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May 26, 2005

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» Raising the bar for torture from Posse Incitatus
One of the more fascinating aspects of the War on Terror is the extent to which the West is bending over backwards to make sure its enemies aren't offended. Tom Maguire links to further investigations of whether this or that [Read More]

» Overly Harsh? from Technicalities
It seems pretty clear on reading the news stories today that the "flushing" of a copy of the Koran, never took place. But, Tom McGuire has an interesting post up about the Koran and the guards at Gitmo. It seems... [Read More]

Comments

Rob Crocker

If my reading of bad novels and watching movies gives me any understanding a "shiv" is pretty much and small, flat, sharp object that can be used for stabbing. This could be a sharpened spoon (maybe prior-art against spork patents), a flat piece of metal, whatever. I believe the main goal is for it to be something that can be easily hidden in the cell and about the person for either offense or defense.

Basically a crude, home-made knife.

Jeff

But it does suggest a real cat and mouse game was being played at Gitmo.

Well, sure. Even I don't assume that everyone at Gitmo's innocent. Some portion of these guys are very bad guys. They're jihadists, they want the Americanos dead, and they'd gut a marine soon as look at him. So what? We have an assumption that POWs are the enemy (I mean, don't we?). Does that mean Geneva is out the window? Dangerous men will do dangerous things. Is this an excuse for torture?

(And what about the excoriation of Newsweek?)

TM

Is this an excuse for torture?

Well, I am looking for the context of the Koran desecration allegations.

And Newsweek continues to be positioned right next to the toilet. Metaphorically.

Jeff

And Newsweek continues to be positioned right next to the toilet.

Flush it, flush it! It's America!

ed

Hmmm.

"Does that mean Geneva is out the window?"

Does that mean that our soldiers won't get beaten up?
Raped?
Abused?
Murdered?

Nope. I can't think of one single enemy that we've fought since WWII that actually adhered to the so called "Conventions". All the "Conventions" accomplish is to damage America.

I say jettison the "Conventions" permanently and then state, without any equivocation, that any infraction against American POWS will result in massive B-52 napalm strikes.

Crank

I wonder where anyone would get the idea that these guys would stab a prison guard:

Salim pleaded guilty two years ago to the November 1, 2000, stabbing of corrections officer Louis Pepe with a comb sharpened into a shank.

---

At some point, Salim, with assistance of his cellmate, Tanzania embassy bomber Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, surprised Pepe. After the assault, Pepe told his superior officer the inmates had "slipped the cuffs."

Salim has said he wanted to restrain Pepe, steal his keys, get back into the room with the attorneys, and assault them, so he could get new attorneys. Judges had denied Salim's request for new counsel. The embassy bombings conspiracy trial was due to begin in two months.

Pepe would not give up his keys, which could have unlocked the doors to all the inmates' cells. Salim told Mohamed to help restrain him -- spraying hot sauce in his eyes, tying him up with pillow case strips.

Salim then stabbed Pepe in the eye with the comb-knife. The weapon was lodged three inches into his skull. Eventually, other jail guards came to his rescue and subdued Salim and Mohamed.

TJ Jackson

Is that an excuse for torture? People who say this are rather ill informed about the US military and history.

The American military has treated its prisoners better than our troops have been treated in every conflict we have been in. American troops liberating enemy territory did not rape, loot and slaughter the enemies civilians like other armies. So why is it that these people always give the benefit of the doubt to terrorists but Americans are always suspect?

Finally I suggest we should follow international law as set forth in the Geneva Convention with respect to illegal combatants like those being held in Cuba. The Geneva Convention specifies that illegal combatants may be summarily exectued.

dude

Isn't hiding weapons in it "Koran abuse" as the Washington Post so eloquently calls it. Maybe they should riot over that one.

_Jon

Ed,
The only problem I have with jettisoning the conventions is that it will make defeating future enemies harder. Right now, informed enemies know that the US treats POW's well, so they have no fear from us if they surrender. Fear of being shot by their own officers is greater, IMO.

But if we just flame all possible POW's, then we will have to fight fanatical combatants who would rather "take one with me" than surrender.

Joffa

No, Jon, the result would be that enemies of the US would be more reluctant to go to war with the US in the first place. Knowing that if they are not killed, they will get a nice hospital room or prison cell only encourages them to fight the US, simply to improve their overall life situation.

Jeff

Ed and TJ, your position isn't widely shared in the US military. One of the chief reasons to ban torture is to protect captured US troops (who are now scattered across the globe). But whether you're convinced by that argument or not, it says a lot that conservatives are now openly advocating for torture. If we're going to do it, it does make sense to at least have the cojones to cop to it.

Sisyphus

Jeff: "One of the chief reasons to ban torture is to protect captured US troops ..."

In the aggregate, that's true. The thought being that signatories to a treaty banning torture will not torture our troops.

But then you look at history (Vietnam, Korean War, USS Pueblo, first Gulf War, ...) and US troops have been tortured.

Then there's the problem of guerilla wars where one side is not a signatory and violating Laws of Warfare/Conventions/Protocols as a tactic.

I think that the position widely shared in the military is that torture is wrong, mostly ineffective for intelligence gathering, and generally counter-productive for the war effort - but treaties and bans do little to actually "protect captured US troops".

Mike Veeshir

I'm just curious, what does torture have to do with messing with a book?

Pixy Misa

Mike - Not a heck of a lot.

Joanna

Funny how the basic issue of detaining people without trial gets lost in the din of trivia. Read Niranjan Ramakrishnan's A Contest of Hypocrisies.

raf

Detaining enemy combatants is ALWAYS done without trial. Why are we unable to make decision, take actions, or even have opinions anymore without the explicit sanction of a judge?

Joanna

Why are we not able to take action without a judges sanction? Well may you ask. For that matter, why do we need a warrant to search, or to arrest? Since we appear to be omniscient, we 'know' so and so is guilty, right?

How do you define an enemy combatant? The Geneva Conventions define POW, but not enemy combatant. So you think Japanese internments during WWII were ok?

Mr. Darts

How quaint to see this discussion of the "Geneva Conventions." Neither the Taliban nor al Qaeda were/are signatories to any "Geneva Conventions." When one of my sons guarding these bastards has a detained terrorist pull a shiv and cut him open I'll remember how delightful it was that the US military bent over backwards to make sure the NYTimes, LATimes, WashPost, ABCCBCNBCCNNPBSNPR were happy and wrote/ said nice things about Gitmo. As for the ACLU, Amnesty Intl. and all the other fellow travelers out there putting us in danger--- go pound sand. In fact, go to Iran and pound sand. And that goes double for Leaky Leahy, Admiral Teddy Kennedy and all the rest of the Demslimes sliding across the floors of the US Congress. We're at war people.

Yaz Shukury

Joanna dear, the patron saint of the Democratic Party, FDR, interred Japanese Americans. If you weren't alive and living on the West Coast of the United States in the years following the attack on Pearl Harbor it might be hard to understand why that seemed like a very rational idea at the time to Dems and some Republicans. If you would like to learn about it rather than throw it out as a non sequiter try reading Michelle Malkins' book about it. Very enlightening.

S

[i]How do you define an enemy combatant?[/i]

It's a noun that is defined legally as "that guy shooting at us".

Japanese internments were probably ineffective, but I don't understand the outright objection to them. Allowing Japanese subversive agents to hide among Japenese populations would have been a massive and uncontainable threat. There may have been problems with the execution of the internment, but weighing a small-scale TEMPORARY relocation camp in the interest of defeating Nazism, Fascism, AND Imperialism all in one war... I think the good Japanese-American Citizens were willing to put up with a short-term relocation in the interest of freedom and popular sovereignty.

Joanna

Yaz darling, it is not a non-sequitUr (note sp.). It is quite relevant. And if you want to throw out recommendations for articles to read, I suggest you start with Tom Friedman (no friend of the anti-war effort) in today's Times (Just Shut it Down). He says Guantanamo is a huge liability far outweighing any benefits even if some of these people are really 'enemy combatants'.

Jeff

Okay, here are my thoughts.

The toilet incident allegation has been withdrawn, after the detainee was "reinterviewed." The detainee was never asked specifically about the toilet allegation in his "re-interview". Reassured? Still, it's progress to have the military concede what others still refuse to see and what the miitary was denying outright only a week ago. Remember also that at Gitmo, none of the interrogators was an amateur. They cannot pull the Lynndie England defense. Someone somewhere thought this was a good idea. Who? Did anyone explicitly authorize this? Or was it a function of unclear guidelines? In which case, who was responsible for unclear guidelines? Did the memos allowing for far greater leniency in interrogatory abuse have anything to do with this? We currently have many more questions than answers. Frankly, we need an independent inquiry into all this. The military is deeply hobbled by its past errors in this area. Now watch the spinners: this couldn't happen; this didn't happen; it's Newsweek's fault; it only happened five times; the military says that eight allegations didn't pan out; even if it did happen, it's a "much-ado-about-not-much story"; whose side are you on anyway?

Actually, those are the thoughts of your fellow righty Andy Sullivan.

Jeff

He http://www.andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2005_05_22_dish_archive.html#111720075303414102>adds:

The military concedes three incidents of deliberate abuse of the Koran and two incidents of accidental abuse of the Koran in interrogations at Guantanamo. A much more detailed report is in the works. Moreover, "none of these five incidents was a result of a failure to follow standard operating procedures in place at the time the incident occurred," according to General Hood. So deliberate abuse of the Koran was within "standard operating procedures" at Gitmo. And yet one soldier has already been disciplined for his actions. If what he was doing was within "standard operating procedures," why the discipline? And do you remember last week when we were told there were "no credible allegations" of Koran abuse? I'm beginning to see what Pat Tillman's parents were complaining about. Why the lies?

S

Blah blah BLAH. We have detained hundreds of Muslims. Many of them have killed Americans. Most of them tried to kill Americans. Almost all of them WANT to kill Americans. They believe the Judaeo-Christian tradition is evil and derisive, and think it is acceptable to burn American flags and desecrate the Holy Bible on television and in huge crowds.

So we've got these lovely terrorists. And to show our evil and malice, we decide to give them Korans and allow them to practice their religion, which has seemed to feed a culture of violence and hatred. And now it seems it was possible that FIVE times the Koran may have fallen off the wall in the presence of an American soldier? And we're supposed to be upset by this?

No one blames Newsweek for killing people in riots: they did not fly some editors to the Arab world to stir up trouble and string up some effigies. They are only faulted with being cavalier with American interests in weilding their (considerable) media-influence. I think that is a serious charge and I am glad to see that Newsweek has reproachfully confessed they do as well.

We bend over backwards to accomodate their religion, spending the American people's tax dollars to give them a book they use to feed anti-American fervor.

So, what exactly is the problem here?

Is the problem that the military first went to great lengths to provide these individuals with the Koran, and so dismissed charges accusing them of disrespecting the detainees' religion?

Is the problem that the Pentagon had no credible reason to suspect their was Koran abuse until the news media insisted they go on a witch hunt? Look long and hard for something and you'll find it. Try looking in your own house long enough for evidence of wrong-doing, and you'll convict yourself.

And Sullivan seems to be playing with words. Maybe the SOP at the time did not involve any explicit instructions for dealing with the Koran, but general orders included respect for the detainees' religion. Would the solider not then be operating within the SOP but still eligible for reprimand?

So...what IS the problem?

S

I forgot to mention that the sources of these accusations are the detainees. Now, we generally consider prisoners to be dishonest when it comes to their own interests (fine, go psychological egoism on me, perhaps we are ALL dishonest when it comes to our own interests, whatever). But these people come from the same stock who claimed that Saddam would be victorious even as American armor and infantry surrounded their capital and have relied solely on lies and propaganda to recruit.

So, in addition to the above, we seem to be relying on professional liars for testimony.

Fire!Fire!Fire

Personally,I'm exhausted by all the navel gazing going on over wheter or not some American Service member dunked a Quran in the crapper down in Gitmo or any where else.
We as Americans are tolerant of all peoples religious beliefs or lack thereof.
This country was founded on the propostion that an individual could practice any religion they so chose.
Or Not.
Up to you.
Want to worship Jesus?
Go ahead,no foul.
Want to worship Allah?
Go ahead,worship away.
Want to worship a tree?
More power to you.
Or do you choose to believe that there is no such entity as "God"?
That we simply evolved from the primordal soup into these sentinent beings who have crawled up from the slime to the level that we have achieved space flight?
Feel free to think that,
Because that's what AMERICA is aaaallll about!
But then there are those who do not tolerate beliefs other than their own.
These folks believe that if you don't convert to what they believe,then you don't deserve to live.
Imagine that?!
Jesus didn't teach that his followers should go forth and conqueor the world.
But Mohammad did. And still does to this very day.
We Americans are still waiting to hear the voice of reason from the "Moderate Muslims" in the world.
There are some of them "out" there, I think about 80 showed up for a peace rally in Wsahington DC a few weeks back.
80! out of MILLIONS of Muslims.
I don't know about you but that tells Me something.
It tells me that Islam has a long way to go to catch up to the 21st century.
So before I spend one second navel gazing about a Quran getting dunked in a crapper, my fellow earthling Muslim brothers and sisters have to show me that it's a book that deserves my respect.
They have to show me that they are willing to respect my belief that MABYE Jesus was the True son of God.
Or Maybe that oak tree in my back yard is really a god.
Or that maybe,just maybe.. there really is no such thing as "God".
They have to show me that they don't want to dominate the earth and rule over every single human being.
They have to show me that they are willing to live and let live.
Then and only then,will I have any respect for Islam.
As I see it,they only thing they stand for is death and destruction.
I don't want that for my children,or theirs.

PD Quig

Unbelievable. Captured on the field of battle, starving and freezing. We fatten them up, provide them medical care, point them towards Mecca and give them a copy of their holy book. On the other side of the world, their comrades in arms hole up in one of Christiandom’s most sacred sites and defile our holy book by using its pages to wipe their rectums after defecating in one of the holiest churches. A few hundred miles to the east, others comrade sappers place booby trap bombs in ‘holy’ Korans, snipe from mosque parapets and otherwise use mosques to assemble and protect weapons caches.

There is truly a mental disorder run rampant in America and much of the western world. Over a dozen of the already-released Gitmo scoundrels have been recaptured again or killed elsewhere. I am completely down with releasing everyone in Gitmo—provided they are given scimitars and AK-47’s and let loose in football stadiums full of Amnesty International, ANSWER and ACLU contributors while we roll the cameras. Nothing anybody else could do or say would be quite so focusing for the lunatic left.

S

Here, here, to fire and PD Quiq. Well said.

This is my challenge to the rioters and terrorists: If a group whose members descrate the Koran deserve violence, why not go string up effigies of al-Zarqawi and kill other Muslims?

Why are we ignoring the reports that it was MUSLIM prisoners who were doing more of the Koran desecration?

David

I can't remember where I saw the link this morning, but some blogger linked to captured alQuaida training documents which instructed terrorists who became captive to lie about being tortured, etc. Since this is a "weapon" for them, it would seem we need to take everything they say with a grain of salt.

Dee Bates

Let's see. We have been accused--*accused*--of disrespecting the Koran. Terrorists have hacked off the heads of Daniel Pearl and Nicolas Berg, among many, many others; they attacked, killed, burned, mutilated and hung from a bridge four of our citizens who were securing a food convoy; they flew airplanes into the WTC and Pentagon, murdering thousands; they have kidnapped, bombed, and murdered hundreds of their fellow Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere; they have blown up buses and pizza parlors full of women and children; they have used their own "sacred" places and schools as armories and firing bases.... That's the short list, of course.

And we are fretting over the alleged "abuse" of a book? Seems to me that it is reason that was flushed down the toilet.

I am sick to death of those in this country who automatically take the side of the enemy against those who are fighting and dying to protect them. Such people will tippy-toe around others' sensibilities--as long as it isn't someone actually under fire in America's name--ignoring the evil staring them in the face, until we are in an all out war with mounds of corpses all around.
If you can't stand the heat, then move to Italy, where they are happily instituting Shari'a law for the Muslims without so much as a by your leave. Try voicing your complaints under those conditions.

Dee Bates

Let's see. We have been accused--*accused*--of disrespecting the Koran. Terrorists have hacked off the heads of Daniel Pearl and Nicolas Berg, among many, many others; they attacked, killed, burned, mutilated and hung from a bridge four of our citizens who were securing a food convoy; they flew airplanes into the WTC and Pentagon, murdering thousands; they have kidnapped, bombed, and murdered hundreds of their fellow Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere; they have blown up buses and pizza parlors full of women and children; they have used their own "sacred" places and schools as armories and firing bases.... That's the short list, of course.

And we are fretting over the alleged "abuse" of a book? Seems to me that it is reason that was flushed down the toilet.

I am sick to death of those in this country who automatically take the side of the enemy against those who are fighting and dying to protect them. Such people will tippy-toe around others' sensibilities--as long as it isn't someone actually under fire in America's name--ignoring the evil staring them in the face, until we are in an all out war with mounds of corpses all around.
If you can't stand the heat, then move to Italy, where they are happily instituting Shari'a law for the Muslims without so much as a by your leave. Try voicing your complaints under those conditions.

moneyrunner

Thanks to Jeff, here are my thoughts:

Jeff: The toilet incident allegation has been withdrawn, after the detainee was "reinterviewed." The detainee was never asked specifically about the toilet allegation in his "re-interview". Reassured?

Me: I’m assuming you are referring to the “flushing the Koran down the toilet” incident. The allegation was withdrawn by Newsweek because their anonymous source backed down.

You: Still, it's progress to have the military concede what others still refuse to see and what the miitary was denying outright only a week ago.

Me: What are you talking about? The allegation was Koran flushing. No one – with the possible exception of you – still maintains that it is possible, much less admitted that a Koran was flushed down a toilet.

You: Someone somewhere thought this was a good idea.

Who? Did anyone explicitly authorize this? Or was it a function of unclear guidelines? In which case, who was responsible for unclear guidelines?

Me: What was a good idea? Flushing a Koran? What? Do you have any idea what the guidelines are regarding the Koran?

You: Did the memos allowing for far greater leniency in interrogatory abuse have anything to do with this?

Me: With what? You are incredibly vague in your accusations. What is the “this” you are referring to?

You: We currently have many more questions than answers.

Me: Right. I have some questions about you and your accusations and nothing in the way of answers from you.

Finally, a few questions unprompted by your comments:
What is the definition of torture? Why does it now include the “improper” handling of only one religion’s revered object? We were instructed by the Left, the ACLU and the leading lights of Liberalism that “Piss Christ” was art and Christians where philistines and knuckle dragging yahoos to object.

According to one source, the Koran can be desecrated by the following:

How about touching it if you are not Muslim? Desecration!

How about touching the bag or box it’s in? Desecration!

How about having a dog in the house while reading the Koran? Desecration!

How about placing a book on the Koran? Desecration!

For those who are interested in other ways that it is possible to desecrate the Koran go HERE and follow the link.

If unbelievers can desecrate the Koran by touching it, is there anything that people can do to Christianity’s most revered symbols or relics to desecrate them? If the answer is “yes” were Christians tortured when “Piss Christ” was made and then shown in a New York museum?

If the answer is “no” why are people like you outraged by allegations that the Koran was mishandled in some way that the followers of Islam consider sacrilegious? Is it only possible to insult Islam but not Christianity, Buddism, or Judaism? If so, why?

Jeff, I realize that the story about the Koran’s desecration is simply a convenient way for you and others like you to beat up on the bush administration and the military. I would hate to think that you were serious, since if you are, you have a severe case of cognitive dissonance.


moneyrunner

Koranic desecration anyone? Go HERE">http://bigpharaoh.blogspot.com/2005/05/today-i-saw-demonstration-that-muslim.html">HERE for a picture, from an Egyptian blog about the Koran being burned by Hindus.

Question for Jeff, why are there riots when Americans are falsely accused of "flushing a Koran" and none when there are pictures of Hindus burning a Koran.

Come on Jeff, show your indignation.

Jeff?

Cecil Turner

"How do you define an enemy combatant? The Geneva Conventions define POW, but not enemy combatant."

Not quite, Protocol I defines enemy combatant (someone entitled to POW status) in the section starting with Article 43. (It's worth pointing out that the US failed to ratify that protocol precisely because of the overly generous definition of "combatant"--and most other countries declined to ratify it as well). Professor Michael Dorf gives a pretty fair brief on why combatant status matters here.

"But if we just flame all possible POW's, then we will have to fight fanatical combatants who would rather "take one with me" than surrender."

A good point, but you're got it slightly backwards. The point of proper POW treatment is to reinforce compliance with the conventions. For enemies who are openly flouting Geneva, providing them with preferred treatment just reinforces their decision not to follow the rules. Al Qaeda and Taliban types clearly don't qualify for POW status, and thus should be treated somewhat rougher. And that includes less than perfectly hands-off treatment during questioning, and possible follow-on tribunals and punishment.

Joanna

The reason I think America's great is because we've always held ourselves to a higher standard in the matter of human liberties. When we detain without trial, torture prisoners, etc., we're hurting ourselves far more than we hurt others (they've lived without these rights anyway in their countries!) You can extend the same logic and say no murderer should have a trial, just shoot the bastards. Keep thinking and acting in this way, and you'll turn America into Arabia. Is this what you all want?

Cecil Turner

"When we detain without trial . . ."

Precisely the wrong answer. Combatants are not entitled to trial prior to detention, and never have been. Now, not only do you want to provide detainees POW status they don't rate, but a trial as well--all as an added benefit for not complying with the GCs. If we did, what possible incentive would any future adversary have for complying with the GCs?

". . .torture prisoners, etc."

I suspect your definition of "torture" is just a bit more inclusive than mine. Flushing a Koran, for example, doesn't really fit.

"Keep thinking and acting in this way, and you'll turn America into Arabia."

This strikes me as overwrought, unconvincing, and mildly offensive. YMMV.

Joanna

Where do you get your information -- first of all, enemy combatants seems to be a freshly minted category, from the jurisprudential wisdom of Alberto Gonzales and his ilk. Secondly, when someone is detained indefinitely, it is not detention any more, it is imprisonment. Everyone understands that there may be a short gap between the time someone is arrested and they are brought up on charges. But 3+ years? Come on now.

I didn't talk of flushing the Koran as being torture -- you are torturing my words if you say that -- there are instances of documented torture, rendition and the like, all totally un-American.

Yes, I do honestly think that condoning torture, condoning indefinite imprisonment, all go against the grain of American values.

Cecil, if you want to be offended, feel offended that thousands of young Americans have been led off to fight a war in a country which did not attack them, on proven false pretexts, and over 100000 Iraqis have been killed. Feel offended that your rights have been summarily abridged by a frightened Congress in the name of a PATRIOT Act. The most conservative instinct is the preservation of individual liberty -- of all. If you love America, you will hate the curtailment of liberty.

Cecil Turner

"first of all, enemy combatants seems to be a freshly minted category, from the jurisprudential wisdom of Alberto Gonzales and his ilk."

I guess it would seem "freshly minted" for those too lazy to follow the links. Again, the definition of "combatant" is in Protocol I, linked above ("enemy" of course, refers to someone not on your side). But I suspect the term you are really searching for is "unlawful combatant," which is prominent in the WWII Nazi saboteur case, Ex Parte Quirin:

By universal agreement and practice the law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful.
"Secondly, when someone is detained indefinitely, it is not detention any more, it is imprisonment. "

Detention for the duration of the war is standard treatment for captured combatants . . . and the tradition is centuries old.

" . . . there are instances of documented torture, rendition and the like . . ."

There are instances of murder as well--but due to the highly disciplined nature of US armed forces, far fewer than in previous conflicts. Those that were unlawful are being punished, those that were lawful (i.e., in compliance with published interrogation guidelines and ROE) are conspicuously absent from most of the complaints.

"Cecil, if you want to be offended . . ."

Actually, I'd prefer you stick to the subject and lay off the demagoguery. But I don't insist on it. (It doesn't make me look silly.)

Forbes

Joanna: Let us know when the government prohibits women from driving a car, or anyone from practicing their religion, for example, and we'll join your crusade to prevent America from turning into Arabia.

And if you think Congress has been unreasonably freightened--well, that's what elections are for, and then remind yourself who won in November.

For some, the apocalypse will always be just around the corner. Until then, try breathing into a paper bag because you appear to be hyperventilating.

Jeff

Jeff, I realize that the story about the Koran’s desecration is simply a convenient way for you and others like you to beat up on the bush administration and the military. I would hate to think that you were serious, since if you are, you have a severe case of cognitive dissonance.

Money, I don't particularly need the great Newsweek incident to beat up the Bush administration. I have: the WMD (chose one: lie, incompetence); Abu Ghraib; the failure to secure Iraq; 1700 dead soldiers; squandered political capital in the rest of the Middle East; catastrophic North Korea policy, etc. etc.

Let us not forget that the Newsweek article was the right wing's Waterloo, not mine. You guys are the ones who were howling about desecration, not me. It was patently obvious that it was the practice of this administration to torture, so the question of whether an interrogator had flushed a Koran down the toilet (or only threw it in the toilet--which to the right seems a critical distinction) or merely threw it in the garbage before beating a few "detainees" to death is of little import to me. The fact is that the US policy is to torture detainees, whether we know they're guilty or not. Or farm it out to Uzbekistan et. al.

That's the reason I slag Bush. He's a torturer. Get used to the language and either plan to defend torture (which many on this thread have done) or learn to criticize our President. It's your call.

(Incidentally, as to the Newsweek article incident in particular, readhttp://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/articles/050530ta_talk_hertzberg> Hendrik Hertzberg's column in the New Yorker. It more ably expresses my opinion than I could do in these threads.

Cecil Turner

"I have: the WMD (chose one: lie, incompetence); Abu Ghraib; the failure to secure Iraq; 1700 dead soldiers; squandered political capital in the rest of the Middle East; catastrophic North Korea policy, etc. etc."

WMD: (from David Kay):

I think Baghdad was actually becoming more dangerous in the last two years than even we realized.  Saddam was not controlling the society any longer. In the marketplace of terrorism and of WMD, Iraq well could have been that supplier if the war had not intervened.
Abu Ghraib: Other than a couple of unsupervised sadists (and an enemy propaganda talking point you appear to enjoy repeating), I'm having a hard time seeing the big deal. (Now, My Lai . . . there was an atrocity you could sink your teeth into. But Abu Ghraib?)

Failure to secure Iraq? Squandered political capital? North Korea? Sounds like a John Kerry redux--and just as impressive. I'm sure it sells well with the operationally illiterate peacenik crowd, but . . . If you could provide one positive plan for any of the above, well, maybe.

"The fact is that the US policy is to torture detainees, whether we know they're guilty or not."

Ahh, back on topic (kinda). Please provide a reference to the US policy on torturing detainees, since I seem to've missed it. (Or is that the part about "whether we know they're guilty or not"?)

Joanna

Well, Cecil, what can I say? You accuse me and others of being too lazy to follow links, but, from you seem not to have read your own quote:

"...Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful."

In other words, even if you are an unlawful combatant (which many of these people are apparently not, being many of them just civilians caught up because of their appearance or associations), you are owed a trial and punishment. From my reading, perhaps there has been one person from Gitmo tried so far. Just how long are you going to keep ignoring the facts?

I don't have any particular affection for Muslims or Arabs or anyone else, but I do know that when we go down this path, it bodes ill for everyone, not just those incarcerated. On a milder note, the McCarthy witchhunts of the '50's left a deep fear complex in its wake, felt till today. You could label someone a communist because he found some things right about Russian society or Chinese egalitarianism. His career was kaput. Now we have a new witchhunt.

If there is one defining American quality, it is that people are not deprived of their liberty without due process. I had always thought this was an accepted canon of American life. I had not realized how many people have come to think that it is ok to deprive people of their freedom in an arbitrary fashion, locking them up without trial for years...

Not to Mr. Forbes. Let's be clear who's hyperventilating. If you think a problem arises only when women are not allowed to drive, but doesn't when people are locked up without due process, you are exhibiting a rather warped sense of what is the American way of life. Reading your argument I do feel the need to reach for a paper bag and put my face in it, but not for the reasons you advocate.


Cecil Turner

"Well, Cecil, what can I say? You accuse me and others of being too lazy to follow links . . ."

Well, I thought you might stop insisting "combatant" is a recently minted term after I'd posted the reference to decades-old usage. Looks like you've got that one figured out, finally.

"In other words, even if you are an unlawful combatant . . . you are owed a trial and punishment."

Did you miss the "detention" part? As with any combatant, the unlawful ones are subject to detention for the duration of the conflict. And I doubt the detainees are all that excited about trial (by military tribunal), because bad things generally happen afterward (e.g., in Quirin, 6 of 8 were executed shortly after the verdict).

"Just how long are you going to keep ignoring the facts?"

You mean like "combatant" being invented recently, or combatants not being subject to detention?

"I had not realized how many people have come to think that it is ok to deprive people of their freedom in an arbitrary fashion, locking them up without trial for years..."

And it's not the first time! Hundreds of thousands of them, held for years, without trial! Ohmigod! Reparations maybe?

"Let's be clear who's hyperventilating."

I think that's readily apparent.

S

You are the one who threw the non sequitur of the US becoming like an Arab state. Mr. Forbes was just pointing out the darling red color of the herring.

Joanna, relax. They'll get their trial. Then you can come back and complain that the trial was unfair when a disgusting number of them are found to be terrorists. This is how the prosecution will proceed:

Prosecutor: I call to the stand LTC Jones, military intelligence.

(LTC Jones then proceeds to show pictures of the defendant brandishing a weapon against US forces, training at al-qaida facilities, and in possession of terrorist information/intelligence, as well as the defendants names on lists of terror organizations)

Prosecutor: We rest.

Judge: This is so clear cut, I wonder why we even needed a trial!

Do you really think many of the detainees are innocent? I promise you the military isn't going to let them go, and we are certainly not going to summarily execute them.

They get two trials, in fact: they'll have their day of judgment at the hands of the world before they sit before the Lord. They will be disappointed at the lack of virgins provided to them.

moneyrunner

YOU: Money, I don't particularly need the great Newsweek incident to beat up the Bush administration. I have: the WMD (chose one: lie, incompetence);

ME: Oh, the WMDs that were not found after both the Bush and Clinton administrations stated they were there is now totally the fault of Bush? And need I mention the intelligence services of England, France, Germany, Russia. WMDs certainly appear to be a failure of intelligence, but to claim they were the sole province of the Bush administration marks you as a hyper partisan, untruthful and totally unpersuasive to rational people.

YOU: Abu Ghraib

ME: Give it a rest. I realize that Abu Ghraib is waved like a bloody shirt by the Left. As Mark Steyn remarked, “and the little matter of 15 corpses, which makes Michael Isikoff considerably more lethal than, say, Lynndie England.” How many people did Lynndie England kill? How painful is it to wear women's panties on your head, put on a dog collar or get into a pile of naked people? Many on the Left will pay big bucks to have that done in the privacy of their bedrooms.

YOU: the failure to secure Iraq

ME: I read somewhere that it took 4 years and 600,000 dead to secure the US in the 1860s

YOU: 1700 dead soldiers

ME: Surprise, soldiers die in a war. We could have avoided American deaths by nuking Iraq. We decided to avoid inflicting mass casualties. So far many men and women braver than you have given their lives so that millions of Iraqis could live in freedom.

YOU: squandered political capital in the rest of the Middle East

ME: Please stop the BS. Since we invaded Iraq, Lybia has ended its nuclear weapons program, Egypt is promising contested elections, Lebanon is no longer under the foot of Syria, Syria just rounded up over 1000 terrorists, and one of the Emirates has decided to let women vote. Not bad for a “failed” policy.

YOU: catastrophic North Korea policy, etc. etc.

ME: As opposed to the Clinton/Carter policy of giving the North Koreans nuclear reactors and millions of barrels of oil, which did nothing to stop them from developing the nuclear weapons technology for which you now blame the Bush administration. Your arguments are really not persuasive because most of your presumptions are incorrect.

YOU: Let us not forget that the Newsweek article was the right wing's Waterloo, not mine. You guys are the ones who were howling about desecration, not me.

ME: Let’s see, Newsweek ran with a story which they retracted and it’s OUR Waterloo? What universe do you inhabit? And you did NOT “howl” about desecration? You were in full throated cry for an investigation of the Koran flushing accusation because you didn’t care? I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night.

YOU: It was patently obvious that it was the practice of this administration to torture, so the question of whether an interrogator had flushed a Koran down the toilet (or only threw it in the toilet--which to the right seems a critical distinction) or merely threw it in the garbage before beating a few "detainees" to death is of little import to me. The fact is that the US policy is to torture detainees, whether we know they're guilty or not. Or farm it out to Uzbekistan et. al.
That's the reason I slag Bush. He's a torturer. Get used to the language and either plan to defend torture (which many on this thread have done) or learn to criticize our President. It's your call.

ME: It will be a cold day in hell when I allow you to redefine words like torture. This is not Through the Looking Glass where words mean what you claim they mean. Taking prisoners has always and everywhere been a practice in war. The alternative is killing them. And what is this reference to trials and “guilt” of enemy prisoners? We are in a war. We are fighting with soldiers, not New York city cops. In WW2 – as an example - many prisoners were taken. Many had never fired a shot in anger, much less killed an American serviceman. That is what happens to enemy combatants.
Finally, It is absolute bullshit to say that it is “US policy to torture detainees." If it were policy, no American servicemen would have stood trial and been convicted. Stop the lies.

Now, try try answering some of my questions. What is this fanatical desire to equate putting a book near a toilet or having it handled by non-Muslims with torture? Why is there this curious respect for Islam when there is absolutely no respect for Christianity? Is it because you know that disrespecting Christians or Jews will generate – maybe- a letter to the editor, but disrespecting Islam will get you killed? Is that what the problems is, Bunkie? Try growing a set of cojones.

There is one point in which we are in agreement; you don’t express yourself well in these threads.

Jeff

Please provide a reference to the US policy on torturing detainees, since I seem to've missed it. (Or is that the part about "whether we know they're guilty or not"?)

Surely you're not claiming to have forgotten the http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/dojinterrogationmemo20020801.pdf>Gonzales memo?

Cecil Turner

"Surely you're not claiming to have forgotten the Gonzales memo?"

No, I've not forgotten it (and it's commonly referred to as the "Bybee memo," since one normally cites the author, not the recipient). But in case you didn't bother reading it, it attempts to define "torture," not provide a set of guidelines to be used in interrogation. And for all the wingeing about it, I've yet to see a competing attempt to define torture from the various critics. (Which is probably one reason the word "torture" keeps cropping up in silly places . . . like in reference to alleged incidents of Koran-flushing--even though they never happened.) In short, an attempt at defining the word "torture"--even if you don't agree with it--is not evidence to support the claim that: "US policy is to torture detainees."

Jeff

Cecil, you asked me to "please provide a reference to the US policy on torturing detainees," which the Gonzales--Bybee--memo clearly is. It was designed to define torture for the purpose of setting policy. It's not clear yet whether that policy was implemented, although all the cases we've heard about in the news seem to hew pretty closely to the language in the memo. From the conclusion:

"For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that torture as defined in and proscribed by Sections 2340-2340A, covers only extreme acts. Severe pain is generally of the kind difficult for the victim to endure. Where the pain is physical, it must be of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure. Severe mental pain requires suffering not just at the moment of infliction but it also requires lasting psychological harm, such as seen in mental disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder. Additionally, such severe mental pain can arise only from the predicate acts listed in Section 2340. Because the acts inflicting torture are extreme, there is significant range of acts that though they might constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment fail to rise to the level of torture.

"Further, we conclude that under the circumstances of the current war against al Qaeda and its allies, application of Section 2340A [prohibition of torture] to interrogations undertaken pursuant to the President's Commander-in-Chief powers may be unconstitutional. Finally, even if an interrogation method might violate Section 2340A, necessity or self-defense could provide justification that would eliminate any criminal liability. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance."

Cecil Turner

"It was designed to define torture for the purpose of setting policy."

It was designed to define "torture" in order to avoid it. Which is exactly the opposite of what you claimed.

"It's not clear yet whether that policy was implemented"

It's quite clear, actually; you just don't like the answer. The policy was implemented in a set of interrogation guidelines, none of which, in my opinion, even approach what a reasonable person would call "torture."

"Where the pain is physical, it must be of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure."

I've criticized that passage before as well: it's not very useful. ("Better not use technique number 25 . . . Fred said it felt like kidney failure.")

"Finally, even if an interrogation method might violate Section 2340A, necessity or self-defense could provide justification that would eliminate any criminal liability."

Yeah, lots of outrage on that one, but it's the usual attempt at the hypothetical "ticking bomb" scenario, in which almost everyone concludes torture would be justifiable. The usual answer is that the interrogator [Cop] tortures the subject to find the bomb, and righteously goes to jail afterward. The limits are a little hazier with a wartime situation and the President's "Commander-in-Chief" authority--and it's never been tested. (Of course, the President could just pardon him afterward, and there's little doubt that would be constitutional.) I tend to think Bybee is on fairly solid ground here, but IANAL. In any event, it's a hypothetical that history suggests is extremely unlikely, and there was never any attempt to write it into the guidelines.

Bottom line: "policy" equals orders given to interrogators. You could make the case of tacit approval; but not by citing criminal cases being prosecuted. The worst "technique" is waterboarding, and that's not something I'd call torture. Seems to me your burden is to show the current techniques are "torture," or that we're not prosecuting abuse . . . and I don't think you can do either.

Joanna

Cecil,

Your industry is commendable. After reading your comments, I wish I could say the same about your arguments. The basic points remain the same:

1. Do you feel that arbitrarily detaining people and keeping them detained without trial (sorry, 'don't worry, they'll get a trial, eventually is a pathetic -- and arrogant -- retort, made from the comfort of your keyboard when your son or brother is not the one wrongly jailed).

2. You can't have it both ways. I ran your own quote back by you and here you are, trying to run from it with some weasel words.

3. I'm sure Forbes can speak for himself, but since you have spoken in his defense, only someone so blinded by fear or anger would say that curtailment of liberties, privacy intrusions like snooping into library and buying records, etc. don't constitute a danger, and yes, steps toward despotism. Given your alacrity in stepping into my response to Forbes, you didn't finally answer the question, whether he (or you) thinks that women's driving rights fall are as serious as someone being detained without trial (not only foreigners, but American citizens too).


4. Sure, there have been curtailments of liberties in the past. Everyone knows it. Those living at the time would have raised their voices. And those like you who were unaffected would have tried to shout them down. But this is our time, and we will raise our voices against it. It is better to err on the side of liberty than otherwise.

5. You seem to be so caught up in the administration's lies that you actually think being in Iraq, and arresting people on suspicion, torturing them, and covering up the torture with fanciful YOU and ME dialogues is going to actually make Americans safer? How so? To me this only indicates an arrogance of current power. It is a short-sighted and stupid policy, spectacularly ironic from an administration that has done zip to curb illegal immigration, with over one-half million coming across the Mexican border each year. And this administration, which seems to have mesmerized you, wants to give legal status to these very folk, god knows how many of whom belong to which subversive group!

Sorry, but I am unable to buy any of your arguments.

Finally, dear fellow, which is the myth de-jour? WMD's, Osama, Code Orange? When will you ever learn?

Cecil Turner

"I wish I could say the same about your arguments."

Thanks, very amusing (especially whilst digging through the ad-hominems, trying to find a substantive argument).

1. "Do you feel that arbitrarily detaining people . . ."

I "feel" that enemy prisoners may be detained for the duration of the conflict. The Geneva Conventions and Supreme Court "feel" the same way.

2. "I ran your own quote back by you and here you are, trying to run from it with some weasel words."

I "run from it" by repeating it incessantly? Nice try. Read it again (focus on the "capture and detention" part this time, since that seems to be your main irritant).

3-5 "only someone so blinded by fear or anger . . . we will raise our voices . . . You seem to be so caught up in the administration's lies "

If there's anything substantive in there, I can't find it (I admit not looking as hard after the third insult). Looking at the track record above, I can see why you'd want to avoid factual arguments.

"When will you ever learn?"

Wow, deep. Personally, I like it when opponents fill their posts with insults, as most folks find it totally unpersuasive. Feel free to continue (again, it doesn't make me look bad).

Joanna

Sorry to get you riled up about the 'wish I could say about your arguments'. Unfortunately, your last post does nothing to improve matters. You have dodged the detailed arguments by taking umbrage to some imagined 'insults'. IMHO, your own posts serve far more to do this than anything damage others could do.

For in the end, the only 'fact' you contest is my saying that 'enemy combatants' was newly minted. You have latched on to that and making a big deal as though you've won a debate. But this technicality of yours is puerile (aside from your conceding that the words 'enemy combatatns' may be new. Since this is not a routine occurrence in America, and has not happened (even by your definition - Japanese incarcerations)in 60 years, say 2-3 generations, I think it qualifies for being called new. Your argument is akin our being horrified at slavery being uncovered in some part of America, and your coming along to say that it is, after all, nothing new. Feel free to be comfortable in this kind of logic.

And yes, I cut and paste your words. I did not ignore 'detention', I just extracted the specific paragraph relating to non-military prisoners, to show that event hey were due a trial (and punishment -- you forgot that term when accusing me, perhaps because it would have shown I hadn't hidden anything).

Anyhow, since you feel happy to endorse depriving someone of their liberties without due process, there is little meeting ground here. The surprise is that you don't even seem to have any doubts as to the miscarriages of justice inherent in such an atmosphere.

If everything that has happened (others have listed the fake WMD's, the Blair memo, the New Yorker article showing that the torture instructions went high up the command chain, to name a few) does not convince you, nothing I or others say will.

The New Yorker article talks about a young Afghan boy whose feet were beaten to a pulp by American soldiers just for the fun of hearing him scream out in pain. Are you so blind not to realize how this devalues our own morality, aside from damaging before the entire wolrd what we stand for? Read .

Obviously we hold America to a higher standard than do you, and that is not be cause we love her less, as you seem to imply. Since you are so full of quotations,
here's one more -- Patriotism is the last refuge of the .... -:)

Cheers!

Aaron

Cecil,

Do you ever just want to cry?

subject to capture and detention...this means you can be captured and detained...not necessarily though - it's discretionary for sure.

subject to trial and punishment - also discretionary.

Cecil Turner

Aaron,
Yeah, no kidding.

Joanna,
I think this is your only substantive point:
"Anyhow, since you feel happy to endorse depriving someone of their liberties without due process, there is little meeting ground here."

There is not, and never has been, due process for POWs. They are subject to capture and detention for the duration. (Just like the SCOTUS decision says.) That was the point of the link (way above) to the site on German and Italian prisoners held during WWII. The rules haven't changed since, and the fact that it doesn't advance your political agenda is your problem.

Forbes

"only someone so blinded by fear or anger would say that curtailment of liberties, privacy intrusions like snooping into library and buying records, etc. don't constitute a danger, and yes, steps toward despotism."

Yes, for some the apocalypse is always around the corner. Just don't let the facts blur your "vision".

Patriot Act provisions merely extend to terroist investigations some of the same proceedures already used for investigating drug trafficking, medicare fraud, and organized crime, for example. Your so-called intrusions require a court order from a judge. And libraries aren't even mentioned in the Act.

What keeps me fearful are people that instinctually believe the US is more dangerous than the Islamofascists that have declared war on infidels, and the US.

That enemy combatants are captured and detained gives me no cause for concern--while the curtailmemt of women's rights would be fresh evidence of a society that does not value liberty.

Fire!Fire!Fire!

A final thought on the Quran flushing .
I wonder how many Qurans were in that mosque the taliban terrorists blew up yesterday in Afganistan?
Where's is the outrage over that incident??????

S

Joanna... you were doing well for a while there. But since you insisted on picking on someone else's Latin spelling, it is only fair to point out that the proper French spelling is "dU jour". And I studied Latin and Spanish... ;)

I read that post a few times... and I still don't see how "myths de [sic] jour". Nor the relevance of illegal immigrants. Most undocumented Mexicans in this country don't brandish automatic weapons or explosive devices against civilians. Surely you can see the difference.

Cecil and the rest of you who took the time to read these documents: is there any treaty or convention to which the United States is a party that requires us to provide our enemies with their religious tokens? Joanna, isn't there a stronger case in saying that the United States goes over and beyond to ensure proper treatment?

Please, for my sake, answer my constantly reiterated question: What exactly is the problem?

Cecil Turner

"is there any treaty or convention to which the United States is a party that requires us to provide our enemies with their religious tokens?"

There's an entire section on religious/physical/intellectual activities in Third Geneva, the most relevant of which appears to be:

Article 34

Prisoners of war shall enjoy complete latitude in the exercise of their religious duties, including attendance at the service of their faith, on condition that they comply with the disciplinary routine prescribed by the military authorities.

Adequate premises shall be provided where religious services may be held.

I suppose we could make arguments that it doesn't apply to unlawful combatants, or that supplying Korans exceeded the requirement--but I don't find them remotely persuasive, and doubt many others would. There is a very good argument for allowing prison authorities to remove them for disciplinary infractions.

S

on condition that they comply with the disciplinary routine prescribed by the military authorities

Would a violation of disciplinary routine include using the Koran to incense other prisoners?

Cecil Turner

"Would a violation of disciplinary routine include using the Koran to incense other prisoners?"

As a practical matter, a violation of disciplinary routine amounts to anything we want to say it is. The Conventions are treaties, not laws: they're vague in spots, they're widely ignored, and there's no real enforcement mechanism. Especially when one side flouts them completely, they really provide little to no leverage. Historically, belligerents could conduct reprisals to provide the enemy with incentives to resume compliance . . . but in this case the enemy has no normal trade or cities to disrupt, reprisals aren't authorized against prisoners, and it's unlikely they'd do any good anyway.

Similarly, we've concluded these prisoners don't qualify for Geneva protection (at least as POWs), so the standard of treatment is really up to what our morality dictates. The normal arbiter of POW camp assessments is the International Red Cross, but their only enforcement power is moral suasion. And they lost a good part of that when they, like Amnesty International, became completely unhinged over Gitmo. The only real down side for removing Geneva privileges would be the propaganda effect, and it's hard to see how something like this (removing Korans) would have much impact.

S

That sounds about right. Thanks for your help, Cecil.

Cecil Turner

You're quite welcome. If you're interested in further reading, Yale's Avalon Project has a good Law of War collection going back to the mid-1800's. It's remarkable how similar the usages are over time. Some of the earlier codes (especially the 1863 General Orders No. 100) are also easier to read and make some of the more esoteric provisions of the follow-on treaties easier to understand. Cheers.

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