Keeping a Message Simple

In a little over eight minutes Bernard Goldberg concisely explains conservative reservations over the national security leadership of the Democratic Party. He does a particularly good job of dismantling the feigned furor and newfound highmindedness over waterboarding.

Going to Goldberg's website one can look up a simple essay on the issue of waterboarding and morality. Reading there we see the following paragraph:

Liberals see themselves as the moral ones in this argument. The ones who would not violate sacred “American values.” But if liberals really think it’s more important to protect “American values” than it is to save those lives, let them say so – out loud. You may hear the ACLU say it, but don’t hold your breath waiting for President Obama, or any other politician to say it. Politically, the argument is a great big loser. And they all know it.
Why would that issue be a loser politically? Because, in fact, it is a loser both morally and ethically. No integrated system of ethics permits a purely THEORETICAL good to be the foundation of a PERMANENT HARM to real people. Freedom of expression, for example, is a high value in American life, but I recall that a number of years ago a man was arrested for "expressing" himself by setting up shop at the end of an airport runway and firing a pistol at passing jetliners.

We also have the example of the 9/11 attacks themselves, in which the "walls of separation" insituted by Jamie Gorelick and still standing six months into the Bush administration meant that alarm over people training to fly, but not to land, jetliners could not be compared interdepartmentally with concerns over visa and other violations. Many FBI offices at the time didn't even have e-mail capability. Because of that blase unconcern on the part of people who had been in charge of things repeated requests by one FBI office to arrest one of the 9/11 conspirators were denied- and the outlines of the conspiracy were not discovered. Hypersensitivity to certain theoretical values effectively made co-conspirators of the federal government and an easily interdictable plot was successful- launching us into the course of the last eight years.

It is inherently immoral to fail to temper theoretical values against their easily anticipated real-world costs.

Much of modern so-called liberalism is founded in an enormous hubris centering around the conceptual power of definitions. If (liberal) mankind makes a definition for something that something transcends the value of reality. If liberals define a human being as a being carrying the human genome in their cellular structure, but only once it has become legally convenient to sanction said humanity, anything, however horrible, that is done to the not-yet-legally-sanctioned-being didn't happen to a human. If some set of psychologically distressing, but not physically damaging, interrogation techniques is given BY LIBERALS the label "torture" it triggers a theoretical value greater than that of human life itself.

In both of these cases the expediently theoretical becomes, to liberals, more real than the real.

In a late addition, let me note how our failures to let even rational precaution temper our adherance to theoretical morality played into the hands of Al Qaeda. Here, from an Atlantic Monthly article, we have a picture drawn from the words of Al Qaeda planners themselves:

The computer did not reveal any links to Iraq or any other deep-pocketed government; amid the group's penury the members fell to bitter infighting. The blow against the United States was meant to put an end to the internal rivalries, which are manifest in vitriolic memos between Kabul and cells abroad. Al-Qaeda's leaders worried about a military response from the United States, but in such a response they spied opportunity: they had fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and they fondly remembered that war as a galvanizing experience, an event that roused the indifferent of the Arab world to fight and win against a technologically superior Western infidel. The jihadis expected the United States, like the Soviet Union, to be a clumsy opponent. Afghanistan would again become a slowly filling graveyard for the imperial ambitions of a superpower.
Liberals can fault conservatives, or Republicans, or whoever they wish for the war and over-responses, but had there been a simple communication between security agencies on sensible security measures the plot could have been stopped.

Al Qaeda might simply have fallen apart on their own.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at April 28, 2009 11:00 AM
Comment #281046

Why your torture articles have to also include references to abortion is beyond me. Your articles are beyond me, as they all basically say the same thing, with different and over-worded rhetoric.


It’s getting old.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 28, 2009 12:09 PM
Comment #281050


It’s because liberals don’t really object to torture and killing for their expedient purposes.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 28, 2009 1:51 PM
Comment #281052

Dear Lee,

Though we agree on many issue, I can’t agree with you on the satement that our values somehow take the second place to the safety. Growing up, my father thought me a very important lesson - a gun in the hands of a coward is the most dangerous instrument. When an awesome power, which is the United States of America, is wielded in fear, we are bound to make horrendous mistakes.

I was attracted to the idea of the personal freedom and self-realization because of the US Constitution and President Ronald Reagan. I truly imagined the shining city on the hill, a bastion of freedom. We shouldn’t give up those ideals and morale values because of the fear. If we do, the bad guys have won. In this matter, libs are correct.

What Mr. Goldberg and many others fail to recognize is that we can’t rule the country based on wishes of the angry mob. We don’t let a victim of a crime pass a judgment on an accused criminal. We allow impartial jury of the peers to render the judgment. These are our values. Just as we shouldn’t let the popular desire of “retaliation” dictate our security policy. We have elected officials who are tasked with those matters. The torture is wrong. Whether what was done by the CIA ops. can be considered as torture is arguable, and I am inclined to give our guys a benefit of a doubt because I would have done the same thing in their shoes. But to state that, somehow, ends justify the means, is the same argument which is presented by the liberals on social issues and is wrong. Our only justification is our laws, our values and our morality. That is our strength.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.”

That is an important lesson to remember. We are the country of VIRTUES and LIBERTIES and we can ill afford to trade either for economics or security. I wrote here, not long ago, that there is such a thing as a political nation and a cultural nation. A political nation can and often will justify its actions based on pragmatism, a cultural nation cannot do the same.

You state: “It is inherently immoral to fail to temper theoretical values against their easily anticipated real-world costs.”

That is a very dangerous path to take. What are theoretical value? How do we define them? There is nothing theoretical about “Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness”. We must value those principles which lay as the basis of this great nation.

Posted by: Crusader at April 28, 2009 2:12 PM
Comment #281053

That last comment of mine was overbroad and unfair to true, really logically consistent liberals. People who decry all manner of killing or violence, Mennonnites for example, would not fall under such a broad description.

On the other hand failing to cause a controlled discomfort to get information we know people have (see the last article noted in the article above as it concerns Al Quaeda leadership) would only be logically consistent with a pacivism unto extinction- even in conditions Christians would recognize as warranting Holy War.

I’m merely pointing out that the left in America seems comfortable with defining away a humanity that could be the seat of objections to those behaviors they make such noise about abhoring. They also seem comfortable with those (say, William Ayers) who have done the things they claim to abhor in the pursuit of a “good” cause. This is true even if said person does not regret his actions.

That is genuine logical inconsistency.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 28, 2009 2:22 PM
Comment #281060

Lee, we don’t let the victim’s family of a murder constitute the jury in the trial of a suspect. There is a very Constitutional and objective reason for that.

We don’t let lynch mobs repeat Oxbow Incidents in our rule of law nation, either.

So, given these facts, why on earth would we permit those emotionally close to terrorist victims or hostages dictate national policy on dealing with terrorists, including their interrogations?

Our public servants don’t take an oath to protect and defend terrorist victim’s lives. They DO HOWEVER take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, which establishes a rule of law, not of kings, not of men, not of victims or their families.

Think about it. It is a real epiphany producer.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 28, 2009 4:07 PM
Comment #281062

One of the issues I find most troubling about an excessive caution over issues that are genuinely important but not absolute, a caution sufficient to create absolutes of things that are equivocal, is that it can lead to great offenses that go far beyond the equivocations around which liberals are here drawing bright lines.

The protections Jamie Gorelick intentionally extended beyond FISA requirements blinded the nation to issues we should have been ready to see. That led to the deaths of 3000 Americans at home and thousands more abroad along with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of others abroad. It led to thousands losing jobs in an unnessesary recession. It led to continual turmoil over our actions here and around the world.

This is not an uncaring capitulation to governmental brutality. It is an attempt to provide for a rational compromise between governmental excess and that laxity the result of which is disaster- and then over-correction.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 28, 2009 4:11 PM
Comment #281063

I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at in your comment.

What does this have to do with victims or their families?

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 28, 2009 4:15 PM
Comment #281065

Would it be worth my time to remind you that those walls of separation that you blame on Jamie Gorelick existed long before she took office?

There are two problems with torture: what it can’t be used for well, and what it can be used for.

It can’t be used all that well to gather intelligence. It compromises much of what keeps memory sharp and true, and renders the person suggestible, traumatized, and easily led to conflate and confabulate.

What it does great is get people to render false confessions, bear false witness, and break the will of the detainee to the service of the government that has him in custody.

The very revelation that a person was tortured creates doubt as to the truth of the information offered, and rightly so. If torture can get people to say anything, even inadvertantly, without regard to whether it’s true or not, then it’s worthless to intelligence because you may just end up feeding yourself your own B.S.

There is one value that will never be unnecessary, even in a time of war: the need to seek the truth, and not be distracted by easy or false assumptions.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 28, 2009 4:42 PM
Comment #281066


Would it be worth my time to remind you that those walls of separation that you blame on Jamie Gorelick existed long before she took office?

Short answer: No they didn’t. Not as she would have you believe they did. The National Review article I linked dealt with that issue fairly well. It was written by the prosecutor for the first World Trade Center bombing, so the issues would have been well known to him.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 28, 2009 4:52 PM
Comment #281067

Wow….some of the most far-outlandish tripey ideas about torture, freedom, and our Constitution as I have ever had the misfortune of encountering. Not that abortion and torture have any relation to one another; but you DO see that one has to do with decisions made by an individual relating to a private matter, which the courts have held to be their choice, and that the other is almost universally regarded as torture, and that we Americans eschew this in favor of humane treatment, as our Constitution disallows “cruel and unusual” punishment? Period?

Oh, wait, now I get it. Because some liberal good-for-nothing instituted a “seperation” scheme, that renders the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions null and void. Torture is ok!
But, what if it were happening to OUR guys? That would sorta suck, eh? Or to me….or you? I don’t know about YOU, but I would much rather live in a world which does not contain that sort of thing. And you know, it starts at home!!! Here. In America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. Home of those whose principals have always opposed torture. And always will, as long as patriots have a say.

Posted by: steve miller at April 28, 2009 4:56 PM
Comment #281068

“Liberals can fault conservatives, or Republicans, or whoever they wish for the war and over-responses, but had there been a simple communication between security agencies on sensible security measures the plot could have been stopped”

Or, on the other hand, if that paragon of presidency had been alert and astute enough to pay attention to the part of the Presidential Daily Briefing where it talked about the bearded guy wanting to target America with airplanes. Sheesh!!!

Posted by: steve miller at April 28, 2009 5:03 PM
Comment #281069

Lee asked: “I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at in your comment. What does this have to do with victims or their families?”

Your article’s quotation: “But if liberals really think it’s more important to protect “American values” than it is to save those lives, let them say so – out loud.”

This quotation constitutes a false challenge. As does the thrust of your entire article. It implies that a liberal who claims they would not advocate torture even if their own child’s life were at stake (victim), would be lying, and if they would advocate for torture (water boarding) if their child’s life were at stake, then they would be a hypocrite.

The fact is, nearly all of us would advocate almost anything if it offered the slightest hope of saving our child, soldiers, hostages, whatever. But, laws are made, presumably, dispassionately and objectively in the interests of the greater good of society and its preservation, including the Constitution.

Torturing makes America AS BAD AS OUR ENEMIES, with no iota of difference in values, ethics, or morality, because it means our judgments are made based on the ends justifying the means, which is precisely the basis for Al-Queda tactics and strategy. No DIFFERENCE! It also means we cannot be held to any agreements of treaty or contract, just as Al-Queda or career criminals cannot be held to any agreements or contract.

And as for stove pipes between intelligence agencies, you can go back to the 1950’s and J. Edgar Hoover for a big part of the cause of that. Hoover could not be trusted and other agencies knew it. He was a blackmailer of the first order and could NOT BE TRUSTED with intelligence from other agencies of the government. Which established a culture of division and minimal sharing of intelligence between those agencies, not to mention rivalry.

Your attempt to make this systemic problem prior to 9/11 a partisan or liberal conservative issue, is just plain negated by the history of the stove pipe development between the agencies, which have many legal (domestic vs. foreign) and agency cultural roots having NOTHING to do with conservative or liberal views.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 28, 2009 5:04 PM
Comment #281071

One or two last things; Crusader and David Remer….very well said.

Lee, do you remember the interval between the two terror attacks on the WTC? These people are in no rush…..we will be attacked again. They will not “just fall apart”, no way. All the more so because we failed to find and kill their mouthpiece/mastermind. And because we were stupid enough to act in the manner of small, fearful men. Which is to say we tortured. Shame. Shame. And small, fearful men persist in trying to justify what was done, instead of doing what big people do; admitting that what was done was wrong, and will never be done again.

Posted by: steve miller at April 28, 2009 5:26 PM
Comment #281072


I understand Michael Dukakis was asked a question if he would support a death penalty if his wife was raped and killed. A I am sure you remember, his answer ruined his hopes for the Oval Office. I believe the majority was right and his answer lacked the emotion.

Why did I bring this up. Humans are emotional and social beings hence we expect compassion from a fellow man. We like to share joy and we like to share sorrow. But there must be those amongst us who are able to raise above the emotion and look at things with s cold blooded pragmatism. One of the faults I see in the liberal movement is too much emotion and not enough sense. The republicans have fallen in the same trap on the national security issues.

The liberals are trying to set the rules for the debate - the torture is bad, Bush order torture, Bush is bad, we condemn this, we are good. The country will loose from this kind of debate. We as conservatives need to establish the voice of reason. Yes, it is inconvenient at times, it is annoying other times but the people need to know that it is ALWAYS pragmatic. By trying to justify water boarding because it saved lives, is admitting that water boarding was torture. I am not so convinced and neither are lot’s of people like me that what CIA did was torture. As far as I am concerned, there hasn’t been a crime committed till someone is charged with it. Then we can talk about torture. As of right now, CIA was well within the boundaries set for them by executive brunch and legislative brunch was briefed about it early and often. That is the end of my concern. If someone has doubts, voice them to AG. But what I am very concerned about is the fact that we are looking at pole numbers and trying to justify our actions by how much popular support it draws. That is populism and is problematic when it’s practiced by conservatives and liberals alike.

Stephen, on this blog, is notorious for throwing the win in election and presidential approval ratings in support of the radical agenda. We should not succumb to the same temptation. There was a point in this country’s history when a majority didn’t recognize the rights of the African Americans. That didn’t make it any less wrong, did it?

Conservatives need to stop playing populist games, we will never win them, and concentrate on reality. Reality is simple, if the US abandons the moral ground, there is no one else left to defend it. I don’t say we should be pacifist, but we must not let our emotions rule the day. This is going to sound like cliché but what the heck, when I spank my sons I always tell them that I swat them out of love not hate. We should adapt the same principle. We shouldn’t act out of vengeance, hate, spite or fear. Our actions ALWAYS should be governed by the pragmatism and moral principles.

Remember the passage from Psalms 23:3-6

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

That is our advantage, that is what we stand for. They don’t have that and that is the reason why they hate us. There was a poet in my home country who wrote the following directed at Russian Communists “If you hit me 7 times in my heart with a knife, I will smile 7 times to spite my enemies and rejoice in my countries love.”

Posted by: Crusader at April 28, 2009 5:48 PM
Comment #281075


By trying to justify water boarding because it saved lives, is admitting that water boarding was torture.
I disagree. You could use the same logic to say coercing testimony against the threat of imprisonment for contempt of court for a failure to testify on one hand or for perjury on the other was also torture.

I don’t condone the use of coercion that does any permanent physical harm. This interrogation technique did not do that. People who would be dead today are alive because, without causing permanent physical harm, it was effective at getting information three people did not want to give us.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 28, 2009 6:24 PM
Comment #281077


Torturing makes America AS BAD AS OUR ENEMIES, with no iota of difference in values, ethics, or morality, because it means our judgments are made based on the ends justifying the means, which is precisely the basis for Al-Queda tactics and strategy. No DIFFERENCE!
We ARE not better people than our enemies. We are superior in no way whatsoever. We are not smarter. We are not more human. We are not more beautiful. We do not love our children more, nor our neighbors better. Given the same environment, under the same religion and the same government we would be doing the same things they are doing.

The people over whom Al Qaeda holds sway are, conversely just as “good” as we are.

The difference for Americans is we have a government that understands we are all bad, and uses our disparate instincts for self-interest verging unto greed against each other. As soon as the government has been sufficiently empowered that it NEEDS really good people to run properly we will all be in trouble.

It is immoral to allow the pure bigotry that believes we are dealing with inferiors be the cause for sacrificing the innocent among us for the sake of broadcasting our self-righteous superiority to the rest of the world.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 28, 2009 6:42 PM
Comment #281078

Lee Jamison-
The separation was in there long before. It was done so that there wouldn’t be question of whether coerced or secret evidence was being used in prosecutions, thus ruining them. Back before we had three thousand people dead in New York and DC, we were understandably concerned about people, especially terrorists getting off because of technicalities on that account. (before you go off on a tangent, the Clinton administration did capture, prosecute and incarcerate those responsible for the WTC bombing, did they not?)

But never mind that. You do know that we got to Zarqawi by traditional methods, didn’t you?

You fellows like to portray these folks as supermen invulnerable to traditional interrogation. That gives them way too much credit. They are human beings like everybody else. Some may be fairly resistant, but most are like anybody else: greedy, horny, prideful, compassionate, devout, etc, etc. If you know your people, you can get them to talk, you can get them to turn against their folks, or at least let information slip they didn’t set out to give you.

Since 9/11, the Bush Administration had a terrible record of getting these people. My guess is that they were so wrapped up in following every potential lead out of the fear of the next attack, that they didn’t slow down and think that maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea.

The resources to investigate, the manpower to spread out, and the money to pay for it all are all limited. If our standard response is to go in all directions at once, sheer exhaustion of resources and the energy of those called upon to protect us will defeat us all by itself.

We need to follow facts, follow leads, rather than chasing mere suspicions all the time. How many shopping malls and similar places did we anticipate attack from? How many false alarms did it take before people started feeling that the color coded alerts from the DoHS were a joke?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 28, 2009 6:48 PM
Comment #281079

Lee Jamison-
Let me be plain: we are better than these people, in so far as we make better choices. I do not see the need to be relativistic about this. Our system encourages the better angels of people’s souls, in part because it fails less to correct our excesses, but also in part because it creates a system where people are better willing to let each other be themselves

When we start making the same moral equivocations for atrocity and hatred, then we’re no better than them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 28, 2009 6:51 PM
Comment #281082

Lee said: “The difference for Americans is we have a government that understands we are all bad, and uses our disparate instincts for self-interest verging unto greed against each other.”

What an abjectly perverse view of the democratic process. What an abject dismissal of our Constitutional rule of law by assent WHICH DOES make us better, legally, morally, and ethically, than Al-Queda.

I don’t mean this in a derogatory way at all, Lee when I say such comments explain why you are a Republican defender. Republicans believe government is bad and evil because they believe people are bad an evil, and therefore they govern as bad or evil people doing bad and evil things, like lying in order to war with those they don’t agree with, fabricating evidence where none exists, cherry picking data to suit their pleasure and whims, and pick pocketing the tax payers for spending having nothing to do with national defense or investing in the economic future and prosperity of all those bad and evil voters.

Well, I think the voters caught on to such views and continue to grow in their rejection of such ideological falsehoods. Americans were united in WWI and WWII for a cause most could believe in and share. Americans were united in putting a man on the moon. Americans were united as a majority behind the creation of Social Security and Medicare. Americans were united in the decision to invade Afghanistan and take out those responsible for 9/11. Americans are united behind the concept of justice which is fair and balanced and governed by the rule of law, not the desire for expedience of individual men or women.

Americans are a vastly better, more civilized, and far more educated people than those who support Al-Queda. I guess it takes liberal lean to see it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 28, 2009 8:35 PM
Comment #281085

I cannot believe it is a moral choice to sacrifice dozens, hundreds or thousands of lives in order to indulge a personal morality about making one or two men uncomfortable.

The Obama administration evidently it is acceptable to kill in order to protect lives (as in the drone attacks) and he is right.

Nancy Pelosi thought waterboarding was okay when she was briefed about it in 2002, and she was right too.

The Congress evidently thinks waterboarding is not bad enough to outlaw. That would eliminate all confusion now and forever. They still have not taken that easy step and remain dependent on the much maligned opinions of the executive.


Americans are indeed far better than our enemies. We defend freedom and sometimes make the hard choices to do it. Others find it more profitable to talk and cluster under the umbrella we provide.

But liberal leaning guys you talk about are evidently better people than I am. I admit it. I am not willing to sacrifice my life and the lives of my children rather than allow a terrorist to suffer.

Even in the big-bad-Bush times the number of “tortured” was small and the whole population of prisoners in Guantanamo at its height would not be as many as one of the many nastier prisons operated routinely and daily in Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba, China … Yes we are better, but maybe we don’t need to be perfect.

Remember also that many of the prisoners prefer life in Guantanamo to being sent back to their home countries.

Posted by: Christine at April 28, 2009 9:10 PM
Comment #281087


We are either the good guys, or the bad guys.

The good guys don’t need to torture people to get information that may or may not be reliable.

I agree with Crusader. We are either the shining city on the hill, or we’re not. An America that claims that it is for liberty, and justice for all, and then tortures people is lying to itself about it’s motivations.

Oh, and BTW, I don’t need to be a liberal to be against torture. I was against America’s use of it then, and I feel the same way now.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 28, 2009 10:08 PM
Comment #281093


You may choose to allow bin laden to define your actions but the majority of your fellow Americans do not. That,s why we will prevail.
You guys just lost another respected senator BTW. Welcome Arlen Spector.

Posted by: bills at April 29, 2009 12:30 AM
Comment #281096

Until Republicans give up this sadomasochistic romance and realize that torture is exactly one of the reasons Americans felt we were headed in the wrong direction, they are a lost party.

While many Americans don’t agree with your forced stance of extreme moralism over embryos,that you pound others with constantly, it seems to me they understand that stance. Yet, you call people who stand against torture phoneys?

Sad, angry men who just don’t get it.

Posted by: gergle at April 29, 2009 1:33 AM
Comment #281099


What an abjectly perverse view of the democratic process. What an abject dismissal of our Constitutional rule of law by assent WHICH DOES make us better, legally, morally, and ethically, than Al-Queda.
It is not at all a dismissal of the constitutional process to admit we are not better people than others. That process, with all its arcane difficulties and checks and balances is precisely what makes the result of our participation in governance and our reliance on voluntary civic action in all those sorts of private civic organisms Alexis de Toqueville noted so good. We are (usually) constantly faced with the difficulty of the empowerment of our political adversaries, meaning everyone with an ox to be gored can irritate the powers that would otherwise casually do the goring.

That difficulty should never, though, go to human sacrifice on religious grounds, but that is what I see with this “we have to stand up for how we are better than they” stuff. Those arguing for this point do not merely accept sacrificing people who agree with being slain on the altar of national purity. They would be like Mayan priests making themselves feel holy by pouring the blood of the willing and the unwilling alike. Then again, that is the Democrat way.

I tell you what. Let the president put his girls up for sacrifice if they can’t get a bad guy to trade secrets for a trip to Dairy Queen or something. Let it be his wife who pays the price. Let Washington be burned to the ground if they like your “we are better than they are” religion so much. This country could easily get by without that place.

Come to think of it, if we could limit the damage to a thirty mile human sacrifice zone around the nation’s capital I’d buy your idea.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 29, 2009 8:58 AM
Comment #281100

This not about their comfort. This is about getting good information rather than just quick information, or convenient from them. If our torture pushes these people to make something up, or worse, if we take somebody who’s innocent, and therefore incapable of telling us any useful information and torture them, we may just make them into a fountain of false information.

Whose life can we save with that? It is torture’s unreliability, that makes it a problem.

There’s also the side problems of what these practices represent. If you think that torture is the easy way to get good information, then the question becomes “why don’t you use this against criminals”.

And that comes to the other reason why we don’t torture: torture brings false confessions, when the torturer is convinced of guilt, but the tortured is innocent. False confessions are not only bad intelligence, they are bad criminal law as well, and a bad way to determine whether a suspect in our custody of any kind is a terrorist, a criminal, or none of the above.

Torture threatens our freedom from false prosecution, false detainment, unjustified punishment of the innocent. What live it might save, if it were a reliable source of information, it might later destroy at our government’s hand.

It destroyed many soldier’s lives, that’s for sure. You cannot show American soldiers torturing and hope to easily deal with the insurgency in question. Our reputation is not something to be be thrown away for the sake of expedience in the interrogation room.

There are so many arguments, good arguments, proven arguments against torture as a practice, that I feel it is disingenuous for politicians and pundits to support it as a lifesaving measure.

As far as Waterboarding goes, it’s not simulated drowning, it’s the real thing in slow motion. Did you know that documents released reveal that they had a tracheotomy kit handy for waterboardings? Now why would they need that? Because one reaction to drowning is an involuntary contraction of the throat. Thus, a person can drown without any water in the lungs. They really are suffocating that person, and bringing them to the brink of death.

I want you to notice something: though these techniques have been documented as practices of torture, the Republicans and others are unwilling to name them for what they are.

And so are you right now. I want you to try something: get in an uncomfortable position, and try to keep that position for as long as possible. Say like crouching down. See how long it takes before your legs start to ache. And then imagine being handcuffed with your hands behind your back, perhaps above your head, and kept like this for more than an hour. Then imagine you’ve been kept up for more than a day, and have loud, discordant music piped in, twenty-four hours a day.

Would you call the results of this discomfort, Or suffering? And if we’re using suffering to gain people’s cooperation, isn’t that torture?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 29, 2009 9:08 AM
Comment #281103

Lee, your last comment is shooting your own argument in the foot. Our Constitution provides for the V.P. stepping in to the presidency in the event the President is incapacitated, which would be the case if his wife or daughters were being held hostage by terrorists. America doesn’t have a King who remains King so long as he is alive. We overthrew that as too weak, capricious, arbitrary, vulnerable to human flaws without recourse, and unpredictable.

America doesn’t let individual people determine policy or make law. Ours is a systematic approach based on consent of the majority and defends against the potential for individuals in power to become vulnerable to their passions, outside forces, or internal defects or deficiencies.

When Pres. Bush contradicted himself to permit torture of detainees, he and his Justice Dept. heads usurped the Constitutional provisions for rule of law, due process, and the Legislature and Judiciary in unilaterally redefining treaty agreements and legal precedent and legislation regarding torture, and water boarding as defined in precedence as torture.

If you believe torture should be permissable, there is a legal process under our Constitution provided you to seek majority consensus in that view in changing our laws to make torture permissable. Or. alternatively, petition the courts for review of the Constitutionality of torturing individuals in custody, without trial, conviction, or even evidence in review that the suspect being tortured is even the right person and not entirely innocent.

Trying to circumvent that Constitutional process using an individual’s power of government office unilaterally is both Unconstitutional and a violation of law, making such acts criminal and a threat to America and Americans potentially.

Our Constitution relegates the passing of law to both the Legislature and the President, requiring the assent of both, and it relegates disputes over the interpretation of law to the Judiciary. No Where in our Constitution is the provision made to grant the President unilateral authority to either legislate or interpret the Constitution or legislation.

Defenders of Bush’s torture policies either reject, or are ignorant of, the U.S. Constitution and the precedential laws that emanate from it. Torture is illegal in America, under ANY circumstances. All attempts to circumvent those laws from within, or without, the government in the absence of due process of legislation or judicial ruling making torture legal, are criminal, by definition.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 29, 2009 9:33 AM
Comment #281104


“Defenders of Bush’s torture policies either reject, or are ignorant of, the U.S. Constitution and the precedential laws that emanate from it. Torture is illegal in America, under ANY circumstances.”

I might add to this that holding the tortured outside of the US in an attempt to circumvent the Constitution is reprehensible.


America made agreements with the rest of the world that made our actions illegal.
Just as we blithely broke our treaties with the American Indian when it suited us.

Theoretically America is a civilized country. We have to be better than this or the American Ideal is a lie.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 29, 2009 9:54 AM
Comment #281105


Do you believe in the country of laws?

I do and by our definition, a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Let’s say a crime was committed, how did release of these documents to the general public before the investigation was done, before the trial was done, help restore the justice? Any lawyer worth their salt will tell you that messing with the potential jury pool to this extent destroys any chance of a fair trial. Now, President Obama, a “constitutional lawyer” didn’t know what I, a aspiring law student knows?

If there was a law broken, why would a president of the United States of America who gave oath of office interfere with a due course of law and negatively influence the fairness of a possible trial? But for some reason you are not equally outraged about that passivity because you are a Democratic zombie who repeats what he is told with no regard for the consequences. You must understand that the United States didn’t start with President Obama and it will not end with President Obama, at least that is my sincere hope. America isn’t about Democrats or Republicans, it’s about its citizens and the rights which are granted to them by the constitution. When ever we trample upon those rights and ignore the laws which protect those right, we expose ourselves to a great possibility of injustice down the road. If the law were broken, there are steps the executive branch can take to ensure that the persons who were responsible for these crimes held responsible before the court. If there have been no laws broken, than it is done as a political hit job, and that is even worse because it is aimed to agitate the populous and that is not what government is tasked to do.

I am saddened that so many of my countrymen have been bamboozled by this despicable act. No matter which way you look at it, what president did is wrong. If there was a crime committed, he ensured that any chance of a fair trial is gone for the accused, and if there was no crime committed he is an idiot who put his desire to get a political revenge ahead of the best interests of the nation. In either case, the United States looses because our laws and values got trampled.

In a previous post I said that the Robespierre, who erected the guillotine was executed by the guillotine. I hope President Obama understands that he is not going to be a president for life and chances are one that follows him will be a Republican and the laws he ignores today might be ignore in the future.

BTW, since the Spendulus passed so urgently to save or create 4 million jobs, the United States has lost 1.8 million jobs and economy shrunk by 6.1%. So far, President Obama’s economic plan is 5.8 million jobs and $2 trillion GDP in the hole.

FYI, 2008 stimulus, which was tax rebate, hit the people in 2 month and economy saw short lived bounce almost immediately. Somehow, I am not convinced that swine odor and field mice mating habit research are stemming the tide of the economic slowdown.

Posted by: Crusader at April 29, 2009 10:42 AM
Comment #281108

Lee Jamison-
The Constitution and Bill of Rights are an implicit admission that our government is lead by fallible human beings, no better than anybody else, but that we can choose as a nation to do better, and prosper by it.

Torture’s capacity to, by inadvertance or by intent, encourage the volunteering of false information is the primary moral failing that makes it objectionable to us as a country.

As yourself: if we make our peace with torture, do we not validate the central premise (false as it is) that it more easily extracts good information from suspects? If such methods become accepted, do we not run the risk that somebody starts bleeding one category of usage into another? Already we let counterterrorist laws that vastly, perhaps unconstitutionally, increased the surveillance powers of government agencies be applied to situations where we were only dealing with political opposition, or non-terrorist related issues like drug trafficking.

Would it not be a stretch to imagine “enhanced interrogation” becoming a standard law enforcement tool, if the threat became grave enough? Perhaps we end up using it against the Drug Cartels in the South, citing the ongoing troubles there as a national security issue requiring such methods. Then we start using it on Meth dealers in rural America, Crack dealers. then it becomes standard on murderers and thieves.

And of course, the callous and corrupt latch on to it, because it’s so easy with torture to accidentally lead a suspect to volunteer false information.

It doesn’t help that folks like you do your best to Euphemize the practices, to avoid facing what they really are. You’re quick to point out that the pain and suffering of these people is inconsequential, legitimate, but you’re unwilling to acknowlege the nature of what you’re really asking for, because torture is illegal, and it violates treaties we are signatories to.

How many dark, dingy secrets, fearful dirty secrets has such equivocation and ambiguity of phrase left us with. How much has this perverse kind of political correctness, this careful phrasing warped the open and honest confrontation of exactly what it is that the Republicans ask of the rest of the country?

As for your comments about taking a guy to Dairy Queen? It may just be that simple for some suspects! It doesn’t hurt to try, really. Who dies if we blow smoke up a general’s butt to appeal to his ego? It’s worked. Who dies, if we appeal to the devoutness of a footsoldier to amplify his disgust with the groups methods and targets? Every detainee we confront will have a different story, a different set of vices and virtues that we can exploit. Some guys will give information for porn. It’s been done. One guy even volunteered information because we paid for his mother’s operation.

Sometimes, even just a little respect and courtesy will go a long way. People are trained to resist torture.

Which doesn’t mean we have to be perfect angels. We can decieve. We can play one guy off another. We can use undercover guys in their cell, so that when they blab stuff to their cell-mates, we can glean that as potential evidence, and perhaps use it as evidence, or fodder for additional gambits in the interrogation room.

The point is, to get information, reliable information from these people when they are in their right mind, with their head clear and their memory at their best.

There’s this persistent myth at work here, that such attacks are always the result of restrictions on law enforcement, that if we simply give the government more power, we will get more results.

We might get more suspects talking, sure. But as an information theorist, I can tell you the following:

1) More information does not necessarily mean more information that will be meaningful to you.

2)More meaningful information doesn’t necessarily mean you will get more true, meaningful information

3) And true, meaningful information works at its best primarily when you have more of the same, and the proper context to understand it.

You can play your verbal guilt-trip games, but in the end, when you introduce approaches to gathering and interpreting information that flood the system with irrelevant information, or unreliable, you are depriving law enforcement and our military of the kind of information that best leads to quality judgment calls. You create friction and weakness without our efforts, and that ultimately will cost more lives than taking a patient approach where the detective work clears away much of the BS before hand.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 29, 2009 11:38 AM
Comment #281112

Watch the news, and tell me that released information about the circumstances of crimes and suspects is out of the ordinary.

Then tell me something else: if it’s not torture, what kind of trials would occur?

This is the disingenuous game that the Pundits and politicians you’re listening to are playing: they won’t call it torture, because torture is illegal under our own law, and under our international agreements, and that would cripple their arguments immediately. They constantly disparage the notion that something is torture by doing some handwaving about what they think its like.

But no, we can’t release those pictures, or those records.

Well if it’s nothing bad, if it’s not humiliating or painful or atrocious, like the Right-Wing politicos are always claiming, would the images provide any evidence against that?

Or are they engaged in a rear-guard action against an ugly truth they’re unwilling to take responsibility for, to admit that they broke the law, that they violated the very international norms America long claimed to uphold?

If you did nothing wrong, you need only explain yourself well. If you did something wrong, then you’ve got no businesses hiding it from the rest of us.

On the stimulus, do me a favor and give me a break here. These are numbers for the first quarter of this year. If you look at the dates, it should be clear that the Stimulus only had a little over a month to fight back against a six percentage point decline of GDP. I guess you also consider it unimportant that the stimulus itself is designed to work over twenty-three additional months as well.

Given that you missed that, and that your argument further employs arguments employing debunked Republicans claims, I don’t think you have a leg to stand on here, even if the stimulus was a bad idea to begin with. There’s just not enough time for it have made a difference.

As for the 2008 tax break? Let me ask you a question here: how would that be useful for a situation in which unemployment is increasing steadily? People who don’t have jobs don’t pay taxes, at least not at the rate wage earners do. The stimulus would pass them by. If you’ve got a job, then a taxed base stimulus makes far greater sense. Besides, the Bush administration has cut taxes to the bone, run deficits, and the economy has not grown well in comparison to earlier time. If taxes were such a great driver, we would see far greater returns from the investment. Instead, we saw intermittent and sluggish growth, buoyed up mainly by a boom in the real estate market which did not end well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 29, 2009 1:45 PM
Comment #281116

Do you read over what you write, or did the teleprompter break for you to?

Did you even read what I wrote or did you just look up “Democratic Rebuttal if Torture Subject is Raised” from the Democratic talking points memo page 2?

I said, if the law was broken, releasing this information is harmful because you are denying the accused his/her right of fair trial. If no law was broken, release of these document is a POPULIST ATTEMPT AT CHARACTER ASSASSINATION!!!

I don’t like to insult people, it’s not my thing, but you are so blinded by partisanship that you have lost the reading comprehension.

If Spendulus was not designed for the near future and was aimed at 23 month period, why such rush to pass it without reading it? I thought every bill would be available on the internet for 5 days for public to read it?

Not so long ago, you argued that $15 increase in you withholding, which President promoted as a tax cut to 95% of Americans, even though we will owe him that money next year, would stimulate the economy nicely because you are going to buy a software package with it. How about giving every person in the US $2400, that is at least 5k per household, do you think that would have stimulated the economy? I think so!!!

Let’s see, putting a 2500 in a child’s college fund for 18 years with parent adding $50 per month and very conservative growth of 6% would yield over $26k savings for education. That is good enough to attend UC college for at least 2 years, maybe 3 if you score some minor scholarships, or to graduate from one of the Cal State Universities. Now, that is an investment into the future. Studying swine odor is definitely not!!!

Posted by: Crusader at April 29, 2009 2:53 PM
Comment #281117

Agreements made with other nations only on a vote of the Senate do not alter the Constitution. The war powers of the president are constitutional powers.

“Horrors!”, one may say, with some justification I will admit. But those presidential powers are not without limit. When war powers are carried too far (realizing that ‘too far’ is, in war, a very subjective concept) the Congress can impeach.

I can tell you this without a hint of caution. Were the American people to find out that thousands of their fellow citizens died in the aftermath of 9/11 because a high-minded politician had no stomach for waterboarding responsible American officials would die. It is the simple truth.

And they should be happy to give up their own lives in support of a morality more precious than the citizens they protect.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 29, 2009 3:09 PM
Comment #281119


“Were the American people to find out that thousands of their fellow citizens died in the aftermath of 9/11 because a high-minded politician had no stomach for water-boarding responsible American officials would die. It is the simple truth.”

If water-boarding is so moral if it used to save these theoretical lives then why stop there?
Why is cutting fingers off, or legs, or arms, or genitals less moral?
Electrocution? Why not?

There is no moral high ground here.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 29, 2009 4:07 PM
Comment #281122


One could easily say the same thing about war itself. What is worth killing people for? The prevention of killing people? That SOUNDS silly, doesn’t it? But isn’t mass warfare far more destructive, ultimately than the prevention of killing by the taking of a few limbs?

Why, then would we even preserve WAR powers? Isn’t it barbaric? Absolutely! It IS BARBARIC to fight wars! And when we fail to be ready for that barbaric enterprise people committed to peacefully going about their own business and being of benefit to the community become the focus of the barbarism of the world.

As long as there is a Russia, as long as there is a China, as long as there is even an Argentina or a Cuba, or drug lords in Central America, or gang violence the world will be partly populated with people to whom there is no eloquence, nor any reason, where eloquence and reason are not reinforced with the promise of a willingness to match brutality and barbarism with measured force.

For my part I am willing to risk a world in which our bright line against barbarism is drawn at doing permanent physical harm to people when there are techniques that do not kill, do not harm, and work as well.

People are drawing a line in dry sand amid high desert dunes with this subject. The first stiff wind to trouble their imagined security will wipe that line away.

You show me people so committed to this morality that they are willing to hand up their families to die when it costs the nation thousands of people and I’ll show you moral, honorable, honest leaders.

For my part, I will be honest another way. I am utterly unwilling to give up my family for this sham morality of people who don’t really think their morality will cost THEM anything.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 29, 2009 5:15 PM
Comment #281123


Let’s see, putting a 2500 in a child’s college fund for 18 years with parent adding $50 per month and very conservative growth of 6% would yield over $26k savings for education.
As I recall the average inflation through the 70s was in the five percent range. With the spending happening now on borrowed money we could well be back in that range soon. You’ll be lucky if the $2500 is still worth %2500 when the kid goes to college.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 29, 2009 5:23 PM
Comment #281124

Right now, for 26k you will graduate from UC and pay for books. I was taking inflation in account but with this guy in office, you might be correct.

It took President Bush and President Obama for me to properly appreciate President Clinton.

Posted by: Crusader at April 29, 2009 6:34 PM
Comment #281126

Do I read over what I write? I probably obsesses over it by your standards. Fortunately, I’m a touch typist.

I did read what you wrote. But I know enough about the law, especially from my brother, who has two more law degrees than you do, to know the way the legal system works. If you’re planning on being a lawyer, you’d better familiarize yourself with the way the legal system really works, rather than the way your party thinks it works, or should work. There’s a reason that the Bush Administration went for Fourth-tier Regent University recruits rather than first tier folks like the current President. (I’d like you to consider for a moment that Obama is both a graduate of and a professor of first tier schools)

The reason is plain: the preferred to get the interpretations they wanted (that is, judicial activism) rather than the interpretations that precedent, tradition, and legislation would have been valid.

And please. Stop calling it the spendulus. That name is too good for a person who’s just about to head into law school. It is the province of pundits incapable of communicating to anybody outside the limited group of people who would call it clever. Call it the stimulus. Call it Obama’s spending plans. Don’t waste your time trying to convince me through third grade rhetoric.

As far as your proposal, which I know isn’t serious, the big problem with it would be that it would bankrupt the country in no time flat. That wouldn’t do much good for our economy

Tax cuts aren’t free, and Obama didn’t account them as such. If you’re cutting out of a deficit, you’r raising the amount you have to pay back.

And you know what? People like me, at least, have been honest with our fellow voters about the fact that these payments won’t work by themselves.

As for its design? There’s no point dumping a you-know-what-load of money on the market that’s ill-directed and sure to be gone in a few months time. The point of the spacing of the stimulus, the long term nature, which your party was insistent on when it was delivering its critique, is to make sure that jobs and economic benefits are felt over a longer time, letting the money more effectively put the brakes on and the reverse gear on the economic downturn.

It doesn’t matter what you think would stimulate the economy, it matters how it would actually happen. Bush’s tax cuts had minimal effect on the economic situation. Only the mirage of economic effects from the housing sector kept the last few years from being a major downturn.

H+R Block is not the only place economic stimulus comes from.

But regardless, my first point stands: A month and a half is a ridiculously short time to judge the course of an economic downturn and recovery from, both because of the ongoing effects of previous events, spilling over into this quarter, and because the benefits, realistically speaking, would not even begin to come in. Hell, the tax breaks you’re referring to only began at the beginning of the second quarter (After April First, remember?)

I recall your people cutting Swine Flu preparation money out of the budget. Now you complain about the stench of pork. Well, I think the Republicans are poor judge of odor. One of the piece that your folks judge as a hit piece mention’s Governor Jindal’s oh-so prescient ruminations about the necessity of Volcano Monitoring… just before a Volcano erupted and made life difficult for folks in Anchorage.

Republicans are nitpicking and criticizing not on the merits, but on the sound of things often enough. They’ll attack Beaver dam busting without consulting the people who would tell them that the Dams cause problems for infrastructure with their flooding. They’ll attack a Rodent without even checking to see whether that’s in the bill. It seems the major reason why your folks aren’t reading the bills isn’t a lack of time, but the fact that you don’t want the truth to get in the way of all your good stories.

Lee Jamison-
Let me be very plain about this: The Treaties we agree to do not overrule the constitution, but the constitution says we must treat them as binding law for our purposes. That’s part of why the Senate has to ratify treaties, so the President can’t just oblige us without Congress’s says so.

As for war? Well, we’re not fighting a war against our own country. We have laws and constitutional powers there for those purposes. But nothing about war means that every other part of the constitution suddenly does not apply.

Don’t talk about sham morality. Your party isn’t even keeping up the pretense of morality anymore. Actions still have consequences. Morality is not just what you do something for, it’s what you do, and some actions are considered immoral because of their basic, objective bad effects.

It is not immoral to kill in battle. It is immoral to torture prisoners who are under you control and at your mercy. It is also immoral to choose the unreliable, reputation-blackening, and ultimately misleading charms of torture over the real world successes of traditional interrogation methods.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 29, 2009 7:11 PM
Comment #281127

I was talking to a lady the other day she worked at a old processing plant that closed and it sat empty for so long until Wal Mart* built a Super center last year she said the highest money she made there was $8.50 an hour with some benefits. That’s about $20.50 today Not bad!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 29, 2009 7:44 PM
Comment #281129


The completely Democratically run Congress still has not got around to actually outlawing waterboarding. They could clear up all doubt any time they wanted. Of course Nancy Pelosi had no trouble with the concept in 2002 when she was fully briefed.

Le me make my thoughts plain. If torture doesn’t work to save innocent lives, I don’t think we should ever use it. It should never to used to punish. Even making a person very uncomfortable to no purpose is immoral. But if it does work and we are faced with the choice of hurting a couple terrorists or killing or allowing to be killed thousands of innocents, I would go with saving the innocents.

Your choice is different. But let me remind all the high minded people everywhere that when the threat is real, minds change. Nancy Pelosi is a good example of how people’s attitude are plastic.

Posted by: Christine at April 29, 2009 8:53 PM
Comment #281130

In my lifetime, I never thought that torture, in any form, would be a debatable policy issue. I thought that the country that I grew up in rejected torture not only on legal but, more importantly, on moral grounds. It was a bright line rule. We do not torture. Period.

Apologists for waterboarding argue that it isn’t really torture because… As though it were an open question. It is hardly such. Japanese intelligence officers were prosecuted for waterboarding US and allied servicemen. There was no debate as to whether it was torture then. There should be no debate today. It was and is torture.

So what is this debate all about? Under what circumstances should torture be permitted or excused? To me, this is a slippery slope. Exceptions lead to more exceptions. For me, a clear bright line rule is more consistent with my concept of the US.

Posted by: Rich at April 29, 2009 11:34 PM
Comment #281133


“For my part, I will be honest another way. I am utterly unwilling to give up my family for this sham morality of people who don’t really think their morality will cost THEM anything.”

During the anti-communist frenzy of the ’50s, and ’60s I was taught that Stalin tortured people. I was taught that the Soviet Union took people away, and essentially made them disappear without a trace, and this is part of what made them the bad guys.
I also learned that, through the Geneva Conventions, POWs needn’t fear torture from those countries that signed on, and because America upheld the conventions, this made us the good guys.
Throughout my life I have learned that sometimes sh*t happens, and despite any “moral equivalency”, the one thing that we humans have in common is that we all die.
I don’t fear death. I don’t embrace it, but I don’t fear it either. It will come when it comes, and I am pretty sure I won’t have any control over it when it does.
I am also not so naive as to believe that one life on this planet is more important than any other’s.

Spin it any way you wish, torture is immoral, and no dancing around the issue will make it less so. We either believe, and live the values this country was founded upon, or we are what we fight.

Somewhere in the darkest rings of hell Stalin is laughing his ass off.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 30, 2009 7:05 AM
Comment #281134

There’s no need to be specific if you recognize waterboarding for what it is. According to the treaties we’re signatory to and laws we’ve written to enforce them, Torture constitutes the infliction of great physical and/or mental suffering. Waterboarding is both, the unsimulated experience of controlled drowning, inflicted in slow motion.

It is our inattention and complacency more than our government’s limited powers that let the Terrorists attack us on 9/11. Some folks, though, look at any failure and see a new power that might be necessary to fight it. Maybe one is needed, but we should try things and find what we can do under the law first before we rewrite it for the purposes of extending that power.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 30, 2009 7:56 AM
Comment #281138

I don’t accept that something is so because people say it is so. Things are because a solid logic anchors their definitions.

If you asked people if there was a difference between simple acceleration and gravity the vast majority of them would look at you like you were stupid and say it is obvious there is. Einstein reasoned, and a century of scientific evidence has repeatedly shown that there is not a difference. Almost everybody is wrong.

In this case even the “majority” do not stand with the moralists when they know the facts about how this procedure was used and how it differed from the careless use of waterboarding in the past. The “slippery slope” is when anything unpleasant can become torture. The use of teargas is very, very like torture, and can be fatal. War itself is without a doubt in the world a form of cultural torture.

The logic that would make waterboarding, as practiced by the Bush administration, torture is simple mob mentality. We say it is so, therefore it is so. Apply ANY reasonable comparitive logic to the facts of waterboarding and the facts of any of thousands of military or law enforcement procedures and it will be obvious that the force civilized peoples use to keep the world from becoming an abyss of barbarism and brutality can also be classed as torture.

Don’t let people’s management of terminologies and cultural imperitives blind you to the rationale of the reasonable use of force to provide a secure, functional, civilization.

If the extremely tightly constrained use of waterboarding we are discussing here is torture all uses of force by civilized peoples fall into question.

Then, our society is a suicide pact.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 30, 2009 10:40 AM
Comment #281139


Some folks, though, look at any failure and see a new power that might be necessary to fight it.
There is no need for new powers. We needed only powers that had existed for as long as there had been intelligence services (prior to Gorelick’s “wall of separation”)- that is, that an agency with a piece of interesting information be able to pick up a phone and call another agency to see if a person of interest has been of interest to them as well.

Inexplicably, apallingly, and, for tens and even hundreds of thousands of people, fatally our government was prevented from doing that common-sense sort of investigation. We are only having this debate at all because people so stupid as to devise such “walls” were once in power.

And now they are in power again.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 30, 2009 10:48 AM
Comment #281140


I am very envious of your brother, twice over. I got 9 inch penis. What either one of those things have to do with the fact that president used his office to

1. Assure the bases for a mistrial by releasing evidence to the general public before the trial is concluded there for denying defendants right to an “impartial jury”
2. Release classified data, in an absence of a crime committed, as an attempt at character assassination of a political opponent.

Maybe your brother can clue you in on a sixth amendment to the US Constitution which guarantees a defendant of the right to an “impartial jury”. To that extent lawyers are allowed to determine, through a processes called peremptory challenge and change of venue, if any potential jurors have unfavorable bias without a good explanation and move trial to a different location to ensure a fair trial. The request for change of venue often happens in high profile cases where a community where the crime is committed has vested emotional interest. By releasing this kind of evidence in the national media, the president discriminated against supposed defendant’s constitutional rights of impartial jury granted by the 6th amendment and protected by 14th amendment due process clause.

But for you that doesn’t matter because your brother has 2 law degrees. Your logic is impeccable!!! I have been ENCHANTED!!! ; )

Posted by: Crusader at April 30, 2009 10:49 AM
Comment #281144


“Don’t let people’s management of terminologies and cultural imperitives blind you to the rationale of the reasonable use of force to provide a secure, functional, civilization.”

Most of society isn’t forced by whatever to follow the laws we use to separate us from them.
We follow these laws because, in a civilized society it is the right thing to do.
I am not forced not to take another human’s life, for no reason, by law, I know it’s wrong, therefore I don’t do it, and I wouldn’t do it even if it wasn’t wrong. Make no mistake, I would defend myself, if I truly had to, but I still believe that taking life is wrong.

It may have been said before on this thread, but we prosecuted Japanese officers after WW2 for water-boarding prisoners.

Why is it OK now?


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 30, 2009 11:09 AM
Comment #281147


Most of society isn’t forced by whatever to follow the laws we use to separate us from them.
We follow these laws because, in a civilized society it is the right thing to do.
That is irrelevant to this discussion. We are not talking about the use of force on civilized people. We are talking about that use of force that keeps the barbaric from entering the society.

Propane only burns at the boundary with an oxidizer, so the vast majority of a cloud of propane, even if released from a tank into the atmosphere would be perfectly peaceful- until a conflagration at the boundaries had reached into the cloud and obliterated it. The tank, a use of “force” allows the safe and peaceful propane to stay separated from the air that would make a hazard of it. We reserve our uses of force for the boundaries that keep us safe to be peaceful and civilized.

The Obama administration is happy to keep the appearances of a tank, let the air and propane mix, and say there is no reason to expect a spark.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 30, 2009 12:06 PM
Comment #281148


Though I do not condone torture, your logic is deprived of sound reasoning. Here is why.

We prosecuted Japanese because they were part of Geneva treaty of 1929 and agreed to those terms. Accordingly, in order to qualify as a POW, you must be a member of the organized army or militia, answer to a chain of command, wear a distinctive insignia or uniform, bare arms openly and and conduct operations with an adherence to the laws of war. Al Quida members don’t comply with any of those articles. So Geneva Convention is not part of this equation.

If you look at the court’s reasoning in allowing some of them habeas corpus is the fact that they committed the crimes against US citizens on the US soil hence they are to be prosecuted according to the US laws. The thing with the water boarded people, is that they are not part of this decision because they conspired not on the US soil and hence the crime was not committed in the US and US laws do not apply. They are outside of any laws other than the country they conspired to commit the crime. That is why ACLU lawyers don’t have a case for these 3. The same goes for enemy combatants. Those guys can be considered as POWs because they answered to Taliban which was de-facto government in Afghanistan and was responsible for their actions, they displayed arms openly and conducted operations with the adherence to the laws of war. These detainees were not tortured, were given all the accommodations and they couldn’t be court marshaled because they didn’t commit any crimes. See, president isn’t stupid. He knows that he can’t charge anyone of them with anything because those 3 are completely outside of Geneva convention and international treaties, and they didn’t commit crimes on the US soil hence are outside of the US court’s jurisdiction. They are screwed, so to speak. Even Muhammad Atta would have more rights than those 3 have because he committed crime in the US.

Morally, I am with you. We do not torture, but there is a difference between the law and morality. IMHO, no law was broken. The memos were released to embarrass President Bush’s Administration. That is why AG will not be able to charge anyone with crimes because there is no grounds for it. That is the reason why Pelosi wants “truth commission” instead of independent council. Sometimes, you must look beyond rhetoric and see the reasons behind it. Some of the Republican talking heads will try to spin this to show the weakness of President Obama on national security, the Democrats will spin it to marginalize Republicans but the truth is, it’s much ado about nothing.

What has this frenzy yielded the country? Nothing! Congress passed the McCain bill to outlaw torture period. End of story. That law can’t be retroactive. Our moral outrage is just that outrage with no consequences other than distracting us from more pressing matters such as budget and all the other crazy programs President Obama has proposed. I understand why did our guys do what they did. I can’t fault them for it. They did their duty and got things done. Was it wrong, probably but not as a matter of law but as a matter of moral, but I can’t be the judge of that because I probably would have done the same thing.

Posted by: Crusader at April 30, 2009 12:11 PM
Comment #281149

Lee Jamison-
The unity of spacetime, and the equivalence of accelerations are not free-floating rhetorical constructions, but proven theoretical constructs whose validity depends not on logic alone, but on a tested, verified mapping of that logic onto observations and experimental outcomes.

Political argumentation, with it’s tendency to spin off into the na-na land of solipsism and sophistry, often hugely bugs me. As a consequence, I much prefer to argue by mapping my argument out according to workable, provable premises. In that fashion, I do my part to put the brakes on arguments, both for and against the end to which I argue, which are lacking in that critical correspondence to reality.

There is no such critical correspondence to reality in the argument that has Waterboarding not be torture. There’s not even a decent logical path here. There’s mostly just a clumping together of naked emotional appeals.

Part of what should clue a rational person into the weakness of the pro-waterboarding argument, assigned from reams of historical information that establish it as a method of torture, is the self contradictory nature of the argument.

Implicitly, it goes a little like this: These terrorists are tough nuts to crack, and won’t talk without this tough kind of coercion. The folks who favor this brag about how quickly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed broke under such treatment. Yet they minimize it as not being torture, a walk in the park, just a little rough treatment to jog the person’s memory.

We’re on the horns of a dilemma the moment we accept their argument. Either these terrorists aren’t so tough, which means that even the strawman version of standard interrogation methods might work on them, or the terrorists are tough, and the treatment is so rough that it can overcome their strong will by its imposition of pain and suffering.

This ambiguity tells you all you need to know about the double-dealing of right-wing rhetoric on this matter. When justifying this as legal, moderate methodology, the Republicans call these methods of coercion by pain and suffering by interrogators by all kinds of euphemistic names, and downplay, even ridicule suggestions that real pain and suffering are caused. Terrorists are wimps!

When justifying the extremity of methods like Waterboarding, and other practices that go beyond our acceptable practices, the Republicans and Right Wingers resort to reminding us of how much effort it takes to break these folks, and ridicule other methods as being walks in the park by comparison.

Convenient. When torture needs to be argued as a moderate approach, it’s portrayed as a slap to the wrist, an added little extra that hardly does anything to the prisoner in any real terms. When it’s argued as a necessary extremity, Then we’re reminded about just how richly they deserve it, and how much we need to beat the crap out of these kinds of people to get the results that the ongoing terrorist threat demands.

Similarly, we are reminded by you that because we’re such reasonable, civilized people, we have license to engage in barbaric behavior in our own defense. So, we can be barbarians when it suits our purposes, right, but we’re still civilized?

What keeps us from that dark side which civilization supposedly shields us from are the behaviors we abstain from, not merely from moral reasons, but because, practically speaking, they are disruptive to the rule of law necessary to keep government under control, and the people in touch with reality.

What makes the use of force rational, and reasonable? Is it the intricate, self-contradictory webs of rhetoric that seem to proliferate at the drop of a hat nowadays, or is it the results and consequences of actions undertaken?

Our society has advance in its understanding and wisdom. Some who worship and idolize the paradigms of past thought apparently think that without brutality, one cannot get information out of resistant suspects. Modern, non-torturous interrogation has proven that theory wrong; objectively, torture is less reliable than that form of interrogation.

Yet still, we see people, who having seen hundreds of Hollywood movies with cops and soldiers threatening and torturing suspects, brutalizing those who richly deserve it in the screenwriter’s view (who can know ahead of time that the interrogation will be productive, owing to the fact that he or she will author the outcome), think that torture is an effective shortcut, instead of just a short-cut period.

Yes, you could probably, sometimes, get good information. There’s no law of nature that says that torture, properly done, is utterly ineffective at providing meaningful, true intelligence. It’s just much, much lousier at it, much less reliable, than other methods, which don’t carry it’s moral stain.

And reliability is no luxury, even in times of great need. Let me put it this way: if you had to drive your wife or your sister to the hospital to give birth, would you take a speedy car that you know breaks down on a regular basis, or would you use the regular vehicle you can be absolutely certain won’t have you delivering that child on the side of the highway in your backseat? Speed might be desireable, but the speed only does you good when that vehicle works. When it doesn’t, you’ve only gotten nowhere fast.

And in the end, getting nowhere fast while have you getting anywhere more slowly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 30, 2009 12:12 PM
Comment #281150


The President had the option available to him of treating those captured as POWs, or as enemy combatants. Likewise we have chosen to “disappear” some of those captured to parts unknown.


“If you look at the court’s reasoning in allowing some of them habeas corpus is the fact that they committed the crimes against US citizens on the US soil hence they are to be prosecuted according to the US laws.”

Noriega committed no crime on American soil. Why then was he prosecuted, and imprisoned here?


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 30, 2009 12:20 PM
Comment #281152

Well. That was more information than I needed.

You don’t have a fact, merely an opinion you believe strongly in. Understanding that distinction is critical to arguing your case before somebody who WILL make that distinction.

You still haven’t demonstrated that any prosecutions will take place yet, or that the material in question is damningly specific to anybody currently or potentially chargeable with a crime. The authors of the memoes have already seen their reputations legitimately defamed on account of their publically known support for Bush’s torture policy.

Fair trials do no require absolute secrecy about the matters at hand; we do not dismiss jurors for merely knowing about something. The operative question the defense lawyers would have, and have the opportunity to exercise in voir dire, would be whether or not the jurors in question would be willing to keep an open mind on the subject.

The defendants in these cases would have the opportunity to kick off the jury a number of people they deemed incapable of such open-mindedness, among those who had not already been kicked off for other reasons, based on the questionaires.

There are ways to ensure a fair trial in the midst of a media-rich environment. It is not necessary, in most other cases, for information to be kept so absolutely out of the media.

But of course, that’s if you take it from a frame of reference that emphasizes legal necessity. While a fair trial can move forward in a media rich environment, the Republican cannot hope to convince most people that their practices are not torture when they see it for themselves.

The US is signatory to an anti-torture treaty, and has legislated laws in support of that treaty that apply to torture that takes place even beyond our borders. I don’t think operating outside the country is a defense; An American can be charged with espionage even if none of their actions took place here.

Oh, by the way: McCain’s anti-torture law was the subject of an infamous signing statement by George W. Bush which effectively said that Bush did not have to abide by its strictures, owing to the fact that he was commander in chief.

The real problem here is that the Right seems more intent on finding justifications for what it wants to do anyway, rather than looking to establish the boundaries it cannot cross. The Rule of law requires that people begin from the assumption that the law isn’t merely there to satisfy their personal ends.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 30, 2009 12:40 PM
Comment #281153

A loophole? “” This first treaty is officially titled The Treaty Concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operation of the Panama Canal and is commonly known as the Neutrality Treaty. Under this treaty, the U.S. retained the permanent right to defend the canal from any threat that might interfere with its continued neutral service to ships of all nations.”“”

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 30, 2009 12:46 PM
Comment #281154


That is a good question. The simple answer is “because we could”. I don’t think that is one of the best cases of American justice. I am not familiar with the details, but there are 3 factors to consider in determining the US jurisdiction in General Noriega case:

1. He was a paid informant of the CIA that establishes a legitimate interest of the state
2. He helped narco-traffic into the US. If he used any of the US provided resources for this purpose, that establishes legitimate interest of the state.
3. Money laundering. If this was done through the companies which he owned in the US, that puts him directly under the US jurisdiction and extradition can be requested based on that.

I think a better example would be to compare the prosecution of the captured Somali pirate. I think, the US will have a hard time making the case since he was captured in the Somali territorial waters and it could be argued that it was an illegal arrest. But I am not a lawyer yet so I couldn’t give you a good answer on that question.

Posted by: Crusader at April 30, 2009 12:55 PM
Comment #281155

””“He that lieth down with Dogs, shall rise up with Fleas.”“”” Benjamin Franklin .

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 30, 2009 1:03 PM
Comment #281156


Your brother is probably familiar with the following:

Model Rules of the Professional Conduct, Advocate 3.2 Special responsibility of the Prosecutor:

(f) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

President Obama is a lawyer, I suspect a member of the American Bar Association. He should follow these rules. If there is a possibility, and directing AG to look into the matter means there is a suspicion of foul play, means that till AG lets him know that there is no grounds for prosecution he shouldn’t release the possible evidence to the public.


If there was no crime committed, releasing this memes (no longer an evidence) is a populist move by at using the Office of the President of the United states to settle some political score with Bush Administration in which case it belittles the Presidency and him personally. That’s all.

The country as a whole didn’t benefit from it. The Presidency itself didn’t benefit from it. And justice didn’t benefit from it. It was typical political character assassination which is pretty far from the “Change we can believe in”. There is nothing special about this President. He is just another political prostitute who reads teleprompter very eloquently.

Posted by: Crusader at April 30, 2009 1:39 PM
Comment #281157


“Model Rules of the Professional Conduct, Advocate 3.2 Special responsibility of the Prosecutor”

it’s 3.8 not 3.2

And here is 3.6

(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may state:

(1) the claim, offense or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(2) information contained in a public record;

(3) that an investigation of a matter is in progress;

(4) the scheduling or result of any step in litigation;

(5) a request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto;

(6) a warning of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when there is reason to believe that there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest; and

(7) in a criminal case, in addition to subparagraphs (1) through (6):

(i) the identity, residence, occupation and family status of the accused;

(ii) if the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person;

(iii) the fact, time and place of arrest; and

(iv) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.

(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer’s client. A statement made pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to such information as is necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.

(d) No lawyer associated in a firm or government agency with a lawyer subject to paragraph (a) shall make a statement prohibited by paragraph (a).

Posted by: Crusader at April 30, 2009 1:48 PM
Comment #281159


“The simple answer is “because we could”.”

Frankly I think this is the worst possible answer.
Bullies do things simply because they can.

Perhaps there are some in this country that are not bothered by the possibility that the world might have this perception of America….

But it bothers the hell out of me.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 30, 2009 3:20 PM
Comment #281160


I am with you. I brought up an example of our invasion of Serbia, which incidentally liberals didn’t view as a problem because “Serbs deserved it”. I am deeply troubled by that answer.

You are right, “because we can” is not a right answer. I was surprised that some of the morally outraged crowd actually attempted to defend us killing 500 Innocent civilians because Europeans didn’t want to or couldn’t do the dirty job themselves.

That is why I think this business of “Change we can believe in” is bunch of B.S. along with the “moral outrage”. Our Health secretary is not morally outraged by taking money from a baby-killer (convicted late term abortion doctor) yet water boarding gets Democrat “panties in the bunch”.

I am Enchanted by their logic.

Posted by: Crusader at April 30, 2009 3:46 PM
Comment #281164

First and foremost, unless you apply a broadly erroneous definition of prosecutor, Obama is not a prosecutor.

But if he were?
He has already stated that he’s not going to go after the people who did the actual work on the terrorism suspects. He even went so far as to say the same for the architects of the program, but his AG advised him to withdraw that statement, as this was not his determination to make.

So who could claim, on that basis, that he was intent on prejudicing their trials? In fact, a good Defense Lawyer might cite the President’s statements! (probably one of a number of reasons AG Holder told the president to pull back his statements of blanket amnesty)

The Obama Administration also submitted that the information in question was already public record for the most part, probably through books, available memorandum, news reports, etc. 3.6 b(2) tells us Obama could, if we were considering him a Prosecutor, speak of such information.

Lastly, whose trial? That of a vague future defendant? If we’re talking about one of the torturers, I’m not sure any identifiable information has been released. A prosecutor can talk in public about the anonymous activities of a criminal organization without having to daintily tip-toe around the nature of the activities in question. And if he happens to mention some mob bosses in the process?

Well, there’s a real question of whether you could materially prejudice a jury about the reputation of somebody who is already known, via public record, to have engaged in questionable behavior. Nobody blamed prosecutors for alleging John Gotti or Al Capone was a brutal mobster. The Bush Administration officials involved in this have already been exposed in the public eye as having justified maltreatment of prisoners and detainees, and torture of those under interrogation. Many of these people, in fact, exposed themselves as supporters of this. I mean, how could you prejudice the jury against Dick Cheney on the question of Torture by relating the kinds of things he really did? He already proudly admits what he’s done!

Your argument is specious. How can it be otherwise, when it assigns the President the obligation of duties he does not have, to avoid prejudicing trials that have not occurred yet and may never occur, for folks the President has already taken pains in the public eye to advocate against the prosecution of, folks that either are safely anonymous, or already enjoying the bitter fruits of their actions in their loss of reputations?

Moreover, how can it be character assassination, when it’s true? This is not the Republicans making claims that the Wilsons outed themselves. This is not Some folks trying to claim that accident victim Graeme Frosts family was living high on the hog when they weren’t.

This is the release of documentary evidence as to the consequences of the Bush Administration’s policies. If we should hold off on such releases, just to avoid the appearance of political revenge, this country will be denied a great deal of the truth it needs to be told, just to defend the reputations of those whose own actions, laid out in objective detail, it would justly blackened.

This is something like the claim of “tortious interference” that Brown and Williamson used to try and can the Jeffrey Wigand interview that eventually blew the cigarette issue wide open: it only gets worse the more truth gets told.

But it would not be a bad thing to have the behavior we’re supposed to excuse presented to us without illusions as to what was done in our name.

As for the Serbs? I’ve got two words for you: ethnic cleansing. What’s so damn troubling about confronting that? Not because we can, but because we should. You talk about killing 500 innocent civilians, but neglect how many innocent civilians died in those wars at Serbian hands, in Serbia’s bombardment of Sarajevo as well.

You can be enchanted by our logic, but you sure as hell don’t enchant me with yours. Your facts are full of holes, your arguments stretch definitions past the breaking point for the sake of rhetorical effect, and your logic depends on circumstances and rules mish-mash and mismatched beyond their appropriate context.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 30, 2009 4:22 PM
Comment #281167


You fail at reading comprehension again. I will highlight important parts for you next time to make it easy for you.

Let’s start from the begging:

1. 3.8 is relevant, because it states that AG, should have advised other officials, including the President, not to divulge information that is not a public record. Released memo’s had to be declassified beforehand, so they were not “public record”. AG failed to give the president proper advice.
2. 3.6 is relevant because it states that “a lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter. ” One thing is to call John Gotti murderer of John Doe (which I believe can be classified as a slander unless you can prove it) a whole another thing is to release “evidence” and accuse a government official of actions which are against the law. What would happen to a prosecutor who called John Gotti a murder of John Doe, released evidence of him ordering and justifying the murder but didn’t file charges? Ask your brother, he will tell you that DA would be up to his/her ears in poop.

Let’s look at the fact that before the release of these memos, water boarding was a hearsay and beyond some radical liberal groups didn’t concern the general public (whether it should have is besides the point). If the thirst for information is so important for President Obama, he should have released memos concerning the information gathered from these interrogations as well so the public would have a full picture and could make their own conclusions. Instead, the results were left out and some even implied that nothing useful was gathered from it. Your argument doesn’t hold water and I am sure your brother can tell you that as well. The reason why he released them was to taint the only positive the Bush Administration left with which is the national security, as well as to change the topic of the conversation from the tea parties to the torture. You bought it, I didn’t no big deal.

As far as my argument being specious, I think rule 3.6 shows that as a lawyer who participated in the process he is bound by that rule. Please do read before making such fallacious arguments.

Consequences of Bush Administration’s policies would be better describe if ALL memos were released, not selective few. As long we are trying to be hones and objective, let’s stay honest and objective by releasing the results of those actions as well.

There are many things that stink in regards to the way we treated the crisis in Balkans. We invaded illegally, used NATO against it’s founding principles, killed civilians, occupied part of the country and created a whole new country out of the thin air. Sudan has done exactly the same thing yet we didn’t resort to bombing the crap out of them and breaking a chunk off and declaring it an independent nation. As I said before, justice can’t be selective. When it becomes selective it is no longer justice.

Stephen, I maybe a lot’s of things, but at least I am not justifying killing of 500 innocent civilians based on criminal actions. You call war in Iraq, which had more substantiated UN mandate and invasion of Serbia, criminal, yet invasion of Serbia which had NO UN MANDATE AND HENCE VIOLATED NATO TREATY is justified. That is the pinnacle of partisanship and double standards.

Posted by: Crusader at April 30, 2009 6:07 PM
Comment #281168

“The thing with the water boarded people, …….they conspired not on the US soil and hence the crime was not committed in the US and US laws do not apply.”

Baloney! Of course US laws apply. If you obtain jurisdiction over the alleged terrorist, you can certainly prosecute them in US courts under US laws for conspiring to kill US citizens regardless of where the acts occured. A captured or extradited alleged terrorist is not immune from prosecution simply because he conspired in some foreign country.

Posted by: Rich at April 30, 2009 6:49 PM
Comment #281169

Let’s keep it CIVIL people! The Message, Not The Messenger.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 30, 2009 9:44 PM
Comment #281178

I’ve outlasted five years worth of people who took personal potshots at me. Don’t make the mistake of following their example.

You can throw all the French Taunting at me about my reading comprehension, but if you don’t make a good argument, nothing compels me to agree with you.

Obama is not a prosecutor, or a lawyer working on the case. To simply be a lawyer in the same government. You have to participate in the investigation or litigation. I strongly doubt that Obama is doing either in the sense meant by this code of conduct.

Obama’s a President who happens to be Lawyer, not a figure whose status as a lawyer is central to the nature of his job (like the AG), nor central to what he’s been consulted or otherwise engaged to do. According to your logic, President Bush, not a Lawyer, could release this information, while Obama could not. Stop and contemplate for a moment, how ridiculous that assertion is.

Being a lawyer in a government that has prosecutors, doesn’t make you one. Otherwise, we would have the logical contradiction of all public defenders being considered prosecutors. They work for the government, the same government that employs the Prosecutors.

You’ve taken these rules beyond their narrowly applicable context.

But even if this tenuous link had credibility, you’d still face the problem that a grand jury hasn’t even handed down an indictment yet. How can you judge what disclosure is prejudicial to a case that is only a hypothetical at this point?

Should we just withhold all information about possible wrongdoing, eliminate all transparency out of the fear that we might prejudice some future case? There’s no prosecution going on.

But also, if we’re talking about prejudicing the potential jury pool, Obama’s made statements that indicate distinterest in their prosecution, even blanket amnesty for those who worked in good faith under the letter of the law. He’s not exactly leading a witchhunt here.

What he is doing is releasing public record information, information that I note as being among the exceptions for what Prosecutors can talk about.

The reputations of the people who are identifiable, that is the authors of the memos, were already in the dumpster, so there’s a real question, if Obama was truly trying to prejudice people, what good it would do him if he merely confirmed what was already publically known about these people. You can’t prejudice people by confirming the truth. Truth is a defense against libel, and well-known truth is an impregnable fortress.

Essentially, you are arguing that a figure whose job is not prosecution should be treated as prosecutor because he works in the same government.

Essentially, you are arguing that we should avoid prejudicing juries that for cases that don’t even exist yet.

Essentially, you are arguing that President Obama is trying to prejudice people against the folks who have not been prosecuted yet by… taking their side, or remaining markedly neutral.

Essentially, you are arguing that the exception for prosecutors to discuss information already in the public sphere does not apply to Obama.

Essentially, you are arguing that Obama could, if he wanted to, defame the people involved by relating true information that confirms what people already knew they were doing.

It’s interesting that Republicans are interested in having all memos released, after years of their own selective releases, and claims (sometimes legitimate) of necessary state secrecy.

Still, there are situations where added context only means a fuller picture in which a truth still stands. If you murdered your grandmother and gutted her on your living room floor, the added fact that you treated her nice and took out her garbage in all the rest of your visits delivers fuller context, but not exoneration. Some acts mean what they mean ipso facto.

As for NATO? Man, quit it, while you’re ahead. Republicans have no credibility to attack us on Bosnia and Kosovo. We got results. We got the people themselves to kick out Milosevic. The region is more stable than we left it. And we left it! We’re a residual presence at best now. Yes, civilians were accidentally killed. But the Serbs were deliberately doing the same, and the last people we let continue in their genocidal ambitions posed a much greater threat to us, when everything was said and done.

By comparison? Tell me, tens, even hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. Is that better? A Coalition of the Willing, rather than any recognizable international support like NATO or the UN. Is that better? An ongoing conflict, never ending airstrikes, four thousand American soldiers and more dead. Is that better?

War is hell. You cannot bomb cities and other targets without killing innocent people. But the folks in the Balkans no longer have to worry about being bombed, and their is peace, even if merely tentative. Nothing so good can be said about Iraq.

You can preach about justice, but you and I both know that justice wasn’t the key reason why Serbia had to be stopped. Serbia had to be stopped because Milosevic was an aggressive, genocidal, nationalist, and if we let him get away with what he was doing, some other other country would have felt his breath on the back of their neck.

I mean, Republicans talk about Hitler and Munich, and the dangers of appeasement, and not facing down dangerous leaders, but then they throw this in our face, when we’re dealing with a man who was documented to have slaughtered thousands upon thousands of civilians. And you say 500 civilians killed as collateral casualties of our air campaign (hell, it wasn’t even a real ground invasion) is a terrible atrocity. How many wars that you would support would have better than that? There’s a double standard here, but it’s not mine.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 1, 2009 9:19 AM
Comment #281294

In the public debate about torture a couple of things have come up.
Waterboarding is torture.
If it is so effective, why did they do it 183 times to that guy in one month? — and from what I understand they got NOTHING for it!!
What info they got was for people BELOW the person being tortured, and, as one interrogator put it, normally what you are trying to do is go UP the chain — not downward.

The support tries to show that getting “info” justifies the use of torture, but only by conveniently ignoring that this same info could have, should have and HAS BEEN obtained WITHOUT TORTURE, AND OFTEN MUCH QUICKER WITHOUT TORTURE.
and again, as one PROFESSIONAL interrogator has put it — With torture the suspect may tell you that a bomb will go off, without torture he will tell you where it is and when it is to go off.

and beyond all this “justification” and the “abstract” of whether or not.
I have been to the Medieval museums of Europe, and have be repulsed by the methods used then, and the question of how human beings can treat each other this way —
Just as I do not understand how Al-Quida (whatever) and other radicals can mistreat other humans in the name of “religion” — just because I do not understand how they can do it, and just because I recognize that they DO commit horrendous crimes against humanity — I HAVE NEVER ACCEPTED THAT THIS JUSTIFIES MY COMMITING THESE SAME HORRENDOUS CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AGAINST THEM.


the examples ALWAYS assume the person being tortured is GUILTY — but who decided this??
There are examples where the person freely admitted their guilt and was proud of it — but many of those tortured were SUSPECTS and MANY were shown to be innocent.
When an interrogator uses torture, there is only ONE RIGHT ANSWER, and the pain will continue until it is received — regardless of its validity!!
If I don’t know the who, what when and where because I am innocent — how can I make you believe that I do not know? — By using torture on me you have already demonstrated that you BELIEVE me to BE GUILTY, and in possession of the “knowledge” for which you seek — nothing short of my death will convince you otherwise, and even then it is twisted as a “terrorist strategy”. — it is NO WIN for the person being tortured.
and you dare to claim it is useful and effective!!
HOGWASH — label it for what it is

Posted by: russ at May 4, 2009 12:52 PM
Comment #281295

The refrain — that we are more concerned with the “comfort” of “those terrorists” than….. whatever —
You just don’t get it.
It is not about THEM — it is about ME and MY beliefs.
such as
We are all the same — anything I do to you, I am actually doing to myself, there is no difference.
The teachings behind many religions are based on this, and yet
When the organization called “religion” gets going, they pit one against the other — as if there is a difference — they have not even learned their own teachings!

It is not about the other person, I cannot control the decisions they make, nor what they choose to do or live with — I can only answer for MY actions
Torture and the mistreatment of other humans is wrong.

And while I believe in self-defense — I do not believe in something that could only remotely be described as a pre-self defense.(at best)

There is NO justification for TORTURE NONE, ZIP ZILCH, nor is there ANY justification for other mistreatments that are viewed as being “discomfort”
We are human beings — all of us, we are the same, we are connected, and yet — the things we do to ourselves — and then try to justify it? How can you compound such horror by trying to justify it?

Posted by: Russ at May 4, 2009 1:01 PM
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