January 7th, 2009

Panetta and Obama’s unseriousness

Ralph Peters doesn’t like the Panetta pick, not one little bit. He says that it shows that Obama does not take intelligence “seriously.” I hadn’t thought of that description when I wrote my piece on the subject, but it does seem particularly apropos.

As Peters says, this is not a good time or venue for on-the-job training. It would help immeasurably to at least be familiar with the bureaucracy that forms the intelligence community, but Panetta is not. And Obama doesn’t seem to care:

To be a qualified D-CIA, a man or woman needs a sophisticated grasp of three things: The intel system, foreign-policy challenges and the Pentagon (which owns most of our intelligence personnel and hardware). Panetta has no background – none – in any of these areas. He was never interested.

Is Obama interested? One wonders.

This pick worries Peters, and it certainly worries me. It is an indication of a trend that was evident during the entire Obama campaign, which is that Obama seems to think qualifications and experience are not important.

Remember his preposterous assertion that he himself was as qualified (or more qualified) than anyone to make foreign policy decisions because he had lived in Indonesia as a child and traveled to Pakistan as a young adult (please see this to refresh your memory)? Perhaps that wasn’t just campaign hyperbole.

My current suspicion is that Obama believes it is true. If so, this a dangerous thing. The most ignorant person isn’t merely the one who doesn’t know, it’s the one who doesn’t know that he/she doesn’t know.

86 Responses to “Panetta and Obama’s unseriousness”

  1. huxley Says:

    The most ignorant person is not merely the one who doesn’t know, it’s the one who doesn’t know that he/she doesn’t know.

    Now, neo, you are getting perilously close to Rusmfeld territory!

    There has been a West Wing tv-show irreality to the Obama campaign from the beginning–that it is more important to be something than anything else, and somehow everything will proceed from there.

  2. Bugs Says:

    Maybe he’s serious about intelligence; he just doesn’t take the CIA seriously. Who does these days?

  3. huxley Says:

    Panetta is also a sop to the anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-torture side.

    Obama, not surprisingly, finds it difficult to find an experienced intel person with the necessarily lily-white credentials.

  4. Artfldgr Says:

    as i said… merit is out, appointments are in… and like the ANC article, we are like frogs in the frying pan, not knowing the temperature is cahnging.

    if your ideas are to crush the middle class between the millstones of taxation and inflation, and discredit capitalism, while rebuilding state organs to take care of their property (you), then sure, he just made a GREAT choice.

    after all, if the coutnries are to merge into one big farm, then what would happen is that these agencies would no longer fight, but merge.

    and if they are not fighting, then you dont need a fighter, you need an administrator.

    but hey! clearly seeing is a difficult thing when one things changing the lable changes things.

    True News 13: Statism is Dead – Part 3 – The Matrix

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P772Eb63qIY&feature=PlayList&p=0629B97DDFA9C7DB&index=16

    [remember its a view, and remember that in the US farm, its possible to move up and become a farmer, or rather a top something. however, you would still have to listen to the owners. who work through organizations like the CFR, and so forth, to coordinate the workign of the farm, and give you the limited choices. all this converted in the past 100 years... most of it in the past 60]

  5. Danny Lemieux Says:

    It’s government as performance art bereft of consequences.

  6. Artfldgr Says:

    i would say read Cleon Skousen again, and then label what has been accomplished since he wrote the list.

    also, stop accepting that the message that is presented is the truth… this is fatal in a con.

    how about the one clear answer? nope. its too horrible to actually believe, so we will ahve it, since belief is necessary for prevention.

    we dont attempt to protect ourselves from small wee pink folk that look like turtles with long giraff necks, we dont belive we exist…

    we do attack nations becasue we believe god exists.

    we do protect ourselves from germs we dont see, because most of us believe they exist.

    a majority in england now believe sherlock holmes was real, and churchill is a myth.

    “Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes

    “In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically.” S.H.

    “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” S.H.

    can you really believe that morons and idiots are running the state, or is that the only excuse you can evoke to excuse the truth?

    clintons are in office, and mr went to soviet russia on scholarship to avoid vietnam. obama… appoinments over merit… marxism..

    even those with psych seem to be delusional…

    hitler came to power because that same delusion that refuses to acept the truth, so tha one can refuse to act.

    the game is over…

    your watching whats called consolidation… and attempting to make sense of it… and cant, becuase consolidation and the con are not part of our normal way of thinking abour reality and the peple who have taken charge of our lives.

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    panetta with no ability to acquire the post, owes eerything to obama, just as obama owes the people that put that turtle on the post.

  8. dane Says:

    Enough people decided that experience was not a prerequisite for holding high office so Obama is just continuing that theme.

  9. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    Do you get the impression that Obama doesn’t plan on spending much time on CIA or other intelligence data? Panetta will be the man to filter this to a bare minimum of pablum. With Gates to mange the Pentagon without bothering POTUS, and Hillary at State, Obama can concentrate on community organizing.

  10. Lee Merrick Says:

    Panetta will be at CIA to keep Obama from getting political hits from the agency. See GWBush, Iran, nukes, er no nukes, whatever….

  11. Barb Says:

    No offense to Peters, but it didn’t take Obama’s Panetta appointment to make me think he wasn’t “serious” about intelligence. His entire party clearly wants to turn this country back into being as unsafe as it was on 9/10/01. This pick is merely something to confirm what I already knew.

    On a silly note – I CANNOT WAIT to see the freak show, that will be Washington, DC, during the Inauguration!! Bets on how many arrests???

  12. copithorne Says:

    From the outside it seems as though this community has countenanced massive intelligence failures, exhaustively documented, that led to the death of thousands of our fellow citizens. It has countenanced the burning of intelligence assets for domestic political advantage.

    And yet, to this group, OTHER people are not serious about intelligence.

    It seems as though denial and projection are profound forces in human affairs.

  13. Baklava Says:

    copithorne,

    You like to blame I see.

    Look at your first sentence. Could you apply that standard to WW2? What causes the death of thousands of our citizens? The enemy.

    To the left. Republicans are the enemy. To the right – the enemy is the enemy.

    Look at your last sentence. It fits with your profile.

  14. Oblio Says:

    copithorne, what do you mean by “this community?” The national security community as it is? Surely they did not countenance 9/11. I know of no evidence for that, and it would be an outrageous libel of a lot of honest and honorable people.

    Do you mean the Bush Administration? That would be lunatic talk.

    This group of readers and commenters? That would make us, umm, traitors. Is that what you mean to say?

    What do you mean by “countenance the burning of intelligence assets” plural? I presume you mean Valerie Plame as one, though I don’t think that claim would withstand scrutiny. At a minimum, it is contestable. What else do you have?

    Do you know anything about the intelligence community and intelligence work?

    Perhaps you mean to say that CIA is insular and there is sort of an old boys club that puts too much weight on politics and who is “in,” rather than putting their emphasis on effectiveness. That the CIA is vulnerable to groupthink around the conventional wisdom, and this leads to major analytical failures.

  15. dane Says:

    Copithorne,

    I’m not sure how you can attribute massive intelligence failures to the Bush administration. If you are referring to 9/11 then I would point to the fact that the CIA chief at the time was the same one appointed by Clinton. And speaking of Clinton he is the one who refused to take Bin Laden on three occasions and also the very one who refused to treat the first bombers of the World Trade Center as terrorists only had them prosecuted in criminal courts – which probably contributed greatly to the successful attacks on 9/11. He was also the one who basically did nothing about the Cole attack and the bombing of the embassy in Kenya.

    If you are talking about the intelligence about the WMDs in Iraq then a lot of other countries had the same intelligence. The unfortunate part of our lack of intelligence can be directly attributed to the fact that Clinton did away with most of the HUMAN intel capabilities of the CIA thinking it was not necessary because of the fall of the Wall (Berlin that is).
    All the satellites in the world aren’t going to do you as much good as a few people on the ground in the area.

    So your talk of DENIAL is patently absurd and as to your statement about PROJECTION is ridiculous as well – you only have to go to the very recent past and look to the liberal leaders (including Monsieur Obama) “The war is lost.” “The surge won’t work.” So who has the blinders on?

  16. Perfected democrat Says:

    Thank you dane for a nice distillation of the facts.

    “Is Obama interested? One wonders.”

    Sure Obama is interested, like the opportunist he is, but not necessarily in America’s welfare as the traditional bastion of free enterprise democratic capitalism and champion of individual freedom; Rather, he is interested in his left-wing, socialist U.N. centristic and personal political power agenda. People assumed it was a joke, and an exaggeration to describe him as a “Manchurian Candidate”. But it’s the truth, you all know the nature of the left culture of the Democratic Party, from Chicago to New York, and from Soros to San Francisco. Obama is their token half-black horse, garnered and groomed to catch the shallow swing minority and youth vote on a thin veneer of “hope and change”; Otherwise, everyone knows he’s just an unremarkable two-bit left-wing lawyer of minimal accomplishment, and with radical leftist and Islamists as close personal friends. Who believes he really authored his own story? It’s business as usual for the wealthy white power brokers in the Demagogue Party, but this century instead of standing from and for the Klan, their use of racism, voter registration and finance fraud has done a complete 180; Because that’s where the votes are now, it doesn’t take a genius to see it. Panetta’s appointment is just another subtle layer on the slippery slope toward that reality. Most of the Dim’s have been playing their political games for so long they’ve forgotten that the consequences are real, and potentially tragic…

  17. Artfldgr Says:

    What causes the death of thousands of our citizens?

    9/11

    [and as an extreme example of one death, the poor brazilian guy who got 8 slugs in the head for leaving his house to go on an errand]

    To the left. Republicans are the enemy. To the right – the enemy is the enemy.

    to the left, who desires communism and total control and ownership of all assets they see anyone standing in the way of that in any way, as being the enemy. [and they see anyone else competing for the same prize as the enemy. after all, the side that wins, eradicates the other side literally... anyone care to detail some of the purge history? even ayers group talked about removing 25 million people. a few of them will probably be republicans, no?]

    on the other side… you havent read my hammer and anvil post. where a common tactic of hegelian warfare is to take control of BOTH SIDES of the issue…

    ever see “good cop bad cop?” why didnt you think that the cops hated each other? ever think of the concept, made for public consumption?

    copithorn is right… the US stopped being serious about intelligence when we gutted our agencies.

    want to be serious about intelligence? then one has to accept, and understand that there is a dark set of hands playing games behind all these scenes!!! ours and theirs and our seeming own against us since we are an open society.

    if you dont believe me, how about another ex communist?

    Two former Communists, Bella Dodd and Manning Johnson, spoke on Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church. Dodd, an important Communist party lawyer, teacher and activist, converted to Catholicism in April 1952 under the tutelage of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Stating that the Communist infiltration was so extensive that in the future “you will not recognize the Catholic Church,” Dodd also asserted that:

    “In the 1930′s, we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.”

    “Right now they are in the highest places, and they are working to bring about change in order that the Catholic Church will no longer be effective against Communism.”

    Manning Johnson, a former Communist Party official and author of “Color, Communism and Common Sense” testified in 1953 to the House un-American Activities Committee regarding the infiltration of the Catholic Church:

    “Once the tactic of infiltration of religious organizations was set by the Kremlin … the Communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through infiltration of the (Catholic) Church by Communists operating within the Church itself. The Communist leadership in the United States realized that the infiltration tactic in this country would have to adapt itself to American conditions (Europe also had its cells) and the religious make-up peculiar to this country. In the earliest stages it was determined that with only small forces available to them, it would be necessary to concentrate Communist agents in the seminaries. The practical conclusion drawn by the Red leaders was that these institutions would make it possible for a small Communist minority to influence the ideology of future clergymen in the paths conducive to Communist purposes This policy of infiltrating seminaries was successful beyond even our communist expectations.

    stalin practiced first on the russian orthodox church.

    hey… apply that to the teachers college at columbia, home of the frankfurt school and a list of famous communist spies so long, i will be hated for posting it!!!!

    lets see… schools… check
    feminist groups (see erin pizzy) check
    race groups…check
    religous groups (see pfleger, wright, liberation theology), check
    newspaper on board…check
    publishing houses bought with oil money and other things over the years.. check..

    but they havent dont any of this in our government.. right?

    then who is harry dexter white? heck it was at the same time as FDR, and FDR didnt care… and obama is modeling after FDR, no?

    he just appointed an outsider to our intelligence agency who hasnt been vetted..

    if they had the top office of the federal reserve, why not place one by fiat someplace else, someone with no experience so that we dont remove him when he fails, but chalk it up to well meaning accident of an inexperienced man trying to do his best.

    if a “failure” of an experienced led to 3000… what would a failure of an ignorant lead to?

    Russia wants warships stationed around the world
    http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE5031OB20090104

    things might get interesting…
    the messes increase…
    mumbai becomes more of a problem
    hezbollah opens a second front to isreal
    possible false flag attack…

    its hard to know anything.

    how would one feel if one read mein kampf before hitlers rise and believed him?

    “The threat of environmental crisis will be the ‘international disaster key’ that will unlock the New World Order.” — Mikhail Gorbachev

    “In October 1917, we parted with the old world, rejecting it once and for all. We are moving toward a new world, a world of Communism. We shall never turn off that road.” — Mikhail Gorbachev

    and in confirmation of the concept of public consumption to an end.

    “Gentlemen, comrades, do not be concerned about all you hear about Glasnost and Perestroika and democracy in the coming years. They are primarily for outward consumption. There will be no significant internal changes in the Soviet Union, other than for cosmetic purposes. Our purpose is to disarm the Americans and let them fall asleep.” — Mikhail Gorbachev

    let me know if you think we are asleep or awake..

    i say asleep…

  18. Occam's Beard Says:

    And yet, to this group, OTHER people are not serious about intelligence.

    I’m embarrassed to have to point this out, but there is more than one way to generate screwed-up intelligence services.

    One is to leave a dysfunctional organization alone. Another is put amateurish nincompoops in charge (not saying Panetta is necessarily in this category – see the previous thread on this – but he could be, and some here are concerned that he will be).

    Merely doing something different than Bush doesn’t guarantee a better outcome. Arguably Bush had his plate full enough that he couldn’t afford the time/ energy/ political capital to try to fix the CIA as well.

    If I’d been President, the first leak from the CIA to the NYT would result in my calling in the DCIA and telling him either to find who leaked, and turn him over to the DoJ for proseution, or at least to find which department the leak came from, and fire everyone from the head of that department to several layers down. If he can’t find which department it was, I’d fire the DCIA and then use the leak as an excuse to fire anyone and everyone whose loyalty to the Presidency (the office, not the man) was in any way suspect.

    The CIA needs to be brought to heel, and to serve the President (Bush or Obama), rather than acting as a government unto themselves. They’ve done that for too long. Same thing with the State Department. The message: you will sing from the President’s hymnal, or be gone.

  19. Perfected democrat Says:

    Artfldgr Says:

    January 7th, 2009 at 9:16 pm…

    Really interesting stuff Art, thanks for your work … Especially: “The threat of environmental crisis will be the ‘international disaster key’ that will unlock the New World Order.” — Mikhail Gorbachev”

  20. Oblio Says:

    Occam’s Beard, what you say makes so much sense, there must be some powerful reason why it isn’t done.

    Artfldgr, just because there WAS a conspiracy, that lasted for decades and involved tens of thousands of people, both witting and otherwise, doesn’t mean that the conspiracy explains EVERYTHING. Some things were planned and controlled; other things just happen once you get the programming right for enough people.

    Why the CIA is dysfunctional is a complicated story of institutional drift that is caught up in a larger story of political decay. Yes, the Church Committee and the Left and the Media and the Long March through the Institutions have played a role. So do careerism, bureaucratic infighting, budgetary concerns, intellectual inbreeding, the migration away from operations and toward analysis, and the problems with counter-intelligence going back to Angleton and beyond. Maybe it’s even caught up in the social issues associated with the fall of the Old Establishment. Maybe we should call it a victim of “Mandarinism.”

    I will be shocked if Mr. Panetta is up to the task of correcting the CIA’s drift. I doubt that this is Mr. Obama’s goal.

  21. FredHjr Says:

    Artfldgr,

    I say that we are asleep…

    Those quotes from Mikhail Gorbachev I had read in Robert Chandler’s book, “Shadow World: Resurgent Russia, the Global New Left, and Radical Islam.”

    The Andropov Plan is working.

  22. Oblio Says:

    Let me add that I don’t think the CIA is completely or only dysfunctional. I’m not close enough to pass judgment on that, and I have high regards for the caliber of people I have met who have worked there, even if I cannot endorse their political judgments.

  23. Beverly Says:

    “I can see Malaysia from my house!” –BHO

  24. Beverly Says:

    Oblio makes a good point. There’s a hell of a lot of Muddle in all human affairs. Remember, the bumblers we knew in hi skule are now running world affairs….

    Most humans don’t sit up and take notice and take hold until someone sets off an M-80 under our posteriors. Even then, we fall back to sleep all too easily. Our resilience has this drawback.

    In the between-times, gaudy nincompoops like Hussein Obama can all too easily take the stage and hold it. The audience won’t mind as long as he distracts them from the encircling hordes outside.

  25. John Spragge Says:

    huxley wrote:

    Panetta is also a sop to the anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-torture side.

    I have very little to say on whether Mr. Panetta, specifically, will make a good choice for head of the CIA, or not. He has two essential attributes that I believe will stand him in good stead as a senior government manager: a strong sense of ethics, and a willingness to give up his job rather than compromise them.

    But I do have a comment about the line that the “anti-torture side” supports Mr. Panetta’s appointment. In fact, Mr. Panetta has written strongly, and appropriately, that he will not countenance torture under an circumstances. But anyone who thinks the opponents of torture constitue a “side” misunderstand the whole nature of the issues in the so-called “war on terror”.

    In a famous early 20th century anecdote, someone (usually identified as Winston Churchill) supposedly asked a woman if she would sleep with him for a million pounds. On getting an affirmative answer, he asks if she would sleep with him for two pounds ten (about $100 today). She answers: “of course not! What do you think I am,” to which he famously replies “that, madam, we have already established; we are now merely haggling over the price.”

    If we decide that we will give up our enlightenment heritage of limited government to such an extent that we will allow agents of our governments to torture people, then the Salafist Jihadists have already gotten us to abandon our ideals. They now merely have to determine exactly what threat they need to use to get us to choose between converting and paying the poll tax.

    And make no mistake, if we as a society will not stand, and endure, for our ideals, then we will eventually fall. And we cannot have a limited government that still engages in torture. Torture, by definition, passes the last limit that a human being can assert against a government. Concede the right to torture, and you give up every principle for which the signers of the Declaration of Independence pledge life, fortune, and sacred honor. That great conservative C. S. Lewis wrote that “courage is not just a virtue, it is all the virtues… at the point of highest reality.”

    So what would I have the government do if they saw no way to save Toronto except torture some (possibly innocent) person in the desperate hope that he or she knows, and under torture will reveal, what the authorities need to save the city. But if they give up Toronto (a heart-breaking, if profoundly unlikely, choice), the rest of Canada remain a free country, and we will have demonstrated that no threat, no murder, no mayhem can reach our ideals. If those who would enslave us kill us all, we will still die as free men and women.

    Whether you want to accept it or not, we give up that integrity by torturing people. And, pathetically, I have seen no evidence at all that when we have tortured, we have given up our birthright in the face of a real threat. I have seen no evidence at all that we have ever faced an enemy capable of mayhem on anything like the scale that London endured in 1940. Instead, we have tortured people, and sold our birthright, out of a fear of phantoms, of people puffing themselves up on the internet in a pathetic effort to feel important.

  26. Bogey Man Says:

    Very well put John.

    As you point out, faith in torture requires total, absolute faith in government power, something that should be anathema to any true conservative.

    I get a sense that many neo-conservatives see torture not so much as an intelligence gathering tool as form of punishment and, even, retribution. To them, presumed innocence isn’t an inalienable human right, it’s a “nicety.”

    How is that the same people who claim the government can’t be trusted to teach children, fund the health care system or set pollution standards, believe the government can be trusted with the power to literally destroy every last measure of any will to resist?

    It’s funny how the same people who claim the Obama administration is a dangerous pack of traitors, fools and worse are upset by the possiblity that those same people MAY NOT be free to torture men and women detained secretly, held without counsel, without charge and incommunicado.

    We still don’t know whether Bush deliberately lied about what he actually knew and didn’t know about WMD or, whether he was simply bamboozled thoroughly enough by Cheney’s gang to actually believe the certainty he expressed. Torture, according to its advocates, would be one way to find out and how can anyone believe it could never come to that, should torture become an accepted way of obtaining crucial information from suspects.

    Of all Bush-Cheney’s tragic legacies, torture will be the worst, by far.

  27. SteveH Says:

    Its easy to spot people who’ve devised a way to insure feelings trump actual logical thought when it comes to this torture issue. Since when is shooting someone in the foot more morally offensive than killing him? WTF?

    And exactly what school do you go to, to imagine General Washington had just as soon remained a subject of King George rather than offend 2009′s feminised sensibilities of what it means to be American?

    This mythical America that liberals imagine never existed. As if all the wars we’ve fought to keep this free society could have been successful diplomatic negotiations if only brutality were never an option.

  28. Artfldgr Says:

    cant post…

    something is wrong…

    as i said leb opened up a second front.. .

    i have a larger post but cant get aything up… google was scrubbed of certain news… etc

  29. Artfldgr Says:

    Thanks for the replies guys. I will get to them a bit later, however i do want to note that I am not claiming this is the end…
    (Though if we keep moving they way we are, it may well be).

    Look at my post… i said second front against Is-reel.
    i said hez-ball:ah… (This was a gimme, and i can say why, but heck its too long typing and i am trying to learn brevity – neo has helped, though i lapse)

    Who is behind Leb anon rockets?
    [replace earth with east. i am attempting to get around the block]

    news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle-earth/7817408.stm

    it is not that long ago that Israel was waging war in Gaza when Hez-bol:lah militants opened up a second front with Leb-anon.

    This probably is false flag like Mummmmbai…
    The article hints as much..

    Truth is i would rather be wrong when i see the pattern forming. The pattern is someone is going around pretending to be something else to foment a situation.

  30. Artfldgr Says:

    got it… they turned on some filter and its making it hard to talk about the conflict… (like when they turn on porn filters and you cant trade recipes for chicken b r e a s t)

  31. Artfldgr Says:

    go back to my posts for neo a while ago.. i said that everything was going to heat up.. i laid out what iraq is to the leaders (forget the cattle and the moral arguments and such, these are for consumption and for us to waste our time!!!!! keep us busy, keep us not thinking clearly abotu what we see since we wont see it without the tour guide to tell us what we are seeing. the tour guides are lying), and said that with that being threatened the actions now make sense

    it would have been worse… but we can thank the somali pirates.

    yes… israel and the world should thank them a lot. i would guess that someone on our side (west) has actually been guiding them… think of what they have captured… they captured russian tanks place… and the reason i say israel is very lucky. while they are a big threat, who have they been hitting and what have they been uncovering. and for the first time, russia sends ships to help? that adds up to someone helping the somalis select ships to screw things up.

    if you go to google, the informatino has been scrubbed. (telling in itself)..

    but another ship that the somali pirates too wasn the ” MV Iran Deyanat”. i posted this too…

    The MV Iran Deyanat set sail from Nanjing, China, at the end of July and, according to its manifest, planned to travel to Rotterdam, where it would unload 42,500 tons of iron ore and “industrial products” purchased by a German client. Its arrival in the Gulf of Aden, Somali officials tell The Long War Journal, was suspiciously early. According to a publicly available status report on the IRISL Web site, the ship reached the Gulf on August 20 and was scheduled to reach the Suez Canal on August 27 – a seven day journey. “Depending on the speed of the ship,” Puntland Minister of Ports Ahmed Siad Nur said in a phone interview on Saturday, “it should take between 4 and 5 days to reach Suez.”

    ======

    Suspicion has also been cast on the ship’s crew, half of which is almost entirely staffed by Iranians – a large percentage of Iranian nationals for a standard merchant vessel. Somali officials say that the ship has a crew of 29 men, including a Pakistani captain, an Iranian engineer, 13 other Iranians, 3 Indians, 2 Filipinos, and 10 Eastern Europeans, possibly Croatian.

    The MV Iran Deyanat was brought to Eyl, a sleepy fishing village in northeastern Somalia, and was secured by a larger gang of pirates – 50 onboard and 50 onshore. Within days, pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair. Independent sources tell The Long War Journal that a number of pirates have also died. “Yes, some of them have died. I do not know exactly how many but the information that I am getting is that some of them have died,” Andrew Mwangura, Director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program, said Friday when reached by phone in Mombasa.

    it was thought that the ship may have been destined to end up in a port in israel, or near it, or on the ocean, and blown up to spread nuclear material to the wind and across israel. another was saying it was weapons for eritrea… though that doesnt sound right to me. what weapons do that? even depleted uranium will not do that… (though i am unclear if its stored with too much material too close together that the radiation level would ramp up fast and then do that. but i dont know about that stuff much other than standard fair. my inter5ests are phsyics and biology, not really war and politics, and weaponry)

    was it? i have no idea at all… how could i?
    all i have are tons of news sources and the ability to connect threads and see patterns. some are real some are false, and almost all of them are a swirl of both.

    this is the reason the american ships and everyong suddenly got involved publicly though. they needed an excuse to get over there to see the contents of thatship, and the somalis were open to bidding on that view.

    In a strange twist, the Iranian press claims that the U.S. has offered to pay a $7 million bribe to the pirates to “receive entry permission and search the vessel.” Officials in the Pentagon and the Department of State approached for this story refused to comment on the situation. Somali officials would also not comment on any direct U.S. involvement but one high-level official in the Puntland government told The Long War Journal “I can say the ship is of interest to a lot of people, including Puntland.”

    but it looks like the ship was returned for less… (after all, the pirates are probably still working for that side, and so the grab may have been facilitated by making them think that there was a great cargo on the ship, and not what the manifest was saying. they got the ship, and then had to return it to their allies, so they took the 2 million from iran, nad not the 7 million from the US)

    anyone want to guess what comes next?

    syria may launch rockets in the next few days. the point is that they are seeing how the world reacts, and the world is reacting the way they want and not in israels favor. (the forces are starting to array themselves around the few countries of the west that are keystones).

    in florida
    http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=1030&pageid=44&pagename=Slices

    video here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Xl68kP4wo&eurl=http://bokertov.typepad.com/btb/2008/12/pro-palestinian.html

    The rally began as Hamas supporters squared off against a handful of mostly youthful Israel supporters outside the First Baptist Church in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. It grew uglier as Hamas supporters became enraged at their presence and began shouting insults. “Your mother is a whore,” screamed one, who then broke into “Nuke, nuke Israel. Nuke, nuke Israel,” followed by “Go to hell; go to hell; go to hell!”

    Another woman, wearing a headscarf, shouted: “Go steal other lands. Go! Murderers! Go back to the oven! You need a big oven.” The reference to “ovens” invoked Hitler’s crime of burning murdered Juuz in ovens during the Holocaust.

    and nary a protest from the left.

    meanwhile, the left here and such are playing out the script of hegelian conflict, and so israel is the oppressor group who can do nothing but die out, and the others are the oppressed, so what they do is considered justice.

    ergo, the ovens are now justice…

    before they were a means of preserving and solidifying the dynasty of the genetics of a politically selective group over waht they thought was dysgenic. (in this case, too smart, and potentially able to untie the gordian knot that they are relying on).

    that wont fly this time… so, they need a new spin, a new pig that is a rose… this one is oppressor oppressed dialiectics, which accomplish the same thing, by actually fomenting the hatred towards those that did the holocaust, and turning that cultured hatred back around and to the juuz!

    so now the juuz are teh nazis…

    the psych stuff on these kinds of things are nasty… and you will not find any mentino of them in your psych classes… these are prducts of think tanks for state consumption… psyops and other games…

    when we study to find out how we work, like nuclear weapons we divide a nothing into a positive and a negative, and the positive is potential better health (and the cattle producing more with less costs), the negative is the use of such to control, enslave, and trick the cattle into thinking that they are going to a great place.

    since people like twilight zone, i will say watch the episode “to serve man”.

    its a metaphore of the inversion of terms. capitalism freed man, and enslaved autorcrats. when they talk of more freedom under sociaism, they are talking to each other, not us, and they are saying there is going to be more freedom, things will be better, and so on… waht do they mean? they mean that they will no longer be enslaved by the people, they will get the people to enslave themselves and set the rulers free again, by inverting it.

    they paint exit over entrances, paint entrance over exit, yell fire, and watch everyone run to their death.

    watch to serve man. the twist realies on our proclivity to grab the meaning we like, and not even look at the other potentials… (puns exercise this facility).

    anyway.. too long again..

    if i think of whats next i will mention it.

    right now i am thinking syria… and there should be some other distraction added… hamas telling palistinians to blame obama mght be it, but i think bigger since its all hot is more likely.

  32. Artfldgr Says:

    it was middle earth east that did it… removed that and reworked that link and the rest of the post went up… this pc helpful crud is really annoying… (under the guise of help, we control – see john cleeses how to really really really annoy people)

  33. Artfldgr Says:

    PRESIDENT-elect Barack Obama’s appointments to Homeland Security, the Justice Department and now the CIA indicate a virtual abandonment of the War on Terror.
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/01082009/postopinion/opedcolumnists/gutting_security_149167.htm

    Once upon a time there was a tavern
    Where we used to raise a glass or two
    Remember how we laughed away the hours
    And dreamed of all the great things we would do

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d sing and dance forever and a day
    We’d live the life we choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way.
    La la la la…
    Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

    Then the busy years went rushing by us
    We lost our starry notions on the way
    If by chance I’d see you in the tavern
    We’d smile at one another and we’d say

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d sing and dance forever and a day
    We’d live the life we choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way.
    La la la la…
    Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

    Just tonight I stood before the tavern
    Nothing seemed the way it used to be
    In the glass I saw a strange reflection
    Was that lonely woman really me

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d sing and dance forever and a day
    We’d live the life we choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way.
    La la la la…
    Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

    Through the door there came familiar laughter
    I saw your face and heard you call my name
    Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser
    For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d sing and dance forever and a day
    We’d live the life we choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way.
    La la la la…
    Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days
    [russian composer Boris Fomin ]

    mary hopkin – those were the days-68
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5pkkAhETYg

    mary hopkin later version
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyaTIXdN5fI&feature=related

    and how the music should really sound
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qizPLgwfzJA&feature=related
    (check out the largest mandolin looking instrument that i have no idea what it is!!! and i was first string when younger)

    for those who know russian…
    Those guys with the wacky hats, the goose step, and samovars…
    And you can note that they still sing it…
    Ансамбль Российской Армии – Дорогой длинною
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aibOiv_SrmQ&feature=related

    the song is evoking and personal to most who hear it.

    I makes me feel about the past and better times…
    [and Hopkins has such a simple sweet trilling voice]

    :(

  34. News from Whoever « Slow Stagger Says:

    [...] opinion (below: A Tale of Two Job Searches).  I think, however, I’m inclined to go with Ralph Peters (by way of Neoneocon) and retain my doubts.  Not that it makes much difference.  We’ll just have to hope that [...]

  35. Occam's Beard Says:

    But if they give up Toronto (a heart-breaking, if profoundly unlikely, choice), the rest of Canada remain a free country, and we will have demonstrated that no threat, no murder, no mayhem can reach our ideals. If those who would enslave us kill us all, we will still die as free men and women.

    Pardon my saying so, but that’s childish, vainglorious drivel. It presupposes that you survive to enjoy your nobility. Even if you did survive, are you seriously suggesting that you wouldn’t be howling to high heaven about the government’s failure to protect you (and probably blaming Bush somehow or other)?

    Let me titrate your ideals. Suppose the hairball in question was suspected of conspiring to release, say, smallpox or anthrax, in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver. (A perfectly plausible scenario, that could be carried out by as many agents, or even by one Johnny Appleseed).

    Are you seriously saying you’d refrain from mussing his hair a bit to stop such a plot that might kill hundreds of thousands? Really?

  36. Bogey Man Says:

    “Since when is shooting someone in the foot more morally offensive than killing him?”

    It’s not only the quantity of moral offense, it’s also the quality.

    It is of course morally offensive to kill captured terrorist suspects, absent a fair trail and conviction. (Something torture makes very unlikely, because evidence acquired that way would be inadmissable in any fair trial.)

    Torture is uniquely morally offensive because it gives one human being the right to remove another’s dignity with a thoroughness that turns both the torturer and the tortured are no longer definable as human.

    OB tries out the standard hypothetical argument that torture would be justified in a situation where the very existence of the world was threatened by a “ticking time bomb’ that could be disarmed with knowledge held by a suspect.

    It’s telling that he and virtually every torture advocate feels the need to resort to such a distant, all-or-nothing hypothetical. Vainglorious indeed.

    In fact, there has never been such a ticking time bomb scenario — not just here in the U.S., but, to my knowledge, in the history of the world. Perhaps OB is basing his analysis more on what happens in movies, television and comic books than in reality. (U.S. military interrogators complain that the TV series “24″ makes it much more difficult to train recruits, many of whom arrive convinced that the melodrama reflects reality.)

    In the real world, torture is used almost always for reasons other than the ticking time bomb scenario. First and foremost, governments use torture as a way to intimidate. Torture powerfully conveys the message that citizens are government subjects condemned to a kind of absolute powerlessness to the extent that no dignity whatsoever will be allowed them, should the government decide, with no due process, that they don’t deserve it.

    Secondly, torture is used to gather intelligence, not about the rare — in practice, non-existent –ticking time bomb, but about all manner of military or terrorist activities. Many governments that use torture deploy it primarily as an instrument of politics, disguised, of course, as national security.

  37. Occam's Beard Says:

    First, the ticking bomb scenario is a rhetorical device to illustrate the point, BM. It’s like pointing out to those oppose the death penalty “except for X” (war criminals, perpetrators of genocide, child molesters, what have you) that they are in fact in favor of the death penalty. It’s an all or none proposition. You either oppose it, or you’re for it, and then we can argue about the circumstances in which you’d use it.

    And yes, torture has many uses. So do knives. They can be used to kill, as scalpels they can be used to save lives. The intent matters.

    Last, but not least, let us not forget that what lefties decry as “torture” is a best bit coercive. Waterboarding, used on three clowns, is routinely used on US troops in SERE training, so it can’t be that bad. Playing Christina Aguilera music is brutal, but short of torture. Making terrorist watch The View – now that would be torture, no two ways about it.

  38. Baklava Says:

    Occam wrote, “Last, but not least, let us not forget that what lefties decry as “torture” is a best bit coercive. Waterboarding, used on three clowns,

    But Occam, lefties blather on about how the top Bush administration officials condoned or ordered the Abu Graib antics.

    Clarity is required in these discussions and you can tell lefties use little clarity and much smoke.

    I simply disagree with their assertion or insertion of the word torture. I for one call it for what it is. The use of waterboarding on 3 criminal terrorists which DID help us gather information.

    The left opposes it and to be fair some on the right opposed it. Those who do oppose it are obligated to be clear and not blow smoke on the issue.

    Bogey is not clear. He is therefore he is on morally incorrect ground. It’s just short of lying.

  39. Bogey Man Says:

    If waterboarding isn’t torture, why not use it as a matter of course in routine investigations?

    Why, for example, wouldn’t you want pour a jarful down Dick Cheney’s gullet to find out, once and for all, who really leaked Valerie Plame’s name and on who’s instructions? Think of all the time and taxpayer money that could have been saved.

    And yes, it’s easy to concede that torture would be forgivable in a ticking time bomb scenario — were one ever to miraculously arise. But that’s a comically weak argument for legitimizing torture.

    We can also forgive someone for speeding on the way to the hospital with a dying passenger, without believing that speed limits are wrong.

  40. Occam's Beard Says:

    If waterboarding isn’t torture, why not use it as a matter of course in routine investigations?

    Why, for example, wouldn’t you want pour a jarful down Dick Cheney’s gullet to find out, once and for all, who really leaked Valerie Plame’s name and on who’s [sic] instructions?

    Stupid argument and point, neither worth addressing. You can do better than this.

    And yes, it’s easy to concede that torture would be forgivable in a ticking time bomb scenario — were one ever to miraculously arise. But that’s a comically weak argument for legitimizing torture.

    We can also forgive someone for speeding on the way to the hospital with a dying passenger, without believing that speed limits are wrong.

    Then you agree with me: exigent circumstances require exigent measures. Amy Vanderbilt goes out the window under such circumstances. Welcome to adulthood.

  41. Y-not Says:

    Ironically, today I saw a CIA recruitment ad on television — the first in quite a while. Are they anticipating voluntary retirements? mandatory layoffs? or expansion?

  42. John Spragge Says:

    SteveH

    This mythical America that liberals imagine never existed.

    Well, you can believe what you want. I believe in the eighth amendment to the United States Constitution, the universal declaration of human rights, the Geneva convention, and above all in the conviction that each of these documents express, that in governing ourselves, human beings can transcend our worst emotions and impulses. And if I have that wrong? If Wilberforce, Lafayette, Jefferson, Lord John Russel, Lord Durham, Abe Lincoln, and Winston Churchill, Ghandi and King really don’t mean anything? Well, in that case, I will have lived and died for a hopeless ideal that, as C. S. Lewis remarked in the Silver Chair, beats your “real world” hollow.

    Occam’s Beard

    Even if you did survive, are you seriously suggesting that you wouldn’t be howling to high heaven about the government’s failure to protect you (and probably blaming Bush somehow or other)?

    I don’t claim to know what I would do in the event of a hypothetical. I can tell you the brave and honourable choice that would preserve our ideals. To claim I would certainly make it would indeed qualify as “vainglorious drivel”. Would I die to save the rule of law, the freedom of the citizen, and the limits of government, all things that allowing torture destroys? I can’t tell you that, although I can say that I believe I ought to if necessary, just as my ancestors went in to harm’s way to win the freedom they passed down to me.

    But more to the logical point: if you’ll give up the rule of law to save your skin, where do you stop? What if you found that only accepting the attacker’s demands will stop that attack? Once you agree to torture, you no longer uphold the heritage of freedom, and you’ve already established that you’ll lay down your freedom to preserve your life. At that point, to paraphrase Churchill’s anecdote, we’ve already established the principle; now we have only to haggle over the price.

  43. Occam's Beard Says:

    First, as stated repeatedly, I don’t consider anything that has been done to be torture. The terrorists quite fancy imaginatively applied electric drills and such. Now that’s torture. Making them uncomfortable is not.

    Furthermore, no one has given up the rule of law. The interrogation techniques in use were considered legal by the DoJ. Case closed.

    The rule of law as liberals understand it is the criminals go free with the thanks of the leftmost party in that country. But let’s examine the rule of law in the case of interned terrorists. As illegal combatants, under international law, we’d be perfectly within our rights to execute every man Jack of them summarily. If the ranking officer on the scene determined the captive was an illegal combatant, he would be entirely within the Geneva Protocol to stand the captive against a wall and shoot him on the spot. Period. Done. Game over.

    And what constitutes an illegal combatant, you ask? A legal combatant is wears a uniform or some form of visible identification, is part of an organization with a formal command structure, carries his weapons openly, AND extends the protection of the Geneva Protocols to his captives. Anyone who fails to fit all FOUR of these criteria (no dim sum-style picking and choosing) is an illegal combatant.

    After WWII, US forces in Germany executed any number of diehards (“Werewolves”); anyone caught with a weapon was tied to a lamp post and shot. Just like that. That’s how one enforces the rule of law in a war zone.

  44. Occam's Beard Says:

    I was going to quote Churchill’s anecdote to you. If you would use coercive methods under any circumstances whatsoever, then we’ve established that you agree with me.

    But how about a modest proposal: if we catch someone conspiring to attack Canada, that guy we’ll ask politely if he’d like to tell us about his plot, after he gets his lawyer, Miranda rights, phone call, a latte, and premium cable, and if he doesn’t, well, we’ll turn on CNN and await developments. Deal?

  45. Artfldgr Says:

    Ironically, today I saw a CIA recruitment ad on television — the first in quite a while. Are they anticipating voluntary retirements? mandatory layoffs? or expansion?

    expansion

    the distraction shows its face…

    twelve countries have received no Russian gas: Austria, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. France, Italy, Germany, and Poland reported that their supplies from Russia were markedly down.

    this during a deep freeze in which people have died.

    12 deaths blamed on snow and cold across Europe
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iW6q5i19XiyRfnWnDjr6RI21NmsQD95IEROG0

    and kick it up a notch…
    Ukraine to build up defenses on Russian border – paper
    en.rian.ru/world/20081126/118551322.html

    “The events in the Caucasus have forced every country in this region to think about security. It turns out that not everything is so calm, that even Europe may experience military conflicts,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov

    with even american thinker covering some details
    Risky Russian Relations
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/01/risky_russian_relations.html

    Since the downfall of the Soviet Union, no US leadership has consciously tried to exploit Russia; on the contrary, the U.S. has done all it can to try and improve relations with Russia. However, every effort on America’s part was manipulated by Russia to their advantage.

    For example, when Russia was invited to participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program back in 1994, they repeatedly tried to imbed GRU agents into NATO HQ. On the question of NATO, often The United States gets blamed for pushing NATO expansion into what used to be Soviet Union territory; but it is not the US or NATO that is soliciting client states but the states themselves soliciting NATO — and for good reason, out of fear of their once-dominating eastern neighbor. Recent hostilities in Georgia have certainly not abated those fears.

    this combined with mumbai, the new increased situation in south america, as well as now europe itself heating up…

    and obama is whipping up crisis, so we are not looking where?

  46. Oblio Says:

    OB, what John Spragge wrote is worse than that.

    The point of the hypothetical ticking bomb scenario is that decisions have consequences and you have to take responsibility for the costs of your decisions. To take a categorical position against coercion in this case is to say that he would choose to sacrifice millions of his countrymen rather than waterboarding one terror suspect in order to protect HIS morals. I would say that to place this kind of value on your own morality is bizarre and monstrous.

    He is of course free to put his life in the harm’s way for peace or against oppression. There are probably opportunities for him to do that today in Gaza City. He invokes the idea of courage as the highest virtue, but it does not take much in the way of moral or physical courage to strike poses against “torture” while sitting in Toronto or Ann Arbor.

  47. Occam's Beard Says:

    Good point, Oblio. The perspective is much akin to that of earnest liberal who want vicious psychopathic criminals released, as long as they’re released far away. It’s intellectually dishonest, because it implictly presumes that someone else will bear the risk that the noble liberal is so happy to assume – in principle, but not in practice.

    See Norman Mail/Jack Henry Abbott for a case in point. Would Mailer have been so keen to strike the earnest liberal pose if Abbott had come to live with him? I think not.

  48. Bogey Man Says:

    I get a feeling OB doesn’t even realize that his logic cuts both ways and, in the process, decapitates his own straw man.

    His initial claim was that anyone who would permit torture — or the death penalty — under ANY circumstances surrenders any potential claim to moral consistency in opposing its application under any other circumstances. By that logic, anyone who supports an obvious cruelty like waterboarding has no moral standing to oppose, say, removing the fingernails of uncooperative witnesses in sedition investigations. If you’re in for a dime, you’re in for a dollar, to make Churchill a little pithier.

    Those of us who still have our heads had no trouble seeing how silly that was when OB first brought it up.

    Part of being an adult is acknowledging that some moral dilemmas have no correct answer. A Freeper puts a gun to your head and tells you to shoot your entire family, or he’s going to remotely detonate a bomb Denver stadium, killing most or all in attendance at the 2009 Republican National Convention, then shoot you. So what’s it going to be, OB: Grandma, the wife and kids, or the Grand Old Party? More to the point, does this hypothetical provide any rationale for easing up on the moral and legal barriers to murdering your own family?

  49. Oblio Says:

    Bogey Man, you need to go back and re-read what Occam’s Beard said. You start on the wrong foot, and the rest of your analogy in the first paragraph is silly, since Occam doesn’t argue what you say he does. Your hypothetical is bizarre in form and detail. You don’t say whether you get to shoot the terrorist after you shoot the family, or whether he shoots you and sets off the bomb anyway. Whatever the law might say afterwards is really irrelevant to the basic ethical case.

    Did you just make that up on the fly? What an imagination.

  50. John Spragge Says:

    Occam’s Beard wrote:

    If the ranking officer on the scene determined the captive was an illegal combatant, he would be entirely within the Geneva Protocol to stand the captive against a wall and shoot him on the spot. Period. Done. Game over.

    Absolutely wrong. The 1949 Geneva convention states the following:

    1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely…. the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
    (a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

    (d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
    ….
    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 [defining legitimate prisoners of war], such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

    In other words, you cannot execute any prisoner of war, and you cannot label anyone an unlawful combattant subject to civil judicial proceedings (including execution) without reference to a competent tribunal.

    Oblio wrote:

    To take a categorical position against coercion in this case is to say that he would choose to sacrifice millions of his countrymen rather than waterboarding one terror suspect in order to protect HIS morals.

    You flatter me. I have not, however, come up with the basics of humanitarian law on my own, nor do I uphold it by myself. Article five of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits torture, as do the Geneva Convention, the eight amendment to the United States Constitution, Title 18 chapter 113C of the the United States Code, the International Convention Against Torture; what you so flatteringly refer to as my morals actually constitutes the supreme law of your country and mine, and also the law in effect through most of the world.

    And, as I have said before, that law exists for a reason, because a government that can inflict pain and humiliation at will has, in practise, no limits. And the subjects of a government that has no limits cannot call themselves, in any meaningful sense, free men and women.

    Occam’s Beard

    …earnest liberal who want vicious psychopathic criminals released, as long as they’re released far away.

    Don’t make projections about other people’s personal courage and the integrity of their convictions, unless you know whereof you speak.

  51. John Spragge Says:

    Oblio & Occam:

    Let’s get back to principles. Why do we go to the trouble of resisting al-Qeada or any other would-by tyrant who wants to impose their will over us? For that matter, why didn’t FDR save a lot of time and effort by contacting the Japanese on Monday, December 8, 1941, and telling them they could have Hawaii as long as they promised to stay away from San Francisco? I have no doubt he could have come to an agreement with the Japanese government on that basis. In other words, when we fight, what exactly do we fight to defend?

  52. Bogey Man Says:

    Oblio writes: “You don’t say whether you get to shoot the terrorist after you shoot the family, or whether he shoots you and sets off the bomb anyway.”

    Of course I do. That information is contained in my description of the scenario as a moral dilemma. If the terrorist gets to set off the bomb anyway, there’s no reason whatsoever to murder your family, thus no dilemma. If the terrorist shoots you after you murder your family — to save the world, of course — it doesn’t change the moral dimension at all since your decision is still between saving your family or 10s of thousands of Republicans.

  53. Oblio Says:

    Bogey Man, I’m not buying, and you still haven’t re-read what Occam’s Beard actually said.

    If you want to explicate your hypothetical a little more, I will re-address it. You apparently think there are some self-enforcing rules of behavior implied in the construct, i.e. you can have complete confidence that the terrorist will keep his promises. I can’t see that as being a useful thought experiment.

    In the meantime, I will take a stab at answering the way I see the ethics. If the man refuses to cooperate, and he and the Republicans consequently die, he has NO responsibility in principle and in fact (in fact, because he is dead); ALL the moral responsibility lies with the terrorist. If he chooses a utilitarian solution against his own interests, he acquires moral responsibility–blame, which is somewhat mitigated by his own losses, duress, his intent to act for the greater good, and the psychic costs of guilt he would feel. Please note, if he is a psychopath who doesn’t feel guilt and would do anything to save his own skin, it’s not much of a dilemma.

    Are you making a movie out of this?

  54. E Says:

    As Kenneth from 30 Rock pithily put it, “I don’t believe in hypothetical questions – it’s like lying to your brain!”

  55. E Says:

    John Spragge wrote:

    “You flatter me. I have not, however, come up with the basics of humanitarian law on my own, nor do I uphold it by myself. Article five of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits torture, as do the Geneva Convention, the eight amendment to the United States Constitution, Title 18 chapter 113C of the the United States Code, the International Convention Against Torture; what you so flatteringly refer to as my morals actually constitutes the supreme law of your country and mine, and also the law in effect through most of the world.”

    Thanks for all the links, John Spragge. It made for interesting reading! And this is what I found in the ratifications section:

    “The United States declares, pursuant to article 21, paragraph 1, of the Convention, that it recognizes the competence of the Committee against Torture to receive and consider communications to the effect that a State Party claims that another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention. It is the understanding of the United States that, pursuant to the above-mentioned article, such communications shall be accepted and processed only if they come from a State Party which has made a similar declaration.”

    The meaning is clear: the United States of America does not afford protection under the Convention to enemy non-combatants, who operate under no flag and engage in asymmetrical warfare to spread discord, terror, and despair. They are monsters. Monsters sign no treaties. They hold no seat at the U.N. They deserve no protection under international law. And to encourage their monstrous activities by tying the hands of military and intelligence operatives offers aid and encouragement to these monsters. They already despise us – we should want them to fear us instead.

  56. Lee Says:

    Actually, Bogey, your contrived hypothetical is clear cut, a lay down hand. You shoot your family(“murdering them” in your words) as opposed to allowing thousands to be murdered instead. Which decision is the more humane?
    Another contrived hypothetical: Would it be more moral to kill Hitler in 1924, knowing what his book(Mein Kampf) claimed he aspired to, or, like history(the world following Bogey’s morality in that instance), allow him to live because it’s morally wrong to Kill? One life in exchange for 55 million….hmmmm.

  57. Lee Says:

    Oh, and by the way, people, we waterboard our own soldiers and sailors to simulate what they can expect from the enemy if they are ever captured. It’s not torture, it’s a tool. Or will you now claim we torture our own as part of their routine training? CERE ( Capture, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) School.

  58. grackle Says:

    If we decide that we will give up our enlightenment heritage of limited government to such an extent that we will allow agents of our governments to torture people, then the Salafist Jihadists have already gotten us to abandon our ideals. They now merely have to determine exactly what threat they need to use to get us to choose between converting and paying the poll tax.

    I think the writer’s train of logic may go like this: If the US waterboards terrorists the act of waterboarding will somehow lead to America “converting” to Islam or paying money(“poll tax”?) to the terrorists. Just HOW this will come about is left unexplained, as in so many of the writer’s comments.

    And make no mistake, if we as a society will not stand, and endure, for our ideals, then we will eventually fall. And we cannot have a limited government that still engages in torture. Torture, by definition, passes the last limit that a human being can assert against a government. Concede the right to torture, and you give up every principle for which the signers of the Declaration of Independence pledge life, fortune, and sacred honor. That great conservative C. S. Lewis wrote that “courage is not just a virtue, it is all the virtues… at the point of highest reality.”

    Clearly, “limited government” in no way precludes tough interrogation techniques. The writer is conflating two rather odd birds in a his attempt to link interrogation techniques he disapproves of to some sort of ultimate(in his eyes only) governmental-societal failure.

    So what would I have the government do if they saw no way to save Toronto except torture some (possibly innocent) person in the desperate hope that he or she knows, and under torture will reveal, what the authorities need to save the city. But if they give up Toronto (a heart-breaking, if profoundly unlikely, choice), the rest of Canada remain a free country, and we will have demonstrated that no threat, no murder, no mayhem can reach our ideals. If those who would enslave us kill us all, we will still die as free men and women.

    I wonder if the Toronto citizens that the writer so blithely sacrifices in his ridiculous hypothetical would see the wisdom of dying because the writer is against waterboarding. What would a referendum of Toronto citizens reveal if they were given the choice between death or enslavement or supporting waterboarding? Just wondering …

    Whether you want to accept it or not, we give up that integrity by torturing people. And, pathetically, I have seen no evidence at all that when we have tortured, we have given up our birthright in the face of a real threat. I have seen no evidence at all that we have ever faced an enemy capable of mayhem on anything like the scale that London endured in 1940. Instead, we have tortured people, and sold our birthright, out of a fear of phantoms, of people puffing themselves up on the internet in a pathetic effort to feel important.

    A question: The writer uses Canada in some of his examples, as with Toronto in the above, yet goes on to give the impression that he is a US citizen, as in, “we[the US] have tortured people.” And why not use a city such as New York as the hypothetical city, instead of Toronto? The answer is because 9/11 happened in NYC and probably most folks, especially in NYC, would see the prudence of allowing waterboarding if it could prevent such a huge terrorist act as 9/11. Furthermore, the US gives up not an iota of integrity by waterboarding terrorists. Those murderers are not prisoners of war(no army claims them), are definitely not ordinary criminals and are not US citizens. As far as I’m concerned such scum have no ‘rights’ whatsoever.

    Bogey Man Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 7:23 am
    Very well put John.

    As you point out, faith in torture requires total, absolute faith in government power, something that should be anathema to any true conservative.

    Speaking of “faith,” I USED to have faith that my government would do everything possible to protect me. Obama’s election has shaken that faith. And if the writer’s sentiments are truly shared by Obama and Panetta and this unwillingness to do what’s needed to protect the US leads to an intelligence vacuum and an act of terror subsequently occurs in the US then that faith will be shattered.

    I get a sense that many neo-conservatives see torture not so much as an intelligence gathering tool as form of punishment and, even, retribution. To them, presumed innocence isn’t an inalienable human right, it’s a “nicety.”

    The writer’s impressions on how “neo-conservatives see torture[waterboarding] … as a form of punishment” is irrelevant and also false.

    How is that the same people who claim the government can’t be trusted to teach children, fund the health care system or set pollution standards, believe the government can be trusted with the power to literally destroy every last measure of any will to resist?

    Why is the “will” of terrorists to murder us so important to preserve? Shouldn’t we WANT our government to “destroy” the “will” of the terrorists? I believe the most important function of any government is the protection of its citizens from murderous slimeballs like bin Laden.

    It’s funny how the same people who claim the Obama administration is a dangerous pack of traitors, fools and worse are upset by the possibility that those same people MAY NOT be free to torture men and women detained secretly, held without counsel, without charge and incommunicado.

    The Obama administration better see itself as “free” to do whatever is necessary to prevent another 9/11 or the next presidential election may have a very different outcome.

    We still don’t know whether Bush deliberately lied about what he actually knew and didn’t know about WMD or, whether he was simply bamboozled thoroughly enough by Cheney’s gang to actually believe the certainty he expressed. Torture, according to its advocates, would be one way to find out and how can anyone believe it could never come to that, should torture become an accepted way of obtaining crucial information from suspects.

    I challenge the writer to provide a link to any lie uttered by Bush in regards to Iraq and WMD. In the meantime I will provide a link to the public statements of many of Bush’s critics on the subject of Iraq, WMD and Saddam in the time period leading up to the Iraq War. I would also ask the writer: Were Nancy Pelosi, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Joe Wilson, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, John Kerry, Wesley Clark, John Edwards, Edward Kennedy and Al Gore all lying too? For that matter, were the major intelligence agencies of Europe also lying?

    http://www.freedomagenda.com/iraq/wmd_quotes.html

    What does the writer think of the 550 metric tons of yellowcake that Saddam had squirreled away?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/05/world/main4235028.shtml

    What about the nuclear centrifuge that was dug up in the backyard of one of Saddam’s nuclear scientists? How does the writer explain that, I wonder?

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/06/25/sprj.irq.centrifuge/

    Of all Bush-Cheney’s tragic legacies, torture will be the worst, by far.

    If Obama doesn’t mess up Iraq Bush will be seen as one of our better Presidents. Future generations will not consider waterboarding as “torture” and will be puzzled why some folks in our era raised such a fuss. It will be nice, if I’m still living, to observe certain heads explode when future historians give Bush the credit he deserves. There should be brain matter scattered from Berkeley all the way to Columbia U.

    It is of course morally offensive to kill captured terrorist suspects, absent a fair trail and conviction. (Something torture makes very unlikely, because evidence acquired that way would be inadmissible in any fair trial.)

    Here we go again with The Terrorists Are Merely Criminals And Deserve A Fair Trial Meme, a favorite of the pro-terrorist set. The 3 terrorists who were actually waterboarded were waterboarded for info about pending and future terror acts and information about terror networks. They were not waterboarded for evidence of their own guilt in their specific acts of terror on the US – THAT was already gathered. They were waterboarded for intelligence, NOT for evidence.

    Torture is uniquely morally offensive because it gives one human being the right to remove another’s dignity with a thoroughness that turns both the torturer and the tortured are no longer definable as human.

    I might agree IF I thought waterboarding was truly torture, but it is not. Waterboarding leaves no mark, scar, bruise or wound. It is a process designed to take advantage of the natural instinct to avoid drowning but it does not come close to drowning anyone. The waterboarding sessions were actually overseen by medical doctors to make sure no physical harm came to the terrorists. Waterboarding is a humane method of quickly extracting intelligence when innocent lives are at stake. It does no physical harm to the recipients.

    OB tries out the standard hypothetical argument that torture would be justified in a situation where the very existence of the world was threatened by a “ticking time bomb’ that could be disarmed with knowledge held by a suspect.

    It’s telling that he and virtually every torture advocate feels the need to resort to such a distant, all-or-nothing hypothetical. Vainglorious indeed. In fact, there has never been such a ticking time bomb scenario — not just here in the U.S., but, to my knowledge, in the history of the world. Perhaps OB is basing his analysis more on what happens in movies, television and comic books than in reality. (U.S. military interrogators complain that the TV series “24″ makes it much more difficult to train recruits, many of whom arrive convinced that the melodrama reflects reality.)

    There was nothing hypothetical or distant about the threat that the terrorists who were actually waterboarded represented. 9/11 had just occurred, the towers were still smoking and time was of the essence. They had valuable information, the information was extracted from the slimeballs and innocent lives were spared as a result. It was a real life or death situation, not a TV show.

    In the real world, torture is used almost always for reasons other than the ticking time bomb scenario. First and foremost, governments use torture as a way to intimidate. Torture powerfully conveys the message that citizens are government subjects condemned to a kind of absolute powerlessness to the extent that no dignity whatsoever will be allowed them, should the government decide, with no due process, that they don’t deserve it.

    The writer could be commenting about Iran, Syria and other Islamic states. In these godforsaken areas of the world real torture is routine, perhaps followed by an excruciating beheading of the victim.

    Secondly, torture is used to gather intelligence, not about the rare — in practice, non-existent –ticking time bomb, but about all manner of military or terrorist activities. Many governments that use torture deploy it primarily as an instrument of politics, disguised, of course, as national security.

    If the writer doesn’t think national security was at risk when the waterboarding took place he is living in a dream world, the La-La Land of the terrorist apologizer.

    If waterboarding isn’t torture, why not use it as a matter of course in routine investigations?

    This is called a ‘straw man’ tactic of debate. No one has suggested that waterboarding be used on US citizens in the investigation of ordinary crimes. Bernard Madoff isn’t going to be waterboarded to make him talk about the billions he stole. Blagojevich isn’t going to be waterboarded. No ordinary criminal is going to be waterboarded.

    Why, for example, wouldn’t you want pour a jarful down Dick Cheney’s gullet to find out, once and for all, who really leaked Valerie Plame’s name and on who’s instructions? Think of all the time and taxpayer money that could have been saved.

    But we KNOW who “leaked Valerie Plame’s name.” It was Richard Armitage, NOT Cheney. Armitage has not been charged with any crime for the simple reason that no crime was committed by Armitage talking to Woodward about Plame. The whole Plame affair was nothing more than a silly attempt to soil the Bush administration.

  59. Occam's Beard Says:

    Spragge, I checked re summary executions of illegal combatants on the battlefield, and as of the 1977 Second Additional Geneva Protocol, you are correct that that is no longer legal. My apologies.

    To return to the original point, however, let’s take waterboarding off the table. Exactly what has been done to detainees that you consider torture?

  60. John Spragge Says:

    E

    The meaning is clear: the United States of America does not afford protection under the Convention to enemy non-combatants….

    Even if I agreed with that construction of the United States statement on ratification of the convention against torture, the United States Code and the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution would still prohibit torture; and individuals do have judicial recourse under the law of the United States. See the Recent New York appellate decisions in Arar v. US (an excellent refutation of the idea that the United States only tortures guilty people, by the way).

    Grackle

    You seem not to understand some very basic matters here. For the purposes of this discussion, human beings, by our choices, group ourselves into two categories. One group would, if necessary, die for a principle. The other group sees no value higher than preserving an intact skin. We call the people in the first group warriors; it does not do to confuse warriors with soldiers or killers, because most warriors never kill anyone, but all warriors will, ultimately, die for a principle. We call the second group slaves. Slaves today can deceive themselves about their status, either because no master has yet shown up to take them in hand, or because the more intelligent modern masters understand that they can more easily manage slaves who have not grasped their status. But make no mistake: freedom demands you stand for something. More than that, freedom demands, in the end, a willingness to die for what you stand for.

    Men and women have understood this proposition just about forever. The Romans understood it. The founding fathers of the United States understood it very well. Mohandas Ghandi had no illusions about it. Indeed, the sight of the children and grandchildren of men and women who fought and shed their blood for freedom on six continents and five oceans now whimpering to the government to violate any restraint, break any law, commit any outrage, only keep their precious skins whole surely ranks as one of the most nauseating spectacles of the so-called war on terror.

    Of course, many proponents of torture justify their position with the nonsensical idea that their government consists only of benevolent men and women, and they can grant it the power to torture to protect them, and for no other purpose. Ben Franklin understood the folly of this, when he observed that those who give up liberty for safety deserve neither. He and the other framers of the American constitution understood that a government trusted with the power to torture ceases to have limits, and the subjects of such a government lose their freedom. For that reason, they wrote a prohibition on torture by the state into the United States constitution. Writing over a century and a half later, George Orwell denounced those who saw a benevolent purpose in tyranny and abuse in terms appropriate to his experience with totalitarianism in Spain:

    Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture.

    The extreme Salafists, the ones who do not only want to reconstitute the ancient Islamic Caliphate, but want the whole world to submit to their vision of Islam, understand that. They realise that for them to get what they want, we would have to give up our religious liberty. And they realise that if we won’t give up our freedoms. if we will die if necessary but never submit, they cannot win. But they also know that if we give up our freedom to keep a whole skin, then they can win. In American terms, once you agree to throw the Eighth Amendment out to keep your skin whole, you have no consistent basis for holding onto the First Amendment.

    Occam’s Beard

    To return to the original point, however, let’s take waterboarding off the table. Exactly what has been done to detainees that you consider torture?

    Look, obviously the police and other authorities have a variety of perfectly legitimate methods of investigating and prosecuting terrorists. I don’t want to get into the issue of where these legitimate methods leave off and torture begins, although I will not that Christopher Hitchens, who has experienced waterboarding, defines it unequivocally as torture. However, we can discuss where the boundaries of torture lie once we have decided which side of the fundamental issue we stand: whether we will authorise the government to commit any outrage in our name, as long as they promise to keep our precious skins whole, or whether we will make one of the hardest, most important statements by any free man or woman: No. No farther. Not in my name will you do this, and if you claim you can only save my life this way, then I choose to die in freedom rather than live subject to a government that can torture at will.

  61. grackle Says:

    You seem not to understand some very basic matters here. For the purposes of this discussion, human beings, by our choices, group ourselves into two categories. One group would, if necessary, die for a principle. The other group sees no value higher than preserving an intact skin. We call the people in the first group warriors; it does not do to confuse warriors with soldiers or killers, because most warriors never kill anyone, but all warriors will, ultimately, die for a principle. We call the second group slaves. Slaves today can deceive themselves about their status, either because no master has yet shown up to take them in hand, or because the more intelligent modern masters understand that they can more easily manage slaves who have not grasped their status. But make no mistake: freedom demands you stand for something. More than that, freedom demands, in the end, a willingness to die for what you stand for.

    Here the writer implies because I do not agree with him that I am a “slave.” It’s typical of such arguments that they give unflattering labels to those who do not hold their views. And who are these “modern masters” who control us? Not Obama, I’ll bet. What the writer is saying here is that if, say, New Yorkers would rather have terrorists waterboarded than to die – well, then they are “slaves.” A concern for national security is seen as the behavior of “slaves.”

    Men and women have understood this proposition just about forever. The Romans understood it. The founding fathers of the United States understood it very well. Mohandas Ghandi had no illusions about it. Indeed, the sight of the children and grandchildren of men and women who fought and shed their blood for freedom on six continents and five oceans now whimpering to the government to violate any restraint, break any law, commit any outrage, only keep their precious skins whole surely ranks as one of the most nauseating spectacles of the so-called war on terror.

    No one has said or implied that governments are free to “violate any restraint, break any law, commit any outrage, only keep their[the citizens] precious skins whole.” It is also typical of these commentors that they are constantly setting up ‘straw man’ arguments, congratulating themselves for knocking over arguments no one ever made. But the “precious skins” remark reveals just how little the writer really values human life.

    Of course, many proponents of torture justify their position with the nonsensical idea that their government consists only of benevolent men and women, and they can grant it the power to torture to protect them, and for no other purpose. Ben Franklin understood the folly of this, when he observed that those who give up liberty for safety deserve neither. He and the other framers of the American constitution understood that a government trusted with the power to torture ceases to have limits, and the subjects of such a government lose their freedom. For that reason, they wrote a prohibition on torture by the state into the United States constitution. Writing over a century and a half later, George Orwell denounced those who saw a benevolent purpose in tyranny and abuse in terms appropriate to his experience with totalitarianism in Spain:
    Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture.

    The “object” of the waterboarding that occurred was to extract information vital to the safety of the US, NOT for the sake of “persecution” or “torture.” But the writer’s condescending little lectures, filled with falsehoods of all types, are one of his favorite methods. I doubt, for instance, that Orwell, if he were living today, would be concerned that three scumbags who were physically unharmed were made to tell what they knew.

    The extreme Salafists, the ones who do not only want to reconstitute the ancient Islamic Caliphate, but want the whole world to submit to their vision of Islam, understand that. They realise that for them to get what they want, we would have to give up our religious liberty. And they realise that if we won’t give up our freedoms. if we will die if necessary but never submit, they cannot win. But they also know that if we give up our freedom to keep a whole skin, then they can win.

    Here the writer is saying that if waterboarding occurs the terrorists will win. Win they may but their victory will only be more likely if the views of the writer holds sway.

    In American terms, once you agree to throw the Eighth Amendment out to keep your skin whole, you have no consistent basis for holding onto the First Amendment.

    The writer seeks to wrap his justifications of the terrorists in the warmth of false patriotism, liberally salted with pseudo-analyses of the Constitution. And the commentor invariably invokes in a totally bogus manner all manner of historical figures to justify his apology for the Jihadists. Franklin, Jefferson and the rest must be rolling in their graves. NOT IN OUR NAME they must be muttering. He persists in calling waterboarding “torture,” which it clearly is not. Here also he conflates waterboarding to the real torture dolefully and regularly meted out with no qualms whatsoever by the typical Jihadist organization and certain Middle Eastern nations. Waterboarding, a harmless procedure, to him is as bad as beheadings. But then common sense is NEVER the hallmark of these apologists.

  62. E Says:

    John Spragge, you need to give some grounds for airily dismissing E’s citation of the plain text you claimed supported your case, but which does not seem to do so on first inspection.

    I think you make a mistake to start talking about law when we are discussing ethics and policy. You conflate the issues in a way that does nothing to bring clarity to the debate.

    First, this is not a legal journal and the the readers here are not a law faculty.

    Second, you have not qualified yourself as professionally competent to make sweeping assertions about the proper interpretation of international law, the US constitution, or statute, and even if you were, it is in the nature of these most contentious issues that you will competent lawyers who will make confidently sweeping claims on BOTH sides. So it would prove nothing.

    Third, laws don’t determine what is moral. A moral sense may inform the evolution of the law; equally, it may not. You cannot proceed from your own perhaps idiosyncratic interpretation of a 1949 Convention, a pretty free gloss of the 8th Amendment to to US Constitution and later on a bit of opinion from a journalist (even the estimable Christopher Hitchens) to an inevitable conclusion that your fastidious moral sensibilities are normative or even required by law and convention.

    You cite Arar to support your point, but that turns out to be more of the same. Judge Trager (who most likely knows a hell of a lot more about all the relevant law and precedent than anyone on this thread) dismissed all claims.

    The Appeals Court disagreed on one point (see, even experts disagree). Let’s take a look at the text:

    ttp://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/arar-ruling-by-2d-ca-6-30-08.pdf

    “For the reasons that follow, we conclude that under the precedents of the Supreme Court and
    our Court:

    “(1) Arar has made a prima facie showing sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over Thompson, Ashcroft, and Mueller at this early stage of the litigation;

    “(2) Count one of Arar’s complaint must be dismissed because Arar’s allegations regarding his removal to Syria do not state a claim against defendants under the TVPA; [this is the Torture Victims Protection Act]

    “(3) Counts two and three of Arar’s complaint, which envisage the judicial creation of a cause of action pursuant to the doctrine of Bivens, must also be dismissed because (a) the remedial scheme established by Congress is sufficient to cause us to refrain from creating a free standing damages remedy for Arar’s removal-related claims; and (b) assuming for the sake of the argument that the existence of a remedial scheme established by Congress was insufficient to convince us, “special factors” of the kind identified by the Supreme Court in its Bivens jurisprudence counsel against the judicial creation of a damages remedy for claims arising from Arar’s removal to Syria;

    “(4) Count four of Arar’s complaint must be dismissed because Arar’s allegations about the mistreatment he suffered while in the United States do not state a claim against defendants under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and

    “(5) Arar has not adequately established federal subject matter jurisdiction over his request for a judgment declaring that defendants acted illegally by removing him to Syria so that Syrian authorities could interrogate him under torture.” [p.7]

    I read this to say no luck for Mr. Arar and he will have to satisfy himself with 11 million loonies, but this court takes an expansive view on how far its writ runs. What’s striking is Arar never claimed the US tortured him, as you say; this was a rendition case, where Syria presumably did the torturing.

    So you weren’t right about the 1949 Convention and you weren’t right about Arar. We could debate the meaning and applicability of the 8th Amendment all day and all nigth without helping anyone resolve any of the fundamental issues.

    In this forum, getting lawyered up is a fancy way to try to bully people into accepting your assertions, even when you don’t necessarily know what you are talking about. No one should stand for it.

    You must admit that waterboarding is NOT universally accepted to be torture, and there is considerable evidence to suggest the U.S. Armed Services don’t consider to be torture. Credible legal experts reviewed it and held that it is not. That waterboarding is torture may be consensus among some people, but it cannot be show to be a consensus position among the citizens of the Great Republic. The point is contested, and therefore your argument is about semantics, and the real point is, you don’t own the definition of the words.

    Your whole argument hinges on the contestable construction of a few clauses.

    Now let’s take up the talk about warriors and slaves. This is pretty simple.

    A man who sacrifices his innocence to protect his family and neighbors deserves their gratitude and support.

    A man who sacrifices himself for his ideals deserves some respect, even if his ideals are unworthy.

    A man who sacrifices his family for HIS ideals? I have a lot less respect for that.

    A man who sacrifices other men’s families for HIS ideals is a menace to society.

    A man who would sacrifice the lives of millions, against their will and without their consent, on the basis of contested clause is monstrous, and any claim of a higher morality he might make is a mask for depraved indifference to human life.

  63. Oblio Says:

    I made a copy/paste mistake on signing in, and used E’s name on the last post by accident.

    Sorry, E.

  64. John Spragge Says:

    …if, say, New Yorkers would rather have terrorists waterboarded than to die – well, then they are “slaves.” A concern for national security is seen as the behavior of “slaves.”

    If New Yorkers would indeed rather give up their freedom than die, that does make them slaves. New Yorkers of today enjoy the freedom they do precisely because, faced with that choice sixty-eight years ago, Americans chose to die on their feet, if necessary, rather than live on their knees. As for national security, yes, the largest makers and holders of slaves in the past century, such as the NKVD (Stalin’s security service) and the RHSA (state security office of Hitler’s schutzstaffel) have indeed carried out mass enslavement under the guise of state security. And they have always promised the population they oppressed that they would only torture the “bad” people.

    No one has said or implied that governments are free to “violate any restraint, break any law, commit any outrage, only keep their[the citizens] precious skins whole.”

    Actually, the advocates of torture have said pretty much exactly that. At least three major international human rights conventions outlaw torture. The United States Constitution explicitly outlaws torture. The United States Code defines torture as a capital offence. The Nuremberg tribunals concerned themselves with torture as carried out by the Nazis. I could go on. Acts do not get much more illegal than torture. As for commit any outrage, well, yes, I do consider torture an outrage. So does the law.

    The “object” of the waterboarding that occurred was to extract information vital to the safety of the US, NOT for the sake of “persecution” or “torture.”

    Everyone, from the Soviet Committee for State Security to the security service and security police of the Nazi regime, to their counterparts in a hundred other repressive government, have claimed to act for the security of the people. And they have all lied. Sooner or later, if you consent to have the rights and freedoms of the “bad people” violated for your own safety, the people you trust to carry out these violations start defining you as one of the bad people. And let me say again what I have said before: we can talk about whether waterboarding counts as torture once we agree not to countenance torture. If we can agree that torture violates all the civilized norms on which a democracy depends, and any free person should prepare, if necessary, to die in the defence of our common heritage of freedom, rather than countenance slavery in the guise of security, then we can address the question of whether waterboarding constitutes torture.

    The writer seeks to wrap his justifications of the terrorists…

    Codswallop. I haven’t “justified” terrorists or terrorism in any form. Rather, I claim that we should all stand up together with honour and courage, rather than hide behind people who use criminal (by the US Constitution and Title 18, US Code) methods that, as you point out, the terrorists themselves use.

    …liberally salted with pseudo-analyses of the Constitution.

    What “pseudo-analysis”? The constitution and laws of the United States, not to mention that laws in force in the rest of the world, make it very clear that torture violates every civilised norm. I don’t need to “analyze” the US constitution or laws: I can simply quote the plain words of treaty after treaty, law after law.

    And the commentor invariably invokes in a totally bogus manner all manner of historical figures to justify his apology for the Jihadists.

    Codswallop. I haven’t written a single word here in “justification” of the Salafist Jihad, or for that matter any other form of terrorism.

    Jefferson and the rest must be rolling in their graves.

    To judge by their writings, Franklin, Jefferson, and the other philosophers of freedom believed that freedom requires courage, integrity, and a willingness to choose death over slavery or dishonour. Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death,” does that ring a bell? I’ve already mentioned Ben Franklin on liberty versus safety. How about General John Stark, who coined the motto “Live free or die”, a motto New Hampshire now reproduces on all its license plates. Or how about John Stuart Mill:

    The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Or how about Mahatma Ghandi:

    I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.

    He persists in calling waterboarding “torture,” which it clearly is not.

    I said no such thing. To refresh your memory, I said the following about waterboarding:

    I don’t want to get into the issue of where… legitimate methods [of investigating terrorism] leave off and torture begins, although I will not note that Christopher Hitchens, who has experienced waterboarding, defines it unequivocally as torture.

    OK? Got that? I do not define waterboarding as torture, but someone who has experienced it, someone, by the way, who supports the war on terror, does define waterboarding as torture. Let me, one more time, indicate the choice here: if you want, you can argue that waterboarding does not constitute torture, but to do that, you first have to accept torture as wrong. You first have to say that you will not cross certain lines, not even to protect your life or the lives of your fellow citizens. Then you can consistently argue that waterboarding does not constitute torture.

  65. John Spragge Says:

    E:

    You might like to take a look at the more recent developments in the Arar case, in which the court of appeals chose siu responte (without having a plea before them) to convene the whole court to review the case.

    As for the rest of the argument, I have run out of time and patience, not to mention that I see little prospect of continuing this discussion without falling foul of Godwin’s law. I can only suggest that by your logic, FDR should have had you to advise him on December 8, 1941, before he started recklessly endangering millions of lives on the questionable assumption that a minor aviation incident in Hawaii had something to do with the dignity, lives, and freedom of the American people.

  66. Boogie Man Says:

    Thanks John for answering the assertions, hyperbole, hypotheticals and fantasies with fact and logic. Game, set and match.

    You’ve left torture supporters without a leg to stand on.

    Given John’s demonstration that torture is illegal, immoral and impractical, we are left to wonder why some of the posters here support it nonetheless. I offered the theory that they do so because they believe it is suitable punishment for terrorism suspects.

    Grackle and E kindly, if unwittingly, leave behind case-closing evidence that that’s exactly what’s behind his torture views.

    E writes: “They are monsters. Monsters sign no treaties. They hold no seat at the U.N. They deserve no protection under international law. And to encourage their monstrous activities by tying the hands of military and intelligence operatives offers aid and encouragement to these monsters. They already despise us – we should want them to fear us instead.”

    There you have it. E concedes that international law would protect suspects from torture. His vehemence is hilarious because it only more thoroughly undercuts his argument. It’s clear that, for him, the status of the suspects determines the morality of torture. Does it even occur to him that his views requires us to accept that suspects are guilty without any process whatsoever for establishing it, let alone a fair trial.

    Grackle writes: “As far as I’m concerned such scum have no ‘rights’ whatsoever.” (The scare quotes around rights, say it all, don’t they. Apparently, he doesn’t believe they actually exist.)
    And:
    “I doubt, for instance, that Orwell, if he were living today, would be concerned that three scumbags who were physically unharmed were made to tell what they knew.”

    Here again, Grackle scores a game-losing own-goal. He admits, by implication, that having rights means having the right not to be tortured. And, then, he acknowledges that for him, it’s the status of the suspects as guilty terrorists — even without any means of establishing that — that eliminates the need for moral calculus.

  67. Oblio Says:

    I will look for developments in Arar more recent than the Circuit Court’s decision I quoted. A link would help.

    In addition, I will follow Occam’s Beard’s excellent example and write a correction if I find I have misrepresented any facts or aspect of the case. I think the readers of this forum deserve no less.

    For example, I said that Arar was a rendition case, but on reflection it seems more like an immigration/deportation case that might have implications for rendition cases. I don’t know yet why Arar was deported to Syria instead of Canada, and why the Canadian government, after having informed the US of various suspicions, didn’t intervene to get him back before he was sent to Syria. Or if they tried but failed.

    You have asked your FDR/Pearl Harbor question twice, so I suppose that means you want an answer. So here it is: I don’t think that FDR went to war in defense of abstract human rights or American “dignity.” If FDR had been willing to lose the war in the name of human rights or humanitarian ideals, he wouldn’t have interned Japanese-Americans and resident Japanese aliens on the West Coast. He wouldn’t have executed German spies (which I believe he did). He would have declared war on Germany long before based on the undeclared war being fought in the Atlantic before Pearl Harbor. Most importantly, he would never have allied the US with the Soviet Union, and he never would have agreed to leave Eastern Europe under Soviet tyranny after the war. I doubt he would have greenlighted the Manhattan Project, or authorized the firebombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Tokyo.

    The simplest reason to explain going to war was to defend the liberal Republic of which he was President, and the citizens of that Republic, from an emerging world order dominated by expanding military dictatorships. The precipitating issue was American determination to prevent a change in the balance of power in East Asia by discouraging Japan from dismembering the remnants of the Chinese Empire. The rise of Nazi Germany contributed to Asia instability by reducing the local power of Russia and Britain, two traditional powers in Asia.

    So Pearl Harbor wasn’t a “minor aviation incident in Hawaii,” as you said so flippantly. If FDR had had me to advise him in 1941, my logic on this thread would not have led me to advocate appeasement. Luckily, the real FDR’s conscience was not so fastidious, and his outlook was more realistic, whatever his mistakes.

  68. Oblio Says:

    Bogey Man, E conceded nothing of the sort. Go back and re-read E’s posting again. As for “grackle’s “own goal,” even if he is wrong about a given class of people having NO rights (and I’m not saying he is). that does not imply that they have ALL rights.

    If you want to keep score, you shouldn’t act like the old East German judges at the Olympics.

    Or if tennis is your game, and you fancy yourself in the umpire’s chair, I will take the part of John MacEnroe: “You cannot be serious!” But I promise not to throw my racquet or swear.

  69. Oblio Says:

    OK, I have looked at the more recent Arar case developments. I see he was deported to Jordan, not Syria. I do not see any evidence (yet) that he was tortured as part of interrogation instigated by the US. If the Syrians locked him up and beat him with a metal cable (and I’m not saying they didn’t), they might have done so for their own reasons.

    The summer Circuit Court opinion contained a partial dissent. So again, the experts can disagree. The court hasn’t said why it decided to take up the matter en banc and sua sponte (note correct spelling); we could infer that a significant number of judges disagreed with the majority opinion. The coverage suggests (to me, at least) that the differences among the judges break down more or less along partisan lines, and that there is an expectation of a change in policy in Washington which has bearing on which way they will decide. The review also comes after Members of Congress criticized the Appeals Court decision. I don’t have the list of Members who did so yet. That might be interesting, too.

    Here are links from the Times.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940CE0D61438F932A35754C0A96E9C8B63

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/nyregion/10arar.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/world/americas/04canada.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/06/world/middleeast/06arar.html

    Mr. Arar represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

    Who or what is the CCR? Interesting organization: http://ccrjustice.org/

    Founded by William Kunstler in 1966, it has long history of litigating for radical causes. Recently, it is a defender of Lynne Stewart and sued Caterpillar on behalf of the parents of Rachel Corrie. It filed a petition on behalf of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (i.e. Hamas fundraising).

    The president of the Board is Michael Ratner of Columbia, an outspoken admirer of Che Guevara. The Board contains a program officer from the Ford Foundation and probably a lot more interesting characters than I have time to catalog.

    If I am interpreting what I see correctly. the CCR is either coordinating a combined public relations push on this case that involves media coverage, mobilization of activist groups, and street protest to support to suit or advance its agenda, or the suit is part of a multi-pronged effort to make propaganda on this point that is organized and encouraged by someone or some group outside the CCR.

    The CCR is a walking advertisement for the idea that the anti-war movement and self-proclaimed defenders of civil rights are creating a smokescreen for an alliance between the anti-American Left, apologists for left wing tyrannies, and international jihadism.

    My recommendation to any honorable pacifist would be to avoid associating with the CCR and its propaganda activities at all costs.

  70. Bogey Man Says:

    I quote E accurately, Oblio.

    He wrote that international law doesn’t apply in these cases.

    It’s hypothetically possible that he made that comment apropos of nothing. But if he made it as a rationale for why its OK to torture terrorism suspects, then it’s self-evident that he believes international law prohibits torture.

    Oblio writes:
    “If the man refuses to cooperate, and he and the Republicans consequently die, he has NO responsibility in principle and in fact (in fact, because he is dead).
    ALL the moral responsibility lies with the terrorist.”

    Yet surely the decision would haunt any moral man, given its consequences. My point, as I stated clearly, was that some moral dilemmas have no good answer and your rejigging of the scenario only confirms that a little more thoroughly.

    So it is with the interrogator and the ticking time bomb suspect. He can violate his own humanity and torture the suspect, creating an opportunity to prevent a mass murder. Or he can preserve his own humanity, and the suspects, and let the full moral weight fall of the deed fall on the terrorist. Either way, no heroes.

  71. E Says:

    Bogey Man wrote:

    “I quote E accurately, Oblio.

    He wrote that international law doesn’t apply in these cases.

    It’s hypothetically possible that he made that comment apropos of nothing. But if he made it as a rationale for why its OK to torture terrorism suspects, then it’s self-evident that he believes international law prohibits torture.”

    It’s true that Bogey Man quoted me accurately – and so it’s fresh in everyone’s memory, here’s what I said:

    “They are monsters. Monsters sign no treaties. They hold no seat at the U.N. They deserve no protection under international law. And to encourage their monstrous activities by tying the hands of military and intelligence operatives offers aid and encouragement to these monsters. They already despise us – we should want them to fear us instead.”

    Bogey Man is certainly hung up on the “hypothetically possible.” I assure him that I am not in the practice of making comments “apropros of nothing.” And it baffles me to understand how he could draw from my comments the breathtaking conclusion that I believe that “international law doesn’t apply in these cases.” Let’s talk not about what’s “hypothetically possible,” but what is: as I outlined in my earlier post, the U.S. stipulates that it considers some individuals – whose nations are co-signatories of the treaty – are protected under the agreement. What the U.S. will not accept is accusations of torture from entities who are not signatories to the treaty. This includes individuals like the enemy non-combatants over whose fate Bogey Man and his ilk anguish. It’s dangerous to grant them protections under an international treaty to whose principles they don’t subscribe. They’re like the case of the murderer who slays his parents and then asks for mercy from the court “on account of being an orphan.”

    The U.S. is prudent to be specific about its acceptance of the conditions of the treaty.

    The sweeping affrontery of Bogey Man’s assertions and failures of logic are an insult to the people of good will who post on this site. He doesn’t argue in good faith. Stick to the facts, BM, and quit trying to shove specious conclusions in other people’s mouths. I’m sure you can come up with enough outrageous statements of your own.

  72. Oblio Says:

    Bogey Man,

    I didn’t rejig your scenario. I demonstrated its structural flaw by showing the moral calculus of the only two choices you allow: 1) act, and the man’s family dies; 2) don’t act, and the man and the Republicans die. Those are YOUR rules.

    I argue that refusing to cooperate (“don’t act”) is a dominant strategy. Whatever regrets the man may feel by refusing to act (and passively contributing to many deaths) will be by, your definition of the scenario, short-lived. You are really not very good at decision analysis.

    Now if you want to argue that the loss of the Republicans will put the future of mankind at risk and inevitably lead to world-wide slavery, I might need to revisit the moral calculus of the decision.

    Now about E…what is the concession you see? That international law would create rights for illegal combatants IF IT DID? That’s not a concession, that’s a tautology. (If you don’t know what a tautology is, go look it up. It’s a logic thing.) E’s argument was that it doesn’t and it shouldn’t.

  73. grackle Says:

    Earlier, by me: …if, say, New Yorkers would rather have terrorists waterboarded than to die – well, then they are “slaves.” A concern for national security is seen as the behavior of “slaves.”

    The writer’s reply: If New Yorkers would indeed rather give up their freedom than die, that does make them slaves. New Yorkers of today enjoy the freedom they do precisely because, faced with that choice sixty-eight years ago, Americans chose to die on their feet, if necessary, rather than live on their knees.

    Another one of the writer’s methods is to formulate false dichotomies: Waterboarding terrorists = enslavement of the citizens of the nation that allows waterboarding of terrorists.

    Just HOW this would be so, what mechanisms or actions that would facilitate the ‘enslavement’ after waterboarding would be allowed, he doesn’t divulge. That’s because his stance is little more than sloganeering with no realistic scenario to support it.

    As for national security, yes, the largest makers and holders of slaves in the past century, such as the NKVD (Stalin’s security service) and the RHSA (state security office of Hitler’s schutzstaffel) have indeed carried out mass enslavement under the guise of state security. And they have always promised the population they oppressed that they would only torture the “bad” people.

    Here he also conflates waterboarding, a harmless procedure, with the draconian methods of interrogation used by the states of Nazi Germany and the Soviet NKVD. There’s the implication that any administration allowing waterboarding would be guilty of Nazi or Stalinist tactics. The real torture by those regimes is trivialized by such comparisons and history is turned topsy-turvy. As before, he seeks to wrap his viewpoint with the cloak of patriotism and tries his best to equate his stance against waterboarding with patriotic Americans enlisting to fight Hitler in WW2. Poppycock.

    I stated previously: “No one has said or implied that governments are free to “violate any restraint, break any law, commit any outrage, only keep their[the citizens] precious skins whole.”

    The writer’s reply: Actually, the advocates of torture have said pretty much exactly that.

    The writer continues to put forth the false idea that waterboarding, a procedure that leaves the recipient unharmed, is torture. And who are these “advocates of torture” he is worried about? What are their names and where are their quotes espousing torture? This he declines to reveal.

    At least three major international human rights conventions outlaw torture. The United States Constitution explicitly outlaws torture. The United States Code defines torture as a capital offence. The Nuremberg tribunals concerned themselves with torture as carried out by the Nazis. I could go on. Acts do not get much more illegal than torture. As for commit any outrage, well, yes, I do consider torture an outrage. So does the law.

    Here is more boilerplate and misdirection. It all hinges on whether waterboarding is torture. Waterboarding is clearly not torture so all these comparisons with constitutional issues and post-WW2 tribunals of Nazis are irrelevant. Just for the record I am against torture. Torture of terrorists is unnecessary; the harmless procedure of waterboarding will suffice nicely.

    I said earlier: “The “object” of the waterboarding that occurred was to extract information vital to the safety of the US, NOT for the sake of “persecution” or “torture.”

    The writer’s reply: Everyone, from the Soviet Committee for State Security to the security service and security police of the Nazi regime, to their counterparts in a hundred other repressive government, have claimed to act for the security of the people. And they have all lied. Sooner or later, if you consent to have the rights and freedoms of the “bad people” violated for your own safety, the people you trust to carry out these violations start defining you as one of the bad people. And let me say again what I have said before: we can talk about whether waterboarding counts as torture once we agree not to countenance torture. If we can agree that torture violates all the civilized norms on which a democracy depends, and any free person should prepare, if necessary, to die in the defence of our common heritage of freedom, rather than countenance slavery in the guise of security, then we can address the question of whether waterboarding constitutes torture.

    The writer declines to correct an earlier lie, mistake, falsity(take your pick) that the waterboarding of the 3 terrorists was done for the purpose of “persecution” and “torture” for its own sake. Instead, as a smokescreen, he subjects us all to one of his interminable lectures and tries to transform the debate to one between waterboarding and ‘enslavement’ with another layer of pseudo-patriotism to top off his smelly smorgasbord.

    Earlier, by me: The writer seeks to wrap his justifications of the terrorists…

    The writer’s reply: Codswallop. I haven’t “justified” terrorists or terrorism in any form. Rather, I claim that we should all stand up together with honour and courage, rather than hide behind people who use criminal (by the US Constitution and Title 18, US Code) methods that, as you point out, the terrorists themselves use.

    The writer’s version of “honour and courage” is one that allows terrorists to withhold intelligence that would prevent the death of innocents because he apparently believes waterboarding, a method that left the terrorists unharmed, is torture. Real honor and courage would be to recognize the Jihadist threat to civilized nations and act upon that threat with waterboarding of terrorists when necessary to obtain intelligence that would help put an end to their murder.

    My words, earlier: “…liberally salted with pseudo-analyses of the Constitution.”

    The writer’s reply: What “pseudo-analysis”? The constitution and laws of the United States, not to mention that laws in force in the rest of the world, make it very clear that torture violates every civilised norm.

    Torture, yes. Tough interrogation of terrorists under certain circumstances, as when the security of the nation is obviously in jeopardy and a huge terror event like 9/11 has occurred, no.

    The writer again: I don’t need to “analyze” the US constitution or laws: I can simply quote the plain words of treaty after treaty, law after law.

    The writer can spare us all by NOT continuing to hold up the Constitution, treaties, etc. as a foil against waterboarding of terrorists. None of these documents mention waterboarding at all. Restrictions against torture do not apply to waterboarding since waterboarding is not torture.

    Earlier, by me: “And the commentor invariably invokes in a totally bogus manner all manner of historical figures to justify his apology for the Jihadists.”

    The writer’s reply: Codswallop. I haven’t written a single word here in “justification” of the Salafist Jihad, or for that matter any other form of terrorism.

    The writer wants the terrorists to be able to withhold intelligence that would save the lives of innocents yet he doesn’t see this viewpoint as beneficial to the terrorists. Strange, this blindness … when it isn’t laughable.

    The writer: To judge by their writings, Franklin, Jefferson, and the other philosophers of freedom believed that freedom requires courage, integrity, and a willingness to choose death over slavery or dishonour. Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death,” does that ring a bell? I’ve already mentioned Ben Franklin on liberty versus safety. How about General John Stark, who coined the motto “Live free or die”, a motto New Hampshire now reproduces on all its license plates. Or how about John Stuart Mill:
    The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    I will remind the readers that the wise Samuel Johnson said long ago that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” The good doctor was speaking about false patriotism, the type espoused by the writer. Allowing waterboarding of terrorists under certain controlled circumstances in no way means that the citizens of the US have given up any freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. The assumption is also that proponents of waterboard are unwilling to make sacrifices and possess no values. We are “miserable creature[s]” because we propose to waterboard recalcitrant terrorists and are only free because of the “exertions of better men,” no doubt numbering himself among them.

    The writer: Or how about Mahatma Ghandi:
    I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.

    In my opinion Gandhi was a disaster for India. His stubborn Pacifism led to the deaths of many Hindus in 1947 when the Jihadists slaughtered them in Kashmir.

    I said earlier: “He persists in calling waterboarding “torture,” which it clearly is not.”

    The writer replies: I said no such thing. To refresh your memory, I said the following about waterboarding:
    I don’t want to get into the issue of where… legitimate methods [of investigating terrorism] leave off and torture begins, although I will not note that Christopher Hitchens, who has experienced waterboarding, defines it unequivocally as torture.
    OK? Got that? I do not define waterboarding as torture, but someone who has experienced it, someone, by the way, who supports the war on terror, does define waterboarding as torture. Let me, one more time, indicate the choice here: if you want, you can argue that waterboarding does not constitute torture, but to do that, you first have to accept torture as wrong. You first have to say that you will not cross certain lines, not even to protect your life or the lives of your fellow citizens. Then you can consistently argue that waterboarding does not constitute torture.

    In regards to Hitchens, a writer I respect, I don’t swallow whole every opinion of his. We have many differences; for instance, Hitchens is a Marxist and I am not. We also voted differently in the last Presidential election. But about the opinion of Hitchens’s on waterboarding: Anyone who follows his career knows that Hitchens is the classic macho male. I believe perhaps he agreed to participate in the waterboarding not fully realizing the effectiveness of the procedure. When he panicked during the experiment, his male ego took over his attitude in that he, Mr. Two-fisted drinker, could not possibly be moved to such distress by anything BUT torture. I think it may be his male pride that dictated his declaration with thoughts like – ‘Well … if I would crack under this thing then it must be torture …’ Waterboard IS effective but that doesn’t mean that waterboarding is torture.

    But I am not debating Hitchens. What I want to know is: If the writer does not believe that waterboarding is torture then why all the long lectures about the restriction of torture by the Constitution, treaties and all the rest, the pseudo-patriotism of citing revered historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, the belittling of waterboarding proponents, with such statements as accusing proponents of waterboarding as hiding “behind people[Bush, Cheney?] who use criminal (by the US Constitution and Title 18, US Code) methods,” etc.? Indeed, the word “torture” is sprinkled throughout his comments. What, exactly, is he debating?

  74. grackle Says:

    A message to Bogeyman: We are all still eagerly waiting for links that show that Bush lied, as you claimed in an earlier post. Hurry off and find those links so the readers can be edified. Until then your comments aren’t worth squat

  75. John Spragge Says:

    After writing a very long-winded post, Grackle thinks to ask about the point:

    What, exactly, is he debating?

    Go back to this post by huxley, where he writes:

    Panetta is also a sop to the anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-torture side.

    This statement, which of course relates to the central issue of this actual post, suggests that a legally or morally legitimate “pro-torture” side exists. Aside from anything else, such a suggestion indicates a stunning misunderstanding of the issues at stake in this conflict.

    As a general rule, I suggest that if you have to ask the point of the debate, going back and reading through the comments will save you a lot of typing.

  76. br549 Says:

    Too bad all differences can’t be “fought out” on a blog. The reality of bullets and bombs would, seems to me, change just about anyone’s opinion, right or left, about what is appropriate and necessary. Me thinks it isn’t close enough to home for some.

    If faced with the choice of kill or be killed, I would, if able, choose the former. And without a second thought were the targets those few who I love dearly in this world.

    To this day, and even watching it unfold live on TV, I cannot fully come to grips the horror of September 11, 2001. I live hundreds of miles from Manhattan. But I pulled off the side of I-95 across from Manhattan shortly after September 11, while on a business trip (I drove) to New England. Twin Towers were no longer there. It looked like the 50′s.

    With things as they are, I see no other answer except to shoot first and ask questions later.

  77. grackle Says:

    After writing a very long-winded post, Grackle thinks to ask about the point:
    What, exactly, is he debating?
    Go back to this post by huxley, where he writes:
    Panetta is also a sop to the anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-torture side.
    This statement, which of course relates to the central issue of this actual post, suggests that a legally or morally legitimate “pro-torture” side exists. Aside from anything else, such a suggestion indicates a stunning misunderstanding of the issues at stake in this conflict.

    As a general rule, I suggest that if you have to ask the point of the debate, going back and reading through the comments will save you a lot of typing.

    I’m “long-winded?” I responded to the writer with considerably less words than the writer’s comments yet I’m long-winded? Oh my.

    I’m debating the writer – not huxley. I have not debated huxley at all. The writer, on the other hand, seems to keep trashing waterboarding and the proponents of waterboarding and that is the central issue I have been debating with the writer.

    Is the writer claiming now that he was debating with me the morality pulling off fingernails, drills to the eye sockets and other such physically harmful torture?

    As far as I can tell no one, not even the far left, has claimed the US has pulled the fingernails off anyone. There’s no debate possible on THAT subject because the US has not been accused of such actions. What the anti-waterboarding side has done has been to label waterboarding as torture and since 3 terrorists were waterboarded in the aftermath of 9/11 they have declared the Bush administration guilty of torture. This is the issue central to my comments.

    Perhaps the writer is correct and I have wrongfully assessed his stance on the subject. I am certainly more than capable of making a mistake. If the writer has no beef against waterboarding and is merely against torture then he and I are on the same page. So, I am asking now – just what is the writer’s exact viewpoint on waterboarding? Does he view it as torture or not? If he is OK with the waterboarding of the 3 terrorists(the only time it has occurred) then I will cease debating him and congratulate him on his good sense. If he indicates otherwise the debate will continue.

  78. John Spragge Says:

    …just what is the writer’s exact viewpoint on waterboarding?

    I explained my position many comments ago.

    I don’t want to get into the issue of where these legitimate methods [of investigating terrorism] leave off and torture begins….

    What part of that did you not understand? Where exactly you put the line between legal interrogation and illegal torture matters less to me than that you understand that such a line exists, and that if you cross it out of fear, for yourself or others, then you (and possibly they) give up both honour and freedom. It may sound dreadfully hard to say that rather than cross this line, we will give up a city, but history shows that crossing such lines always leads to much worse things.

    On the specifics of waterboarding, I did do a little research. I discovered that a large number of sources classify waterboarding as torture, including Senator John McCain, and other eminent persons, including a director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Other sources of various kinds, including primary sources, also describe waterboarding as torture. So, although I do not myself have the expertise and experience to classify waterboarding one way or the other, a great many people whose experience and service I have to respect do classify it that way.

  79. grackle Says:

    I said earlier: …just what is the writer’s exact viewpoint on waterboarding?

    I explained my position many comments ago.
    I don’t want to get into the issue of where these legitimate methods [of investigating terrorism] leave off and torture begins….

    The writer has been making a LOT of comments for someone who doesn’t “want to get into the issue.” Myself, if I didn’t want to get into an issue I wouldn’t comment at all. The only decent thing to do if you possess no opinion is to stay out of debate. Better that you confine yourself to reading the comments and maybe learn a thing or two.

    What part of that did you not understand? Where exactly you put the line between legal interrogation and illegal torture matters less to me than that you understand that such a line exists, and that if you cross it out of fear, for yourself or others, then you (and possibly they) give up both honour and freedom. It may sound dreadfully hard to say that rather than cross this line, we will give up a city, but history shows that crossing such lines always leads to much worse things.

    Oh, I get it. The writer doesn’t want to offer and defend an opinion himself – no, he just wants to sit on the sidelines and subject the rest of us to his stinky little lectures and his silly little ideas on morality, sans debate. I have to say that I for one do not appreciate such condescension.

    On the specifics of waterboarding, I did do a little research. I discovered that a large number of sources classify waterboarding as torture, including Senator John McCain, and other eminent persons, including a director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Other sources of various kinds, including primary sources, also describe waterboarding as torture. So, although I do not myself have the expertise and experience to classify waterboarding one way or the other, a great many people whose experience and service I have to respect do classify it that way.

    I suppose the opinions of the folks mentioned by the writer are interesting in their way. If they were participating in the comment on this post I would gladly engage in spirited debate with them on the issue of waterboarding. But they are not. Instead the writer is hiding behind their skirts. This is a new tactic for the writer, whom I’ve debated several times before. I’ll have to jot this down in my notebook under the heading of silly little messes the writer has deposited on this blog.

  80. John Spragge Says:

    Grackle, I have no interest in your personal opinions about me. Since you disagree with me, you can save yourself a lot of typing and confine yourself tp telling me that.

  81. grackle Says:

    Grackle, I have no interest in your personal opinions about me. Since you disagree with me, you can save yourself a lot of typing and confine yourself to telling me that.

    The writer responded to my comment several times, although he says now he has no opinion. I was commenting about waterboarding and he replied, what, maybe 4 or 5 times? And at some length, too. Then at the end he says he has no opinion, really. Just commenting for the pleasure of seeing his words in the comments one must suppose.

    However, I cannot “disagree” with someone who at the end of a chain of comment and response finally reveals he has no opinion about the subject of my comments. But I do find it deplorable that he finds it necessary to set himself up as the arbiter of a subject on which he at such a late stage announces he is not qualified to offer an opinion. Aside from that the rest of his offering consists entirely of being against torture in the abstract without offering what he thought torture consisted of.

    If the readers have the patience and the stomach for it(admittedly the writer’s lengthy morality missives and pointless history lessons are hard to wade through) they can see that ALL my comments were about waterboarding. I find it strange indeed that he would keep responding to comments about waterboarding and then declare after some considerable time that his comments were not about the subject he responded to so copiously. Was he playing a game with the readers? The old bait and switch?

  82. Oblio Says:

    Mr. Spragge is being disingenuous. He argues against an inferred “pro-torture” side. I don’t read the comments of Occam’s Beard, grackle, E, or huxley, to name a few, as representing or defending such a thing. For good order’s sake, I am not “pro-torture” either. I think torture is abominable.

    I read huxley’s original comments about the “anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-torture side,” taking on the meaning of the phrase as a whole and its context, as a shorthand reference to an ideological meta-narrative, in which there ARE sides. The activities and positions of the Center for Constitutional Rights give a pretty good example of the agenda and methods of one of the sides in the debate.

    I argue that this side cynically practices moral inversion to undermine the effectiveness of its liberal and humanitarian opponents. In its operations, there are people who fully understand and direct the relationship between their methods and their goals, there are fellow travelers, and there are useful idiots.

    I credit Mr. Spragge as being disingenuous because I don’t include him in the last category, although he could prove me wrong. I think he knows very well what the larger struggle is about, and which side he is on.

  83. Baklava Says:

    John wrote, “On the specifics of waterboarding, I did do a little research. I discovered that a large number of sources classify waterboarding as torture, including Senator John McCain, and other eminent persons, including a director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Other sources of various kinds, including primary sources, also describe waterboarding as torture.

    Thus is the crux of the disagreement.

    You want to go on from there (as does NYTimes) as painting this administration or conservatives as thugs.

    You lose when you do that.

    Stay clear and focused and then you might win some persuasive arguments. To the extent that every lefty uses the disagreement to an exaggerated absurd case – they lose.

  84. grackle Says:

    I think many of the well-meaning opponents of waterboarding are considering the procedure from viewpoint of the person being waterboarded. Yes, waterboarding works well and forces the terrorist to divulge information. It may be this aspect of coercion that is troubling for them. No one wants to contemplate a situation in which they are forced to reveal information that they devoutly do not wish to reveal. Thus they identify with the terrorist in their thoughts about the subject.

    What may be helpful to them is to try to see the procedure from the viewpoint of the waterboarders. What would the normal person be willing to do to get information critical to the safety of innocents? With myself it goes like this:

    I could not pull fingernails, beat them, shock them with electricity or any of the other things conventionally viewed as torture. The very thought is scary and beyond the pale for me personally. I just could not do it no matter what the motive might be or who might be in danger. I think I would be sick to my stomach if I were to try and I would never have peace of mind or faith in my own character afterward. It would haunt me for the rest of my life. And I definitely would not want agents of my government to do it for my sake. I speak here of a cold-blooded situation in which my own life is not in immediate danger.

    But I could perform sleep deprivation, cold room temperatures to make the terrorist uncomfortable and waterboarding. It would be repugnant in the sense that I would be uncomfortable coercing anyone, but I could and would do it under certain pressing circumstances.

    I would insist of course that medical doctors be present every step of the way to make sure no permanent physical harm would result.

    But the 3 procedures named above do less physical harm and cause less pain than a visit to the dentist, an injury on the playing field or splashing around in frozen lakes as some do yearly in our northern climes. A common sense perspective must be kept on this issue. Being waterboarded has even been a part of the training of some of our military.

    I am not in favor of performing any of these procedures on ordinary criminals. Their rights against self-incrimination take precedence over their sometimes horrendous crimes. But terrorism is something quite different than ordinary criminality. The goals are different, the acts of violence are different and their ruthlessness far surpasses ordinary criminality. We must be somewhat ruthless(in the relatively mild ways outlined above) in our handling of terrorist or they will have a distinct advantage.

    We must remember that these villains WANT to die, martyrdom is one of their goals, AFTER of course they murder as many of us as they can.

  85. John Spragge Says:

    Oblio

    I read huxley’s original comments about the “anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-torture side,” taking on the meaning of the phrase as a whole and its context, as a shorthand reference to an ideological meta-narrative, in which there ARE sides.

    We judge the “sides” in in cases such as these by what they do. If one “side” in what you call an “ideological meta-narrative” endorses torture, that makes it the wrong side, at least for those attempting to preserve a liberal, humane, or democratic society.

    The use of the term “sides” in this context also illustrates the fallacy of the false dichotomy; in this case, the false alternative that either we support torture, reject efforts to vindicate an innocent person, and generally trust government benevolence, or we support the jihad.

    Baklava

    You want to go on from there (as does NYTimes) as painting this administration or conservatives as thugs.

    I don’t “want” to “go” anywhere. Practising and condoning torture undermines all of the moral precepts and mutual trusts on which a liberal democratic society depends, and condoning torture undermines, often fatally, any democracy. I want to stop torture, not conservatives.

  86. grackle Says:

    I read huxley’s original comments about the “anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-torture side,” taking on the meaning of the phrase as a whole and its context, as a shorthand reference to an ideological meta-narrative, in which there ARE sides.
    We judge the “sides” in in cases such as these by what they do. If one “side” in what you call an “ideological meta-narrative” endorses torture, that makes it the wrong side, at least for those attempting to preserve a liberal, humane, or democratic society.

    The use of the term “sides” in this context also illustrates the fallacy of the false dichotomy; in this case, the false alternative that either we support torture, reject efforts to vindicate an innocent person, and generally trust government benevolence, or we support the jihad.

    Baklava
    You want to go on from there (as does NYTimes) as painting this administration or conservatives as thugs.
    I don’t “want” to “go” anywhere. Practising and condoning torture undermines all of the moral precepts and mutual trusts on which a liberal democratic society depends, and condoning torture undermines, often fatally, any democracy. I want to stop torture, not conservatives.

    The writer keeps prattling about torture but he never bothers to tell the readers just where, when and how any torture took place. What’s his point, other than torture is a bad thing? His missives against torture, which is a bit like being for motherhood and apple pie, have zero relevancy until he does.

    I think we all agree that torture is reprehensible so why does he keep railing against it? Just who constitutes this “side” that supposedly endorses torture? The terrorists? Well … no, THAT can’t be his point – because the terrorists do not represent a “liberal democratic society” and thus do not qualify for his dire warnings against torture. Is he talking about Iran, Syria, Libya or the other Middle Eastern regimes that regularly and without hesitation actually practice torture? No again, because they certainly are not “liberal democratic” societies. Just who are these democratic governments that he claims he is worried about?

    I ask these questions but I have little confidence that he will answer them because to do so he would have to come out of the closet and actually make a salient point instead of hiding behind the skirts of sly implication and inane innuendo. The writer is attempting the impossible, which is to accuse without making an accusation with all his babble about torture.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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