January 05, 2005

Sink Alberto Gonzales

Glenn Reynolds and I are both against torture. He’s worried that it’s too politicized and might actually be legalized as a result.

I've been against torture since Alan Dershowitz was pushing it back in the fall of 2001. (Okay, actually I was against torture even before Dershowitz was pushing it). But I think the effort to turn this into an anti-Bush political issue is a serious mistake, and the most likely outcome will be, in essence, the ratification of torture (with today's hype becoming tomorrow's reality) and a political defeat for the Democrats.
Perhaps. If George W. Bush becomes the poster boy for torture, and if the Bush=Hitler people frame the debate in their own hysterical terms, and if the moderate left and moderate right sit the debate out, Glenn could be right. But it doesn’t have to go down that way.

And what about Alberto Gonzales, Bush’s pick to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general?

Here is Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post.
Last month -- really recently -- lawsuits filed by American human rights groups forced the government to release thousands of pages of documents showing that the abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Naval Base long preceded the Abu Ghraib photographs, and that abuse has continued since then too. U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have, according to the administration's own records and my colleagues' reporting, used beatings, suffocation, sleep deprivation, electric shocks and dogs during interrogations. They probably still do. [Emphasis added.]

Although many people bear some responsibility for these abuses, Alberto Gonzales, along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is among those who bear the most responsibility. It was Gonzales who led the administration's internal discussion of what qualified as torture. It was Gonzales who advised the president that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to people captured in Afghanistan. It was Gonzales who helped craft some of the administration's worst domestic decisions, including the indefinite detention, without access to lawyers, of U.S. citizens Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi.

If any American deserves to be the poster boy for torture, it’s Alberto Gonzales.

He’s expected to win confirmation for his nomination. But I’m not so sure. The Republican-controlled Congress has far less reason to be defensively partisan on Gonzales’ behalf than on behalf of the president. He has no constituency. He is not a GOP leader. There will be no popular backlash if he isn’t confirmed. Most people who aren’t politics junkies probably don’t even know who he is.

Some Republican Congressman might think he’s a good choice. Others will surely vote to confirm him because he’s “one of them.” Some Democrats would raise a ruckus about Gonzales no matter who he is or what his record looked like. But there are plenty of people who can’t be dismissed as namby pamby liberals or partisan sheep who think the ascendancy of Alberto Gonzales to the post of attorney general would be a disaster.
A dozen high-ranking retired military officers took the unusual step yesterday of signing a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing "deep concern" over the nomination of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general, marking a rare military foray into the debate over a civilian post.

The group includes retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The officers are one of several groups to separately urge the Senate to sharply question Gonzales during a confirmation hearing Thursday about his role in shaping legal policies on torture and interrogation methods.

Although the GOP-controlled Senate is expected to confirm Gonzales to succeed Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, some Democrats have vowed to question him aggressively amid continuing revelations of abuses of military detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The letter signed by the retired officers, compiled by the group Human Rights First and sent to the committee's leadership last night, criticizes Gonzales for his role in reviewing and approving a series of memorandums arguing, among other things, that the United States could lawfully ignore portions of the Geneva Conventions and that some forms of torture "may be justified" in the war on terror.
What Christopher Hitchens once said of John Ashcroft is also true of Gonzales: he might make a fine secretary of agriculture. I don’t believe for a minute that he is the best person available for the job of top cop. There are plenty of others who can fill that post in his stead, who can honorably prosecute terrorist suspects, who won’t tarnish the reputation of the United States of America, and who won’t be a polarizing lightning rod for the next four years.

I don’t know if I agree with Glenn Reynolds or not that an anti-torture campaign shouldn’t focus on President Bush. But it damn well better focus on Alberto Gonzales. Anyone who is against torture and doesn’t speak up is shirking their duty as a citizen in a democracy. I don’t know how big the “pro-torture” contingent is, but since it includes some liberals (like Alan Dershowitz and Oliver Willis) for all I know it could be huge. And it could win if the rest of us keep our mouths shut.

Glenn continues:
[M]any Administration critics are adopting a broad-brush view of "torture" that I think is likely to backfire. In fact, my fear -- as noted in the original post -- is that a big brouhaha will be made about torture, with various mild issues swept in to demonstrate the pervasiveness of the problem.
I completely agree. And that’s precisely why moderates (including the moderate left and the moderate right) need to speak up.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2005 08:29 PM

Comments

What Christopher Hitchens once said of John Ashcroft is also true of Gonzales: he might make a fine secretary of agriculture.

Racist. Just because he's mexican doesn't mean all he knows how to do is pick fruit.

It was Gonzales who advised the president that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to people captured in Afghanistan.

And Gonzales would be right about that. Contrary to popular opinion, he didn't give the President policy recommendations. He merely explained the law to the President; that's his job.

So this witch hunt is ridiculous and hackish.

Also, to give Geneva Convention protections to combatants out of uniform is to make a MOCKERY of the Geneva conventions. The treaty was signed between NATIONS, not between gangs and terror cells.

Posted by: David at January 5, 2005 08:48 PM

I don’t know how big the “pro-torture” contingent is
,---MJT

Who can be 'objectively' pro-torture ? Well,apart from more or less deranged individuals,and some of the more 'kinky'among us.
This issue can be debated on several levels:
A.It is just WRONG per se.
B.It is 'wrong',BUT if required for victory might well be acceptable.
C.It is NOT by definition,WRONG,and depends upon the context, but does not lead to useful results and therefore should not be employed.
You appear to be voting for option 'A',which is perhaps the 'weakest'of all the options.Even in better times,'morality'never had the driving force of 'practicality',and in this debased,me-me-me,era it is no longer even a contest.
If the Democrats attempt to use this issue against Bush(and you know that is really what is happening here),I will be able to see Karl's smile all the way up here.
By all means let's have a REAL debate on why or why not we should or should not use 'coercion'as a legitimate tool,but this is the same basic discussion we had on a previous thread,in which the debate was about,what limits,if any,should a state or people impose on themselves,even at the risk of overall defeat.
Speaking for myself,only,if taking 100 people apart would end the current world madness,'bring it on'.I tend to oppose it because I have been told it does not work,and as importantly,it sucks up both the innocent and the guilty into the horror.I have a nasty suspicion that I might have been misled about the effectivity,although not the 'collateral'damage.

Posted by: dougf at January 5, 2005 08:58 PM

David,
Couldn't agree more.
Wondering when public embarrasment and "cultural insensitivity", said culture being dedicated to the destruction of our culture, became torture?
Moderate voice seems to have become a synonym for stupidity.
If Alberto Gonzales is the "poster boy for torture" what are we to term all of our State's Attorney General's, as every state's prison system engages in practices worse than the "torture" exposed in Iraq and Gitmo.
Michael, this post was better put up at an IndyMedia or DU site.

Posted by: Mike Daley at January 5, 2005 09:02 PM

Michael, this post was better put up at an IndyMedia or DU site.

He's got to throw his Lib buddies a bone from time to time. We forgive him.

Posted by: David at January 5, 2005 09:07 PM

He's got to throw his Lib buddies a bone from time to time. We forgive him.--David

I tend to think that Michael's 'lib'buddies are perhaps a lot less buddy-buddy,since he courageously threw his support behind the Bushitler.So it probably does not matter how many'bones'he might toss their way,even should he wish to do so.
Michael is apostate,and now beyond the pale.Little did he know that by stepping up for 'truth,justice,and the American way',he would be stuck with us as backup.
Oh well,no good deed goes unpunished. :-)

Posted by: dougf at January 5, 2005 09:16 PM

Good post, Michael. Bad comments, trolls.

Posted by: praktike at January 5, 2005 09:42 PM

I don't know whether Alberto Gonzales is "objectively pro-torture" or not, but I do know that I don't like torture. And vampires. I'm going to take a stand and say that both are bad.

Posted by: 2Dave at January 5, 2005 09:43 PM

I love and respect Anne Applebaum and, for that matter, Michael Totten. But I am not sure that all nasty treatment is torture. If your daughter was kidnapped and you had someone at your mercy who was part of the gang, but didn't want to cough up the who/what/where/when, would you keep him awake for a few hours to get him to speak? Would you smack his face? Would you spit on him? If you saw him shy away from your poodle, would you drag him a little closer? If your answer is "maybe", does that mean you advocate pulling out people's fingernails?

The question of how far we can go in nasty treatment without crossing the line into fingernail-pulling when dealing with people who may have knowledge of, say, a plan to release devastating disease forms into our air and water is an ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY QUESTION. And it doesn't mean that BECAUSE something is not torture, that therefore you advocate it or will use it.

There are different questions. Is it torture as we understand that word? Is it forbidden by the Geneva Convention? Even if it isn't torture, should we use it? Can't these questions be asked?
MUSTN'T they be asked?

I'm against electric shocks--because of their associations, if nothing else. And because a slippery slope is involved; it's so easy to turn that knob up a few more notches.

But I've received electric shocks before--haven't you? It was painful, but it sure as hell wasn't torture. On the other hand, shocking someone until their eyeballs bleed surely IS.

If not Gonzalez, Rumsfeld, and Bush, someone else would HAVE to ask these questions on some level. They are unavoidable.

I think the worry about torture is genuine and noble; I think the stuff about Gonzalez as a poster boy is hype and essentially useless. Can't someone with your integrity and intelligence, Michael Totten, push this discussion to a higher level?

BTW, I don't like Gonzalez for other reasons and wouldn't choose him for Attorney General or anything else. But I guess I'd vote for him since the President deserves his pick. As a Senator voting on, say, a Clinton appointee, I'd ask, "Is he minimally qualified? Can an argument be fashioned that he's up to the job?...Is he a moral reprobate of some sort; a criminal type?...Is he being appointed clearly merely because he is a crony or relative?" If you pass that very low threshhold test, you're in.

Jeff Kantor

Posted by: Jeff at January 5, 2005 09:43 PM

David: Racist.

Bullshit.

Just because he's mexican doesn't mean all he knows how to do is pick fruit.

Hitchens made the exact same comment about John Ashcroft for many of the exact same reasons. And Ashcroft is not Mexican. (Actually, neither is Alberto Gonzales.)

The point, David, is that a guy with a nasty human rights record can't do any damage as secretary of agriculture.

Oh, and I'm not throwing "my lib buddies a bone." Believe it or not, I actually agree with the words I write on my own Web site and in my own articles.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2005 10:16 PM

You know, in the run up to Nov. 2, I somehow don't remember 'moderate' Bush supporters pointing out that re-electing him would result in a public debate on the benefits of torturing prisoners of war and other random passers by (and so soon!)

Oh Brave New World, with such supporters of torture in it!

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 5, 2005 10:28 PM

Michael Farris,

Do you have a point in there somewhere or are you just lashing out at me for the heck of it?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2005 10:36 PM

Michael,

Are you arguing that al Queada members have rights under the Geneva Convention? If so, could you cite that part of the convention to which the the US is a party which confers the rights?

Much as Ms. Applebaum may be esteemed in some quarters her WaPo piece is curiously lacking in specific details concerning specific incidents. It is known that investigations and prosecutions concerning abuse have occured but what has that to do with Gonzales? Or are you positing auras and penumbras radiating from discussions in the Executive concerning what would constitute "torture" versus coercion?

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 5, 2005 10:36 PM

David: to give Geneva Convention protections to combatants out of uniform is to make a MOCKERY of the Geneva conventions. The treaty was signed between NATIONS, not between gangs and terror cells.

By the way, I do agree with you about that. But I'm not writing in defense of the Geneva Convention here. I'm writing against torture, which I oppose whether or not the Geneva Convention applies to terrorists. (I am well aware that it does not.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2005 10:38 PM

"Do you have a point in there somewhere or are you just lashing out at me for the heck of it?"

I'm not just lashing out at you (which would imply some kind of icky emotional thing) and my point is:

If someone had told me five years ago, that the president that brought the benefits of torturing people into a national public debate would be re-elected, with the help of moderates and even some soi-dissant liberals, I would have thought that person was insane.

If someone told me five years ago that those against torture were being advised to keep their unwelcome opinions about an objectively pro-torture presidential appointee to themselves or risk even greater public support for torture I would have thought they had made some terrible mistake and were talking about Argentina or Egypt or Zimbabwe.

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 5, 2005 11:01 PM

Thank you.

Posted by: Katherine at January 5, 2005 11:06 PM

Michael Farris: those against torture were being advised to keep their unwelcome opinions about an objectively pro-torture presidential appointee to themselves

That's not what's happening here. Both Glenn and I are against torture, and both of us are saying so in public. I do think you're missing our point, especially mine. (Re-read the last sentence of my post.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2005 11:14 PM

Why is it that just because someone becomes Joint Chief he can't be dismissed as a namby pamby liberal? Or a partisan sheep for that matter?

Posted by: Wm at January 5, 2005 11:26 PM

Hehe...

Attacks from the left, attacks from the right; you just can't win, MJ. When you're surrounded by folks who claim that, "moderate voice seems to have become a synonym for stupidity," you're probably better off not even trying to respond.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 5, 2005 11:37 PM

Michael -

Forgive the totally off-topic post but "Liberal Iraqi" - the subject of your post a few days ago is indeed Ali from Iraqthemodel. He gives an explanation on his site that should clear up some of the mystery of what had upset him while his brothers were here. (Just in case you missed it.)

Posted by: Caroline at January 6, 2005 01:04 AM

"That's not what's happening here. Both Glenn and I are against torture, and both of us are saying so in public. I do think you're missing our point, especially mine. (Re-read the last sentence of my post.)"

Yes but wasn't Glenn effectively saying that if Democrats and liberals are against torture, they shuld be more subtle in their protests, less the public's current dislike of Democrats may lead to a more wholesale support of torture policies?

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 01:36 AM

Epitome,

I think he was trying to tell them to tone it down, yes, and stop complaining about things that aren't torture and calling them torture anyway. He could have made his point clearer, but I think what he was getting at.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 6, 2005 01:48 AM

If any American deserves to be the poster boy for torture, it’s Alberto Gonzales.

Why? So far as I can tell, his offenses consist of:

- asking for legal opinions on what constituted torture, and on what Geneva protections apply to non-uniformed covert combatants

- receiving those opinions

- summarizing them.

So why does he deserve to be a "poster boy for torture"? Because he tried to asnwer the questions?

It can't be because the policy that resulted encouraged torture, since we know the actual policy was more restrictive than the famous memo, and since people are being actively prosecuted for violating that policy.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at January 6, 2005 03:34 AM

Charle (Colorado):

Thank you. The facts on this issue are being ignored. Mr. Gonzales has never stated he believes torture is right or should be used. He asked for opinions, received them and passed them on to the person who requested them. That's it. All of the rest of this is crap. Have we got to the point where we can't even ask the questions?

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at January 6, 2005 04:25 AM

"If any American deserves to be the poster boy for torture, it’s Alberto Gonzales."

But let's be frank about why he is the poster boy for torture:

1) He is a member of the Bush Administration.
2) His confirmation allows a forum for the continuation, by other means, of the Left's war against the Bush Administration's War on Terror and Liberation of Iraq.
3) He is a member of a minority group (i.e.-Left-defined victim group) who is a Republican.

There are times, MJT, when you would be better served by a strong dose of cynicism. Your earnestness, which is one of your most endearing features, at times leads you to overlook the obvious 'realpolitik' of certain situations...this being one of them.

And I agree that there was absolutely nothing racist in either Hitchens' quote or your use of it. It isn't as though you're running around calling him "Speedy" Gonzales, like your pal Marc Cooper. Even that can't really qualify as racist, because Marc's a Lefty, and we all know only Republicans and Conservatives can be racist. Evidently it's wit.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at January 6, 2005 04:43 AM

I would add that if the Democrats manage to shoot down the Gonzales nomination on these charges, I think the Democratic Party and their presidential nominee are going to find a rather cool reception in certain Latino quarters come 2008. But then, since when has the Democratic Party shown any particular common sense in attempting to avoid the self-destructive while indulging in Bush Derangement? And this 'furor' over Gonzales in little more than just that.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at January 6, 2005 04:49 AM

Michael: Bullshit. (I'm not a racist)

hehe, I know you're not a racist Michael. I just thought it would be funny to play like a Liberal and call you a racist for no reason whatsoever.

By the way, I do agree with you about that. But I'm not writing in defense of the Geneva Convention here. I'm writing against torture, which I oppose whether or not the Geneva Convention applies to terrorists. (I am well aware that it does not.

That's perfectly legit. But all Gonzales did was educate Bush on the Geneva Convention, NOT recommend torture. So why the witchunt? Shame on you. You're being really thoughtless on this one. This isn't about Gonzales, though the Dems are trying to make it so for political reasons.

Posted by: David at January 6, 2005 04:56 AM

"Hi, my name is Alberto Gonzalez. You may know me from such memos as Suspending Democracy: A Modest Proposal and Genocide - Is It Good Or Is It Whack: A Critical Look At The Legality And Feasibility Of Killing Millions Of People Under The Conditions Of Fourth Generation Warfare."

Posted by: Fredo at January 6, 2005 05:06 AM

I'm against torture (kinda). I'd rather put a bullet in some sick Al Queda terrorist's head.

Posted by: john marzan at January 6, 2005 05:32 AM

What is torture? Has either Andrew Sullivan or Michael Totten even come up with a half way decent definition? Is the typical football training of a high school athlete a torturous experience? When does discomfort become excruciating torture? I personally have no hesitation whatsoever in torturing a terrorist suspect if it could save countless lives---and neither likely would Mr. Totten. I’m sure that I could provide an extreme example which would result in his approval. This is a gray issue that cannot be totally resolved. Alberto Gonzales merely informed the Bush administration about the general parameters of the dilemma.

Once again, I merely ask for a general definition of torture. I don’t expect all the “i”s to be dotted and all the “t”s to be crossed. Can Michael Totten handle the challenge? And if he can’t, why does he expect so much more from Alberto Gonzales?

Posted by: David Thomson at January 6, 2005 05:34 AM

Brit Hume interviewed an attorney from Justice (I think) on his show last night. Here is his perspective on Gonzales and the controversey of his nomination:

1. Gonzales asked for, and received, a legal opinion from Justice as to the meaning and scope of existing US Law regarding the defintion and use of torture. He then reported this to the President.

2. The above referenced review yielded what, to many, is a too narrow definition of torture in that only very extreme tactics, as defined by those causing either death or the failure of major organs, were to be considered torture.

3. Gonzales advised the President that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the Taliban and Al Qaeda because the GC are essentially a contract between signatory nations that define the rules for the treatment of Prisoners of War and that neither of these groups are signatories nor do they follow the GC rules.

My issue with Gonzales is that while he may have given perfectly rational legal advise, he failed the President as an advisor by ignoring the more practical political angle on all of this and damaged our credibility in the WOT. I wouldn't want that guy holding the highest law enforcement job in the nation (see: Janet Reno and Waco).

As for torture, there would be great value in having a discussion to define it, to determine if it actually works (would make the use of it moot if it doesn't do so reliably), and to identify what, if any, circumstances would make it's use morally acceptable (e.g.; "ticking bomb": yes, routine intel gathering: no).

Posted by: too many steves at January 6, 2005 05:51 AM

"His nomination of Gonzales to attorney general is a de facto statement that he believes that someone who enabled these things needs rewarding, not censuring."

--Andrew Sullivan

This is absolutely ridiculous. It is uttely absurd to claim that Alberto Gonzales' reply to the Bush administration is responsible for a number of abuses. Andrew Sillvan needs to take a chill pill. He is humiliating himself.

Posted by: David Thomson at January 6, 2005 06:23 AM

Andrew Sullivan is immune to the effects of chill pills. You are wasting your time visiting his site.

Posted by: too many steves at January 6, 2005 06:29 AM

It's odd,

When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was reported here, Bush supporters poo-poo'd it as a few sadists acting against orders. They pointed out that if electrical shock or something like that was used... THEN it might be torture, but just stripping people naked was fine.

Now, months later, we know more of the story. We know that the Bush Administration supported (supports?) this type of activity. We now know that it was not isolated, nor was it confined to making suspects parade in their birthday suits. Yet, those who defended before, still refuse to denounce the activity of torture.

I don't think we 'need' the Genovea conventions to tell us what is and is not an appropriate way to treat human beings. Personally, I have a strong moral compass. My moral compass tells me that using electric shock on a person is not good. It tells me that if I hit people until they die, there is something seriously wrong with me. If I deprive them of something important to life, like say, oxygen, I would consider myself on par with the worst dregs of humanity.

Beyond that, though, is the much more relevant point that Mr. Gonzales gave bad information to the President. Why do I call it bad? Because his interpertation of the President's rights were judged to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. His views are, apparently, way out of the mainstream in the eyes of SCOTUS. That's not the person I want interperting The USAPATRIOT Act.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 06:53 AM

"Andrew Sullivan is immune to the effects of chill pills. You are wasting your time visiting his site."

Andrew Sullivan can no longer be described as a possible modern day George Orwell. One cannot claim that the war on terrorism is our primary concern and then reject the leadership of George W. Bush. This is senseless. Sullivan should simply claim that the gay marriage issue is his first priority---and be done with it. Instead, he lies to himself and wants to have it both ways. This results in intellectual insanity.

Posted by: David Thomson at January 6, 2005 06:58 AM

"One cannot claim that the war on terrorism is our primary concern and then reject the leadership of George W. Bush."

One can't? why not?

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 07:06 AM

Look, I take no particular pride in being so bellicose but we're at war people. The rational reason to observe conventions and standards of conduct in and around the battlefield is so that your enemy will treat your side humanely if some are captured. You hope by giving quarter you'll get as well.

There is not only no evidence to suggest that our enemy will extend this courtesy to us but in fact there is plenty of evidence that our soldiers are better off dead than captured by the thugs we fight.

You who decry "torture" stand on the high ground purchased by the blood of those who came before you and installments are still being paid by those who face these thugs today. Our soldiers face the real possibility of being captured, beaten, sliced up and beheaded. If I'm in that situation I want all the tools available to me to find my enemy and kill 'em quickly and often. When we have evidence that our enemies are playing by the rules then I also will join you in observing these rules.

'Til then, fuck 'em. Anyway you can, anywhere you can.

If you're looking for signs of support from the voting populace to wage all-out warfare for the purposes of completely subduing our enemy and bending them to our will, well, count me as one.

Joe Mask

Posted by: Joe Mask at January 6, 2005 07:18 AM

Joe Mask,

So when the terrorists open up a can of Anthrax on us, should we pepper Iraq with Smallpox? Once they pull off a dirty bomb in Chicago, should we nuke The Sunni Triangle?

Where does Force Majeure give way to self-respect?

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 07:42 AM

"We know that the Bush Administration supported (supports?) this type of activity [torture]."

Really, D. Clyde?

Do you have support for this statement? By "support" I mean facts, quotes, citations, etc.? "Support" saying unequivocably that it is the stated policy of the United States government that 'torture' ("support" would include the government's specific definition of those activities constituting 'torture') is acceptable and condoned under certain circumstances ("support" would include a definition of those circumstances, also). Personally, I'd love to see these documents.

Or, could it just be that there is no "support" of the kind I mention and you are having an episode?

Again.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at January 6, 2005 07:49 AM

The Geneva Conventions shouldn't even be discussed. The argument that because our enemies don't fit under certain protocols, therefor we should be legally allowed to subject them to treatment no civilized liberal democracy should consider subjecting human beings to, treatment we would never consider subjecting a citizen of another civilized liberal democracy too, is a gross moral failure. Until the issue of whether torture is an effective means of gathering reliable information is less grey, allow me to take the Western Liberal Democratic Judaeo-Christian high-ground and be anti-torture. The United States should not be in the business of torture; we are not a theocracy or a totalitarian state, we shouldn't emulate one.

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 07:49 AM

The Great Debate over Alberto Gonzalez is not driven by a great moral question or anything remotely resembling principled concern for fighting a just war.

The Geneva Convention does not extend to the persons of terrorists. The convention itself was created at a time when nations sought to restrict the impact of industrialized warfare on non-combatants and civilian infrastructure during wars between civilized nation states.

Non-uniformed/stateless aggressors captured on the field of battle are already subject to summary execution under the convention.

Some observers recognised early on that the war on terror would probably parallel the past experiences of world powers when confronted with piracy. If you want a specific precedent, we can go back further to the first instance of international conflict that the U.S. ever dealt with.

Democrats will go after Gonzalez on torture because they know that Red America hears the word and imagines hammers and hot iron...while at the same time their constituency foams at the mouth if Miranda rights and air conditioning aren't provided for captured Islamists.

MSM is reporting the coming hearings with the caveat that there's little chance that Gonzalezs' appointment will be denied.

The confirmation hearings on Gonzalez are happening on the same day that Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Charles Conyers are reportedly going to file objections to the confirmation of the Electoral College certification based on spurious demagougery from the old Florida script transferred four years ahead to Ohio. Today holds the promise of even greater self- marginalization of what used to be a great political party.

Karl Rove doesn't have to be a genius. He has Democrats for opponents.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 6, 2005 07:57 AM

Bravo Epitome.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 07:59 AM

Where does Force Majeure give way to self-respect?-- Tosk

Interesting question.The examples you give are illustrative of the 'terror'problem,but really do nothing to clarify the issue of 'rightness'.These are totally separate although related issues.
A.What is the proper use of force?
B.Who is the enemy against which that force can be employed?
Methinks you are presenting Joe with an unaswerable constuct,in that I can be both opposed to the commission of violence against 'innocent'bystanders,and supportive of absolute violence against identified enemies.
Dead people have no 'self-respect'.They are just DEAD.If they have chosen(although DIMLY) to arrive at that state of affairs,because they would not defend themselves against thuggish terror,them colour them 'stupid'as well.
If a 'fair peace'can be attained,then it is a viable position to believe that some things are off the table a priori,and that some sacrifice might be required in order not to descend into the abyss.But if no peace or compromise is possible------------ only the strongest will survive.
Do we negotiate with the Islamofascists rather than fight them if fighting them means that EVERYTHING is potentially possible?
Oh and 'negotiate' means abject surrender in this particular case since we are beyond the pale in their world-view.

Posted by: dougf at January 6, 2005 08:06 AM

Until the issue of whether torture is an effective means of gathering reliable information is less grey, allow me to take the Western Liberal Democratic Judaeo-Christian high-ground and be anti-torture---- Epitome

Brave Epitome ---DP

-------------------------------------------------
Well I can say exactly the same thing,DPU,and in fact, have.I don't think this statement means what you think it means.It is not brave it is cautious,and thoughtful.In no way does it,in itself,imply that the options would not be different should the conditions attached to the statement be resolved.

Posted by: dougf at January 6, 2005 08:15 AM

Dean Esmay had a good post on torture yesterday that I mostly agree with. Make it illegal, don't do it except under the most dire situations, and then have accountability to make sure that use was justified.

Example from a good article on torture last year in Atlantic. A pschopathic pedophile had kidnapped a child, and had been arrested. Fearing that the child, who was not found, was imprisoned somewhere and would soon die, the cop in charge decided to tell this guy that he was going to be tortured, and gave vivid descriptions of the police torturer that was flying in, and what he was going to do to the suspected kidnapper.

The cop was disciplined for this, but the conditions were taken into consideration. I myself find this completely acceptable, as police behaviour like this on a suspect could lead to abuses of innocents. Accountability keeps it in check.

Many discussing torture only discuss it in context of torturing evil terrorist badguys in order to find a ticking bomb, but those are not the usual cases. It's during the standard interrogation for intelligence that this is used. And remember that about 80% of those interrogated in Abu Ghraib were innocent Iraqis picked up during sweeps. Ask yourself how sympathetic those individuals, or their friends and relations, are going to be when they hear of members of the US military being tortured or murdered.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 08:16 AM

Dougf -- "Bravo", not "Brave".

Means "hear hear", or "attaboy".

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 08:17 AM

"The Geneva Convention does not extend to the persons of terrorists. The convention itself was created at a time when nations sought to restrict the impact of industrialized warfare on non-combatants and civilian infrastructure during wars between civilized nation states."

The 4th convention fits that mold, but the main goal of the conventions was to establish rules and conduct for modern war for combatants themselves I.E. rendering aid to the wounded and casualties, humane treatment of POWs. Regardless of the reasons for adopting them (we won't hurt you if you don't hurt us) the conventions themselves are based in Christian humanitarianism, and supported by states and populace who hold that civilized nations shouldn't indulge in barbaric practices in times of war.

"Democrats will go after Gonzalez on torture because they know that Red America hears the word and imagines hammers and hot iron...while at the same time their constituency foams at the mouth if Miranda rights and air conditioning aren't provided for captured Islamists."

I think 'Red America' knows what torture is and what is practiced by the U.S. Government. Despite the offensive notion that Democrats cry 'torture' in hopes of exploiting a supposedly ignorant Red America's misguided ideas of torture to their own benefit(A lovely view of their intelligence), it appears Red America has a good idea of what torture is and seem to be pretty enthusiastic about it being applied to terrorists. If anything Democrats are hurting themselves by taking the moral highground.

As for blue staters foaming at the mouth if miranda rights and air conditioning aren't provided; well if tired hyperbole is easier for you to pull off than legitimate and fair discussion, be my guest.

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 08:22 AM

Dougf -- "Bravo", not "Brave".
Means "hear hear", or "attaboy".-dpu

Brave-- Bravo !!
Picky,snide,SMALL !!

The main point----Do I get a huzzah as well

Posted by: dougf at January 6, 2005 08:25 AM

dougf,

My point was, that saying "We can be immoral, because our enemy is immoral" seems, to me, to be a flawed prospect. My examples, of course were somewhat hyperboe, but the point is still there. Terrorists may act in many ways that don't tie to the Conventions of War, the Morality of Western humans or, indeed, the basic instincts of humans. However, that, in my mind doesn't mean that we want to emulate that sort of behavior ourselves.

Doing the 'right' thing from a moral perspective, often is more dangerous than the alternative. But, thats why its been described as "cramped and narrow", when compared to the "broad and spacious road" of moraless society. I would rather miss out on important information, than compromise my ideals. I would feel that way, even if the information missed led to a terror attack in which I died. How I die, is to me, less important than how I live. It may not be the same for people like you, Doug, or Joe, and thats ok. Its just my view, I reckon.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 08:25 AM

Blue staters don't like him because he's Hispanic and because he's forgotten he's supposed to be a Democrat on welfare.

Posted by: Xixi at January 6, 2005 08:26 AM

I am told that this is the definition of torture that was ratified by the US and made into law:

Definition of torture from the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment

"For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

Justice, when asked/directed by Gonzales to interpret this, found that "severe" meant only those cases where the tactics used resulted in death or organ failure.

Posted by: too many steves at January 6, 2005 08:26 AM

The main point----Do I get a huzzah as well

I'm still trying to figure out if you were agreeing or disagreeing with Epitome. But if you've said the same thing, then yes, a huzzah and a pat on the back as well.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 08:27 AM

"Blue staters don't like him because he's Hispanic and because he's forgotten he's supposed to be a Democrat on welfare."

Dang! Foiled again! And we would have gotten away with it to if it weren't for those pesky Conservatives.

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 08:30 AM

Epitome -

I agree with your sentiment that a liberal democracy is no place for torture as a state policy.

The question that generated the Gonzales memo remains "what are the legal and treaty limitations on what coercion we CAN apply toward gathering actionable intelligence?".

In a nation ruled by law that's an important question. An opinion was rendered.

Since the Democrats' base already equates Bush with Hitler they are happy to frame their objection based on the supposition that Bush was REALLY asking "how many branding irons are too many?" and driven by a megalomaniacal urge to abuse prisoners for the sake of simple cruelty.

They ignore the fact that the enemy falls outside of any definition of legitimate combatants under any existing international treaty or convention. They ignore the fact that the enemy routinely and randomly kills non-combatants, and tortures, rapes, and murders prisoners. They conducts a PR campaign via media to publicize their acts.

Now I'm just a horned- helmet conservative, but I expect my governemnt to do its best to protect and defend my country. The question of "how much coercion" is, again, important, but the lurching, brainless siezure of this issue as a political tool by the Democrats has effectively destroyed any chance of reasoned debate on the subject for the foreseeable future.

BTW, I agree with Dennis the Peasant's post.

Ratatosk, you reach too far by linking Bush with Abu Graihb. We "found out" about AG when the military publicized it's investigation of alleged abuses; it didn't become a story worth covering until the media obtained photos... what, three months later?... at which time it was used not to further the cause of justice but simply as another club to hit the administration with.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 6, 2005 08:30 AM

As for blue staters foaming at the mouth if miranda rights and air conditioning aren't provided; well if tired hyperbole is easier for you to pull off than legitimate and fair discussion, be my guest.

From Andrew Sullivan today, who is preparing an article on torture, and who has been reading reports over the Yultide season:
Let's retire at the start the notion that the only torture that has been used by the U.S. has been against known members of al Qaeda. This is not true. Many innocent men and boys were raped, brutally beaten, crucified for hours (a more accurate term than put in "stress positions"), left in their own excrement, sodomized, electrocuted, had chemicals from fluorescent lights poured on them, forced to lie down on burning metal till they were unrecognizable from burns - all this in Iraq alone, at several prisons as well as Abu Ghraib. I spent a week reading all the official reports over Christmas for a forthcoming review essay. Abu Ghraib is but one aspect of a pervasive pattern of torture and abuse that, in my view, is only beginning to sink in.
I don't think I mind if the air conditioning is off. I care about kids being raped and people being burned by electrocution.

NB - I can't believe I linked to both Esmay and Sullivan today.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 08:34 AM

Oops, can't claim I linked to Sullivan unless I actually link to him.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 08:35 AM

Its just my view, I reckon---Tosk

More than fair,and honourable.I respect honourable,and have stated directly that you are a real credit to this site,but can you insist that 'your'values kill me off as well?If the 'state' which is intended to protect the lives and security of its inhabitants 'allows'me to perish because you won't do the neccessary,are you not guilty of 'murder'as well as elected 'suicide'?
And if so,is that a 'moral'position?

Posted by: dougf at January 6, 2005 08:41 AM

tmjutah,

I don't think that the 'expose' of AG was appropriate or useful. I agree that the Liberals were using it as a political club. No argument on that.

When I posted (DtP got it wrong, as usual) earlier, I did not "link" Bush with the abuses at AG, I stated that the "'administration' supported (supports?) the sort of activity" that happened in AG. The same type of activity, that happened in GitMo and according to some reports is still happening. If you want to convience me that an Administration, which sought a legal defination of torture and sought legal counsel on the application of POW status for these prisonsers, was somehow completely in the dark regarding these acts, you will have a long and hard road, not impossible though....

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 08:42 AM

dougf,

Nice comeback.

It is a difficult position for all Americans and I can only speak for myself (as can all of us). Should we trust in Morals or in Might to protect us as a people? If we trust in Might over Morals then we place ourselves in the same trenches as others who trusted in Might over Morals. If we trust in Morals over Might, we may, possibly, miss a piece of information that may, possibly stop an attack, which might, possibly kill a few thousand Americans. That's the choice and each American must decide for themselves which is more important, how they live, or how they die.

As an aside, I find it strange that the same party which decries video games, movies and gay marriage as an attack on the moral fiber of our nation, would give torture in any form a pass. Torture, of any type, fatal or just painful, seems to have no support from any Biblical standapoint that I can find.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 08:58 AM

"When I posted (DtP got it wrong, as usual) earlier, I did not "link" Bush with the abuses at AG, I stated that the "'administration' supported (supports?) the sort of activity" that happened in AG."

Let me get this straight: You're claiming the Bush Administration "supports", but is not "linked to" the abuses at AG?

And again, let me get this straight...the C-in-C of the Armed Forces can support "abuses" at AG (a military prison) by military personnel and not be "linked" to them in any way?

Of course the Bush Administration is "linked" to AG...George Bush was President when it happened. Duh. And that isn't the meaningful issue in the first place. What I asked for, and which you are attempting to dodge (as usual), is proof of your claim that the Bush Administration "supports" such abuses. The only meaningful issue here is the one you raise regarding supposed Bush Administration "support" of either torture or abuse. Duh.

In truth though, I think I did get it wrong: To have an episode it has to start and stop somewhere, and with you the mental discord seems to be continuous.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at January 6, 2005 09:19 AM

Ratatosk -

"I stated that the "'administration' supported (supports?) the sort of activity" that happened in AG. The same type of activity, that happened in GitMo and according to some reports is still happening."

Where do you find a link to the administration supporting a bunch of ill-led and supervised idiots in their juvenile abuses? And on what do you base the credibility of "reports" from Guantanomo Bay alumni? You expect the graduates of catch-and-release to give honest accounts of their incarceration, with full knowledge that several such individuals have been killed or recaptured in the field? Please.

DPU -

"I don't think I mind if the air conditioning is off. I care about kids being raped and people being burned by electrocution."

Be clear. Are you implying that I condone such acts? That such acts are policy?

The question asked from the field was "what are our options for interrogation and what status do these captured have?" and the Gonzalez memo was generated as a result, based on existing treaties and conventions. Principled differences of opinion could have been hammered out as a legislative debate, but in the absence of such a motive the issue has instead been reduced to a zero-sum game pitting emotion against objective considerations facing us in this war, all aimed at short term political gain. Desperately so.

Ah - Ms. Boxer of California has in fact hitched up with Mr. Conyers. Life is good.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 6, 2005 09:23 AM

Be clear. Are you implying that I condone such acts? That such acts are policy?

Didn't even know that you were in the thread until re-reading it a minute ago, Tmj, so no, I wasn't implying that you condoned such acts. But such acts are what a climate of torture lead to, and are themselves acts of torture that were considered legitimate, as they did not lead to organ failure or death. And I listed them as these are the acts being discussed, not some minor discomfort, or old-fashioned slapping around of prisoners. From all accounts, there are widespread horrible things being done, and there has been a climate of tolerance, if not outright support, from the administration. That fact that Gonzales is being rewarded by this appointment should indicate that.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 09:33 AM

How many additional soldier, non-combatant and civilian deaths at home and abroad should we tolerate to uphold our moral values? Both extremes (pyhrric victory/moral defeat) shed no light on this question, so please state a number or an equation.

Posted by: hoof in mouth at January 6, 2005 09:33 AM

How many additional soldier, non-combatant and civilian deaths at home and abroad should we tolerate to uphold our moral values?

How many people should be tortured, including possibly innocent people, in order to save a single American life? Please state a number or an equation.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 09:37 AM

How many people should be tortured, including possibly innocent people, in order to save a single American life? Please state a number or an equation.----dpu

6

Posted by: dougf at January 6, 2005 09:53 AM

"How many people should be tortured"

Nice debating trick but I would reject the question unless you provide a definition of torture. If you are speaking of coercion as defined in the DoJ memo as "torture" then I would say as many as responsible parties felt necessary.

Sullivan's promise to provide something substantive in support of his assertions has the same validity as Applebaum's lack of facts in the article Michael cited. Which is to say, zero. Put up checkable facts from reliable sourcees and show direct linkage to Gonzales and there might be something to debate. Unless, of course, all the facts come from investigative reports generated by government agencies engaged in an effort to minimize excesses. In that instance, the question becomes: "What's your point?"

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 6, 2005 09:57 AM

"How many people should be tortured, including possibly innocent people, in order to save a single American life?"--DPU

Well, it's either zero, in which case it's zero under all circumstances, no matter how catastrophic the alternative you're trying to prevent; or it's some number greater than zero, which should give any decent person a sick qualm.

And I think there's a bait-and-switch here by listing the worst abuses that happened, saying that Gonzales looked into codifying torture, and saying he's been rewarded for them.

I submit the following, The rules we'd been operating under were, roughly, We don't do that--it's illegal. [So do it if you really have to, don't get caught, and God help you if you're wrong.] Lawyers don't like those ground rules, and I can't say as I blame them, because for one thing it's open to abuse. Is it possible--genuine question--that the DoJ and Gonzales looked into this, not because they wanted to get some torture going, but because they knew it would happen and wanted to set clearly defined limits on it?

Posted by: JPS at January 6, 2005 10:00 AM

Nice debating trick

It wasn't a debating trick, it was to point out that demands for equations on moral and ethical standards is stupid.

As far as coercion is concerend, ever had a friend or relative "coerced" by police? It isn't nice. And for all the posturing, there is little evidence that any of the abuses that have been legitimized by various DOJ memos have produced any usable intelligence. A recent review of interrogation techniques by an Israeli interogattion expert indicates that much of what's going on is simple sadism by people who don't know how to effectively interrogate, and unlikely to produce anything substantive, as those being abused will say anything to make the abuse stop.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 10:06 AM

there is little evidence that any of the abuses that have been legitimized by various DOJ memos

Nice try, says who?

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at January 6, 2005 10:09 AM

One cannot claim that the war on terrorism is our primary concern and then reject the leadership of George W. Bush.

Oh yea? I believe that is our primary concern, but don't fully trust Bush to prosecute it, and that's why I didn't vote for him.

And it continues to amaze me that people are more outraged by the exposure of Abu Ghraib than by Abu Ghraib itself.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 6, 2005 10:11 AM

Sorry, the argument/s are just partisan spin...

"It was Gonzales who led the administration's internal discussion of what qualified as torture."

No, I thought he requested an opinion. He did not write the opinion (unless I'm mistaken). BTW, what was in the final opinion that lead to torture (jump down to next point).

"It was Gonzales who advised the president that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to people captured in Afghanistan."

So, did that cause the torture? Trying to draw a straight cause effect line between the two seems like a very weak argument. Torture is already against US law and we have signed a international treaty regarding it. The troops who abused prisoners broke the law and will be punished. Without the convention BTW....

Also, do you think the Geneva Convention should be applied to terrorists? I don't. Nor do I think that not applying it is an excuse for abuse for prisoners.

"It was Gonzales who helped craft some of the administration's worst domestic decisions, including the indefinite detention, without access to lawyers, of U.S. citizens Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi."

Who else? Oh yeah, it's just those two. I'm not in love with this decision BTW... After hearing the arguments, I just don't know what other options we have.... What about you? What would you do instead of this?

Posted by: Thomas at January 6, 2005 10:13 AM

Nice try, says who?

The Israeli interrogation expert, and every other interrogation specialist that I've read in the last year. And the Israelis seem to be experts in this area.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 10:19 AM

I love the smell of liberal racism in the morning. It smells like the defeat of democrats once again.

This "torture is a no-no boys and girls" smokescreen is just good enough to get you beat.

You hate the guy because he's a hispanic that's also conservative. Just like you racists hate blacks who are also conservative. They get off the reservation, then they got to be put down.

Posted by: Manoamano at January 6, 2005 10:22 AM

D++

Check the quote

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at January 6, 2005 10:23 AM

Check the quote

There's a fine line between being brief and being incomprehensible. In other words, huh?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 10:27 AM

Mano:

A little to freaky there. I believe most of the Liberal commentors on MJT's site mean well and are not racist by any stretch of the imagination. They are also wrong in most everything they state but they do mean well.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at January 6, 2005 10:28 AM

You hate the guy because he's a hispanic that's also conservative.

That's an interesting speculation. Anything that might lend some credence to that? After all, it is just possible that some people are concerned with the torture issue rather than the guy's last name. But I'm willing to hear actual discussion about that instead of baseless accusations. At least, if there's anything to discuss.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 10:30 AM

D++

My bad. The quote was...

"there is little evidence that any of the abuses that have been legitimized by various DOJ memos"

The problem is the quote makes a statement that the DoJ memos legitimized the abuse. Who says they do? You are stating that as if it is a proven and accepted fact when the whole thread is a discussion about whether or not they do.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at January 6, 2005 10:34 AM

This is a universal leftist trait. Make the wogs behave the way they's sposed to behave.

Here's the experience of an arab wog at the hands of his goodhearted lefty prof:

Professor Woolcock didn’t grade my essay. Instead he told me to come to see him in his office the following morning. I was surprised the next morning when instead of giving me a grade, Professor Woolcock verbally attacked me and my essay. He told me, “Your views are irrational.” He called me naïve for believing in the greatness of this country, and told me "America is not God's gift to the world." Then he upped the stakes and said "You need regular psychotherapy." Apparently, if you are an Arab Muslim who loves America you must be deranged. Professor Woolcock went as far as to threaten me by stating that he would visit the Dean of International Admissions (who has the power to take away student visas) to make sure I received regular psychological treatment.

You see, when you're a wog, by all that is lefty, you'd better behave like a wog.

Posted by: manoamona at January 6, 2005 10:36 AM

"It wasn't a debating trick, it was to point out that demands for equations on moral and ethical standards is stupid."

If you are sure in your mind that it wasn't, fine, I apologize. But your further statement is not logically coherent. The sole purpose of the memos in question was to define terms and establish standards in a manner that the parties responsible for performing the equations could understand. It isn't theory to the interrogator or case officer. Just as the amount of coercion allowed is not theory to a peace officer applying it to my friends or relatives or me. The memos weren't written and the judgements weren't made in 2002 on the basis of a philosophical debate as to the amount of coercion that a just society should allow. They were written and made to provide guidelines for a situation without much in the way of historical precedent. Real people in real situations required guidance and a few of those people have been investigated and prosecuted for exceeding the guidelines.

If you can't (or won't) define torture in a manner that addresses the actual memos, why are you writing about it? (Sames goes for you, Michael).

Calling an apple a lemon doesn't make it so.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 6, 2005 10:42 AM

Please define "torture" and it what circumstances it is wrong. Or we all just here to throw monkey-poo at each other?

Posted by: Bard at January 6, 2005 10:46 AM

This is a universal leftist trait.

Yes, because "Prof. Woolcock" thinks that way, every single person in the world who's to your left must think the same way too. Say what?

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 6, 2005 10:53 AM

Like someone else said, 'define torture'.

Like a lot of confusing arguments, this one is mixing a few together. Attack and or refute one incarnation and the other side rearranges it into something new and claims to still be correct.

So, just define torture.

If Gonzales needs to go because he authorized the military scaring people into talking, or humiliating them, or making them uncomfortable... then argue that instead of disingenuously confusing these things with actual torture / crimes....

Posted by: Thomas at January 6, 2005 10:59 AM

Like someone else said, 'define torture'.

The DOJ memo in question, signed by Gonzales, actually define torture as only those things that cause "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."

That would allow anything, including rape, to be allowed, and not be considered torture. And that's the issue at hand here, some of us think that might be a faulty definition.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 11:10 AM

RickM -

The problem is that "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Thomas -

Good Luck getting the Left to stick to the point. The entire point to this drill is to embarass Bush and delegitimize his Administration.

Posted by: Ben at January 6, 2005 11:13 AM

There appears to be a strong possibility that the dems and libs will murder themselves on this.
In their usual lefty desire to punch up the numbers, they will conflate activities common to basic training, frat hell week, pre-season football practice and finals week with the hot-poker stuff.
They will get caught (they never think they will), thereby discrediting the whole effort, and, as a byproduct, leaving the hot-poker question unaddressed.
I don't mind seeing the dems hoist on their own bullstuffery, but the hot-poker question needs to be addressed.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at January 6, 2005 11:21 AM

Good Luck getting the Left to stick to the point. The entire point to this drill is to embarass Bush and delegitimize his Administration.

Bullshit. What point is there in embarrassing this adminstration? The election is over, and this administration will be in for the next four years.

The issue is one of morals and ethics. Torturing people is a bad thing for all involved. Appointing someone who thinks that electrocuting prisoners is not only legal but ethical as the top cop in the land sends the wrong message, dunnit? And why the hell are not more conservatives (like Reynolds) taking the lead in this issue instead of making it a partisan issue?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 11:21 AM

The only thing I know about Gonzales' statements is that they involve the legal opinion that the Geneva conventions and it's protections do not accrue to those who do not abide by them. That's not even a startling revelation, it is a readily apparent fact with almost universal recognition. Gonzales had the temerity of being a Republican and saying that what the Geneva Conventions say is what the Geneva Conventions say. Oh, the outrage!!

How that is construed as being "pro-torture" is, pardon the pun, tortuous logic. That some military idiots (now being court-marshalled) took this legal opinion as permission to do their dirty deeds is the responsibility of said military idiots. Yet, for some reason, the responsibility seems to be shifted to Mr. Gonzales.

Posted by: David R. Block at January 6, 2005 11:26 AM

Posted by double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 11:10 AM

"That would allow anything, including rape, to be allowed, and not be considered torture. And that's the issue at hand here, some of us think that might be a faulty definition."

I thought it also included physical pain. But anyway, lets move on..

Rape is a crime under US law, military law, and it's use as a tool is a war crime under international treaties we have signed... So, it did not need to be mentioned in this memo. Claiming it did is just an example of how silly you guys are getting.

Example: If I don't specify my 'workers', for instance, cannot rape people I'm authorizing rape? Nonsense...

Posted by: Thomas at January 6, 2005 11:30 AM

"And that's the issue at hand here, some of us think that might be a faulty definition."

But you don't want to have a democratic debate about the definition and the ethical/legal circumstnaces, do you?

You just want to throw your monkey-poo.

So typical.

Posted by: Bard at January 6, 2005 11:38 AM

Means "hear hear", or "attaboy".

Actually, "bravo" does mean 'brave' in spanish. As in Rio Bravo, or telling the bullfighter bravo when he shows courage.

Posted by: David at January 6, 2005 11:40 AM

Rape is a crime under US law, military law, and it's use as a tool is a war crime under international treaties we have signed... So, it did not need to be mentioned in this memo. Claiming it did is just an example of how silly you guys are getting.

Torture involving physical pain is ALSO a crime under US law, military law, and is a war crime. But that was set aside by the 2002 Gonzales memo.

As there are now hundreds of cases of extremely vile abuses that have come to light in the last year, and some sinister rumours of videos of children in US detention being raped, I'd think that there would be a little more conservative concern about this, specifically because Reynolds has a point. If only liberals are concerned about it, it becomes a partisan football.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 11:41 AM

DPU -

It's ALL about embarassing this administration.

Liberal policies have failed to garner popular public support sufficient to advance their platform via legislation -failed systematically on a national and local scale over the last three decades. All that is left for them to execute change in the political landscape is judicial fiat.

And George Bush will appoint federal judges for four years, and possibly as many as four USSC appointments.

We face a lethal threat as a nation; we, and the entire western world are arrived at a cusp of history where the decision arrived at in a conflict will define the general course of the future for literally centuries to come.

The Democrats will not look past their receding political fortunes at the external threat beyond what opportunities there may arise from the inevitable costs, mistakes, and unpleasantness that they can exploit for domestic advantage.

That's what's behind the Gonzalez situation. That's what is behind the current dog and pony show unfolding in the house and senate as the minority caucuses in both houses line up to pander to their base, and incidentally call into question the validity of U.S. elections in the eyes of the world.

I've had enough. I'll participate in debate on the war where Democrat opinions are concerned when they can produce somebody other than Lieberman, Miller, or Gephardt that even pretend give a damn about contributing to victory.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 6, 2005 11:49 AM

Posted by double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 11:41 AM

"Torture involving physical pain is ALSO a crime under US law, military law, and is a war crime. But that was set aside by the 2002 Gonzales memo."

I know it is against the law. I also don't believe the memo tried to set that aside. It is your asumption that this is the case and I don't believe it is supported by facts.

Posted by: Thomas at January 6, 2005 11:56 AM

BEGIN SHAAMELESS PLUG

If you're interested in the Official US Defination of torture, come over to The Debate Club of Discord.

END SHAMELESS PLUG

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 11:58 AM

"That would allow anything, including rape, to be allowed, and not be considered torture. And that's the issue at hand here, some of us think that might be a faulty definition."

Under the presumption that you are arguing in good faith I will point out that the memo in question was a comparison between what was allowable under the USC 18 2340 definition of torture and various international codes and treaties. The crime of rape is covered under another United States Code section (and I'm not digging it up for you). It does, in fact, pertain to the parties responsible for interrogation and there are additional sections of the United States Code regarding collusion and being an accomplice to criminal acts that also pertain to responsible parties.

The fact is that all responsible parties under the employment, control and authority of the government are subject to the USC and or the UCMJ. That's why the Clinton Justice Department under Janet Reno came up with the clever idea of "rendering" suspects to the security agencies of countries a little less likely to engage in this type of flummery in order to secure the results of "aggressive" interrogation techniques.

But perhaps the topic of Clinton/Reno "rendering" suspects to Egypt, Algeria and the KSA for torture is not quite as interesting as mischaracterizing Judge Gonzales memo?

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 6, 2005 12:00 PM

Rick Ballard,
But perhaps the topic of Clinton/Reno "rendering" suspects to Egypt, Algeria and the KSA for torture is not quite as interesting as mischaracterizing Judge Gonzales memo?

I'd consider it very germain to the issue at hand. It shows a pattern of becoming more and more soft on our view of torture. Saying that the Clinton Adminsitration had its head up its ass, doesn't really help bail out your man.... I mean, unless you think Clinton's administration was lots of fun and worthy of imitation.

Personally, I'd try to make fewer mistakes than my predecessor, not elaborate on them.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 12:10 PM

Rick - thank you for clearing that up, I withdraw the assertion that rape would be a valid torture practice under the Gonzales memo.

The "rendering" of suspects is also a foul practice, whether under a Republican administration (the Arar case), or under a Democrat administration. Had I have been reading blogs back in the 1990's, I would have found time to criticise the Clinton administration for the practice.

But back to the present...

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 12:26 PM

Rat,

Well, the Gonzales' memo is proof that the current administration was addressing the subject forthrightly, isn't it? Perhaps they are trying to make fewer mistakes than Clinton did regarding terrorists and terrorism. God knows, that's a low enough bar.

I don't know whether or not this administration has continued the Clinton/Reno charade. If they have, then they should stop.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 6, 2005 12:32 PM

Please. These thugs meet NONE of the Genevea convention requirements for legitamate combatants. I really wish folks like you would read and comprehend what their about before you pontificate of the illegality of their treatment. The US hasn't tortured ANYBODY. And as a point of FACT the US didn't ascribe to the 1977 Convention because of it's ambiguity in regards to terrorists. Guess who was President then? Find someing that matters to whine about, like the way the DEems are subverting our Republic by their baseless crap over the Electoral Votes.

Posted by: mike at January 6, 2005 12:36 PM

Rick,

Wasn't there a Canadian citizen that this administration recently had extradited to Syria? I believe that the fellow underwent a year of real torture (the honest to god, no doubt in any sane mind kind of torture). He was a Canadain citizen and we deported him to Syria.

Are you still sure that you don't know if this administration is pulling the same pranks of Clinton and Reno?

(Though, at least this administration hasn't invaded someone's private home with a tank and set fire to it... well, not any American homes.)

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 12:39 PM

Dennis the Peasant: It isn't as though you're running around calling him "Speedy" Gonzales, like your pal Marc Cooper. Even that can't really qualify as racist, because Marc's a Lefty

Marc is a lefty. He is also married to a Hispanic woman. So I think any suggestion that he might be an anti-Hispanic racist isn't going to get off the ground.

(And yes, he's my friend. He's also my editor on at least one of my writing projects.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 6, 2005 12:42 PM

Mike,

"as a point of FACT the US didn't ascribe to the 1977 Convention"

Ah, but the United States on April, 18, 1988 did sign the "Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" which, in my opinion, very much applies here.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 12:50 PM

Whoops!

The Link is Here

Sorry.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 6, 2005 12:51 PM

Rat: Wasn't there a Canadian citizen that this administration recently had extradited to Syria?

That was the Arar case I mentioned in my reply to Rick.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 12:53 PM

I've had enough. I'll participate in debate on the war where Democrat opinions are concerned when they can produce somebody other than Lieberman, Miller, or Gephardt that even pretend give a damn about contributing to victory--TMJ

You the man !!!
About 4 months ago,I and perhaps many others stated,if the 'left' continued as they were going,that things were going to get very nasty.They are morally,intellectually,spiritually,bankrupt and those facts are clear to all who want to see.Since this conflict cannot be avoided,and it cannot be 'lost',the effete,pseudo-intellectual un-principled defeatists who are running amok in the media and on the left bank,will soon face an enraged population who simply won't listen any longer.The results could well be messy,but you reap what you sow,and the 'useless' leftoids are sowing nothing but spineless moral equivalence as they dither around the real issues,and refuse to fight the enemy at the gates.Easier to snidely deride the Bushitler and his evil minions.
You can see what I mean in the 'tone'of these discussions.No quarter asked or given,and no real respect for contrary opinions.This is ALL the result of leftist mendacity,contemptable Democratic Party short-term political goals,and a fundamental 'nothingness'which has subsumed the left over the last 3 decades.
Whether you say 'I have had enough'or 'I am now just going to be succinct,the results are the same.A contemptuous dismissal of leftist cant.
Excellent.

Posted by: dougf at January 6, 2005 12:55 PM

"Find someing that matters to whine about, like the way the DEems are subverting our Republic by their baseless crap over the Electoral Votes."

Yes, meaningless hearings about potential election fraud is serious stuff; the appointment of an Attourney General with morally lax views of what constitutes torture (death or organ failure) is a non issue. The Dems and their stupid election fraud mumbo jumbo is the real subversion of our republic, if only they had their priorities straight.

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 01:07 PM

I'm baffled by the original post here -- a vote for Bush was a vote for this. If it was important to you that the US not torture people, you had another option.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 6, 2005 01:09 PM

Incorrect; you can support Bush's prosecution of the war on terror and liberation of Iraq and still hold the administration accountable when you feel such. the notion that 'A vote for Bush is a vote for torture' is absurd.

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 01:12 PM

M. Totten: "Both Glenn and I are against torture, and both of us are saying so in public. I do think you're missing our point, especially mine. (Re-read the last sentence of my post.)"

okay: "that’s precisely why moderates (including the moderate left and the moderate right) need to speak up."

and: "I think he was trying to tell them to tone it down, yes, and stop complaining about things that aren't torture and calling them torture anyway. He could have made his point clearer, but I think what he was getting at."

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but you're saying that those with unpopular views on other issues should keep quiet and let the pro-Bush moderates take this on ...

I think I'll pass (but by all means make it clear to the administration that you're against torture).

And for the objectively pro-torture crowd in the comment section.

The key question here is not what you're willing to do to a known terrorist. The key question is how many innocent people are you willing to subject to torture (or not-torture as happened in Abu Ghraib, where most of the victims, it turns out, were just poor bastards in the wrong place at the wrong time)?

And I may be wrong (too lazy, sleepy, to look it up) but I thought that torture is pretty well proven to not be crap for infomation gathering since a tortured person will sooner or later, almost always tell you anything you want to hear or that they think you want to hear. The real torture countries don't use it much for information gathering, but rather for two reasons 1) sheer vindictiveness against enemies, real or perceived 2) it's ability to instill fear and obedience in those who might otherwise not support the government.

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 6, 2005 01:14 PM

DPU - Rat,

The Arar case goes back to "rendition" rather than the Gonzales memos. As I said, I'm opposed to it (rendition). Renditions are being conducted under the auspices of presidential findings and are conducted by the CIA. Technically, I suppose that they are subject to review by Congress as part of their oversight function but I'll bet the bank that we don't hear a squeak from our esteemed Representatives and Senators. The provenance of the original concept precludes taking a partisan stance so potential injustice will continue in silence. This is actually OT and I have nothing more to say.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 6, 2005 01:14 PM

Thomas Friedman is a triffle 'nuanced'for my tastes,but he often writes some pretty good stuff.
This is some pretty good stuff .

BRING IT ON !!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/06/opinion/06friedman.html?ex=1262754000&en=e88984f19e7c41bd&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

Posted by: dougf at January 6, 2005 01:25 PM

I worked for Shalikashvili when I was in the Army. He's as a political animal as they come. The think tank he works for now seems to be aligned with the Democrats. Remember, he was Chairman of the JCOS under Clinton, too.

A question for the anti-Gonzales people out there: Did you guys actually read his memo? It looks like Ballard did, and the comment who likened the whole thing to "That's illegal, we don't do it, and don't get caught doing it" sounds like what's going on.

I note that several are bringing up Abu-Grhaib, but negelect to mention all the other cases where the military has caught and prosecuted its own for abusing, murdering or otherwise doing ill to Iraqis, probably for the simplel reason there aren't any FUCKING PICTURES TO RUN ON 60 MINUTES.

This is all about dumping on the Administration. You clowns dont' really care about Iraqis getting tortured. You didn't care when Hussien was doing it, why do you care now?

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 6, 2005 01:29 PM

Kimmitt: I'm baffled by the original post here

Why am I not surprised?

Guess what, Kimmitt? Some people aren't knee-jerk partisans who agree with one political party all the time about everything. I know it's hard to believe sometimes, but Independents outnumber both Republicans and Democrats.

How's the wilderness treatin' ya?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 6, 2005 01:45 PM

You didn't care when Hussien was doing it, why do you care now?

With all due respect, Eric, that is the last time that I hear someone say this without telling them to go fuck themselves sideways. Some of us were trying to point out abuses by Hussein and the Taliban in the 1980s and were being told that we were partisan hacks just nitpicking the Reagan administration, eben though I participated in demonstations against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the same time. I've been aware of the abuses of fuckwit devils like Hussein long before the Johnny-come-latelies in the right decided that they were the new champions of liberty because it fit their stupid partisan causes, never mind that Bush's strongest allies in the Middle East are all brutal dictatorships that torture on a whim.

I've paid my dues when it comes to dealing with human rights abuses, and an ignorant supposition that those who opposed invasion didn't care about Hussein's abuses just makes one look like a snotty little asshole.

Before displaying this holier-than-thou attitude about human rights, why not do a little reading of material from Bush senior about why it was a bad idea to invade Iraq and depose Hussein. Here's a hint - it wasn't because Bush senior was a Saddam-loving fascist who didn't care about torture. It was because it was a really bad fucking idea, as events have shown to those who have eyes in their heads.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 6, 2005 01:48 PM

Michael Farris: Correct me if I'm mistaken, but you're saying that those with unpopular views on other issues should keep quiet and let the pro-Bush moderates take this on

Yes, you're mistaken.

The point is...don't cry wolf. Don't complain about torture and then point to something that isn't torture. That hysterical campaign began immedietly after the invasion of Afghanistan.

You'll notice that some people in this comments thread subsequently tuned out all criticisms of torture and act like real torture isn't occurring now. But it is occurring now. That's what happens when you cry wolf.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 6, 2005 01:50 PM

"You'll notice that some people in this comments thread subsequently tuned out all criticisms of torture and act like real torture isn't occurring now. But it is occurring now. That's what happens when you cry wolf."

With all do respect, the people tuning out all criticisms of torture would do so regardless of what the the left, liberals, democrats etc. said. In fact a large contingent of your comments are working on the assumption that what the U.S. practices is indeed torture and are wholeheartedly endorsing it as a means of protecting american lives. Even sophistry can't blame the Democrats even for that.

An observation: Republican constituencies seem more objectively pro-torture than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good or bad thing.

Posted by: Epitome at January 6, 2005 01:59 PM

Bushco and the neocons caused the Asian Tsunami. No word if Gonzales is behind it all. Read more here:

http://www.vialls.com/subliminalsuggestion/tsunami.html

Posted by: Moonbatty at January 6, 2005 02:02 PM

"The point is...don't cry wolf. Don't complain about torture and then point to something that isn't torture."

Who's done that? Examples? In view of the lack of a generally accepted definition of torture let's widen the net and bring up examples of people decrying prisoner treatment that you think was appropriate.

"You'll notice that some people in this comments thread subsequently tuned out all criticisms of torture and act like real torture isn't occurring now. But it is occurring now. That's what happens when you cry wolf."

I'm so sorry for making these poor people support tortu .... hey, wait a minute, I take that back. Those who are supporting torture in this thread have chosen to do so on their own. Do not try to fluff it off on people 'crying wolf'.

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 6, 2005 02:08 PM

"In view of the lack of a generally accepted definition of torture"

Do you mean that the UN Convention definition of "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person" is not generally accepted?

Or do you mean that the USC Sec. 18 - 2340 definition of "''torture'' means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control" is not generally accepted?

Or do you think that the term "severe" is inadequately defined per convention and code? Would you accept a DoJ memo prepared specifically to address the definitional problem as being dispositive?

Or do you just want to define torture as "anything that in my personal judgement is found to be offensive"? Define away, anything that you come up with can be debated. But don't make a laughably false claim about "generally accepted" concerning a term defined by convention and statute just because you reject the definition. That's just a tad too intellectually dishonest.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 6, 2005 02:40 PM

Michael,

Is a lawyer asked for an opinion by a client responsible for the client's actions?

Gonzalez was not a policy maker, and putting him on the hook for any abuses that may have occurred is simply wrong.

And this is totally separate from the argument of what is torture and whether its use is US policy. (Which it is not.)

Very poor form.

Posted by: BobT at January 6, 2005 03:26 PM

Michael: But it is occurring now.

BULL

Show me the evidence.

Posted by: David at January 6, 2005 03:42 PM

David,

See the Anne Applebaum article I cited. Notice the sentence in bold font.

Do you think she's just making it up? Why would she do that? Don't tell me it's to "get Bush." She's no lefty.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 6, 2005 03:52 PM

Incorrect; you can support Bush's prosecution of the war on terror ...

Bush's prosecution of the "war on terror" includes torturing people. The torture (and disdain for rule of law in general during a crisis) is inherent in his theory of government.

Some people aren't knee-jerk partisans who agree with one political party ...

Not a Party, the President. I'm delighted to learn that you're an independent. I'm less delighted to learn that your issues with torture are so unimportant to you that you voted in favor of its continuation. I'm amused that you think that noticing now that Bush is in favor of torturing people is relevant.

Gonzales may not get confirmed, but Bush's overall policy will not change. I suppose it does sound kind of principled to rail against it, but you had a chance, however small, to do something about it instead. You chose to rail.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 6, 2005 04:25 PM

"Marc is a lefty. He is also married to a Hispanic woman. So I think any suggestion that he might be an anti-Hispanic racist isn't going to get off the ground."

I see. Being a Lefty and being married to a Hispanic clinches it.

So on a personal level you would feel comfortable addressing someone named Gonzales who you don't know personally as "Speedy"? In public? Within the context of discussing the man's merits both on a moral and ethical basis?

My guess is that you wouldn't. And for several very good reasons having nothing to do with your political orientation or who you are married to.

I was being quite serious when I wrote that a Leftist denigrating a conservative Hispanic by invocing a racial stereotype could not be racism. It has to be wit or something. The above was a statement of fact on my part...accepted by just about everyone other than a few conservatives and a couple of Hispanics.

And the reason I brought it up in the first place was not to cast Cooper as a racist...I think he's a jerk and have no interest in going further than that with it. No, I brought it up to illustrate just how seriously the "Serious Left" is taking the matter of Alberto Gonzales' nomination as Attorney General...in other words, this is just the same old anti-Bush shit in a different pile. It didn't work with the majority in November, and there's little evidence it will work with them in January. But Marc will be first to let you know that the Democrats must wise up and work the issues if they're ever going to win an election again...and he'll do it both before and after calling Gonzales "Speedy"!

You're being played by the anti-liberationists on this issue, Michael.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at January 6, 2005 04:34 PM

Epitome:

"Republican constituencies seem more objectively pro-torture than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good or bad thing."

Hey - try this instead:

Republican constituencies seem more objectively pro-racist than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

We regard affirmative action as the last bastion of institutional racism, you know.

How about this:

Republican constituencies seem more objectively intolerant than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

All the (reputable? who know?) exit polls cited a sizable fraction of voters who went for Bush as considering character or morals as decisive.

Then we can go here:

"Republican constituencies seem more objectively inclined to vote against their own economic interests than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing".

We don't think that government benefits from spending large chunks of our earnings on wasteful programs. We can't go in and cut out the pork ourselves, but if we can restrict the size of the pile maybe they might just be forced to control themselves. On the other end, since when we spend money our dollars they hit the market as dollars and not the thirty cents that makes it past government fraud, waste, and abuse, we encourage the economy to perform.

There's no reason to stop now:

Republican constituencies seem more objectively inclined to starve old people and public school kids... or create homeless people... or increase the suffering of AIDS patients... or persecute gays... or poison the environment than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good or bad thing.

Let's go back to where we started. You said, again:

"Republican constituencies seem more objectively pro-torture than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good or bad thing."

Income redistribution failed to eradicate poverty. Appeasement and non-confrontation of communism did nothing but embolden the Soviet Union and allow it to survive decades longer than it should have. High marginal tax rates and government interference in markets failed to draw us out of the Great Depression, and the same policies served to plunge us into the seventies malaise.

In my OPINION, the maturation of the American progressive movement as a political industry embracing moral relativism, multiculturalism, anti- capitalism and inclined to state-mandated controls of individuals has seriously damaged the fabric of the American society and in turn weakened our republic both philosophically and objectively.

I choose not to support the people that had eight years in the nineties to show me what "New" Democrats could accomplish. There wasn't crap "New"; it was just dishonest labeling by a savvy pol who knew how to win elections.

I disagree with you, and am fucking sick and tired of sitting here watching the same talking points unfold in every goddam discussion that comes up.

I don't hate without cause. I am nobody's fool. And here we are in 2005 waiting for our nation to get its shit in one bag and win this war and the Democrats can't see past Florida or imagine a world without Terry McAullife as their party chair.

OUT.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 6, 2005 04:39 PM

C'mon Tmj, keep playing. You can trust CIA memo's and reports can't you? I mean, you wouldn't think the CIA was capable of producing sets of docs discrediting the administration would you? Especially now that Goss appears to be ripping out entrenched bureaucrats by the gross. Next thing you'll be telling me there's a cabal of entrenched CIA/State department people who would combine to palm off a false report in an attempt to smear the President. What are they going to do, find a pipsqueak ambassador to write an op/ed in the NYT? Do you think the MSM is dumb enough to be fed false info and run with it? You've really got to learn to put your faith in unnamed sources and unsubstantiated allegations. Geez, you're probably one of those poor suckers who think the Killian memo was a fake.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at January 6, 2005 05:18 PM

ifeelmuchbetternow.

Rick,

You always know how to buck me up. laughing

I just puke whenever I listen to a Pelosi or a Schumer or a Kennedy talk about accountability or ethics. That's all. How many of them make the annual trip down to Havana for the knob-slobbering ritual?

Cynthia McKinney is a democrat. And she's back in office. If I didn't know ANYTHING else about the party, or history, that would give me serious pause all by itself.

They lost their majorities. Have been losing. Are losing still. And will apparently continue in a downward spiral at a rate unseen outside of Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons until they finally hit a low so deep and hard that not even MSM nor tenured professors or even Leonardo DiCaprio can make a case that they have any business driving a Good Humor truck, much less participating in government.

It would be funny except that we're chained to them. They are the ones intent on making that silohuette at the foot of the cliff. It just sucks that we may have to go along for the ride.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 6, 2005 05:52 PM

TmjUtah,

"Hey - try this instead:

Republican constituencies seem more objectively pro-racist than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

We regard affirmative action as the last bastion of institutional racism, you know."

Ok, what does this have to do with torture and being in a favopr of or against it?

"How about this:

Republican constituencies seem more objectively intolerant than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

All the (reputable? who know?) exit polls cited a sizable fraction of voters who went for Bush as considering character or morals as decisive."

I'm not certain how you are drawing this inference and I don't see what it has to do with torture.

"Then we can go here:

"Republican constituencies seem more objectively inclined to vote against their own economic interests than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing".

We don't think that government benefits from spending large chunks of our earnings on wasteful programs. We can't go in and cut out the pork ourselves, but if we can restrict the size of the pile maybe they might just be forced to control themselves. On the other end, since when we spend money our dollars they hit the market as dollars and not the thirty cents that makes it past government fraud, waste, and abuse, we encourage the economy to perform."

That's lovely, and again what does it have to do with torture?

"There's no reason to stop now:

Republican constituencies seem more objectively inclined to starve old people and public school kids... or create homeless people... or increase the suffering of AIDS patients... or persecute gays... or poison the environment than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good or bad thing."

You're quickly losing me.

"Let's go back to where we started. You said, again:

'Republican constituencies seem more objectively pro-torture than Republicans themselves; I don't know if this is a good or bad thing.'

Income redistribution failed to eradicate poverty. Appeasement and non-confrontation of communism did nothing but embolden the Soviet Union and allow it to survive decades longer than it should have. High marginal tax rates and government interference in markets failed to draw us out of the Great Depression, and the same policies served to plunge us into the seventies malaise."

Torture?

"In my OPINION, the maturation of the American progressive movement as a political industry embracing moral relativism, multiculturalism, anti- capitalism and inclined to state-mandated controls of individuals has seriously damaged the fabric of the American society and in turn weakened our republic both philosophically and objectively."

Torture?

"I choose not to support the people that had eight years in the nineties to show me what "New" Democrats could accomplish. There wasn't crap "New"; it was just dishonest labeling by a savvy pol who knew how to win elections."

Torture?

"I disagree with you, and am fucking sick and tired of sitting here watching the same talking points unfold in every goddam discussion that comes up."

You disagree with me that torture is bad?, hey at least we're back on the subject!

"I don't hate without cause. I am nobody's fool. And here we are in 2005 waiting for our nation to get its shit in one bag and win this war and the Democrats can't see past Florida or imagine a world without Terry McAullife as their party chair."

And you lost me again.

Look, there's alot here to respond to, most of it unneccessary because apparantly you overestimated my eagerness to listen to you rant incoherently about why you aren't a member of the Democratic party in a thread discussing torture. I'm not Ruiy Texiera. Not that there might not be anything to discuss in the future, I consider myself one of those "New" Democrats(I prefer the term Bluedog), and when the time is appropriate, we can discuss your mischaracterizations and shaky economic history but now isn't that time.

It seems the primary motivation of your rant is you taking objection to my statement that 'Republican constituencies are more objectively pro-torture than Republicans themselves) which you apparantly took as like what you perceive to be hyperbolic mischaracterized statements by Democratic leadership whenever Republicans do something. Like saying that "Republicans are kicking kids off health insurance" when they do things like...kick kids off of health insurance, or "Republicans are destroying our public schools!" whenever Republicans..try to destroy the public school system, etc.

My statement that the republican constituency is pro-torture is not some hyperbolic shriek like "republicans are making old ladies starve" I base that on several observations from around the conservative blogosphere, right wing talk radio, and comments in this section; all of which are not even debating whether what the U.S. practices is torture or not, but are working on the assumption that what the U.S. practices is indeed torture and are giving full ringing endorsments as a means of either saving lives, something we should be allowed to do against an enemy we aren't required by law to treat as human, or just as a means of treatment for an enemy they hold little regard for.

Some of it is practical, some of it is well, disturbing. All of it is pro-torture. In fact, I pointed out that while we debate whether the Republican administration is objectively pro-torture (which they might or might not be), it's clear that torture has a ringing endorsment from the republican constituency, proving the observation that Democrats don't wanna go there with this.

If I realized the political constituency I allign myself with fully endorses practices more in line with totalitarian states or fascist theocracies I'd be angry and write a big ol' rant too. But it's not my fault. If it bothers you that someone points out that Conservatives ringingly endorse torture, just point out that Democrats are moral relativists who didn't support the liberation of Iraq(My problem) but this here isn't my problem.

Posted by: Epitome at January 7, 2005 03:25 AM

++UG, squealing, said: With all due respect, Eric, that is the last time that I hear someone say this without telling them to go fuck themselves sideways. Some of us were trying to point out abuses by Hussein and the Taliban in the 1980s and were being told that we were partisan hacks just nitpicking the Reagan administration, eben though I participated in demonstations against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the same time. I've been aware of the abuses of fuckwit devils like Hussein long before the Johnny-come-latelies in the right decided that they were the new champions of liberty because it fit their stupid partisan causes, never mind that Bush's strongest allies in the Middle East are all brutal dictatorships that torture on a whim.

I've paid my dues when it comes to dealing with human rights abuses, and an ignorant supposition that those who opposed invasion didn't care about Hussein's abuses just makes one look like a snotty little asshole.

Before displaying this holier-than-thou attitude about human rights, why not do a little reading of material from Bush senior about why it was a bad idea to invade Iraq and depose Hussein. Here's a hint - it wasn't because Bush senior was a Saddam-loving fascist who didn't care about torture. It was because it was a really bad fucking idea, as events have shown to those who have eyes in their heads.

With all due respect, while you were 'protesting' in your comfortable middle-class Canadian way, I was carrying a weapon and standing a post. Not that you get what that really means. While you were spouting your empty slogans, so that you could feel all morally superior and deluding yourself into the idea that your demonstrations really meant anything, myself and others like me were actually doing things, things that ensure that folks like you get to express your opinion, whatever it may be. Not that you will ever understand that.

You might have asked yourself, in the 1980's, about exactly why that administration thought it necessary to engage those regimes, why it was thought necessary to keep them friendly, despite whatever way they treat their own. You might have asked yourself what the bigger picture was, but it appears that you did not.

So you'll have to just excuse me when I say that this is the last time that I hear somebody say that they were "paying their dues" when it came to human rights by attending a demonstration, without telling them to go fuck themselves sideways.

I know who the free riders are.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 7, 2005 05:49 AM

Ratosk
So What? Terrorists are entited to ZERO rpotections under nay version of the Conventions you care to name. If one of our folks caught a terroist in the act he could shoot him on the spot, no trila no nothing, just dispatch him and move on. All perfectly within the Conventions. Read and learn.

Posted by: mike at January 7, 2005 06:28 AM

Mike,

Article 2, Item 2 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

How do you interpert that?

(and shooting the bastards in the head is not the same as torture)

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 7, 2005 07:07 AM

You might have asked yourself, in the 1980's, about exactly why that administration thought it necessary to engage those regimes, why it was thought necessary to keep them friendly, despite whatever way they treat their own. You might have asked yourself what the bigger picture was, but it appears that you did not.

So then I guess the shorter version of that is that you clowns didn't care about torture then, and you sure as hell don't care about it now.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 7, 2005 08:31 AM

Epitome -

"It seems the primary motivation of your rant is you taking objection to my statement that 'Republican constituencies are more objectively pro-torture than Republicans themselves) which you apparantly took as like what you perceive to be hyperbolic mischaracterized statements by Democratic leadership whenever Republicans do something."

You got it. Have a cookie.

The motivation behind the Gonzalez memo was a need to define the legal limits of interrogation techniques available in order to address the need for developing intelligence in this new war against a new kind of enemy. The leak of the memo was siezed upon and immediately defined by the political opposition as a quest for a blank check to torture enemy prisoners, complete with hours of sound bites and reams of commentary all based first and foremost on the obviously inhuman proclivities of the administration and of course Republicans or conservatives in general.

I mentioned all the other issues because the playbook or script is a long- accepted and endlessly repeated standard of political strategy used by Democrats. Regardless of the issue the debate is absolutely and without reserve ALWAYS framed right out the gate as meanspirited, happily in'gorant neanderthals threatening the fabric of civilization via their destructive and ill-thought out plans.

All issues, Epitome. I guess it's an emotional thing . The very idea that Red Staters or conservatives vote for or otherwise support solutions contrarian to accepted progressive paradigms is never acknowledged as principled or objective - that people like me might just be judgemental enough to look at what worked instead of how noble the intentions were behind any program is disallowed.

In a free society, seriously aware of and willingly embracing citizen control AND responsibility for government, there is no surprise in spirited debate and criticism of issues. One of my favorite hobbies is reading old newspapers. When I find myself in a big city I make time to spend a day in the basement of a library reading the journalistic record of the past. Reading midwest papers from the early 1900's right up to about 1916 you would never suspect that we were on the way to World War I. The turning point for recognising we were going to be involved in WWII began right around 1940 beginning in late summer with the apparent survival of Britain, followed with a sea change right around the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941; not surprising given the ideological leanings of the upper reaches of Democrat party elites of the time.

During the actual conduct of those wars the enemy was called the enemy, and victory was the published goal. You have to go back to our Civil War to find the level of backbiting, character assassination, and opportunistic political machinations executed at the expense of prosecuting the war that exists today.

The Dems of the Cold War were never shaken from their belief that communism was just another political ideology that we had to accept. Right up until the Soviet Union collapsed our best and brightest condemned confrontation, strong defense, and most of all government policies predicated on the evil and unacceptable nature of communism. Our contemporary crop seems to feel the same way about Islamic fundamentalism and is pulling out the stops to make that this enemy is not defeated, thus affirming their personal worldview at the expense of our lives and possibly the future of western democracy.

A knowledge of history and a willingness to learn from mistakes should be key attributes of politicians who would lead great nations. We are so rich in so many different ways as a result of the robust performance of our political system that we find ourselves prone to dabble with agendas and policies whose failures we are able to absorb and survive. Large segments of our polity vote for self-interest based almost exclusively on economic considerations primarily because the gross reality of our republic - individual freedoms protected by law and custom, relatively low levels of criminal victimization, economic or physical hardship limited to nuisance levels for the vast majority of Americans - has removed from many of us the willingness to accept the existence of or confront threats that transcend what we are used to. Those who would aspire to lead must possess the qualities of character and due diligence to their sworn duties to act when the occassion arises. In America, presidents who accentuate and appeal to the whole rather than pandering to artificial, balkanized demographics, and work honestly toward the common good are generally successful. I have seen nothing to convince me that this is not the accurate template where Bush is concerned.

G.W. Bush was elected president to protect & defend the constitution and the nation. Asking Gonazales for an opinion served the pragmatic purpose of fulfilling that first requirement on the way to the second, defending the nation. If the political opposition was committed to the same ends as the president they could have conducted this debate much differently but have instead fanned and framed the issue as a case of nefarious, ill- intended, and above all dishonest brutality... which has been their characterization of ANY who dare disagree with their agenda since I was old enough to read a newspaper.

Here in 2005 the Democrats have arrived at such a low in terms of numbers and leadership that they've just about given up any hope of contributing to success in favor of capitalizing on the inevitable setbacks, costs, and mistakes inherent in fighting any war. Or fixing broken entitlement programs or being the first target for disatisfaction over the performance of the economy...

Their last president ran as a "new" Democrat and saw his fortunes rise only when he coopted domestic policies solutions generated by conservative legislative agendas. His foreign policy initiatives produced little result but were not ultimately realized as disastrous until he was out of office.

A pleasure to disagree with you. As long as one party is willing to do the heavy lifting in the face of real challenges and is recognised as being moderately successful by 51% of the electorate, and the opposition concentrates on naysaying and propagandizing without contributing believable options, I don't see much change in our political trends out on the horizon.

But that's not how the argument has been framed. And yes, it does tick me off.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 7, 2005 09:51 AM

The guy from Utah, expressing better than I can: The Dems of the Cold War were never shaken from their belief that communism was just another political ideology that we had to accept. Right up until the Soviet Union collapsed our best and brightest condemned confrontation, strong defense, and most of all government policies predicated on the evil and unacceptable nature of communism. Our contemporary crop seems to feel the same way about Islamic fundamentalism and is pulling out the stops to make that this enemy is not defeated, thus affirming their personal worldview at the expense of our lives and possibly the future of western democracy.

@++UG: it all depends on what you care about.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 7, 2005 01:13 PM

TmjUtah:

"The Dems of the Cold War were never shaken from their belief that communism was just another political ideology that we had to accept."

I think that's broadly true of the Democratic party, as an institution, for about the latter half of the Cold War. Scoop Jackson was one of the noble exceptions. But his position on communism would have been entirely unexceptionable among Democrats from, say, 1948-1968, don't you think?

Posted by: JPS at January 7, 2005 04:30 PM

JPS -

I spoke broadly. I don't know enough about Scoop Jackson by half... but the repetitive nature of the invocation of his name as an anomoly- of- note for the last little bit speaks well of him.

The clear demarcation line is 1968. Deep inside the cheerful cottage of the Dem party structure, something went "snap". In the time since nobody has addressed the problem beyond changing the curtain pattern or slapping on another coat of paint over the buckling drywall joints.

Whittaker Chambers was one of my earliest tour guide when I first began to try to understand why left was left and right was right. Very powerful stuff. I didn't finish reading "Witness" cover to cover until after I had read Ann Coulter's book "Treason"; half the footnotes in her book must go back to "Witness" or other works involving Chambers'odyssey.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 7, 2005 05:54 PM

"...you can support Bush's prosecution of the war on terror and liberation of Iraq and still hold the administration accountable when you feel such. the notion that 'A vote for Bush is a vote for torture' is absurd."

Well, no. Holding the administration accountable at this point means -- what? There's well over a 50% chance you can vote against a republican representative and possibly a republican senator in 2 years. And you can vote against whatever republican runs in Bush's place 4 years from now.

That's all you can do to hold them responsible, beyond blathering how you don't like it.

I mean, you can write Bush a letter and tell him you disapprove of one of his policies. With your disapproval plus the US Army he can invade iran.

With your disapproval plus the US treasury he can sell ten trillion dollar's worth of bonds to fund his adventures.

With your disapproval plus the Supreme Court he can take away your civil liberties.

Bush can tell you to bend over and you can say you don't like it. But if you hold him responsible for being a meanie and he holds you responsible for not bending over, who's going to get bent over whether they like it or not?

A vote for Bush was a vote for everything Bush wants to do. If you think torture is not effective for getting information, tell Bush. If you convince him then maybe he'll tell them to quit.

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