June 03, 2006

Starbucks @ Camp Delta

The action of some protestors in Brighton is documented in an Indymedia UK article, together with some photos.

They are protesting about the Starbucks outlet in the Guantanamo Bay military base. By being (willingly) present there they are showing compliance with the illegal detention without trial of the prisoners there, and upon knowing this, buying coffee at a Starbucks outlet can only be validating the crimes against humanity on the base.

Simple message: if you agree with me and think what's going on at Camp Delta is wrong (both legally and morally), don't buy Starbucks coffee.

As the above article says, "Please consider whether you want to support these crimes against humanity when you drink your coffee".

The same applies to McDonalds (naturally), Subway, Pizza Hut and KFC, all which, after a breif trawl on the internet, have outlets in GTMO.

(sorry…I could have written a more persuasive/eliquently written piece here, but I'm tired..)


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  1. Ah yes, clearly those with a social conscience need an excuse to boycott Starbucks and McDonalds…

    Ever think they're setting up there because the people who wont care are the same people who already don't care?

    03 Jun 2006, 22:10

  2. Christopher Rossdale

    I agree, but from experience with this type of issue, people tend to like a solid singular reason to boycott something. Didn't know this though… the ICA blog improves my mind! ;)

    04 Jun 2006, 05:02

  3. John

    From the indymedia article:

    "A company spokesman has said: “We refrain from taking a position on the legality of the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay”. The company also states: “Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside and overseas. We sincerely appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy." This puts into question the ethics of a company that also fully supports US troops in their occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Although Starbucks will not take a position on the legality of detention without trial the Chief Executive Howard Schultz has taken strong pro–Israeli positions on the issue of Palestine. Some might call that double standards or hypocrisy.

    This article, or the leaflet being handing out, is stupid. Starbucks simply say they are supporting US troops and do not say they are supporting the occupations of either Iraq or Afghanistan. How is that unethical?

    And what has not taking a position on the legality of the camp got to do with taking a pro–Israeli stance in the Palestine–Israel problem?

    There is no clear evidence that what is going on in Camp Delta are crimes against humanity, just lots of rumours and misinformation.

    And I notice this is another post where you have referenced an article from Indymedia. Indymedia is not exactly known for its neutrality, is definitely left–wing and anti–capitalist, likes to refer to Israelis as Zionazis and certainly likes to censor articles which don't fit in line with its views. If you want to have an International Current Affairs society wouldn't it be better if you declined from using articles from Indymedia and other very biased news sources?

    06 Jun 2006, 00:17

  4. Christopher Rossdale

    Suggest a non–biased news source? I'll wager there's none.

    06 Jun 2006, 02:36

  5. John

    Suggest a non–biased news source? I'll wager there's none.

    I never said there was a non–biased news source but Indymedia is not one source I would base articles on. There are many other news sources that do not have anywhere near as much bias as Indymedia. The BBC and Reuters to name just two of the many new sources that would be far more neutral to use than the left–wing, anti–capitalist Indymedia.

    While you would be hard pressed to find a news service that is not slightly biased in some area or another, Indymedia is not a very reliable source, often containing stories of full of lies and misinformation.

    Oh and have a look at wikinews, that is supposed to be pretty neutral.

    06 Jun 2006, 03:26

  6. James

    Many goods and services on sale in Britain today have dubious origins. Boycotting all of them might be possible if one lived like an Amish, or at least with a severe degree of discomfort. People therefore pick and choose, and it is illuminating to see which particular goods and services are identified for moral protests. A while ago the tedious hypocrite Yasmin Alibhai–Brown wrote in the Independent (a word which has similar ironic connotations when used in media titles as 'Democratic' has historically in the title of nation states – the Democratic People's Republic of … etc) wrote that we should boycott certain goods from Israel, because that regime had been up to some behaviour with which she disagreed. A colleague wrote to her asking whether she intended also to stop using oil, since most oil producers are either extremely shoddy theocracies in the Middle East or Russian mafiosos.

    Camp Delta isn't exactly a model of a first world penal or judicial system, but there are far, far worse prisons/legal systems in operation around the world and we never hear calls for those countries to face boycotts. One example of a spectacularly oppressive and brutal regime was the Taliban. It was always at or near the top of the bad lists produced by UN human rights/aid organisations, yet as soon as America had it overthrown suddenly everyone blinds themselves to what occurred under the Taleban. So too with Iraq: Saddam was complained about but everyone wanted the sanctions lifted (though I should add that for other reasons I did not support the war) – despite the fact that the left wanted sanctions back in 1990 to be the sole response to his invasion of Kuwait.

    So I would say to the prospective Starbucks boycotters: by all means criticise the US, but try and get your priorities right and target those who are much worse with at least equal vigour. Oh and don't buy Starbucks anyway, it is overpriced sludge.

    06 Jun 2006, 10:00

  7. There is no clear evidence that what is going on in Camp Delta are crimes against humanity

    Depends if you think kidnapping 'suspects' in afganistan and holding them without trial for 5 years is a crime against humanity. I think so, but I guess you disagree. I don't want to support anything (corporation/government/person) that actively supports Guantanamo bay, whether they are doing it amorally or otherwise. I guess that you may think that makes me a hypocrite for not boycotting other companies that have equal or worse records. I guess I can't argue with you on that, but all I know is that the GITMO airbase enrages me to a point where I'm willing to actively boycott Subway sandwiches (damn they're SUCH good sandwiches….), Starbucks coffee, MacDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut, and try to persuade others who also are critical of GITMO to follow. It's a small gesture, perhaps insignificant, but it's a personal choice.

    BTW, If you think anything I post is factually untrue, of course let me know, otherwise I don't see the problem. I write that Starbucks has a coffee shop on GITMO airbase, which is factually accurate and I refer to the news source (then verified by me) from which I got that information. I think the actions of Starbucks in this case is abhorrent and worthy of boycott. You don't .. all this is is healthy discussion.

    I read from a variety of news sources, it just so happens that in the last 7 days, two stories have been posted on the Indymedia newswire that have interested me.

    FYI, the blog's aim isn't simply to report news, but to react and discuss. We have a weekly email newsletter to do the reporting (which will be probably posted here next year when we start up again)... Plus, the two main contributors at the moment are Joe Rose and I, one of which is pretty hard–core conservative (can you guess which one?). Anybody can post here (so long as they joint the society), they can post any article from any news source. The aim of this is to have different opinion/different perspectives all in one place. Hopefully, they'll be so much variety next year that getting worked up about me reffering to a left–wing activists' news source will be irrelavent.

    06 Jun 2006, 10:22

  8. James

    Scott, interesting posts and of course you're entitled to your opinions, but you haven't responded to my point that there are many much worse human rights violations taking place in other parts of the world yet we don't hear any calls from you for boycotting goods or services that are somehow vaguely associated.

    It is not as though the American regime would be bothered one way or another by one Starbucks outlet closing, whereas other much more oppressive regimes would be affected if people stopped using products such as oil that are controlled by dodgy regimes.

    So why choose Starbucks? Is it (i) that you dispute that anything anywhere is worse than GT Bay; (ii) that you think that America should be picked on as it is a UK ally; (iii) that you think the Americans might take notice of Starbucks boycotts but the likes of Mugabe, other African thugs or Middle Eastern theocracies won't personally flinch at any sanctions of them; (iv) that you think they are a lost cause but America should aspire to better, given its constitution and claim to be the "land of the free"; or (v) some, none or all of the above?

    06 Jun 2006, 11:41

  9. I thought it was a protest against Starbucks rather than the US. I'm sure there are many prisons in the world that have worse human rights records, but as far as I know this is the worst one to have a coffee shop and a number of fast food outlets on it, and if we feel their implicit support is against out moral standards then we have every right to boycott them. If you can tell me who was selling coffee and burgers at Abu Graib before the war, I'll boycott them too.

    06 Jun 2006, 16:32

  10. James

    I didn't say you didn't have the right to boycott them, what I said was that it was interesting you choose to make a moral stance against Starbucks in GT Bay but not, for example, state oil from a dodgy theocracy, or anything made by state owned enterprises in China. Please clarify.

    06 Jun 2006, 16:56

  11. Oil is a very good example to use from your point of view, and to be honest, I hadn't considered it. However, how would one boycott state oil from a dodgy theocracy..?

    Plus I'm not pretending that convienience has nothing to do with it. You've gotta be pretty resolute to boycott oil, which sustains our way of life in every respect. Since we wouldn't know where our power came from, we'd have to boycott the lot. I'd have to drop out of uni, which uses electricity, this blog wouldn't have got started becasue I wouldn't have a computer, I'd have to live in a field somewhere to avoid using concreted paths, which required energy to construct. No clothes aswell, electricity undoubtably used to make them. And I'd have to grow/rear all my own food.. I wish I had the resolve to do it, but like everyone else, I don't.

    Also, I'm not aware of any other corportations so actively supporting such a practice. These fast food outlets were specifically built to serve the GTMO base, which is specifically used to hold terror suspects without (any lawful) trial. In terms of chinese state owned companies, I try not to knowingly buy anything from them, for the same reason.

    More challenging for me is the issue of Nestle. It's done some pretty horrible things in the past, but there's one main problem with any boycott: they're fucking everywhere. Someone told me some shampoo I bought was from part of the Nestle conglomerate and I had no idea, and that was so long ago, that I've forgotten which shampoo it was…bummer.

    06 Jun 2006, 17:28

  12. Was it perhaps L'Oreal?

    In Australasia and Europe
    Nestlé branded products: Nescafe, Nestea, Gold Blend, Fine Blend, Blend 37, Nesquik, Nescore, Nestlé chocolate, Milky Bar. Gala. Soir de France, Ideal Milk. Milo, Blue Butterfly, Ashbourne mineral water.

    Crosse & Blackwell products: soups, Branston pickle and sauces, Waistline.

    Chambourcy products: yoghourts, cream cheese.

    Findus products: frozen foods and Sweetheart desserts.

    Libby, McNeil & Libby products: tinned fruit vegetables and fruit juices.

    Other products: Maggi soups, Swiss Knight cheeses, Sarsons vinegars, Chefs products, L’Oreal cosmetics.

    See for more info: link

    06 Jun 2006, 20:59

  13. Woo I boycott Nestle! Hadn't really given any thought to their wider reaching arms… the one that's a real bugger to avoid is Proctor & Gamble…

    06 Jun 2006, 21:28

  14. didn't the body shop recently hook up with L'Oreal?... I'm so confused.

    Can someone produce an organagram of evil so we know who to boycott?

    I might as well stick down one from my own personal experience – Microsoft – I just don't like them or their business practices… if you want to boycott them I would advise you do… perhaps by using Linux? link . I think most of the repressive regimes of the world us Microsoft products on their computers; hell, Bill Gates even had the president of China over to his house for a little chat…

    I know – I'm biased – but I just think that the amount of freedom you have is important to know about; especially when you don't know you don't have any

    06 Jun 2006, 22:11

  15. John

    You see here's the thing: I have no idea what it is you are aiming for by boycotting Starbucks, McDonald's etc. The very best you could hope for is that enough people boyoctt these corporations and force them to close down their shops on Guantanamo Bay. This will probably result in a few people losing their jobs and that is it. It won't cause the US govt. to decide to shut down the naval base. The McDonald's on Guantanomo has been there since about 1986. I, personally, don't see the harm it is doing having these corporations on the base where their primary sales come from serving US Army/navy personnel operating out of the Naval Base and are not involved in the dentention camps.

    These fast food outlets were specifically built to serve the GTMO base, which is specifically used to hold terror suspects without (any lawful) trial.

    Hmm I think perhaps you should read a bit more about Guantanamo Bay before you make such comments. First off the Naval base at Guantanamo Bay has been used by the USN since about 1903, when it first signed the permanent lease with Cuba. Currently it is home to over 9,500 US Navy personnel and it is these men and women that the fastfood outlets serve. The detention camps only make up a small portion of the Naval base. So you are right in saying the fast food outlets are specifically to serve GTMO base but GTMO is not specifically used to hold terror suspects this is only a small part of the base.

    that getting worked up about me reffering to a left–wing activists' news source will be irrelavent.

    It is not so much they are left–wing activists, but the fact that they are very anti–semtic and love to censor anything that does not conform to their narrow views. The article you reference seems to equate support for US troops with support for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. It equates supporting torture and illegal detention with having an outlet on the bay but nothing that Starbucks does affects what happens inside the detention camp.

    06 Jun 2006, 22:25

  16. You know, when I was writing the bit about "spefically holding terror suspects".. I knew you'd pick up on it..you got me, that was lazy..

    However, it doesn't stop the fact that GTMO is the symbol of the injustices and human rights abuses perpatrated by the US. As such, I believe, a socially responsible corporation shouldn't be operating there. You're going to disagree I know, but I don't how I can justify myself any further. As for any action by me making a difference.. well, a boycott is mainly based on principle, so is a bit irrelavent, although I'd like to think if the (many many) people who are critical of the illegal imprisonment of others took similar action, it would. There's no way of actually knowing if it would make a difference, but again, I reiterate, it's a pincipled standpoint.

    Just a quick defense of Indymedia… I'm not sure if you're reading the same website, but the news that Indymedia provides is mainly from individual contributors (much like wikinews that you were advertising earlier), so how can it be censoring? If it were, surely this pro-isreali article wouldn't be on there (ok, it's a poor article, but it's the first one that I found). Yes it's mainly left–wing, anti–capitalist, anti–zionistic (although I'd argue the vast majority of articles are not anti–semitic), but that's just the demographic it serves/represents…

    06 Jun 2006, 23:00

  17. John

    You know, when I was writing the bit about "spefically holding terror suspects".. I knew you'd pick up on it..you got me, that was lazy..

    Well just wanted to make sure you knew that the detention centers are only a small part of Guantanamo. Many people don't realise that it is also a large naval base as well.

    Ok so your protesting against the illegal imprisonment of the detainees at GTMO through boycotting corporations who serve food and drink primarily to USN personnel who have nothing to do with the dention camps @ GTMO. It seems to me a very obtuse way of protesting. Would it not be better to protest outside the US embassy in London. Of course if your problem is with capitalism and globalisation then that throws an entirely different light on the matter.

    There's no way of actually knowing if it would make a difference, but again, I reiterate, it's a pincipled standpoint.

    But it seems to me to be based either on misguided principles or based on anti–capitalist, anti–globalisation principles.

    much like wikinews that you were advertising earlier

    Yes but Wikinews emphasizes neutrality, whilst Indymedia openly supports certain stated political objectives and not others. As for censorship, there are many examples of Indymedia censoring comments that disagree with its articles, censoring articles it dislikes etc., link

    A better link on the illegality of Guantanamo detainees would have been this for example, link

    06 Jun 2006, 23:32

  18. Indymedia – my main problem with them isn't their crazy views, its more that their website tried to access a port on my computer that it has no godly business going to… I really hate it when people talk of liberty and then go and do something like that; it would be like hyping up liberty and then not releasing their website under the GPL… oh, wait…

    I was also a bit annoyed that they have links to the electronic frontier foundation on their website… but that's just because when these are your friends, or at least who people see as your friends, then it becomes harder to lobby for effective change

    07 Jun 2006, 00:16

  19. The principle I'm following:
    I think it's morally wrong to support a company that has a store on Guantanamo Bay, since by implication, it's showing support for the illegal detention at that base.

    Consuming their product (being that which sustains them) is supporting them, therefore I don't consume their products.. QED

    If you still think I'm misguided it's because, a) it's not morally wrong to support a corporation supporting the illegal activities on GTMO bay, b) By having a store on GTMO bay, the corporation is not supporting illegal detention by implication, or c) the detention is not illegal at the base.

    If any of these statements apply I think it will be impossible for us to come to a consensus..

    Also, I never thought of myself of an anti–capitalist, but if you think this makes me one, then fair enough. I don't really see how this fits in with my argument and furthermore if this would be a 'misguided' approach..(although just for the record, I personally don't define myself as a socialist, more of a market socialist).

    07 Jun 2006, 00:49

  20. John

    If any of these statements apply I think it will be impossible for us to come to a consensus..

    Fair enough. I personally do not see the stores as supporting the illegal detention by implication merely by being there because if there were no detention camps then these stores would still be on Guantanamo.

    On the illegal detention of detainees, for a country that stands for liberty I find it somewhat strange that they have kept the base open for so long and have held prisoners there for a long time without a proper trial. However, the US are not going to really benefit from holding people without any due cause in the long run which leads me to believe that some of the reports coming out from Guantanamo are nothing but half–truths and lies. If a lot of the people held there are not considered a credible threat then I don't see what good reason the US would have to keep them detained there. Holding non–threatening people would serve absolutely no good whatsoever and only be detrimental to the US.

    A lot of mainstream media and human rights organisations have continually portrayed the detention centers as a depraved torture chamber run by sadistic American guards who try to defile Islam at every turn. While no doubt there probably have been a few abuses they are so small in number(less than 1% of the detainees reported abuse) but you never get to hear of the other side. Also continually ignored by the media is the abuse the Military Police get. They have been spat on had water, urine and feces thrown at them and had death threats made against their families.

    According to FBI documents most of the detainees complaints of abuse are exaggerated or baseless. Guantanamo has been called "the gulag of our time". The very idea that Guantanamo can be compared to the Gulags is laughable. Detainees get 2 hot halal meals a day as well as an MRE. Loudspeakers broadcasts calls to prayer 5 times a day. Detainees are given prayer mats, a cap and the Koran. Every cell is stencilled with an arrow to Mecca. The library at GITMO is stocked with Islamic books. For some bizarre reason some people would have us believe that America is systematically torturing innocent Muslims out of spite. It makes no sense at all.

    General Myers posed an interesting question: "But here's the question that needs to be debated by everybody, and that is: how do you handle people who aren't part of a nation– state effort, that are picked up on the battlefield, that if you release them or let them go back to their home countries, they would turn right around and try to slit our throats, our children's throats?

    07 Jun 2006, 04:07

  21. James

    The 'pick and choose' mentality I've been criticising reminds me of Robin Cook's 'ethical foreign policy' – which seemed to involve meddling in Sierra Leone and Kosovo and then coming the moral cowboy when it came to Iraq (so much more credibility would have been given to the anti–war movement if they'd got going in 1998 regarding the Kosovo war, but that's another story).

    Or, for that matter, the hunting ban. It is said that hunting is a cruel way of killing foxes, though the Gvt seemed to accept that killing foxes in certain circumstances was necessary. Halal and Kosher butchery are cruel ways of killing animals too, even if one thinks that killing animals for food is ok (I certainly do). But not a word, not a whisper was ever heard about banning those practices. Why? Because Labour would never have the guts to confront religious minorities about their practices whereas a bit of (misguided) upper class bashing serves its purposes very well.

    (Note: I say "misguided", because those who suffered most – ie lost their jobs – certainly weren't upper class)

    You could easily boycott Chinese goods – well not easily, because that's an awful lot of goods – but you could try. And if you oppose detention without trial etc, have a look at China's record and get on to the Chinese assembly etc. Or is it more fun or fashionable to have a crack at the US?

    07 Jun 2006, 09:44

  22. Christopher Rossdale

    Sorry, i'm late picking this up, but

    The BBC and Reuters to name just two of the many new sources that would be far more neutral to use than the left–wing, anti–capitalist Indymedia.

    Reuters is hideously biased, and the BBC is repeatedly criticised for it's middle–east coverage – although it is better than most.

    07 Jun 2006, 13:07

  23. At least halal/kosher butcher's perform the task with the solemnity of religious duty. People are against fox hunting because of the 'tally–ho' attitude of the animal slaughter and the blood lust. Whether you think that should justify a ban or not is your call, but to equate the two practices is a bit of a false analogy.

    On the other point, I guess I feel particularly strongly about GTMO base (that is more passionatly than other issues) because of the close alliance of the UK and the US in the 'war' on 'terror', and the implied guilt the UK faces around the world because of illegal courses of action by the US.

    Alas, different people have different priorites, I accept. But I think you need to accept it too.

    Blimey! Next time I might just blog cold facts… all this defence is making me fail exams..

    07 Jun 2006, 13:15

  24. James

    How on earth does 'religious duty' elevate a practice to something defensible if it wouldn't be otherwise? The religous communes that have practised incest and rape put it down to their religious beliefs, but that didn't make it any more morally defensible. Think of the stoning scene in Life of Brian and you get a sense of how an activity isn't rendered more moral or otherwise desirable because it is done in the name of religion.

    And it is a very cheap shot to suggest fox hunting (which I don't do, by the way) is just a bunch of tally–ho toffs indulging in blood lust. It is a pass–time with centuries of tradition behind it, and enjoyed by people of many different social classes. Actually quite often no fox gets killed anyway (paradoxically this is also an argument against hunting, since it is not an efficient method of culling foxes). As I said, I have never been fox hunting, but I think a better justification and more consistent approach should have been followed before suddenly turning a group of people previously thought blameless good citizens into criminals

    But for a non–religious example, what of the fur that is skinned from live animals in South East Asia? Some of it finds its way to the high st here, maybe the UK government could have become interested in that rather than or as well as fox hunting. But that would involve a lot of effort and comparatively few votes.

    Fair enough about the GT base, if that's your view. I happen to think it wrong. Just because the UK has an alliance with the US and not with China doesn't provide for me, personally, a good enough reason to be campaigning against the one and not the other. I would prefer to distribute my efforst on the extent of the cruelty – which is far more widespread in China than it is in the UK.

    07 Jun 2006, 13:42

  25. It is a pass–time with centuries of tradition behind it, and enjoyed by people of many different social classes.

    This isn't mutually exclusive to it being fuelled by blood–lust.

    Sorry about the tally–ho I guess. Perhaps better would have been a "let's go find a fox, watch a massive pack of dogs use it as a chew toy, and have bloody gun fun at the same time" attitude…. I guess I paraphrased a little..

    Also, you're comment on south–east asian fur imports (if you're being critical of my view) simply assumes I agree with EVERYTHING this government decides to ban and not ban.. I don't.

    07 Jun 2006, 14:08

  26. James

    Not it isn't mutually exclusive, but I still don't think 'blood lust' is a very accurate way of describing it. Have you actually met anyone who does it?

    Still, I didn't use the example because I want to defend fox hunting (and find myself rather uncomfortable doing so) but because I wanted to make the point that it was another example of being selective about what one chooses to be outraged about, which suggests the Gvt who forced through the ban weren't being very moralistic but rather political, not that that should come as a surprise. To set the point out again:

    Labour says we are concerned with animal welfare. We agree foxes have to be culled, but we don't think that fox hunting is the most humane way of going about it, so we're going to ban hunting. Tough luck about your way of life, it's not compatible with our values.

    My point: ah but we agree it's ok to kill cattle and other animals for food, but neither halal nor kosher methods are the most humane way of going about that, so to be consistent you should ban those too. In fact you should have banned them first, since we are talking about many more animals dying in a non–humane fashion than we are in the case of fox–hunting.

    Labour: oh but that won't get us votes nor do we have the guts to face down religious extremists, so we're not even going to mention it.

    My conclusion: so the fox hunting ban wasn't to save foxes, it was to win over a few more votes to Labour (perhaps given their conclusion that the market economy is a better bet than state controlled, a bit of toff bashing (as fox hunting is wrongly perceived to be a toff's sport) is a relatively economically harmless way of winning back 'traditional labour' voters. Animal welfare has nothing to do with it.

    So too it is with GT moralising. You could say we don't like Google surrendering to Chinese demands to restrict searching of subversive words like 'democracy' and handing over the IP address of anyone who does so they can be sent for 'political re–education' in a place that makes GT Bay look like the Hilton. Instead you just confine yourselves to attacking the US. Your choice, but since this is the International Current Affairs Society, maybe it should try for an internationally consistent approach and the economic boycott where possible (you seem to have understandably thrown the state oil point into the too–hard basket) of all goods produced by or associated with oppressive state action.

    07 Jun 2006, 14:49

  27. John

    So too it is with GT moralising. You could say we don't like Google surrendering to Chinese demands to restrict searching of subversive words like 'democracy' and handing over the IP address of anyone who does so they can be sent for 'political re–education' in a place that makes GT Bay look like the Hilton. Instead you just confine yourselves to attacking the US. Your choice, but since this is the International Current Affairs Society, maybe it should try for an internationally consistent approach and the economic boycott where possible (you seem to have understandably thrown the state oil point into the too–hard basket) of all goods produced by or associated with oppressive state action.

    Well said James.

    And Scott, with regards to the illegality of the detention, what benefit does the US gain by holding innocent people captive?

    07 Jun 2006, 15:32

  28. None. But that isn't the crux of the illegality argument is it? The fact that they are extra–territorily (if that's a word..not sure) arresting people and detaining them without trial is the illegal bit. Having said this many times it's beginning to lose it's impact, but it's a fundamental abuse of human rights.

    Just because you trust the US to only illegally detain those who may indeed pose a threat (or is it WILL pose a threat, but that's a bit optimistic), it doesn't change the fact it's illegal. Human rights are universal, even for criminals, that's why they're called 'human' rights. If a terror suspect is in fact guilty of that charge, then they have a right to justice, just as we have a right see justice prevail. GTMO bay serves neither, everybody loses.

    but since this is the International Current Affairs Society, maybe it should try for an internationally consistent approach

    An argument about the moral rights and wrongs of an illegal detaintion centre is not very adequately answered by just saying there are worse things happening in the world. There's nothing wrong with perspective, but that shouldn't stop me commenting on the morality behind an 'International Current Affair'. If you want to report here on the human rights abuses in china, or corrupt state oil, go ahead we all might learn something. As I've said, anybody can post here, you just need to join the society.. I'M NOT THE SOCIETY, and this isn't my blog, please stop implying that, I just post here. This is a blog for members of the society to post article references/stories that are happening around the world that interest and for people to debate them in the comments. There are no terms of reference/"rules" implied by the name..

    07 Jun 2006, 16:22

  29. James

    I am not and never have been trying to stop you or anyone else scrutinising GT Bay. Maybe the society or anyone interested in it doesn't have any lofty goals like consistency. I am just interested in why people choose the causes they do. As often as not it just comes down to media manipulation or trendyness or whatever, but it is presented as some sort of moral crusade.

    I think we're in agreement that there are many worse things going on than GT Bay, but people choose to do things like boycott Starbucks rather than anything more worthy because it is easy to avoid drinking overpriced mud anyway and who could be bothered trying to work out what's made in China anyway.

    I'll leave it there, you'll all be relieved to hear.

    07 Jun 2006, 16:35

  30. Here here, although just because I'm inconsistant, doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do..

    07 Jun 2006, 16:49

  31. "you just need to join the society.."

    Firstly, could we maybe sort it out so people don't have to join the society this year to join (or join for the next year over the summer?.. it seems a bit unfair to make people join for just the summer).

    "You could say we don't like Google surrendering to Chinese demands to restrict searching of subversive words like 'democracy' and handing over the IP address of anyone who does"

    Secondly, I like to think that for my part in the society through the newsletters I've tried to highlight problems from all over the world and over a wide range of issues; so it seems a little unfair to say that the society is inconsistent… but hey, if you join next year then you can get a weekly newsletter (which will be even better next year) and come to the weekly meetings…

    Ok, maybe I'm just hyping my own role… but I just thought I'd mention it

    And you mentioned google in China, I've actually done a story in the newsletter and the weekly meetings about google and yahoo!'s actions in China (as well as putting up a story on the blog about it link )

    07 Jun 2006, 22:26

  32. John

    Just because you trust the US to only illegally detain those who may indeed pose a threat (or is it WILL pose a threat, but that's a bit optimistic), it doesn't change the fact it's illegal. Human rights are universal, even for criminals, that's why they're called 'human' rights. If a terror suspect is in fact guilty of that charge, then they have a right to justice, just as we have a right see justice prevail. GTMO bay serves neither, everybody loses.

    Good point. I personally think that the US should put to trial the detainees as quickly as possible and I think they are desparately trying to but bureaucracy can be tiresomely slow. I guess the only thing they are afraid of now is letting someone go who could come back and commit another terrorist attack. Also as a brief sidenote, some of the british detainees there were picked up in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I doubt very much they were there for any good purpose.

    I would also like to add that this blog has posted to some interesting articles and I would like to say well done to those who set up this society.

    08 Jun 2006, 03:19

  33. One thing that strikes me about the whole GBay situation is that some of those that were detained on mistaken intelligence, may now resent the US so much for the years they've spent locked up illigally, that they'll all get together, and feel so resentful that all of a sudden they do pose an immediate threat to security. Which would sort of defeat the purpose surely…

    08 Jun 2006, 13:23

  34. Thank you John, much appreciated.

    09 Jun 2006, 00:38

  35. "Hmm I think perhaps you should read a bit more about Guantanamo Bay before you make such comments. First off the Naval base at Guantanamo Bay has been used by the USN since about 1903, when it first signed the permanent lease with Cuba."

    John, perhaps you want to 'read a bit more about Guantanamo Bay' also.

    First a bit of history.

    The US invade Cuba in 1898 when it was a Spanish colony.

    After 'liberating' it they signed a lease in 1903 with the new Cuban President. (Perhaps this was similar to the US making agreements with Iraq).

    This lease was confirmed as pepertual in 1934 by agreement although political pressure was put on the Cubans.

    The lease states that the US has 'complete jurisdiction and control'. Cuba retains sovereignty.

    The lease is granted for the purposes of 'coaling and naval stations and for no other purpose'

    'No other purpose' includes private enterprise (which in my respectful submission includes Starbucks, McDs etc notwithstanding these private enterprises are serving Naval personnel).

    It also precludes the setting up of a prison camp in the view of the Cuban Government.

    I agree.

    So what lawful basis do Starbucks have to be in Cuba? Apparently it can't be found in the 'lease' between the US and Cuba.

    As for boycotting I don't see why people have to be consistent. If I choose to donate money to the NSPCC because of the work they do for children does it follow I am obliged to share my donation between all children's charities that are equally worthy? If I don't should my decision be subject to moral judegment or criticism?

    Whether or not people boycott and who they choose to boycott is inevitably a politically motivated decision to some extent. It does not follow that those who boycott are gullible and persuaded by the media etc (although i'm sure many are as many who vote in elections are).

    As for what does boycotting achieve? One can boycott out of principal.

    If you are a devout Tory would you not vote because you live in constituency with a huge Labour majority on the basis it wouldn't achieve anything? Maybe; but many people still do turn out to vote Tory despite knowing it will have no affect.

    09 Jun 2006, 16:33

  36. John

    David you have raised an interesting point.

    John, perhaps you want to 'read a bit more about Guantanamo Bay' also.

    Well I do happen to know a fair bit about the bay and its history and I agree the version I presented was perhaps a bit simplistic but the argument your raising is a debated subject of which there is no clear answer and I felt would not make much difference to my main point that GITMO is not just a detention centre.

    So what lawful basis do Starbucks have to be in Cuba? Apparently it can't be found in the 'lease' between the US and Cuba.

    While I am no lawyer I guess the argument revolves around your view on whether the US Naval base on Guantanamo Bay is US Sovereign territory or not? I think the case Rasul vs. Bush, when taken to the Supreme Court was found in favour of it being a soverign territory of the US due to its occupance over the last 100 years. That trumps the part of the treaty restricting its uses. A lawyer knowledgable in this would know far better than me.

    09 Jun 2006, 20:44

  37. John

    Page 21 of the judgement

    link

    The US exercises this control under an unusual lease that gives Cuba "ultimate sovereignty" over the base, while the US has always exercised "complete jurisdiction and control"

    Rasul isn't authority for GB being soveriegn territory of the US. In fact it is the opposite.

    The court didn't consider whether or not detention suspects was consistent with the terms of the lease (although I haven't read the judgement in full) and on that basis it cannot be authority to claim that it 'trumps' the lease.

    Rasul determined whether or not 'complete jurisdiction and control' is sufficient for US law to apply to GB. The court found that it was, (it appears on the basis that it is tantamount to sovereignty).

    The court does refer to an earlier case stating the US enjoys "the basic atrributes of full territorial sovereignty". However I suggest these attributes, in order to be consistent with the lease, are limited to those uses defined therein as without 'ultimate sovereignty' the terms of the lease cannot be changed (except by consent).

    09 Jun 2006, 22:51

  38. John

    David, this is my understanding of the situation. In the terms of the lease the USA is granted "complete jurisdiction and control" yet Cuba retain "ultimate sovereignty". Now Cuba's sovereignty has very little practical value because they are never going to be able to evict the US from the island as the treaty stands today. So Cuba's sovereignty exists merely in the abstract. Now with the detention of prisoners on the island the US government has decided that this term is actually meaningful. If Cuba has ultimate sovereignty over the island then Non–US detainees held on the island are not protected under the American constitution. This therefore means that their right to a writ of habeas corpus, in which a person held captive by the government may take action to challenge the legality of his detention, was denied.

    The case of Rasul vs. Bush, this was brought before the Supreme Court after both the District Court and the Circuit Court both agreed that no US court has jurisdiction over GTMO. This was in line with a precedent set by Johnson v. Eisentrager in 1950 regarding German war criminals. The Supreme Court overturned this judgement and said that the US courts do have jurisdication because, in all essence, GTMO is under US sovereignty. This granted the right of habeas corpus to the detainees held at GTMO under the US constitution.

    This link explains it better: link

    So back to your original question:

    So what lawful basis do Starbucks have to be in Cuba? Apparently it can't be found in the 'lease' between the US and Cuba.

    While it is true on paper, unless the US agree to relinquish control of GTMO then there is no way Cuba have any say in the matter. According to the US Supreme Court GTMO falls under the US Constitution and is thus protected by it.

    If you stick to the lease terms and say that ultimately Cuba who has sovereignty then it also means that the US are legally allowed to hold detainees without trial or right of habeas corpus on GTMO.

    09 Jun 2006, 23:55

  39. I don't agree with your understanding of the judgement John.

    "Now Cuba's sovereignty has very little practical value because they are never going to be able to evict the US from the island as the treaty stands today. So Cuba's sovereignty exists merely in the abstract."

    The fact Cuba maintains ultimate sovereignty means, technically, they are able to change the terms of the lease on their soveriegn territory. This would be similar to the UK withdrawing from the EU. Parliament is sovereign so it can change its mind on its previous agreements. This is how we determine who has ultimate sovereignty.

    If the US refused to comply because they are bigger and stronger than Cuba that doesn't mean the US has sovereignty either.

    Another illusion put before us after the invasion of Iraq was the giving back of 'sovereignty' to the Iraqui people. The coalition forces never had 'sovereignty' to give back because sovereignty remained with the Iraqui people regardles of whoever actually has power and control in the country.

    I know you didn't assert this but just to clarify, the lawfulness of detaining prisoners at GB with respect to the lease cannot be determined by the fact that the US cannot be physically made to leave.

    So, technically, if Cuba has ultimate sovereignty then it can withdraw from its agreement with the US. The fact that the US wont comply and is bigger and stronger cannot make their presence lawful.

    John says The Supreme Court overturned this judgement and said that the US courts do have jurisdication because, in all essence, GTMO is under US sovereignty.

    But there is a subtle difference between 'complete jurisdiction and control' and 'sovereignty'. What the court actually found was that the former was so extensive that it had sufficient characteristics of sovereignty for jurisdiction to apply.

    That is not the same as saying the US has sovereignty. In fact it confirmed, in it's opinion, that Cuba retains 'ultimate sovereignty'.

    The case shows us that the US Government's contention that for jurisdiction to apply there must be sovereignty is wrong. 'Complete jursidiction and control' will suffice.

    Which means your conclusion

    "If you stick to the lease terms and say that ultimately Cuba who has sovereignty then it also means that the US are legally allowed to hold detainees without trial or right of habeas corpus on GTMO."

    with respect, cannot be correct, on a proper construction of the judgement.

    I hope this doesn't come across as patronising but don't confuse the US Governemnt's submissions as to the law with the Supreme Court's decision. It is the latter that constitutes the law not the former. The Court never actually accepted that sovereignty was a requirement for jurisdiction however they decided something very close to it is.

    My point is that the presence of Starbucks in GB is unlawful on the basis of the lease. I cannot see how Rasul affects that assertion in any way.

    10 Jun 2006, 11:28

  40. John

    David, first what is your definition of sovereignty? Hans J. Morgenthau defines it as, "the supreme legal authority of the nation to give and enforce the law within a certain territory." The World Court, in 1959, stated that sovereignty can be "based not upon some particular act or title such as a treaty of cession but merely upon continued display of authority, involves two elements each of which must be shown to exist: the intention and will to act as sovereign, and some actual exercise or display of such authority." So GTMO bay can be said to be under US Sovereignty.

    Second, what is your interpretation of "ultimate sovereignty"? It could be interpreted as meaning the final or eventual. So you could argue the term "ultimate sovereignty" means that if the occupation were terminated, the area would revert to the ultimate sovereignty of Cuba and the US has sovereignty until then..

    Also another view could be that GTMO bay is a condominium of both the USA and Cuba.

    Another illusion put before us after the invasion of Iraq was the giving back of 'sovereignty' to the Iraqui people. The coalition forces never had 'sovereignty' to give back because sovereignty remained with the Iraqui people regardles of whoever actually has power and control in the country.

    I thought the Iraqi people lived under a dicatatorship with Saddam Hussain in power. Therefore how could the sovereignty of Iraq rest with the people at that time when they had hardly any say in what happened? With the introduction of some form of democracy the US are returning sovereignty to the people are they not?

    My point is that the presence of Starbucks in GB is unlawful on the basis of the lease. I cannot see how Rasul affects that assertion in any way.

    Fair enough. But if Starbucks is part of the Naval Base, mainly serving the US personnel working there, is it not included under "the right…to do any and all things necessary to fit the premises for use as coaling or naval stations only, and for no other purpose" especially if other Naval bases had Starbucks on site? However the detention center could be viewed as illegal under the terms of the lease. Cuba released this statement in regard to that: "Although the transfer of foreign war prisoners by the United States government to one of its military facilities–located in a portion of our land over which we have no jurisdiction, as we have been deprived of it–does not abide by the provisions that regulated its inception, we shall not 'set any obstacles' to the development of the operation…we are willing to cooperate in any other useful, constructive and humane way that may arise."

    11 Jun 2006, 04:38

  41. susan blinko

    Freedom is not free. Your article has me a more avid Starbucks fan than ever. You are simply a moronic coward.

    26 Feb 2007, 16:48

  42. Your right…it isn’t, especially if your skin is the wrong colour or you worship the wrong God, or you live in the wrong country. It’s these people who are paying the cost for the “war” on “terror”, not you, and not me.

    People need to stand up for basic human rights. We need to take action and show faceless corporations that they cannot sponsor the terrorism of individuals. Perhaps, as is discussed above on numerous occasions, boycott is not enough. Maybe more is needed?

    PS: I suppose your an enlightended warrior?!...or something anyway.. why don’t you let us know what courageous acts you’ve been upto lately, tortured any suspected terrorists or anything… very heroic..

    26 Feb 2007, 19:34


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