Obama and Values

Citing a need to uphold “our values” and “the rule of law” President Obama, speaking at CIA headquarters, defended his much-criticized release of previously classified memos concerning the use of harsh interrogation techniques. What are these “values” the president upholds?

The president tells us we should not inflict pain on someone even when there is a reasonable expectation doing so could save many, perhaps thousands of, lives. The sacrifice of those many for the sake of looking morally superior in our handling of mass murderers will show us to be a beacon to the world, say his apologists. In the meantime, though, the president has actively opposed legislation that would treat human beings born alive and viable as the result of attempted abortions as human beings. They are, in his view, to be permitted to die in a reinstitution of the brutal, age-old practice of "exposure" because to do otherwise questions the decision of the mother and physician..

In an interview with Sean Hannity congressman Peter King said when he asked Janet Napolitano why her assessment of the situations faced by the Homeland Security Department contained not a single reference to "terrorism" or "terrorists" her answer was that the administration thought such references were unnecessesarily polarizing. That did not prevent the department from disseminating a document that actively points out groups such as returning soldiers, states rights advocates, pro life advocates, and Second Amendment supporters as "potential terrorists".

There is already a discussion one column to the left on Obama's educational values, so I'll leave it to Rhinehold to tell that story.

What is his values here? Human life? No. A viable baby born alive is a human being under every modern interpretation of law. Even viability is not at issue because it includes babies born so young that they could not survive without special interventions. The interrogation policy itself is fully willing to sacrifice any number of fully fledged, unquestionably human Americans. The value appears that the president does not want people who share his political persuasion to feel icky, soiled, chagrined, or embarrassed in their defense of the huddled masses.

Dose he cherish human dignity? Witnessed only by his actions he cherishes the dignity of mass murderers, perhaps, but certainly not the dignity the totally innocent, or of defenders of American freedom, or those who agree on love of country but disagree on political issues.

So, what are the values we see from the president and his partizans? From here they seem utterly equivocal, and utterly convenient.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at April 21, 2009 11:50 AM
Comment #280727

Holy, Jehosefat!

You actually believe this argument? Which viable babies are you talking about Lee? Do you often have these fantasies at night or are they part of your waking world as well? Linking life saving abortion to torture. Good one. I think someone should link reading this crap to torture. It’s an equally legitimate connection.

This counts as your most ridiculous post yet.

Posted by: gergle at April 21, 2009 2:30 PM
Comment #280730

This has nothing to do with “life saving” abortions. It has everything to do with late term abortions of any sort in which a baby is delivered alive, and there are well publicised examples of these. There have been instances in which these babies were killed actively or simply neglected until they expired.

Why would I post something I DIDN’T believe?

This Obama as the Pope of the Church of the Holy Government thing obviously plays very very well among Democrats. He’s going to do his inquisition and put the heads of the opposition on pikes and Democrats will cheer his new morality. Fine.

But if you give mass murderers special protections you won’t reduce their power to recruit more mass murderers. They will resent us for the same reason poor Democrats adore Obama. They are too invested in the belief that presses them down to allow any other thought to enter their heads.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 21, 2009 2:55 PM
Comment #280731

Jim M,

Being disheartened is not a good reason to stop fighting for what is right. You write often of the effect of your faith. If faith really is our guide, and we really seek what is best, to the extent we can gain that knowledge, no one of us has the right to give up that light, though we seem to stand alone.

As a second point, people of faith should understand that if all these forces really are arrayed against us, and we really are right, they aren’t our enemies. They are the ones we are trying to save from their own failure to understand. We want more individual freedom for them, more respect for them from the government they own, more respect for their humanity, intelligence, and personal value from the elites, and a respect for the humanity of peoples all over the world, just as they claim of themselves.

People of faith can’t be excused from the fight.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 21, 2009 3:12 PM
Comment #280733

Hey genius! If we are holding these people for five years, what do you think they’ll know about what will happen six years after they were captured? And how do we know what they know or even if they know anything? And quite often arrests in the middle east are made out of paranoia or racism, so how do we know they’re even guilty? The crude, hypocritical, and unscrupulous actions the U.S. has commited for 30 years are something unbelievable! Supporting dictators who kill thousands and hire people to kill and injure those who vote against them? Our beliefs are based on morals and correctness, but we always lose them in a dash for money and power. And as for faith, America is quite close to dead. We neglect our religious beliefs, divorce, torture unconvicted and quite likely innocent people, and so many people ignore the easist rule, no sex until marriage! We bombed and killed millions, calling it “Doing what had to be done,” but call people who kill 5,000 of us terrorists and recklessly bomb their country! And, P.S., Hannity is a hypocritical mule, and I am against abortion. I beleive that even if a fetus isn’t alive, the fact that it will have life should be considered it having life, and killing it is preventing life.

Posted by: Aaron Hughes at April 21, 2009 4:00 PM
Comment #280739

There is no reasonable expectation that torture can save lives, because there’s no reasonable expectation that information given under torture is not a figment of either the tortured or the torturer’s imagination. It is a state of increased suggestibility, and such states, like Hypnosis, cult-like environments, and psychoactive drug experiences, are notorious for corrupting memory and producing false evidence.

It also has the bad effect of casting doubt on America’s motives and clouding the moral separation between us and the terrorists.

In the meantime, though, the president has actively opposed legislation that would treat human beings born alive and viable as the result of attempted abortions as human beings. They are, in his view, to be permitted to die in a reinstitution of the brutal, age-old practice of “exposure” because to do otherwise questions the decision of the mother and physician.

Nice non sequitur. The word on that law was that it was poorly written, and tread over the constitutional line that Roe v. Wade set.

I have to wonder at something. You see part of the problem with the law in question is that it took the judgment of viability away from the doctor, the one person qualified to speak to it. You don’t appreciate government regulations telling people how to do their jobs, but somehow, somehow, a doctor doing an abortion isn’t allowed to figure out whether the aborted child is dead or dying.

In this case, as in others, are the Republicans principles of government non-interference merely privileges for the people and practices Republicans like? Cases like the Terri Schiavo case, and the issues surrounding government surveillance indicate this might just be the case.

As for the study in question, The Republicans are ignoring similar surveys on recruiting and activity by Left-Wing Extremists.

Here’s the question: If Right Wing Extremists groups are recruiting among returning soldiers, trying to avail themselves of their expertise, then why sugarcoat that, especially when it was done in the past?

We don’t need to be getting politically correct. The Olympic Park Bomber, who also committed acts of terrorism on abortion clinics and gay bars, was a religious extremist, a racial extremist, an extremist on abortion, and a former member of the military. Should we, owing to your skittishiness on saying anything bad about former military people, exclude him or others like him from being suspects? Or would you rather have settled on Richard Jewell?

And then of course, there’s this man. To say that Right Wing Extremists have not recruited from among the former military is unsupportable by the facts. To say that they will not do so again is wishful thinking.

The DHS is supposed to be informing law enforcement organizations around the country about potential problems, about activity from folks who could pose a threat to Americans, whether they are from somewhere else or live right by us. Recall, if you will, that Timothy McVeigh’s terrorist act was the worst in United States history, right up to the point the planes hit the towers.

I don’t think we need to underestimate threats on either side of the coin, or either side of the aisle. They’re always morons out there who think that their politics entitles them to kill and destroy other people. Our nation neither is free from these people, nor has a monopoly in having them around.

The Republicans, though, seem more willing to appeal to them and identify with them, even when the explicit and implicit signs show that the folks being spoken of go beyond the usual pale.

I neither think this is inherent to the party, nor a permanent affliction. But I think the Republicans must realize that our status as a civilized nation requires us to do two things: submit to the rule of law, and enforce that law among criminals and government officials alike, including those who enforce the law.

As for people being kicked off? Stick to arguing with facts and against arguments, and you’ll do okay. If you choose to argue by throwing insults at people and relying on personal attacks, you leave yourself wide open. I’ve managed to stay on this site for more than five year now by being disciplined about how I argue my arguments.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 21, 2009 4:21 PM
Comment #280746


Torture (I’ll play the semantic game to make a point) is effective in the hands of skilled interrogators. The Nazis were quite good at using torture to play individuals against each other, first to gather bits of information, then to verify which bits were reliable. By the use of repeated interrogations of multiple subjects a very reliable web of information could frequently be obtained.

Can torture provide false information? Of course. So can the lucid testimony of willing witnesses. That is the point of skilled interrogators. Information is gained and tested by a patient and scientific process.

Of course, when Nazis tortured people they used methods which routinely left human beings permanently damaged, and frequently killed them. They did not send memos back and forth checking the legality of one method or another, or troubling to record methods and risking exposure to potential future retribution by politically expedient moralists. Such an act is one of a true patriot, someone willing to risk their future for the security of the people of the United States.

It is not to be wondered at that there were many interrogations of a few high-value mass murderers. Nor is it to be wondered at that George Tenet claimed these operations had been more effective than the CIA and FBI combined in uncovering specific threats so that they could be stopped before the deaths of thousands.

And I’m not ignoring the recruitment of “left wing” extremists. The only American target on Homeland Security’s ten most wanted list for terrorism is an animal rights activist.

What I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt is that none of any recent Republican presidents’ advisors has ever blown up an American government building in an act of “protest”. We can no longer say that about Democrats.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 21, 2009 5:21 PM
Comment #280748


The word on that law was that it was poorly written, and tread over the constitutional line that Roe v. Wade set.
There is intentionally nothing in Roe that addresses viable infants. In fact Roe, as badly reasoned as it was, was careful not to address issues beyond the first trimester.

I doubt very seriously pediatricians are doing abortions these days.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 21, 2009 5:30 PM
Comment #280750


So you wouldn’t oppose investigating the US involvement in the Operation Allied Force, civilian targets attacked by the US military under the Command of Wesley Clark, and ethnic cleansing conducted on the teritory of the Kosovo under the NATO occupation?

There are laws, and EVERYONE should answer for their actions right?

I am all for it. Since we are airing out dirty laundry let’s air out all of it not just the ones ACLU and moveon.org want.

You do not understand how many people will be affected by this precedent. I can tell you Wesley Clark will be shitting bricks right about now for bombing giving an order to bomb a Serbian Church on easter sunday.

Posted by: crusader at April 21, 2009 5:58 PM
Comment #280753


i see your response to jim m, but i don’t see his comment. what happened

Posted by: dbs at April 21, 2009 7:05 PM
Comment #280760

Lee Jamison,

The issue is whether the US violated its long standing opposition to torture embodied in legally binding treaties and US statutes. The issue is not whether Obama personally holds or even practices moral/ethical values that would dictate opposition to torture. Framing the debate as an issue of Obama’s values is nothing but a vield attempt to divert and obfuscate the real issue.

Your assertion that the Nazis “..did not send memos back and forth checking the legality of one method or another, or troubling to record methods and risking exposure to potential future retribution by politically expedient moralists” is patently false. The Nazis were, in fact, excellent record keepers and did seek legal authority for their acts. It is an unfortunate fact of history that the judicial system of Germany was complicit in providing legal authority for the moral excesses of the Nazi political structure. The fact that the prior administration sought and optained supporting legal opinion before acting on torture tactics doesn’t justify violating such prohibitions anymore than an opinion of the German high courts justified Nazi extremes. The question is whether the US engaged in torture regardless of supporting legal opinions from its AG office.

Posted by: Rich at April 21, 2009 9:15 PM
Comment #280765


I have to admit that I’m failing to see the logical leap between the two subjects. While I believe that both can be argued on their merits the two together are not chocolate and peanut butter especially in an argument that is not based on a common framework. Or have I misunderstood your point completely? You seem to be arguing that torture is defendable and that late-term abortions is not.


You said, “I don’t think we need to underestimate threats on either side of the coin, or either side of the aisle. They’re always morons out there who think that their politics entitles them to kill and destroy other people. Our nation neither is free from these people, nor has a monopoly in having them around.

The Republicans, though, seem more willing to appeal to them and identify with them, even when the explicit and implicit signs show that the folks being spoken of go beyond the usual pale.”

If you don’t recall, Democrats did much the same in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I don’t recall any rush to apologize for their association with the radical left of that generation. In fact, it seems to be willing to invoke the memory of those times when the Democrats could be said to have sympathized with folks with similar leanings to mobilize the youth vote.

The reality is that political bases pull their support from the same groups that radicals and terrorists do as well. The fact that a document came out and blantantly referred to those with these sympathies as potential terrorists is troubling.

While you have said, “The Republicans are ignoring similar surveys on recruiting and activity by Left-Wing Extremists.” I have found a cyber-threat assessment, but it did not have the incendiary footnote that described possible recruiting targets as essentially many of those who make up the Republican base.

I get the need to produce such threat and even to make them widely available. There are legitimate threats out there like Timothy McVeigh and members of the Earth Liberation Front Group. However, I do question why when the decision was made to release it publically it wasn’t more heavily reviewed and that the footnote was not rewritten to be either more specific or less so. The optimist side of me says it was just a political blunder that undercuts Obama’s goals of increased bi-partisanship. The pessimist in me says that it was a calculated move that allowed for the administration to pait the Republican base in the same way that the Republicans painted those against the wars that made up the base of the Democratic Party as unpatriotic.

Since I’m still relatively optimistic about the new administration at this point (and truthfully, since I don’t share any of the traits listed as potential recruiting targets). I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: Rob at April 21, 2009 11:03 PM
Comment #280769


This has nothing to do with “life saving” abortions. It has everything to do with late term abortions of any sort in which a baby is delivered alive, and there are well publicised examples of these. There have been instances in which these babies were killed actively or simply neglected until they expired.

Oh, so it wasn’t fantasy? I guess that narrows it down to an outright lie then.


If you want to create falsehoods about Obama’s positions, to make some sort of obtuse point, I suppose that speaks volumes to the dark alley your party has led you down. If there is anything my mother taught me about values, it was that lying and “fabrication” were poor values.

My mother has a bar of soap reserved for you.

I kind of feel sad for those that have to create a faustian world to justify their empty positions.

Posted by: gergle at April 22, 2009 1:08 AM
Comment #280772

We made moral decisions like abortion casually every day and most people try to avoid the conflict. If a baby/fetus born prematurely is wanted by the women, many people advocate spending thousands of dollars to save his/her life. If the same baby/fetus is not wanted, it is killed or allowed to die.

The choice is often just a preference.

Ironically, many people who advocate abortion on demand accept that a baby may be aborted for the convenience of the mother, but are outraged if abortion is done because of developmental problems or gender.

In other words, if the woman aborts because she is building her career and doesn’t have time for a baby, it is okay. But if she doesn’t want the responsibility of raising a handicapped child or wants a boy instead of a girl, it is anathema.

Stephen repeats as fact that torture doesn’t yield useful information. It is true that a person will answer differently under pressure. Of course, merely being in prison is a sort of pressure. If you have limitless time, you can usually get people to talk. Sometimes you don’t have limitless time.

I know that many Bush haters think that he did things just for bad reasons. But you have to assume that the whole government in 2002, including Nancy Pelsoi and John Kerry, who were fully briefed, were in on a crime committed for no reason at all. In some conditions the harsh techniques evidently do work. That is what Pelosi, Chenney and Kerry thought back in 2002.

It is not like they just take the word of the bad guys. You compare answers. A technique might just shake the person up so that they mess up on their story. And many times a detainee will attempt to give misleading information that is very useful when compared to existing information from other sources. He is trying to lie, but not succeeding.

It makes logical sense that I will tell you a lot more if I want to cooperate than if I don’t. You seem to assume that the option is between voluntary cooperation and torture. Why would the guy who planned 9/11, who vowed to kill Americans and is trained to lie to you about … everything, voluntarily tell the truth?

Maybe you guys are made of sterner stuff than I am, but I fear that I would tell a lot more under duress than I might in comfortable conditions. The interrogators know some things and you don’t know what they know. If lies bring consequences, I (you, anybody) might be less likely to lie or, more likely, try to shade the truth in clever ways, which added to other information might reveal the larger picture.

We face moral choices that are not easy. Abortion is one. Harsh interrogation is another. Do you chose the morality of doing whatever you can to save innocent lives (risking that it won’t work or will not be enough), or do you choose the morality of never having done anything that can be questioned by your critics?

You are wrong in either cases. It takes courage to choose the better one. We can disagree which on that is w/o diminishing the choice.

Posted by: Christine at April 22, 2009 7:55 AM
Comment #280773

dbs, Jim M’s comment privileges were suspended for a second time more than a week ago. He continues to violate our rules by trying to slip his comments in under varying ISP numbers, a spammer’s trick.

Jim M’s actions demonstrate either a lack of respect for other’s private property, which this Web Site is, and continues to fail to acknowledge the fact that those who participate here are invited guests only so long as they comply with WB’s posted rules for participation, or, he has no respect for the authority of private ownership to enforce those guest rules. Either way, his comments and efforts to comment here will be deleted as they are discovered.

One would think he would have something better and more productive to do with his time than create comments which he knows will be deleted, on a site which no longer welcomes his participation. Some folks thrive on rejection, apparently.

Posted by: WatchBlog Manager at April 22, 2009 8:52 AM
Comment #280774


We made moral decisions like abortion casually every day and most people try to avoid the conflict. If a baby/fetus born prematurely is wanted by the women, many people advocate spending thousands of dollars to save his/her life. If the same baby/fetus is not wanted, it is killed or allowed to die.

We did? When? I’m not avoiding the conflict, but neither am I attempting to make personal judgments for you or other people’s lives. The only live births of a viable fetus are made rarely for the health of the mother. If what Lee says actually did happen then laws already existed to deal with this. It’s a myth perpetuated by radicals with an agenda. The legislation was completely phoney and a pretext for outlawing abortion, and became watered down nonsense, for political posturing. This is complete nonsense argument. What Lee trys to pin to Obama is complete myth created by pro-life radicals without concern for truth.

As to torture as a political tool or a military tactic being somehow related to this is nothing but pure canard. This wasn’t some B rated movie, it was our elected leaders using torture. If that doesn’t give you a chill, then fascism is just a small step forward for you.

Posted by: gergle at April 22, 2009 8:58 AM
Comment #280775


The sources you post make it sound like Obama has been sitting around waiting for the right bill to suppost so that he can save as many babies as possible. Now that would be a lie.

This goes to the heart of what is wrong with modern liberalism. It likes to be given credit for good intentions and talking a good game without having to live up to any really difficult standards.

In fact the reason people want a really toothy law like the proposed Born Alive Infant Protection Act is that, in spite of the putative protections for the living aborted child, people are not being punished for murdering human beings who survive the legal barbarism of late-term abortions. Then Senator Obama was perfectly willing to stand behind the rhetorical cover of legal protections that do not protect. How many people could this affect? Hard to say in America, but in Britain we see news reports that as many asfifty babies a year are born in “botched” abortions.

Having these survivors is a tremendous risk for the pro death community because it puts a face, such as that of abortion SURVIVOR Gianna Jessen, or abortion survivor Sarah Smith, on the carnage.

So, is what I’m saying a lie? If the definition of “protecting human life” is applying a salve of empty and unenforced words to an issue so it will go away, Yes. But if protecting life is bringing down the weight of the government to painfully enforce the value of life I and all those who stand with me are telling the truth and Obama’s protests are the lie.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 22, 2009 9:41 AM
Comment #280777


The only live births of a viable fetus are made rarely for the health of the mother.
That statement is a fine cover story, but it is a lie. Not necessarily YOUR lie, but a falsehood contrived conveniently with the help of doctors who are willing to certify a health threat like discomfort and anxiousness as being life-threatening.

The methods used in abortion belie your statement. See the article from the UK I posted above. If the point of an aborion is only to save the life of the mother why would you engage in the additional risk of injecting a fetus in utero with potassium chloride?

The point of the vast majority of abortions is not to save the mother anything more than a few months of embarrassment and inconvenience. I have a 75 year-old cousin who was born in an abortion really intended to save her mother. She refused to die and no one made any effort to kill her, so she has had a full and fruitful life.

The point of the vast majority of abortions is, in fact, to kill the child and erase both their inconvenience and future benefits from the face of the Earth.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 22, 2009 10:02 AM
Comment #280779

Aaron Hughes,

The crude, hypocritical, and unscrupulous actions the U.S. has commited for 30 years are something unbelievable! Supporting dictators who kill thousands and hire people to kill and injure those who vote against them? Our beliefs are based on morals and correctness, but we always lose them in a dash for money and power.
Is any of this one whit less true for the left than it is for the right? Is Iran more free under the Mullahs than it was under the Shah? I don’t think you can say they are, but the instability of the Middle East has certainly become a more fractious and complicated issue than it was when we were just contending with the Soviets for proxy partners.

The point of this article was Obama’s hypocrisy about cherishing human life. He will not get his hands dirty to keep many thousands alive. He will not inconvenience his political base to keep many hundreds alive.

Life, as an issue of words is important to him. Life as an issue for which we must make sacrifices is not.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 22, 2009 10:19 AM
Comment #280793

Lee Jamison-

Torture (I’ll play the semantic game to make a point) is effective in the hands of skilled interrogators.

Effectiveness? Depends on what you want. If you want people to sing, very effective. They’ll want to tell you everything.

If you want it to be good, though, then you have a problem.

The psychological and neurological issue is that memory is reconstructive, already sort of a cliff notes version of what happened to begin with. Read The Seven Sins of Memory by Daniel Schacter, if you want an idea of just how sketchy real memory can be.

People can be brought into suggestible states if they are traumatized, drugged, or lulled enough out of their inhibitions. The trouble is, memory works best and most reliably when people are in a normal, healthy, clear-headed state of mind. They can resist you when you’re going in the wrong direction. Torture is the equivalent of driving a bulldozer through a china shop to gain entry for a robbery. Sure you get in easier, but you destroy what you came for.

Good investigators can cross-check and double-check a person’s accounts whether or not they’ve been drugged, beaten, hypnotized, or whatever. But they cannot truly restore destroyed or distorted memories, nor can they make up for the time lost on wild goose chases.

Good interrogators can play on pride, play on greed, play on all kinds of things. You’re usually not interrogating a person you’ve got no real experience with.

What we did was torture. Your folks spoke of enhanced interrogation. So did the Nazis, and pretty much about the same techniques. The techniques used in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib essentialy were reverse engineered from SERE training, which essentially was reverse engineered from what the Nazis, Soviets, and Chinese did to their prisoners. The pedigree is clear and unmistakeable, and so are the implications: The Bush Administration had Americans doing what we sent people to the gallows for after WWII.

Oh, by the way, the Nazis had no shame about documenting every damn thing they did, torture and “Verschärfte Vernehmung” alike. It’s how we unravelled the course of the Holocaust. Not all evildoers are shameful, hiding in the shadows. Many are proud of their inhuman actions, and go to their graves proud.

What I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt is that none of any recent Republican presidents’ advisors has ever blown up an American government building in an act of “protest”. We can no longer say that about Democrats.

Which one? I can’t recall any news item about such a person working for the Obama Administration. If you suggest Ayers, please don’t expect to be taken seriously. Even if we’re just talking a personal relationship, Obama’s got more to do with Richard Posner than he does William Ayers.

And besides, there’s an incredibly inconvenient fact at work here: Ayers. Doesn’t. Work. For. The. Obama. Administration.

That kind of puts a bit of a hole in that theory, doesn’t it?

As far as abortion goes, it’s a stunt essay to confabulate the two. Late term abortion is incredibly rare, and survival of abortion additionally rare. Even so, Illinois law already required the presence of a physician ready to help keep the baby alive, if it were to be born alive.

Obama is pro-choice, and obviously does not believe in the “life begins at conception” formulation. As a person who was once on that side of things, I can tell you that the average person with that point of view is not simply somebody who’s callously disregarding the life of a child. To their view, if the unborn child is not viable yet, then there’s not yet a real life to snuff out.

Don’t argue with me on this, I’m simply relating their point of view. To portray them, therefore, as maniacal butchers and as folks willingly looking on as a great evil occurs is more conducive to over-the-top, unpersuasive, political theatre than it is to any solid understanding of the motives and sensibilities of those on the pro-abortion left.

Obama’s not a hypocrite if he doesn’t buy into the Anti-abortion argument of when life starts. Then his beliefs, however inconsistent with yours, are nonetheless consistent within themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 22, 2009 4:14 PM
Comment #280795


Even though you keep attempting to make this about abortion in general, it isn’t. Late term and live birth abortions are extremely rare, and even though you continue to ignore it, Stephen and I have both informed you that Illinois law already had provisions to protect a viable fetus. Lee, you are an intelligent person and I’m sure know the origins of these tired arguments, and the political posturing behind these bills, but despite that, you continue to spread these lies.

Momma isn’t fooled about who ate the ice cream, when you’ve got it all over your face.

Hilary testified before Congress about the reliability of Cheney’s recent statements about the usefulness of torture. These continued attempts to defend a poor course of action are about to unravel. Americans are no longer fooled by the fiction of “24”. I suppose a greater motivator for the hard core terrorist might be the rape and torture of his children in front of him. By the logic of your argument, should we institute that policy as well? I mean it’s all for a good cause, right?

It would be hilarious that you used the word values in this post, if it weren’t so sad. It’s clear that the values you are defending are lies and amoral ends-to-justify means cruelty. Do you not recognize the meaning of words? The Republican party did more than allow the bankruptcy of our financial system, they’ve also shown us the party’s complete and utter moral bankruptcy. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

Posted by: gergle at April 22, 2009 4:52 PM
Comment #280796


The Bush Administration had Americans doing what we sent people to the gallows for after WWII.
Absolute bloody nonsense.

No one. Not anywhere, not any time in American history has been sent to the gallows even for REPEATEDLY for causing someone intense discomfort.

This administration will get people killed. Innocent people in this country and all over the world will die because of the foolishness that is happening now. It is tempting to think the plan is, when these disasters come (Oh yes, that’s “man made disasters”.) that they will be played for political advantage so Obama can be remembered as fondly as disaster painted the otherwise failed Franklin Roosevelt, but that would imply he’s malicious. To tell the truth I don’t think he is.

Instead, he is a person whose human expertise seems to encompass impressing people, taking the miracles of American government for granted, and staying out of trouble in a state that could give Russia lessons on how to be corrupt. That is all the depth, intellectual or emotional he seems to have.

He is a perfect fit for his party.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 22, 2009 5:01 PM
Comment #280799


Stephen and I have both informed you that Illinois law already had provisions to protect a viable fetus. Lee, you are an intelligent person and I’m sure know the origins of these tired arguments, and the political posturing behind these bills, but despite that, you continue to spread these lies.
The current protections don’t protect.

Simple question. What is required to get someone charged and convicted for murder in the death of an infant born alive in Illinois? Witnesses.

The bill was brought because of a widely publicised case in which a baby was born alive in an abortion but was taken to a closet and allowed to die. As of the presidential campaign last year no one had been prosecuted.

If fifty babies are born alive in abortions in Great Britain each year, with one sixth as many people as we have it’s not hard to imagine that at least that many are born alive in the United States. Those people are people. They need protections that really have teeth, that create advocacy equity on behalf of the innocent and unprotected.

I know Democrats think it’s foolish to stand up for people who can’t vote, even illegally, but these people are the real downtrodden.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 22, 2009 5:21 PM
Comment #280800


There were some that died under torture, but I do agree this is a canard. In my response to Joel, I think going after Bush and Cheney would be nothing but political retribution, going after their underlings would be worse.

I detest what Bush and Cheney did in the name of defending this country, and I think a truth commission may have a place here to expose the nearly fascist nature of their choices, but criminality is not valid in a policy choice.

Posted by: gergle at April 22, 2009 5:22 PM
Comment #280802


Hmmm, no witnesses? Then how do you know a murder occurred? There’s something a bit circular in that argument.

Posted by: gergle at April 22, 2009 5:25 PM
Comment #280808

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” George Orwell

Posted by: Crusader at April 22, 2009 6:27 PM
Comment #280809

Here is a classic:

“Son we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Wienburg? I have more responsilbility here than you could possibly fathom.In places you don’t want to talk about at parties, you want me on that wall…you need me on that wall. We use words like honour, code, loyalty…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘m as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!” Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Man)

Posted by: Crusader at April 22, 2009 6:49 PM
Comment #280813

First, STOP QUOTING!!! Quotes are for people who can’t think up their own morals. Second the copied argument of me was from a different blog. And third I was reffering to our support or Egypt as the evil dictator we’ve been supporting.
And also we wwouldn’t be the sacrifice makers unless we were pathetic enough to ask for pity over torturing people. And also we tried and killed japanese for torturing people. And if we torture untried or convicted people to keep our state going then is the state worth continuing?

Posted by: Aaron Hughes at April 22, 2009 8:18 PM
Comment #280814

And if you’re going to quote, don’t quote a character from a movie!!!!!

Posted by: Aaron Hughes at April 22, 2009 8:19 PM
Comment #280819


Nothing wrong with quotes and movies are as good as anything else. Most people are more likely to know the context of a movie than a good book.

BTW - we didn’t execute Japanese for torture that didn’t result in deaths.

Posted by: Christine at April 22, 2009 8:46 PM
Comment #280820

Lee -

Ever raised a child with Fetal Alcohol/Drug Syndrome? I have - he’s been with me for ten years. You see, when a pregnant woman uses alcohol or drugs, she takes the chance that she could cause her baby to be forever completely disabled, with g-tube and trach tube (like my Foster child)…and each one costs the government about a quarter million per year in taxpayer dollars for medical care and medication.

What does this have to do with your post? Easy. When I see the conservatives go on a crusade to outlaw pregnant women from doing ANYthing that might harm the fetus, be it alcohol, drugs, or strenuous work, THEN I’ll believe that their claims are something more than politics. Until that day, every ‘pro-life’ conservative who does not scream to the rooftops about pregnant women entering bars…is a base hypocrite.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at April 22, 2009 9:11 PM
Comment #280821

Crusader -

I’m retired Navy. I know something about ‘honor, code, loyalty’, and about our own core values, Honor, Courage, and Commitment. By using torture, we violated our own laws, our international treaties, the Geneva Convention, and went against everything the Nuremberg trials stood for.

George Washington flatly refused to use torture, even though the British and Hessians DID use torture on the colonists. Abraham Lincoln refused to tolerate torture.

In BOTH cases our very sovereignty was at stake…and in BOTH cases the President - our two greatest presidents - flatly rejected torture. These were at the times of our nation’s greatest peril! You can read about their decisions here.

And was our nation EVER imperiled by Islamic extremists? No. Never. They might kill thousands of us, they might even kill millions of us if they have a nuke…but they CANNOT threaten our sovereignty as a nation…

…unless we are no longer the shining city on a hill to which Reagan referred. If we become like them - flouting international treaty, law, and convention all for the sake of self-righteous expediency - then we are no longer America. THEN they will have won.

Washington knew better. Lincoln knew better. And when the stakes were infinitely lower, Bush failed the test.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at April 22, 2009 9:27 PM
Comment #280822

I guess ignorance is bliss for some:



Posted by: gergle at April 22, 2009 9:29 PM
Comment #280823

Lee Jamison-
There’s another word for intense discomfort: pain. You keep somebody naked in a cold environment long enough, it’s going to hurt, they’re going to suffer. If you keep somebody in a stress position long enough, it’s going to hurt, they’re going to suffer. You blare loud music and noise into somebody’s cell long enough, starve them, deprive them of sleep, it’s going to make them suffer, and that’s the bloody point!

You can drip water on somebody’s forehead and torture them that way. You can even keep them totally deprived of any sensory data whatsoever, and bring suffering about that way.

It’s not about destroying the body, but destroying the mind.

But like I said, you’re trying to recover something from that person, and at the end of the day, its a scientifically proven fact that unders such conditions, people’s already imperfect recall of the facts, is impaired significantly.

And lets also recall that suggestible people can easily be lead by their interrogators to conflate detail and confabulate stories, even when the interrogators don’t intend to do it.

And you really can’t unbreak the person, once you’ve done that.

And THAT, that will get people killed. Its important to grasp that unreliable information can easily result in unreliable results, and that is waste of time, money, and manpower, none of which we have in infinite amounts.

We need to be smart, we need to do the detective work, and we need to get into a far less desperation-driven mode of dealing with the terrorists.

As for the abortion case? It seems to me that some details need to be presented to our readers, lest they get the wrong impression.

The details of the case are truly monstrous, and I think it would be plain to say that the doctors involved failed to do their duty, and failed badly. However, we must make some distinctions, first.

First, this is not an Illinois case, but a Florida one. Second, it’s unclear that Illinois abortion clinics, which have doctors on hand in just such an enventuality, really needed added laws to ensure babies born alive would get the help they needed.

Third, we ought to keep in mind that this was an accidental birth that took place in the waiting room of the clinic, rather than in the normal course of of the procedure. Put another way? She wasn’t having an abortion at the time, so its unclear what this requirement would have meant at this point.

And lastly, we should take note of the revocation of the doctor’s license. There’s little indication that this is anything but an extraordinary event handled very, very badly by poorly trained and poorly led personnel. I am glad that the guy has lost his license, and no such doctor, who didn’t even call 9/11 for the mother, much less the child, needs to be performing the procedure.

Nonetheless, I hardly see how you could argue that this is what anybody in the pro-choic crowd would want. But I guess when your given assumption is that the people who perform abortions and support it are evil, you can imagine any such thing would be supportable by them. The me of ten years ago, who was pro-choice, could not not have heard of this incident and thought it anything else but criminal malpractice.

Your use of the Orwell quote betrays a certain measure of unfamiliarity with his work. His most famous work is 1984, a political horror story that ends with its protagonist executed after being broken by torture.

As for quoting Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue for Col. Jessup, you’re again neglecting both the work and the attitudes of the author for the sake of a snappy quote. The author is showing you just how full of himself Jessup is. He uses honor, code, and loyalty to justify maltreating his own soldiers, forcing them to take the blame for something he ordered them to do, something that went terribly wrong.

But the defense of this nation does not entitle these people to behave shamefully, and get away with it. Letting them get away with it only creates a culture of sadism, deception, and paranoia when a culture of discipline, honesty, and watchfulness is what’s needed.

It pains me to see folks use the honor of the soldiers to justify a lax culture of discipline. It pains me to see folks use the lives of the troops to justify silence about the dangers that face them. It pains me to see people defend the morale destroying failures of policy by appealing to the need to maintain that morale. Our military policy has been corrupted by those who put their interests ahead of the soldiers, and even the country, but use patriotism and solidarity with the military to shut down debate and discovery about these things, hoping to shield themselves from the consequences of their mistakes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 22, 2009 9:36 PM
Comment #280828

Ok, now that we have stepped into the discussion of literary arts let me offer you following:

Quoting movies isn’t my thing but sometimes, even Hollywood idiots stumble into something meaningful.

Dear Glen Contrarian,

I honor you for your service to this great nation. It is a privilege few of us have experienced. So again, I would like to extend you my gratitude.

I understand the gentleman which every soldier should be but the reality is that the war is not as “clean” as we would like it to be. I would recommend each one of you to read a book, “A Lone Survivor”. It will help you understand what it is that a soldier in the face of life and death experiences and what are the consequences of our decisions. What I am trying to say is, in the war line between right and wrong is blurred and there are no good or bad decisions. There are decisions and indecision and there are consequences. A judgment of good or bad comes later, in an armchair, often by someone who knows absolutely nothing about the terrifying feeling of fear when the first bullet whistles near by, when even your a-hole starts sweating.

Dear Stephen,

You keep surprising me how literal you take everything, especially a write such as Orwell who was exceptionally keen in his symbolism. Orwell’s quote was said in context. I have read 1984 and lot’s of it was very similar to the things I experienced in my short life, which I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. There is a specific point I wanted to make - our peace is the result of dedication of brave men and women who are willing to do bad things on our behalf, and make no mistake the war is a very bad thing.

We, as a nation, often forget the sacrifice each one of these servicemen give for each of us. We are so quick to cast the stone just to uphold this ideal that we only remember when it’s politically advantageous. There are many examples of this (Murtha, Kerry, President Obama, etc.) We forget that these actions are not without addressees. They are not just rhetoric, they hurt those who give so much.

I brought up an example of things that happened in Kosovo for a reason. I wanted to show that there are no angels and saints in the politics. What makes me mad is when some use these unfortunate events for the political gains. I might have felt differently if the same politicians and ACLU activists would have been as proactive defending the rights of Serbs who were butchered by NATO forces for a political expediency. Yet, because that president was “one of theirs” over 500 innocent lives sacrificed never received the justice.

When I see Sen. Leihy talk about no politician being above the law yet I know full well that he didn’t even loose a minute of sleep over bombing of the refugee convoys, hospitals and churches in Kosovo I get mad. I get so mad I want to scream because a great injustice is being done by a political prostitute. Because, in his sick head that war was justified. Did he all of a sudden develop a sense of justice?

I will be completely honest with you and I hope you will respect what I tell you right now - if you don’t like the way the war against the terrorism is fought, be my guest and join it and see for yourself who are you up against, because sitting in a nice home, in front of a computer and talking about high moral principles is very easy.

Jesus said “those without sin cast the first stone!” I am going to modify this a little “Let those who have walked through hell cast the first stone!”

I will be first to say that the torture is wrong. But, till you have been in a position where it’s either that or someone very near and dear to you will die, I don’t see how you can judge the actions of those who chose to save the lives of loved ones.

If I was President Bush, I would schedule the press conference and would take a full responsibility for everything. I would say that I was entrusted to lead this nation in the time of extreme danger. 3000 of our citizens had been killed by a brutal and ruthless enemy. I did what I saw fit to protect every one of you and I did a damn good job doing it. If that is my crime, let my peers try me in the court of law, not the corrupt prostitutes in Congress.

I will promise you, not one of those cowards in the Capitol or anywhere else will have the stomach to go forward with this circus.

Stephen, do you consider what our leadership did in Kosovo a shameful act? Ask some of those soldiers what their feelings were. But, I guess there is no political dividends to be earned from airing out that dirty laundry is there?

Posted by: Crusader at April 23, 2009 12:24 AM
Comment #280833

Hmmm…bad things happen when you are traumatized. Wow, how profound.

A man comes home to find his wife in bed with another man, he is traumatized and shoots them both dead. He certainly felt justified.

When did trauma become justification for criminal acts? We suffered an attack on 9/11. That attack took down a couple of buildings and killed more than two thousand people, most of which were American. We suffered a trauma, and immediately set out to flout international law and all laws a of common sense, common decency and morality, and wash our hands of the entire matter, then treat it as though it never happened?

Posted by: Marysdude at April 23, 2009 3:50 AM
Comment #280834

To say that we were morally justified in torturing people because it might save lives is EXACTLY the same as believing the North Vietnamese were morally justified in torturing John Mc Cain. Among other things ,they asked him about bombing targets.The information would have given them time to plan defenses and evacuate civilians, thereby saving thousands of lives. There is no logical denial here here . It is the SAME arguement. Were the North Vietnamese on firm moral ground?

Posted by: bills at April 23, 2009 4:35 AM
Comment #280835

It is entirely likely that right-wing exremeist groups will become more violent and the DHS should keep an I on them if for no other reason than their dark history of bombing clinics and other targets in an effort to terrorize people, The second most destructive terrorist attack in US history was the work of such groups. It would be remiss in its duties to do otherwise. This is not political repression. Its self defense.
As for your opinions on the extremely rare topic of late term abortion or any other procreative decision that constitutionally are left to women and their doctors, until you adopt an unwanted child you have absolutly no moral basis to comment. None, zip, nada. If you have done so then God bless you.
It is starting to come out that much of the US torture was aimmed at establishing a non-existant link between Al Quiada and Iraq, in an effort to justify the Bush regimes planned invasion. That is pure evil and likely the reason the Rep leadership put up such a snit about the release of the memos.

Posted by: bills at April 23, 2009 5:03 AM
Comment #280839

link to last


Posted by: bills at April 23, 2009 7:45 AM
Comment #280842

You’re twisting the central message of that book: when a government gets absolute power to do those bad and nasty things on our behalf, it becomes a danger to and a cancer upon its citizens, effectively able to make up its own fictional world to inflict on everybody else, to justify otherwise unjustifiable politics in the name of party doctrine and the supposed wisdom of the leaders.

I’m not forgetting any sacrifice here. I started posting on this site, in fact, because I saw the policy in Iraq going sideways long before it became conventional wisdom that it was happening. I became concerned the first time I realized that America’s army in Baghdad didn’t have enough soldiers to put down the looting. I might have been reassured by positive developments, but things just seemed to keep going badly, and the Bush administration wasn’t lifting a finger to change the policy, out of some political sense that admitting any mistake would be politically disadvantageous.

Say what you want about Kosovo: it worked. Iraq, with its tens of thousands of civilian casualties, has been mostly a failure. There’s a peace, tentative as it might be, in that part of the world now.

How can you complain about these problems, when you fullbore support what’s happened in Iraq?

Torture doesn’t become more right because somebody else’s life is at stake. It’s understandable, but not right.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that I and the liberals beside me don’t care about 3000 of our fellow citizens. We wanted Bush to focus on Afghanistan, unless something else was more important. Bush and his people told us that, but did so in reckless disregard for the truth. As a result, our enemies in central asia are stronger, and have survived what should have been a fatal encounter with American military might. We were distracted, and worse yet, the man who lead us to that distraction perseverated on and botched the war he distracted us to get consent for. More than 3000 of our men and women in uniform have paid the price for that, and lost their lives to a war that’s doing America little good against the enemy it was supposedly, originally supposed to help us fight.

Kosovo succeeded. Yes, some innocent people lost their lives, and the Kosovars were not innocents in their reaction. But we did not let that situation spiral out of control, and we succeeded in pretty much putting the aggressive, brutal Serb Nationalists in their place, ensuring that they wouldn’t be going out on military adventures any longer.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 23, 2009 9:13 AM
Comment #280844

bills, this is one of the primary problems with political parties, as Lee demonstrates. He wants to believe that when we torture, it is justified, and when others do it to us, it cannot be. There is no principle here other than anarchic and animalistic survival strategy. There is no humanity, no morality, not ethical, nor civilized strategy in this manner of the thinking.

I commend Lee for his candor. He at least acknowledges the thorny philosophical issue in trying to defend an indefensible position on principled grounds.

Political parties have one superceding priority, to get elected to power and make decisions. Which means the party will do, say, and act in anyway that will fulfill that first priority. They cannot be trusted to act out the words that got them elected. An individual candidate can be an exception. But, political parties are organizations with money and machinery to elect individuals, and that means individuals have to trade in their personal principles to get the Party’s endorsements and election machine behind them.

This creates a real problem for a majority of politicians once they get elected. Do they now tow the party line to insure reelection, or, now that they are in power, do they vote the principles they sacrificed to get elected, disappointing the Party and many of its supporters.

The elected officials communicate with their constituents and their constituents rely on what their representatives tell them, for policy direction, because they lack the time, energy, and perhaps education, to independently research the issues themselves. They become team players, (or opposite team rivals) subjugating their own mind and will to that of the Party controlling the representatives who communicate to them.

And this is how it becomes so easy for citizens to find themselves defending the indefensible, playing the role of Party team member, regurgitating the Party’s talking points, regardless of whether they make any sense to anyone else or not.

One cannot credibly condemn torture of its own, if one engages in torture of others. This is the only decision anyone ever has to make on the issue of torture: “Do they want to be believed and taken seriously when they condemn and seek to prosecute others for torture?” If so, they must abstain from condoning or participating in torturing others. Otherwise, hypocrisy on the largest scale becomes unavoidable.

It doesn’t get any simpler in the world of principles and analysis. The Republican Party, having engaged in torture of others, now must find ways to defend the indefensible. And they demand their loyal minions defend their torture as well, or else, their Party (team) will suffer the ignominy of having no power to decide government and public affairs.

The irony is, they have already lost power. And the inertia of being branded the Torture Advocacy Party is absolutely the wrong path to coming back to power. Yet they defend the indefensible, even against their own interests. Group think is a very difficult practice to shed. There is such apparent security in it, even when in reality, there isn’t.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 23, 2009 10:07 AM
Comment #280846


So the ends justify the means?

Do you think Serb nationalists, as bad as they were, are any different than those 3 that got waterboarded?

If you think Kosovo worked, you are kidding yourself. Kosovo is work in progress. Just follow the news, it is a hub for drug trafficking, human trafficking, kidnappings and general criminal activity. It is only a beginning. But again, that isn’t the point. The point is, in your mind you justify the clear breaking of Geneva Convention, committing the war crimes and ethnic cleansing by the end result. You think a torture of a terrorist is more problematic than killing of 500 civilians in hospitals, in refugee convoys and in churches. These are not collateral damage victims. They were direct targets of the NATO air strikes. How is that different from what Bush administration is accused of?

I think America has only one people to apologize to, and that is Serbs in Kosovo. Not the Serb government who did many despicable things but the Serbs in Kosovo who were driven out of their homes and out of their ancestral lands. But again that pays no political dividends and it is not important. You care not about justice but only about politics. Be honest about it. Why is it so hard to tell the truth?! I have no ties to Kosovo or Serbs but that doesn’t change the truth of what happened. Be honest about it and just say that this is a hit job on Bush and be done with it.

What irritates me and likes of me is the charade, the false moral outrage which is so wide spread among the libs about this torture business. There was no outrage about things Clinton did, like bombing the pharmaceutical factory or the atrocities committed in Kosovo, but they are on their moral high horses about torture and ready to burn people on stakes.
The moral outrage of those without morals, that has got to be the ultimate law.

Posted by: Crusader at April 23, 2009 10:35 AM
Comment #280850

Do you have any backup for your assertions re; war crimes by the US in Kosovo or it something you heard? Any reliable links?

Intel reports indicated the pharm plant Clinton bombed was making WMDs for al Quiada. The bombing was in response to the Cole bombing. Even if the intel was wrong it was better than bombing a whole country based on faulty intelligence.
Your arguement is the classic schoolyard excuse,”Well he did it it first”.

Posted by: bills at April 23, 2009 1:11 PM
Comment #280854

Dear bills,

Strictly civilian targets (aka residential buildings, hospitals, refugee convoys, busses and churches) bombed by the NATO air strikes were 90, as documented by the Human Rights Watch. The casualties were estimated between 489 to 528. I believe Human Rights Watch visited 60+ sites themselves and the rest were collaborated by the eyewitness testimony, photo evidence and confirmations by the NATO command.


Let’s start with the NATO charter - use of force. Article 1 prohibits use of force outside of UN mandate. Article 7 ensures that rights and obligations taken as part of the UN membership and UN Security Council membership supersede the NATO obligations and rights. Article 8 forbids to get NATO involved into any conflicts that are not covered by the treaty AKA article 1, article 4, article 5 etc. The changes to the treaty must be conducted under the UN Charter with a goal of keeping international peace. So, NATO is limited by the UN mandate with exception being an article 5 which is attack on one is attack on all. Serbs didn’t attack anyone. UN didn’t give a green light to the Air Strikes. By all accounts it was Wesley Clark who gave the command. I believe he is quoted of saying “I am a NATO commander who also answers to the US president.” Civilian objects were targeted at the later part of the air strikes when doubts about the effectiveness of the air strikes started surfacing.

Under the UN charter, occupying power takes full responsibility for the safety of civilians under its occupation. The Hague Convention of 1907 establishes the frame work of the military occupation in the article 42 and 43. Later, Forth Geneva Convention establishes article 27 tasks occupying power to ensure rights of the protected persons and protect them especially against the violence directed at them, and article 49 which prohibits forcible removal of any protected persons by the occupying power.

Under the NATO occupation 14000 Serbs were forcibly displaced from their homes, hundreds were killed, churches and houses burnt. This shows the failure of NATO to live up to the obligations they took up as part of the Hague treaty of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Treaty.


My point is this. If you are proposing the prosecution of Bush for crimes committed during the war time, why doesn’t this same norm apply the previous president who sanctioned all of the above described infractions?

I am not excusing one action by another. I want things to be uniform because supposedly justice is blind. If we are going to prosecute some why not prosecute ALL. I didn’t bring this up till the precedent was set. There is no justification for breaking of the law. If that is the case, let’s venture into the other cases which in my mind are lot more troubling because people actually were killed (women and children), churches were destroyed. Law should apply to all equally right? FYI, over 1500 civilians were killed during the operation Allied Force. We are only talking about 500 because these were specific instances were the targets had no military value what so ever and were strictly civilian casualties. This is not faulty intelligence, such as bombing of the Chinese embassy. NATO air force dropped cluster bombs on hospitals.

I am irritated by the outrage of those who were quite in 1999. That is not American. The law shouldn’t apply to one party and not the other one.

Posted by: Crusader at April 23, 2009 2:19 PM
Comment #280856

In this country, Major Edwin Glenn was court-martialed and sentenced to ten years hard labor in 1901 for water boarding a prisoner in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. The US officially outlawed the practice after World War II, because it had been used against Allied troops by the Gestapo and the Japanese Kempeitai. Indeed, eight Kempeitai officers were executed for water boarding British prisoners, and Japanese officer Yukio Asano was convicted by an Allied court of war crimes in 1947 for, among other things, water boarding John Henry Burton, a US civilian.

Posted by: Aaron Hughes at April 23, 2009 3:43 PM
Comment #280857

Article 2 of the Geneva Convention, Called by the U.S. clauses 1 &2
Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

Posted by: Aaron Hughes at April 23, 2009 3:52 PM
Comment #280861

Arron Huges,

Indeed, eight Kempeitai officers were executed for water boarding British prisoners,
If this is true as stated, and I don’t believe it for a second, it was a war crime, and the people who sanctioned and carried it out should themselves have been executed.

Waterboarding is a routine training exercise for U.S. military special forces members in every branch. It was first described to me more than a decade ago by a Viet Nam era special forces veteran.

Waterboarding, as it was carried out in the cases which provided, as described now by two former intelligence officials, including George Tenet, more than half of the actionable leads in the war on Terror and saved Los Angeles a 9/11-type attack, left no person permanently injured, and was carried out with the full knowledge of numerous Democrat members of congress, including Nanci Pelosi.

You who argue this point are perfectly willing to lay the country and countless thousands of innocent people open to attack for the sake of winning an argument.

That is a ghoulish disregard for human life in the pursuit of power.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 23, 2009 6:04 PM
Comment #280862

Crusader -

if you don’t like the way the war against the terrorism is fought, be my guest and join it and see for yourself who are you up against

Hm. Remember the USS Cole? About two months before that - three weeks before we on the USS Abraham Lincoln deployed - my office received a threat from someone with a foreign accent that when we were inport in the Middle East, a boat next to us would blow up. We took this seriously because we would be the highest-value target in the entire eastern hemisphere.

This was of course reported up the chain of command, and we were ordered not to tell our families. It wasn’t easy to sleep, to keep this secret from my wife sleeping soundly next to me. I couldn’t tell her even though I needed her comfort.

We were inport Dubai for three days around the first week of October and kept an eagle eye on any potential threat (we had other ‘assets’ in the vicinity to assist our surveillance)…and the day after we pulled out, the Cole was bombed. We were relieved - it wasn’t us!…and we were deeply ashamed - it should have been us!

The attack was carried out by al-Qaeda…the SAME al-Qaeda that just two days ago Dick Cheney claimed “we knew little about on 9/11” and that in 2001 al-Qaeda “was a relatively unknown group”.

My apologies to the other Watchblog readers who’ve read this before - it bore repeating for ‘Crusader’.

Since then we’ve lost a family acquaintance in Baghdad (he was among the first soldiers to be killed there) and my closest friend’s youngest son has been (and will be) deployed in Afghanistan…and we worried about him every single day.

In the future, I suggest that you ask first before making assumptions.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at April 23, 2009 6:25 PM
Comment #280863

Aaron Hughes

First of all, though the US Army deemed waterbording a torture, that doesn’t automaticaly means that it is recognized as such by the US law. The Uniformed Code of Military Justice calls adultury a crime for which you can be court marshialed (article 134 paragraph 60 UCMJ). Though rarely used, still it doesn’t match up with the civilian laws.

Secondly, Maj. Glenn was sentenced to 1 month suspension and $50 fine due to the sircumstances presented at the trial.

I am still against torture but I just wanted to get facts streight. Untill last year, there was no specific law that states waterboarding as being torture outside of the UCMJ and international norms. Maijor sticking point is the warding. The torture is out lawed but whether waterboarding is a form of a torture is not defined. The last year’s law took care of that problem.

Posted by: Crusader at April 23, 2009 6:30 PM
Comment #280864

I believe the comment was directed at Stephen, but thank you again for your service. To serve this great country is an honor few of us have expereinced.

Posted by: Crusader at April 23, 2009 6:38 PM
Comment #280868

The ends justify the means? Are you asking, seriously, whether NATO in the midst of a humanitarian mission deliberately killed 500 civilians, in a way calculated to cause the worst blowback in terms of negative public relations?

The NATO mission was mainly an air war, which means that you’re dropping bombs, which is inherently messy, even if you’re dealing with “neater” smart bombs.

I would say these casualties are no different than that suffered in numerous and ongoing airstrikes by the US Military, and for the most part were collateral casualties, as it’s typically, and not politically defined.

As for apologizing to the Serbs?
They brought it upon themselves, in both the Kosovar campaigns, and their earlier atrocities. It’s arguable, and truthfully arguable at that, that the KLA and other Albanian Kosovar elements helped provoke and worsen the situation, but I think it’s clear that previous actions by the Serbs in dealing with the Bosnians and Croats made it unlikely that the US and the rest of NATO would trust them to take care of their own affairs without soaking the ground with blood.

As for crime and everything else, Should we have not defeated Axis Italy for fear of the way crime would prosper there? Or defeated the Soviets in the Cold War because of what happened with the Russian Mafia, Eastern European crime, and all that other stuff?

You’re managing the neat trick of throwing stones in a glass house while mounting a moral high horse yourself. If a Republican intervenes, mess things up, and ends up breaking what was a united country into a warren of warlord fiefdoms, that’s moral. If a Democrat wades into a warrent of warlord fiefdoms, and actually wreaks some genuine order out of the situation, you accuse him of deliberately attacking civilians.

Let’s be blunt here. However bad things are in Kosovo crimewise, the region is in better shape than when we got there, thanks to a lot of diplomatic work and precision military manuevers. Iraq, despite years of near full attention by American forces has nowhere near such cohesion.

On the subject of torture, it’s most definitively illegal. Thus all the bogus memoes and opinions that the Bush administration cooked up to provide a fig leaf to what even an idiot’s retarded son could understand as torture.

If you’re wanting to become a lawyer, I would suggest a more thorough study of the laws, because I’m certain that there are plenty that cover waterboarding.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 23, 2009 9:21 PM
Comment #280871


If you have any doubts that waterboarding is torture, it might be instructive to read the opinion of a British officer subjected to waterboarding by the Japanese: “Waterboarding: the most horrific experience of my life”

Posted by: Rich at April 23, 2009 10:31 PM
Comment #280874


I asked a question and I got an expected answer.

I listed the possible norms that were broken by our military actions in Kosovo, yet you give me an answer that the ends (stop bad Serbs from killing Albanians) were justified by means (500 civlia casualties that are not colateral damage). I list for you the responsibilities that our side took when it occupied the Kosovo and allowed ethnic cleansing, your answer is they are better off for it.

I asked if torturing 3 admitted terrorists who have 3000 Americans’ blood on their hands is a crime in your eyes because of some phantom law which I have yet to see (BTW I do not condone torture), wouldn’t killing of 500 innocent civilians be a criminal act as well when there are treaties which protect the civilian objects from being targeted? You answer by linking attrocities commited by the Serbs. I don’t think I made the case or the Serb para-militaries being angels. I simply asked why are you outraged by torture of 3 terrorists and not by killing 500 innocent civilians.

The sad thing is you are so blinded by partisanship that you don’t want to see that there is no difference between the two. If we say that torture is wrong because Geneva Convention said it so, than the same convention should be applied to our actions in Kosovo. You can’t pick and choose based on convenience.

Though the pathos of your answer was not a surprise, the phrase

“They brought it upon themselves, in both the Kosovar campaigns, and their earlier atrocities.”

was very much a surprise. Here you are telling us just a few paragraphs ago:

“But the defense of this nation does not entitle these people to behave shamefully, and get away with it. Letting them get away with it only creates a culture of sadism, deception, and paranoia when a culture of discipline, honesty, and watchfulness is what’s needed.”

In one case you take a high road, in another one you say they brought it upon themselves. So which one is it high road or down and dirty reality?

Thing is, neither one is right. We did in Kosovo injustice because we could and Europeans wanted to punish Milosevic. There were no legal bases for our actions in Kosovo, none what so ever. The Serbs in the leadership deserved what they got just as much as those 3 terrorists deserved what they got. But at the end of the day, there are still 500 civilians dead, dozens of churches destroyed and 14000 innocent lives ruined for ever.

I think I will end this conversation because I have realized that in your mind there are one set of rules for those you approve of and another for those who you don’t. That is an easy path of life but I tell you what, there is a reason why the lady justice has a blindfold. Let’s hope you will never have to face a jury as objective as you.

Posted by: Crusader at April 24, 2009 12:54 AM
Comment #280881

So by your lights Eisenhower, McArthur, Dolittle, FDR, Truman,Westmorland, Nixon,LBJ and hundreds of other American leaders are war criminals so it was OK to waterboard one subject 183 times in one month. I am guessing that you are having fun discomfitting your debate opponents. Sorry, you do not get the moral high ground on this. There is, as you know, a difference between injuring non-combatants in a war zone and purposely pouring water in someones nose until they nearly drown. To get the high ground here you have to answer the question,who would Jesus waterboard? Can you do that?
The right would have supported our country in the Kosovo involvment if A. Clinton had not ordered it, B. There had been oil to plunder.

The best way going forward in how we handle interrogation is to adopt the Isreali solution. Torture is against the law and it is against the commandments of God. When they are faced with a situation where there is an imminent threat to lives that might only be preventing by getting information quickly they do what has to be done and are prepared to suffer the consequinces before man and God. They face this all the time but torture is NEVER OK. This approach is not my idea. I got it from Charles Krauthiem, one of the few thoughtful right wing columnist and hardly a peacnik or bleeding hart..

Posted by: bills at April 24, 2009 7:50 AM
Comment #280885

Dear bills,

The history is written by the victors and if we hadn’t won, I am sure they would have been on the receiving end of the Nurenberg trials. But that isn’t the point.

My problem is the fact that not one of the past US presidents was an angel and to go after a specific one, President Bush, is disingenuous. It’s either all or nothing. Law doesn’t like selective prosecution that is what causes problems down the road. The justice shouldn’t be partisan, it should be blind. When a politician resorts to this kind of dirty trick to change the subject of conversation in Washington and national media, and my fellow countrymen are whipped into the moral frenzy, that upsets me because I fear the same people will crucify me in a heartbeat if the “dear leader” orders it. We wintessed it. I and many other were called racist hicks, rednecks who hate black people, gay people, little kittens and puppies, children and all the other wonderful things just because we had audacity to voice our honest outrage. According to our DHS, I am a potential terrorist, and there are some of us who find a way to justify it. I find that frightening. My buddy has a Bronze Navy Cross and the Purple Heart. He spilled blood for our country and some Washington prostitute calls him a potential terrorist yet there is no public outrage. If you don’t see how that is troubling I don’t know what to say.

I am in a minority at the moment. Only protection I have is the constitution and the laws of the land. If these people, who are so morally outraged, do not see the problem with a selective application of the law, my rights as s citizen are in jeopardy. You might think that is far fetched but I don’t. I have seen it done in the past, and my family has suffered from the blind followers. The people must understand that universal application of the law might not be the most convenient thing at the moment but that is what has made America great. When you set a precedent, when one side uses the populism to trample the law, that is much like crossing the Rubicon there is no coming back from it. If you and others do not see the danger of this, I am deeply troubled.

I said, President Bush should come out, own up to it and let the people judge him not some prostitute in Congress. That is what a leader would do. But we don’t have leaders anymore. We have rulers who rule four years at a time and take no responsibility for the welfare of the People. We have a ruling class which will sacrifice every one of us just to hold the seat of power a minute longer.

We need to stop being so partisan and look at the life through the sober eyes. No one argues that the torture is bad. I never said it was ok. What I said is you can’t judge a person who did it and the person who sanctioned it until you understand the situation in which they made that decision. There is a second way out, which is the blind justice in which case all the other war crimes should be looked into as well.

But mark my words, nothing will happen. This discussion will reach its crescendo and at that point, in order to spare the country, one man will rise above all and the “dear leader” will put an end to it. Then the media will start having tingly feelings running up and down their legs and will praise the “dear leader” for bipartisanship and call him “the merciful”. “Barak the Merciful” will be the new order of the day.

Posted by: Crusader at April 24, 2009 10:46 AM
Comment #280941

According to torture-lovers…

Posted by: Aaron Hughes at April 26, 2009 7:02 AM
Comment #280985

Wow! So if BHO ascents to the prosecution he is a totalitarian monster, bent on political revenge and if he doesn’t he will be mocked. Nothing partisan about that,now is there.
What we are talking about is enforcing the law. Not about “using populism to trample the law”. Baybee,the now federal judge, that wrote the opinions that “legalized” torture did so to gain his lifelong appointment to the bench. Now that’s something you Reps can be proud of.


Posted by: bills at April 27, 2009 8:21 AM
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