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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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  • Gitmo-like? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:23PM (#15266873)
    What you, the poster, or any Slashdot editor actually knows about Gitmo would fill a thimble with room left over for an elephant.

    What they'll try to pass off as fact about Gitmo is actually what comes out of the elephant.

    Have a nice day in the USA, parlor-boys.
  • lol, wut? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:24PM (#15266883)
    Superheroes are ordered to register as human WMDs

    Or what? They'll arrest them? Superheroes are used to fighting other super-beings. If pissed off, how many puny humans could they kill before getting taken down?

    This could turn out to be made of Win and Good after all.
  • Hardly brilliant. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:26PM (#15266906) Homepage
    From TFA: "In the first issue of Civil War, he brilliantly folds an entire dissertation on security into one succinct dialogue bubble by saying: "Don't play politics with me, lady. Superheroes need to stay above that stuff or Washington starts telling us who the supervillains are."

    I would hardly call those two sentences brilliant, or even succinct for that matter. In fact, the third sentence does not even seem grammatically correct (though I could be wrong; English is my third language).
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:38PM (#15266956)
    All very good, but enlightening a generation far too young to do anything.

    Uh huh. And what would you say is the target demographic -- and the average age -- of today's comic book reader?

    (Hint: Your first guess is wrong.)
  • Re:lol, wut? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:44PM (#15266993) Homepage Journal
    For that matter, what effect would 'registration' have? How would having a list of 'Human WMDs' enhance your safety? It's like a gun registry. It only helps you when you feel the need to collect them from the law-abiding group who registered them according to the laws. The criminals aren't going to tell you about them. Besides, if you know enough to go after them for being a unregistered WMD, can't the government note that down in the list that way?

    GURPs superheroes had a service where you could register your paranormal powers at an agency. If a situation came up that you'd be useful for, you could be called up and hired as a temporary contractor for extremely good money.

    Do you have the ability to shrink down to 6" while retaining your normal strength? Well, Timmy fell down this well...
  • by Count Fenring ( 669457 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:48PM (#15267009) Homepage Journal

    Hmmm... I disagree. While both awesome pieces of work, neither is really dealing with the issues of government control in the same way, if at all.

    For one, the conspiracy in Watchmen is non-governmental: It's actually an exceedingly liberal private citizen (Adrian/Ozymandias) who is controlling public opinion and worldview. The government plays a strang side-role in this; they are environment, not actor.

    And Astro City: Confession, while one of my all-time favorite comics, is really dealing with public opinion and its manipulation by authority in a much softer, more human-focused way.

    Maybe a better example would be Frank Miller's Martha Washington books, or Elektra: Assassin. Still, I don't think anything out there invalidates this project.

  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:55PM (#15267042)
    "I don't believe there to be any hard evidence that prisoners are mistreated at Guantanamo;"

    I don't know what you mean by "hard" evidence but we know for sure people have been waterboarded there and that's classified as torture. People have also been subjected to food and sleep deprivation, extremes of temprature, and being strapped in uncomfortable positions for extended periods in specially built devices. Finally people have been injected with various drugs.

    Those have all been admitted to by the military itself. Not just allegations by prisoners. The military feels like those actions are not torture. But they again the military also feels like these human beings do not deserve all the rights specified under the UN human rights charter or the geneva conventions.

    "the greatest complaint is that they are tried before a military tribunal instead of a civilian one (could be wrong, I hardly follow the issue)."

    No the greatest complaint is that people have been severly tortured for extended periods of time. Those complaints are from people who were eventually let go. Perhaps you should follow the issue more closely. It's your country after all and you are somewhat responsible for what it does.

    Having said that who know what's going there? It's not like any of us are allowed visits and even the red cross has to ask permission and schedule a visit. Nobody is stupid enough to torture people in front of visiting congressmen and red cross. They probably clean up for those visits.

    Finally when the red cross asked to interview prisoners privately they were refused. The military would not allow it. Take that for what it's worth. I remember Saddam didn't want his scientists interviewed privately by the weapons inspectors before the war too.

  • Re:lol, wut? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GreyKnight ( 545843 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:00PM (#15267074)
    Superheroes are ordered to register as human WMDs
    Or what? They'll arrest them? Superheroes are used to fighting other super-beings. If pissed off, how many puny humans could they kill before getting taken down?
    Sonuds like you haven't been watching Justice League Unlimited. A government agency with sufficient resources can indeed make itself a threat to superheroes...
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:08PM (#15267119)
    I mean, think about it. Some guy with super powers that could bag any government agency including its agents anytime and twice on Sunday, and he's still allowed to have a secret identity, lead a normal life and only put on his spandex to hunt down some bad guys?

    In reality, he'd have been approached by the feds ages ago and offered the choice to either work for them or, more likely, some dirt would've been dumped on him to have the media label him the greatest threat to humanity since Saddam, then he'd been hunted down 'til he's dead.

    Face it. Government does NOT like power that isn't in its hands and under its control.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:14PM (#15267149)
    As a card-carrying member of Amnesty International (AI), I was shocked when AI accused Washington of running a Soviet-style gulag. I burned my AI membership card and flushed the ashes down the toilet. After all, AI could not provide any evidence supporting the outrageous claims, and using hyperbole to support human rights damages AI's credibility and the ultimate mission of rescuing victims of brutal (often Chinese) human-rights abuses.

    Then, last month, I read about the stunning news report by the "Washington Post" []. It reported on CIA-gate: the CIA, with the full approval of the president, has been running a network of secret prisons where enemies of the American nation are interrogated. Although this network is nowhere near the status of the Soviet gulag, the network does put tremendous credibility in the original accusations by AI.

    At times like these, we need a Captain America to fight for truth, justice, and Western values. A network of secret prisons grossly violates the most sacred of Western values.

  • by PostItNote ( 630567 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:33PM (#15267266) Homepage
    You don't get it both ways. They are either soldiers, or they are criminals. If they are criminals, then they get trials in front of a judge. If they are soldiers, then they get POW status and Geneva Convention protection. There ain't no third category except in the minds of people who want to establish a class of subhumans that have not been endowed by their creator with any inherent and inalienable rights; (among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:39PM (#15267287)
    They are either innocent, POWs, or criminals.

    If they are innocent, we violate basic morality by torturing them.
    If they are POWs, we violate treaties by torturing them.
    If they are criminals (even noncitizens), it is unconstitutional to torture them.

    As for the whole "nuke about to go off" torture scenario: That's what a presidential pardon is for, so you let's not pretend it justifies systematic government-sponsored torture.

    --Guy without a slashdot account
    Defunct blog: []
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:41PM (#15267289)
    Have you read the geneva conventions?
    Yes. Many times.
    They are being granted the "rights" given under the geneva conventions [] on to those who fight without uniform against civilian populations.
    And you're linking to Wikipedia. How about just linking to the documents themselves? []
    The "rights" of terrorists include the right to be killed like the barbarians they are.
    You won't find that stated as such in there.

    What you will find is that ... if you do not meet the qualifications to be a POW, you are a "civilian" and must be turned over to the local authorities for any crimes you may have committed.

    If the local authorities do not exist, you may be held until they are established.

    Other than that, you have all the same rights and protections that a POW has, except for things like getting paid.

    The military is not allowed to torture anyone it captures. Regardless of their past actions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:43PM (#15267298)
    Yeah, what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? How are we to know that these people in Guantanamo are actually guilty if there's no fair and public trial?
  • Re:lol, wut? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:49PM (#15267326) Homepage Journal
    Or what? They'll arrest them? Superheroes are used to fighting other super-beings.


    The ones who agree to work with the government are now authorized -- perhaps even obligated -- to take down those who don't.
  • by SEAL ( 88488 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:05PM (#15267404)
    Good lord, aside from the drug-injection allegation, some of the things you listed are positively cozy compared to special forces training. Not just in the U.S. but in many nations. The problem is that everyone has their own definition of torture.

    I'd really like to see a link where the U.S. military said they were injecting Guantanamo Bay inmates with drugs for any purpose other than medical attention.

    Working against the U.S. administration is the current debate about whether interrogation guidelines should remain classified []. I can see both sides of the argument on that one.

    Now what I don't agree with is prisoners being held in a legal-limbo for years without trial. As someone else said, they are either foreign soldiers who should be treated as POWs, or they are foreign criminals. If they are the latter, ok they may not have Constitutional rights that an American would have, but they should at least be extradited to their home countries, or prosecuted in the U.S. civilian system as a foreign national.
  • by Ka D'Argo ( 857749 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:09PM (#15267431) Homepage
    Sure it's been done in the X-Men back and forth but in the Marvel Universe there's just too many uber-powerful characters to require Registration.

    Scarlet Witch registers, ok cool. So the government now has her on file as a human (or humanoid really for the non human types as well) WMD. That's great. What the fuck does that do to stop a character, like old Scarlet, from going apeshit and destroying the entire fucking universe?

    It's already technically done as well in another sense: villians. Example, take Thanos right. Villian, bad guy. Automatically you consider him a humanoid WMD right. Again same situation. Having him on file, does jack and or shit. So Uncle Sam keeps him on file, hell we'll go one step further, keeps GPS and the whole schebang on him 24/7. Yea when he gets a huge powerup like the Infinite Gauntlet, being able to scramble your military ain't shit. The only benefit it would have is if they notified heroes of such things apon villians. But it's not, since they are only doing Hero registration.

    Either way it's somewhat of an old storyline that while a good one, seems to be a publicity stunt. Considering the current state of America, we're pretty unhappy with our government, our president and basically how restricted life has become. Leave it to Marvel to sellout for the all mighty $

  • by snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:18PM (#15267475)
    Yes they are both graphic novels by Alan Moore.
    I agree that V for Vendetta (although one could consider it fear mongering) is absolutely relevant today, just as it was when it was written.
    I suppose OP might consider 1984 to be outdated as well, but I believe the basic story of a government exerting total and brutal control over the population is a timeless warning message.
  • by Watson Ladd ( 955755 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:24PM (#15267506)
    But they have rights. Like food, medical attention, and no waterboarding. And you release them after the war is over.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:32PM (#15267541) Homepage Journal
    Documented in an Army Inspector General's report [] obtained by Salon. Here's a link to the official report [] (sorry, PDF).

    If the methods used at Guantanamo disturbed the FBI agents who visited (another source of problem reports early on), then the rest of us should be disturbed too.
  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:38PM (#15267573)
    "Good lord, aside from the drug-injection allegation, some of the things you listed are positively cozy compared to special forces training."

    I hope you are not telling me it's OK for the army to abduct me and force me to go through the special forces training.

    "Not just in the U.S. but in many nations. The problem is that everyone has their own definition of torture."

    Sure. The UN has defined torture in one way, the US laws have defined torture one way, this administration has defined torture another way. It's gotten to the stage where nobody can accuse anybody of torture anymore. If accused you simply re-define torture and claim you are fine.

    "I'd really like to see a link where the U.S. military said they were injecting Guantanamo Bay inmates with drugs for any purpose other than medical attention."

    The intelligence agencies have lots of drugs they inject people in order to get them to tell the truth. Many of these are opiates or hallucinegens of some sort. They are top secret though so outside of the military I don't think anybody has done analysis on them.

    ". If they are the latter, ok they may not have Constitutional rights that an American would have"

    I agree with your there. I also would add that they are human beings and should be treated as human beings and according the universal declaration of human rights as defined by the UN. No matter how vile they are still humans and are thus endowed by their creator with certain inailable rights.
  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:44PM (#15267599)
    How do you know they are terrorists? Because the president says so?

    Also there have been many people released from guantanamo after two years of being there. Is the US releasing terrorists into afghanistan?
  • Re:Um... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pseudochaotic ( 548897 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:16PM (#15267753)
    Ah, slashdot. Where your pet issues are the only important, meaningful ones.
  • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @11:34PM (#15268090)
    in the case of gitmo detainees, they have their tribunal

    The first tribunal was held in November 2004, a full three years after the first detainees were captured. (To be fair, the tribunals were delayed by about four months due to their legal statis being challenged in the US courts.)

    The Geneva Convention doesn't state how long you have to wait to get your tribunal, though the US has laws against indefinite detention without trial. Nevertheless, it does state that you should be afforded all of the rights of a POW while you wait. Whether or not the detainees were afforded those rights before November 2004 is a reasonable question to ask.

  • I'm sorry but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @12:40AM (#15268329) Journal
    I'm sorry but if your default position was to [] believe [] the [] CIA [] and not Amnesty International [] then it's going to take more than superheroes to help you.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @01:24AM (#15268432)
    Of course though secret prisons/cell-blocks/wings for intelligence work have been used for about as long as there have been Nation-States and Intelligence operations, so what the CIA is doing isn't anything really new except for the fact that they shuffle people around in other countries.

    When one operates as a spy or irregular military operative traditionally they don't have near the same rights or protections as a uniformed military or diplomatic operative. But now things are different in terms of the media and the general public's mind as to how these people are treated while the actual treatment of said operatives continues on as it has in times of war for hundreds of years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:38AM (#15268996)
    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).

    You appear to be under the mistaken belief that the people in Camp Delta were all captured in combat against US forces in Afghanistan or Iraq. Unfortunately, that is completely false. Some were; many were not.

    In fact, the detainees include people like Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna who were arrested in Gambia, while on a business trip. How anyone can classify such people as "unlawful combatants", I cannot imagine. They were not engaging in combat in any sense of the word. They were not even present in a war zone! Even if they are terrorists, which is a crime they have not been charged with, that does not alter the fact that they are unambiguously civilians. And that means it is unambiguously unconstitutional for them to be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

    Moussaoui was not sent to Camp Delta; the fair trial he has been given is the finest thing America has achieved this year. So why are other people accused of similar acts (plotting, but not carrying out, terrorism) not being given similarly fair civilian trials?

    Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment. It's been 1 hour, 20 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment - this is getting ridiculous. If you want to dissuade people from posting anonymously, then at least have the honesty to say so, instead of pretending you're trying to stop flooding.
  • by grimJester ( 890090 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:41AM (#15269003)
    The only place where the word "unlawful" appears in the third Geneva Convention is the sentence

    "Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention.".

    The word "lawful" doesn't appear at all. The definitions you're talking about are prefaced with

    "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:"

    The text relevant to those who don't fall under any of the POW categories is as follows:

    Part I. General Provisions


    Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

    Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.

    In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.
  • by siesta at uni ( 311500 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:33AM (#15269111)
    Transmetropolitan? []

    All about corrupt government, and a president who seems to be able to get away with incredible abuses of power, with no-one seeming to care.
  • by nosferatu1001 ( 264446 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:18AM (#15269247)
    Not if they are operaitng IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY AT THE TIME - they are not acting as spies then!

    if you as an invader are attacked by citizens with guns, then you have to treat any subsequent prisoners as POWS - in fact any and ALL prisoners have to be treated as POWS under article 4 until proven otherwise

    "illegial combatants" is a term made up by the current administration that doesnt even make sense...
  • If they're fighting out of uniform then they're illegal combatants.

    Trouble is, most of the people in Guantanamo, weren't actually fighting at all.
  • Re:Why "gutsy" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @09:46AM (#15269621) Homepage Journal
    I mean really, does criticizing the US really require such moral fortitude and personal risk?

    Sure. When it comes with the risk of financial losses.

    People, and the organizations we create, have a remarkable capacity for adapting to the status quo. Formulas for easy success, even small successes, are to the businessman what crack is to an addict.

    It's artists who want to do something different, even he's working in the framework of an old formula. To the businessman, originality has utility, but isn't a value itself. If he's in an art oriented business, he wants just enough originality to make marketing the product easy, but not enough to undermine the security of a proven money making recipe.

    I was reading recently about Richard Williams, the animator who did the titles for the old Pink Panther movies, and was the supervising animator on Roger Rabbit. He'd been working on a film, The Thief and the Cobbler off an on for years, and after his Roger Rabbit Oscar, he got investment funding to complete it. Now by bad luck, around this time Disney released Aladdin, which was a huge hit. The Thief and the Cobbler, which was close to completion at the time, also had a middle eastern theme, which conjured up the prospect of big bucks for the investors. But when they saw the working prints, the film was nothing like Aladdin. It was different, almost experimental. So faced with a risky experimental film on one hand, and what looked like a sure fire formula on the other, the investors (Warner Bros) did the obvious thing. Even though there was less than ten minutes of animation left to complete the film, they had the Completion Bond Company sieze the film and send it of to Korea, where it was not completed, but entirely reworked into the nearest thing to an Aladdin clone they could manage on a shoestring budget and a schedule tight enough to capture some marketing rebound from Aladdin. The result was released and fell into obscurity within a few weeks of opening.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_