User talk:George Swan/Archive 1

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Welcome to the Citizendium! We hope you will contribute boldly and well. You'll probably want to know how to get started as an author. Just look at CZ:Getting Started for other helpful "startup" links, and CZ:Home for the top menu of community pages. Be sure to stay abreast of events via the Citizendium-L (broadcast) mailing list (do join!) and the blog. Please also join the workgroup mailing list(s) that concern your particular interests. You can test out editing in the sandbox if you'd like. If you need help to get going, the forums is one option. That's also where we discuss policy and proposals. You can ask any constable for help, too. Me, for instance! Just put a note on their "talk" page. Again, welcome and have fun! Larry Sanger 14:35, 18 October 2007 (CDT)

What's this?

I.e., this? Stephen Ewen 22:48, 19 October 2007 (CDT)

Anyway, I think you just made a mistake. If not, let me know. It can easily be undeleted. Stephen Ewen 23:26, 19 October 2007 (CDT)

A very quick reply to your query

Thanks for your message on my Talk page. Unfortunately, I cannot reply in detail because I am about to catch a plane. I will be back in Greece on Tuesday and we can have some discussion after then. I think there are three issues related to what you are asking about, and all three need to be dealt with simultaneously. The first is the issue of neutrality, and as you can see some editors are not entirely happy with how the concept is played out. I am almost certain that this will be a problem for your topic, although in my view it should not be.

The second issue, is that of "no original research". As with WP, we have a prohibition on it here. I can understand the reason for that, but there are borderline cases, which may be your situation.

The third issue is that of relevance or appropriateness, as I understood you had a similar problem on WP. The reason that this comes up is that pure factual details do not of themselves tell us much about what is going on. Therefore, we need some analysis and interpretation of these facts, which people can then claim is actually original research and disallowed under the rules.

I hope that we can devise some framework within which you can put the material. I am aware through my own work how governments behave, and I follow the critical investigations and research on your topic quite carefully. However, there is a degree of conservatism about many of these things on CZ, and you should expect a lot of opposition to what is actually nothing more than intelligent and unbiased interpretation of all available data. People's ideas about their country, and how the world is run, go deep and tend to overbalance rational discourse rather too often -- in all walks of life.

Anyway, good luck and i will be available in a few days. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 08:22, 27 October 2007 (CDT)

Well, thanks for what is really a very detailed reply for someone about to catch a plane.
Concerning neutrality, when I first read about the wikipedia's neutrality policy I remember it seemed like a goal one could approach asymptotically, but never fully acheive. Concerning neutrality here -- I am the newbie, and, to the extent I end up participating here, I will do my best to conform to the majority consensus of what citizendium neutrality means. Among my choices are to pick selectively from among the material to which I am the sole author, only that material that uncontroversially fits here. It seems like there may be fora where these policy issues are still being shaped. Complying with the current consensus policies shouldn't prevent me from engaging in the dialogue and voicing opinions about how policies might be modified though should it?
Similarly, as a newbie I will do my best to conform to the citizendium's current consensus on interpretation of original research. Sorry if I left the impression with you that I would allow myself to inject any of those private conclusions I shared into any of articles. I was careful not to on WP, and would be careful not to on CZ.
As I have read the introductory documents I have wondered how people reconcile neutrality to providing a gentle introduction suitable for undergrads. It seems to me the latter really does require the contributor making interpretations that could stretch neutrality to the breaking point and beyond.
Maybe no one has requested this before, but what I was hoping might be possible would be for me to get some help looking at the exising CZ articles that most closely resember those I am considering porting, and then developing a proposed outline of what I suggest porting. The proposal could contain some representative examples of candidate CZ versions of articles I adapted from my work on WP.
When I developed that material on WP I did so piecemeal, as I came across sources, without a plan. Porting it, from a plan would be better. I could start with the parts least likely to raise a controversy here.
More later.
Nice to meet you.
Cheers! George Swan 11:52, 27 October 2007 (CDT)
Just a quick interjection. CZ does not work by "consensus". It works as a republic under law. Stephen Ewen 13:23, 27 October 2007 (CDT)
Thanks for the correction. George Swan 13:58, 27 October 2007 (CDT)

old habits

Hi Geo, I'm glad to see that you are working away here. I did want to drop you a hint not to use acronyms here at Citizendium[1]. The idea is that it is confusing for newcomers who aren't familiar with the lingo and therefore they may feel left out. So, FWIW ;-), go ahead and spell it out! Thanks, Matt Innis (Talk) 20:24, 27 October 2007 (CDT)

a controversial article, but...

As this article 9-11 is central to much of the work you have put or intend to put on CZ, please participate carefully in the arguments we are having over there. At the least, you should find ways to make links with your own articles! --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:42, 10 November 2007 (CST)

MANY uploads

George, I'm working to hack a tool that will upload every file you have in a folder on your computer, rather than one at a time. Thought you might like to know that. :-) Stephen Ewen 15:20, 24 November 2007 (CST)

Images with CC-by-2.0-de

George, we currently don't have Deutsch versions of the Creative Commons template so I adjusted the image notes for two images. --Robert W King 21:56, 12 December 2007 (CST)

err, cancel that. Stephen fixed it; now there is a {{}}! --Robert W King 22:47, 12 December 2007 (CST)


Hi, the {{WPauthor}} needs to go on the article's talk page, not the main article page. Also, if you want the arguments to it to include URL's which contain the '=' character, those need to be handled specially (for arcane technical reasons you don't care about): see the example at Talk:Uighur captives in Guantanamo‎ for how to do that. (And don't forget the '|' between the comment, and your signature!) Thanks! J. Noel Chiappa 13:02, 23 March 2008 (CDT)

OK. Thanks. {{WPAuthor}} goes on the talk page.
I'd noticed the argument wasn't showing up, where I was using it. I assumed it was a bug, and I should keep putting in the argument, even if it weren't showing up. IIUC, I need to escape each {{=}} in the URL, correct? There will another couple of dozen instances where I used {{WPAuthor}}. I'll fix them over the next day or so.
Cheers! George Swan 19:00, 23 March 2008 (CDT)
Sure, glad to help.
The problem with the "=" is something I noticed with some of the places you used {{WPAuthor}}, where it was not working properly. It took me a while to track down what the problem was, and how to avoid it!
It's good you continued to put the argument in, because I went around a couple of weeks ago and fixed most of them for you, and you having put the basic info there made that feasible.
Yes, just put that {{ }} around each = and you should be fine.
PS: You can't say {{tl|=}} either! You have to say {{tl|1==}} (as I fixed yours above) - all these problems have the same cause, that "=" is a very special character in arguments to templates. J. Noel Chiappa 20:52, 23 March 2008 (CDT)
Oh, okay. Thanks! George Swan 21:39, 23 March 2008 (CDT)


Ok, well I did mention "PS you could have worked on it @ Wiki".. You could have been more accurate on your part about how much time you've spent..

I've thoroughly read the difference in revision - yours is too descriptive on how the prisoners are detained/mistreated - i mean, as if they are although they are definitely not supposed to be. "but were still being shackled to the floor." It's weasel wording (in Wikipedia its called that), and Dr. Jensen's edits don't leave anything out except those weasel wordings. (Chunbum Park 07:51, 9 April 2008 (CDT))

I saw you too have been a wikipedia contributor. I don't agree that the following passage uses weasel words.

The Washington Post reported, on August 24 2005, that fifteen Uighurs had been determined not to have been "enemy combatants" after all. The Post reported that detainees who had been determined to have been not enemy combatants were, not only still being incarcerated, but were still being shackled to the floor.

The Washington Post article I referenced said:
In the meantime, the men are still treated as prisoners. Sabin P. Willett, a Boston lawyer who volunteered to take the cases of two Uighurs in March, finally met with them last month, after he and his team went through their own FBI clearances. One of the Uighurs was "chained to the floor" in a "box with no windows," Willett said in an Aug. 1 court hearing.
"You're not talking about your client?" asked Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court in Washington.
"I'm talking about my client," Willett said.
"He was chained to a floor?" Robertson asked again.
"He had a leg shackle that was chained to a bolt in the floor," Willett replied.
I suggest that my paraphrase was (1) perfectly reasonable; (2) toned down from the WaPo wording. George Swan 08:25, 9 April 2008 (CDT)
As I see it, the issue with your wording here, George, is not really that it uses "weasel words." You provide a specific source for the claims you make, but they are inaccurate. It is not accurate to say that the Washington Post reported that they were shackled to the floor. The WaPo reported that these claims were made by Sabin Willett, the Uighurs' legal counsel (who is required, by law, to make the strongest case possible for his clients). Particularly when dealing with such a sensitive topic, it is crucial that we pay precise attention to just who is making what claims. Thanks, Brian P. Long 09:23, 9 April 2008 (CDT)
Oh, well, I guess they weren't weasel wording. But still you put too much focus & emphasis there. It's like "X was prisoned. He was chained with hard iron, and was pushed around until he found himself in a dark, cold abyss.." There's no need for that, I don't think. You can just say "he got imprisoned".
Also, I saw you referring to Citizendium's policies etc. as you would in Wikipedia like "see WP:NPOV.. or WP:NCGN says that xx y xx" - in a strict sense. I don't think Citizendium operates as you think like Wikipedia - we follow by the intent of the law, not the letter (strict wording), so there's no point in arguing technicality. (Chunbum Park 10:13, 9 April 2008 (CDT))

The issue is not about "weasel words" [a horrendous WP nonsense] but about proof of claims. It has not been proven in a court of law, or otherwise shown irrefutably, that the defendant was chained to the floor. Therefore, a precise account of the claim should be "was allegedly shackled to the floor", giving the source of the allegation. I realise that this sounds like a weakening of the claim, but it is the only correct way to report it. Otherwise, we are open to manipulation [e.g. crooked lawyers, etc]. I hope this makes sense to you, George. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:26, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Thanks. I have no problem amending the passage to attribute the assertion of shacking to Sabin Willet.
For what it is worth, it might be worthwhile to bear in mind how consistent his report is with the other information we know about how the captives determined not to have been enemy combatants were treated.
  • They were determined not to have been enemy combatants in late 2004 or early 2005, and released in dribs and drabs, over the next two and a half years.
  • Ten of them were allowed more pleasant surroundings, in Camp Iguana. Even though these men had been cleared of all suspicion, a clandestine garden they had planted, from seeds from their meals, was destroyed when camp authorities became aware of it.
  • The five Uyghurs were transferred to Albania mere days before the US judicial system was going to take over jurisdiction over their cases.
  • Other captives who had been determined not to have been enemy combatants, like Sami Al Laithy, remained in solitary confinement.
  • The Uyghurs report that had to wear shackles and be hooded during their flight to Albania.
Cheers! George Swan 11:34, 16 April 2008 (CDT)
I think the real issue is that you're coming at this in a rather linear way, and not asking a lot of (to me, at least) obvious questions. The issue is not 'can particular statements be well sourced', it is 'is the overall treatment balanced, i.e. seeing the situation from both sides'?
For instance: what could be the motives for treating these people like this? Individual sadism? While Abu Ghraib shows that there are (or were) indeed some, these reports are too widespread and too consistent. Individual indifference? Again, hard to go with that one; the treatment sounds too much like policy. It's also not simple institutional malice against these people because they are, in other ways, being well treated: medical (so much so that Michael Moore made a point out of it in his health-care movie), food, etc. So whatever's going on, it must be somewhat complicated; there must be a reason (perhaps misguided or wrong), but it ought to be researched and covered. And perhaps the answer will be 'well, they won't talk about why they do it', but it's hard to tell the story in a truly neutral way without seeing it from both sides.
Which leads to another point, which is that you obviously have a considerable mental connection of some sort to this whole thing, as evidenced by the vast amount of energy you expend on this area - to the total exclusion of work on anything else. That alone makes it a point worth considering as to whether someone with such a connection is really the best person to be tackling a really fraught topic like this in a neutral manner. J. Noel Chiappa 12:15, 16 April 2008 (CDT)
Don't forget to examine the results of the Stanford Prison Experiment; I believe the man behind that fiasco(Philip G. Zimbardo, website also give a talk at this year's TED Conference (website, TED's 2008 programs) reflecting his results with the issues that have arisen out of Gitmo. --Robert W King 12:18, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Guantanamo medical treatment

I like most of Michael Moore's work. But I think it is a mistake to take his claim that the captives get good medical treatment at face value.

  • Abdul Razzak Hekmati died of colon cancer on December 30th. It is a slow growing cancer, easily treated, if caught early. They didn't detect his cancer until September 2007, and didn't start treating him until October. For what it was worth Hekmati was a war hero, one of the guys on our side, saved the life of the Minister of Energy in 1999, by helping him escape from Taliban custody. The Minister of Energy personally buttonholed the US Ambassador to try and get him released. Yet, when his CSRT looked for the witnesses he requested they claimed the State Department couldn't find the Minister of Energy.
  • Abdul Matin, one of the captives with an alibi that it would have been trivial to refute or confirm, has a pin in his leg. It does not permit his leg to bend. This makes walking painful, getting in and out of bed painful, and using the toilet painful. In Afghanistan all they have are squat toilets. So, if he is released, he will not be able to use the toilet without assistance at all. He asked to have the pin replace with one that allowed him to bend his knee. He was told it was too expensive, and that the US government would not pay for it. Abdul Matin is a young man who lived out his childhood in Pakistan, as a refugee. But, following the overthrow of the Taliban, when he could return to Afghanistan, his family's property made him a wealthy man. He offered to pay for his own operation. No dice.
  • Saifullah Paracha is a Pakistani businessman who is unlucky enough to have once, long ago, contacted Osama bin Laden to see if his media firm could interview for a documentary. He has heart disease, and needs a bypass. He petitioned the US justice system to have his heart surgery performed somewhere other than Guantanamo. The heart surgeon who examined him (presumably a US military doctor) told him that his recovery depended on him getting up, and walking around, every half hour. But the camp rules require all patients in the camp hospital being shackled to their beds at all times -- no exceptions. The stateside civil judge ruled that the DoD had to provide him medical care. But that he didn't get to choose where.
  • One of the behavior control techniques is to confiscate all of the captive's "comfort items". Comfort items include the captives' toiletries, including their toothbrushes and toothpaste. Some captives report that there is an epidemic of dental problems due to the confiscation of their toiletries.
    • In 2005 many wire stories picked up the story of a young GI dentist. The stories noted that some captives had never had any dental treatment in the past. The stories noted that one high profile captive had a toothache in the middle of the night and had an appointment at 8am the next morning. But I came across a source, later, that listed how many captives had seen a dentist. A fraction.
  • Al Ghazzawi has liver disease. His lawyer Candace Gorman has been trying to get access to his medical records for years. She know believes he has both serious hepatitis and AIDS, acquired in the camp. Maybe he doesn't have AIDS. Maybe he didn't acquire it in the camp. But the unwillingness to release his medical records erodes my confidence in the quality of the care there.
  • The force-feedings are a form of torture. Period. The Cheif doctor got caught lying. He denied that they had ever used oversize feeding tubes to make the force-feedings more painful. Later he acknowledge using 6mm tubes, for a period of time, when 3mm tubes were standard. But he claimed it was that they ran out of the smaller tubes. In January 2006 they started strapping the captives into "restraint chairs" -- like Hannibal Lector.

Did Michael Moore know the meme was wrong? I don't know. But, although I like his work, I think this is an instance where he would not try to correct a popular meme if that eroded from the impact of his film.

Cheers! George Swan 12:48, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Interesting. In the colon cancer case, I wonder if they didn't perform the usual screening tests becaust it's an invasive procedure that could be taken as, or portrayed as, abusive and demeaning? Again, we may not be able to find out why, though... J. Noel Chiappa 13:09, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Otherwise good treatment?

Geoffrey Miller, once the fair-haired boy, anticipating promotions, further accolades, for his no-nonsense approach, said the captives must be treated "like dogs". He had to quietly resign. Congress delayed his resignation because he had invoked his right not to incriminate himself. He didn't get to resign until after he testified.

Well Harry Harris, the camp commandant in 2006, said "there are no innocent men in Guantanamo". I believe there is overwhelming evidence that Hekmati was an innocent man. Ditto for Abdul Matin.

your bio

Hi, George, I've been looking at your bio page and while it gives a lot of info about your interests, it really doesn't have a word about who you are or what your background is. I could be wrong about this, but I think that the user page bio is supposed to give some info about your good self beyond just your interests.... Hayford Peirce 14:20, 10 April 2008 (CDT)

Yes, I was also looking and wondering a little about your background etc. It would be nice to know a little about you! Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:20, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Dam vs dam

I think we're generally capitalizing the 'Dam'? I already got the two you already did, but in the future, please?! :-) J. Noel Chiappa 16:28, 21 April 2008 (CDT)


Shouldn't the article be called "Guantanamo Bay Naval Base" instead of "Naval Base Guantanamo Bay"? --Robert W King 09:15, 1 May 2008 (CDT)

User page

Hi George, your user page looks great! I know where I am going when I need a map! I moved your CZ:author to the top of the page so that it would add you to the authors list. It seems to be working now. --D. Matt Innis 15:46, 6 May 2008 (CDT)


George, it is nice that you put a map to Rotterdam. Would it be difficult to draw in the river Meuse? I ask this because the Meuse (Dutch: Maas) is important in Rotterdam. Thanks, --Paul Wormer 10:08, 4 June 2008 (CDT)

I'll look into it. I would like to learn how to make better maps. Right now I am using a free map tool. I think, at the level of sophistication I use it, it may not be possible, but that it would be possible for a more sophisticated user.
Cheers! George Swan 10:13, 4 June 2008 (CDT)
It's a very good map. The reference to the km distance is going to be very helpful. You picked the right colors. (Chunbum Park 17:19, 4 June 2008 (CDT))
Does this map show the River?
The Netherlands.png
This is the form I used to generate that map.
Using the Generic Mapping Tool.png
  1. One chooses the longitude and latitude to bound the map in the upper left.
  2. One chooses the projection style. Personally I only use Orthographic and Lamber Azimuthal.
  3. The big box at the bottom is for placing the longitude, latitude and name of locations you want plotted on the map.
    • I didn't fill any in in this example.
    • Longitude precedes latitude -- the opposite to how it normally represented.
  4. The database this tool uses has many cities locations. There is a button to click to allow the tool to place its cities. I generally don't use this feature anymore.
  5. There is a button for specifying whether the tool should place labels or just place dots, for the locations you specify, or it already knows about. I now generally prefer to forgo the tools database of cities, and choose to forgo it placing labels. I now prefer to use irfanview to place labels, which lets me pick a font, colour and font size.
The colour is not a feature the online version allows.
Hope this helps. George Swan 18:11, 4 June 2008 (CDT)

Thanks for the image

Those are better. The Air Force doesn't seem to like to put out pictures of it actually shooting. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:14, 26 June 2008 (CDT)

Internal link in your bio

Just wanted to point out that the link to the Guantanamo camps is inactive due to typo differences. Maybe there should be several redirects to your recently created article. Pierre-Alain Gouanvic 09:05, 27 June 2008 (CDT)

International maritime safety, SAR, Coast Guards

Thought you might be interested that I've started an assortment of articles, including Safety of Life at Sea, United States Coast Guard, and Combat search and rescue, which seem to touch on interests of yours. I work with marine safety computing, so I was going to follow up with GMDSS, AIS, and DSC, but there are other systems if you are interested. There also needs to be a general search and rescue article; I need to to disambiguate SAR "The search and rescue force, using synthetic aperture radar, found the vessel in distress with an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome". Howard C. Berkowitz 16:37, 11 August 2008 (CDT)

There are more links, such as Department of National Defence (Canada)#National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSRS), and Canadian links in the various SOLAS-required distress system. I also have a general Search and Rescue article to which updates are welcome. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:33, 24 August 2008 (CDT)

Sami Mohy El Din Muhammed Al Hajj

Sorry, I hadn't realised that was a quote/memo. The table doesn't seem to have worked out, unlike the table above it.

Anyway - a loophole? Should we put "(sic)" after it? --Mal McKee 19:49, 1 September 2008 (CDT)

Help on military workgroup page

It's rather a mess, but there is a section called "events" that has a few military-related trials. You might want to add to it. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:39, 28 September 2008 (CDT)


If it's of any interest to you, I've wanted to start some articles about some of the more profound Canadians and Canadian contributions/experiences to the military field. These include:

Are you interested, or can you suggest anyone who might be? Howard C. Berkowitz 12:04, 5 October 2008 (CDT)

Vimy Ridge is interesting, because how it is perceived in the popular imagination has undergone a terrific revision. Canada's path to full nationhood has been slow. As you may know Canada didn't have it's own national flag until the 1960s. We didn't repatriate our consitution until the 1970s. And, if I am not mistaken, there are still some kinds of court cases where the final court of appeal would be the judicial committee of the UK House of Lords.
In the last fifteen years or so Vimy Ridge has been talked about as if everyone knew that this was a watershed moment in the progress of Canadian nationhood. That the soldiers regarded themselves as British Subjects, who coincidentally happened to be from Canada, and afterwards regarded themselves as Canadians, first.
I never heard this meme when I was a kid. It passed right into "common knowledge" without any real discussion that I am aware of.
A new film about Vimy Ridge was recently finished. From the trailers it looks like it will be extremely patriotic. The star and director was previously the star of a surreal cop drama/comedy for five or six years, where he played a very straight-laced and virtuous RCMP officer who was temporarily attached to a Chicago homicide squad. Following that he wrote, produced and directed a pair of miniseries where he played a corrupt Canadian politician who arranged for Canada to sell all its water to the USA and join the USA as its 51st state.
I don't really want to write the Vimy article because I don't think I could do a good job at it. I can't really see any of the battles of WW1 as good ideas, no matter how heroic the soldiers are.
I am a big fan of Dallaire. He had serious depression after his return. Again, I don't know if I could do justice to him, being too sympathetic to him.
Cheers! George Swan 18:47, 5 October 2008 (CDT)
Laughing a bit about Canadian history...I have a friend, whom I would love to get here as a contributor or author, who, I shall simply say, is in Government. When we last saw each other in Washington DC, we were playing a bit of Canadian historical trivia, trying to decide when "Canada" officially came to be...I had accidentally gotten the British North American Act of 1867's date mixed up with the naming of Ottawa in 1855 (some say 1856). At one point, he spilled his drink and said "I never believed I would have this conversation with a person with a U.S. passport."
The Northwest Mounted Police is another subject not well known, although their descendants are. In the world's intelligence organizations, it was considered a sad day when counterespionage was taken from the RCMP, generally considered the world's best. That assessment was made on the basis of anyone who can secretly follow a spy, while wearing a red suit and riding a horse, has to be good.
He then threatened to send black helicopters for me, and I inquired if they would be Sea Kings, and, if so, in how many packages should I expect them.

Just looking through some of the Canadian coverage of the Vimy anniversary, one of the things only touched upon is certain of the Canadian technology that, when I first saw it, thought a time traveler had done the best he could with the available components. It was easily 60 years before any "major military" had anything so effective, yet we all know about the British radar in the Battle of Britain. Geophysical MASINT# Initial WWI Counterbattery Acoustic Systems.
Battles are never a good idea, but once a war is started, a political decision that should be stopped at a political/diplomatic level, things become a matter of picking the least bad alternative.
I know someone who has worked with Dallaire, who speaks of him with awe, yet, for all his demons, manages to warm the hearts of all around him. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:10, 5 October 2008 (CDT)

Please do not intersperse comments in this guidance. Comments are welcome in a separate section.

I really wish I had not felt I needed to make this as an explicit statement, but I have tried responding on Forums, where I believe others have made similar points, and on individual talk pages. For the record, I personally disagree with much of the current U.S. administration policies on these matters. Nevertheless, CZ cannot have the appearance of agenda-pushing, nor, bluntly, articles that may be indignant but are not especially user-friendly or accessible. On your userpage, you said you are interested in writing about the "implications" of the (red link) global war on terror. It's not useful to write about implications when the core topic is not first defined, and the reader is given a reasonable way to find the details.

In the real world, while it might be fine to have individual articles on mathematical functions or interesting molecules, in a controversial area where perceptions of quality and neutrality are important, context and introduction are essential.

As a Military Workgroup editor, after consultation, I must ask that some overall structure, and article quality improvement, are necessary in the matters concerning U.S. prisoners ("camper" doesn't work). Prisoner is used here as one has to have a neutral word to call people in involuntary custody. Other neutral words are possible, but there needs to be a consistent, unemotional, and descriptive term.

There is useful material here, but it is in disconnected articles and only found at random, such as the case of Matthew Diaz. That might be a legitimate article, but how is a reader to know it exists unless it is linked from a general article on the specific U.S. extradjudicial detention programs?

There are articles of very questionable notability, such as Casio F91W, which, at best, might be a side note in articles on improvised explosive devices or "how to recognize a terrorist" sections dealing with capture or detention. Again, I only found the article because I was searching through things you had written. While you mention Combatant Status Review Tribunal in the Casio article, there is no link to the watch from the CSRT article. There are no links from specific prisoner accounts to it. How is a reader to make use of information that can't be found?

I have made extensive edits on some articles, but I simply do not have time to do every article. In many cases, I will move the remaining article to the talk page, and, if there is no improvement in a reasonable time, recommend they be deleted or at least temporarily archived.

While this has been discussed extensively in the Forum, by various editors, non-newbies, and the editor-in-chief, let me make this explicit. CZ is not intended to be a catalog, or a place to "look things up" if that thing does not come with contextual explanations. You used the example of the IMDB. CZ is an encyclopedia, not a data base. We would rather have more depth and less breadth. Having many articles about individual prisoners, attorneys, protesting military personnel, etc., without explaining the notability and tying them together is simply not what CZ intends to be.

A framework is necessary

The general issues need to be stated before any other articles about individual cases, or discussions of facilities, are added. At the very least, there needs to be a way to organize the specific articles. The absolute minimum would be related articles or catalog subpages, giving name, preferably some tabular coding about reasons held and defenses to the charges, and the current status of the individual. See below about expectations about prisoner-specific articles.

This general article needs to address general legal contexts, minimally the definitions of prisoner of war, eligibility for the status, and responsibilities of the imprisoning power as discussed in the Third Geneva Convention at the international level. U.S. statute and court cases independent of the George W. Bush administration also set a background; I would suggest that the WWII case ex parte Quirin is especially relevant, as is more recent legislatin such as the Military Commissions Act.

There must be a main article about that describes, without dramatic language, the major issues in perhaps novel claims made by the Administration, and precedent, Laws of Land Warfare, statute and treaty.

Definitions and concepts

It is completely unacceptable to have new articles appearing, for example, that cite extrajudicial detention, when that key definition was moved to the talk page, in need of serious improvement, over a year ago and still is not in acceptable form.

The process of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal, Administrative Review Board, and related procedural things need to be in an article that first explains what they are, and to which individual prisoner articles can be linked. If you wanted to include photographs that are not specific to an identified prisoner, they could go here if they are reasonably tied to the the narrative, and explain, for example, how the prisoner does or does not interact with other people (board, personal lawyer, journalists, etc.) at the process. There need to be links to verifiable public statements, legislation, court decisions, etc., describing the U.S. view of what it is doing.

You may not repeat a general definition of the process in individual articles. You may link to it.

U.S. positions need to be established if only for counterarguments.

Arguments against them, at this point, need to come from other than journalistic supposition, preferably at the policy level to begin. In some cases, useful policy statements have been made with respect to specific cases, by national governments, recognized groups such as Human Rights Watch or the International Red Cross or UN agencies. Etc.

Individual cases

Without exception, the introduction to articles must include a concise summary of reasons for both the detention and objections to it, the first event with the individual, and the most recent status. It is not acceptable to require the reader to read through five years of events to find out about independent court review, which are matters of public record, that took place in the last weeks or months. If you say that it is inconvenient to keep that summary current, certainly when there are active proceeding in the judicial, not extrajudicial system, you have effectively said the article is unmaintainable, and I will recommend deletion.

When there are at least partially open court hearings, with document filings, you will identify the court, judge, key attorneys, provide a summary of legal issues, and link to documents. If I again find that there was not one external source covering several months of proceedings that involved statements by national governments, public court hearings, specific charges, etc., I will recommend speedy deletion of that article.

Unless discussed otherwise, keep images at thumbnail size. If a reader wants to see the image in larger form, that takes only a click. Large images that take up much of the screen make it difficult to read, as do table versions of documents that are hard to read and more appropriate as a link or subpage.

Reasonable sources include foreign governments that have made official protests (e.g., Pakistan for Aafia Siddique), established human rights groups that have made specific assessments, (e.g., Human Rights Watch for Aafia Siddique), court filings and orders, etc.

Do not include detailed lists of charges in the main article, whether as lists, tables, or any other means of formatting. Link to the actual documents, or, if there is a good reason and the formatting does not become an exercise in attention-getting graphics, you may use subpages.

You may not use material that sources only to news media commentary that reasonably can be interpreted — or even calls itself — speculation or supposition. Exceptions may be discussed when there is a strong, nonpolemic reason to do so, and the speculation can be cross-checked with independent sources. It is completely unacceptable to quote news reports quoting other reporters who describe their reporting as speculation. It is completely unacceptable to have a large blockquote or quotation of a reporter's subjective views. You may concisely summarize such views and source them.


In general, paragraphs should be contain at least two sentences. There should be a clear logical flow, and appropriate use of links rather than large blocks of dense documents.

While there can be good exceptions, a basic sourced statement should cite one source. There is little value to having four news stories that say approximately the same thing. If, hypothetically, there were opposing views on some official's statement, then there needs to be one sentence saying "official X said this" (source 1), and another sentence saying "official Y countered, saying that" (source 2).

Descriptions of physical facilities have to lead to some specific point. When the source you quote says that a facility is comparable, in amenities or lack thereof, to the living quarters of soldiers, I see no particular point being made.

Do not write a separate article on an individual and his or her career, if there is one key point, such as Associated Press v. DoD in the Jed Rakoff article. That's a practical matter of usability, because that information would become available only if a reader knew it existed. Put the decision into a main article on legal matters relating to the detention process. At such time as there is more information on the judge's other decisions, not just his education and other material easily available from court directories, then an article on him would be entirely appropriate.

Howard C. Berkowitz 13:43, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Trying to clarify a position


First, it is within the authority of a CZ editor, with internal checks and balances, to, reluctantly, recommend deletion of one or more articles. A number of these articles are within the Military Workgroup, or could reasonably be placed within this. I have not suddenly and unilaterally decided to take a firm stand on some of these points.

CZ is constantly trying to improve its methodology. One area, for example, which you may or may not have seen in forum discussions, is a great deal of thought about how to use the Related Articles subpage to organize groups of more specific articles. While there will certainly be cases where individuals write highly specialized articles that don't tremendously fit into a knowledge hierarchy, but, when an individual writes many related articles, there is an informal presumption that there will be an attempt to organize. From my own experience, I very consciously try to organize and interrelate articles as I write.

Many of the articles you have written recently appear to deal with specific instances of extrajudicial detention. Now, a well-written article on extrajudicial detention would, in and of itself, be valuable. It also is a logical place for a related articles subpage that would point to notable specific articles that amplify on aspects of extrajudicial detention. From my understanding of CZ's approach to knowledge organization, I deliberately use "amplify"; there is no perceived need simply to catalog multiple similar cases. If there's a statistical point to be made about the number of cases, make it as a statistical point. If specific examples amplify on procedure or precedent, that can be noteworthy, but I do not see a point to articles that appear to keep restating very similar allegations and denials on both sides.

It bothers me that extrajudicial detention has not progressed, as a unifying article, in over a year, yet more and more individual prisoner and critic articles keep being added, with no obvious incremental value to the multiple cases.

Yes, it is within my authority to comment on what I believe to be stylistic issues, when they make it difficult to absorb information.

The Forum discussions did not seem to be moving toward any resolution, and, to be blunt, I found the continued comments about dispelling "common knowledge" to be patronizing. Has anyone at CZ, certainly in recent months, argued with you that "common knowledge" proves that some hundreds of individuals were not in extrajudicial detention? If so, I did not see it. If someone said this at WP or in correspondence, it simply is not relevant to the articles in CZ.

When I found the Forum discussion to be an apparent deadlock, I went through several of your articles, and found similar presentations, and read several in detail, including reading citations to see that the article reasonably reflected their content. That, incidentally, is a quite routine thing to do; I fully expect to have my citations checked. I can recall being properly advised that I had misinterpreted the documentation on a particular weapons system, by a member that both is an instructor on it and has used it in combat.

Perhaps a matter of more concern, most strongly, so far, in the Aafia Siddique article, was the lack of detail on substantive and nonsecret proceedings. There was a citation of one journalist quoting the speculation of another journalist about Bagram, but there was what I found a curious lack of specificity about the hearings in the Southern New York District of the U.S. Federal Courts. No names of judges, lawyers, etc.; none of the unsealed FBI allegations. After a relatively brief amount of time, I was quite surprised to discovery that the Pakistani Foreign Ministry had made statements, and their diplomats in the U.S. were involved in the case. A Human Rights Watch report discussed the possible detention of her 11-year-old son, apparently in Afghanistan. These struck me as considerably more important, verifiable, and current than speculative news reports about a "Gray Lady of Bagram". Such material should have been summarized in the introduction.

In other words, George, I do not intend to engage in extended dialogue over a long series of articles. I am stating a perceived general problem. I cannot pretend to know why you select particular topics or choose to write about them as you do; that's not a snide reference but something I can't assume about anyone. I can only say that my reaction to the articles is that they suggest intense hostility toward the Bush Administration, and the continuing Forum comments about "common knowledge" seemed to suggest that no Americans are aware of what has been happening for a number of years. Now, I personally would not suggest that Dick Cheney is in league with Satan, only because if a Devil did exist, I would think he might have better taste. Nevertheless, in addressing things such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I prefer to cite things such as PNAC policy papers signed, before in office, by key Administration officials, versus, for example, both the pre-invasion testimony to Congress, by the Chief of Staff of the Army, regarding a professional opinion about keeping stability if there were an invasion. Indeed, I have noted the difference between the rather casual planning process, versus the effort by the WWII Chief of Staff, Supreme Allied Commander, to prepare the OPERATION RANKIN occupation plans.

Can there be mistakes in citations? I'll offer one that I just fixed, in stovepiping. At the time I wrote that, I thought there was a rule that citations could only be at the end of sentences. Overapplying that rule put several citations at the end of a long sentence, obscuring that each citation supported a specific clause of the sentence. I fixed that. When I checked your group of adjacent citations, however, they all appeared to be supporting the same point. If I misunderstood and they were establishing different points, we can work on that.

Nevertheless, I repeat that I see a general problem, and I am simply not going to continue dealing article-by-article. I'm not going to do that if I don't see a clear unifying theme among the articles, with individual articles notably adding pieces to a larger picture. Do not threaten me with not volunteering; that's up to you. I left WP when I saw there were some conditions under which I was not willing to volunteer.

One useful step would be to put all of the articles related to extrajudicial detention onto extrajudicial detention/related pages, and I would recommend focusing again on getting extrajudicial detention into a form where it does not raise concerns. How can individual articles make a point about general policies that are not clearly defined?

So far, your best article I've seen in this, although I'd change the title to Army Regulation 190-8, is Military Police: Enemy Prisoners of War, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees and Other Detainees. There are some nuanced details (e.g., an AR is a Department of the Army, not Department of Defense document, and that distinction does have significance). Consider why this might seem different than many other articles. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:08, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

I put the start of a Related Articles subpage on it, although I must say that I'd take issue with some of the definition text that retrieved with R-templates. The title wou

Your testimony

Please let us have it! Well, if you still feel up to it, George. --Larry Sanger 20:56, 3 November 2008 (UTC)


Steve Ewen made that template. It really simplifies things. And looks good. You can adjust the width of the images and the number per row. Chris Day 03:00, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Suggestion for some precise and needed articles

May I suggest you consider writing objective articles on key court cases, which would include some analysis of the actual court documents, not just commentary about them?

As an example, here are some more-or-less stub articles on cases that pertain to international transfers and liability:

Mr. Swan, you will find my major concern is with precision. For events and documents with stable names, such as court cases, the article should at least have a link to the actual document, not just people talking about it. There certainly can be press or analyst comment on it, but CZ: Neutrality Policy requires that the commentary cannot just be from people who approve only or disapprove only.

In like manner, when document titles are not stable, then there probably need to be separate articles on policy and on the matters actually described in the documents. I am working on a policy article on interrogation, which covers far more than Guantanamo. For me, it's a problem to suggest that all policy comes from one issue, one set of politicians, one snapshot in time.

Some terms, such as interrogation, have specific and nuanced meaning in the intelligence context. I have been writing articles about those meanings, which I hope will help. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:45, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Those two Editors, gone

George -

Yes, hcb & rj, gone.

We try to self-correct.

Let me know of any future problems:

Anthony.Sebastian 21:45, 5 June 2012 (UTC), Article Approval Manager

Well, while I found that neither of them had the skills to be mentors, they both seemed to be skilled writers, and well informed.
I seem to remember a discussion from shortly after h's departure, about his legacy, and whether his edits be systematically checked. I didn't think we had the person-power for that, so I didn't think we should try that. Was there any conclusion as to whether we should check any part of his legacy edits?
Cheers! George Swan 21:56, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Good question. I'll ask EC about it. —Anthony.Sebastian 22:10, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
For the record, the "related articles" feature was new to me, until I saw H. promote it. To whatever respect he was responsible for that feature, my hat's off to him. It's a brilliant feature. If, on the other hand, it was the responsibility of some of the other skilled people the Citizendium has been able to draw upon, well my hat is off to them, instead.
But I should still be grateful to him for introducing me to it.
Cheers! George Swan 10:01, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

Computer articles

You asked on my talk page about various computer articles you'd like to work on. I'd say by all means go ahead. It seem worth noting also that there is at least one other active computer editor, User:Pat Palmer. Sandy Harris 02:29, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

I am going to list the articles I started at User:George Swan/articles George Swan (talk) 16:45, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Tarek Dergoul

Hi George. I read through your article and found it well written and informative. No red flags. However, I would like to study it thoroughly. Two non-CZ-related deadlines preclude my doing so until the end of this week.

If you want collaboration, you should announce it, as user subpages are not open for general editing. Anthony.Sebastian 22:12, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for taking a look.
You have my explicit permission to edit any draft articles I have put under User:George Swan. George Swan 12:26, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

welcome back to the wiki

Hi George, Happy to have you back working in CZ. I was having trouble with the server just now--hope it didn't affect you. Seems to be back alive now.Pat Palmer (talk) 04:24, 19 September 2020 (UTC)