Thursday, November 10, 2005

Open Post

This is an open post on the McCain Amendment, specifying "Uniform standards for the interrogation of persons under the detention of the Department of Defense". It reads:


(a) IN GENERAL.--No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.

(b) APPLICABILITY.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to with respect to any person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense pursuant to a criminal law or immigration law of the United States.

(c) CONSTRUCTION.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the rights under the United States Constitution of any person in the custody or under the physical jurisdiction of the United States.


(a) In General.--No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

(b) Construction.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose any geographical limitation on the applicability of the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under this section.

(c) Limitation on Supersedure.--The provisions of this section shall not be superseded, except by a provision of law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act which specifically repeals, modifies, or supersedes the provisions of this section.

(d) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined.--In this section, the term ``cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.

Those United States Reservations are found  here.


Here are some ideas which I think may be related to the subject.

  1. What is the cost of legitimizing torture? Can it be bounded?
  2. What is the cost of not using duress when it would yield an operational advantage?
  3. Does the appropriate level of duress vary with respect to the information sought? Should duress be "capped", so that it may not exceed a maximum no matter how urgent the information requirement is?
  4. Are exceptions or loopholes like rendition attempts to evade caps?
  5. If it is policy never to engage in torture why should any exceptions or loopholes be considered?
  6.  Does battlefield dominance make it possible to be more observant of humanitarian protections?

Reader comments are invited.


Blogger PD Quig said...

The only thought I can summon after the past weeks of CIA leaks aimed at undermining President Bush is, "God help us." Maybe all future wars must be fought and won before the reflexive antiwar forces can react. Which means that the generational struggle we face now may be our last.

11/10/2005 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger jocko said...

IMO McCain's language has some problems.

First, the legislation itself should distinguish between the treatment of 1. enemy soldiers and 2. persons engaged in combat without uniforms or otherwise unlawful and 3. persons engaged in combat using human shields, planted explosives on their person or other egregiously inhumane acts, etc. and 4. persons engaged in unlawful combat who a military panel has good reason to suspect holds actional intelligence that could potentially save the lives of civilians

Second, "degradation" shouldn't be excluded because a terrorist may claim virtually any unpleasant condition as degrading.

11/10/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I'll give an analogy-- there's assisted suicide in the United States, but because it's illegal in almost every State, it's secret, limited, and reserved mostly for the most extreme cases where the doctor has to weigh many factors including that of losing his license and perhaps going to jail.

On the other hand, you have the Netherlands, where assisted suicide is completely legal, it has moved on to euthanasia, and the numbers keep going up and you have a coarsening of spirit where economic reasons are motivating suggestions that patients take the easy way out -- easy for their families and for the health-care system.

I see torture in a similar context. If it's legal, it will get used more and more, but just because it's illegal doesn't mean that it should go away. Sometimes laws shouldn't reach certain places and hypocrisy is the best of bad choices. The 'Rule of Reason,' which cops use to not ticket speeders who are going 56 mph in a 55 mph zone, should work with torture laws as well.

11/10/2005 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Hmm... I'm not sure how to say this, but what I would regard as the most salient point about this entire debate (within US politics in particular and not necessarily here at Belmont) is that it would seem to indicate that plenty of people no longer really consider Al Qaida to be much of a threat and that they can go back to their domestic political warfare. Much like rival gangs who are more interested in dishing out violence to each other than they are afraid of the police.

Debates about table manners don't occur between those who are concerned about their survival.

11/10/2005 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger Viper said...

I agree with jocko. Perhaps we need certain levels of how far we will go. For instance, proper enemy soldiers wearing uniforms and obeying the Geneva convention and other rules of warfare, we will not torture or use stress techniques or humiliation. None state combatants who attack military targets we will use stress techniques and humiliation. If the none state combatant start attacking civilians, using them for cover, and chop off heads of innoncents and captives, then we go even further in our techniques. I think a plan like this offers incentive to respect the rules of war.

11/10/2005 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

I suppose a problem with giving special rights to "official" state-based combatants is the fact that we are entering a period of warfare in which Clausewitz is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It appears as if warfare is increasingly about non-state actors and that this trend will only continue. To say that we won't torture in war if the opponents are a part of a legitimate nation state is really to make a very flimsy promise. It's like saying we won't torture the subjects of kings. The kingdom/monarchy is *essentially* obsolete as a form of government. The state is becoming increasingly less relevant, as well.

11/10/2005 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...

This law is a trade-off. We give up some operational advantages b/c the enemy knows exactly what we will and won't do. In return our military should have a much clearer set of rules to follow.

But this law like so many is still way too vague. It should list some sample activiteis that are permitted and are not. Is sleep deprivation torture? I read this law and I am not sure. Is repeated playing of the latest winner of the Eurovision song contest torture? It should be considered torture but under this law you can't tell.

11/10/2005 07:35:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Very good post. I think that you have to take it on a case-by-case basis, weighing the potential gain versus the loss (i.e. public relations, future treatment of U.S. military taken prisoner).

And Happy 230th Birthday to the USMC!!

11/10/2005 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Adam Sullivan said...

It is short term gain vs. long term cost.

While one can (and should) reject the idea that the Geneva Conventions apply (exactly when did AQ sign up to them?), use of torture won't help us win a longer term war.

The French used torture liberally in Algeria, got plenty of intel but lost all international support for its cause while giving their antagonists little to lose by 1) attacking civilians, and 2) employing suicide tactics.

Further, the west has to have the initiative in this war to win it. The aggressive posture that requires won't have much public support if it means throwing values we have long held under the bus for the sake of expediency.

BTW - Jordan is known to torture. Didn't help them much yesterday.

11/10/2005 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

Andrew: I was going to say something similar to what you just said, but you have already said it better than I could

Sometimes the preservation of hypocracy is the best course. If it stays illegal, and thus is hazardous to the careers of those engaging in it, then officers will only use it in extreme circumstances.

Making it legal will open a doorway that may lead to a place we really don't want to go to.

11/10/2005 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Sounds like a great amendment...except for the 'degrading' and the inclusion of bloody-handed murderers under it's statutes.

This is a terrible amendment. It does nothing to clear up treatment BUT it does set up extensive grounds to prosecute our interrogaters. Is loud music inhumane? Not being fed 3 square a day, is that cruel? What about temperature, is 60 degrees too cold? The blankets too threadbare? Having women guards, are they degrading?

If they set proper positive recommendations: must be fed 2000 calories a day, 8 hours of sleep, 65-95 degree temperatures and on. They must be kept hygienic (no fece pyriamids, in other words), no pictures in compromising positions.

Those are recordable, documentable criteria. Feewings are NOT good critieria. He means well, but has terrible judgement: this amendment does the exact opposite of what it was intended, to define treatment.

11/10/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger The Crusader said...

Abolish the CIA, we couldn't possibly be worse off than we already are. The incompetence and laziness of the CIA are legendary in international circles. The only thing they have done competently in years is to conduct operations against the President. Destroy the snake pit and start over again from scratch.

11/10/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/10/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Forgive my ignorance regarding its effectiveness, but what is wrong with using truth serum in certain cases? If it works, it seems like a pretty humane answer to the larger question.

11/10/2005 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger jcross1kirk said...

This whole display by the senators is harmful to our operations against the terrorists. Since we know they have been trained on how to resist our 'legal' interrogation measures, and are also instructed on how and what to say happened to them in prison in order to engender public outcry against detention, this attempt to publically hamstring the government in a time of war is a negative.

It takes away any fear of imprisonment and/or interrogation from the terrorists. It removes any deterrent that they might consider. With legislation like this, intelligence gathering is hurt two ways...first, because we can't get information because of the terrorist's own training, and second, because it would be better just to kill the terrorists instead of taking them into custody.

11/10/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Arabie said...

The first section, which I read as applying only to those in the custody of the Department of Defense, simply adopts the Army Field Manuel as the law. I don't know who promulgates the Army Field Manuel, but I suppose it is those in the Department of Defense, and certainly not Congress. Therefore, with regard to those who work for the Department of Defense, it appears that this law gives them the power to decide what is, or is not, legal. While the law is promoted as a bulwark against "torture" (whatever that is) it appears that this law may actually serve as a bulwark to prosecution of Department of Defense Employees who may employ unpleasant interrogation techniques, provided those techniques appear in the Army Field Manuel, or more likely, are added to the Army Field Manuel.

11/10/2005 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

At some point the question becomes: If capturing unlawful combatants becomes more problematical than killing them outright, then what purpose is served by taking them prisoner?

Currently there seems to be little incentive for unlawful combatants to change their ways; quite the contrary, the incentive seems increasingly for us to change ours.

It may be right and ethical and civil to grant ever greater protections to all prisoners; as a civil society we may have no other choice. But I'm not entirely convinced doing so leads us inexorably towards humanitarian progress. Any endeavor still is, after all, subject to the law of unintended consequences.

(Corrected from an earlier, deleted, posting.)

11/10/2005 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Daniel in Brookline said...

Excellent analogy, Andrew. I had some things to say about this a while back, but I didn't say it quite as neatly as you have.

In re McCain: he seems to have forgotten that some problems can't be solved by legislation. The law is a tool; as such, it should not be applied to all cases and all situations. (Or would you really want a society in which everything not compulsory is forbidden? I would not.)

On a different level, we need to be extremely careful about hamstringing our troops. In the final analysis, what we want -- and need -- are soldiers who will fight. We don't want them second-guessing themselves at every turn, concerned that they'll be court-martialed for doing their jobs. And I would expect McCain, of all people, to understand that.

Daniel in Brookline

11/10/2005 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Westhawk said...

We still have a lot of unanswered questions about Mr. McCain's proposal:

1) What is "cruel, inhuman, degrading"? Who decides? The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals? Is a hotel with room service the standard? Basic military training in the USMC certainly would be prohibited; verbal stress, sleep deprivation, cold & heat, food deprivation, etc. are all involved. Boot camp is not injurious or life-threatening, just stressful. Why can't this be the line for interrogations?

2) We don't know how important interrogations are to the war effort. Helpful or vital? Is the "bad cop" vital to make the "good cop" work? Can someone give some empirical data on this to the Senators?

3) What will be lost if we write off prisoners as a source of intel? If the McCain proposal is strictly applied, that is where the U.S. will end up, at least against a trained and determined enemy.

4) Sirius_sir is right; if prisoners turn out to be just a logistical burden with no utility to the U.S., troops in contact with the enemy will not have an incentive to bother with them. And once the enemy figures this out, will they have an incentive to surrender, or fight to the death instead, thus forcing up U.S. casualties? There seem to be several ways that the McCain proposal might mean more dead Americans.

On the subject of the CIA, in our post

The CIA is dead. Long live the DNI.

we suggest that the Intelligence Reform Act will be used to gradually close up the CIA, which has no constituency remaining, except for WaPo reporters.


11/10/2005 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger nuggs said...

The United States is currently engaged in a battle with brutal enemies that do not abide by western rules of war. I believe that is in the best interests of our side to research the effectiveness of torture. This research should be conducted by the various agencies already in charge of prisoner interrogation and overseen by independent commission consisting of high ranking military officials, members of the intelligence community, and politicians.

When an interrogator or military intelligence deems a prisoner is withholding critical information a torture file should be opened on the detainee. All methods for extracting information must be non-lethal and recorded with accuracy. All information extracted must be recorded, subsequently investigated, and any outcomes related to the information documented in the torture file.

The commission will review each torture file and at the end of the proscribed research period determine whether accurate information can be obtained from the use of torture. The research will also allow the commission to conclude if each account of torture was justified. Did the information save lives? Did the information thwart an attack? Was a high-ranking enemy leader captured? If the majority of information obtained is useless or not actionable then policy of torture should be abandoned. If the outcomes of the torture are deemed justified by the commission then torture guide lines should be established. Torture should never be used to extract a confession.

Both sides of the torture debate have made claims but unless real research is done in this area, against this enemy, all we will have is claims. We need concrete evidence as to whether torture is an effective means in this war.

11/10/2005 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

I think jocko's final statement in his comment reflects my biggest concern with the language of this item.

What is 'degrading' treatment? Isn't being imprisoned in the first place degrading? It leaves us wide open for an endless array of lawsuits filed by every prisoner held as a suspect in terror related activities. Even a communal shower could be considered degrading if presented by the right lawyer! The language of this thing does nothing to give us a clearer set of rules to go by.

In fact, the reverse is true. The presence of the term 'degrading treatment' is terribly vague, and renders the whole thing a tremendous liability, rather than an asset.

11/10/2005 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

We should rule out no method--none--in advance. Our enemies certainly do not.

And yes there are costs to engaging in torture--the cost of being disapproved of by other "more civilized" nations, for example--but it seems we are bearing that cost already. Cynical grandstanding by politicians on the issue is not going to earn us back that good will that is of doubtful value to begin with.

No pre-set limits.

11/10/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger tefta said...

For many years I've believed that John McCain is the most dangerous man on the face of the earth. He’s already caused quite a bit a trouble with CFR and this torture bill is just another example of something that doesn’t need fixing.

Wretchard’s post and all the excellent comments have laid out the issue of torture brilliantly and these same arguments can be used against legalizing and quantifying abortion, drugs, euthanasia and other of the most unpleasant situations that life tosses at us. They are sometimes necessary, but should always be done as infrequently and discretely as possible.

I read somewhere that's McCain is ill and probably won't be able to throw a monkey wrench into the next presidential election. I hate wishing ill on someone, especially someone who suffered horribly at the hands of the Vietnamese, but if that's what it will take to get him to stop making things worse, so be it.

11/10/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

There is nothing wrong with the state of affairs as they exist today with respect to torture. It is the stated policy of the U.S. that we do not torture. No evidence has been brought forth to suggest we do; at least nothing that I am aware of. Extreme NGO's and senate demagogues have raised questions, but as near as I can tell from available media reports these questions break down upon close scrutiny.

The primary argument that McCain makes is that U.S. personages in the custody of hostile foreign entities may suffer torture unless the U.S. formally and unilaterally bans such activity. Hmmm... Maybe the headchoppers really would behave in a more civilized fashion if only we did.

This McCain Bill is about politics, pure and simple. Politics; however, has no business in this debate. The issues at stake are much larger. The President should have the authority to authorize torture under extreme circumstances. Whether the torture is carried out by DoD, CIA, or some foriegn entity is of little import. During time of war results matter, not political blather.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

11/10/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

Amid all the talk of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of torture, as if that is what the debate ultimately centers on, I'm wondering if the question of whether or not torture is moral, regardless of its independence, has not been lost. If it has been, so too has a whole lot more.

11/10/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

This same debate would rage if a couple of dirty nukes were set off in DC and NYC. The NVA held McCain and the rest of the POWs in utter contempt. Had he any real critical information they would have broken him in about 15 minutes by sticking slivers of bamboo in his testicles and lighting them on fiew. Does this fool really think he was important to the NVA and national security? While the debate rages, they just found the makings for 15 bombs in Austrailia, 3 bombs went off in Jordan and 50+ died in Iraq from another bomb. I say the jihadists hold us and our jursiprudence with even more contempt than the NVA held McCain. Can you blame them? It represents fear, hesitancy and weakness to them and only fuels their hatred.

11/10/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

That should have been "regardless of its effectiveness," not "independence." My apologies.

11/10/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Melissus said...

First question: What is torture?
Then, is torture intrinsically evil? Must torture always be interpreted as putting an evil means toward possibly a good end, and therefore always to be shunned as evil?
McCain's legislation I think is unwise if questions like these are not first addressed in a national discussion. For my part, I find it difficult to preclude absolutely the total illegitimacy of torture. Consider the hypothesis of a Hydrogen bomb set to explode in NYC, and a captured terrorist who know the code to abort the explosion. Would it necessarily be wrong to apply some sort of duress -- of any and all sorts -- to convince him to cooperate? An absolute no may itself be immoral.

11/10/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

The main problem with this law is that it is like giving ethics classes:
If the people it is directed at really need it in order to know how to behave, then the situation is hopeless.
Its ultimate purpose is not truly directive but is "CYA" at the senior levels. It gives them a club with which to beat people attacked by the Left and a shield that says "It wasn't OUR fault."
Finally, in view of the fact that killing someone is not "cruel and unusual punishment" - yet - it will probably result in more prisoners being disposed of with extreme prejudice.

11/10/2005 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Indeed Stuart.

Victory is the aim.

For anyone interested, I attempted to cover "torture" in depth, here:

In my mind, McCain's a political opportunist. He put out a nice vague bill but made no effort to define what it really covers - "degrading" is hardly enough. He knows if it really came down to specific examples and methods, we'd have some difficult decisions to make, so he just takes the publicity and uses political language that is equivalent to proclaiming that "we like fluffy bunnies." His consensus would fall apart if we really got down to the definition, so he doesn't bother, and takes the MSM puff points for standing up the Bush administration and harming our international reputation.

11/10/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Also, Tacitus

11/10/2005 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Senators staff and budgets should be slashed.
CIA eliminated.
Prosecution of the multiple Anti Bush leakers should commence.
The powers of the CIC are being stolen by the Washington Bureaucracy and given to the courts.
The process is being driven by crass political calculation and opportunity, not reason and national interest.

11/10/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Hepzi said...

My question is essentially procedural: Does this amendment transfer jurisdiction from a military tribunal to criminal courts? Perhaps there are some former military or attorneys who can respond.

And if so, wouldnt that be enormously chilling to both the military and the intel community? Plus I would be fearful of trying these cases with the threat of a jury of civilians....

11/10/2005 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

It's a great amendment if we are truly to become a global empire of law and order. In that respect, granting 5th, 8th, and 14th amendment protection to foreign citizens who murder without warning and without the proper apparel is just one step on the path to universalizing the principles of the greatest political document ever created: the Constitution of the United States of America. That is not a bad thing, in principle. If the world is to be governed by consensus, I would rather the consensus be drawn from, and built off of, our founding document.

That said, I do not think that is the reason behind this amendment. The justifications put forth in support of it are substantively shallow and logically weak. For instance, the statement that such restrictions will lead to a greater decency in the enemy's handling of our troops is unfounded and unproven. It is a simple, blind assertion. We have every reason to believe that Abu Ghraib helps in recruitment, but what data do we have that beheadings and other tortures increased in likelihood because of it? None, and that is the problem.

The problem is that a vast segment of our population believes that we can affect the mentality of our enemies by being nicer. Out of this premise comes the belief that, if anybody dislikes us, it is our fault. The final step in this journey of thought is to embrace "being liked" as the sole metric by which to judge our foreign policy.

As I said above, I would not be opposed to this amendment if it were a strident assertion of American principle and an unapologetic statement that our founding document should, and will, govern the world's peoples. But the amendment is not one of confidence and strength. Instead, it was composed, and is being sold, as a necessary salve for a reputational hurt that causes us embarrassment, and weakness. That is unacceptable--and untrue--and therefore I oppose it.

11/10/2005 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

No one has even attempted to answer jrod's post regarding effectiveness of chemical methods for interrogation. I think they were thoroughly discredited as criminal investigation tools but I don't know why. Surely the Israelis or others have the answers to this question. Maybe it just takes to much skill and training to use the stuff, I believe the original was sodium pentothal called "truth serum". It probably only served to obtain whatever answers the interrogator happened to want. If it worked I would want it routinely applied to all prisoners in this conflict prior to their release. I have heard that hundreds of detainees have been released, for all we know including al zarcawi or bin laden. All questions on this subject seem to fall into a well, I have never seen an answer.

11/10/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Roach said...

I don't support a policy of torture, but I don't support the McCain Amendment either. Wars are complicated things in which numerous judgment calls must be made at every level of command. The executive rightfully has a great deal of inherent authority to conduct operations. I do not favor the McCain Amendments for the same reason that I would not favor Congressional legislation mandating that our military uses Napoleonic tactics, conducts an invasion on a particular day, or should conduct torture under judicial oversight (as Alan Dershowitz has argued).

Torture degrades the torturer as well as the victim. It creates a race of monsters living in one's society and tends to erode the esprit de corps of the military in a liberal democracy. The case for torture is most often made in the instance of the "ticking time bomb," the individual who, if tortured, can reveal information that will save millions of lives. But the problem of ticking time bombs is that they do not reveal themselves as such. One never knows if a particular detainee is a ticking time bomb. Torture becomes addictive to an organization that resorts to it on the principle that no stone should be left unturned.

Torture should not be permitted in military manuals or otherwise. It is not permitted today in military intelligence manuals, for instance. There is no lacuna in military or CIA doctrine requiring a complicated torture manual, complete with Alan Dershowitz's seal of approval. But, there should not be a law specifically regulating the military and CIA's interrogation techniques. The McCain Amendment goes beyond torture. It could proscribe and open to judicial review basic psychological pressure techniques that are time tested, cause no permanent harm, and work effectively. Some sleep deprivation, threats, psychological pressure, and techniques of disorientation are appropriate in the war on terror. Not only do they work, but they are more easily controlled and not particularly cruel. I would not want to see judicial or congressional meddling in these areas, and that's what the McCain law would create. Further, it would open up the door to more vexatious interventions by other branches of government in the preeminent executive task, waging war.

But what of torture? Is it never necessary? Perhaps it is, but the law should not say so, as it represents an across-the-board community judgment, that is, a generally applicable rule. Such an awful decision should be made by the military interrogator or operative on the ground, aware of the potential legal consequences, and steeped in the military's traditions of respect for the law of war. That is, as a true last resort. This is why an executive pardon power exists. Certain acts should not be socially condoned and should most often be punished. But under the right circumstances, they can also be forgiven. Far from requiring prior legal approval, such acts can be deemed necessary only when undertaken against the letter of the law. Any other approach would make their use too frequent and too degrading, both to the participants but to the broader society--a society whose moral authority would be undermined by any formal permission for torture. That said, particularly in war time, a broad use of the pardon power prevents the law and its mechanical operation from inflicting too much injustice on those making these touch decisions. At the opposite extreme from a torture code, such prosecutions would undermine respect for the law for the opposite reason, an absence of mercy

11/10/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

The next Bill will say the Military cannot conduct any operations that are not listed in the Field Manual.

You cannot tie peoples' hands.

This Bill will be a whipping stick to play "gotcha" after the fact.

11/10/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Paul said...


Is torture moral? I don't think anyone here, at least in the abstract, would make the argument that it is.

But, let us say I see a man running towards a bus of school children carrying a bomb. Is it moral for me to shoot him dead before he gets there? I think the answer is yes, or at the very least, it's wouldn't be immoral.

So if I can shoot a man to prevent the deaths of innocents, I don't find much problem with some bamboo under the fingernails to prevent similar loss... never mind a pyramid of buttcrack.

As everyone else has mentioned this legislation is way too vague.

Additionally, I would recommend the book "The Interrogaters" by Chris Mackey. Very detailed inside view of the interrogations in Afghanistan.

11/10/2005 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

aristedes says,

...a vast segment of our population believes that we can affect the mentality of our enemies by being nicer.

...Out of this premise comes the belief that, if anybody dislikes us, it is our fault.
The final step in this journey of thought is to embrace "being liked" as the sole metric by which to judge our foreign policy.

...the amendment is not one of confidence and strength. Instead, it was composed, and is being sold, as a necessary salve for a reputational hurt that causes us embarrassment, and weakness. That is unacceptable--and untrue--and therefore I oppose it

Chris Matthews had on an ex CIA Covert Agent who worked on bin Laden during the Clinton Admin.
Has a book out, which is fine and standard procedure these days as long as it trashes Bush.

...Jordan is Bush's fault:
We signed their death warrant by invading Iraq.

...Saddam was our greatest ally in fighting bin Laden. (!)

...we're playing into Al Queda's hands
etc etc
He was followed by a professor.
(who served as defense council for the Florida College Terrormaster Professor)
Distinguished professor agreed and elaborated.
.It's all our (Bush's) fault.
Hat tip Limbaugh.

11/10/2005 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

McCain may be a well intentioned person but his Campaign Finance legislation savaged First Amendment rights. If McCain wants to demagogue how about making the Latrine Field Manual a federal law?

This is an abomination no matter how goody-two-shoes sounding it may be. Senator Durbin gets on the Senate floor and calls American soldiers worse than Nazis and the Communist super star killers. Senator Kennedy tears down the military at every opportunity and so on and so on.

This legislation will criminalize being a soldier. Maybe that's the intention. The military justice system has been around as long as the US Senate has and it works just fine.

This is a sad day to be exceeded only by the first time that some US Soldier is dragged into federal court by the pressure of liberal agitprop.

The Democrats (with McCain's help) will kill us all.

11/10/2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

welcome back
hope your hiatus was pleasurable.

The US is exceptional, we stand for the greater good.
The entire discussion come down to W's #6. The dominance of power.
He mentions it in a battle field context. The self imposed standard of excellence for US is more than that. It is a combination of the "White Mans Burden" and a self sensed Moral Superiority. It goes hand in hand with American Exceptionalism. I heard a faceless politician remarking that the American People expected our side to be a beacon. To be better than the rest.

11/10/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Recently prisoners being held in Guantanamo were (and perhaps still are) engaged in a hunger strike. The authorities resorted to force-feeding in some instances to thwart this effort. Now the question: Is it 'torture' or in any other way unacceptable to disrupt a prisoner's hunger strike in such a manner? And if so, are we to assume that the preferable course is to allow any hunger strike to proceed uninterrupted? But then, what happens when a hunger strike leads to a prisoner's death? Would the failure of the prison authorities to intervene be judged unacceptable? Perhaps Senator McCain would like to weigh in and make a final determination?

11/10/2005 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger redball6 said...

It seems to me that our military is haveing more of a problem with our "Roman Senate" than with
terrorists. At least we and the terrorists understand one another and the rules. Our "Roman Senate" keeps changing its rules to suit its own percieved political ends. And frankly I may not be the most informed person on tortuer but I believe the guys have already explored all the nuances of this practice and decided what they want to use and have made that or those choices via real world experiences?

11/10/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...


This is all down to legal definitions,for example "Koran abuse" caused outrage and could be defined as,cruel,inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Any kind of restraint could be defined thusly.

11/10/2005 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

I am not sniping but,"Some sleep deprivation, threats, psychological pressure, and techniques of disorientation "
These could all be,and will be classified under,CRUEL INHUMAN OR DGRADING treatment

11/10/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

As a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps, I found that if I made a threat it would have to be done as I had stated or I would be considered weak. Strangely enough, if I merely stated "I will have to think about what I'll do." The individual who was to be disciplined would generate more terrifying images than I could instill by telling him what was in store. McCain seeks to destroy that ability, and like tefta I don't trust him.

11/10/2005 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

McCain has been riding that 'Heroism in Vietnam' thing for years. And given that indeed he WAS a hero, he isn't anymore, he is a squish of little brain, moving over to the dark side of anti-Americanism. And Michelle Malkin notes that the "Main Street Repubs" who voted against Anwr are funded by GEORGE SOROS. This McCain amendment is another move to kill Bush's war - and the World's war - on Islamic terror.

This is too important, this GWOT, to leave to politicians. Thank gracious for the internet, and this blog, and others like it; and authors like Robert Kaplan and Richard Miniter; and actors like Bruce Willis and Gary Sinise... we cannot let despair overtake us. Because whatever happens in Congress or the Courts, the Terror will continue.

The real and most important Civil War is that raging in the West. And whichever side wins will determine whether or not my children live under sharia law.

So, we cannot let the b*stards let us down!!

11/10/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger EddieP said...

I don't want torture to become widespread just for the hell of it. I also don't want my enemy knowing how far I will or won't go. I want that SOB to be terrified of me. Let the good cop empathize with him.

11/10/2005 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Non-uniformed terrorists have to be captured ALIVE in order to "torture" them...

Simply put, if these terrorists never make it off the battlefield alive it's a mute point...

Long Live Hollow Points!!!

11/10/2005 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

This law would, according to Lindsey Graham, allow an Al Qaeda fighter to sue a member of the US Armed Forces in Federal Court.

11/10/2005 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

This is all about making the war into one of fighting 'crime' - about bringing military issues within the purview of civilian courts. And this is, of course, how the anti war crowd sees the war: as a traffic violation, with maybe murder thrown in.

Back to Sept 10, 2001, and forget the 90s, folks. Those 'youths' in Paris were NOT chanting "Allahu Akhbar", and the French govt was NOT relieved when some imams issued a 'fatwa' telling the 'youths' to go home and play video games. The Jordanian hotel blow-up is just another celebration in the Middle East, they are used to it. And. We can depend on Senator Levin and Senator McCain to protect us.

11/10/2005 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger geoffgo said...


What makes you think the research on interrogation you propose has not been conducted? Good aggressive techniques work. The discussion is about the will and the aegis to use it.

The case files you suggest are pretty much in use today; except that politicians aren't included (yet). If they are, they will leak.

As to the effectiveness, look at the takedown occurring within the AQ hierarchy. Did you think it was happening by accident, or luck?

War is not a moral issue; it's about survival. Not surviving, because we are too gentle, seems to be a ridiculus and suicidal position.

IMO, the US and its allies must make it very clear to Islam worldwide, that we will use any methods, including the use of pig fat and menstral fluids, and everything else that is repulsive to Islam to wage this campaign.

Why should these methods inflame the Islamic popuplation, when they are used only on the supposed highjackers of their religion?

Seems to me this course of action will help us establish if there are any moderate Muslims, or if we have to confront and nullify all 1.2B of them.

11/10/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jrod said...

thank you Dave h--that's a start at least.

11/10/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Hepzi said...

Thank you Heather for answering my question. That's my concern.

I think (hope??) this is unconstitutional (at least from a common sense standpoint) in regards to executive/judiciary purview.

Not to mention totalling chilling. It was bad enough seeing that poor GI raked through the mud over his decision to shoot in Iraq based on the embedded reporters video footage.

McCain is a nut job plain and simple. A freaking Cicero.

11/10/2005 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger DoctorX2 said...

I've recently experienced what could be termed as torture by the MCain bill. Severe stress, debilitating sleep deprivation caused by a screeching alarm that went off every hour accompanied by a sharp reduction in daily food intake -- it's called having a baby! And for my wife, add severe pain on top of that. Please tell me that a terrorist can't handle what new parents go through every day in this world??

11/10/2005 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Melissus said...

There is a pervasive tendency to separate the doer of moral actions from the consequences of his actions. This can take the form of calling the looters in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath "victims" of adverse social or economic conditions (as one of many possible examples). Thus they are rendered no longer responsible for their actions; if there is a wrong doer, it must be society or someone else in society (Bush?).
What the justice system tries to do is reconnect the consequence of an evil action to its human cause: it punishes the person responsible, or tries to.
Now in the case of the terrorist, we have a person who is in the act of causing some evil. He has not yet done it, and insofar as he insists in committing his act, perhaps he can be "pre-punished".
How does that sound? "Torture" or "due duress" would not be so much an injustice arbitrarily inflicted, but a partial punishment preinflicted on one who executes or otherwise collaborates in a terrorist act when no other means are at hand to stop the unleashing of that act.
I am certainly not for any immorality or injustice, but terrorism presents us with an extreme case, and I abhor putting the terrorist and the police or soldier who must extract information to save lives as morally equivalent to a terrorist.

11/10/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

McCain is grandstanding.

He should know better than anyone the ineffectiveness of information gained by using out & out torture.

This as opposed to effective interrogation techniques that a realist would consider "not torture" (me being made to listen to rap).

OT - Happy 230th USMC!! Semper Fidelis!

11/10/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

The problem with that is that then we lose the information that leads us to the rest of the cell.

11/10/2005 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Why does John McCain keep torturing us?

11/10/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

I agree with Andrew on this: This is a situation that cries out for "constructive hypocricy"; we should never legalize torture (though, as many here have pointed out, defining torture is not as clear cut as McCain likes to believe and would seem to be the first order of business) however, if there are occasions when an agent is willing to risk prosecution because the information sought is so crucial as to make the risk worthwhile, he should do what his conscience tells him. The threat of prosecution would make the worst kinds of excesses much less likely and the reality that "good intentions" would tend to mitigate actual prosecutions argues in favor of maintaining clear lines in the light of day and somewhat fuzzier lines in the dark (which is merely a description of reality in any event).
In terms of "truth serum", sorry, but there is no such thing. Every agent that has been labeled "truth serum" has been a drug that increases the users suggestability. Psychiatrists used Sodium Pentathol at one time to try to recover "repressed memories" but it turned out we were creating memories where none existed prior to our suggesting them (the Psychiatrist and the patient were unaware that there was any collaborative "suggesting" going on; it was like a Quiga board which appears to move of its own volition but is being unconsciously controlled by the participants.) There do exist rare "repressed memories" but there are no short cuts to evoking them.
Finally, McCain seems to have fallen in love with all the accolades he gets from the press and the democrats; as a result, he has fallen prey to the prime fallacy of the intellectual narcissist who believes his ideas are more powerful than the reality they only partially represent.

11/10/2005 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

So we will torture ourselves discussing torture (as MSM hangs out our "dirty" laundry for the world to savor), thus giving he and the dems have a clear field of fire on GWB.
(and also the US Military, but that is regarded as inevitable collateral damage - they support the troops and are only acting on their extreme patriotism)

11/10/2005 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

It seems to me that about the only arrangement one could make that's ethically consistent is to subject detainees only to treatment that an American volunteer is willing to undergo themselves. That would appear to be at least one fair way to resolve the ethical dilemma of "limits." If an interrogator could not convince a volunteer, by logical and truthful argument, to subject themselves to the same harsh treatment as the detainee with important information then... the information is apparently not important enough to warrant that treatment.

11/10/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Red A said...

Rendition to Iraqi forces will happen more and more often with or without this law.

This will bring up the issue again and again, since the Iraqis will not always use the soft touch.

I suggest pass the law and deal with the consequences of not monitoring idiots at Abu Ghraib.

This kind of law of course should have been passed right after 9/11 so as to not get our troops in trouble when 3-4 years later the public lost its appetite.

11/10/2005 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Senate demands report on "CIA prisons":

Vice President Dick Cheney has worked behind the scenes to press Congress to exempt the CIA if it imposes detainee rules, arguing restrictions would impede efforts to get information to block acts of terrorism.

Democrats and a number of Republicans have rejected Cheney‘s plan, saying it would be seen as a license for the CIA to engage in torture.

Senate Demands

11/10/2005 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

I suspect the observation could be labelled naive (wouldn't be the first time) but my objection to the 'forceful persuasion' approach lies in this: the failure of alternative sources of information to reveal confirmation of the objective in question.

The point is that - more often than not, particularly in the modern world - we have access to information that either supports or contradicts the objective.

So the use of so-called torture becomes nothing more than a 'short-cut' which I suggest is less defensible.

11/10/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

It is not really a question of torture vs no torture IMO.
It is a question of NEW LAWS regarding torture which are the product of people who in truth are much more concerned about the political consequences and fallout of this new law than they are with our moral position and etc.
They are NOT primarily motivated by the tender sensibilities of the enemy, moral or ethical matters, (We'll become no better than them and other such sophmoric pap.) and all of the other fluff in their sales pitch.
Sam's post is a great case in point:
Demonizing Cheney is the No. 1 objective of many if not most of these turncoats.

11/10/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

exhelodrvr said...
The problem with that is that then we lose the information that leads us to the rest of the cell.

yeah, but if we aint allowed to "question" them, and they have more rights than a innocent civilian, i say shoot them

11/10/2005 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Acer Palmatum said...

The McCain Admendment makes sense for DoD personnel. Those standards do not make sense for the CIA. While torture is wrong under any circumstance, is coercive force wrong in every interrogation. Senator McCain on Fox News Sunday on November 7, 2005 suggested the Israelis had good standards. The Israeli Supreme Court banned the use of torture in 1999 (including what were deemed moderately coercive interrogation techniques), but guess what, the Israelis use the same "moderate" coercive techniques in interrogations today. Necessity forced the Israelis to ignore the Supreme Court (at least in part). The difference from us is the Israelis only delegate such force to carefully monitored professionals who are fluent in Arabic and other operative languages, trained for three years before they are allowed to interrogate prisoners, and they don't engage in sexual or religious humiliation. I don't necessarily trust Rumsfeld or Cheney, but I sure as hell don't trust al Qaeda.

We should have the honestly to create standards for the CIA we can live with and justify. Saying "no torture" sounds good, but it is like saying "I am a pacifist." Sure you can morally justify it, but it can leave you very vunerable to groups who don't share your views. We should create interrogation rules that the CIA can use that we won't be embarassed by. Put sunset provisions on them and allow Congress to have oversight, but be careful for what you wish for.

11/10/2005 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mark Steyn on Sophist Arguments in Time of War.
I do think that what's pathetic about all Western countries, including the United States, including France, including Canada, and a lot of other countries, is that

they make these sort of high school sophist arguments about terrorism, as if it's some sort of theoretical debate.
It's not
We're dealing with a very difficult situation here.

And if you accord to terrorists all the rights of somebody who gets arrested for holding up a liquor store in Des Moines, you are going to lose to the terrorists, because when you accord them the full rights of somebody who is a criminal, you make it impossible to prosecute this as a war, which is what it is.
. Mark Steyn - Radioblogger .

11/10/2005 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pork says,
"i say shoot them "
We are better than that.
Catch and release.
(and pray someone ELSES sons pay the price - at the hands of the releasee, and from the lack of respect engendered by such "compassion")

11/10/2005 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Perhaps Pork can confirm this, but I am quite sure the Israelis have no innane Senator Church restrictions on using less than lilly white sources both at home and abroad.
One of Hewitt's guests yesterday said Israelis were evacuated from the hotels prior to the attacks.
He also said the Israelis work very closely with the (police state like) Jordanian authorities.
(dummy that I am, I find it hard to visualize how that worked in with them not being able to alert the Jordanian's in time to avert at least some of the attacks.)

As Mark Steyn said today, you may have your objections to Jordan's methods, but at least (until this week) they have maintained security in a sea of violence.
Mark always stayed in the Grand Hyatt while in Jordan in transit to the Sunni Triangle and etc.
He was shocked to say the least.

11/10/2005 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The US practice of forgoing some military advantages to preserve principle or avoid political trouble has long been embodied in rules of engagement. Examples are when a person may be fired upon, what targets (e.g. foreign embassies) are inviolable, what clearances must be sought etc. These restrictions are accepted, and there is no reason why limits on interrogation should be different. One of the reasons the US can afford restrictive ROEs is because it possesses an overmatching capability. It can afford to be careful.

But it cannot afford to be too careful. For that reason ROEs can change as a situation develops. One valid question is whether the ROEs for interrogating prisoners are best set by the courts, or whether another system, such as oversight or review will not serve the purposes better.

Some commenters here have been mindful of the danger that when ROEs are too restrictive, there is an incentive to cheat or to avoid the problem by taking no prisoners, which then defeats the purpose. Many countries formally subscribe to the Geneva conventions but in practice ignore them altogether, so that their actual treatment of captives is brutal indeed, though they pay lip service. While there have been some sadists in US service, by and large, the standard of treatment of captives in US custody is far higher than those of other countries; higher probably than that of France, which is formally blameless but in practice less so, as we are now learning.

So it seems to me one question is whether the current system, for all its faults, has certain aspects worth preserving. The question is whether by adopting the McCain amendments the current system, which is probably one of the best in the world in practice, will get better or whether there will be an incentive to make it worse.

11/10/2005 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

I would refer to Vince Flynn's character,Mitch Rapp in his most recent book "Consent to Kill"who drives a hot poker through the foot of a Saudi intelligence officer and eliminates the Saudi prince by stomping on his stomach and when his mouth flies open,jams a white phosperous in it and melts his head off while commenting on the perversity of Wahhabism.I didn't find it a bit degrading.Damn the sobsisters,full speed ahead!

11/10/2005 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Pofarmer said...

"d) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined.--In this section, the term ``cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States,"

That part right there makes my hair stand on end. When you start applying the constitution of the USA to enemy combatants I have to think that somebody don't have their head on straight.

Also, it's my understanding that the Military already has prohibitions on torture, and the Geneva conventions are taught extensively. Do we torture? Because, frankly, Abu Ghraib wasn't torture. As another poster said, I've never seen anything except from the MSM or the Dims that suggests that we do. And those have all been proven false and blown over. If there have been improprieties, they have been punished by the military justice system. What good can be had by dragging this through the civilian courts? I don't know what McCains motives are here. Maybe this is just a backhanded way to seriously undercut the war and further hurt recruiting efforts. It sure can't help. Can you imagine being a soldier under these rules. "Now c'mon there Sam. Don't get cross with this guy that just exploded an IED or we'll have to haul your butt in!" No thanks. I do know that I'm certainly glad he's not the POTUS. I just wish we could get rid of him. If this turns out half as bad as CFR it could torpedo our own ship.

11/10/2005 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger wmscott said...

Who the hell do I vote for now that everybody is running over to the left?

I sure wish the Libertarians where a little less loony.

I am thinking the GOP knows they have spent us into a giant hole and since the Dem's won't support any reforms we should just give it all to them and see how they get get us out of the hole. The cupboard is bare and now we are eating the grass and weeds from the back yard.

I now see the GOP sowing the seeds of our defeat in Iraq because the loss of the Congress will surely be followed by a CUT and RUN from there. Bush lied!! So by God we deserve to lose! If I hear that one more time I am afraid my TV might die when I thow my shoe through it.

That's my rationalization and I am sticking to it!!!

11/10/2005 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger sugar said...

Paying people off is more effective I think than torture. In afghanistan we not only got intel that way but also had warlords and klans to switch sides. We did the same in Iraq at the start of the invasion. We paid for information regarding the placement of republican guard tanks, missle batteries etc.

11/10/2005 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

It is interesting that the discussion of this proposal quickly becomes a discussion of torture. Of course that is not what it is about.

The US is already a party to the Convention against Torture as recited in Sec. 3 of the proposal. What the law prohibits is "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment." that covers a lot of waterfront that is not torture.

It proposes to define those forbidden things in terms of the existing constitutional law. Before this proposal is adopted it might be best if we were to review the extensive case law on these subjects.

Most of you will no doubt be dismayed to discover that federal judges have regulated ever nook and cranny of prison life under these rubrics. It is indeed possible that some federal judge has condemned as inhuman, living conditions that the prisoner would find to be middle class comfort in his homeland.

I see no reason accord these rights to non-citizens captured in the war against terror. Nor do I see any reason to tie the Presidents' hands in the conduct of this or any other war. Finally, the thought that the federal judiciary would become involved in military matters scares me witless, and it should frighten any other American. Our federal judges have the collective good sense of cage full of rabid hamsters. Allowing them to second guess the military is a terrible idea.

11/10/2005 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Couple freed in Iran after 13 days:

They were finally freed on Friday and have arrived home in Dubai.

Mr Wise told the BBC that they were not physically harmed but had been subjected to "mental torture".

Couple Freed

11/10/2005 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

1. We simply have not had enough deaths for America as a country to be serious about the subject of interrogating unlawful enemy combatants. For now, it's all about the precious civil liberties of an enemy operating outside all rules of war.

2. Enscout - He should know better than anyone the ineffectiveness of information gained by using out & out torture.

If all the info was ineffective, then we wouldn't have 5,000 years of any country at war engaging in coercive interrogations - sometimes brutal, sometimes clearly rising to torture. When McCain and others say they never gave the N. Vietnamese and their Chinese and Soviet customers any valuable intel as POWs, they are lying through their teeth. Most, including McCain, eventually broke and squealed like pigs. But the Cult of the POW/MIA as the most honor-worthy and noble and heroic of all soldiers persists.

Nothing is more ineffective than John McCain asserting radical Islamists have a right to remain silent and get lawyered up.

3. This is really just an attempt to put America under the 1977 Geneva Protocols that Reagan wisely refused to sign - that term most terrorists as "freedom fighters" due full respect as honorable soldiers.

4. Bloomie - Paying people off is more effective I think than torture. Only for those people that do not have deeply held beliefs. A deeply religious Jihadi is no more likely than a committed Zionist to reveal secrets that could get their people killed for a few 100K or millions in money. Less so, actually. Witness the effectiveness of our 30,25, and 25 million rewards offered for bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and Ayman al-Zawahiri 4 years ago.

11/11/2005 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/11/2005 03:28:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

pofarmer says,
Can you imagine being a soldier under these rules. "Now c'mon there Sam. Don't get cross with this guy that just exploded an IED or we'll have to haul your butt in!" No thanks.
We don't even have to imagine:
When I saw the Drudge Link, Iraq battle stress worse than WWII.
I said, BS!
...then I read the article and said, yeah, I see the point.
SENIOR army doctors have warned that troops in Iraq are suffering levels of battle stress not experienced since the second world war because of fears that if they shoot an insurgent, they will end up in court.

There doesn’t appear to be any overt consideration or understanding of the pressures that our soldiers are under.

“The unpopularity of the war at home and a belief that firing their rifles in virtually any circumstances is likely to see them end up in court are sapping morale.”

One corporal said that troops arriving in Basra were confronted by warnings from the Royal Military Police. “They make it clear that any and every incident will be investigated. It is also made clear that if you shoot someone, you will face an inquiry that could take up to a year.

“The faces of the young lads straight out of training drop as the fear of being investigated strikes home and many ask whose side the RMP are on
Iraq battle stress worse than WWII.

11/11/2005 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard comments,
The question is whether by adopting the McCain amendments the current system, which is probably one of the best in the world in practice, will get better or whether there will be an incentive to make it worse.
I find it hard to imagine who, other than those with perverse motivations such as McCain and the Dems, would consider that a viable question.
It defies credulity, given what we have already seen happens when the system is changed (such as Gitmo) to be more "open" to domestic notions of "rights," and etc.

To my mind, Robert Schwartz does an excellent job of sealing the argument in a nutshell.
And how better to describe the present state of our federal judiciary than,

"Our federal judges have the collective good sense of cage full of rabid hamsters." ?

Unless one does not think many recent rulings of the 9th Circus makes it appear that they would have a hard time even matching that standard.

Some of the rulings of the Supremes are only marginally better.

Finally, who but those completely isolated from the News, has not seen how EVERY ISSUE that can be demagogued, will be?
"overmatching capability" gives no shelter to the individual soldier caught in this web, nor does it keep dangerous characters from being released under a newly and perversely altered system.

Can of worms, indeed.

11/11/2005 03:32:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...


It amazes me that you talk so fluently out of both side of your mouth. Now we haven't had ENOUGH deaths in Iraq "to be serious about the subject of interrogating unlawful enemy combatants". I guess I can relax now when I read your rants about American casualties 'cause I know you're not serious.

I'm sure most victims of torture did sing like a bird. I'm sure most tell their torturers whatever they think they want to hear - reliable or otherwise.

Many here have it right. There are existing rules and agreements that outline acceptable levels with regard to torture. This is not the time in history to soften pur definition.

11/11/2005 04:26:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

Defining torture is like trying to describe obscenity - "I Know It When I See It".

There has to be tools to force information out of captured enemy combatants - and in extenuating circumstances, brutal methods may be required. To limit our intelligence, is to put a limit our soldiers ability to fight. One should fight wars to win, not to count the angels on the end of a pin.

11/11/2005 04:31:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

McK(eating)ain is a dope. In a career over-littered with reasons we should NOT trust his thought processes and the products thereof, this attempt to legislate is just another brick in the wall.

One would think that a guy who did years in tortured captivity would appreciate that the micromanagement of his bombing runs by people (McNamara and "the Best & Brightest") living cosseted lives FAR away from the fight most likely got him into that captivity and torture.... Without good and current information, the currency for making up the difference on the ground is the lives and limbs of the, while Sen. McK(eating)ain and the DC solons natter over words and punctuation, the troops will take the beating....

11/11/2005 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I believe C4 was discussing civilian deaths, here in US, not those of our military overseas. In either case he is correct. The losses in Iraq have been amazingly light. One reason perhaps for the lack of success in obtaining our military objectives, until just recently. If we were losing men and gaining ground it would not be as dismal as losing men and giving the ground back. While it is true that this policy has been changed, we now "secure and hold", the damage has already been done.
The lack of aggresive action, for over a year, as we garrisoned Iraq, but did not patrol it, from early '94 through mid '95, will not be highlighted as a success in the annals of military history in the future.
This lack of success and talk of decades of unending and unwunnable war, instead of dogged pursuit of victory, is what has lost the US Public.
It is not the MSM that is at fault, it is the Presidient and his Administration that has failed to communicate a coherent message.
The problem is not the messenger, the challenge and the failure is at the source of the message. Where is Bush and monthly War updates to the people, why does he not use the "Bully Pulpit"?
Why is no one held accountable for failure? At the CIA, at Dept of State and in the Military?
The War against the Mohammedan Facists, on the road to the War on Drugs redux.

McCain's Bill is eyewash, a feel good attempt to be a "Hawk that cares". Just another page out of the Campassionate Conservative political playbook.

Why not Osama?

11/11/2005 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

A coherent message will only give the MSM more ammunition. You can bet your last dollar they will try every method to pervert, corrupt, selectively discard, and distort whatever Bush has to say.

11/11/2005 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If the President and his team had a message, developed the talking points, played hardball, they could get their message across. The failure to even try is pathetic. To ask my son and the sons of others to risk life and limb, while the Administration will not risk communication with the Public for fear of what? Lower poll numbers? Support for the President and the Iraq situation will bog down the enite Mohammedan Facist War. It will be lost, not on the TV, but in the White House. Ineffectual leadership is just that. It is not the fault of E.D. Hill nor Chris Wallace nor even Dan Rather.
Authority can be delegated, but not Responsiblity. That stays with the man in charge, George W Bush. The failure to communicate with the People is his, and his alone.

11/11/2005 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

Yeo -

the purpose of any modern news organization is to put the most possible negative light on any story... if a Republican is in charge, well it's only more reason to think that the end of the world is just around the corner.

Being a news-junky has brought me nothing but high blood pressure and insomnia. I wonder why anyone even watches the news.

11/11/2005 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...


In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.

John McCrae

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:

Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

Sickened by what he had seen during the Boer War, John McCrae nevertheless signed up in August 1914, and headed for France with his horse, Bonfire, in tow. He would have found few opportunities for riding in that hell on earth. Knee deep in mud and freezing water, men's feet rotted where they stood, waiting for the next attack of gas to insinuate its way down the trenches, or the signal to go "over the top", often into direct machine gun fire.

McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields" the day after presiding at the funeral of a friend and former student.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.

McCrae was to number among the 9,000,000 fatalities that vicious, fratricidal war of attrition would claim. His asthmatic condition, exacerbated by poison gas, eventually led to pneumonia and meningitis, and his death in January of 1918.

11/11/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger kariato said...

MaCaine has a good first person understanding of what is involved in torture. We should be careful not to sink to the level of those we are trying to defend against. Because if that happens they have won.

I hate to use a Hollywood analogy but the movie "The Siege" dealt with this point very well.

There are two wars being going one Military and the other for the hearts and minds of people in the Arab world. We may win a tactical miliary victory but lose the overall strategic war by creating another generation of people waiting to continue the war for another thirty years.

11/11/2005 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Desert Rat - Dead on mark in your 6:40AM post.

Enscout: It amazes me that you talk so fluently out of both side of your mouth. Now we haven't had ENOUGH deaths in Iraq "to be serious about the subject of interrogating unlawful enemy combatants".

No, you first have to have an understanding of what someone is talking about before you can charge they are talking out of both sides of their mouth.

9/11 was a one-time shock. Ground Zero was a trivial pinprick compared to a real nuclear "Ground Zero". Within 6 months of 9/11, librarians were pissing in their panties about the privacy rights of Islamic terrorists to use public libraries without having authorities check on them if suspicion existed. We can only imagine what they thought of entities with higher privacy rights than public ones, such as private flight schools and their records.

I'm sure most victims of torture did sing like a bird. I'm sure most tell their torturers whatever they think they want to hear - reliable or otherwise.

Every good criminal or terrorist has a abili story. What you presume is the detectives or interrogators are only interested in the abili story and too stupid to want to go past that and get the truth, too stupid to discern or pierce the lies of the cover. What interrogators have that cops now lack since the Warren Court permitted suspects to lawyer up is the ability to compell terrorists NOT to be silent and forced to tell truth or lies - where truth is rewarded and lies are punished.

And it is best when it is not some single child molestor for example when you are trying to find his past victims - but when you have members of a conspiracy in custody, be it a bank robbery gang or members of a terrorist plot making IEDs or anthrax, for example...Because you can then cross-check compelled testimony and find commonality in truth but disparity in the lies of the cover story.

Many here have it right. There are existing rules and agreements that outline acceptable levels with regard to torture. This is not the time in history to soften pur definition.

Which is all utter nonsense on your part, Enscout, since there is widespread disagreement on the definition of torture. And what constitutes "humiliating or degrading" activity. Given the fluidity of definitions, the "rules" simply don't exist. Not when an Islamoid can claim that failure to stop questioning so he can get one of his 5X daily bows to Mecca done is "degrading", a female guard is "humiliating" and failure to allow him 8 hours of sleep a day on a comfortable bed is "torture" and when half the US Senate and 100% of the MSM and EU Bureaucrats agree that it is whatever the Islamoids feel it is.

11/11/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

kariato - MaCaine has a good first person understanding of what is involved in torture.

Including the fact that he squealed like a pig eventually and made propaganda tapes, discussed carrier ops, flight procedures, accuracy of American reconaissance.

We should be careful not to sink to the level of those we are trying to defend against.

We were quite brutal with captured Japs and Nazis, particularly when we needed rapid battlefield intelligence. Maybe not at the level of the Japs or Nazis, but plenty brutal - including severe beatings and offering any enemy captured out of uniform a choice between talking or execution.

Other wars we fought have involved similar brutality because the stakes are so high. The Civil War, the Philippines insurgency, Korea come to mind..

Because if that happens they have won.

The Nazis and Japs didn't win.

There are two wars being going one Military and the other for the hearts and minds of people in the Arab world. We may win a tactical miliary victory but lose the overall strategic war by creating another generation of people waiting to continue the war for another thirty years.

The hearts and minds of the Arab world are used to vicious brutality. Otherwise they would be outraged that their Arab brothers in Al Qaeda have never let a captured infidel live and that many of those capturees are executed by excruciating painful means. Or outraged that 2 Palestinians executed a pregnant Zionist and her three young daughters.

Islamoids know they are treated better in the hands of the infidel West than they ever would be in fellow Muslim hands, so that is not their motivator in becoming terrorists.

What motivates them is the literal word of their Holy Book that tells them that infidels are perverted scum that must be converted or killed eventually. But 1st, all modernity must be expunged from the Ummah, the Shia heretics exterminated, and a radical traditionalist Caliphate must rise as all Muslim national borders fall and one voice, one ruler, one God prevails. THEN the rest of the dar al harb may be conquered by force, birthrate, use of the rights the Jewish ACLU pushes against the Zionist pigs and others....

It's at least a 30 year war that must end with Islam reformed or with all Muslims expelled from non-Ummah countries and the Muslims purely quarantined within the Ummah.

The only thing that will shorten the war is if Muslims use nukes or biowar. Then the war could be over in days..

11/11/2005 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

How silly of you Enscout, don't you know 3000 deaths on a day of peace is a pin-prick. 2000 dead after 21/2 years of warfare is evidence of our failure. Perhaps we require another "pin-prick" in Iraq before Cedarford will afford our mission there his definition of success.

11/11/2005 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

sfrcook said...
How silly of you Enscout, don't you know 3000 deaths on a day of peace is a pin-prick. 2000 dead after 21/2 years of warfare is evidence of our failure. Perhaps we require another "pin-prick" in Iraq before Cedarford will afford our mission there his definition of success.

we actually israel has suffered 21 "twin towers" in the last 4 yr, but the world and the usa say to israel, give land and make peace, dont overreact

truth is, one innocent life has value, however, look at Vietnam, 58,000 dead americans look at ww2..

America doesnt understand we are really at war. Islam around the globe does. I have said ti before and I will say it again, there is only ONE group of RADICAL ISLAM in the world and it here in the USA, they preach living together and non-violence. NORMAL islam around the world is NOT a religion of PEACE, its a faith of "SURRENDER to ALLAH"S WILL" and it is the world's islamic population that are it's will.....

11/11/2005 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger heather said...

One person who DOES understand that we are in a war is George W Bush.

and at this point, he is in deep trouble, with both his old enemy, the Left.. and with his Right.

If this amendment does go through Congress... can't the President veto it?? Maybe there should be a concerted effort on the part of bloggers to encourage him to do so.

11/11/2005 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger sfrcook said...


Clearly this thread is getting a little long, and I fear I've contributed to it veering off topic, but I want to make it clear that I disagree with both YOU and CEDARFORD, in that I believe that Islam and democracy ARE reconcilable.

Don't get me wrong, I support our current mission in Iraq(always have). And I would actually like to see a full mustering of our resources and a widening of what I believe to be a noble cause ie, the fostering of consensual government in the Middle East. I do however, recognize that such a mobilization does not have popular support. Some could argue this lack of support stems from the Administration's laxity in making a forceful and continual case for it's policy.

Be that as it may, and though critics are ever more emboldened in their ankle-biting, our current policy is probably the best course of action-as is evident by the critics' negligence in offering any preferable alternatives.

11/11/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Lorenzo said...

Boot Camp is a good idea. Perhaps what is needed is to put jihadist prisoners into Boot Camp. Since the Geneva Convention allows illegal combatants such as pirates and al Qaeda types to be imprisoned or summarily executed, then surely the complainers would have no objection to executing those jihadists who bomb out of boot camp or resist interrogation?

11/11/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...


It's an amendment to an appropriations bill. McCain lacks the courage to propose it as stand alone legislation. President Bush can veto the bill and it would not be passed over his veto. I will not speculate as to whether the President will in fact veto it.

The proposed amendment lacks any utility whatsoever. It does not define practices other than to refer to an Army Field Manual that already takes into account the underlying statute mentioned. It is as circular a piece of crap legislation as I have ever seen and is meant solely to puff the Senatorial buffoons who promulgated it.

McCain is an idiot with an ego. He will be neither missed nor much remembered when he passes from the scene.

As to limits regarding duress imposed upon terrorist captives - anything beyond the levels that the US Armed Forces imposes upon volunteers undegoing SEREs training should be carefully supervised by responsible parties holding the rank of E-7 or above and be in conformance to our treaty obligations.

11/11/2005 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Cederford said:
"since there is widespread disagreement on the definition of torture. And what constitutes "humiliating or degrading" activity. Given the fluidity of definitions, the "rules" simply don't exist. Not when an Islamoid can claim that failure to stop questioning so he can get one of his 5X daily bows to Mecca done is "degrading", a female guard is "humiliating" and failure to allow him 8 hours of sleep a day on a comfortable bed is "torture" and when half the US Senate and 100% of the MSM and EU Bureaucrats agree that it is whatever the Islamoids feel it is."

You're preaching to the choir.
Just because these entities you mention do not have a grasp on the realities of the conflict doesn't mean the "rules don't exist. Our military has Rules of Engagement. The Geneva Accords exist, although we agree they may not apply for non-uniformed, non-military combatants. We don't need more rules. Don't let "them" define it.


I guess I don't delineate between civilian deaths and those of our military. I understand that in conventional war there is a distinction, but this is not a conventional war. Every American that died on 9/11 was a casualty of this war as are those who die in combat in Iraq & Afghanistan.

You're absolutely right about the PR deficiencies on Bush's part. I watched his Veteran's Day speech today & it was well prsented. Problem is, it may be too little - too late. I'll be damned if I can figure out how the person holding the most powerful post in the world can't find a decent PR man.

11/11/2005 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

RE: your
Bush promised a "New Tone" when he acheived office in '01. It's obvious now that by this he meant he was going to try to beat the lefties at their own game. Maybe trying some sort of Clintonesque triangulation. Try as he might, he certainly hasn't gained any friends amongst their ranks.

Well, we keep waiting for a payoff that never comes. He's become little else that an appeaser when it comes to most domestic issues.

He's in trouble with the right because he's compromised his princple. He's been hated by the left because he knows how to win.

11/11/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger heather said...

"He's become little else that an appeaser when it comes to most domestic issues.

He's in trouble with the right because he's compromised his principle. He's been hated by the left because he knows how to win.

11:59 AM "

On the other hand, in this world, you work with what you have. And if you want to win the GWOT, you (we) have George Dubya.

Note the vote on ANWR (which has implications for domestic oil production); note the continuing attacks about pre war intelligence by the Dems, and the sneaky and amazingly successful attempts by the CIA to weaken Bush (the CIA has already managed to almost entirely discredit Chalabi with large swatches of the American ruling class).

Bush's main problems lie in his not firing Tenet, and not firing enough of the top State Dept whizes.

As to domestic issues: I won't comment because I'm Canadian. Although someone somewhere said that things went very well in Brazil, despite the idiot yelps from Chavez. And when it comes to free trade issues, the world needs more of them because somehow, somewhen, the Third World has to be dragged into the 21st century. On the other hand, I can sympathize with the USA, here, because the EU have consistently resisted protectionism. So, it is time for the USA to stop this Atlantic Alliance crap, and look to India and Australia and Singapore....

11/11/2005 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Even with all the casualties combined, it is still not much of a War. The whole thing does not add up to D-Day in WWII.
It adds up to about a month or two's worth of auto accident deaths here in the US.
There is a new metric to this War, but most of the Public is uninvolved in it's purpose, preparation or prosecution.

There is no public indication we are at War, unless a family member is in the deployable military. Little magnets on car bumbers not withstanding.

The talking heads cannot even agree there is a Global Mohammedan War, we are redebating the invasion of Iraq, when we should, instead, be declaring Victory.
The Iraqis first real election is in 30 days. The Opfor is down to fighting for Ramadi and fleeing to Syria.
Miscommunication and a lack of Victory Strategy is the primary problem, not mis-reporting by the MSM. The MSM is, and has been, a known factor. If Bush & Company cannot handle that situation they do not deserve the job.

11/11/2005 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Voltimand said...

Ballard is right: McCain is posturing, because the proposed torture statute is part of another bill, and can be voted up--McCain cites it to his prospective left-wing clientele in 2007--or voted down, and nobody notices.

Which leaves W.'s original questions unanswered, which are the real ones as re: the relations between those classic antagonists Expediency and Morality.

It might help to recognize that the Geneva Conventions were put together by civilians, lawyers, and liberals in the 19th century, and they were explicitly pacifist in intent. By that I mean they were gestures intended to show that war wasn't what W. T. Sherman said it was, namely, what you did after all peaceful settlements had failed, and you were left with settling things like bullies in a schoolyard. War IS solution by forced coercion, and Sherman's position was that when you did war, you did war because war was what you were doing--not debate, not morality, now lawful proceedings.

War is in short what happens when morality fails as a principle of a resolution. Trying to do it otherwise is to spend your days being moral on odd days and coercive on even days, and spending all days deluding yourself that you're conducting war as a "principled" participant.

The kicker here is of course the political/verbal/rhetorical/propagandistic one: wars fought on behalf of nation states (as distinct from wars carried out by bands of thugs, who understand that only coercion rules and nothing else), which means that politically a significant base of citizens must support "doing war."

We all know that the leftists in western countries are against war because they themselves aren't involved in the blood and the slime. I keep remembering Ann Coulter's words immediately after 9/11, when she said that probably it would require significant numbers of liberals to start dying ghastly deaths for those left living to commit themselves to war.

On the "moral" in war Sherman remains for me definitive: if you can't avoid war, then the best thing is to wage it as ruthlessly and intensively as possible, so as to cause those who want to wage it to come to the position of being so horrified by war that they can think of nothing else but stopping it. Sherman said as much about the citizens of Georgia and South Carolina. This is not cynicism; this is making the best of a very bad situation.

11/11/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

UCMJ. Art. 93
"Any person subject to this chapter who is guilty of cruelty toward, or oppression or maltreatment of, any person subject to his orders shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."


(1) That a certain person was subject to the orders of the accused; and

(2) That the accused was cruel toward, or oppressed, or maltreated that person.


(1) Nature of victim. "Any person subject to his orders" means not only those persons under the direct or immediate command of the accused but extends to all persons, subject to the code or not, who by reason of some duty are required to obey the lawful orders of the accused, regardless whether the accused is in the direct chain of command over the person.

There is another paragraph with examples.
The full text of the Morgan UCMJ is here. The standards indicated are the standards at the time the article is invoked. McCain would try to override the ability to maintain the flexibility of the article as written. It ain't broke, he should stop trying to fix it.

11/11/2005 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

See my 3:36 PM post in the PREVIOUS THREAD for an absolutely must read Steyn piece.
Europe may well alreay be doomed.
(as some of us strongly suspected anyhow)

11/11/2005 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

D Rat:

"Even with all the casualties combined, it is still not much of a War."

In terms of casualties, you're absolutely right.

In terms of the future global implications, there's never been anything like it.

The folks who are prosecuting this war and those who support their efforts must surely the feelings of Winston Churchill during the battle of Britain or Thomas Paine as he penned "These are times that try mens souls."

I was born and grew up amidst the Cold War. It was, as is the current struggle, waged on a global scale, between two opposing idealogies. Korea and Vietnam were the major pitched battles of that war and accounted for the majority of it's casualties; something we've yet to see with this conflict.

The difference in it, the Cold War, and this War on Islamofascism, is the numbers - so far!

Whereas the Cold War featured masses of humanity bound to differing idealogies, knowing the stakes, and activley or passively involved in the race.

We have two diametrically opposed idealogies, small in number, each of whom realize the stakes. In the middle are millions who just don't seem to get it. Men like the two Johns (McCain & Kerry) who are still using related events for nothing more than to curry political points.

It could be too early for simpleminded folk like myself to get a true perspective on the way events unfold, but I think we are living in critical times & don't think we can afford to make many reckless mistakes.

McCain's legislation makes the problem worse for our side.

Lead, follow or get out of the WAY!

11/11/2005 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...


Re: your 1:14

"On the other hand, in this world, you work with what you have. And if you want to win the GWOT, you (we) have George Dubya".

George gets 7's or 8's for setting his priorities. Although he's failed until recently to VERBALIZE the problem, his agenda has been a correct one IMHO. His big miss is ignorance of our southern border problem.

You Said:

"Bush's main problems lie in his not firing Tenet, and not firing enough of the top State Dept whizes."

Exactly. Again, IMHO, more fuel to the fire that he's letting his "New Tone" experiment get in the way of his common sense. I think he is a decent man who has a deep respect for loyalty. Washington is a tough to survive for a man with those qualities.

11/11/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Voltimand said...

I picked up on the Steyn interview mentioned by Doug, and I noticed him resting much of his argument on what is a favorite point of my own. It's derived from a volume on the history of the political document known in the West as a "declaration of war."

The essence of my point is that declarations of war, among other things, are public statements of belligerency, which is what establishes that the human forces fighting in the field for a belligerent state are assumed--to use the language of due process--to be not "innocent" but guilty when they are met in battle by the opposing side. This is what distinguishes "belligerent" from "non belligerent." IOW, Declarations of War make possible the legal capacity to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.

Treating terrorists as criminals within the context of a modern western law code is automatically to accord them presumption of innocence. Steyn doesn't unpack why he thinks this is a bad idea, but I'm filling it out for him--whatever he means or intends. On the battlefield it is absurd to accord the man who has just launched a grenade at you a presumption of innocence.

But because terrorists take advantage of the combatant/noncombatant distinction by hiding themselves as noncombatants until they launch their attacks, those who want to grant them the privileges of presumption of innocence--treat them in other words as noncombatants--are in effect aiding and abetting them de facto, whatever their intentions.

11/11/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

As an upbeat note, here's a story about guys who faced another seemingly immovable force. If you grew up in the big city in America, you accepted the Mafia as a Given. Then along came the FBI.

Search Inside My FBI by Louis Freeh

Far be it from me to suggest that we treat this declared and engaged world war as a criminal investigation, but certain disciplined analytic processes have been proven to work in investigations, against even the most elusive, determined forces.

(Under Louis Freeh, the FBI established legats in ~4 dozen countries.)

Bush's speech today finally opened the door to real dialogue. One hopes the losers and surrenderers come right out and declare their intentions, as abjectly weak they are.

Ps. Read Judge Freeh's "My FBI." The ancient cigarette smuggling routes from Turkey to Euro became heroin routes and now they are terrorism routes, one would expect.

11/11/2005 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger playah grrl said...

We should get smarter with psyops and neuro-hormonal drugs. There's a bunch of research on oxytocin, the trust hormone.
here's some linkage
Combine hormone therapy with good psyops, and the results should be awesome. And not a mark on them. ;-)

11/11/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Saddam second in charge dead ^ | 12th November 2005

Posted on 11/11/2005 6:19:14 PM PST by naturalman1975

IZZAT Ibrahim al-Duri, one of Saddam Hussein's top deputies and a man who eluded US capture despite a hefty bounty on his head, reportedly died quietly overnight at the age of 63. The notice of his death came not from the US military, but from a statement signed by the dissolved Baath Party command.

"The leader of the resistance died on Friday November 11 at 2:20 am," according to the statement signed by the Baath command.

There was no immediate confirmation of his death.

11/11/2005 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

Related to interrogation techniques: I had a friend who was with the CIA, doing that sort of thing in Vietnam. He claimed that physical torture was counterproductive, and often resulted in incorrect information. He was a great proponent of drugs. Also, I seem to remember something about an Israeli fellow who was a champion at getting info from people - and he used psychological methods (and after that, my memory is vague.)

Anyway, another ground for being REALLY IRRITATED at this "torture" amendment is the underlying assumption that most American soldiers are natural torturers who must be controlled by the all wise Legislator and Lawyer. Ugghhhh. I am really getting to the point of distrusting and disliking The Professional Persona.

11/11/2005 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger hank_F_M said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/11/2005 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger hank_F_M said...

The GWOT torture presents an opportunity that would not appear in a
conventional war. In a conventional war one would capture a 100 or so prisoners
and a reasonable percentage will blab without any pressure. There is no point in
torturing the rest for duplicate information. Officers and technitions with
valuable information are not allowed near the front. In the GWOT because other
means of information are less usable, a single prisoner can be potential source of
major information. Is this a justification for torture?

I would say not.

There are several minor points against the use of torture and I would say a
big one.


It is not very reliable. The subject is inclined to say what will end the
session, i.e. what they think the interrogator expects to hear. The interrogator
quite possibly does not have the means to sort this out. Since it is what the
interrogator expects to hear they will give it little challenge.

Usually the prisoner will talk without torture sooner or later.

It opens our soldiers to retaliation in kind. Even if the
current enemy does not a future one may do so.

It gives a motive to enemy personnel not to surrender, increasing our

Allowing torture and similar activities tends to break down military
discipline. Having allowed it in one case it is much harder to expect orders not
to do similar things in other cases to be obeyed.

If it becomes public it creates a terrific public affairs problem and
invites outside intervention into the running of our armed forces.

The Major Problem.

If we allow torture then we will sink to the level of Osma bin Laden and
his scum. Even when bin Laden loses (which he will in any case) we will lose
even more!


Jon Holdaway writing in Phil Carters that the amendment is another case of

. . . bad cases make bad law, and this is a prime example. Congress' desire to get its arm around the detainee abuse scandals is understandable, but to shift from its oversight role to its lawmaking role in order to fix the problem is not the approach to take. Statutes, by their nature, are like using a chain saw to do brain surgery, especially in an esoteric and complicated area such as interrogations.

The key paragrph of the law states:

(a) IN GENERAL.--No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.

It seems to me that Senator McCains staff did not do much research.

Field manuals are usually cited by number (FM-XX) and date as well as title. So what is being refered to here? Can the Secretary of the Army change the law by amending the Field Manual? I suppose the courts will hold to the version in effect on the date of passage, hoping there aren’t two field manauals that address the issue. In any case it is usually considered good pratice for in items central to a law regulation or such to copy the text into the document rather than include something by referance.

A field manual is technically a recommendation not an order. The manual is written as reccomendations to approachs among legal techniques, not as a list of what is legal or not. Holdaway gives good review of the problems this will cause.

Is this to be part of Title X (Department of Defense) or XVIII (Criminal) of the Federal Code. Following the link back to Wretchards source the orgianal states At the appropriate place, insert the following: Since it does not list sanctions it is probably intended for Title X. If it were part of Title XVIII then any civilian official who violates the action the section would face criminal prosecution. If it is under Title X only military personnel would be subject to this criminal action under Article 92(1) (Disobeying a general order) or Article 134 (Conduct Prejudicial.) I would think that a law of this type should carry sanctions for everyone involved. This will leave the little guys holding the bag for directives that the higher up assured were legal.

The amendment is that it is worded so as not to interfere in normal criminal prosecutions, and to takes define prohibited actions in terms that follow existing case law. Not having either of these would cause intolerable amounts of confusion. But Holdaway points out this could import criminal procedure into POW interrogation procedures. A POW is not normally being interrogated with intent to prosecute; criminal procedure would at best be irrelevant.

I have no use for torture, but laws writen for public relations usually turn out to cause more problems than the solve. This could very well turn out like the “War Powers Act” which actully give the President more authorty of war powers than he previously, the exact oppisite of the authors intent.

11/11/2005 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger lowglow00 said...

I was thinking about this the other day about how and when is torture warranted, so this thought came to mind and maybe someone could answer honestly what they would do.

Heres the scenerio... your child was kidnapped by some real sick person that loves to hurt kids, The Police capture him and while he sits in the room you ask him were your child is, he laughs and refuses and says " haha, you have a little over an hour to find your child, he's buried someplace and he's running out of air, but I'm not telling you anything".You have tried everything, you cried, you got down on your hands a knees and begged him and he still refuses, what would you do?, would you throw your hands in the air and just give up ?, or would you do what it takes to find your child ?, Speaking for myself, I would have to say get out the electrical wire and and cattle prong, because if i have to kill him to save my childs thats what I'd do.

11/11/2005 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Mr.McCain is not a nice person. He exudes the aroma of the Manchurian Candidate. Look at his name. Cain is a name made famous in the Bible: Cain slew his brother Abel.

This bill is trouble. This bill makes mischief at other people's expense. Mr. McCain go away. Make nice and go away. And take your bill with you.


11/11/2005 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

Look, you guys seem willing to argue that George Bush ought to be taken at his word, regarding his intensions, until there's credible evidence to the contrary. (Which there is not.) I think you have to extend the same courtesy to John McCain. We don't have any idea what his intentions are, and there's simply no reason or utility in presuming the worst. You're being silly in precisely the same way that that the idiotarians are being silly about Bush.

I don't support McCain's amendment for entirely practical and empirical reasons that, I think, most of you understand. I noticed that no one has commented on my "inverse tit for tat" proposal, which limits what we can do to others to what we're willing to do to ourselves, but I submit that some such formula is the only way to untangle the ethical and moral dilemmas involved here. McCains way of dealing with it will not work, and it's probably typical of the ethical knots he'd tie the country in were he to win the Presidency. Not for nothing was he at the bottom of his class at Annapolis. His resolution isn't immoral, it's dumb. And if you don't tackle these moral dilemmas head-on, you're simply handing the opposition the moral high ground. You're presenting them with a free gift.

Clearly things aren't as simple as asking for a volunteer to undergo what we do to a suspected terrorist, but it's at least a good thought experiment to begin to discuss what is a sea-change in the common law traditions of our culture... for except for David Hume's brief discussion of "Hume's Horror" we've never dealt with these issues in any substantive or coherent way.

And forgive me, but the "inverse tit for tat" scenario just has to be the starting point. Elaborate on it, please... if you will. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

11/11/2005 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

Torture has nothing to do with rights. Don't manufacture such a bogus concept.

McCain legislation should be rejected because the proper policy is to choose not to torture. Refuse to torture not because we have to, but because we decide to.

11/13/2005 06:21:00 AM  

Someone needs to really think about what they are suggesting. Not play "armchair warrior" and discuss the matter in a clean, antiseptic, intellectual way, far removed from reality. Anyone who advocates torture should consider picking up the bamboo shoots and the thumbscrews and using them themselves; better yet, have them used on them.

This is America. America is supposed to be something worth defending. If America practices torture and other vile and despicable acts, for which there is NEVER a justification, then America is merely a geographical entity, having no greater meaning, and no longer worth defending, in word or deed.

I spent almost 24 years in my country's uniform. Anyone who practices or advocates the practice of torture would disgrace the uniform merely by wearing it, or disgrace those who died wearing it fighting against some of the monsterous regimes we have fought in the past.

Abraham Lincoln once said that he felt that anyone who advocated slavery should have it tried on them and see how he liked it. Ditto for torture.

11/13/2005 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Let's say for the sake of argument that this all boils down to two conflicting concerns-

1. Pro-torture. Torture's results justify its use in an asymmetrical war , and a limited set of laws buffered by expedients (i.e. efficiency) such as torture is preferable to having more laws than we can practically or effectively enforce (i.e. certainty).

2. Anti-torture. Torture's expediency tends to encourage overuse by intel gathering agencies ultimately leading to a police state like Stalinist Russia, Cold War Era East Germany, etc. and therefore now that the opportunity has arrived to discuss it, it should be categorically forbidden - the threat of the worst case outcome outweighs the possibility of saving a kidnapped child or even preventing a nuked city by means of torture.

For those who are wondering I fall under #1; I listed #2 as an exercise in trying to put myself in the shoes of the McCain legislation's authors and supporters.

11/16/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Oh yeah,

For those who like to say torture is anti-American, wrong, evil, never, never, NEVER, etc-

NOT that torture is unnescessary, doesn't work - you are just saying it is wrong because it is evil,

Is that still the case if it's the only way to find a kidnapped baby (say, yours for example) - or a ticking nuke in the Manhattan subways?

If you can honestly say that you'd let your baby starve, and let Manhattan go up in a mushroom cloud, rather than putting bamboo shoots under the fingernails of a terrorist, THEN you can lecture others about morality (of course, I wouldn't want anyone like you on the police force, armed forces are in any other protective capacity, but that's just a matter of personal preference).

Otherwise, your position doesn't hold together.

11/16/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Shirvahna said...

Five friends got together and committed themselves to run in a 26.2 mile marathon in an effort to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Come out Saturday night...have a couple drinks, learn more about the society and help make a difference.

We'll all be at Lucky Jacks 129 Orchard Street (Between Rivington & Delancey)

All you're required to do is have a couple drinks and a have good time.

We'll be there at 9pm. See you then,

Shirvahna, Kristin, Olivia, Rebecca and Emily

Have you heard?? I am training for the 2006 "Race for a Cure" Marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program! This amazing organization works to raise money for blood cancer research and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Want to get involved? Support me? Check out my website:

9/26/2006 07:01:00 PM  

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