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December 05, 2005

Comments

kim

Pull 'em on, Condi. Those boots are made for walkin'.
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kim

Walk softly and carry a big stick.
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kim

Stomp softly and carry a big schtick.
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r flanagan

Oh dear, do you have to live on that
continent as I did for many years to
realize that that way madness lies ?
Today's justified defense of "our way of life" slides into tomorrow's enthusiam. "You don't know what they were like" as my former nazi friend said to me after we finished discussing Balzac , Mann and Dostoievsky.

Of course there's an argument for torturing the "ticking bomb" : The planes on the way
and we need to know where they are going.
Then what? Does that extend to raping the
terrorist wife? To threatening to kill his children? To killing the first one ? If not , why not? If that saves 3000 people?

In plain words Condi's saying that it's OK to do some evil to prevent a greater evil .
Could be. But let's not get that important conversation entangled with puerile political cheerleading.

Rick Ballard

RF,

Tom is spoofing just a tad. Try 'the truth' link.

Not that I'd mind Condi telling Chirac that. With a wind up that included planting her booted foot wherever she decided it would do the most good.

JM Hanes

rflan

"Then what?"

You know, some slopes just aren't all that slippery.

r flanagan

Sure, TM's entitled to spoof provided the rest of us remember that in the real world High Noon far too often morphs into the Lord of the Flies .

kim

That explains Zarqawi, boys will be boys?
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r flanagan

Yes.

kim

Do you remember what happens at the end of 'Lord of the Flies'?
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Cecil Turner

Does that extend to raping the terrorist wife? To threatening to kill his children?

What, no raping his children? Perhaps we could have space aliens make monkeys fly out of his butt? Or, apparently equally improbable, have an honest debate on the subject?

For all the hand-wringing on the subject, the genesis of the "torture" outcry was a couple of legal documents observing (correctly) that no rational reading of Geneva could conclude that terrorists qualified for POW status. That led to a policy on interrogation somewhat harsher than (strictly hands-off) Geneva. 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." Here's one of the actual examples, along with its warning:

I. (U) Pride and Ego Down: Attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee, not beyond the limits that would apply to a POW. [Caution: Article 17 of Geneva III provides, "Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." Other nations that believe that detainees are entitled to POW protections may consider this technique inconsistent with the provisions of Geneva. Although the provisions of Geneva are not applicable to the interrogation of unlawful combatants, consideration should be given to these views prior to application of the technique.]
Personally, I'd have retained the option of waterboarding in special cases. But once we dumped that one, the worst thing left is annoying air conditioning settings. "Torture," it ain't.

The other proposal is McCain's bill, which includes a prohibition against "degrading treatment" (whatever that means) and applies an eighth amendment standard that has in the past been used to demand access to cable television. So the current state of debate appears to be between these two choices:

  • "good cop/bad cop" [bad cop can fiddle with the AC]; and
  • guaranteed access to basic cable.
Not surprisingly, considering the rampant misinformation and state of national awareness, the dumber proposal is winning.

kim

Well, I'll tell you, RF. Condi sails in and SPANKS all those boys.
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r flanagan

THEN WHAT ?

OK honest debate. Not a discussion of an endless list of things that aren't torture :turning down the airco etc.

Dershowitz's position (as I understand it
perhap incorrectly)is that all , repeat all ,torture should be illegal except as specifically authorized by the President for use against a ticking bomb .

I'd go further and empower the President to clearly delegate someone - the head of the CIA perhaps- to keep the torture key. With whatever guide line this particular President chooses.

Where do I personally think the President should draw the line? Nowhere.No line.

Waterboarding ? Give me a break. Rape his wife , rape his children , kill his children one by one . If the planes are on the
way and he has good reason to believe that this guy has that information the TIC should be empowered to authorize all the above
because BTW he will. And should.

But absent direct instruction from the TIC everybody south of him should follow the "quaint" Geneva conventions rather than recreating the wheel. Not that I give a damn about what's in them, just that there should be a clear black line so Geneva works. Easy for the camp guards to enforce and , unless we're going to torture , we're more apt to get information from a prisoner who is well treated than from one whom we just torment a little. And since they're going to leave someday how we treat them now will determine
how they treat us then.

And also determines whether we turn our
soldiers into so many Lindy Englunds
sliding down a slippery slope as they will.

But for the "ticking bomb" no line except the one drawn by the President we elect
with the full knowledge that he or she
will be doing that.

OK ?

Rick Ballard

No, it's absolutely not OK. It confers an honorable status upon terrorist. The status is undeserved and denigrates every member of the armed forces of every country that observes the Geneva Convention.

It is the terrorist who by his actions removes himself from the protection of a law which he despises. Give him the honor of his despite - it was his choice.

The current regulations concerning the treatment of captives are completely sufficient. Persons breaking those regulations have been investigated, tried and punished in accordance with the UCMJ.

We don't need the babbling buffoons in the Congressional Clown Corps passing feel good legislation that imposes unneeded additional levels of controls.

r flanagan

Rick .

And how would you treat a ticking bomb?

kim

Geneva conventions are for symmetric warfare with uniformed combatants. They were gentlemen's agreements.
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kim

What are you, crazy? You think Zarqawi or bin Laden are going to abide?
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r flanagan

Of course not.

maryrose

In Yemen they don't have these sensibilities,it's up against the wall, ready aim...

Section9

Remember folks, Tom's point is rather simple: the Eurotrash are up in arms about a policy that they've known about for several years.

They can't handle the truth.

"Let's lower the A/C to 58 and take away the Happy Meal privileges. NO HALAL MEAL THIS WEEK FOR YOU, AHMAD!

Damn! We're tough! That's what I call Strict Regime!"

This is what is called Liberalism At War. Bin Laden rolls around on the floor and laughs his freaking pantaloons off at this shit, folks. Then he tells a couple of off-color jokes about "the Hebes" to a couple of his cronies up from Islamabad to visit. After a nice halal lunch, he goes back to planning another mass-casualty attack.

Someday, liberal Democrats will get serious about the GWOT. Just not today.

By the way, for those of you who are in agreement with me that the goings on at GitMo have outlived their usefulness, I have a Modest Proposal: let's build a New Facility!

There are some isolated atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean: I'm thinking Kwajalein or Tarawa. There, you could build a Strict Regime facility that could hold a couple of thousand guys. The point is isolation; far away from the media and away from any possibility of interference from AQ or the Cubans. We could even build a larger facility on Midway. The point is to build an isolated facility into which these guys go for the Duration and are taken out of circulation.

And no, I'm not saying let's build a place where we can have lots of beatings. That's Monty Python stuff, after all!

kim

They would neither abide by civil agreements, nor will Condi let them abide. Note the lack of qualifications on the verb under Ricey huaraches.
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Cecil Turner

But absent direct instruction from the TIC everybody south of him should follow the "quaint" Geneva conventions rather than recreating the wheel.

Great idea. But what if one side decides they can get a tactical advantage by ignoring those conventions (like leaving off their uniforms and targeting civilians)? Should we then treat them as POWs (better, actually, because we have to have a hearing to determine if they should be detained)? What do you think future adversaries will conclude from that? (Perhaps: "there's no downside to blowing off that GC stuff, let's cut their heads off!"?)

And also determines whether we turn our soldiers into so many Lindy Englunds sliding down a slippery slope as they will.

Yeah, poor Lynndie. At least she'll be able to reflect at length.

Rick Ballard

RF,

The "ticking bomb" is too much of an abstraction.

What conduct should be expected of Iraqi security forces upon 'red handed' apprehension of a terrorist bomb planter? Say ol' Achmed is taken in hand 10 minutes after a kindergarten blows up - and he has three more bombs in the trunk?

That's going to be the question come late winter. AS far as I'm concerned the Brits were far too soft on the IRA and the Israelis have been too lenient with the Palis.

Terror has been allowed to have utility as a tactic due to the west's rewarding it with concessions rather than meeting it head on and removing any hope of profit from the equation. Drumhead courts, ignominous death and unmarked burial are certainly worth a try for a decade or so.

Forty years of searching for "root causes" and "understandling" are what have lead to this point. It's time to make something old new again. Piracy was reduced to a very uncommon practice by swinging pirates from yard arms and destroying their refuges. Terrorism will be reduced to the same state by the same methods.

kim

Whosit alive or what's his face dead, from the shores of Tripoli.
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cathyf
should follow the "quaint" Geneva conventions
Fine by me. The GC is an agreement. A quid pro quo. Everybody gives something up, everybody gets something. Soldiers take actions -- wear uniforms, avoid civilians, do not target non-combattants -- which increase their chances of getting killed, and increase the chances that their side will lose. Civilians give up the right to loot battlefields, and to rape, torture and kill captured soldiers.

The GC, like every other treaty, is all about rewards and punishments. If the terrorists want to give up their rights as soldiers by taking up the privileges of war criminals, then "following the Geneva Convention" means that all of the traditional age-old privileges of civilians get restored, too. The Geneva Convention says that each one of the GitMo boys can be gang raped and have his arms and legs amputated and then be dropped naked on a fire ant hill in the blazing hot sun, all televised on pay-per-view.

To quote the great Lileks about a different word pair:

As a wise giant said in “The Princess Bride” – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

cathy :-)

clarice

Good catch, Kim--Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.

Maybe we can make bumper stickers.

kim

Thank you, my Queen.
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clarice

You are entirely welcome..

kim

OK, enough politesse. Let's get back to excoriating heathens.
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kim

Well, the ones who aren't gentlemenly or ladieslike, anyway.
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r flanagan

Last comment

Ol Achmed is certainly a bad guy. Like
the Nazis.

Our policy on captives should be based on our self interest not the personal qualities of any captive.

Specifically:

o if the ticking bomb is a combination
Christ and Ghandi subject him to any , repeat any , treatment that has any chance of extracting that information in time to save lives. And don't bother claiming that
we are being humane. Obvious lies undercut respect for authority.

o for non-ticking-bomb captives , I
accept the position of someone who actually
knows something about the subject. John
McCain.

Or we could follow the SS memo in the Dachau museum.

o Rent the prisoners out for work on the
local farms for 1 RM/day. And hold them
in the general larea where their food
costs , say , 40 pfennigs/day.

o When they become so weak the farmers
won't pay the full price cut the charge to fifty pf per day and move the prisoners to
Special Area B where the food only costs
half of that.

Und so weiter.

Cecil Turner

if the ticking bomb . . .

Does anyone know of an actual ticking bomb scenario, ever? I don't, but even if it happened once in a blue moon, it's not a rational basis for interrogation procedures. Nor, by the way, is the Nazi comparison (which is actually way past due . . . I admire your restraint).

And hey, looks like I waxed nostalgic about waterboards too soon:

Once healthy, he was slapped, grabbed, made to stand long hours in a cold cell, and finally handcuffed and strapped feet up to a water board until after 0.31 seconds he begged for mercy and began to cooperate.
And dang, .31 seconds is quick. And accurate timing, too. (Must be one of them newfangled stopwatches--probably issued 'em to CIA types so they could time how long they could keep a secret.)

cathyf

Do you think they measured the .31 seconds to when he opened his mouth to beg, or when the sound actually started?

cathy :-)

kim

Who said we're stooping to Achmed's level? For you, I see, it's ever again.
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clarice

Make them watch Margaret Cho tapes 24/7..or J F Kerry for that matter..

TM

And dang, .31 seconds is quick. And accurate timing, too.

Actually, they timed it by measuring how quickly it takes for a cheap suitcase to fold up.

I admire the guy for holding out so long - I always thought I would burst into tears at the mere threat of torture.

Oops!

Of the 12 high-value targets housed by the CIA, only one did not require water boarding before he talked. Ramzi bin al-Shibh broke down in tears after he was walked past the cell of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the operational planner for Sept. 11. Visibly shaken, he started to cry and became as cooperative as if he had been tied down to a water board, sources said.
clarice

Maybe we should have made tapes of them crying and circulated them.They'd have to be leaked , of course since it's okay for the enemy to distribute for sale in every broken down flea bag souk in the world videos of the beheadings of civilians but a real scandal to show any of their biggies in custody.

DougJ

I wonder how fast Joe Wilson would fess up if he was waterboarded.

r flanagan

Had intended to subside but in reply
to the above obviously I'm inclined to drag
in the Nazis because of personal experience
but, that said, it's relevant because

1. The holocaust makes Abu Ghraib look benign.
2.And for that very reason I consider the Nazis just as bad as the islamo fascists- but Ike treated them in accordance with Geneva .

I like Ike with respect to the general treatment of prisoners . However with respect to "high value" captives we must be able to interrogate them under the John McCain / Lindsay Graham rules. And if
they conflict with Geneva , too bad for Geneva.

With respect to the incidence of "ticking bombs" McCain just now told Terri Gross he puts the odds of that at one in a million but in that case "you do what you have to" with which I also agree. I wouldn't describe that as humane since it wouldn't be.

Finally I don't find torture particularly amusing but de gustibus .

Cecil Turner

Finally I don't find torture particularly amusing but de gustibus .

Me neither. However, we're not talking torture here. (Except perhaps when discussing McCain, who was in fact tortured. He also didn't respond to it very well, but that's certainly excusable, under the circumstances.) I do find it amusing that the worst "torture" one can expect at US hands is the same technique we use on our own personnel at SERE school. There, we call it "training" (and yes, like boot camp, it is amusing . . . at least after the fact).

DougJ

"1. The holocaust makes Abu Ghraib look benign."

That is so true. Compared to the holocaust, Abu Ghraib really was just a big frat prank. Not too condone what a few bad apples might have done but to compare it to the Holocaust, as some on the left have done, is to engage in the worst kind of moral relativism.

BurkettHead

Comparing Abu Ghraib to the Holocaust doesn't indicate moral relativism, but a complete lack of a moral compass.

cathyf
the Nazis just as bad as the islamo fascists- but Ike treated them in accordance with Geneva
Well, in fact during WWII regular German army troops were treated as soldiers under Geneva, while SS were treated as war criminals. At one concentration camp the Americans were so horrified by what they saw that they opened fire and shot the surrenduring camp guards who were lined up against the wall waiting to be taken prisoner. One of the rules of the GC is that lawful combatants can never be charged with any crimes for killing people in combat, attempting to kill people in combat, or destroying property in combat -- all things which are normally crimes. We certainly charged, tried, convicted, imprisoned and executed German war criminals after the war. All those people insisting that we treat islamofascist war criminals like POWs must think we are terribly evil for those war crimes trials -- you know, Abu Ghraib = Nuremburg.

cathy :-)

r flanagan

The holocaust-defending nazi whom I knew very well was almost nostalgic for his prison camp.

Cecil Turner

And for that very reason I consider the Nazis just as bad as the islamo fascists- but Ike treated them in accordance with Geneva .

Leaving aside the moral question, "bad" isn't really the issue. The question is whether combatants comply with the provisions of Third Geneva (article 4) pertaining to the requirements for POW status (e.g., carrying weapons openly during assaults, having a fixed sign distinguishable at a distance, and abiding by the laws of war). As a general rule, the Nazis did (with some exceptions, like the notorious "commando order" . . . which earned the perpetrators war crimes tribunals). Al Qaeda (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, the Taliban) clearly don't. There is no Geneva requirement to reward them for flouting the conventions, and doing so would likely cause future problems.

kim

My lord, someone else understands the difference between flaunt and flout. I already thought a lot of you, but you just got promoted.
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kim

There were pix of it cathy, but it was an anomaly.
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TM

One fisherman flaunted his flounder as another fisherman, having flouted the hazard warning, foundered.

kim

I'm dumbfloundered. Charter me a school.
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kim

How about 'having flouted the flags flying, foundered.'?
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kim

What's really cool is that some actions are both flouting and flaunting. Sassy! But, I think that's where the imprecision creeps in because 'flaunt' is usually chosen for the combined action, and, over time, comes(has come, may come) to mean 'flout'.
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DougJ

"I consider the Nazis just as bad as the islamo fascists"

I'm not sure I'd go that far, though obviously they were despicable.

Cecil Turner

The fisherman, attempting to swim to shore, first floundered, then foundered. The funeral will be funded by the Fisherman's Foundation. The foundation's founder (a philanthropic funder) is fonder of flounder than funding founders.

kim

Is the founder fonder of flouting foundations or flaunting formations?
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TM

Careful now or I'm going to dig up CT's entries in the impromptu poetry smackdown.

JM Hanes

rflan

"o for non-ticking-bomb captives , I accept the position of someone who actually knows something about the subject. John McCain"

I expect his former cellmate actually knows something too, don't you?
(via Betsy's Page.

Cecil Turner

Well, I don't need much encouragement. And since I had a saved round . . .

r flanagan

j m haynes. Absolutely.

And if they disagree I'll adopt the suggestion that most corresponds to my own values. Presumably , McCain's .

r flanagan

j m hanes. Sorry for misspelling your name.

kim

I suppose, rf, our assymetric enemy will extend the protection of those amendments to us? Or to the Red Cross gal in Fallujah?
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kim

Cathy, we've got pix of DJ machinegunning the innocent, too, but it was lucky.
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