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Play it again George

In the classic film Casablanca, Captain Renault (Claude Rains) turns to Rick (Humphrey Bogart) to say “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” as Renault moves to close down Rick’s American café. During the same scene, a croupier hands Renault his winnings for the night. That’s about how I see this Bush administration.

The NY Times reported this morning about a report that was written last week stating (link) that during discovery, the 911 commission made repeated and detailed requests to the CIA for documents and other information about the CIA's interrogation of operatives of Al Qaeda, but were told by the CIA that the agency had "produced or made available for review" all information.

Obviously, with the recent news of the CIA interrogation tapes, the CIA lied to the investigators.

Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean were reported to have said this week that they were now convinced that the CIA made a conscious effort to impede the 911 commission's inquiry.

Not to say there isn't wiggle room for the administration. The report produced by the 911 former executive director notes that the 911 commission never asked for 'tapes' specifically, by rather asked for 'documents', 'reports' and the general blanket of other 'information' related to the interrogations. Anyone that remembers the modern definition of 'is' can understand that the administration can wiggle around this latest report.

But when President Bush states "My first recollection of whether the tapes existed or whether they were destroyed was when Michael Hayden briefed me." (link) I'm drawn back to Captain Renault's faux admonishment. Bush's denial seems about as disingenuous as Renault's.

But really, what was Bush saying? It appears that Bush is saying that he didn't know about the status of the tapes (destroyed or not) not that he knew of the existence of the tapes. I think it's clear that based on this quote, he knew about the tapes. And if he knew tapes existed, then he (and his attorneys) would have known that the 911 commission inquired to his administration about all pertinent information about Al Qaeda interrogations. It would appear that Mr. Bush was caught in another lie.

So go ahead, Mr. Bush, say how shocked you are that the CIA withheld this information from the commission that you fought to support.

Go ahead… we'll believe you. Really.

Posted by john trevisani at December 22, 2007 7:25 AM
Comments
Comment #241247

I am happy the tapes were destroyed. I have not trouble with knowing that the mastermind of 911 and Osama bin Laden’s close associate were made very uncomfortable. You know that if you fell into their hands, you would literally be tortured to death and beheaded. Indeed, they would probably post the tape on the Internet.

I imagine that if the CIA tapes were shared, somebody would leak them to the media. We would have endless loops of this stuff on the news. I am glad that will not be an option. Not everything needs to be seen by everyone.

Re legality of the destruction, let the courts decide, but I am glad they will decide about tapes that are destroyed that about tapes that have been leaked. Somebody did the right thing.

To expand on your Casablanca analogy, “Major Strasser has been shot; round up the usual suspects”.

And how about a simple question. If you were alone in a room with Osama bin Laden, would he emerge unharmed?

The interogations of the mastermind of 911 and Osama’s buddy resulted in terrorists being arrested and terror plots being disrupted. While I am glad if we seek to follow the technical legalities of the case, I cannot be too unhappy about the result.

If you prefer dead Americans to uncomfortable terrorists, that is your choice. I do not share it.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2007 11:46 AM
Comment #241253

Clarancec is right on the mark. The NY Times, among other news outlets, has proven many times that they are willing and anxious to share our military secrets with our enemy, and gleefully pander to morbid curiosity while claiming a moral code of “the public’s right to know”. During WWII the slogan “loose lips sink ships” was accepted by Americans who understood the value of being tight-lipped with regard to national security. For many liberals, the concept of “need-to-know” has little meaning or value. Some committees of congress have a need to know and are kept in the loop. Even then, some of those trusted officials can’t zip their lips but betray our nation for a moment in the spotlight. Applauding this abominable behavior is outraegous. Presidents in wartime hunker down and keep secrets for very good reasons. Read a good history of FDR during the war years and you will be exposed to some great examples of the need for secrecy. Liberals have a problem with our current war effort simply because they don’t recognize that we are in a war with international terrorism. They foolishly bury their collective heads in their a__ and do all they can to undermine our military efforts. Does anyone remember liberals demanding unilateral disarmament by the U.S. during the cold war years? Does anyone remember the liberals calling for no intervention in Europe and the heroic efforts by Roosevelt to support England prior to Pearl Harbor. Had England fallen to the Axis before our entry into the war the world would look much different today. Some folks simply can’t be trusted with a secret regardless of the damage to our nation. As commander in chief the President is charged with running military operations. Keeping secrets in wartime is not unusual, but expected.

Posted by: Jim at December 22, 2007 1:35 PM
Comment #241254

Americans torturing people is sickening.

Lying about it does not make it ok.

Americans defending torture is disgusting.

Posted by: phx8 at December 22, 2007 1:41 PM
Comment #241259

We’re not at war with Iraq. We occupy Iraq. We’re not at war with Afghanistan. We occupy Afghanistan. If you fight an occupation like it was a war you’re going to lose. I don’t care how many Iraqis you kill it’s not going to make the other ones do what you want them to do. And the war on terror is only the moral equivalent of war. Like the war on poverty and the war on drugs. You can’t fight terrorists with aircraft carriers. The collateral damage puts you in worse shape than before you started. You have to have the help of the people living around the terrorists like in a police action. We lost a perfectly good chance to win Pakistan. A few years ago they had a bad earth wake, if we had sent 40,000 peace corp workers in to pull them out of the rubble and give them water and blankets. Then (very important) we got back out. There would be no place for Bin Ladin to hide.

Posted by: Michael J. Diel at December 22, 2007 3:01 PM
Comment #241264

Michael

The people of Iraq are not our enemies. We spend resources and take casulties in order to protect them from terrorists who would kill them. We are doing the right and noble thing there.

In Pakistan, you may take a look at who did what. Our military made possible most of the relief efforts.

You are right that we cannot fight terrorism from aircraft carriers. That is why we do not do it. That is why we have our soldiers and Marines living among the people of Iraq, sometimes sharing quarters with Iraqi police.

It is time to update your information. Dependig on carriers to win our wars is more of what we did in the 1990s, for example.

You do not realize it perhaps, but you are advocating things we are doing and have been doing. Thanks for the support.

Check out the information at www.usgcoin.org.

Posted by: Jack at December 22, 2007 3:39 PM
Comment #241267

Some of the statements on here are absolutely beyond the ability to classify! As much and as often as some posters have insinuated, we are not imbeciles, and although I may get thrown off here, I am going to say that I resent those insinuations that we don’t have the mentality to comprehend or deal with world issues. And I resent nearly as much the fact that there is refusal to acknowledge the basis of our complaints, and the need to continue investigations into the intentional avoidance of the law. It’s pathetic nearly beyond measure, to see that a percentage of the voting public are willing to support continued breaking of laws by the C(reton)IC, and spin existing statements or make up others in an attempt to validate that support.

Posted by: Jane Doe at December 22, 2007 4:08 PM
Comment #241271

Jack
Change a few words here and there and you sound just like a turn of the last century imperialist.
Heres an old ditty for you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_man’s_burden#The_White_Man.27s_Burden

Posted by: BillS at December 22, 2007 5:39 PM
Comment #241275

John

I support your post and agree.

As for the right wing posting here, I see no sense in attempting to reason with the unreasonable. I think it would benefit us of like minds posting here to ignore and not respond to such obvious attempts to create conflict and get us off message. If we ignore they will find it useless to post and will go away from whince they came-wherever that might be.

Posted by: Carolina at December 22, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #241276

Jack,

Exactly where does America derive the “moral” authority to torture?
Just where in America’s most sacred documents is the justification to hold prisoners indefinitely with recourse?

“You know that if you fell into their hands, you would literally be tortured to death and beheaded. Indeed, they would probably post the tape on the Internet.”

Jack, you wouldn’t accept excuse like that from your children, why do you accept it from your government?

Posted by: Rocky at December 22, 2007 7:01 PM
Comment #241277

JT
Yeah. They are doing the same thing with the budget. They are shocked at the number of earmarks even though there are 25% fewer than when the Reps controlled congress and only 53% of the money,plus much more transpaency. We can find out who put them in for a change.
Same for the numbers. They are applalled that Dems want to increase spending for childrens healthcare as profligate spending but pissed the Dems would only give them 70 billion to throw away in the desert.
They claim to be for fiscal responibility all of a sudden but block attempts to cut oil subsidies or cover the funds lost by extending the AMT reprieve.

Posted by: bills at December 22, 2007 7:25 PM
Comment #241283

Jack said:

“If you prefer dead Americans to uncomfortable terrorists, that is your choice. I do not share it.”

Who’s going to make that choice you?

The problem comes to who you choose to torture Jack, but you know that.

If I chose to torture you, rather than have dead Americans, would you still think it’s a great idea? Or would you think I had a propoganda agenda?

I don’t think torturing Osama would yield much useful information, except revealing your proclivity for sadism. Killing him would absolve us of his nuisance. Trying him in international court would expose his sadism to many who admire him and make him look weak rather than a courageous martyr.

These childish false choices are beneath your debating skills.

Posted by: googlumpugus at December 22, 2007 10:24 PM
Comment #241289

Jack
one little dirty secret about your approach that you and your ilk ALWAYS refuse to address

Those arrested and detained MAY NOT BE TERRORISTS, and MAY not be GUILTY of anything

In fact, the gov’t has released 400 or so people they had called “the worst of the worst” from GITMO — after detaining them without recourse for years, and I am sure, involving some torture.

(lets not suger coat this Jack, it is not “aggressive interrogation” — it is torture, otherwise why are they trying to hide it and dance around it so much??)

Remeber the unwary Canadian who was picked up at the boder, sent off to a foreign country and tortured, but then Whoops, wrong guy — and the let him go, but there has yet to be even an apology for destroying this guy’s life!!!

EVEN IF we were assured that ALL those detained WERE guilty (we have strong evidence that SOME ARE) — it would STILL not justify torture.
If England tortured one of our soldiers — you would be livid, If Libya did it, you would want them bombed — so your “ethics” and “morals” appear to be a one-way street.

Oh yea, did your mother ever let you get away with “but they are doing it” as an excuse???

Posted by: Russ at December 23, 2007 1:28 AM
Comment #241290

Googlelumpugus

I have simply concluded that too many people are too self righteous about this and we are defining torture too broadly or not at all.

There is a problem with rules. We need to have them, but sometimes we need to break them. The person who breaks the rule will often have to suffer the consequences (fall on his sword in the ancient parlance), but he/she may be doing what needs to be done.

I really do not care if these guys were waterboarded. I will not pretend that I do. I am also happy that tapes were destroyed because I know that CNN and Al Jaziera would run those tapes over and over. Somebody did the right thing. He may have to “fall on his sword” but he did the right thing.

The interrogation of the Osama’s buddy supplied information that let to the arrest of Khalid sheikh Mohammed. This guy, the mastermind of 911, evidently felt humiliated by a red haired woman. Good.

I believe torture is serious and should be illegal. But you need to define exactly what you mean by torture. Evidently for some of these guys, having a beautiful woman around them is more of a humiliation than a beating. I won’t define that as torture just because it offends them. And I am not upset if our enemies are afraid of us.

There has never been a time that I can remember when the international and American chattering classes were not giving us a hard time for something. During the 1980s we had the moral equivalency with the Soviet Union charge. Today we have this one. You just cannot please some people.

BTW – did you follow the trial of Milosevic? That trial managed to convince most of his earlier supporters that he was just a victim himself. Osama bin Laden’s popularity in the Arab world has dropped like a stone in recent years. Experts can discuss the reasons, but one surely is that we have made him largely impotent. Nobody really likes a loser.

Rocky

Throughout our history we have taken such action as we needed to do. My father and uncles were WWII veterans. Clearly from the stories they told the liberal media would have been appalled by some of their ruthless behavior. They did what they needed to do. The idea that our whole country can get wrapped around the axle about the discomfort of the person who planned the attack on our country that caused the greatest loss of American life shows both how “advanced” we are and perhaps how unreasonable we have become.

Sometimes in conflicts you have to impose your will on somebody else. This is never a pleasant thing, but it beats the alternative of having him impose his will on you. The free markets and democratic institutions we have created give us a world where this kind of existential conflict is less common or necessary. But sometimes we still need to take out the garbage.

Seriously, would you have us put the mastermind of 911 up in a nice hotel and hope he will change his mind about America by watching Oprah & Dr. Phil on daytime TV? He is a bad guy, our enemy by any reasonable definition. I won’t shed any tears for him.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2007 1:50 AM
Comment #241296

Jack:

I imagine that if the CIA tapes were shared, somebody would leak them to the media. We would have endless loops of this stuff on the news.

Did you feel that way when the images of Abu Ghraib were plastered all over the world? The AG images exposed a horrible truth. There were some, at the time, that said the images should never have been released either. But that, in my opinion, is like burying your head in the sand in an effort that it’ll all blow over. i prefer truth.

If you prefer dead Americans to uncomfortable terrorists, that is your choice. I do not share it.
Statements like these are uncalled for and may violate the ‘Critique the message, not the messenger’ policy of this board. Posted by: john trevisani at December 23, 2007 7:02 AM
Comment #241299

Jack,

“Seriously, would you have us put the mastermind of 911 up in a nice hotel and hope he will change his mind about America by watching Oprah & Dr. Phil on daytime TV? He is a bad guy, our enemy by any reasonable definition. I won’t shed any tears for him.”

This is just bullshit, Jack.
Why is it that you conservatives see things only in the extremes?

What this man did was a criminal act, and we don’t torture criminals in America, do we Jack.
We had no compunctions about bringing Noriega back to America and putting him on trial in our courts. Did we torture Noriega as well?

Any moral high ground we had after Sept. 11th is lost when we stoop to tactics we criticize those we wish to bring to justice practice.

If we wish America to continue as that shining light that all other countries aspire to be, we cannot, CANNOT, torture people.

Otherwise we might as well just start beheading people ourselves.

Posted by: Rocky at December 23, 2007 9:08 AM
Comment #241302

john trevisani

“If you prefer dead Americans to uncomfortable terrorists, that is your choice. I do not share it.”

“Statements like these are uncalled for and may violate the ‘Critique the message, not the messenger’ policy of this board”

you may not like what jack had to say, but calling that statement a violation of the rules of participation is quite a stretch.

“Did you feel that way when the images of Abu Ghraib were plastered all over the world? The AG images exposed a horrible truth. “

the horrible truth is that forcing someone to wear thier underwear on thier heads doesn’t even compare to having your head chopped off.

Posted by: dbs at December 23, 2007 9:45 AM
Comment #241303

John

I do feel that same way about the PICTURES of Abu Ghraib. A picture is worth 1000 words, but those words may not be truthful. We had picture of criminal behavior which was misinterpreted as U.S. policy.

We could have properly investigated and produced the same result w/o those pictures becoming icons for those who hate and want to discredit the United States. Our picture age short circuits thinking and goes directly to provoking passion. Strong passions never produce sound policy.

Re the critique – I am sorry if you felt offended. Is this better? Interrogating the mastermind of 911 certainly saved Americans lives. That is more important to me than his comfort. I do you agree?

Rocky

We did not interrogate the mastermind of 911 in order to punish him. We did it to learn about his future plans, how to disrupt his network and to save lives in America and elsewhere. He was not a mere criminal. He was a leader in an international organization dedicated to killing Americans and attacking American interests. He was also not just someone who HAD done something in the past. He was someone who was planning other terrorist acts in the future.

I am future oriented when it comes to decision. If I am convinced someone or something is no longer a threat, I see no reason to even bother about it. But when we are in the middle of events, when taking swift and decisive action can save lives, I think we should do it. In the case of the man who planned the an attack that he hoped and believed would take tens of thousands of American lives and cripple our country and the man who hoped to launch follow up attacks on other U.S. targets, I cannot feel much sympathy for him. This is not the bird man of Alcatraz who has repented his crimes and is no longer a threat. This guy would kill you and me tomorrow and stupidly believe it would help him get into heaven.

Re the moral high ground – we are clearly “better” than our enemies. None of these terrorist we care so much in Guantanamo has been killed. In fact they seem to be gaining weight and getting better health care than ever before. If the world community cannot tell the difference between a country that has very high standards but cannot always behave perfectly and terrorists whose entire goal is to behave badly, there is no hope for them. We all know that in fact they CAN tell the difference. That is why they are not really afraid that we will harm them and why many American haters want to come to our country, where they know they will be safer to practice their beliefs.

It is a dishonest game many “activists” play. They call the U.S. fascist when they must know that if we REALLY were fascists they would not have the freedom to do that. It is the same sort of logic that leads animal rights activist to throw paint at old ladies in fur coats while they leave the motorcycle gangs in leather coats alone. They know the reality; they just lie about it.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2007 9:51 AM
Comment #241306

Jack,

It isn’t about the rest of the world. It’s not even about whether or not I have sympathy for those we torture, I do not. I want these guys tried and punished for their crimes against America. The minute we captured “Mr. Mastermind” any plots he was associated with were compromised, and it doesn’t take torture to find that out.
That those in Gitmo are getting fat is beside the point.
I am an American, and it’s about America and what we presume to stand for. I want America to strive for perfection, and torture isn’t the way to achieve that goal.
We seem to have a double standard when it comes to what we want America to represent, and what our actions are to assure we remain preeminent.

Your comments about fascism are merely hyperbole, and seem a childish rant that distracts from the real picture.
Conservatives want to accuse anyone that disagrees with them of playing games with reality, yet are not above playing those same games themselves when the opportunity arises.

Posted by: Rocky at December 23, 2007 10:44 AM
Comment #241308

“As for the right wing posting here, I see no sense in attempting to reason with the unreasonable. I think it would benefit us of like minds posting here to ignore and not respond to such obvious attempts to create conflict and get us off message. If we ignore they will find it useless to post and will go away from whince they came-wherever that might be.” Posted by: Carolina at December 22, 2007 06:11 PM

Carolina, “Create conflict”, I don’t think so, the conflict between political philosophies already exists. What you advocate, if followed, will merely be singing to the choir. With everyone singing the same tune it won’t be very interesting or instructional, but rather, peaceful and boring. All that will remain is a bunch of liberals trying to impress each other. It reminds me of my childhood when playing football. The owner of the football always wanted to play by his rules. Game over.

Posted by: Jim at December 23, 2007 12:55 PM
Comment #241309

jim:jack:
As much as you want to make this discussion around your topics, the purpose of the article is to highlight how the CIA and this administration thwarted the 911 commission’s investigation.

When we allow organizations, groups or individuals the ability to go around the laws of this land in the pursuit of some grandiose vision of personal truth is the very time that we relinquish the very freedoms that we claim to possess. Most sane individuals supported the 911 commission for both its creation and its results. But now some are arguing that it’s alright that the administration plays fast and loose with the rule and laws of the land, as long as they believe their particular dogma.

That’s called vigilantism not lawfulness.

Posted by: john trevisani at December 23, 2007 2:01 PM
Comment #241310

Rocky

The mastermind of 911 was AQ’s planner. He knew lots of things about lots of operations. If all it took to disrupt the operation was to remove him, we should have just shot him while he tried to escape and avoided all this trouble. I am certain we learned a lot from him.

I do not know what methods were used on him. Whatever we used, he still alive, unlike many of the people that fell into his hands.

Re fascism – I have seen on this very blog (not from you, BTW) people claim to believe we live in a fascist country. There are three things you must believe one of two things about them. Either they do not know what fascism is and got the definition wrong, or they are really foolish, since they do not understand writing things as they do would be dangerous or fatal in a fascist country. Since in the four years visiting this blog I have never heard of the state punishing any of the Watchblog posters for what they write and in fact the same people continue to post similar accusations with monotonous regularity, I have to assume the first option is the correct one.

I also believe we have a serious problem with the definition of torture. Some people include any coercive methods even including tricking and lying to the detainees. I have even heard (not joking) that having provocative female interrogators is torture. Interrogations often will and should be harsh, unpleasant, deceptive and humiliating. It is one of those things that sensitive people might want to avoid. What you are doing is imposing your will on another person. If you had reason to expect cooperation, you would not need to interrogate in the first place.

A second problem with the publicly available definition is that the enemy will get it and can prepare for it. Even if we do not intend to use certain techniques (because they are “below” us) it might be a really good idea is the bad guys fear we might. Creating fear and uncertainty in the minds of terrorists is not torture, is it? It is hard to make a credible threat if your opponent knows exactly how far you will go.

As for “torture” not working, I do not think we should do anything that doesn’t work. Whatever techniques they used on the 911 plotter evidently did work, so maye they were not torture.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2007 2:06 PM
Comment #241315

During the same scene, a croupier hands Renault his winnings for the night.
Posted by john trevisani

John, finally, it is so nice to see a liberal actually implying that Bush, like Renault, is winning something!!

JD

Posted by: JD at December 23, 2007 3:38 PM
Comment #241316

JD I think you missed the whole idea of the “payoff”.
Don’t see how you can consider illegal manipulations as a win, for anyone, and we as a country are the biggest losers. But good luck with that theory.

Posted by: Jane Doe at December 23, 2007 4:36 PM
Comment #241320

Jack,

“A second problem with the publicly available definition is that the enemy will get it and can prepare for it.”

The perception that these criminals are an enemy that should be feared, is one perpetuated by the administration.
An administration that, BTW, feels no need what so ever to come clean, about anything, with the American public.
That Bush and company have fostered this fear, along with all of the half truths that have been used, and the excuses for the mistakes made, is despicable. That we have held innocent men and women incommunicado for months at a time, on mere innuendo, and lied about it, doubly so.

The “war on terror” is a hoax.
America cannot fight a “war” against an ideology with guns, or assume to round up and/or kill every terrorist that threatens American interests world wide, and expect to win. It just isn’t gonna happen.
We cannot win a war for hearts and minds with guns. That is a war that must be won by example, and torturing people just doesn’t set an example to emulate.
Terrorists are criminals, and should be treated as such.

Posted by: Rocky at December 23, 2007 6:44 PM
Comment #241325

Jim

Thank you for quoting me exactly and not rephrasing what I said. I will respond to your query as you have presented your points in a reasonable and thoughtful fashion. Although I disagree with you

Let me clarify. I said unreasonable. I did not suggest we ignore reasonable, well thought out positions. I have no issue with discussing points and positions different from my own when presented in a respectful manner but such statements as “If you prefer dead Americans to uncomfortable terrorists, then that is your choice” somehow suggesting that if you are against torture you are infavor of dead Americans. “We are trying to save you from yourself.” “The New York Times, among other news outlets, has proven many times that they are willing and anxious to share our military secrets with the enemy….and gleefully pander.” These type of statements do not support positions they are said in an attempt to inflame and attack the opposing opinion.

Being a female I did not get the football analogy.

Posted by: Carolina at December 23, 2007 8:19 PM
Comment #241326

Rocky,

Some terrorists are Freedom Fighters. Boston in 1775 comes to mind.

Furthermore, the best documented case of “Barbarity exercised upon the Bodies” on 19 Apr 1775 was committed by a Concord youth, Ammi White, on a wounded regular. He struck the man in the head with his hatchet, finishing him off. Other British soldiers who then saw that corpse came to believe it had been scalped.

With over two hundred years of perspective, most historians now agree it’s unclear who fired the first shot at Lexington. They describe the outbreak of fighting at the North Bridge as the culmination of growing aggression and fears from both sides. It took several decades for the story of Ammi White to get into American history books, but writers now acknowledge that unsavory wrinkle of a complex story.

But Joseph Secomb didn’t know those things in 1775. He relied on his newspaper, reports from his neighbors, and his understanding of the royal government’s actions over the preceding several months. So did thousands of other Americans of 1776, which helps to explain how the fighting on 19 April united so many British colonists against the Crown. Even after New Englanders began to acknowledge their preparation for military action, it took decades before American writers abandoned the story of an unprovoked British attack in Lexington and barbarous behavior in the retreat from Concord.

Of course, Jack believes men like Adams and Jefferson should have been captured and tortured in the name of freedom.

He failed respond to my equally phony question asking what he would think, if he were the victim of US torture. Guess I scared him.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 23, 2007 8:29 PM
Comment #241329

the 911 commission made repeated and detailed requests to the CIA for documents and other information about the CIA’s interrogation of operatives of Al Qaeda, but were told by the CIA that the agency had “produced or made available for review” all information.

Obviously, with the recent news of the CIA interrogation tapes, the CIA lied to the investigators.
Posted by john trevisani


Maybe liberal Democrats can make a deal here. How about bargaining that the CIA will produce the interrogation tapes when Sandy Berger produces the documents he stuffed in his socks and shorts to keep from the 9/11 commission? Democrats are always talking about bipartisanship and meeting Republicans halfway, right?

It should be easy for Democrats to get a hold of Berger. Last I heard he was a member of Hillary’s new team.

JD

Posted by: JD at December 23, 2007 8:35 PM
Comment #241331

“Of course, Jack believes men like Adams and Jefferson should have been captured and tortured in the name of freedom.”

Sorry, I don’t believe al Qaeda are freedom fighters.
Jack and I don’t agree on a few things, but right now he is putting his money where his mouth is.

No offence meant, but where he working I doubt you scared him with your question.

Posted by: Rocky at December 23, 2007 9:09 PM
Comment #241337

Rocky - thanks.

I alse, of course, agree that it is silly to put Adams and Jefferson in the same class as Al Qaeda.

I think we have come to the part of the discussion where we just will not agree.

Let me emphasize, because it gets lost, that I do not believe in harsh interrogations as punishment. They should be used when we urgently need information to disrupt terrorist plans and avoid future attacks.

It is not an easy moral decision. If you put it in personal terms, I imagine if someone had kidnapped and buried my daughter. She would die in 24 hours if not found. If I had the guy with me in the room, I am certain that I would take whatever action needed to make him tell me where she was. I know this is the extreme example, but the extreme examples are the ones that test the theory.

Googlumpugus

BTW – being tortured would scare me. I have thought about that personally. I am not physically brave. I figure I would tell most of what I knew in short order. Actually, I understand that everybody talks. That is why such techniques are sometimes used. But it probably would make no sense for anybody to torture me, since I do not know much of value that can not be easily found in open sources.

That is the point you seem to be missing. By the standards we are discussing it would not make any sense to torture me, you, Jefferson or Adams. Re the terrorists, these guys were not interrogated to punish them. They were interrogated because they had urgent information that could disrupt ongoing terrorist operations and save lives.

Posted by: Jack at December 24, 2007 12:21 AM
Comment #241345

Rocky:

The perception that these criminals are an enemy that should be feared, is one perpetuated by the administration.
An administration that, BTW, feels no need what so ever to come clean, about anything, with the American public.
That Bush and company have fostered this fear, along with all of the half truths that have been used, and the excuses for the mistakes made, is despicable. That we have held innocent men and women incommunicado for months at a time, on mere innuendo, and lied about it, doubly so.
The “war on terror” is a hoax.
America cannot fight a “war” against an ideology with guns, or assume to round up and/or kill every terrorist that threatens American interests world wide, and expect to win. It just isn’t gonna happen.
We cannot win a war for hearts and minds with guns. That is a war that must be won by example, and torturing people just doesn’t set an example to emulate.
Terrorists are criminals, and should be treated as such.


This is a perfectly focused, and well stated series of comments.
You are absolutely right. Fear of all kinds has been used by this administration in so many absurd and sickening ways. Fear is also very obviously (though ineffectively), being used by each and every rightwing responder to this post.
Despite all these transparent attempts to justify such despicable behavior with fear and terror, I get the sense that the majority of Americans can’t, and won’t go along with this for too much longer. I think that the majority is coming to recognize that these are the sorts of things that this nation has hated, reviled, stood against, issued punishments, and even death sentences for, throughout the history of our country.
In other words, American’s are finally starting to understand that they’ve been sold a false bill of goods. And they don’t want to let this country fall completely from grace, and take on the utterly shameful and disgraceful status of a rogue nation, due to all the blind and unreasoning fear that has defined the (bogus) “war on terrorism.”

Posted by: veritas vincit at December 24, 2007 1:46 AM
Comment #241346

Well stated veritas !

Posted by: Jane Doe at December 24, 2007 3:07 AM
Comment #241352

Jack,

Please understand that while I do respect what you are trying to accomplish through your job, I just can’t agree with your opinion on this particular matter. I feel that America can be, and should be, better than that.

Looking over the American political history of the last 100 years, I understand that much of it has been glamorized, and much of it overstated. In my travels outside of this country I have seen how, “America, the idea”, has been idolized, and I am quite sure you have seen the same thing.
That said, we both know that since America became a global player, America has done some very good things that reflect that idolization, America has also done some rather dubious things around the world in our perceived self interest, that are a direct cause of where we stand today.

Your example of your daughter, while noble, is a reflection of that same American self interest.

We must understand that if we are to continue to be a global power it is of the utmost importance Americans realize we are the most visible country on the planet, and every thing we do, rightly or wrongly, is scrutinized.
If America wants to win the hearts and minds of the folks now riding the fence, the folks that can truly change the ideology we face, our actions must not be perceived as only in the “American” self interest.
What you are doing in Iraq is a start in that direction, and believe me when I say that I do respect, and support that work.
However, if America is seen as a country that would torture, or a country that would “disappear” common folks on innuendo, and worse, attempt to hide those facts, the type of work you are doing will be for naught.

Posted by: Rocky at December 24, 2007 8:41 AM
Comment #241362

Many on this blog speak of conservatives spreading fear and lies to further our perception of the war on terrorists. These same writers discount and deny that they are spreading fear and lies about man-made global warming. We do not rely upon a consensus of U.N. bureaucrats for our position but rather, have undeniable evidence in many countries of the world, including the U.S. who have directly experienced terrorism. Many say we should treat these terrorist acts as merely criminal and not a theology of world domination. Acts of violence against innocent peoples around the world is international terrorism. Subscribing to the Clinton era solution of issuing warrants to arrest these so-called criminals is just silly. Who’s warrants? Who’s police force? Who’s jurisdiction? Who’s courts? Who’s laws? Are advocates of treating these terrorists as criminals suggesting that the U.N. police the world? Fat chance of that happening. My friends, I believe you are well intentioned but mislead. Unless addressed now, international terrorism will embroil the entire world in war and misery as that is their stated goal.

Posted by: Jim at December 24, 2007 12:13 PM
Comment #241363

Jack and Rocky,

Wow, You interpreted that as me wanting Jefferon and Adams to have been tortured? That’s tortured logic.
I was showing the absurdity of justifying torture because of belief you are on the side of good.

Here’s another tidbit for you.

Torture is wrong, period. It doesn’t work, and will get you a ticket to hell, if you believe in that.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 24, 2007 12:15 PM
Comment #241364

Jim,

A: I agree that some use fear to move their agenda on global warming

B: Terrorism is a technique of small power against a large power. It is as old as man. The only difference is, we see it as something new. In WWII balloons with bombs were floated across the western US. They were ineffective. The US squelched reports for fear of spreading terror. In the civil war, terrorism of civilians was commonplace.

911 was imaginative and worked at scaring the crap out of many people, but it wasn’t something new.

There is no “they” out there anymore than there has always been a they.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 24, 2007 12:26 PM
Comment #241365

What is torture? Everyone writing on this blog has a different opinion. Is torture defined as something that makes one uncomfortable in mind, body or spirit? If so, I find the disparaging remarks about Christianity tortuous. I find April 15th tortuous as I pay taxes to support government programs I find unconstitutional and in violation of my personal beliefs. I find killing unborn babies tortuous. I find the assualt on my religious views on the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman as defined by society for many millinium being ursurped by gays and lesbians as torture. I find the use of extreme measures to extract information from terrorists to save innocent lives as torture also. As I accept my torture as part of society, I also accept the torture of terrorists to extract information for the greater good of society. A brief period of water-boarding is no more tortuous than a lifetime in prison. Extraordinary peril requires extraordinary measures and has been accepted as necessary many times during the history of our republic. A president and commander in chief that is unwilling to do what is necessary to protect and defend us is not worthy of the office.

Posted by: Jim at December 24, 2007 12:49 PM
Comment #241369

Rocky

I know we have a honorable disagreement. We also would not disagree about 99% of the cases. I would apply extraordinary methods only to some extraordiary cases involving urgent need for information that could save lives. Guys like our 911 plotters may fall into that category. There are not very many of them and they are very bad.

I believe that many people are overreacting. We are talking a small number of cases. There is no evidence that the prisoners at Guantanamo were tortured, for example. Also out of a billion Muslims, fewer fewer than 300 are even at Guantanamo. This is not some kind of general round up.

Re pictures, the reason I am glad the tapes were evidently destroyed is the pictures of Abu Ghraib. They represent a criminal act but because the pictures were so interesting, they have become symbols of our policy to many people. Pictures are like that. They are worth 1000 words, but those words may not be true. A picture can bypass intelligence and appeal directly to emotion. That is why liberals dislike the pictures of aborted babies in the abortion argument or meat eaters dislike pictures of dead anmimals, and I agree with them.

The picture may show what looks like a person suffering, but it does not tell you why, how or what has happened. Imagine the picture of a bloody life saving operation.

I think we can debate what constitutes torture and what sorts of active interogations we should use. We may disagree where the lines should be drawn. Emotionally charged pictures and videos would not help us make decisions and more than the dead baby picture would help us decide whether or not a woman had a right to choose an abortion.

Posted by: Jack at December 24, 2007 2:51 PM
Comment #241389

I remember shortly after the story broke that interrogation tapes had been destroyed by the CIA, a news network ran a story depicting a staged waterboarding using, I believe, one of their employees.
I remember that it was a B-movie-like re-enactment, which reminded me of a cheap version of Silence of the Lambs.

The volunteer waterboarders took the volunteer “waterboardee” down a long dark stairway into what must have been a damp network news building basement. They proceeded to stuff the waterboardee’s mouth with an old rag while he laid flat on what appeared to be a “benchpress” station “without the free weights”, of course.

The waterboarders began pouring water into the open mouth of the volunteer waterboardee until he started to gag on the damp rag.

I remember thinking to myself, “Is this what network TV news has descended to; making cheap B movies?”
It was obvious to me that the news media was bound, (no pun intended there), and determined to create their own story out of this for political purposes.

The media could not have had any idea what was actually on the interrogation tapes since they were classified, but this news network was doing to their own news people what they were saying should not be done to even a terrorist.

I thought the hatred that these people must have for the Bush Administration, the CIA, and others who are trying to protect our country must be absolutely astounding that some would actually volunteer to be waterboarded to attempt to create a public uprising for this so-called scandal. I guess if you can’t get someone in the CIA to leak the original tapes to show on the network news, a cheap B-rated news version depicting it is the next best thing.

It is obvious that the media was trying everything they could do to get to these tapes for political reasons, or they wouldn’t have shown their own versions of what they thought might be on them. The media’s quest to bring down the Bush Administration has gotten absolutely ridiculous.

JD

Posted by: JD at December 24, 2007 9:32 PM
Comment #241502

JD,

Can we assume that like most of us you haven’t witnessed a water-boarding?

Posted by: Rocky at December 26, 2007 7:06 PM
Comment #241558


We may never know how many people this Administration has tortured or what methods were used because the Administration paid other countries to do most of the torturing. I believe the Administration called it rendition.


Jim: Do you think that some people might consider the religious rights attempt to impose it’s religious views on everyone is a form of torture?

Could imposition be followed by inquisition?

There was a time, not so long ago, when electroshock therepy was the preferred treatment for homosexuality. Some lesbians were forced to have hysterectomies and estrogen injections. Some homosexuals were subjected to transorbital lobotomy by having an ice pick shoved through their eye socket to turn their frontal lobe into scrambled brains. Could those treatments be considered forms of torture?

Posted by: jlw at December 27, 2007 12:59 PM
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