but you have — you have —

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, April — April, he did say thank you. I will see you. Thank you.

Hoo-boy! Is Little Scottie worried that those war crimes trials might blow-back on him, the mouthpiece of torture? My Magic Eightball says, “Yes!”