Comments Posted By andy
Displaying 181 To 190 Of 258 Comments

ESCAPING THE LEGAL AND MORAL QUAGMIRE OF GUANTANAMO

PC,

"My" numbers on compensation are from the GAO. Read the first page of this report:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05798.pdf

It's impossible for you to calculate BAS, BAH, etc. because those benefits are dependent upon duty location, rank and marital status. Special pays are very complicated - there is no way you correctly factored them in. So I'll take the GAO's numbers over yours. And yes, they include officers - they are in the military too - but not retiree pay, or even reserve and Guard pay.

Yes, in 2004 it cost about $158 billion to pay for 1.4 million active-duty military. Like I said above, that doesn't include any equipment, training, or operational costs. You probably need to double that figure at least to account for those factors. Additionally, as I said before, it takes time to build a force - you can't just toss in a ton of money and expect the Government to instantly squat down and squeeze out a million fully trained and equipped troops.

Comment Posted By Andy On 3.07.2006 @ 14:58

PC:

You can read the latest issue of Foreign Affairs for the numbers and a good article on the military manpower crisis here:

http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.24584/pub_detail.asp

That number is an average, so obviously some troops are cheaper and others more expensive. Base pay is only one aspect of military compensation. There are housing costs, medical care, life insurance, special pays, etc. that all add up and are not always tied to rank.

Comment Posted By Andy On 2.07.2006 @ 10:11

BTW, great article Rick, I agree with pretty much everything you said.

One thing I do find ironic and humorous about some conservatives, especially with this Administration - they insist that judicial appointees be "strict constructionists" when interpreting laws, but they don't apply such standards to interpreting law as it pertains to themselves or the executive branch. On one hand the Administration argues that broad laws like the civil rights act, clean water act, ADA, etc. must be interpreted according to the letter of the law, but then it turns around and interprets the use of force resolution and our treaty obligations in the widest manner conceivable.

Comment Posted By Andy On 2.07.2006 @ 00:25

For those advocating increasing manpower in the armed forces, it is not as easy as it sounds. We simply don't have the money to pay for new weapon systems and increase the size of the force at the same time. The average active duty military person costs the government $112,000 each year just in pay and benefits. We spend $94 billion dollars just to keep our active duty military on active duty. The guard and reserve are much cheaper until you activate them, which is quite common today, so that figure is probably well over $100 billion. That's over 20% of the total defense budget. That money doesn't buy any equipment or training, much less funds for actual operations. Just for comparison, $94 billion is more than any other country's total military budget. In fact, it's 50% more than our nearest spending competitor - China.

So, to double the size of the military will add almost $100 billion to the defense budget right off the bat. Add in the equipment, training and operating expenses they'll need and you're looking at increasing the defense budget by at least 50% or over $250 billion a year. In short, there is no way to pay for the increase. In fact, we are now cutting personnel to pay for equipment recapitalization. The Air Force is cutting almost 60,000 personnel in the next year to pay for the F-22 and JSF. The $7 billion those cut personnel will save will buy about 20 F-22's at their current price of about $345 million a pop. It's obviously legitimate to question the tradeoff of those personnel for equipment, especially the F-22 which will be the most expensive military acquisition program in the history of this planet.

But there are other reasons the force cannot simply be increased, even if we had the money. Assuming the needed personnel could be voluntarily recruited, they will still start at the bottom rung in terms of seniority and experience. It frankly takes time to build the size of the force, because you can't instantly buy or recruit the necessary leadership for all the newly recruited troops. You have to make those leaders and build that experience over time. A good mid-level NCO - the core leadership element in the US military - takes anywhere from 5-10 years to get the training and experience. Field grade officers take a minimum of a decade if they're fast-burners. Therefore, a significant increase in the force will take at least a decade to implement. Cutting the force is easy and quick, building it is not.

So for all those reasons and more our military will not be getting bigger anytime soon.

Comment Posted By Andy On 2.07.2006 @ 00:12

HAMDAN HANGOVER

rdh,

I don't know where you're getting that. It's pretty clear the 3rd convention defines POW status. The 4th Convention applies to everyone else. From what I've read, no one at GITMO would qualify for POW status, so treatment as defined under the 4th convention would apply.

And I have read each Convention. If you read common article 3 (common, because it's the same in each of the 4 conventions) it clearly defines the limits of what you can do in any case - POW or not.

Comment Posted By Andy On 3.07.2006 @ 15:05

rdh,

I don't know why to bring up GC1. It specifically applies only to battlefield casualties. GC2 expands that to wars at sea. GC3 covers POW's. GC4 covers everyone else. The rights people have under GC4 are less than what are accorded to POW's. The only people not covered under some portion of the GC are nationals from countries who have not signed it.

So I'm not sure what you mean by "Part 1." If you're talking Protocol 1, then we, and many other countries, have not ratified it.

Comment Posted By Andy On 2.07.2006 @ 10:21

rdh,

You conveniently skip over relevent sections of the convention, specifically articles 3&4:

Article 3
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
taking of hostages;
outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

[edit]
Article 4
Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.

Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons while the State of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are.

The provisions of Part II are, however, wider in application, as defined in Article 13.

Persons protected by the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 12 August 1949, or by the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea of 12 August 1949, or by the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949, shall not be considered as protected persons within the meaning of the present Convention.

As you can see it applies to any person captured in us custody.

The provision on spies and sabateuor are forfeited rights of communication - that does not mean you can arbitralily kill and torture them.

Comment Posted By Andy On 1.07.2006 @ 09:25

I've been travelling for the last couple of weeks and have been out of the loop.

One thing I'd like to point out, though, is the 4th Geneva Convention, which essentially sets a floor of treatment no matter the status of persons captured. Some neocons have argued that GCIV only applies to civilians, but that is not supported by the actual text of the convention. Articles 3 and 4 are pretty definitive.

If the person captured belongs to a state that is not a signatory to the GC, then they are not protected. However, most terrorists are citizens of signatory states.

It seems to me Congress needs to do its job and define how these people will be treated in the context of our treaty obligations. I see no reasons that terrorists should have the protections afforded our citizens who are accused of crimes. However, we do need a legal framework. Congress should create a separate legal system to deal with these people - a system that provides a minimal level of fairness and oversight to limit the conviction of innocents, but at the same time provides stiff punishments. Alternatively, we should return them to their home countries provided they will receive "trials" there.

Comment Posted By Andy On 30.06.2006 @ 22:47

MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR TERRORISTS

Neo,

Just as a point of fact the code you cite only applies to SIGINT and more specifically COMINT activities. So the the NSA wiretap leak would fall under it, but not this latest leak.

I heard a soft-ball interview with Keller on NPR today where he gave the same basic argument that "everyone already knows." That's a totally BS argument, and I know from personal experience.

Comment Posted By Andy On 28.06.2006 @ 00:09

THE IMMORALITY OF THE DEMOCRATS' POSITION ON THE WAR

I did notice the June numbers. It's strange they have June numbers since it's not even July yet. I don't know their methodology, but it appears they take a snapshot on the first of the month instead of an average over the month. That will give some wonky figures if that's the case. We'll see if the trend continues as you suggest.

There is enough popular support to maintain the insurgency. That's all an insurgency needs. They have a lot of support in key cities and neighborhoods in Baghdad. Undermining and coopting this support is the key to defeating the insurgency.

The support for foreign fighters and terrorists has dropped considerably and will likely drop further. Only the most radical Sunni factions seem to support them now, which will limit their operations considerably.

Comment Posted By Andy On 21.06.2006 @ 22:00


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