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Captain America vs. The Patriot Act? 303

Nerd_52637 writes "Yesterday, Marvel Comics released the first in its miniseries Civil War, which can only be described as a gutsy comic-book series focusing on the whole debate over homeland security and tighter government controls in the name of public safety. The seven-issue series once again puts superheroes right back in the thick of real-world news, just as DC Comics has Batman battling al-Qaeda in a soon-to-appear comic and Marvel's X-Men continue to explore themes of public intolerance and discrimination. In Civil War, hero is pitted against hero in the choice of whether or not to side with the government, as issues ranging from a Guantanamo-like prison camp for superheroes, embedded reporters and the power of media all play in the mix as Superheroes are ordered to register as human WMDs or be branded fugitives."
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Captain America vs. The Patriot Act?

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  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:20PM (#15266856)
    Watchmen. Astro City - Confession, etc.
  • by enrac ( 681907 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:24PM (#15266885)
    They touched on this in Dark Night Returns. Reagan uses Superman in some Cold War skirmish, Batman is a fugitive . . .
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:30PM (#15266927)
    I remember when DC called it 'Kingdom Come'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:31PM (#15266929)
    All very good, but enlightening a generation far too young to do anything. In another 15 years kids who experience political intelligence and develop the ability to weigh up complex social debates will be able to make a difference to the world. If one still exists. The problem is not our children, its the fucking clueless, apathetic, greedy and lazy adults that grew up on a diet of might-is-right Hollywood poison for the last two decades. How do you re-educate people who live in denial while other peoples kids are bombed with depleted uranium so they can drive their fat ass around in a gas guzzling SUV?
  • by technoextreme ( 885694 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:18PM (#15267173)
    f course, we all know they'll do The Right Thing(tm).

    No... I'm not cynical about all my favorite comics, movies etc. being ruined by politically-correct mediocrity... ;)

    Have you even read any comic books lately? Let me tell you what has just gone on recently. Batman has had his mind erased by other superheros because he found out that Zatanna was presured into erasing the minds of villians by other super heroes. I just read a comic book where Giant Man is an abusive @sshole and sprays his wife (Wasp) with bugspray when they got into a fight. He then essentally helps another world faction of heros to essentially invade the United States. (Almost confused this plot line in the Ultimate universe with the mentioned in the article.)
  • by orbz ( 939720 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:44PM (#15267300) Homepage
    To all you people rushing to say "Obscure comic company X did this in 1983 maaaan!"... just because some comic you read dealt with the issue of corrupt government before is not the same thing. This particular government is QUITE a particular government, and George Bush is named as the president in this Marvel series (according to TFA), which makes this a pretty specific attack on this very specific post-9/11 presidency and I think that makes this quite noteworthy. This isn't just about the fiction of it.
  • Re:Um... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:49PM (#15267323)
    Max Headroom (the US-produced version of the series) had a couple of gems like this. In one episode, Edison Carter is framed for credit fraud, which is worse than murder. In another, they note that a "blank" (person without proper government-provided identity number) has a television with an off switch, which is illegal.
  • by cliffmeece ( 653677 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:03PM (#15267392)
    Not just that, but in the eighties the Avengers had this as a recurring story element. Specifically it was about government regulation of the Avengers, and if I recall correctly, they had some government regulator guy who was always breathing down their neck. Flat-top guy with sunglasses.

    Also, that was the same guy ( I'm pretty sure ) that tried to screw Captain America out of his identity, which again is pretty much the same storyline.

    Their argument was that they (the government) 'owned' the concept and image of Captain America and wanted to get some return on their investment. CA refused and gave up the costume and shield and became a fugitive hero (much like in Civil War) while the government appointed super patriot as the new CA.

    It got worked out in the end, though ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:29PM (#15267531)
    Damn straight. Okay, let's leave aside the fact that torture rarely gets you anything besides false information, made up on the spot to end the torture. (Yeah, it works on TV, because TV editors are lazy, and good interrogation techniques are boring. Good-cop/bad-cop is probably the most dramatic, and it's done to death on cop shows, so....)
      The "nuke about to go off" argument always seemed like a dishonest contrivance to me, and the people who always bring it up make me VERY nervous.
      Think about it this way: I'm sure you could make up some crazy-ass scenario where you just HAD to expose yourself to a classroom full of children or else people were going to die, but if you're really pushing that story and arguing for your legal right to drop trou in front of the kiddies, we're gonna start to suspect you're not really in it for the whole saving-lives part, are you?

      Incidentally, most of the torture techniques we are using were not even designed for extracting information at all! They're an ad-hoc assortment of KGB and Gestapo* techniques, nearly all of which were primarily used to break down a person's psyche, so that false confessions could be extracted from captured soldiers. These were not for finding out where the bomb is, they were strictly for propaganda films!

      * Temperature modification was one of the Gestapo's favorites. You know: the "Playin' with th' thermostat, HAW! HAW!" style fraternity hijinks, according to the torture apologists. Yeah. Try being naked, chained to the floor, as you repeatedly go from sweating profusely, to feeling that sweat begin to freeze on your skin, over and over, for a few days. I'm sure the old Chinese Water Torture was "practically cozy" too! After all, it's not they was a-beatin' on ya!
  • by Babbster ( 107076 ) <aaronbabb@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:10PM (#15267726) Homepage
    The sweet, red-headed fellow you're talking about was Avengers liaison, Henry Peter Gyrich who, by the way, became something of a "nice" guy during the last run of Avengers leading up to the infamous (and annoying) "Avengers Disassembled" storyline. One of his "best" moments was when he forced The Falcon onto the Avengers because he felt that they didn't have enough minority representation (and, to be fair, they didn't). It was a pretty interesting storyline considering the uproar that Affirmative Action has caused over the years.
  • by bkirkby ( 133683 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:52PM (#15267917) Homepage
    actually, there is a third category of persons beyond "lawful enemy combatant" and "citizen". that is the "unlawful enemy combatant". this is a special case where the person was engaged in hostile war actions against the enemy, but does not meet the requirments of being a POW (because they engaged in military acts unlawfully as defined by article 4 of geneva convention iii).

    they aern't civliians because they engaged in war acts and they aren't awarded geneva protections as a POW because they didn't meet the standard defined in the geneva convention (specifically, they fought like terrorists).

    article 5 of GC iii decalres that if the status of an individual is in question (i.e. not a lawful enemy combatant and not a civilian), then they are to be treated with accord to the geneva convention until a competent tribunal declares their status.

    what tribunal would that be? well, a military tribunal that is run by the commander of the enemy armed forces.

    in the case of gitmo detainees, they have their tribunal and they are declared by Bush (the leader of the US armed forces) to be "unlawful enemy combatants", which is a class defined by US precedent (ex parte quirin) that is neither a civilian or a lawful prisoner of war.

    there are those who would claim that "unlawful enemy combatant" doesn't really exist because the geneva convention doesn't define it ignore an important and relevant point that the geneva convention (in article 4 of GCiii) defines in painstaking detail what a lawful enemy combatant would be.

    if it was as simple as "those who engage in the war are lawful enemy combatants and all others are civilians", then why didn't the geneva convention state that? the obvious reason is because it would be ridiculous. the naive interpretation of the geneva convention would have us going into afghanistan to get al-queda, but when we caputre a terrorist, we would need to turn them over TO al-queda for prosecution because they don't fit the narrow definition of a lawful enemy combatant.

    the fact that the geneva convention does take painstaking detail to describe teh types of persons who are qualified to be treated with the rights of the geneva convention, implies the existence of unlawful enemy combatants. us supreme court precedent then confirms that implication (search for ex parte quirin).
  • by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @02:48AM (#15268612) Homepage Journal
    General Miller was sent from Guantanamo to oversee the Abu Ghraib prison system before the scandal hit; he was credited with finding ways of interrogation at Guantanamo and was asked to do the same at Abu Ghraib. Clearly there's a connection.

    That's also along with 2 ex-Guantanamo employees who wrote books on their experiences, interviews with former Guantanamo detainees and FBI reports of abuse. Heck, the Department of Defense had to concede of instances of inappropriate actions like a female guard sitting on a detainee's lap and trying to stroke his hair, or throwing red ink on a man and telling him it was menstrual blood.
  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:13AM (#15268953) Journal
    Wrong. Read it in the text (http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/91.htm):

    A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

    1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

    2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

    (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) That of carrying arms openly;

    (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.


    6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.


    Article 5

    The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

    Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.
  • by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:46AM (#15269014) Homepage Journal
    the conspiracy in Watchmen is non-governmental: It's actually an exceedingly liberal private citizen (Adrian/Ozymandias) who is controlling public opinion and worldview.

    I respectfully submit that when a person starts to think that they can cure all humanity's ills by themselves, that they are the only enlightened leader capable of doing so, and that the end justifies the means, even if the means is killing millions, that that person has no right to any political classification but Fascist.

    If they were to proclaim it was in service of the greater good, of which they are merely the executive officer, then they might make a claim to the classification of Communist (specifically a Marxist-Leninist, 'vanguard of the proletariat' and all that).

    In no way can it be claimed they are a liberal, not even in the distorted US meaning of the word.

    This message brought to you by your local Political Education Officer.

  • by TheConfusedOne ( 442158 ) <the...confused...one@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:48AM (#15269015) Journal
    If they're fighting out of uniform then they're illegal combatants.

    The Geneva Convention is actually quite specific in which people enjoy the protection of the Convention. The main reason for this was to try to minimize casualties in the civilian population. If people choose to ignore the restrictions of the Conventions then they don't get the protection of the Conventions.

    By those Conventions, summary execustion of non-uniformed combatants and spies is perfectly legal.
  • Re:I'm sorry but... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2006 @10:04AM (#15269739)
    I'm sorry, but if AI says Washington is running a gulag, they kill their own credibility. The CIA has doubtless done some pretty evil and pretty stupid things. Nothing it has ever done, however, even remotely compares to the gulag. Read Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago." You'll learn what torture really is---not having someone sit in an uncomfortable position for a day---but things like having your dick slowly squished under the boot of the interrogator until you confess that you're an American spy, and for a while after that as well.

    And CIA's network of "secret prisons" is a chain of vacation resorts compared to the labor camps in Siberia where you had a 50% chance of freezing or starving to death during your 25 year sentence (and where millions--no one really knows how many--did die).

    I'm not saying that what the CIA is doing is in any way excusable--and their illegal actions should be fought, but when AI makes sensationalist comparisons, they are like the boy crying wolf.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982