Democrats & Liberals Archives

Comparisons Should Be Made

Watch out! It’s the new political correctness: No matter how bad our behavior gets, no matter how much it starts to resemble those of nations we loath and despise, you are not to compare their behavior to ours. Why? Because admitting that possiblity might mean saying that our enemies are right. Again, though, the right-wing guardians of America’s reputation forget one big fact: If the shoe fits, we’ll be wearing it regardless of who’s fitting it.

The reality of America's virtue must come first, or else the reputation it is meant to uphold will not follow.

When is it enough? Admittedly, the new forms of torture that our government practices don't seem like torture, when mentioned casually. Loud music, sleep deprivations, stress positions, nudity and sexual humiliation. Sounds like a frat party.

Except it's not. Pledges sign on willingly. Even then, the behavior can get out of control, as several news reports over the past few years have recorded. Moreover, just because we're not using the medieval blood and guts approaches, or the modern surgical methods, doesn't mean we're better than those folks. In a way, there's a certain cowardice to these methods, which are principly design to inflict suffering and degradation without leaving marks for international organizations to make a fuss about. This is the torture that dare not speak its own name.

Regardless, it is torture. It is meant to reduce people to a mental shambles. That the methods are often bloodless is irrelevant. Imagine a soldier locked in a room with ear splittingly loud marching songs played, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no break to stop the headaches, no room for the soldier to think or feel or withdraw from it. Imagine your next door neighbor's son being kept forcefully awake for days on end, until hallucinations and insanity begin to approach, and the worms started to come out of the walls. Imagine being handcuffed in a crouching position for hours on end, with no way to relieve the pain of muscles as they cramp, or the exhaustion of your body as you endure it. Imagine seeing a video on the news of American soldiers, male and female, paraded naked, sexually humiliated by their captors. If we saw or experienced these things, there would be no question as to what to call these "tough" interrogation methods.

Now imagine the world's response to your horror, your outrage, your personal ordeal is this: This is what your country does, why can't we?

We can whine to the world at large that this is what we have to do to protect ourselves but our enemies will smile and reply, but are we not entitled to protect ourselves as well? We may get flustered about their reasoning, but there it is: if the nation that stands as the pinnacle of the world's civilization is allowed to torture, why not everybody else?

Ruthless behavior by an exemplar nation like ours spreads. What we encourage or turn a blind eye to sets the standard, and it often comes back to haunt us, especially when our good intentions for what the world should do runs into our actual track record. It's difficult enough when that's the case, but what about when our bad behavior is ongoing? George W. Bush can piously talk about freedom being God's gift to man, but with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo going on, The old familiar saying becomes What God Gives, Bush takes away. Does Mr. Chief Executive's special relationship with the almighty come with such privileges? There's a reason the divine right of kings paradigm got shifted onto the garbage dump of history.

We are also talking about the degree to which the leaders start echoing in their rhetoric the words often attributed to the Sun King, Louis XIV : "L'État, c'est moi". In essence, our leaders are making no distinction between blocking their power, and blocking the interest of the state. They are also not making the proper distinctions between dislike of their policies and actions of our country, which they are responsible for and the dislike of this country. This is the kind of dangerous convergence that puts the very basis of our republic at risk: expansion of power and the squashing of dissent and oversight dealing with that power.

It's no doubt true that our interest is served by giving our law-enforcement and military operatives the powers to protect us. Sounds easy. Maybe we should just give them power until they can do whatever they want! Trouble is, as generations of people have found out, power without accountability or limit is not always used properly or morally, even that which under systems of accountability could be useful. I mean, both our FBI and Saddam's secret forces shared the power to arrest people. The requirements of accountability make the difference.

Authoritarian government and theoretically unlimited power do not a security solution make. Look at Saudi Arabia. Look at all the paranoid regimes that nonetheless have suffered from insurrection, political unrest, and terrorism. Paranoia is not just a response to these things, I believe. They can be a source of all these.

Our nation hangs together, in part, because of the inability of any one group to unconditionally grab power and do what they like. There's no need to start the kind of violent power struggles we see elsewhere on account of religion, race, former nationality, or any of that stuff.

When we compare America to other nations, we shouldn't take an approach of patronizing superiority, but instead one of cautionary introspection. Why does the Catholic/Protestant divide not blow up here the way it does in Northern Ireland, for example. How can Muslims in Dearborn and elsewhere be so at home in America, even after 9/11, yet so alienated in other western countries?

We're not better than anybody else on this planet. Hell, since we're a nation of immigrants, you could say we are everybody else on the planet ! Whatever's different, its not race or language, given all the strife we've seen over the past two centuries in many of our ancestral countries, among our different ancestors.

What makes us different is the meaning at the heart of a piece of paper, a law we've all consented to follow together, as equals. We haven't followed it perfectly over time, but it's allowed us to adjust to profound changes in society, yet maintain the same government. What makes America special is what emerges from the constitution, a ghost in the machine that takes its life from the constrained interaction between individual and state.

The constraints allow us to live peacefully with our government and vice versa. They allow the dynamics of culture and religion to play out without getting dammed up behind government actions that attempt to artificially control the situation. It also allows Americans to determine safely the extent to which that government is necessary in or around their lives, instead of that being the arbitrary decision of the ruler.

What Bush wants is not merely the power to torture terrorists, but also terror suspects- that is, people who could be innocent of everything. He wants you to trust that the government got its suspect right. With torture, though, there is no reliable way to tell the difference between the guilty and the innocent. With torture, there is also no way to distinguish between statements of truth, and statements of confabulation, based on the victim's sense of what the torturer might consider a right answer, even if the person involved is an actual terrorist.

Torture is not about information. It's about dominance. It's charm is that it breaks the subject to the interrogator's will, theoretically so that one can ask any question and get answers one needs. The reality is, the ignorance of the interrogator can become the inaccuracy of the interrogated man's account. Even bad phrasing and seemingly loaded words in the questions of the interrogator can lead a suspect and the people interpreting his remarks down the garden path. We get the power to get the suspect to say anything we want, but that includes things that are untrue, whether we know them to be or not.

Another danger, given the nature of these practices, is that we will be handed scapegoats as culprits by a government which cares more about appearances than realities, or by corrupt officials working on behalf of the enemy. Once we give a power such as this to the government, it is unlikely that it will remain in the hands of the pure of heart alone.

The same goes for the wiretaps and all other kinds of unwarranted searching and surveillance. The requirements that civil liberties impose are not merely nice luxuries. They are necessary limitations to the power of a government to arrest, accuse, and investigate its people. They provide us the room to express the points of view and the means by which to take those views and translate them to action on our own behalf. In short, they help make America what it is. We should compare our country to others, because when our country starts resembling those less free, run by less enlightened laws and guarantees, it is past time to act to preserve its integrity.

America should not become like those other nations who speak from hypocrisy when they call themselves free and their practices just. The facts of what we are doing should not tell us that our nation is falling to the dark demons of tyranny and authoritarianism that have consumed other nations elsewhere in the world. We should not be asked to stand idly by while the home of the free and the land of the brave becomes the nation of the chained, and the land of the cowering victim.

We cannot simply believe we are better than this, and lash out at anybody who says otherwise. We must be better than this, and judge the claims of those who say otherwise on the evidence. If we are guilty of what they say, our response should be the sanction of those responsible, and the end to whatever excess they brought to occur. If we are innocent of the charge, the evidence will show that, and we can remain content in our nation's good name. Regardless, is our actions, not merely our words, that preserve or endanger that good name, and the more we focus on the reality behind that reputation, the better. America's good name must be preserved by action, not merely lip service to the principles it upholds.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2006 6:45 AM
Comments
Comment #181982

Great article, as usual Stephen.

————

From Adbusters, June 2006:

As the photos [Abu Ghairab] neatly demonstrated, you can do a lot to a person witout leaving a mark. The question is, in the pursuit of your own security, and the security of your family and your neighbors, how much is too much? When it comes to humiliation, discomfort, fear and pain, WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?

—You nudge him awake with the barrel of a rifle. He says nothing, just stands in compliance, shivering in his underwear. You give him a pair of orange coveralls. He puts them on. You shackle his wrists, then his ankles. Heavy boots for his feet, foam plugs in his ears, a hood over his head. You bag his hands in layers of thick fabric, bound tightly with tape. HE SAYS NOTHING, but his breath is uneven.

As you push him back against a wall, you have a chair brought in for yourself. HE STANDS, YOU SIT. After an hour, coffee is brought in for you. When he slumps, you shove him roughtly back against the wall. If he slumps too frequently, YOUR BRING YOUR GUN UP AGAINST HIS EXPOSED THROAT. He can feel that. He stands up nicely.

On the fifteenth hour, while you’re having your meal, HE URINATES INSIDE HIS COVERALLS. You can see it as it saturates the fabric.

You turn on the BRIGHT, ARTIFICIAL LIGHTS in his holding cell. After two hours, you turn them off again. You continue — OFF, ON, OFF, ON — at random intervals. He asks you what time of day it is. You don’t tell him. Sometimes, you serve him two meals within an hour of one another. Sometimes, you wait eight hours. HE KEEPS ASKING what time it is, what date it is. YOU DON’T TELL HIM. He asks for a blanket. YOU DON’T GIVE HIM ONE. He asks to see his family. You don’t answer. He asks to see a JUDGE. You don’t answer.

After a few weeks, he stops asking for things, but you can still hear him talking— QUIETLY, TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR.

WHEN HE REFUSED TO EAT, you put him in the restraint char for force-feeding. When he THROWS UP ON HIMSELF, you make him remove his clothes and lay down ON THE CONCRETE FLOOR WITH HIS FACE IN THE VOMIT. When he doesn’t remain perfectly still, or when he makes any noise, YOU BRING OUT THE DOGS. wHEN HE TRIES TO COVER HIMSELF, you get one of the female guards to point at him, to taunt him, to straddle him AND TELL HIM THAT HIS MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER ARE WHORES. When he is uncooperative or insubordinate, you PUT HIM ON A LEASH and make him wear women’s undergarments. When he falls asleep, you blast him with SHATTERINGLY LOUD POP MUSIC. When he asks to go to the toilet, you make him wait until he messes himself, then you force him to roll around in it while you TAKE PICTURES OF HIM.

You and your cohorts do this for TWELVE, SIXTEEN, TWENTY HOURS at a time.

On the fifteenth day, YOU HAVE HIM STRAPPED TO AN INCLINED BOARD, with his feet higher than his head. YOU EXPLAIN TO HIM THAT HE IS ABOUT TO BE EXECUTED. HE WHIMPERS. You lower his head into a tank of frigid water as he blubbers incoherently and jerks at the restraints.

You watch him carefully, making sure that he doesn’t drown, but getting him as close as possible before raising the board. HE PASSES OUT MORE THAN ONCE. Each time, you revive him and then DUNK HIM AGAIN. Then you do it again. Then you do it again.

He begins to confess to impossible, nonsensical plots. HE ASKS FOR YOU TO KILL HIM. He asks to be allowed to kill himself. YOU DO NEITHER.

You wonder how much longer it will be until he gives you SOME REAL INFORMATION.

You can do a lot to a person— you can UTTERLY DESTROY A PERSON— all without leaving a single visable mark. Torturers have their techniques, and you have yours. Hooding, exploitation of phobias, stress positions, sensory deprivation* — you can do all of these things, and still YOU ARE NOT A TORTURER.

So do not worry. YOU WILL NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. You will not be punished. You are not a torturer. Not according to your superiors, and not according to your leaders.

But be warned: History — as well as your victims— MAY JUDGE YOU MORE HARSHLY.


[* US Secretary of Defence D.Rumsfeld gave formal, written approval for all of these techniques, along with others normally proscribed by the Army Field Manual, in a December 2002 internal memo.]

Posted by: tree hugger at September 17, 2006 8:40 AM
Comment #181984

tree hugger,

link? Um, possibly one that can be verified - like by the government or even CNN? Until then, nice (but disturbing) piece of fiction - are you a writer?

Posted by: Ilsa at September 17, 2006 8:49 AM
Comment #181985

Wonderful article Stephen. It is a sad testament to the times in which we live that such a piece needs to even be written.

Such abuses are inevitable however, as the hands of those in power will ever be reaching into the proverbial cookie jar to grasp whatever morsels the populace will allow them to take. An even casual perusal of world history will show this, and will also show what the outcome will be if the people do not slap that hand away before it manages to plunge in too deeply. Once this purloined treat is consumed, getting it back is a far more difficult task; the digestive tracts of leadership are not well disposed to the relinquishment of desires or authority. Further, and much like a small child, each successful attempt emboldens the perpetrator to try again and again, until the jar is empty and the people are left hungry.

For any people to condemn another, they must have just cause to do so. Lowering oneself to the level of one’s enemy only blurs the lines of righteousness and justice, thus committing moral suicide in the act of outward destruction. The irony is there for any who are willing to see.

Defending what we believe in, our ideals, our liberties and our noblest of visions, should stand above the base defense of our lives, lest we dishonor those who were willing to make that ultimate sacrifice to grant future generations those very same amenities. And by dishonoring them, we do the same to ourselves and give our descendants nothing but remembrances of ephemeral tainted glory, disillusion and eventual disgrace. To force them to fight for what we willingly abandoned, in some yet unseen day, because we were too cowardly when it was our time, is simply shameful.

There are those who say we are the weak ones, that we betray the false idol of patriotism they hold so dear. They are the one’s who place men above law, word above deed, vengeance above humility and flesh above spirit. Such hubris is the real betrayal.

Our flaws are not negated nor even reduced by the flaws of others; our flaws are negated by cessation of the actions they produce. We are not gods and no amount of nationalistic pride will change that; unrelenting belief in superiority, even in the face of evidence which discounts such faith, will only result in its converse. We can only achieve such goals through introspection and redirection when it is called for, as the constant focus on “The Other” will leave us blind to reality and fumbling for clarity.

To lead the world, we must light the path to virtue, not follow headlong into the darkness.

Posted by: Liberal Demon at September 17, 2006 9:03 AM
Comment #181986

ISLAM MEANS TO SUBJUGATE…


…THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!!!

Why is that so difficult to understand. It would seem that 100% of the intelligent free world would hear ISLAMIC leaders indicate that ISLAM will KILL all non believers. One might think that that would be enough to understand what the JIHAD is, that they intend to rule the Earth.

I DON’T CARE about torturing our enemies if it means killing them all before they kill me and my fellow citizens.

I DON’T CARE if the government is wire tapping suspected terrorist…TAP AWAY!. If they are innocent, they won’t mind because they have nothing to hide.

I DON’T CARE if our troops kill some innocents..we lost three thousand innocents here in America….IT’S WAR!

I DON’T CARE if we hurt anyone’s feelings by calling the Islamic faith evil…IT IS!
I don’t care if Muslims in Dearborn are comfortable or not..don’t like it here, leave!

I DON’T CARE if people are offended by this post, I am offended by weak minded pacifist putting my life in jeapordy by not seeing the reality of this whole war on terror.

SIMPLE EQUATION:
ISLAM= DEATH TO ALL INFIDELS [NON-MUSLIMS]

The whole problem with people like you Stephen is that you will always believe that we are not at war. You and your like will always insist this is our fault as a nation from past policies and mistakes, and now we must carry the burden. You will never, ever admit that Muslims hate infidels and are charged with converting or killing them…NO MATTER WHO OR WHERE.
You and the rest of the “intellectual left” can talk to them…try and reason with them…make consessions for them…and continue to focus all your anger and resources on bringing down your own government, meanwhile they are planning and preparing their next attack.

ME? I’m focusing on the true enemy…ISLAM!
And yes, it really it that simple.

Posted by: Joe at September 17, 2006 9:04 AM
Comment #181991

Joe,

One might think that that would be enough to understand what the JIHAD is, that they intend to rule the Earth.

Intention without means is like a gun without bullets; it looks frightening, but when push comes to shove, it’s all show and no bang.

If you really think that small groups of men from what are mostly poverty-stricken third-world nations can somehow bring about the downfall (or even possible invasion) of the most powerful and technologically advanced civilization on the face of the planet, and if you think that any of the things you “Don’t care” about will somehow prevent this (rather than implementing common sense defensive measures such as guarding our ports/borders, chemical plants and other vulnerable high-priority targets or inroads), then I don’t really know what else to say to you except “Good luck with that.”

Posted by: Liberal Demon at September 17, 2006 9:27 AM
Comment #181993

Joe-
It means to submit. Does the God Christ speak of ask any less?

You will not kill them all, because their numbers are not set by programming by some video game code. They are set by choices. Torture won’t protect us if it just gives us false information to distract us and drain our resources.

If you let the government determine without evidence who is suspect and who is not, then the whim of the government will one day determine who is punished and who is not, not the provable guilt of somebody for their crime. As I explained about torture, the innocent can be made to confess. Where is their “nothing to be worried about” then? We become prisoners of suspicion under such a system.

If we do not care whether we kill the innocent in our fight, we are no better than them, and we justify the crimes of 9/11. The prospect of vindicating those murders sickens me. It should sicken everyone.

The Islamic faith could be called evil, but so can the Christian faith, by those who do not forgive the actions of our misguided brothers. Again, do you want to make that the standard by which we are judged? We forgive human nature in religion so that we may be forgiven for our own.

I am no pacifist, but I recognize the real enemy. Not the Muslims of the world, or the religion they follow. The real enemies are those who seek to kill us. Fight the real enemy. Fight the terrorist. Don’t bring the innocent into this, those who have done us any harm. Save our strength to use against those who endanger our loved ones. Don’t waste it in paranoia, lashing out against a religion of which of which these bastard’s beliefs are only one distorted part.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2006 9:31 AM
Comment #181995

In a world that contains “Joes”, it is indeed heartening to hear the Stephens, the Tree Huggers and the Liberal Demons. A light is held up to the world, that the ideals of American and indeed Western Democracy still shine in the USA. When all of this hysteria related to the GWOT passes, it is these voices which will be honoured as having salvaged the honour of America, while true American patriots will hang their heads that their country could have been brought so low by those who besmirched and dragged in the mud all of the good that the US Constitution stands for. Gentlemen and ladies, if any, I salute you.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at September 17, 2006 9:38 AM
Comment #181998

My first comment is about Joe’s comment…ditto. Now,to other things.
A lefty that dosnt like political correctness? Watch out, you might get kicked out of the party.
Now that we invented torture, we better watch out for those “we behead infidels for god,” islamo-fascist peaceniks to retaliate.
The world has always loved and respected the USA. We must fight hard to keep our good standing.
Imagine, people subjugating women to the point that they can only show their eyelids because they must look down.
Imagine more buildings being bombed.
Imagine danger to tourists worlwide.
Imagine terrorism spreading a to point past containment.
Now…
Imagine Iraqis enjoying freedom like Turkey does.
Imagine countries that get food delivered to them without it being stolen by someone’s personal army.
Imagine delivering money without a dictator stealing it.
Imagine people building wells and schools without fearing for their safety.
Imagine people haviing a say in govt and how their country is run.
Imagine children having a future.
Imagine more allies in the fight against evil.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say Im a dreamer, but Im not the only one.

Posted by: JoeRWC at September 17, 2006 9:47 AM
Comment #182005

Yea that would be great ain’t gonna happen in the real world. But why Iraq and not some other country and why now when we are try to find OBL? I thought the terrorists were the focus of this fight Not nation building that has never worked.

Posted by: Jeff at September 17, 2006 10:09 AM
Comment #182008

Are there really conservatives out there with their head so deep in the sand that they do not believe that we are TORTURING PEOPLE?

And, now I see that there are people in our country who DON’T CARE that we are TORTURING PEOPLE!

Our President and current administration INSISTS on the right to TORTURE PEOPLE.

PEOPLE! They don’t know if they are guilty of any crime or have any information. Some may have just been picked up off the streets. But even if most or all of the prisoners subjected to torture were fighting against our invading army, you still think it acceptable to TORTURE?

The mighty Roman Empire fell apart when it tried to reach too far and its leaders became dictators and callous and thought that they did not have to submit to any other authority… when the rulers were no longer supported by the people for the heinous acts that the leaders were committing.

Is this the end for us?

God help us all.

Posted by: LibRick at September 17, 2006 10:16 AM
Comment #182009

The only thing that makes us special is our ideals: rule of law, respect for human dignity, humane treatment of prisoners, etc. If we behave like barbarians, we betray our ideals, and the rest of the world has no shining example.

I’m sick of the arguments that if our foes behave atrociously so we must too. Is that what we want to compare ourselves against?

Let’s jump right to the terrorist with a nuke scenario. We know he knows where the nuke is; it’s going to blow up a major U.S. city in a matter of hours. We have become more civilized and once again do not tolerate torture. What is the interrogator to do? He does what he must, but then, because he has violated the law, he is prosecuted. The interrogator, because he is trying to save a city, willingly takes responsiblity for his actions. In this way we have accountability and upheld our values.

That is a far cry from what we have now. We are behaving like cowards. For the illusion of a bit of security, we allowed our communications to be tapped with warrants, we try to legitimatize torture, we become reactionaries. And now some of us talk about war with the entire Muslim population. God knows how we would react, today, against a serious threat to our nation.

Our worst enemy is ourselves. No terrorist can jeopardize our freedoms, our way of life. Only we can do that. When we sacrifice our principles in the name of fear, we demonstrate just how important they are.

Posted by: Trent at September 17, 2006 10:23 AM
Comment #182011

The Roman Empire fell because it became too large to manage. The reason it succeeded, is because the people that were conquered, were given full citizenship and indigenous people were given local power.
We are behaving like cowards because we are always the most merciful in war. We pull our punches and dont use all our arsenal. We deliver food to people while we are still combating their army. We dont invade and conquer people.
The guy who was slapping his sandal on Saddam’s mural was not caressing his beloved leader’s face.

Posted by: JoeRWC at September 17, 2006 10:41 AM
Comment #182015

Why cant we find a 6’4” terrorist? Because he is hiding in a spider hole and will not dare show his face.
Why Iraq? UN resolutions. Saddam was the Hitler of the Middle East. He wanted to expand his empire. Now, there is a democratic country out there, helping us spread freedom.
Nation buildin worked for us and it tool longer than three years.

Posted by: JoeRWC at September 17, 2006 10:49 AM
Comment #182020

I have one question to ask of Joe, etc…. Did you read this posting before you went to church, or after you came back? Did you participate in a sermon of good, kind, gentle, loving ways of Jesus? Where do you hide that vitriolic side of you when you walk into that house of sanctity???

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at September 17, 2006 11:09 AM
Comment #182021

Liberal Demon:

I would have to heartily disagree with your statement that

For any people to condemn another, they must have just cause to do so.

People don’t need a just cause, they don’t even need a true cause…a lie or made-up cause will do quite well. It is so much easier to point fingers and make war against those of whom we have little to no knowledge…it’s called “demonizing”…it’s what the Nazis did to the Jews, it’s what Christians and Islam have done to each other repeatedly…

No knowledge or a little knowledge can be a very bad thing in international relations…

People-to-people programs significantly ease the possibilities of demonizing…and here we have a president who has had little fraternizing outside people of his own kind…no foreign travel (one trip!) before his inauguration…no in-depth experiences with the working class or the poor…and this goes for probably the majority of the U.S. populace at present.

We need fewer enclaves of rich and ghettos of the poor…we need to live and work among each other…then we will have walked the proverbial mile in another’s moccasins and will be able to understand that our way of life is not that of everyone…and we will also begin to understand what human dignity truly is and that it doesn’t have to have dollar signs in front of it to be considered “worthy”.

Posted by: Lynne at September 17, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #182022

Joe RWC:

Why Iraq? UN resolutions.

When will the U.S. invade Israel? There are over 46 UN resolutions against Israel’s actions.

Posted by: Lynne at September 17, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #182025

In the 1960’s whites and blacks alike held demonstrations against apartheid in America. Apartheid in America being an institution, they were fighting History. And, changing it for the present. Today more and more Muslims around the world are holding demonstrations against the Pope and America. History has a lot of warnings for America to consider when the enter the voting booth on Nov. 7.

Bush opened up this can of worms with his unwarranted and ill-conceived invasion of Iraq using words like Crusade, and IslamoFascists, torturing prisoners, rewriting the Geneva Conventions just for Muslim prisoners. Bush’s administration appears to have as its goal, creating WWIII in which Islamists are on the defensive and the U.S. appears to be the aggressor and instigator.

Quite a turnaround from our invading Afghanistan with nearly worldwide unanimous diplomatic support and backing. Way to go Bush. What’s next on the Republi-can’t agenda besides bankrupting our nation and WWIII holy wars?

A lot of you new Democrats voted for this jamoke. A lot of you former Democrats switched to vote for this jamoke. What do you think of his family values and fiscal responsibility now that he’s killing our sons and daughters needlessly and doubling our national debt? Just curious!

Belief is no substitute for knowledge! Try remembering that on Nov. 7, and every election day after this one coming. Some of us from Texas were telling America what a really bad governor Bush was in our state of Texas back in 2000. You wouldn’t listen to the facts, just the publicity hype from the Republican’ts PR firms.

Vote with knowledge, do your homework on the candidates you think you might vote for, BEFORE you vote for them. Lives and the health of our nation and the people’s futures depend on it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 17, 2006 12:16 PM
Comment #182026

JoeRWC-
Political Correctness, as you define it, is not as much the idol of the Democratic party as its detractors would want us to believe. Mostly we just believe in trying to move past the prejudices of the past.

Most of what we support comes under the heading of good manners and politeness.

In my definition, political correctness can be anything one says merely to deflect the criticism of the ideologues, be they from the left or the right. Some GOP and right wing ideologues make a sacred cow of America’s reputation, nailing folks who dare to suggest we are no longer as admired as we once were as traitors and quisling. I’m not going to give in to that kind of pressure, and I hope others don’t. What matters, as always, is actual conduct.

Islamofascism is a made up concept, draped over the real Middle East because people want to turn something complicated and bewildering into something simple, with a simple solution: war.

I don’t think the behavior of the terrorists and criminals who decapitate people should be our lower limit on moral behavior. I don’t even want to approach their level of degradation. When we do, we show the world that the terrorists are right, and that puts those who would denounce this behavior in the Middle East in a difficult spot, same as you’re trying to put other Americans here: If they can do this, what good is restraining folks on our side? If “This is war!” becomes our justification for atrocity, then we will descend to their level and only return to our former heights, if ever, after much pain and suffering. I would rather keep innocence than have to learn penitence.

I don’t think the tactics of this administration have helped the cause of bringing freedom and human rights to the region, especially not when we’re abusing them ourselves. Hypocrisy is a poor means of bringing about reform.

You can make all the promises as to what winning the war your way will do, but the means you would use would undercut your ability to fulfill every one.

9/11 did not result from a lack of force. It resulted from a lack of reliable information. More tragedies can befall us if we again depend on unreliable information to guide our policy, and the use of torture will guarantee a supply of that.

We need to improve and reform the system as a whole, rather than resorting to desperate and illegitimate methods in fear and panic. Intelligence, in both the military and the cognitive sense of the word, will do more to win the war than violence. Coercive methods will neither get us the quality of intelligence we need, nor will it be an intelligent means of getting information, when we have to demonstrate our moral superiority to the people of the Middle East.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #182031

Lynne

More anti-Israel venom from the left.

The 45 resolutions against Israel says more about the UN than it ever will about Israel

Posted by: Keith at September 17, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #182033

Keith,

I don’t think Lynne’s remarks were meant to be anti-Israel. I think they were more anti-Iraq invasion. Lynne, correct me if I’m wrong here but this is how I understand your remarks:

Bush’s (one of many) reasons to invade Iraq: UN resolutions. If he wants to use those as an excuse to invade, then for all intents and purposes, we should invade any country that has numerous UN resolutions agains them, allies or not.

I think Lynne was just trying to point out the ridiculousness of using certain excuses to invade Iraq.

Posted by: Catherine at September 17, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #182034

I’m sorry, but to use that as an example is suspect at best.

Posted by: Keith at September 17, 2006 1:01 PM
Comment #182035

I know a lot of people on the lift and a few on the right and I know of no one that is anti-Israel so your comment holds no truth.

Posted by: Jeff at September 17, 2006 1:03 PM
Comment #182038

Mine or Keith’s?

Posted by: Catherine at September 17, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #182041


Dear Watchblog:

First of all, let me start off by saying I’m a big fan and I wouldn’t be writing you if I didn’t think we have something in common based on my take on your musings. I am writing you from United Arab Emirates and I wanted to share a short story and a small film you can watch online that might be of interest to your listeners. Last year, I made a small film called The Art of Flight. It is a guerrilla documentary that was shot illegally in Egypt on camcorders and a laptop and serves as a back story to the 2006 massacre of Sudanese refugees in Cairo. I was nearly arrested three times during the course of shooting in sensitive areas. The film is about a journalist’s attempt to tell an objective story about refugees who then slowly gets drawn in on a personal level. In addition to paintings from Sudanese artists and torture victims, the film also features an original soundtrack by a musical ensemble of refugees who played together for a single night to score the film. The film delves deep into questions about the nature of charity, the consequences of American empire and the price of silence.

More relevantly, this film also addresses the confluence of everything that is going wrong in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East– mismanaging or ignoring civil wars, tolerating oppression among supposed Arab ‘allies’ and shutting U.S. doors to war victims seeking legitimate refuge – all foreign policy issues that will be increasingly important, especially this November. Specifically, it analyzes what has gone wrong with American foreign policy in Egypt – how billions of dollars in aid has created an unaccountable dictatorship. How the curse of silence and media oppression engenders gross human rights violations. How military forces create a brutally unsafe environment for most refugees, many Egyptian citizens and even journalists.

After a dozen or so viewings of the film in some respectable film festivals – AFI Fest Hollywood, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and Bangkok International Film Festival –interest in the film kind of ended with a thud. After a dozen or so screenings with peers and film lovers, I imagine maybe 1,000 people saw the film on the festival circuit – tops. Broadcasters told us the film was too long, too short, too obscure, too international, too local or too amateurish. I debated whether to call it a day and resign myself to the fact that this film had no audience.

Then I said to myself, this is not just a film but a videoblog. So, I uploaded the film to Google Video so people could watch it for free. In a few months it has gotten 50,000 views. That’s 33 times the reach of those three festivals – around 300 views (or a small theater) per day. If producing The Art of Flight and spending a year with refugees taught me anything, it is that hope can thrive under any adversity and it flourishes when strengthened by numbers. My only hope for the film was that it might be able to use art and music to remind the viewer that a refugee isn’t a statistic… that our ability to create beauty is what makes us human and we have more in common than we know. Anyway, since I’m now giving the film away for free, I thought it might be of interest. You can see it www.nomadslandfilms.com or http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6467988025807238754&hl=en.

If you find the message in the film important or moving, please share it with your audience as I would like to raise as much awareness about the issues it addresses as I possibly can. Help me spread the word… if you can.

Sincerely,


Davin Hutchins
Director/Producer
Nomads Land Films
P.O. Box 72184
Dubai, UAE
Phone: +971 4 355 0142
Mobile: +971 50 640 9310
davin@nomadslandfilms.com

Posted by: Davin Hutchins at September 17, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #182042

Excellent post. We are supposed to be better than this. We CANNOT lower ourselves to the level of our enemies or even our friends. We need to maintain and uphold our own standards.

U.S. war prisons legal vacuum for 14,000

Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken. Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were “mistakes,” U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross.

U.S. holds AP photographer in Iraq 5 mos

Posted by: womanmarine at September 17, 2006 1:34 PM
Comment #182048

Stephen,

As usual, another excellent article. Joe’s ridiculous comments, (not caring about torture, illegal wiretaps, and so on) is a good indication of the brick wall that you are talking to on the other side.

Joe,
Take a few deep diaphragmatic cleansing breath. I will try to do the same.

Islam is out to dominate the world? That is a pretty broad brush stroke don’t you think? Some, perhaps many Islamist extremists do want to do that. We do do that. Do they not have the “God given right” to challenge us - especially for hegemony in their region? As a world dominating imperial power, we may need to slap them down, but they have a God given right to challenge us. But if we are going to slap them down, we better get a whole lot smarter about it, because this idiot who need not be named is losing all of the wars.

Joe, Joe, Joe,

You don’t care about illegal wiretapping and the rest??? What an absolutely profoundly idiotic position to take. No wonder you voted for the idiot who need not be named. See my article titled:Illegal Wiretapping is Illegal. In the first place Joe you you say that you do not mind these things if they will keep us safe. That IF should be written as big as the elephant that symbolizes the political party of the idiot who need not be named. But you ignore the if in your own statements. Stephen, myself, and many others have articulately pointed out how these things make us more dangerous. The last Republican President that used illegal wiretapping, used it to subvert the Constitution of the United States of America. The next Democratic President named Hillary may very well do the same thing. If you want to give her that much unbridled power, then may GOD help you. I don’t trust her with that much power. If they are innocent? Who cares if they are innocent? Who cares if they wiretap you? You are nobody. Who cares if they wiretap me? I am nobody. This unbridled power gives the President the unchecked right to wiretap the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. He is somebody. That is what you should care about. God help you if he has some embarrassing secret.

Posted by: Ray Guest at September 17, 2006 2:17 PM
Comment #182050

Ray
If Hillary becomes President I’m moving to Canada. We are in BIG TROUBLE if she gets in. I hope the democrats are smart enough not to nominate her.

Posted by: RAK at September 17, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #182052

Stephen,

Admittedly, the new forms of torture that our government practices don’t seem like torture, when mentioned casually. Loud music, sleep deprivations, stress positions, nudity and sexual humiliation. Sounds like a frat party.

Except it’s not. Pledges sign on willingly.

You are so right about this Stephen—- Of course, we all know that Al Qaeda jihadists and Islamofascists never “signed up” for “Loud music, sleep deprivations, stress positions, nudity and sexual humiliation. Sounds like a frat party,” they just signed up for suicide bombings, cutting the throats of their prisoners and killing as many innocent women and children and civilians as possible.

We all know that we are fighting an enemy that will listen to reason and see the error of their ways— eventually. Meanwhile we need to keep up the dialogue. *cough* Don’t mention the Pope *cough*

We need to be very sure that we don’t say anything to upset them as well.

Posted by: esimonson at September 17, 2006 2:48 PM
Comment #182053

Jeff,

If it’s my comment then you haven’t been reading these blogs very long

Posted by: Keith at September 17, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #182065

Stephen-

Well written and well articulated. I could not have stated my feelings better than you have done for me. In fact, so well that I can think of nothing more to add.

Thank you.

Posted by: Cole at September 17, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #182068

Eric-
Sometimes I get the impression that the right borrows its sensibilities from action heroes in the movies. Only in the movies do you find heroes who are always right, and even then, they are not the most interesting or memorable heroes.

People are complicated, and though terms like good and evil do apply, they don’t apply neatly, and even though we’re the heroes of our own story, we can screw things up.

Torture is a screwup, usually, a loss of control. A person will tell you what you want to hear, often enough, and will do so many times even if you’re flat wrong, or if they’re completely innocent.

The problem of who’s telling the truth doesn’t go away if you torture somebody, and it really doesn’t help the war on terror for us to waste time on bad information. al-Qaeda won’t wait for us to get it right. They haven’t so far. The question is, do you want to be ahead, or behind these guys? Good information is better than smug action hero bravado.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2006 3:50 PM
Comment #182073

Keith I read these blogs everyday what you said seems to say that the left is anti- Israel and I know of no one left or right that is.

Posted by: Jeff at September 17, 2006 4:05 PM
Comment #182077

Hillary as president I don’t know but she just might be better then bush.?

Posted by: Jeff at September 17, 2006 4:08 PM
Comment #182086

How much worse could the next president be? Under Bush, we lost 3,000 Americans in a terrorist attack, and his claim to fame is that it did not happen a second time??? We are in wars with no end in sight; we are isolated from our allies; after being handed a budget surplus-
a surplus, for crying out loud!- we have seen spending, debt, and deficits sprial out of control- and no, this is not the first time the US has ever had a recession!!! And despite the spending, despite the corruption, despite the pork, despite the cronyism, the only veto cast by Bush, the only sign of leadership from this White House is to veto stem cell research??? Omigosh. After the embarrassment of inaction while on vacation during the 12/26 tsunami, and Katrina, he cut short a vacation in the Terry Shiavo fiasco???

You are worried about Hillary?

Bush is scrambling to have laws passed so that He & his followers will not be indicted for war crimes. Powell & McCain and other Republicans are after Bush over the issue of torture. It is not exactly a seemly way for a President to spend his time.

Hillary Clinton? Well, I do not really like her, but the bar has been set really, really low, so in the immortal words of George Bush:

“Bring it on!”

Posted by: phx8 at September 17, 2006 4:57 PM
Comment #182089

Violence is the desparate act of a weak mind.

Joe (and others):

You represent the American mindset of terrorism. I can see absolutely no difference between the mindless violence you preach and those who strap bombs to their chests. America can be so much better than the gutter that you suggest we live in/hide in from the fear that obviously numbs your soul.

Our country is great because everyone can have a say… and you are more than welcome to share your’s. Just don’t be surprised when you march into your sad little battle alone.

Posted by: tony at September 17, 2006 5:08 PM
Comment #182090
The 45 resolutions against Israel says more about the UN than it ever will about Israel

It probably also says a lot to the people of Iraq…some with resolutions against them get invaded, not by the UN, but by another nation…some with resolutions against them get weapons…not from the UN, but by another nation.

That other nation is the U.S. … how do you think the Iraqis perceive the U.S. as opposed to how the Israelis perceive the U.S.??

Israel constantly tries to enlarge its borders at the expense of the people already living there…Israel spied on the U.S…Israel receives the overwhelmingly largest amount of foreign aid given by the U.S. government.

What did Iraq do to harm the people of the U.S.??? Where and when was Iraq an “imminent” threat to the mainland of the United States? Why is the U.S. building the largest/biggest embassy in the entire world in Iraq (where it has “no intention” of remaining as an occupier)???

Try asking those questions once you put yourself in an Iraqi citizen’s shoes…

Posted by: Lynne at September 17, 2006 5:30 PM
Comment #182105

Look, we all know the rules. We were taught them as children. Good guys do the right thing and play by the rules. They don’t lie, cheat or steal. They aren’t bullies or braggarts. They don’t make excuses. And the same rules that applied to us as children apply to us as a nation. We can’t claim to be the good guys and then ignore the rules, because we will lose even more credibility.

Posted by: ElliottBay at September 17, 2006 6:59 PM
Comment #182118

Stephen. At last, a well articulated article that one can respond to.

I’d like to say up front that I see the choices being offered by many on the right and many on the left as extremist FALSE choices couched in unyielding propaganda designed to lead one to either extreme left or right wing views. There is much DEBATE but little DISCUSSION.

First lets root this discussion a bit in reality. Lets not pretend that those who violated the standard procedures of the US in Gtmo represent what we are doing. Taking extremes that violate what our nation supports, extremes that were prosecuted is not representative of the whole and are used only to get the reader to agree to extreme conclusions.

And lets get beyond the idea that we are talking about real torture…where parts of ones body are gradually hacked off until one extracts the information they need. And please, the US is not using tough interrogation as a method to strike fear in the hearts of those we interrogate so lets not pretend that’s going on either.


I happen to work 12 hour rotating shifts. I have worked many shifts where I have had no sleep for 24 hour periods. Its what happens to people who do not have regular sleep schedules. Their clocks get messed up. So I see sleep deprivation as something less than real torture.

The debate here is not what we do with enemy soldiers…the conventions apply to them. The debate here is how we question terrorists. People who wage war while violating all the rules of war. People who target civilians hoping to achieve maximum civilian deaths. People who chop off the heads of their prisoners. Who force religious conversion on their prisoners. Who apply physical torture. The question is, what applies to them.

And I’m going to set aside that bogus sidetrack of providing terrorists US privacy rights. The bulk of Americans oppose that and it’s just never going to happen.

In my opinion, there is common ground. If Hillary Clinton is president, if she captures a prisoner she knows is part of a gang about to detonate a nuclear weapon….she should have available to her specific tools spelled out by law that allow her to get this butcher of mankind to talk. Keep him awake, play rock music, burn his Koran, have a woman interrogate him, etc. I suspect must Americans would agree with that. WE use tough methods to stop those who operate outside the conventions.

Somewhere in the middle I would like to see common ground reached. It concerns me that the left is playing hardball in trying to ignore what we need to do, possibly to support their anti Bush agenda and their cultural war. It concerns me that Bush may be playing hard ball making this an all or nothing. I’d like nothing more than to see McCain reach common ground with the president, because that would bring over the bulk of democratic senators….we all know that they wont go on record as voting against a compromise bill to make America safe in an election.

You make many statements in your article that I feel are overbearing. Such as torture is designed to reduce people to mental shambles. Perhaps, but the US merely seeks information from terrorists. We have no interest in “mental shambles” or “oppression by torture”.

I find the “moral equivalency” argument making the US as bad as the terrorists to fall flat. There are differences and we know what they are. Showing America in the most EXTREME anti US view is more a part of the problem than a part of the solution. It is Debate from an extreme instead of discussion designed to bring folks together and reach a common solution.

But to a party that doesn’t believe there is a war on terror, I suppose undermining the war on terror seems patriotic.

Posted by: Stephen at September 17, 2006 7:50 PM
Comment #182131

“I’d like to say up front that I see the choices being offered by many on the right and many on the left as extremist FALSE choices couched in unyielding propaganda designed to lead one to either extreme left or right wing views. There is much DEBATE but little DISCUSSION.”

and the you end with this crap?

“But to a party that doesn’t believe there is a war on terror, I suppose undermining the war on terror seems patriotic.”

Give it a rest. You want to seem rational, then you drop it completely by taking an extreme position. There is no “party” that doesn’t believe in a war on terror… You simply use that phrase to be divisive. There is a war on terror, but those in charge currently are off playing at their own war.

“I find the “moral equivalency” argument making the US as bad as the terrorists to fall flat. There are differences and we know what they are. Showing America in the most EXTREME anti US view is more a part of the problem than a part of the solution. “

And still more divisive and false name calling. People who use the moral equivalency test love America, and want to be proud to be American… and we see people (like you, I’m assuming) who have their moral vision skewed by absolute fear of terrorists. We see people who fail this moral test as extremely anti-American… those who would destroy what is American for a petty sense of false security. These people are also the ones who are the quickest to send our troops off to die for the freedoms they so cowardly give up.

Posted by: tony at September 17, 2006 8:20 PM
Comment #182133

Stephen-
We should represent ourselves by our behavior. When folks break the rules we should punish it swiftly and surely. We should also not use the tools of desperation having not prepared the ground work for the best possible fully legal, fully constitutional approach, as suggested by the 9/11 commission.

Bush’s approach is ostentatious, macho, and utterly deficient at the fundamentals. Despite the time, expense and disruption to our system its caused, we have few terrorists and few truly disrupted plots to show for it.

Until we get the fundamentals in place, and then find ourselves in desperate straits, we have no business taking measures that are so outside the pale. Maybe in the first days after 9/11, there was an excuse to go to the darkside, but since, as our Right-wing friends are found of reminding us, we haven’t been attacked in five years, the best approach is to get a solid defense in place that Americans can agree on. The 9/11 commission recommendations are on the table. Why doesn’t Bush take advantage of them?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2006 8:26 PM
Comment #182134

Butchering innocent people on purpose it a bit more than “breaking the rules”. I supposed those who do not want to wage a war on terror might be tempted to call terrorism “breaking the rules”.

But we are not talking about people here that are speeding. We are talking about people here that get on a plan and kill thousands of innocent people in a single attack. And they almost did it again, that plot was just barely stopped.

I would agree with you that Bush should have gone to congress and gotten some more specific fundamentals in place. That democrats and Republicans should have sat down and worked out how they will deal with those who are terrorists, who wage war outside the rules of war, who wage a war designed to kill as many innocent people as possible. How we question people who may know where a nuclear or biological attack is about to happen.

In my opinon, Bush is as bad as the progressives, in their extremes, they have kept this issue from being resolved. The answer, as usual, is in the middle somewhere. This makes McCain very dangerous to Hillary you know…McCain also believes the answer is in the middle and is reaching out to that middle.

Posted by: Stephen at September 17, 2006 8:33 PM
Comment #182139

This whole thread is dripping with naivete from all sides. There is the absurd denial variety from the likes of Ilsa and the other Bush apoligist. Then there is the seeming shock and outrage that a regime that came to power through fraud,intimidation and the use of dynastic political power would try to consolidate and enforce that power. Did you really expect anything else from them?And then there is the notion that the US has historically acted any better than other great powers,that we are blessed with some sort of higher moral guidence. This is a damgerious fallacy. Certainly there have been times when we have done the right thing. There have been as many or more times when we have done the opposit.Probably the best example of this was our glorious and unprecedented effort after WW2 in Europe to rebuid and strengthen democracies. This was a noble achievment but it was done to a large part to thwart Soviet expansion. During the same historical period we were tramling democratic movements in Latin America and Africa and bolstering fascist regimes in Spain, Asia and the middle East. The only people convinced of our moral superiority are Americans. The rest of the world knows better.
Many liberals and conservatives for that matter have too much faith in the Bill of Rights. It is a wonderful and dynamic document,surely but it is at best a set of goals. We,as a nation,often do not live up to those goals. Remember the Bill of Rights was in effect during slavery. The bulk of the Native-American Genocide took place after the anti-slavery amendments were added. People were imprisoned for opposing the US entry into WW1.We currently have more people in prison than Stalin. When international organizations like Amnesty find fault with our prisons they are scoffed at. When international election observers are appalled at some of our eletoral practices,we scoff again.This arrogant sense of self rightiousness plays out in our warfare also. “We do not torture people.” Non-sense.To one extant or another we always have. Even McCain,who should know better,subscribes to this. Case in point: Vietnam. We may not have done it directly but our South Vietnamese puppet army did,usuing Smith and Wesson handcuffs with Army intel and CIA directing the tortures in many cases. How about the School of the Americas were we teach effective torture tecniques to the agents of South American despots?Want a source for that.? Look through 60’s Life Magazines. It was no secret. The fact that many do not want to admit it now is furtur evidence of denial.” We do not target civilians.”More non-sense. To keep in 20th century,how about the Philipine War? We routinely murder civilian hostages to discourage gurilla attacks by liberation forces. How about the caret bombing of Eropeian cities?The Christmas carpet bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong? Hirosima? Wether or not these were necessary is beside the point. We kill civilians and always have. Calling it collateral damge does not change the facts.
My point is that for us to ever reach our oft stated goals ,for us to Really be the fine and decent country we can be we need to take off the blinders and change our behavior to the world and each other. The Golden Rule is not just some pleasent notion.It is a God given survival tool for individuals as well as nations. We ignore it at our peril.

Posted by: BillS at September 17, 2006 8:43 PM
Comment #182143

Stephen

All those frat party “tortures” were commited under Geneava convention rules. What W is trying to do is go around those rules and torture people whether they are guilty or represented by council or not. And THEN
he has plans to torture people. And he also plans to keep himself from facing war crimes charges.

Posted by: cadsuch at September 17, 2006 8:52 PM
Comment #182146

Stephen-
Five years now have passed, and this is what we’re faced with. Most of the mistakes that allowed 9/11 to occur have not been taken care of. While he’s been off expending enormous effort to support his constitutionally questionable measures, all the non-glamorous but crucial reforms have been left to gather dust.

It gets me angry just thinking about it, the degree to which this man has failed to live up to the promises he made as president.

He’s let a far right-wing agenda overtake anything resembling a workable agreeable compromise on these issues. Everything has been about demonstrating what pussies we Democrats are supposed to be, and what He-Man his folks are.

It puzzles me that you folks don’t recognize this as source of our anger, this denial of our impulse to help. How would you feel if you suckered into supporting a war, or at least standing aside and reserving judgment? How would you feel if the War on Terrorism was used as an excuse for every dark thing you swore you thought you’d never see America do? How would you feel if to your surprise, a President actually managed to screw up a war, with the most powerful army in the world at his disposal?

Bush is hated as much as he is because he has used the war to destroy much of what we value, because he has taken this country to lows that would have been unimaginable only the decade before. I never thought I’d live to see a war so mismanaged. I never thought we’d run deficits like this, or that president would be stupid enough to spend like he did.

Layer after layer of outrages. God, it’s hard to explain all this. What do you do? Do you sit by and let these things continue to happen? My response, in January of 2004, was to no longer sit idly by, silent. Somebody had to give voice to what was then a politically incorrect things to say: that the president was screwing things up.

I didn’t imagine then that we would lose two cities to the enemy, nor that the President would actually leave those places festering for half a year afterwards.

Ultimately, we’re capable of better. We needed a better leader than him. We needed leadership that was ahout more than just selling a right-wing agenda to an country that had more pressing needs.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2006 9:11 PM
Comment #182148

Quite frankly I am tired of liberals calling Guantanamo Bay a “place of torture”. So far the only thing that the prisoners there have experienced is a hazing like one would get at college. It’s not like we’re putting their hands in acid or whipping their faces with pipe.
Also, I fing it sickening how American guards have to wear gloves while handling the Quran, so their infidel hands do not touch it. While Bibles are spat and urinated on in places like Iran and Sudan.

Posted by: J Dog at September 17, 2006 9:21 PM
Comment #182149

Stephen, I attempted to respond with real issues, facts, questions. You reply that you hate George Bush. In 2000 Bush hate was supposed to get Gore elected. In 2004 Bush hate was supposed to get Kerry elected.

America needs more than hate. America wants Bush to listen to those calls going overseas, America wants Bush to dig out those nuclear attacks before they happen. To respond with pro terrorists rights and Bush hate is to NOT OFFER A PLAN.

Let me ask you this Stephen. It’s 2009. Hillary is in office. The CIA just captured an Al Qaeda agent whom we know is part of a plan to set off a nuclear blast in the US in three days.

What does Hillary do? Read him his rights, provide him with a prayer rug, quaran, and a color TV so he can watch millions of Americans die? what does Hillary do? What tools will you give her to make that terrorist talk? Can we force him to not sleep? Can we play loud music? Can we with hold the prayer rug, the scriptures, the lawer? Can we scream at him? Can we have women question him? Can we shave his beard off?

Answer my Question Stephen. Hillary has three days to save millions and all she has is a terrorist that knows where and how the bomb is arriving.

Stop with the Bush hate, stop with the Capitalist America is evil and hated in the world crap and get down to details. What is your plan? Nothing? The nuke goes off and you dare not force this prisoner to talk? The millions who die may not agree with you Stephen.

Posted by: Stephen at September 17, 2006 9:23 PM
Comment #182158

It is my contention that the world has changed. When the Geniva convention was first conceieved of, nuclear weapons did not exist. It is possible today for an enemy prisoner in or out of uniform to have knowledge of an impending attack that will destroy millions of people. Nuclear Weapons have changed the very nature of war.

When the enemy is raitonal, those weapos are not used. Mutual assured destruction worked. But with the proliferation of weapons, how do you deal with a nuclear attack on New York City? To what nation do you address the nuclear counter attack?

N. Korea? Iran? Syria? Pakistan? How would you know who sent it? If you have a man in or out of uniform who has knowledge of that attack and refuses to talk, are we obligated to see millions die to prove we have superior moral standing?

There are NO rules of war. The enemy will do anything he can to destroy you. Rules of war are something “enlightened nations” try to deploy in a failed belief that they will some day eliminate war or that in the middle of a horrific war a vial enemy will not torture your troops.

I have yet to hear one single progressive liberal deal with the question, what can the president do to someone they believe has knowledge of an impending attack against the US with a nuclear weapon….or any weapon.

I’m willing to scramble their brains a little bit in order to save millions of lives. Is the Democratic party? Lets work it out, lets put it down in such a way that it can be done if it needs to be done.

Posted by: Stephen at September 17, 2006 10:27 PM
Comment #182159

I began paying attention to politics in early 2000. I began to think a few years later that there are always two sides of the story. So I started to listen to both sides of the political spectrum. And even though sometimes the Liberals may have some good things to say and some of it really does make sence When it comes to national defence they really are just completely wrong. If torture works, use it, because weather we use it or not you can bet our enemies will use it. War sucks, however it has gone on for thousands of years. and in order to win you can not fight fair. And once you kick the enemies ass then and only then can you sit around a campfire and truely sing cumbaya in PEACE.

Posted by: Dan at September 17, 2006 10:29 PM
Comment #182160

John McCain himself once said (I forget where) that there are times when you just have to forget the rules and do what needs to be done.

In the hidden nuke scenario, I’d be very surprised if whoever was in charge of interrogations would just do whatever was neccesary and accept the possibility of being punished for it later on.

Posted by: Pilsner at September 17, 2006 10:43 PM
Comment #182165

The scenario is unrealistic.

Torture involves the breakdown of psychological resistance. Almost everyone fears pain, so physical pain is only one method of breaking down resistance.

A few people will break down almost immediately.

Most people will eventually breakdown. The most effective means involve sleep deprivation and other methods mentioned by Tree Hugger in an early comment. Drugs can be also be very effective in breaking down resistance.

A few people will not break down.

Pain is not very effective. The problem is that people will say anything to make the pain stop. If that means saying what interrogators want to hear, the subject of torture will say it. The US was badly misled by one case involving a fellow named al-Libhi for just this reason.

In the imaginary case of there being 24 hours to torture the information out of a terrorist, kiss your ass goodbye. Most people dedicated enough to kill on that scale will be able to provide enough disinformation to run out the clock.

Stephen, Dan torture is wrong. It is that simple. It is not about them. It is about us. I served in the Strategic Air Command as a B-62 Radar Navigator (bombardier), I went through a simulated POW experience as part of the training, & while you may not listen to a liberal like myself, please listen to respected veterans like Powell & McCain. A policy of torture does immense discredit to our country.

Posted by: phx8 at September 17, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #182166

stephen- I too am a veteran and did serve during war. Torture works. quit standing up for the islamic gehadist who want nothing more than tho kill americans because there god tells them too. You can not reason with them. If you look back over history the only way to win a war is to KILL the enemy. That sounds harsh. 20 years ago we were dealing with a little more civilized enemies. Terrorists are not civilized they deserve to DIE. And while they are waiting to die if we can get some information out of them to save other american lives so be it. Granted I think there needs to be guidelines for torture. Sleep deprevation, loud music, come on. In the military we all dealt with a little sleep deprevation, loud music- we were all teenagers at one time. maybe not to the level that we use it for terrorists. Besides- they can stop the “torture” any time they want by starting to tell us what we need to know. LIFE ISN’T FAIR Liberals need to get over it. Here in america we have it so well and we are so concerned about the civil rights of terrorists who like to slowly saw our heads off on camera and send the video back to us to see it. Come on, sleep deprevation, loud music, does not even come close to torture

Posted by: dan at September 17, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #182168

If we would fight this war a little harder- quit worrying about people’s fealings a litte, this war might have been over by now

Posted by: dan at September 17, 2006 11:20 PM
Comment #182169

Look at the end of world war 2. Yes the american’s are the only ones to use the nuke, and that was a democrat who made that decision. He saved american lived by making that hard decision.

Posted by: dan at September 17, 2006 11:23 PM
Comment #182171

Is keeping someone awake torture? Is playing loud rap music torture? Is it wrong to use force like that to save millions? Wow, what noble liberals you are. Your answer is MILLIONS will die so that we never are guilty of being nasty to a captured enemy who is about to watch a nuke or biological weapon take out thousands or millions of Americans.

Torture works. I had a relative in the military recently. They taught them not to play heros. That ultimately they would talk and that they should judge their own breaking point. They didn’t want them to have the added guilt afterwards of thinking they should have somehow sacrificed their lives rather than be broken down by torture.

Lets get real here. Allowing millions to die, allowing thousands to die, allowing hundreds to die, so that we can prove we are morally superior is more like a formula for absolute failure and loss than a strategy to win. Do you know what would happen if one nuke went off in New York City? The US Currency would collapse. The global economy would collapse. The WORLD would be thrown into a global depression. You would lose your retirement, social security, most likely your job, your future. Once nuke in New York City would do that. It might take the globe generations to recover from that blast. And libs say…that’s ok as long as we don’t be mean to terrorists. God, no wonder you folks lose on these issues!

It’s a tough issue. the answer is not on the extreme left or the extreme right. It’s in the middle. The answer is a bit ugly because war is ugly. Of course the “war is always wrong” crowd would never agree to cohersion. They would never agree to an armed military either if they thought thaty could force that on us.

The president has to be free under certain circumstances to use certain techniques to extract information. All americans are abhorant to physical torture. But if we can break an enemy down mentally to the point that he talks, and hundreds, thousands, or millions are saved….then lets do it. War is hell.

Can congress handle this issue? Or is this like
Social Security, Medicare, and National Health Care…..one of the big issues everyone demagogues and cannot do anything about? I’m more and more thinking Congress cannot handle this issue and the president will be left deciding how to apply force.

I would like to see Steve Respond to my question….does he save millions, or support the rights of the murdering terrorist to succeed in his attack nuclear Jihad against the US?

Posted by: Stephen at September 17, 2006 11:49 PM
Comment #182178

Stephen-
It’s not Bush hate. It’s Bush anger. You can’t fail on so many levels when Americans feel the stakes are this high, and not piss people off.

The problem with your question is it’s desperate circumstances, and it doesn’t answer the major concern about torture: it’s reliability. What if most of the members of that group were not apprised of the final location of the bombing. If Hillary goes in with torture, she’ll get a location from the guy.

Unfortunately, if its from a guy who doesn’t know, it’s going to have to be a hell of a lucky guess to save millions of lives.

That’s the problem. People will go in with their suspicions, and going in like this is desperation. Maybe we get an answer, maybe we don’t. Millions die with a mistake, and torture will not prevent mistakes, and will almost certainly bring in its fair share of new ones.

As for Bush Hate? Try Bush Anger. Repeated unimaginable failures will get people pissed at you. As far as Capitalist America is evil? I don’t think I even discussed that.

As for making the guy talk? If I knew millions of lives were at stake and a plan was in motion, yes I would force him to talk, if all else failed. But where you would discuss this as a common means of getting information, I would only use this in a last ditch desperate situation. Even then, I wouldn’t trust the method to be reliable.

How about, though, not getting to that point? How about putting the scanners in the ports, so that we can catch the bomb perhaps even before we know there’s a plot? Or maybe better watchlisting and coordination of information between agencies. Then some crucial personnel could get detained, improving our odds of taking these people down and foiling their plot.

You guys are thinking in terms of a thriller, where everybody’s stopping the bomb with single digits on the clock. That’s not the time to get in on the game. The time is when it’s just a massive piece of dead weight in some container.

What’s happening here is that the Right-Wing is incestously amplifying its own propaganda on how feckless Democrats are on national security. it’s a slanderers fantasy.

We cannot act like every day is a countdown to destruction. That is draining, and it dulls one to the real evidence and events of a developing crisis. We must be vigilant, but we also have to avoid burning ourselves out until that vigilance becomes bored apathy.

dan-
I’m not standing up for them. I’m standing up for the innocent guy who gets picked up in an army sweep. I’m standing up for the Americans who would get put at risk by the divergence of need resources elsewhere.

It’s the level that’s important really. Have you forgotten about Chinese Water Torture? Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. You do that for long enough, they start to register pain and worse. It’s not keeping a guy up all night. It’s keeping him up for more than two days, which can actually bring on symptoms of mental collapse. You put somebody in a stress position, and it can actually do permanent harm to a body if left long enough.

If you think this is about the lack of stomach in the DNC, you’re sadly mistaken.

What this is about is promised silver bullets as opposed to the problematic results of torture in real life. Again and again, you guys forget it’s about what the torturer wants to know. A city, a name, this or that. If you’re ignorant enough to be asked, you’re ignorant enough to be fooled by a confabulating source.

You want the truth, or do you want power? Torture will give you power over your enemies, but not over the truth.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 18, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #182182

dan

If torture works, use it,…

There’s the rub dan, torture doesn’t work.

I too am a veteran and did serve during war. Torture works.

If you think it does, then to be intellectually honest, you would have to believe that there were really witches all those many years ago in Salem.

Posted by: Patrick Howse at September 18, 2006 12:37 AM
Comment #182185

The way the Isrealis handle the issue of torture is admirable and workable.For them the issue comes up all the time. They base their laws on the Talmud which prohibits torture. If the need to torture comes up,for example the often theorized hidden nuclear device scenareo,then they would break the law and be willing to bear the consequences. But the laws and human decency remain.
Tortue does not provide reliable information. At best it can provide corroboration. What it does do effectivly is intimidate a people. Most tortue is used by despots to control disent.To legalize it is another step down the road to totalitarianism. To the right wing readers.No we do not trust Bushco with that power. Would you trust Hillary Clinton with it?

Posted by: BillS at September 18, 2006 12:58 AM
Comment #182187

“You want the truth, or do you want power? Torture will give you power over your enemies, but not over the truth.”

If you asked this question to Mr. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, what do you think their answers would be?

Do you really believe that the question of whether torture should be used is really on the table, to be considered in a rational fashion? We can’t even get straight, unmanipulated elections in this country, or a relatively unbiased press. Habeous Corpus, due process, and warrents for spying are all out the window. Torture? You must be joking.

Do you really think that the American people have the willingness, or the attention span, to seriously consider this question? They didn’t in Chile, in Honduras, in Iran. No problem with kicking detainees out of airborne helicopters in ‘Nam, or Special Forces collecting ears from ‘dead gooks’ (wink, wink).

Your concern about America’s good name being besmirched by the Bush administration’s walk on the wild side is really very touching.


“America should not become like those other nations who speak from hypocrisy when they call themselves free and their practices just. “

Your entire article is awash in piffle, poppycock, and thinly veiled moralizing—it was hard to pick just one aspect that summarized all this balderdash in one fell swoop (I’m into brevity now, even if you’re not).

The above quote has a particularly smelly and unctious bouqet to it. It’s much too late to avoid the hypocrisy label for this country, and that you think it can be avoided at this late date in human history I believe to be the cornerstone of your sanctimonious patriotism.

So, go ahead and argue with the Right about torture with quaking voice and gleaming eye. The rats in the sewer will take care of the nation’s business.

Posted by: Tim Crow at September 18, 2006 1:14 AM
Comment #182189

Stephen, You said: “As for making the guy talk? If I knew millions of lives were at stake and a plan was in motion, yes I would force him to talk, if all else failed. But where you would discuss this as a common means of getting information, I would only use this in a last ditch desperate situation. Even then, I wouldn’t trust the method to be reliable.”

Good. NOw we have a starting point. Congress needs to put that in writting. Exactly when extreme force is used and what the extreme force is. Exactly when mere coercion is used and what that is. If I capture a terrorist can I hold him for say, four years then release or put on trial? Why not put that in writting. How long we pull terrorists off the street that we feel are very dangerous but maybe can’t prove absolute in a court of law? When some guy attacks your troops, how long can we hold for being an enemy combatant when you are in a war that may last generations? Lets write that stuff down and make it our national law.

As far as other ways to wage war on terror, I believe there are many.

Ultimately, I think that the answer is that Islam must have a reformation. They must reach they point where they denounce the use of force to spread their relgion rather than promote the use of force. Their own moderates are so in fear of their radicals that the radicals rule the roost and presently reformation is impossible.

I believe Globalism is a large part of this. We need to take these undeveloped hell holes around the globe and bring them into the global economy. Instead of seeing globalism as the enemy, we should see it as a friend. Globalism is what makes China want to sell us things rather than blow us up! Right now our enemies all come from these hell holes that are not a part of the global economy. North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Afganastan, Iran, etc etc. We don’t bring them into the 21st century by handouts. We do it with hand ups. By bringing them nation by nation into the global economy. Gradually they become our customer and we become theirs. Education, hope, prosperity increases for all. Eliminate the breeding grounds of terrorism. This is what the dictators and Radical Islamists are trying to defeat. they want absolute control even if there people must be poor, ignorant, impverished, starving. Look at Korea starving millions of people so they can support their nuke program.

Also, a simple fact, we would destroy our economy if we tried to fortify everything. We cannot retreat from the world and fortify…that is failure and defeat and the end of us. We must do some fortification,some military offence, and some globalization…..it all has to work together. And we must unite as a people and put out our own message to the world. We must stop with the American hate, the hate of our leadership, the hate of our capitalism and promote our goodness and our freedom and our economic modle. We must counter the propaganda of terrorists instead of using it to attack our own leadership.

No one is “for torture”. We need to define under what circumstances we will allow aggressive coercion and we need to define what that coercion is. That’s my opinion. And I wonder if congress has the ability to do this any more than it has the ability to fix social security. It’s a third rail both side demagoge.

It’s been nice having a DISCUSSION with you Stephen. Lets do it again sometime.

Posted by: Stephen at September 18, 2006 1:31 AM
Comment #182201

Stephen,

In regards to torture I agree with you. Torture isn’t all that effective. I certainly wouldn’t want to do it myself, nor would I be able to torture even Osama Bin Laden myself. And I would ever ask anyone to do that for me either.

What’s more the information gained from torture is often unrealiable.

However, my definition of torture does not include “uncomfortableness”. Torture is bamboo shoots under your finger nails, or the panoply of devious devices used under Saddam’s regime in order to torture others merely for the pleasure of it.

And yes, Abu Graighb looks like torture to me as well.

Having a female interogate a muslim prisoner is not torture. Why must we make, “Offending the tender sensibilities” of someone dedicated to our deaths, who have declared war against us, into something it’s not?

I’m afraid that despite what the left would have you believe interogation via ACLU defense attorney will garner even less information than actual torture would.

Posted by: esimonson at September 18, 2006 2:13 AM
Comment #182206

Stephen Daugherty,

Beautiful article. I knew I should have just stopped reading before the comments, though there were some good ones. You captured the essence of why patriotic Americans should embrace accountability and not let fear tempt us to change the rules, and you covered the issue from multiple angles. This other Stephen feigns moderation, but resorts precisely to stirring fear and hatred as an excuse to abandon our principles. He has the temerity to invoke McCain as an exemplar of his “moderation” when his real position is anything but moderate.

Of course there are terrorists who deserve no dignity whatever. The rules aren’t there to protect them, but to protect everyone else - our troops in the hands of others; the innocent who may be falsely accused; the integrity of the information we gain; the moral authority that this Administration is so foolishly discarding. BillS has a point that it is naive to vest too much credence in the reality of that authority, but officially sanctioning the unsavory crosses a line that no American should want to cross.

I hope that those who are being swayed by counter arguments will go back once more and read every paragraph in your original article. Thank you for the clarity of your vision!

Posted by: Walker Willingham at September 18, 2006 2:48 AM
Comment #182208

This article is the most idiotic waste of bandwidth I’ve seen here yet. The only thing that matters in this, the most perilous of times our nation has faced, is the prevention of acts of terrorism by Muslims. The Geneva Convention has never meant a damn thing to anyone the US or it’s allies has been in a war with. It doesn’t need to be rewritten, it needs to be scrapped.

You liberals seem to conveniently ignore the fact that nearly all the deaths attributed to Muslims these days include the most vile of torture practices imaginable. Personally, I think we should use truth serums followed up with a lethal cocktail. Correct information, no recidivism and not a damn dime of taxpayers money spent on courts, lawyers or lengthy incarcerations.

Posted by: Jerry Koszut at September 18, 2006 3:01 AM
Comment #182219

“You liberals seem to conveniently ignore the fact that nearly all the deaths attributed to Muslims these days include the most vile of torture practices imaginable”

So, your argument is 1 Billion Muslims can’t be wrong? You want to wipe them off the face of the Earth, yet follow thier lead on governing?

Hey - let’s find ” the most vile” and be more like them!!!

Posted by: tony at September 18, 2006 6:51 AM
Comment #182227

Tim Crow-
If you’re into brevity, Let me summarize your point of view:

America has done bad things in the past, and Americans have remained ignorant and looked the other way. I’m just tremendously naive to believe America would want to do better than that, that we’re doomed as a country to be hypocrites, that its hopeless to try and change things for the better.

But that’s not how I work.

America is not without sins, but go and find me a pure country out there. At least America can reform, repent, and set a higher standard. We can beat back the darkness, but if we give up, we’ll simply drown in it.

We can’t undo the past, but that’s no reason to live in it. You can call me naive, you call what I write bullshit, you can get all drippingly sarcastic and cynical about it with me, but the truth is, the worst thing you can do with these people is give up, act like you can do anything. That’s learned helplessness, and it’s how the world worst Governments evolve out of those which are merely inoffensive.

I will not submit, I will not bend a knee to those who would destroy America to save it, nor will I agree with those who will give up on a nation that has already come so far out of the darkness that existed at the time of its founding.

Stephen-
You don’t put torture in writing. The minute you put it in writing, it becomes more than a tool of desperation, to be used covertly against the enemy. There is already plenty of documentation on what is torture and what is not. The President doesn’t want clarity, he wants permission, and its something we shouldn’t give.

What we need are modifications to the old laws to deal with the questions of what are appropriate interrogation methods under normal circumstances and what aren’t. It should be spelled out, not left negligently unclear. As for the Geneva convention, it’s clear enough on its own about many things, and about things that its not clear own, we’d be best off leading an effort to better define the rights and protections of such people among the international community.

As for Islamic Reformation? That’s not something we can bring about. It will have to come organically. Where we can help is in dealing with both the economic and political aspects of how those nations operated.

esimonson-
Uncomfortableness? First, if these things were merely uncomfortable, there wouldn’t be much of a problem. They are in fact, taken to the degree they are, quite painful. The suffering is intense. They’re just mostly bloodless, and don’t leave marks like most torture methods do.

As for interrogation via the ACLU? Where’d you get that idea. The interrogator’s the same. We just don’t use questionable methods. We use our brains. We ask our questions cleverly. We pry them open. We see if they can be bought, if they can be provoked, if they can be guilt tripped, if we can do something for them that will get them to talk. It’s not all sweetness and light. It’s just getting the person to willingly give the information, which means better more reliable information could come into play.

Jerry Koszut-
You seem to ignore the fact that the convention protects our soldiers as well as theirs If you want truth serums followed by a lethal cocktail for our troops, keep talking.

Should we drop ourselves to the level of our enemy everytime we fight? Are we that unable to stand on our own two feet? Are we that desperate, that scared?

America is stronger than this.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 18, 2006 8:45 AM
Comment #182229

j dog I have an idea lets all piss on the Quran maybe burn a few flags march in the street then we become just like them that is not the america I grew up in. You know what they say an eye for an eye soon leaves everyone blind . That seams to be the neo-con way.

Posted by: Jrff at September 18, 2006 8:54 AM
Comment #182235

Can someone point out the difference between the evils preached by jihad extremists on either side of this “war on terror”?

Both sides promote violence without question… assumption of evil from the “other” side… “it’s either us or them” mentality… “you either with us or against us”… “FEAR! FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!…

I’m not saying we should expect better from our enemies… but we sure has hell should expect better from ourselves. And before any idiot starts preaching “Blame America first” and this is simply “Bush hating” - Bush does not represent anything close to a majority of America, and his Administration is at the heart of this atrocity… he is the problem. (Hint: no matter how many flags he wraps himself up in, he will only represent a small group of violent, anti-American extremists.)

Posted by: tony at September 18, 2006 9:19 AM
Comment #182251

Stephen Daugherty,

Great article as usual.

I’m sure everyone remembers this:

“In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates’ Deaths”

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/20/international/asia/20abuse.html?ex=1158724800&en=f9699f7df3b1c441&ei=5070

Sort of just makes you proud to be an American, huh?

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at September 18, 2006 10:28 AM
Comment #182252

Another silly thought that keeps coming to mind, I’m sure everyone remembers this U.S.-China spy plane incident. For those who don’t:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S.-China_spy_plane_incident

Of course all 24 American flight crew members were released unharmed, but just imagine if we actually make “tough interrogation tactics” an actual policy. Would other countries, I should say ALL other countries, say, “hey, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”?

Slippery slope indeed.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at September 18, 2006 10:39 AM
Comment #182253
So far the only thing that the prisoners there have experienced is a hazing like one would get at college.

And how many colleges have banned hazing and even banned fraternities after hazing has caused the death of a student???

Yes the american’s are the only ones to use the nuke, and that was a democrat who made that decision. He saved american lived by making that hard decision.

That’s pretty much myth…read “House of War” by James Carroll…he debunks the myth quite well that dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved any lives at all. It (dropping the A-bomb) will be considered a decision made in error by future historians…

Posted by: Lynne at September 18, 2006 10:42 AM
Comment #182255

As a starting point; great article here:

Just look at the things we’re debating — whether the U.S. Government can abduct and indefinitely imprison U.S. citizens without charges; whether we can use torture to interrogate people; whether our Government can eavesdrop on our private conversations without warrants; whether we can create secret prisons and keep people there out of sight and beyond the reach of any law or oversight; and whether the President can simply disregard long-standing constitutional limitations and duly enacted Congressional laws because he has deemed that doing so is necessary to “protect” us.
These haven’t been open questions for decades if not centuries. They’ve been settled as intrinsic values that define our country. Yet nothing is settled or resolved any longer. Everything — even the most extremist and authoritarian policies and things which were long considered taboo — are now openly entertained, justifiable and routinely justified.
Now let’s see what simonson has to say:
my definition of torture does not include “uncomfortableness”. Torture is bamboo shoots under your finger nails…Posted by: esimonson at September 18, 2006 02:13 AM
You were saying? Now, go see treehuggers first post. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind being “uncomfortable” for a little while as a “put up or shut up”?

Posted by: Dave1-20-09 at September 18, 2006 10:48 AM
Comment #182266

Stephen Daugherty,
thanks for the salient points made so well.

Eric, you contradict yourself when you say torture yields unreliable information and thenturn around and say it produces better information than ACLU interogaters (whatever they are).

I think psychological games of Good Cop/Bad Cop, befriending the informant, and looking for inconsistency work. No one is suggesting ridding ourselves of these techniques, except idealogues. There is no magic truth serum, except in the movies and spy novels.

Torture is about retribution and domination. It’s a well documented psycological phenomenon. It may satisfy one’s need for justice, it does little for advancing intelligence.

Posted by: gergle at September 18, 2006 11:40 AM
Comment #182268

I think the section of my original article that bears closer reading is this:

When is it enough? Admittedly, the new forms of torture that our government practices don’t seem like torture, when mentioned casually. Loud music, sleep deprivations, stress positions, nudity and sexual humiliation. Sounds like a frat party.

Except it’s not. Pledges sign on willingly. Even then, the behavior can get out of control, as several news reports over the past few years have recorded. Moreover, just because we’re not using the medieval blood and guts approaches, or the modern surgical methods, doesn’t mean we’re better than those folks. In a way, there’s a certain cowardice to these methods, which are principly design to inflict suffering and degradation without leaving marks for international organizations to make a fuss about. This is the torture that dare not speak its own name.

Regardless, it is torture. It is meant to reduce people to a mental shambles. That the methods are often bloodless is irrelevant. Imagine a soldier locked in a room with ear splittingly loud marching songs played, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no break to stop the headaches, no room for the soldier to think or feel or withdraw from it. Imagine your next door neighbor’s son being kept forcefully awake for days on end, until hallucinations and insanity begin to approach, and the worms started to come out of the walls. Imagine being handcuffed in a crouching position for hours on end, with no way to relieve the pain of muscles as they cramp, or the exhaustion of your body as you endure it. Imagine seeing a video on the news of American soldiers, male and female, paraded naked, sexually humiliated by their captors. If we saw or experienced these things, there would be no question as to what to call these “tough” interrogation methods.

Now imagine the world’s response to your horror, your outrage, your personal ordeal is this: This is what your country does, why can’t we?

These methods we’re discussing are meant to inflict suffering. For a Frat or a Sorority, such suffering, applied moderately, could be seen as a rite of initiation. Rarely is it applied to such a degree that it could legitimately be called torture.

Torture is often a matter of degrees. Have a drips of water falling on your head as you do some plumbing might be annoying, but you can move your head or finish your work and end it while its still merely annoying. Restrain somebody in such a position, though, and what was harmless nuisance before becomes an instrument of torture.

Pain is only one sensory experience that can be used to induce suffering. If we fail to take such suffering seriously, our own soldiers will pay the price when they go to war, as the enemy takes our lead as a precedent for inflicting suffering on those it considers enemies.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 18, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #182274

Stephen,

Why debate the future saftey of our soldiers? Isn’t this is a question of RIGHT or WRONG?

In this case we are either a moral society or one of killers and torturers. In the first, torture has no role no matter what the consequences of its use or lack of use are. In the second, we are the terrorists.

People who defend tortures use are simply saying “Yeah, well they’re OUR terrorists, so they’re not terroists”

Posted by: Dave1-20-09 at September 18, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #182292

There is a very easy, constitutional way to ensure that someone who saves a city by torturing a suspect does not get punished. It’s called a presidential pardon, and would almost certainly be granted in such a circumstance. That kind of special case is what the pardon is made for. No new legislation needed, and we still get to keep what collective moral high ground we still have.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 18, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #182297

Stephen:

“At least America can reform, repent, and set a higher standard. We can beat back the darkness, but if we give up, we’ll simply drown in it.”

When did this reformation, repentance and setting a higher standard take effect? When has any president, or member of Congress, or high-level military officer ever pay the price of criminal or murderous policy? Vietnam, Panama, El Salvador—when?


“We can’t undo the past, but that’s no reason to live in it.”

Of course we can’t undo the past—its much easier to just ignore it. But the past is really beside the point—the murderous, criminal behavior is going on now. And we have a Congress that is looking for ways to make torture ‘legal’, just in case some prosecutor in the Hague get’s it into his head that American leaders might be prosecuted for war crimes. That this is being discussed at all indicates a decline in what American stands for—this isn’t Gary Cooper’s America.

What is so ludicrous about any of this discussion is the naive belief that American citizens can “reform” this criminality through the ballot box. I argue that it is part-and-parcel of American foreign policy now. It is who we are. There is a reason that most of the world can’t stand us—and it has nothing to do with “our freedoms”. It has to do with our criminal behavior. The criminal behavior going on right now.

“…the worst thing you can do with these people is give up, act like you can do anything. That’s learned helplessness, and it’s how the world worst Governments evolve out of those which are merely inoffensive.”

If you mean by “these people” the Bush administration, take a look at who’s giving up—it’s the Democratic Party. Pelosi and others have said that impeachment is off the table. I can only take them at their word. How such abdication of their responsibility to hold this administration accountable for it’s criminal behavior is going to keep this country from sliding into the ‘worst government’ catagory is beyond me. Frankly, I think the country is already there—the 1800 dead in New Orleans are mute testimony to a criminally deficient government.

This is why polls say the Republicans are mad as hatters, yet there is no concomitant rise in Democratic poll numbers. The Dems are complicit in the criminality, the corporatism, the dismantling of the Amercian middle class.


“I will not submit, I will not bend a knee to those who would destroy America to save it, nor will I agree with those who will give up on a nation that has already come so far out of the darkness that existed at the time of its founding.”

Gawd, that’s purdy! Is it any wonder you are beloved by all centrist, well-meaning folk here at this blog. America has become a run-away cancer on the global scene—democracy at the end of a gun, a strong belief in the ballot box, as long as the elected government is pliant and shows the proper economic deference, an economic system predicated on endless unsustainable growth that destroys the environment, and, through stooge organizations like IMF and the WTO, subjugates third-world economies to our vision of things—you know, the one that allows %5 of the world’s population to consume %25 of the world’s resources.

It is this “we’re not as bad as some, and better than most” alibi that covers for the raping, pillaging, and undermining of true human rights and freedoms. That we have deluded ourselves into believing we are the exemplars of such ideals is the crowning achievment of the elitist oligarchy who’s tune we all dance to.

Let me say this: I wouldn’t bother responding to your posts if I didn’t think I would get an honest hearing and response from you. There are some people around here that are just not worth the effort. You are worth the effort; but there is a self-deception going on in your mind about America’s moral and ethical standing and a naive belief that, if you just try hard enough, and your heart is pure, everything is in place in this country to fix it and make it better.

I’m saying that the tools to correct and heal this country’s behavior have been co-opted. The ballot box has been undermined, the press has been corrupted, the oversight ability of government to protect and defend the average American has been compromised, in short, the system has been bought lock, stock and barrel. “Our” representatives are really “their” representatives, and the last thing on their minds is running a government whose directional compass is guided by truth, justice and a simple belief that government is here to serve the people, not to dupe them.

This delusion that the system is working, and in the end, can reform itself if only enough people are given the truth, is the most dangerous delusion of all. The signs of a totalitarian takeover are increasing, and truth and justice are not high on their priority list, I assure you.

Here’s a little prediction, and what I think will be a very strong indicator that this country is a runaway rogue state. I predict that before the end of Bush’s regime, the United States will attack Iran, short of a military coup here in the US. From very reliable sources, there is no way that Iran will have a workable nuclear weapon by January 2009. It won’t matter. If, indeed, this country has a workable, functioning Republic, (I dare say that most Americans don’t want to go into Iran)—if that is the case, and people of good will can derail the growing signs that the Bush/Cheney regime has decided to attack Iran, then I will believe that we have a government worth saving.

Posted by: Tim Crow at September 18, 2006 1:40 PM
Comment #182307

The tortures you mentioned in your piece are not the only things King George has approved. Actually, Bush approved torture techniques that were detailed in the notorious Justice Department memo of August 1, 2002, which says that anything other than “Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent to intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death” would be allowed. In other words, if a prisoner is not killed, then it is not torture. But we’ve killed many prisoners during interrogations, as the following quote from Sidney Blumenthal’s book “How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime” says: “Amnesty International, on May 6, issued a report documenting: “It is now known that at least 34 detainees who died in US custody have had their deaths listed by the army as confirmed or suspected criminal homicides”. The true number of such deaths may be higher as there is evidence that delays, cover-ups and deficiencies in investigations have hampered the collection of evidence. In several cases, however, substantial evidence has emerged that detainees were tortured to death while under interrogation (revealed, for example, in military autopsy reports, investigation records and recent court testimony). What is even more disturbing is that standard practices as well as interrogation techniques believed to have fallen within officially sanctioned parameters, appear to have played a role in the ill-treatment…”

Posted by: George at September 18, 2006 2:05 PM
Comment #182310

“Besides- they can stop the “torture” any time they want by starting to tell us what we need to know. LIFE ISN’T FAIR Liberals need to get over it.”

Wow. What a novel concept. All they need to do is tell us what we want to hear and we’ll stop? Problem is that we are torturing them to get information we do not currently have. By definition, this means there is no way to verify that it is the correct information. You see no problems with this? And the information received is NOT reliable. No matter how you spin it, people will always tell you, if anything, only what they think will make you stop. NOT what is “correct”.

And I haven’t heard one liberal say that life is fair. We are all living in the same world, and we need to start applying the same rules to everyone. Liberals are more than justified in being concerned about the future implications of having a formal torture policy. First, our very having one would mean that others can too. Second, I do not trust our current administration (for proven reasons of incompetence and lack of will to know truth) to write a “fair” policy. Finally, I don’t trust that other nations will fairly interpret, nor apply our policy correctly. In other words, we will lose no matter what.

Prove me wrong.

Posted by: Kevin23 at September 18, 2006 2:13 PM
Comment #182313

If we adopt a torture policy, I’m going to love watching places like Iran, Russia, China, North Korea or any African nation draft and codify there own versions. Does anyone believe that they will be anywhere near as responsible as the US will be in applying and using it (and I’m not calling us responsible…its just a relative term)?

The nice part of a highly restrictive, yet vaguely worded policy like that of the GC is that it allows a nation like the US to take the high road. We can use our advanced techniques and knowledge of human nature to be more effective than other nations. This works in FBI investigations all the time…how do you think they catch serial killers? NOT by torturing people.

Instead, some feel the easy answer of allowing anything short of extreme direct physical pain is better. I ask this: how is lowering the bar a good idea? It just gives other nations the ability to be on the same moral plain as us, while they use similarly easy and unreliable tactics to get “information” that may or may not be useful. Who wins? Is the US wins anything here, it is more than offset by the loss of moral high ground and ability to get more and better info through allowable tactics.

But I guess one can’t argue the great logic of: “Other people are doing it, so we should too.” Or better yet: “It MAY work, so therefore it is good.”

Posted by: Kevin23 at September 18, 2006 2:25 PM
Comment #182328

A lot of you people out there don’t seem to know the difference between MUSLIMS and EXTREMIST MUSLIMS or ISLAMICS and EXTREMIST ISLAMICS. It’s the EXTREMISTS we have to worry about.

Posted by: Catherine at September 18, 2006 3:30 PM
Comment #182339

Dave1/20/09-
The morality of trying to figure what the enemy is going to do to us is obvious, and its used as a bludgeon by the right. Looking at the facts, I can come up with much stronger support than the simple immorality of torture by itself. I’m sure we recognize that it’s an inhumane practice, and we’re appalled when such abuse is inflicted on suspects and criminals here.

What they argue is twofold: They deserve it, and it gets results that are counterbalancing good.

What I argue is that if we say “they deserve it”, our enemies will say “you deserve it”, and our own POW’s will end up paying the price for our inability to oppose torture without the stink of hypocrisy.

I also argue that the intelligence benefits of the results of torture are very questionable. That fact diminishes the acceptability of torture.

I believe the future safety of our soldiers, and the danger posed by the false intelligence provided by torture figure into the moral equation. Understanding these facts undermines the attractiveness of torture as a sort of devil’s bargain means of protecting our country.

Tim Crow-
I have no illusions about what this president is doing to our image, nor that the system is working well at the moment. I worry.

But I don’t despair, because out of despair and fear are born worse things in us than we fight in others. We become equally oblivious and ideological replacements for our counterparts on the right, and our policies end up doing the same kind of harm.

We have to keep clear heads here. We have to understand that the virtues of good government are worked and fought for, not simply inherent in the system. They system itself emerges from us and our attitudes.

What did I say in my original post?

We’re not better than anybody else on this planet. Hell, since we’re a nation of immigrants, you could say we are everybody else on the planet ! Whatever’s different, its not race or language, given all the strife we’ve seen over the past two centuries in many of our ancestral countries, among our different ancestors.

What makes us different is the meaning at the heart of a piece of paper, a law we’ve all consented to follow together, as equals. We haven’t followed it perfectly over time, but it’s allowed us to adjust to profound changes in society, yet maintain the same government. What makes America special is what emerges from the constitution, a ghost in the machine that takes its life from the constrained interaction between individual and state.

The constraints allow us to live peacefully with our government and vice versa. They allow the dynamics of culture and religion to play out without getting dammed up behind government actions that attempt to artificially control the situation. It also allows Americans to determine safely the extent to which that government is necessary in or around their lives, instead of that being the arbitrary decision of the ruler.

What I argue is that we’ve got a set up here that allows us to correct the system we’ve got. I would add here that we have to have the will to do it. These things will not happen if all we got is the emotional charge of the moment. I believe we have to have an across the board change in mood in this country. We have to dump some of our more moronic habits. I believe the best way to inspire that is to make the issues plan and clear in a compelling synthesis of our founding beliefs and our modern issues.

If I make it too much about politics, and not enough about the things that people can relate to across the board, then people are going to get taken out of the main flows into backwaters of irrelevant partisan arguments.

The point here is, torture is an inferior means of interrogation, and a millstone around our necks, in terms of international law. Our system has successfully been built on human rights, and we manage to keep the peace just fine.

Few people are going to let themselves realize how bad their country can get. I’m trying, in my small way, to get people to realize enough about the wrong that is being done in our names to feel compelled to stop it.

I would rather do that than berate people about their stupdity and naivete, then expect their agreement. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Don’t despair, convince.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 18, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #182350

Stephen,

Thank you so much for eloquently writing what I couldn’t begin to put into words. Bravo!

Posted by: Catherine at September 18, 2006 4:21 PM
Comment #182393

Stephen:

Okey dokey—thank you for your response.

Posted by: Tim Crow at September 18, 2006 6:23 PM
Comment #182407

Stephen D.

I take no issue with your post. I’m agree that President Bush deserves condemnation for seeking permission for torture. I’m more than willing to condemn all other Presidents who have turned a blind eye to the torture that has been used by U.S. soldiers and operatives under their command/ employ. Torture is reprehensible.

I only have one question: Where is the line between acceptable interrogation techniques and torture?


Phx8,

Be careful what you wish for. Believe it or not there are worse choices out there for President. We have learned that lesson in our history. Late 19th century and the 1970’s proved that we can get worse than what we have if that’s all we are looking for. Look for more, expect more.

Posted by: Rob at September 18, 2006 7:25 PM
Comment #182425

Much of this thread brings to my mind what Ghandi said when asked what he thought of Western civilization. He said he thought it would be a very good idea.

Posted by: BillS at September 18, 2006 8:55 PM
Comment #182427

“I DON’T CARE if our troops kill some innocents..we lost three thousand innocents here in America….IT’S WAR!”

Thank god most americans DO care.
Sorry you lost your soul somewhere along the way. Your always welcome back.

Posted by: Observer at September 18, 2006 9:09 PM
Comment #182447

“What is so ludicrous about any of this discussion is the naive belief that American citizens can “reform” this criminality through the ballot box. I argue that it is part-and-parcel of American foreign policy now. It is who we are. There is a reason that most of the world can’t stand us—and it has nothing to do with “our freedoms”. It has to do with our criminal behavior. The criminal behavior going on right now.”

Holy Shit Tim,

Does anyone else know or has anyone else ever had that feeling where your groin draws up tight and you feel like there’s nothing there? I don’t know if women have something like that or not.

Tim Crow nailed it right here. Suddenly I don’t feel so good. I want my “bubble” back.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at September 18, 2006 11:34 PM
Comment #182489

Joe;

To post: Posted by: JoeRWC at September 17, 2006 09:47 AM

“The world has always loved and respected the USA. We must fight hard to keep our good standing.”

Holy cr$p have you read a newspaper outside the U.S. lately? ….. lotflmao and pmp (peeing my pants). We are about as respected, as a healthy dose of Ecoli.

“Imagine, people subjugating women to the point that they can only show their eyelids because they must look down.”

Imagine that a government has control over a womans right (and decision), to reproduce?

“Imagine more buildings being bombed.”

Imagine another Katrina in New Orleans. (Or what if we have another hurricane and no one came, again?)

“Imagine danger to tourists worlwide.”

You didnt travel in Florida much, in the past few years, have you?

“Imagine terrorism spreading a to point past containment.”

Oh, like the Civil War, now, rageing in Iraq?

“Now…
Imagine Iraqis enjoying freedom like Turkey does.”

Why? Is Turkey in the middle of a civil war, too?

“Imagine countries that get food delivered to them without it being stolen by someone’s personal army.”

Imagine New Orleans and Iraq being able to have their own oil money, so that they can afford and preform their own “reconstruction”. (Naaah, never happen!)

“Imagine delivering money without a dictator stealing it.”

Imagine living in a country where big business, large corporations, and the super rich paid the same taxes that you do. (lotflmao-like thats going to happen!!)

“Imagine people building wells and schools without fearing for their safety.”

Imagine an election year without fear that, “the boogie man” will get you.

“Imagine people haviing a say in govt and how their country is run.”

Then youd better imagine a dam different Administration than this one!

“Imagine children having a future.”

Just like in, “no child left behind”. (Which is code, for “every child left behind”).

“Imagine more allies in the fight against evil.”

Like the United Nations that wouldnt touch us with a 10, no 11, no 12 foot pole.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace.”

Then again you have to picture a much different Administration than this one.

One that actually talks to its enemys and friends around the world, because we are not living in a vacumn here. One that doesnt want to spy on its own people or take any of their rights to their indivudial freedoms. One that will not distroy the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the FISA Laws or the Geneva Convention, or any of the other principals that this country is founded upon. The principals of fairness, justice and freedom for all.

Imagine the world that we could have had, after 9/11, if Bush would have ment 1/2 of what he said, about bring - the persons responsible, for that worst disaster in American history, to justice?

Just Imagine that!

Imagine where we could really be, … right now!

Posted by: PlayNice at September 19, 2006 6:52 AM
Comment #182498

Wow… after reading the past several responses… it must suck to feel like you have to continue to support Bush. Seriously… I just don’t see how people do it.

Posted by: tony at September 19, 2006 8:14 AM
Comment #182504

To all the Joe’s, etc that believe that these methods are “only” visited on “the bad guys”
and hence Joe “doesn’t care” — but he doesn’t care because he believes he’s one of the “good guys” (“I’ve got nothing to worry about, I’ve done nothing wrong”) and it can’t happen to him.
Got news for ya Joe — you are letting the Gov’t (or actually one part of the Gov’t — and they keep THAT secret) decide who the “bad guys” are, and they get it wrong. — i.e. one day YOU could be the “bad guy” — just because somebody said so, and you don’t know who, why or based on what, you will just wake up in a Syrian prison awaiting your next “interview”.
Coming in this morning I heard ON THE NEWS about the Canadian who was seized at the border — based on FAULTY, WRONG, EXAGGERATED Canadian intelligence that this person was associated with “terrorist” — this person was detained, incommuicado for two weeks (nobody investigating the ALLEGATIONS (that turned out to be false)) before being transported (by the CIA) to Jordan, and then on to Syria, where he was held AND TORTURED for over 1 YEAR.
Why he was released and sent home to Canada, I do not know, but the Canadian govt has just finished an investigation where they found
A) This person is, was and always has been TOTALLY INNOCENT
B) THE CANADIAN REPORT THAT CAUSED ALL THIS INCLUDED EXAGGERATIONS OF THE “EVIDENCE” AGAINST THIS PERSON.
C) THE CASE AGAINST THE US GOV’T HAS BEEN DROPPED
D) THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH COMPENSATION TO PROVIDE TO THIS PERSON

THIS COULD BE YOU!!!! THESE PROTECTIONS ARE NOT FOR THE GUILTY — THEY ARE FOR THE INNOCENT — BUT UNDER OUR SYSTEM — FOR THE EXACT ABOVE REASONS — A PERSON IS PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY —
Repeat after me
These protections are for YOUR benefit, not the terrorists
These protections are for YOUR benefit, not the terrorists
These protections are for YOUR benefit, not the terrorists
These protections are for YOUR benefit, not the terrorists
These protections are for YOUR benefit, not the terrorists
These protections are for YOUR benefit, not the terrorists
They should be inviolate
Their violation should invoke RAGE against the perpetrator as YOU are the one being VIOLATED!!!
The RAGE should NOT be that they MIGHT be provided to someone who is guilty (got news for ya, the REALLY GUILTY BAD GUYS, the BIG FISH, etc are all a SLAM DUNK regading getting a conviction WITHOUT ANY TORTURE!!!!
YA GOTTA CATCH EM FIRST — AND TORTURE WILLNOT HELP YOU THERE!!!!

Also
Just read how in Iraq we have created THOUSANDS OF NEW ENEMIES THAT HATE THE US FOREVER.
HOW???
ISLAMIC SCHOOLS??
TERRORIST TRAINING FACILITIES???
NOOOOOO
INTERNMENT CAMPS (PRISONS)
INNOCENT IRAQI’S HAVE BEEN TAKEN OFF THE STREETS, HELD WITHOUT NOTIFICATION TO THEIR FAMILIES OR ANYONE ELSE, DETAINED, TORTURED AND THEN RELEASED WITHOUT EXPLANATION, COMMENT, APOLOGY, REPARATION, NOTHING
DO YOU REALLY THINK THESE PEOPLE WILL NOW “EMBRACE AMERICAN STYLE DEMOCRACY” AND help build a “better democratic” Iraq??
Or will they join the “revolution” and help build a better “Islamic” Iraq — who is main goal will be to block the US at any turn???

Posted by: Russ at September 19, 2006 9:24 AM
Comment #182505

Joes et al
Oh, by the way, in case you are wondering.
Regarding the jailed Iraqi’s I mentioned above,
It is admitted that these particular people were release because it was determined that they posed no threat to the US.
so NO there originally was NO JUSTIFICATION for “detaining” them.
as admitted by the paperwork releasing them
however the Military — in it’s self-rightousness does NOT even offer an “OOPs, Sorry!!” let alone any form of explanation, apology, nothing —


Yea, how to win friends and influence people.

Posted by: Russ at September 19, 2006 9:29 AM
Comment #182545
I’m sure we recognize that it’s an inhumane practice, and we’re appalled when such abuse is inflicted on suspects and criminals here…I also argue that the intelligence benefits of the results of torture are very questionable. That fact diminishes the acceptability of torture. Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 18, 2006 04:01 PM
Thanks for your reply. And, I have to say you’ve highlighted my point exactly. Until this administration no one would have even come close to talking about the “acceptability of torture”. It was an American meme that we held ourselves to the highest standard and that is now up for debate. To allow the debate to degrade into ends justifications is its own defeat.

Torture is amoral. As we condone immoral acts under any circumstance we are diminished.

Posted by: Dave1-20-09 at September 19, 2006 1:28 PM
Comment #182546

Rob-
I think the line is most properly drawn such that if a person turns out to be innocent, that we can release the person with a minimum of apology, and if they are not, we can use what they say as reliable evidence, or better yet have it be usable in a court of law. I’m willing to accept the former at the very least, not merely out of some abstract sense of justice, but because good evidence is more likely to lead to good evidence than bad.

We have to approach the problem of terrorism with respect for our ability to screw things up and get things wrong. An excessive use of extreme measures will only burden us with more sins to atone for and more mistakes to make up for. Torture feeds into the power fantasies of those who presume themselves to be the most fervent defenders of the state, but its reality is one of questionable morality and questionable information. If you ask me, we should maybe be less picky about how we investigate terrorism, using dedicated investgators whose main purpose is homeland defense, rather than case building.

We should let evidence lead us, rather than suspicion, because we can and always will be wrong in some manner, and those who rely on suspicions will get easily led astray.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 19, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #182982

There is no reason or excuse for torture.

1) Knowledgable people with experience in the field, agree that torture seldom if ever, results in anything worth while. That is because torture is so offensive by its nature, that a person will say whatever the captor wants them to say. Therefore, torture is not reliable, nor can the results be recognised in a court of law.

2) Torture, puts our troops at danger. If we violate the Genieva Convention, then there is nothing to prevent another Country to write their own rules, as well for their standards concerning torture. That is what the Genieva Convention was supposed to prevent.

3) Persons guilty of “torture” according to the Genieva Convention, can be tried in an international court of law. And, the excuse of “I was only following orders” will not be a viable excuse, just as it did not work in Nurenberg.

4) Torture only makes more prople hate us and gives them justification for their feelings against us. People that already hate us, will hate us more. And, people that may not care about us one way or another, can be made to hate us, for the inhumane way we behave to others.

5) Torture deminishes us more than the person(s) being tortured, as it violates everything we believe in. It is a danger to our very under-pinnings as a Nation; as a Country; and as a World Leader. It violates every principal that makes us a great Nation. And, it deminishes us in the eyes of the world. (As well as, in our own eyes).

TORTURE: Can not be allowed!!!

Posted by: PlayNice at September 21, 2006 12:04 AM
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