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May 19, 2007

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clarice

Thank you. I didn't think I was making it up when I remembered hearing his caveat.
Frankly, it would be impossible for me to vote for anyone who wouldn't authorize its use in exigent circumstances. OTOH I do think McCain has wrongly elevated "enhanced
interrogation techniques" to "torture". (BTW Andy Sullivan said Brit "curled his lips" around the phrase. I've tried to do that and been unsuccessful--indeed, I think that impossible to do.

teri edgar

This is complete BS. All these anti-torture types are clearly lying. We torture people daily and they don't complain about it.

What do you think happened when we starved millions of Iraqis to death...it was torture, it was intentional, we knew we were doing it and we did it.

Iraqis are tortured daily through acts of war, from gun shots to schrapnel to explosions, their bodies and minds are tortured well beyond anything ever done at GITMO or Abu Gyraib. We know war totures the hell out of people and we do it anyway.

The anti-torture crowd simply want to feel morally superior mostly due to their own cowardice. They want to feel superior.

teri edgar

John MCCain is a shining example that torture works. He himself admits that he broke under torture and provided the enemy exactly what they wanted.

He also claims every other American also broke under torture.

Now he wants to claim that if America toturer people, it will make us a terrible country, that noone will like us, that the world will hate us forever.

THEN WHY WAS JOHN MCCAIN FRONT AND CENTER FOR RENEWING RELATIONS WITH VIETNAM??

Apparently, he doesn't feel Vietnam needs to be hated forever, he considers them a nation in good standing, unsullied by their tortuous past. All we ever here is good things about Vitenam, no one seems to care that they toture people.

teri edgar

I went back and read MCCains speech on normalizing relations with Vietnam...and he doesn't mention torture even once.

Amazing how un-sullied those torturers have become, MR. MCCain. Guess other countries can get in bed with torturers like us..the same as you getting in bed with Vietnam.

Now everyone on the left loves Saddam and he was a major league torturer...see, even the left can embrace torturers. And the pine for a castro speech. another major league torturer. They must have thought 'Against all Hope' was a comedy.

Crust

Just the smallest of small problems re your Andrew Sullivan reference:

I thought Sully's position was the same as McCain's here. I.e. torture would be morally acceptable in some suitably extreme one-in-a-million scenario (ticking time bomb and you're holding a terrorist you know for a fact knows the way to stop it or whatever).

steve sturm

If McCain had his way, the "kind of country we are" would be a country that values the well-being of foreign terrorist suspects more than the lives of Americans saved as a result of the information gained from 'enhanced interrogation'. McCain ought to stop worrying so much about how the terrorists and their overseas enablers think of us and more about utilizing the tools (which torture is) that can help keep America safe.

teri edgar

I think part of the problem here is that the left see the Islamic terrorists, not as evil killers like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, they seem them as innocent little guys that the big old mean America decided to pick on.

Otherwise the left is saying, they would have tortured Hitler to stop the holocaust, the wouldn't have harmed a hair on Pol Pots head to stop the killing fields and they would have wounded Stalin to stop the Gulags.

They don't undertand that a good person and an evil person can both shoot, stab, kick someone, and only one of them did the wrong thing.

Cecil Turner
Well, I have the same standard as Colin Powell, General Vessey, literally every retired military person.
"Literally"? Hey, I'm a retired military person, and I don't agree. (I love arguments that easy to refute.)
Do you know where that was invented? In the Spanish Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition.
Oh please. I'm sure we can all conjure up visions of Torquemada and the waterboard as the final ingenious device (after thumbscrews failed) to break the intransigent. But that's not what waterboarding is. Helpfully, Steve Harrigan underwent (the Army version of) waterboarding on camera. His response:
"But the thing that really impressed me was just how quickly you can recover. I mean, they took me to the brink where I was ready to submit, tell them anything, within minutes. And then just minutes later I was standing by the side of that pool, feeling fine, so, as far as 'torture' goes, at least in this controlled experiment, to me, this seemed like a pretty efficient method . . . to get someone to talk and then still have them alive and healthy within minutes."
Doesn't look much like the Spanish Inquisition to me.
Cecil Turner

I thought Sully's position was the same as McCain's here.

Who can tell, amidst all the hyperventilation? Frankly, I think Sully's forfeited any consideration of precise characterization on this subject.

teri edgar

I think the anti-torture folks think those that believe torture is sometimes necessary have something wrong with us.

Every one of their examples they cite, we don't support. Let's be very clear.

I support 'enhance interogation' and physical and psychological pain with the following guidelines:

- The person has to be an enemy and has to be psychologically capable of free will.

- The techniques have to have a purpose and goal that are consistent with our mission. You can't torture just because you get your jollies that way.

- The affects must be temporary and care must be administered when it is determined
the techniques will not work.

clarice

Some excellent points, teri.

TexasToast

Sully does point out that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" sound substantially like torture as defined by 18 USC 2340 and made an offense by 18 USC 2340A.

I understand the "ticking time bomb" argument. I understand why it persuades a lot of people. But it doesn't in any sense justify Gitmo or Abu G, for instance.

Analogously, I might exceed the speed limit in order to get my pregnant wife to the hospital - but even if the circumstances justified my speeding, it is still a violation of the law and would not support a general rule that all expectant fathers may disobey the speed limit on the way to the hospital.

Further, torture ain't speeding. Torture strikes me as much more of a threat to our values than ordinary violations of the law. The ticking time bomb scenario should still be a serious violation of the law. That is one of the reasons the President has the power to pardon.

Jeff Dobbs

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

...

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!

clarice

Gitmos has nothing to do with torture. No terrorist group was ever treated so well.(No prisoners of war w/in the outdated Geneva Convention have been either for that matter though due to the overblown and ridiculous reportage about it many like TT have been scammed into believing otherwise.)As for Abu Ghraib, blame Hillary's pick Karpinski for a failure of command because that is what it was. Place any number of people from anywhere in full unsupervised control of others and this will happen..it happens in hospitals, mental institutions and prisons around the world every day. And once again, a feckless press made a great deal more of this then it warranted.And once again TT bit.

Semanticleo

"Doesn't look much like the Spanish Inquisition to me."

I can't recall anyone saying it was.....

I guess it's a matter of degree. Then again, one man's torture is another man's delight.

Kinda' like Bill Murray's masochistic patient
and Steve Martin's sadistic dentistry in 'Little Shop of Horrors'.

Maybe it's time to stop mitigating venality
through the search for greater offenders.

Crust

Well said, TexasToast. It does at first seem strange to say that certain actions are in unusual situations both ethical and yet should be illegal (speeding in extreme circumstance to get imminently expectant mother to the hospital, torture in extreme circumstance of ticking time bomb scenario). But I think that's the right analysis: laws can't handle every case. That's why we have the pardon, as you say, and prosecutorial discretion.

Cecil Turner

Sully does point out that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" sound substantially like torture as defined by 18 USC 2340 . . .

Do they? That definition:

specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering
The question is whether the proposed interrogation standards are severe enough to constitute torture. In the famous "torture memo," Bybee claimed they weren't:
Those acts must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture within the meaning of 2340A and the Convention [Against Torture].
Reading the examples in the back of the memo and comparing them to the waterboarding video, I think Bybee has the better case, and I don't find it a particularly close call.

I can't recall anyone saying it was.....

Perhaps you ought to reread St. John's parable. In particular:

Do we want to do things that were done in the Spanish Inquisition except in the most extreme case?

Semanticleo


"Perhaps you ought to reread St. John's parable. In particular:"


Please re-read, or just, read;

Maybe it's time to stop mitigating venality
through the search for greater offenders.

abwtf
- The techniques have to have a purpose and goal that are consistent with our mission. You can't torture just because you get your jollies that way.

- The affects must be temporary and care must be administered when it is determined
the techniques will not work.

That is pretty much the exact criteria I have. There should also be zero chance of accidental death which puts me against extreme/prolonged use of cold water/temperature. (I think waterboarding passes that test, but I'm not certain.)

I don't quite understand this point though:

- The person has to be an enemy and has to be psychologically capable of free will.

Do you mean he cannot be simply a suspect? And avoiding jokes about free will vs. say Calvinism, what is an example of someone who did not have free will?

Cecil Turner

Maybe it's time to stop mitigating venality
through the search for greater offenders.

I recognize you think this is profound. But I'd suggest it isn't exactly helpful in trying to decide the proper course of action regarding interrogation guidelines for captured terrorists. If you can't accept some of us actually believe it's worthwhile (not venal) to get information from folks like Khalid Sheik Mohammed--and that waterboarding him is indicated, if necessary--then perhaps you don't have much to add to the debate.

Semanticleo

"If you can't accept"

I can accept belief when it's in YOUR vacuum,
but have a problem when your vacuum backs up and sprays a dustup which affects me and my own.

Do you also believe that our values as a democracy are on display both for those who wish to use our hypocrisy as an insturment of recruitment

Semanticleo

#@%^$%^&&&&*%$$##@## TYPEPAD!!!!!

Do you also believe that our values as a democracy are on display both for those who wish to use our hypocrisy as an insturment of recruitment and those who may be influenced
by same?

Semanticleo

BTW;

Sorry to return and spoil the little party
you enjoy when there is no counterpoint except those which you endorse.

Cecil Turner

Do you mean he cannot be simply a suspect?

I'd submit terms like "suspect" do not really apply, at least at this point. If the point of the exercise were to punish a criminal offender, then enhanced interrogation is probably counterproductive. If the point is to protect against further terrorist attacks, then it makes perfect sense.

The detainees are being held as combatants, and in particular, "unlawful combatants" as they are the only ones we are interested in using enhanced interrogation techniques on. Personally I think a determination that the individual is an unlawful combatant ought to be a prerequisite for enhanced interrogation. (And I suspect it already is.)

I can accept belief when it's in YOUR vacuum . . .

You're presuming bad faith on the part of your opponents. Hence debating with you is a waste of time. Cheers.

Enlightened

Still waiting on those counterpoints.....oh nevermind.


OT - Have you guys been following the Landis case? Holy crap he is a nutball. I think the 'roids have scrambled his brain in Semanticleo kinda way.

"It came courtesy of Landis' fellow American Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, who disclosed he had been sexually abused as a child and received a call Wednesday from Landis' manager who threatened to reveal the secret if LeMond showed up to testify."

"It was a real threat, it was real creepy, and I think it shows the extent of who it is," LeMond said before leaving the Pepperdine law school after his spellbinding day. "I think there's another side of Floyd that the public hasn't seen."

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/05/17/sports/s151258D25.DTL

Semanticleo

"Hence debating with you is a waste of time. Cheers."

Enjoy your comfort zone,

Enlightened

Enjoy your comfort zone

Wow - now that's some counterpoint.

Rick Ballard
but still - if he would torture a guy for a million dollars, would he torture him for five? We already know what he is. And I'm one too - a guy who would endorse torture in extreme scenarios to save lives.

Americans will die today in Iraq from IEDs. They die pretty near every day and every few days assassins who plant the IEDs (almost always for money - they aren't 'freedom fighters' to any extent) are picked up. The Times ran a piece a couple of weeks ago concerning the IA or IP gaining actionable intelligence by beating information out of one of the assassins that they had captured. American and Iraqi lives were saved as a result of the intelligence acquired.

St. John would have sacrificed those lives just as he sacrificed the First Amendment with McCain-Feingold. As a Keating Five Senator he was well aware of how easily he was purchased and decided to help keep other politicians as morally weak as he is from temptation. A man willing to casually accept the daily deaths of Americans and Iraqis in order to promote a wholly vacuous debating point shouldn't even be invited to visit the Oval Office - let alone work in it.

When a man of dubious character presents a fatuous argument, the proper response is ridicule, not a debate about a nonexistant "problem".

The most severe torture involved in this discussion is that being done to the English language. The word torture must be enduring incredible agony due to being twisted and bent into something unrecognizable.

Enlightened - Have a heart, Tic's head is rammed so tightly in her fundamant that typing is pure torture for her.

Tom Maguire

I thought Sully's position was the same as McCain's here.

All aboard! Since Sully, McCain and Giuliani all support torture in the scenario proposed by Hume, why was it a "clarifier" for Sully?

Possible answer - McCain supported torture, too, but frowned while doing so, and that made all the difference. Could be.

clarice

Could be. Or it could be that the man is a swirl of contradictions(putting it nicely) as Rick noted.

teri edgar

The stupidest argument the ant-torture crowd has is that if we torture and our enemy tortures then we will become like the enemy.

BUTT, they never say, we kill, our enemies kill, therefore we become them...or we bomb, our enemies bomb, therefore we become them.

What is probably even worse is MCCain and his ilk abhore torturing even one terrorist had no problem putting deadly sanctions on the inocent people of Iraq. MCCain knew those sanctions were the cause of kids starving to death, etc. etc. He didn't seem to have a problem killing a million Iraquis through malnutrition, starvation and disease, etc., but can't stomach a terrorist not having air conditioning.

hoosierhoops

The reason I blog here is because many of you ( and you know who you are ) really make compelling, lucid, grown-up auguments about the issues facing our country.
When we disagree there is very little name calling or childish behavor.
Another point is that i can tell many of you really love America and want to see us successful in all our challenges.
I worry that many of my friends on the left ( of which I have many) have begun to exhibit hate and loathing of the principles upon our nation was founded and disrespecting the blood spilled by our men and women in the armed forces.
Bravo..and I hope to share ideas and comments for a long time with you all..
And Mr. Maquire: McCain has a different view from you on torture because he spent 5 YEARS being tortured..how do you think he would feel? Put yourself in his shoes and wonder how horrible that must have been..cut em some slack..You may not think he gets a pass on his opinion but he does and about every citizen thinks so too.
He is probably not the right person to make policy because of his colored views but he deserves every measure of respect....
Great Blog Tom..thanks for having me...

Tom Maguire

I understand the "ticking time bomb" argument. I understand why it persuades a lot of people. But it doesn't in any sense justify Gitmo or Abu G, for instance.

Well, I don't think anyone is offering one to justify the other.

The ticking time bomb scenario should still be a serious violation of the law. That is one of the reasons the President has the power to pardon.

That is an interesting approach, and I like it except - when would we have the investigation and trial, and would they be public? I sort of have a "Not in front of the kids" attitude on this, which is hopelessly trusting of me, but there it is.

It does at first seem strange to say that certain actions are in unusual situations both ethical and yet should be illegal

Well, some lefties seemed to think it was odd (illegal? reprehensible?) that Bush continued the NSA program on his own authority after DoJ reversed two and a half years of consent and declined to sign off on it. Few of those lefties note that Bush's alternative was to suspend the program on the same day as the Madrid train bombings. As if.

A government of good judgment, not of laws!

Do you also believe that our values as a democracy are on display both for those who wish to use our hypocrisy as an insturment of recruitment and those who may be influenced
by same?

I think American values have consistently included a willingness to make war ghastly for the enemy - cf Sherman or Hiroshima. Consequently, I don't see torture in extreme cases as hypocritical or a betrayal of core values any more than "Thou shalt not kill" is betrayed in wartime with regularity.

I'd submit terms like "suspect" do not really apply, at least at this point. If the point of the exercise were to punish a criminal offender, then enhanced interrogation is probably counterproductive.

Or similarly, a Chicago style beatdown in order to extract a murder confession is probably pointless - the corpse is already cooling, yes?

PeterUK.

Please Semanticleo,You are opposed to torture,leave the English language alone.

teri edgar

So how does one morally explain opposing torture, but supporting sanctions that killed a million people, mostly children?

How do you turn Iraq into a concentration camp through sanctions, then turn around and say its repugnant and wrong to slap Saddam Hussein around a little to find out all he knows.

How does MCCain justify killing hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq, but oppose leaning on a terrorist.

He can't claim, and neither can any lefty that:

- He didn't know the sanctions were killing people; there were quaterly reports from the UN, from the CIA, .....Albright admitted killing 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children.

- He can't blame Hussein, Hussein was apparenly innocent of any WMD, which Clinton insisted he had and was the reason for turning the country into a hell hole.

So according to MCCain, we could starve the people of Iraq, but we can't smack around a terrorist...MORAL???

-

boris

Making enhanced interrogation illegal but pardoning breaking the law in extreme circumstances is a lousy idea. Those situations will save very few lives, the interrogation will be poorly administered, likely ineffective, and probably cause serious injury or death.

Better to have a semi secret policy administered by trained personel on any high value captured illegal combatant. The last thing such a policy wants to make public is that the techniques are physically harmless with only short term psycological discomfort. The fear factor of not knowing what is about to happen is a significant part of the performance.

Waterboarding does not work by inducing pain. The subject does not reveal information as in "I'll tell you anything just don't waterboard me again ..."

Rather it induces a short term panic reflex that makes it difficult or impossible to form the will to resist ta skilled interrogator or even construct a coherent lie. Any Joe Blow who knows nothing about how to use the technique would not be able to use it effectively.

There's more to it than just pouring water on someone's face.

teri edgar

MCCain the torturer: Now listen heasr Mr. Hussein, gives us what we want, or I will starve your kids until they are dead.

Hussein: But MCCain, I don't have anything you want, please just give us medicine, for the dysentary..

MCCain: Hah, medicine my ass. You get none until we get your WMD, comply or the children die.

Hussein: But MCCain, I have no WMD, I am innocent, please just leave the children be, take me, kill me if you must, but don't hurt the children.

MCCain: Are you kidding me? No WMD my ass, I'll starve a million kids to prove I'm right. You can have dysentary, malnutrition, disease and deeath for you kids until Allah returns for all I give a shiite! You must submit, or the kids all die.

Hussein: But I have nothing to give you, you are torturing the children.

MCCCain: Torture you say, but I abhor torture. Don't try to claim I torture people just ebcause a few hundred thousand Iraqis are dead. You are guilty, that's why they are dead.

Hussein: That's what torturers through the centuries have claim of those they killed and maimed. Its allways the totureds fault.
Mr MCCain, your a torturer, admit it to yourself. You killed those kids just the same as if you held a gun to their heads.
Worse, you let them linger for months on end, till they were forced to eat sawdust and dirt..then you let them die.

MCCain: yes, but I am morally superior then someone who would waterboard you, Mr Hussein.

hoosierhoops

Teri:
I don't see the linkage you are attempting to make between UN Sanctions and McCain.
I didn't even know he had a vote in the UN..
It was Hussein that choose Grand Palaces over medicine for the children.
Mr. McCain never starved nor advocated that children die by starvation..to even say that is distastful and disrespectful of who he is as a human being and a US Senator..
To my knowledge he has never ever claimed to morally superior to any person and if you would read about his life story he is a geniunely humble person that loves America willing to give the full measure of his life to his country..you may not agree with the his politics ( I often disagree ) But he is an american hero that deserves some measure of respect from the peanut gallery..Please..

Crust

Tom Maguire:
Possible answer - McCain supported torture, too, but frowned while doing so, and that made all the difference. Could be.

I realize you meant that at least half in jest, but I think that's about right.

In answering the one-in-a-million extreme scenario, you should of course answer the question. But answering with an enthusiastic tone -- with a cute reference to 24 or whatever -- suggests that your answer will carry over to the other 999,999 cases that the question wasn't literally about.

teri edgar

Hoosierhoops check your facts.

MCMCAIN SUPPORTED THE SANCTIONS.

THE SANCTIONS WERE IMPOSED AT THE BEHEST OF CLINTON WITH THE SUPPORT OF MCMCAIN.

THE SANCTIONS INCLUDED SEVERE REDUCTIONS IN FOOD STUFFS, IN EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO REPAIR
THE COUNTRIES INFRASTRUCTURE, ETC.

Hussein had no control over the sanctions, they were all Clintons doing and MCCain fully supported it.

Saddam couldn't use money to buy items that sanctions denied him the ability to buy.
You can't buy more equipment to rebuild the sewers if you can't import them, DUH!!

Saddam was put in charge of the process in 1998 with the support of the Clinton adminstration.

Even if you want to claim Saddam was taking the money and buying palaces instead of food, it doesn't change the fact that MCCain knew that and did nothing to help the children that were being starved.

Its no different them social services knowing parents are starving their kids to buy booze. You don't continue starve/torture the kids to punish the parents.

teri edgar

"Iraq: A Pediatrician's Hell: No Way to Stop the
Dying." The reporter led readers through a day with the chief
resident at the central teaching hospital for pediatrics in
Baghdad.

Iraq, the doctor told his visitor, was once the most advanced
country in the Arab world for science and medicine. Now, Iraq's
doctors cannot even read medical journals; because medical
journals are embargoed. Childhood leukemia, a disease with a
cure rate of 70 percent in America, is now nearly always fatal
in Iraq. Disposable syringes must be used over and over again.
Their importation has been blocked out of fear that medical
syringes will be used to create anthrax spores. Ancient X-ray
machines leak radiation. Chlorine, a vital water disinfectant, all
the more necessary because Iraq's sewage treatment plants
were bombed in Desert Storm, is embargoed, lest it be diverted
into chlorine gas. Even the plastic bags needed for blood
transfusions are restricted.

Last year, Denis Halliday, the UN humanitarian coordinator in
Iraq, resigned in protest and returned home to Ireland. By
Halliday's estimate, 5,000 Iraqi children die every month from
the impact of sanctions on Iraq's water supply, sanitation, diet,
and medical care. The deaths come from dysentery, cholera,
and malnutrition, which lowers resistance to other diseases.
Halliday holds America, the principal advocate and enforcer of
UN Security Council sanctions, responsible for the deaths of
60,000 Iraqi children every year, and of 500,000 since 1991. If
his figures are correct, more Iraqi children have been lost in
nine years to U.S. sanctions than all the American soldiers
killed in combat in all the wars of the 20th century.

Woodrow Wilson called sanctions the "peaceful silent deadly
remedy." Today, they may fairly be called America's silent
weapon of mass destruction whose victims are almost always
the weak, the sick, the women and the young. When Arab
terrorists murder Israeli children, we Americans are rightly filled
with horror and disgust. But what do Arab peoples think of us
when U.S sanctions bring death to literally thousands of Iraqi
children every single month? Can a nation that declares
piously it will never stoop to assassinating tyrants, but wields a
sanctions sword that slaughters children, truly call itself "the
home of the brave?"

IT WASN'T JUST SADDAM BUILDING PALACES, WE, WITH MCCAINS SUPPORT EMBARGOED MANY ITEMS THAT WOULD HAVE SAVED CHILDRENS LIVES, WHETHER SADDAM WOULD BUY THEM OR NOT WASN'T THE ISSUE - WE WOULDN'T LET THEM BUY THEM AT ALL.

PatrickR

'And Mr. Maquire: McCain has a different view from you on torture because he spent 5 YEARS being tortured..how do you think he would feel? Put yourself in his shoes and wonder how horrible that must have been..cut em some slack..You may not think he gets a pass on his opinion but he does and about every citizen thinks so too.
He is probably not the right person to make policy because of his colored views but he deserves every measure of respect....'

Sure, but this post is about what McCain said in the PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. And, as you note, what he said probably disqualifies him for the office he's seeking.

Jane

But answering with an enthusiastic tone -- with a cute reference to 24 or whatever -- suggests that your answer will carry over to the other 999,999 cases that the question wasn't literally about.

Imagine Bill Clinton saying the same thing with gusto. My guess is liberals would have a sexual reaction.

Bruce Moomaw

Recommendation for Maguire: note McCain's statement that "In an extreme situation the president TAKES RESPONSIBILITY, and we do whatever is necessary to prevent an attack."

Obvious translation: in an extreme situation, the President orders torture even though it is still illegal -- and is then willing to run the risk of being impeached and prosecuted if 2/3 of the Senate, a D.A., and all 12 members of a jury agree that it was NOT justified under the circumstance. All of which is readily agreed to by virtually all strong opposers of torture (see Brad Delong on the subject, as just one example). What the President, and his underlings, do NOT do is hide behind legal technicalities, as Maguire apparently still wants them to do.

As for his statement that there are "one in a million" cases in which it may be permissible (our famous Ticking Nuclear Bomb), dare one point out that George Washington and the US government in the Pacific War both said it was flatly impermissible -- despite the fact that America's survival was definitely in danger, and that our opponents weren't reciprocating, in both cases? They did so on the grounds that torture provides very little useful information, but DOES mass-produce new America-haters. Which, of course, is especially true in the current case, given that our enemy is potentially the world's entire population of Moslems.

And can we compromise on the idea that -- in those extremely rare cases in which torture may be morally and strategically defensible -- the decision as to whether to use it had damned well better not be left to one man, whether that man is a local CIA officer, the Secretary of Defense, or the President? If we are going to insist on going ahead with this, set up a Permissible Torture Court similar to the FISA Court, and require a supermajority vote of the justices to approve it in every individual case. And call the court that, rather than engaging in dangerous euphemisms of the type we're so familiar with by now.

hoosierhoops

Sure, but this post is about what McCain said in the PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. And, as you note, what he said probably disqualifies him for the office he's seeking.
_________________________
I tend to agree with you Patrick..but I will not disrespect an american hero..
as I know you would not also..He probably isn't the guy to run the country...
I look at my own situation..My youngest son deploying to iraq in Sept. if it was up to me I would pull out of iraq because of my love for him..you certainly don't want me to conduct a foreign policy on my colored views..hopefully thats understandable to the readers here..I will support him and all the US Marines in thier endevours to keep us free..I pray for our troops every night and I hope you all will also..
Also Teri..I guess Saddam had billions for gold plated sinks but somehow couldn't find any medicine..there is no sense discussing this with you, your mind is made up about McCain..perhaps another subject will find us closer in subject matter.
Christ everybody voted for sanctions, I guess we are all guilty of murder in your eyes..whatever..
Have a nice weekend folks

Maybeex

Teri Edgar- to be fair to McCain about the sanctions, I understand he supported them. I also believe McCain of all people would have supported taking Saddam out long ago.

question to all- does a Strongman leader rule by enhanced interrogation techniques? Without the interrogation part, of course. I kind of thought so, but many of the 'no torture/no air con' crowd are big supporters of the Strongman for Iraq crowd.

Wagster

Is that an echo? I could have sworn I said this exact thing on this forum a couple of days ago:

The torture methods that Tenet defends have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

Man, who are these appeasers? They obviously don't know nearly as much about military matters as the wise heads who swore I didn't know what I was talking about.

Oh. Just a former Marine Corps Commander and a former CentCom CINC.

Nevermind.

Sara

First, I've got to say that citing Reuters, Sullivan, Krugman or the LA Times leaves me cold. The LA Times, in particular, is only good to line the birdcage or make a sit-upon for a Code Pinker.

That said, I would suggest that a trip to any county jail in a major city in this country will show you more torture going on than anything being done by our military or at Gitmo.

For instance, because of gang violence in jails over music, many jails have gone to scheduling different kinds of music on different days of the week. One day it will be all C&W, the next soft rock, the next hard rock/heavy metal, a day of mariachi music to please the Hispanics, and then a full day of rap.

I can tell you that a day of rap, mariachi or heavy metal would be torture for me of the worst kind.

And let us not forget that the corrections officers use whatever force is necessary and ask questions later. It is ugly, but it is going on all over this country every single day.

teri edgar

""""Oh. Just a former Marine Corps Commander and a former CentCom CINC.""

I don't even have to look it up but I'm sure Krulak was one of the Clinton fast track Generals like Wesley Clark. His entire OP_ED is pure liberal ideology without a single fact.

He talks about an America that doesn't exist and never did. The guys Clearly looking for a job with the next liberals adminstration.

Going all the way back to the Revolutionary War, Americans fought dirty and fought to win...and the idea that there are a bunch fallafel makers waiting on the sidelines to decide whether to join the terrorists is such complete and utter trash.

Of course to be fare, the American leaders that normally violated peoples Constitutional Rights and or brutalized people were Democrats.

Just what is this General referring to when he claims America didn't use to abuse people?

Is he talking about the summary executions of WWII? The hanging of illegal combatants? The firebombing of civilian areas? Is he talking about the absues at Andersonville? Or the burning of Japanese soldiers alive?

What kind of fantasy world has this guy lived in??

Jane

set up a Permissible Torture Court

Brilliant!

Let the bureaucracy make sure the enemy wins! Hopefully we can get Chuck Schumer to staff the Court with his buddies so we will always have the right result. And of course don't blame him if they are on the golfcourse when the nuke is set off.

Seixon

Wow, John McCain, Tom Maguire, Bill Clinton, and moi all on the same page about using torture. Who would have thought?!??!

The only difference between McCain and most of the other guys in the debate is that McCain wanted to give the appearance of completely opposing torture, while the others didn't have qualms about laying it all out there.

It should perhaps also be said that McCain, having been a victim of torture, isn't exactly the most unbiased person to speak on the subject. Terrible things happened to McCain, and terrible things can cloud your judgment on an issue, even though it doesn't appear he has lost his marbles about torture if you read the fine print.

Now I will have to go about telling Norwegian readers this since the Norwegian media has portrayed this like the American MSM - GOP are "torture-lovers" except for McCain.

Just because I (and McCain, and Clinton, and...) support the use of torture in a very limited set of circumstances does not make for a blanket approval. Yet that is exactly what the Left tars you with because all is black and white, and playing loud music is torture, dont'cha know?

Other Tom

I've said this before in other ways, but I'll say it again. The trick is to do it--very rarely, only when deemed urgently necessary by discreet people with sound judgment--and never, ever to talk about it, either before it's done or afterward. That's the way it's been done, and done with what I believe is a high degree of success, in the past, but it is quite certain that it can never be done that way again. That being the case, we may as well stop doing it, because the adverse consequences are likely to be worse than the benefits.

And I'll just hope that when that rare ticking-time-bomb scenario arises, a dedicated and thoughtful officer does what he thinks needs to be done, and that he and all around him take it to their graves.

richard mcenroe

Gee, if he was still a candidate, this might matter. But after his Immigration "deal" he's a dead man campaigning...

PeterUK.

"If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it."

Since the enemy,tortures,rapes and executes prisoners as a matter of course why should the undecideds gravitate to them if you "forfeit your values"?
This would indicate that the undecideds are not averse to torture, rape and execution per se,only if America does it.
"Waterboard one terrorist and we are joining the head hackers"
Strange morality.

clarice

Hi, Seixon. long tims no see. Hope all is well.

This is off topic but it's the continuing saga of Murray Waas, resident meshuga.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=1529&page=1

teri edgar

Remeber this argument?:

Militiaman: Now men, we are fighting for more then just our homes, our farms, our families, but we are fighting for freedom and a better world free of tyrants.

Wagster: Yeah, we know all that, but I think it is most imporant that we fight with good military bearing, to show the world just how civilized we are.

Militiaman: Screw that Wagster, they have started this war, they came for us, and I will fight dirty to survive. I will hide in bushes, I will hide behind hedges, I will use ambushes.

Wagster: Now that's just crazy talk. What will world opinion think of us if we fight like savages? Do we really deserve freedom, if the French are upset by our tactics?

Militaiman: You fight how you want, I fight to win. I fight for our survival.

Wagster: But isn't it more important that we show proper decorum, and winning or losing can come second. I propose we follow standard British 18th-century military procedure, form orderly rows, setting up walls of men who fire their muskets, then dropped back to reload as other soldiers took their places.

Militiaman: yeah, and get our selves slaughter by their much bigger numbers! How dumb is that. Lose, but lose with style. I much rather win and win dirty, then I get to write the history books that my grandchildren will survive to read.

Wagster: I'm just saying that hiding behind trees and firing without a proper formation and order is just going to look bad for us. And how will we get our civiklity back if we don't follow the rules?

Militiaman: Screw the rules, if we win, they will celebrate us in the history books, if we lose, well it just doesn't matter then does it. We'll be dead.

Wagster: Maybe its better to be dead, then have people not like us?

Militiaman: Yeah well, don't line up in front of me asshole.

teri edgar

Everyone remembers the German massacre at Malmedy. But noone talks about the order shortly after that to US troops that no SS personnel are to be taken prisoner (that means summary execution of all SS personnel). But then again, we got to right the history books.

Hmmmm.....Must be those puffy cloudy sand castle days of yor that Krulak remembers....

PeterUK.

Ladies and Gentlemen,please take your partners for World War III

Cecil Turner

The "ticking-time-bomb" scenario is not the issue. There is no feasible way to predict the scenario in advance, nor time to bring it before a sitting "torture court" (as if we wanted to create such a monstrosity).

The question remains: are we willing to use force on terrorist detainees in CIA custody to garner relatively mundane (but operationally useful) information? If the most extreme procedure remains waterboarding, I'm having a hard time seeing the point of the hand-wringers. It ain't "torture" . . . and thus doesn't fall afoul of the proscriptions against such . .. and they don't deserve any better treatment. Unless someone can come up with a rational argument against it, the only question is whether or not it works, and apparently it does.

By the way, Gen Krulak is the son of a famous Marine Hero (of WWII and Korea fame), and fairly well-respected as a Commandant (which doesn't necessarily validate an argument-from-authority). And here's another waterboarding video complete with bonus moralizing by Alan Dershowitz (who's apparently had a come-to-Jesus moment since his earlier sermonizing on the subject).

MikeS

If I was running for the Republican nomination, I'd get myself water boarded before the next debate.

Might even try the whole menu of coercive techniques just for GP.

teri edgar

Here is what the same Krulak said in 1999:

GENERAL CHARLES KRULAK: Yes, absolutely. Whether he's a Marine or a soldier, that's the son of a mother and father that is an American, and we're not going to allow our sons or our daughters to be fired at without retaliating, and the quicker we do it, believe me, the more the bad guys, so to speak, are going to take it to heart that you do not fool with the American serviceman, in this case the Marine, and if you ever let them think that they can get away with shooting at the sons and daughters of our American mothers and fathers, we're in real trouble.


IS THAT THE SAME GUY THAT NOW CLAIMS WE ARE LOSING THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE ENEMY BY SHOOTING AT THEM??

Other Tom

I've known Chuck Krulak more than 40 years, and have known his father "Brute" and his brother Bill a bit longer than that. And I've known John McCain longer still. They have all been friends of mine to one degree or another, particularly McCain and Bill Krulak.

I don't credit very much what any of them are saying right now (i'll keep Bill Krulak out of this, since he isn't saying a word). At this point the rest of them are just politicians.

clarice

Everyday the Telegraph publishes obituaries of the "finest generation". Maybe it's because I'm getting old, but it seems to me that in comparison yo yhese truly extraordinary people who saved the world we live in an age of mental midgets and moral pygmies.

Other Tom

You got it, Clarice. It's almost unbearably sad to see.

abwtf

50 years from now the idiots will be forgotten and the heroes will be remembered.

Jane

At this point the rest of them are just politicians.

OT -

To what end? I understand McCain's desired result. But what about the rest of them?

PeterUK.

Clarice,
It wasn't just citizens of the West,old stalwarts from the Re Army were to be found.so there must have been some other pernicious influence other than Marxism at work.
Honour,steadfastness,the concept of duty,patriotism ,a certain backbone and intestinal fortitude which allowed that generation to "soldier on" under the vicissitudes of life.
Could it be that the years of prosperity and peace have not demanded these qualities,it was quite possible to rise to the top without them? It is possible that those in positions of power are the beneficiaries of P&P,thus totally unsuited to the new paradigm.

teri edgar

So if I am to understand Krulak and MCCains rationale, because we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and stopped his plot to kill thousands of innocent people including fellow Muslims; the local fallafel stand vendor will then join up with Al Queda to support the guys who cut out tongues, cut off ears, drag people behind trucks, disembowel people and behead them and tape it for future enjoyment.

Now does this actually sound logical? You go and join up with the guy that had jet airliners flow into skyscrapers and killed not just 3,000 people, but over a hundred Muslims.

Isn't that kind of like calling a Jew a 'diamond merchant' (Democrat Presidential candidate lingo there) so he gets pissed and goes off and joins Hitler to implement the final solution.

E. Nough

I see that we have some support here for being vehemently against torture (because that defines what "kind of people" we are) but quietly in favor of it if someone else (e.g. the President) takes personal risk and responsibility.

Evidently, our progressive moral superiors are in favor of torture, as long as we pretend that it never happens, and as long as they are personally not held responsible. Their conscience must be kept clean and light at all times. Interesting that the likely death of their fellow citizens because some information wasn't obtained in time doesn't seem to weigh on their consciences at all.

Well, I can clearly see "what kind of people" they are.

Cecil Turner

To what end? I understand McCain's desired result. But what about the rest of them?

Well, Gen Hoar has been against the war from the beginning (though his reasoning--e.g., the "nightmare scenario of a fortified Baghdad--was dubious). He was one of a group of retired generals who penned a letter in protest of Gonzales's nomination as AG, and gave an interview at the time wherein he warns of the "slippery slope" of applying coercive techniques against citizens (he also appears to believe "enemy combatants" needs scare quotes, which makes me wonder if he's read the Geneva Conventions and applicable case law). I assume his complaints are sincere, though possibly invalid.

I know Gen Krulak a bit (though I doubt he'd recognize me in a crowd), and he's a well-known moralizer. He was famous for holding up promotions for officers engaged in questionable moral activities (read: philandering) . . . a position I might support in concept, but not in execution. And as a contemporary of Hoar's, I presume they have a personal rapport. Again, I think it's probably safe to assume his sincerity . . . which says little of his conclusions.

In both cases, I suspect their basic concern is the rule on treatment of POWs from Third Geneva:

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.
Extrapolating this to apply to unlawful enemy combatants is the issue, and frankly I find AG Gonzales's take on the subject much more persuasive.

E. Nough

I see that we have some support here for being vehemently against torture (because that defines what "kind of people" we are) but quietly in favor of it if someone else (e.g. the President) takes personal risk and responsibility.

Evidently, our progressive moral superiors are in favor of torture, as long as we pretend that it never happens, and as long as they are personally not held responsible. Their conscience must be kept clean and light at all times. Interesting that the likely death of their fellow citizens because some information wasn't obtained in time doesn't seem to weigh on their consciences at all.

Well, I can clearly see "what kind of people" they are.

JM Hanes

Alas, my comment on torture got EPU'd, as Semanticleo might say, on a previous thread.

What really chaps me in both discussion & op-eds is the way anyone who doesn't toe the John McCain line is sneeringly belittled as though there were one, and only one, principled position here. Even though McCain himself is not, in fact, a purist, those who beg to differ are "middle aged white guys doing Bauer impressions" or gorilla like "chest-thumping Republicans" just "swooning over enhanced interrogation." Such lurid pejoratives aren't just flat out dishonest, they debase public discourse beyond recognition.

I saw no one "gleefully" supporting torture, nor have I heard anyone defending what went on at Abu Ghraib. Dismissing "enhanced interrogation" as mere euphemism for "anything goes," is not more principled, it's the easy out. How can we expect substantive engagement, when even something as basic as attempting to specify what sorts of interrogation techniques actually constitute torture and which do not has become downright politically hazardous? Ironically, it's the absolutists like Ron Paul who seem least willing to risk it. The moral highground is just so much easier to claim when you deal in generalities.

boris
because we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ... the local fallafel stand vendor will then join up with Al Queda to support the guys who ... disembowel people and behead them and tape it for future enjoyment.

Now does this actually sound logical?

Unfortunately there is a grain of truth to it. After the cartoon riots it is obvious that golden rule logic is not applicable to the situation.

But so what? The double standard result is unacceptable. To endorse the connection is to advocate dhimitude and empower fanaticism over reason. No.

Pierre Legrand

From a couple of posts on the subject...

Both on the left and right, these groups will frame the issues of torture around the morality of their rules as if defending your life was somehow farther down the list of moral value than playing by the rules. Indeed some will even go so far as to state that they would rather die than to win the war by breaking the rules. The selfishness of such an attitude is monumental and certainly those who state such foolishness have only themselves in mind. I will state it clearly; I will live with the guilt of my shameful murder of terrorists by the vilest means if that insures the safety of my family. My guilt means nothing to me when I stare into the eyes of my children. Of course it is worth noting that I would not feel guilt in attacking my enemy in any fashion to win. I know what my enemy has planned; he has been kind enough to televise his most spectacular achievements. I am slow and stupid but I don’t need to be clubbed to understand this fight is to the death. If guilt were to be felt by me in this war it would be the guilt of watching one of my fellow citizens being beheaded and discovering that I could have stopped it had I just acted more ruthlessly.

If you are against the war you may want a set of rules because having rules gives you more tools to fight those who are waging the war. Every rule is a potential violation to be used against those who find themselves all alone defending people unworthy of defense from an enemy the anti war folks have never imagined possible. That there are many people amongst the Anti War crowd with valid questions about the war does not forgive the fact that also amongst that crowd stand people who do not wish this country well. They travel along the same roads of the Islamofacists and those who honestly disagree with the war but love this country owe it to their movement to name these groups and not accept their help.

This is Ramesh Ponnuru responding to Rich Lowery and it shows how bad an idea it is to depend on idealistic ivory tower theoreticians for policy. There are just so many things wrong with Ramesh’s line of reasoning as to astound a common sort like me. He views life through the prism of his supposedly higher morals while seemingly never considering how he would feel about his high minded beliefs should it be his family sacrificed at the altar of high ideals. Put simply they are completely incapable of walking in another’s shoes.

The Corner on National Review Online#084957: “You note that David Ignatius suggested that it is worth opposing torture even if it costs some Americans’ lives. You don’t really disagree with that, do you? You do believe, that is, that there are some things that you would agree count as torture and that should not be done even if they cost some Americans’ lives–don’t you?

You are not a pure utilitarian on the question. And if the failure to commit what you yourself consider torture did cost an American his life, you wouldn’t feel specially obligated, would you, to write his family a letter telling them his death was ‘worth it’ to vindicate a moral point? Are you sure that issuing a challenge to Ignatius–telling him to write that letter–wouldn’t be a kind of moral preening in itself?”

He actually declares that he is ok with losing a few American lives if that is what it takes to enact his idealistic gentleman’s rules regarding torture. You know what; I am ok with that, as long as the first lives lost are the families of all those who either voted or supported these new rules regarding torture. Let Senator McCain sacrifice his son John first. Let Ramesh offer up his wife April if he feels strongly that it is ok to sacrifice a few American lives.

When put into such personal and stark terms its not quite so attractive is it? But just as a capitalist asks those who ask for favors from the Government to rephrase the question from the Government paying for it to I am paying for it, so should the moralist rephrase the question from some unknown soldier paying for it to my son paying for my ideals.

boris

Unbold!

teri edgar

A far more important barometer of which side the fallafel vendor is going to support is the side that is COMMITTED TO WIN.

That is what we saw when the US was committed, when millions came out to vote, to display the purple finger, etc.
But since the Democrat party has taken the side of losing, and is committed to losing - that support will dissipate as well.

The lack of will on the Democrats part is causing far more fallafel vendors to side with the enemy then any torture policy.

teri edgar

Pierre,
I did notice that neither MCCain, nor Clinton, Nor Albright volunteered to have their families starved and denied medicine, healthcare, clean water, etc. the way they wanted to make Iraq families suffer.

They could have set up an exchange program where their children took the place of an Iraqi family and the Iraq family got to live at their house.

Hmm, wonder why?

JM Hanes

teri:

Ironic, isn't it, that those who loudly claim the highground on torture are so often the same folks who argue that Saddam was successfully "contained" or that we should withdraw our troops to the Iraqi perimeter while the Shia wipe out Sunni opposition.

Pierre Legrand

Teri,

Its always someone elses family...

Notice though that when its New York that is threatened or some other American city then oops bring those bamboo shoots out cause we gotta get that information. It was striking how quickly those who said we don't use torture because it doesnt work changed their minds on the efficiency of torture once it possible one of THEM might die instead of some unknown American Soldier.

Rick Ballard

JMH,

I haven't seen much discussion of "principles" wrt this question at all. Cecil has done (another) excellent job of laying out the facts concerning status determination prior to application of GC rules concerning treatment of lawful versus unlawful combatants but I haven't heard any pol even make an attempt to explain application of GC standards is actually a denigration of lawful Iraqi and American forces.

It's rather pathetic that the retired gen-gens doing the moral preening fail to make that distinction prior to climbing on their hobby horse.

The reality is that the whole discussion is rather pathetic - the same old and tired assignment of victim status to predators, without a word concerning the plight of the truly innocent prey.

Unlawful combatants are vermin and the treatment they receive prior to their demise should be of absolute minimal concern to anyone. The true question involves status determination and the procedures involved in assuring that the truly innocent are not swept up with the culpable.

Other Tom

Wagster, the views of Krulak and Hoar are well known, but you seem to think that because one is a former commandant and the other a former CENTCOM commander, their statement settles the issue. There are, I believe, five living former commandants and eight CENTCOM commanders who have not joined in expressing a similar view. Do you attach any significance to that fact? If not, why not?

It is not surprising that, as two men who have been heavily involved in leading us to what they appear to see as impending defeat, they would seize upon George Tenet's views on interrogation as being the cause. Not persuasive to me.

(Aren't you the guy who thinks the Al Qaeda jihad is an "insurgency," and that the way to victory is to win their hearts and minds?)

Charlie (Colorado)

Leo, please look up the word "venality": it doesn't mean what you think it means.

Charlie (Colorado)

Militiaman: Yeah well, don't line up in front of me asshole.

I like this one. Can we keep her?

Charlie (Colorado)

On torture: the running issue with this is that there's no agreed definition of what torture is. The suffering definition quoted above has the problem that it's capable of infinite discussion, and re-definition depending on what the goal of the arguer is. Thus we end up with arguments over not just waterboarding, but down to and including poorly inflated soccer balls during play time. Not to mention lack of a private toilet. I've even seen it seriously argued that merely being kept incarcerated is in itself torture, since it's unpleasant to have one's freedom restricted.

Another point that comes up is reciprocity: if we were to "torture" captives, why then our opponents might do so too.

Dude.

Dude.

If we were concerned about that, we'd be debating whether it was ethical to burn our captives alive on video, or if we had to behead them first.

Then, of course, there's the problem with the number of "orture" incidents that turn out to be flat-out lies. See, eg, the Aussie internee who was supposedly tortured, sleep-deprived, and slowly starving --- but who turned up at his trial tanned, looking fit, and 20 lbs heavier than he'd been when he went in.

The point is that there really is no sensible debate here: we don't know what we mean when we say "torture", and an awful lot of the public voices involved don't really care about the rationality of the question nearly as much as they care about making political points.

Jane

The reality is that the whole discussion is rather pathetic - the same old and tired assignment of victim status to predators, without a word concerning the plight of the truly innocent prey.

This really is the heart of it - this and the fact that to some torture means not staying at the 4 Seasons.

I'm ready to just nuke the region and be done with it.

Cecil Turner

Unlawful combatants are vermin and the treatment they receive prior to their demise should be of absolute minimal concern to anyone. The true question involves status determination and the procedures involved in assuring that the truly innocent are not swept up with the culpable.

Exactly. From the time the laws of war were first formalized in the US, the concept of an "armed prowler" was codified, and specifically exempted from POW status:

. . . such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.
The legal status changed little, if any, up to the point of the current legal precedent (Ex Parte Quirin):
'armed prowlers ... or persons of the enemy territory who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of robbing, killing, or of destroying bridges, roads or canals, of robbing or destroying the mail, or of cutting the telegraph wires, are not entitled to be treated as prisoners of war'.
There have been some changes to the applicable treaties in the interim, but none that change the basic consideration (also from Quirin):
Our Government, by thus defining lawful belligerents entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, has recognized that there is a class of unlawful belligerents not entitled to that privilege, including those who though combatants do not wear 'fixed and distinctive emblems'. And by Article 15 of the Articles of War Congress has made provision for their trial and punishment by military commission, according to 'the law of war'.
The main issue is providing some basic safeguards to ensure innocents are not swept up with the guilty. But membership in Al Qaeda is proof positive of unlawful combatancy, and the safeguards need not protect them. The only consideration they rate, as far as I can tell, is that provided by the Convention Against Torture . . . and if waterboarding is the worst thing considered, that doesn't apply.

Pierre Legrand

It is not surprising that, as two men who have been heavily involved in leading us to what they appear to see as impending defeat, they would seize upon George Tenet's views on interrogation as being the cause. Not persuasive to me

Ding ding ding...the Idea that we should blindly follow any Government Bureaucrat (yes that is what many who have made it that far up are) is absolutely hilarious. Holy smokes I guess McClellan was someone we should have listened to in the Civil War. Would have saved us a bunch of pain in the south.

Foo Bar

The main issue is providing some basic safeguards to ensure innocents are not swept up with the guilty

I have to wonder sometimes how hard we're working on that front. This Boston Globe article suggests we're hardly lifting a figure to locate witnesses who the detainees claim could help exonerate them. In one case, the detainee wanted witness testimony from Afghanistan's minister of energy, and still, the U.S. military said it couldn't find him!

Cecil Turner

This Boston Globe article suggests we're hardly lifting a figure to locate witnesses who the detainees claim could help exonerate them.

That's a travesty, all right. You'd think the Globe would mention the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and the fact that it provides for compulsion of witnesses "any place where the United States shall have jurisdiction thereof." I'm less than thrilled with the requirement for a status tribunal for unlawful enemy combatants (a privilege unavailable to lawful combatants, and conferring a significant advantage), but the idea that we have to serve subpoenas in Afghanistan is, well, unpersuasive.

Foo Bar

the idea that we have to serve subpoenas in Afghanistan is, well, unpersuasive

How about in Washington, DC, where one of the other supposedly unavailable witnesses turned out to be?:

The e-mail address for the third witness, former Afghan Interior Minister Ahmed Ali Jalali, was found with one call to the Interior Ministry. A quick Google search would have also located him: He is in Washington, D.C., teaching at the National Defense University.
Foo Bar

In any case, talking about "compulsion of witnesses" and subpoenas isn't really on point in the particular case the Globe article focuses on. It's not as if the witnesses were unwilling to discuss the case and needed to be compelled. All 3 of them were evidently perfectly happy to discuss the topic with the Globe reporter once they were contacted.

Cecil Turner

How about in Washington, DC, where one of the other supposedly unavailable witnesses turned out to be?:

Since I don't agree with the requirement for a commission at all, I don't think they should walk across the street to find one. If the detainees are unhappy with the results, they can take it up with SCOTUS, who so far is refusing to hear 'em. The bottom line is that a tribunal to determine combatancy is an unheard-of concession. The previous standard was a "determination" by the executive, which could be bare suspicion. And based on the fact that several of the detainees have rejoined the fight after being released, I'd say our procedures are rather too lax.

All 3 of them were evidently perfectly happy to discuss the topic with the Globe reporter once they were contacted.

Fine, have some of the bleeding hearts chorus fly 'em to the hearings. Or not.

JM Hanes

Rick:

"I haven't seen much discussion of "principles" wrt this question at all."

Mostly because anyone who doesn't toe McCain's line in the sand gets metaphorically tarred & feathered on the spot.

Other Tom

Foo Bar, my heart flutters at your concern for the rights of these fine fellows (and also at the concept of "lifting a figure").

Still waiting for you expression of concern about their putative targets. And I'd like to hear as concise a description as you can give about what are, and should be, the rights of enemy combatants.

Any thoughts about how the determination as to the status as enemy combatant should be made? I'd love to hear some constructive criticism here.

Tom Maguire

FYI, I have a longish UPDATE responding to Andrew Sullivan.

Also, I am a big Foo Bar fan and I don't want him to beat on us too fiercely...

Tom Maguire

Sort of in the "Note to Self" file: At some point in a discussion of "torture" versus "enhanced interogation techniques", someone ought to quote Nietsche's "That which does not kill me makes me stronger".

Don't think of it as torture - think of it as character development.

The point made above that refusing to attempt to define torture is a cop-put is well taken.

clarice

You ask "why?" Tom..Puh-leaze..this is the same poseur who said something (DOMA, IIRC) would be his breaking point when at the same time he told a gay mag he'd already left Bush and was supporting Kerry.

He may be a moral beacon to himself, but anyone who has paid attention to his posturing over the last few years would tell him he's not to anyone else.

His obsession with calling things "torture" which clearly are not seems to spring from some inner demon I'd rather not know about, but certainly is explicable to any first rate shrink.

And he's blaming anyone else above Karpinsky for Abu Ghraib is ridiculous.

clarice

**And HIS blaming...*

Foo Bar

Other Tom:
also at the concept of "lifting a figure").

Yes, you have fingered a typo on my part. I guess I need better copy editors.

Still waiting for you expression of concern about their putative targets

Still waiting? Did I decline to express concern for our soldiers after you asked me to do so in the past? Yes, of course, I am greatly concerned for their well being.

I'd love to hear some constructive criticism here.

I would have thought it would be obvious from that Boston Globe story I linked, but here it goes. If we are going to have these status tribunals and the detainee wants to get witness testimony, then we should at least make some sort of reasonable effort to track down the witnesses. In the specific case described in the Globe piece, the witnesses were prominent members or former members of Karzai's government- one was teaching at a military institution in Washington, for Pete's sake- who the Globe reporter had no trouble finding at all, yet our military claimed they could not be found.

I'm all for keeping locked up those we are truly confident are terrorists, but let's make some sort of effort to get it right. The whole "why do you care about giving rights to terrorists?" line begs the question when the debate is about what the detainee is entitled to regarding his opportunity to prove that he is not a terrorist. And "captured on the battlefield" just does not apply to a good number of these people. Here's an excerpt from a Dana Priest chat:


Chicago, Ill.: I had been under the impression that most of the detainees at Guantanamo had been captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan, but I recently read that this is not true. The majority of them have been captured in Pakistan, where our government has distributed flyers promising reward money for identifying al Qaeda operatives. How confident can we be that many of these detainees have not been framed?

Dana Priest: It's hard to tell. there are certainly mainly, perhaps a majority, who were picked up in Pakistan, having fled the battlefield of Afghanistan. The files show us -- to the extent the files offer credible information -- that many, many people were, in fact, framed. For money. For revenge. To eliminate competitors. All sorts of reasons.


Consumatopia

Which is why there seems to be a consensus that the military should follow their stricter rules and the CIA should have special latitude in special cases.

Now who's off by an order of magnitude?! Several orders of magnitude--how many people do you think the CIA has interrogated while Bush has been president? Far less than a million. McCain pretty clearly said that he personally would have to sign off on any incident of torture--not let the CIA have latitude in deciding on their own. Also note that the one-in-million stance, or any reference to the extreme improbability under which torture is necessary (no such case has been made public under Bush without other interrogators denying that torture was actually useful) was completely missing from Giuliani's stance. Yeah, both McCain and Giuliani would torture in the one-in-a-million case. But Giuliani would do so in the other 999,999--or, at least he felt it useful to pretend he would in demagogue fashion. It's what you do in the other 999,999 cases---the 999,999 cases that we actually expect a future president to encounter--that matters.

If a moderator asked a candidate asked whether he or she would suspend elections in the face of invasion by body-snatching space aliens, any reasonable candidate would emphasize the extreme improbability of that scenario before conceding that they would, in fact, suspend election.

It's true that McCain shouldn't have compromised over MCA. The tiny crack between McCain and perfection on this issue should not obscure the gaping gulf between him and the other front-runner GOP candidates on this issue. One thing that he was absolutely correct on is that pro-torture folks don't know very much about interrogation.

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Wilson/Plame