Saturday, November 12, 2005

Be he ne'er so vile

There was an open post a few days back about the proposed McCain Amendment, where readers expressed a variety of views on the subject; some for and some against. Zacht Ei has a post highlighting two arguments advanced in support of the amendment. The post is reproduced here in full.

What's (not) so great about America

In an excellent op-ed The Economist eloquently explains why Bush should sign the McCain Amendment - not because America is an evil country, but precisely because it is one of the greatest democracies in the world:

In the cold war, America championed the Helsinki human-rights accords. This time, the world's most magnificent democracy is struggling against vile terrorists who thought nothing of slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians—and yet the administration has somehow contrived to turn America's own human-rights record into a subject of legitimate debate.

Mr Bush would rightly point out that anti-Americanism is to blame for some of the opprobrium heaped on his country. But why encourage it so cavalierly and in such an unAmerican way? Nearly two years after Abu Ghraib, the world is still waiting for a clear statement of America's principles on the treatment of detainees. Mr McCain says he will keep on adding his amendment to different bills until Mr Bush signs one of them. Every enemy of terrorism should hope he does so soon.

We are better than our enemies. There is no shame in signing an amendment to that effect; only strength.

Update 18.05: Sullivan adds:

This is not about the moral status of terrorists or mass murderers. It's about us, the moral status of the West, and places where as a civilization, we simply will not go as a matter of policy. 

Indeed. I for one refuse to let my moral standards be defined by those whom Mr. Bush aptly described as 'thugs and murderers'.


I'm going to make a personal prediction. The number of incidents involving the torture of terrorist suspects will increase after the McCain Amendment, or something like it, is passed. There will be a fall in the number of interrogation incidents in US custody. It may even become zero. However, there will be a corresponding increase in torture incidents involving agencies of other governments, including European governments, all of whom will fully subscribe to every piece of human rights legislation which can be imagined, but who in practice will simply do what they want.  

What the McCain Amendment will do is change the bean-counting rules. It will not create a framework in which real torture can be limited and stopped. That would require accepting moral responsibility for affirming practices which may be proscribed under the Geneva Conventions but fall short of real torture. That would mean explaining to the public that we are correspondingly determined to outlaw real, barbaric torture, even when by foreswearing it, public losses must be endured. Instead politicians will want to have it both ways and promise the public that they will neither soil their hands nor let the sleeping populace come to harm.  No one who desires re-election can promise the voters only "blood, sweat and tears". The time is long since past when politicians could say to a nation at war "death and sorrow will be the companion of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield." That's too much of a drag. Today even our conflicts, like our food, must be untouched by human hands.

It will effectively rule out the use of drugs, sleep deprivation and threat, which arguably should not be classed as torture and make these methods unavailable for interrogation. When taken together with the public clamor to provide nearly 100% protection against terrorist attack, it will create a heightened demand for information which cannot be met, even partially, by practices which fall short of real torture but which exceed the restrictions of international conventions. That need will be filled instead by a black market for coercion organized by a variety of non-American entities for whom the rules do not apply, nor were ever expected to apply, for "we are better than our enemies"; and one might add, better than our friends.

In practice terrorist suspects captured anywhere in the world won't be taken to Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, or any "hell-hole" under US control. Nor will they be handled for an instant by US nationals or taken in raids involving a single American. No, that would be too dangerous -- to the health of the captives, though thankfully for the politicians, not to the legal health of the Americans. They will be captured and retained by countries beyond the circle of attention. On the day the Amendment is passed there will be light everywhere except in the places of our soul where we don't want to look.


Blogger Reliapundit said...

all the vile stuff is already illegal.

all the bad abu graihb stuff and bad gitmo stuff has been punished.

there is no need for another law.

the impulse to write a new law is dumb. another example: passing strict gun purchasing laws after a bad gun crime - like littleton.

most of the law-breakers don;t care about the law. writing a new one won;t change a dang thing.

it's all about POSING. mccain and the senators who voted yes are all posing.

if anything, spelling out and publishing the limits of coercive acts which an American may use ONLY AIDS THE ENEMY. it will be on every jihadist website the day it is signed into law. it will help their captives elude our interogators.

therefore, it should be vetoed. and the posing senators would be happy. they get to pose as defenders of - God knows what - and they're off the hook for voting for a law that hurts our war efforts.

the couterargument that sionce the generals are for it, then it must be good is al;l bunk. generals like clarity and they want to avoid the murky gray areas because they fear getting dragged into the public arena should some scandalous coercive behavior - like another abu ghriab - become exposed.

i say: we got enough laws.
the ones on the books are clear enough.

maybe the pentagon needs to give their people better training.

11/12/2005 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

Yes, I understand your wider point that we are fooling ourselves at every level by allowing our politicians to deny us the exhilaration of self sacrifice as well as the anguish of horrible choices in a time of war.

Many friends I respect tell me that it will take another, bigger 9/11 for the Bush-hating left to get on board in the GWoT. I agree but I'm also starting to have doubts. Won't another attack simply send the Bush-hating left directly into the arms of the jihadists? If your prism is that America has it coming, wouldn't another attack just serve to confirma that? The crazy idea that "Bush started this whole thing" is now being pimped by high-level opposition Democrats. To me 9/11 was such a clear battle line. But in reality that line is snaking weirdly all over the world.

11/12/2005 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger usually mellow said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/12/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger usually mellow said...

'And yet less thanks we have than you. Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. "Strider" I am to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so."

11/12/2005 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Consider the problem from the point of view of the detainee. Suppose he had a breaking point (which no one knows before hand) that would be reached from sleep deprivation and the forced ingestion of a bottle of whiskey. Under the McCain Amendment regime he would never actually be broken at that point because there exists no regime of interrogation that legally includes drugs and sleep deprivation. The available interrogation regimes would be divided into the Geneva compliant ones and the ones with no limit. Because the Geneva compliant interrogation regimes are virtually useless, the average detainee interrogated will be over-interrogated, that is to say, really tortured.

Where have we seen this discontinuity before? Prohibition and back room abortion clinics come to mind. Now it's possible to be opposed to Prohibition and unalterably opposed to drinking as well. One of the problems with Prohibition is that it drove the one-drink a week man into the speakeasy just the same as the drunk. Suppose you wanted to interrogate a prisoner but were unprepared to use real torture. If you had no prospect of breaking the detainee by repetitively asking for name, rank and serial number you would refuse the prisoner. Chances are the prisoner would be rendered and one more person would be really tortured. Yet from the bookeeping point of view the results would be splendid and all the politicians could go around patting each other on the back. There would be no abusive interrogations under American custody. But as I said, from the detainee's point of view, it would be a worse outcome.

There is one more factor which other posters have already mentioned. It is normally more complicated and dangerous to take an enemy combatant a prisoner rather than to kill him. This is widely acknowledged and patrols that capture the enemy are normally decorated for the extra risk they take. Why do soldiers take the additional risk? Because there is the expectation of obtaining life-saving or battle-winning intelligence. Everyone, even film-makers, know the stock situation in which a person saves his life by saying "I know too much for you to kill me". But if prisoners can no longer be interrogated effectively, short of torture, what is the incentive to capture them? If there is none, what man will take extra risks to take a prisoner, lead him back through hostile territory, keep him alive though wounded and if need be carry him to friendly lines?

If the object of the exercise is to actually reduce the number of people tortured, however they are carried on the books, it is not clear that the McCain Amendment would help.

11/12/2005 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I wonder why Wretchard believes this isn't already what's happening. We've seen reports for years now that the CIA is ferrying folks around the world, and the current report is that there are secret CIA "torture" installation in Eastern Europe and other places. Isn't this exactly the sort of program already in place that Wretchard is foreseeing if this legislation passes?

The other thing I think we'll be seeing more of in the future is fewer prisoners being taken, for questioning, torture, or anything else. Rather than the on-going hassle of Guantanamo, it'd be neater and less expensive if they just become dead on the battlefield. Be interesting to try to track the percentage of foreign prisoners-of-war taken, but that'd be real hard to do, and besides, I don't think anybody really wants to know so why bother?

11/13/2005 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


"I wonder why Wretchard believes this isn't already what's happening."

Of course it's happening. Rendition dates back to President Clinton, who created the instrument. But if something is bad, it doesn't become less bad by getting someone else to do it for us. In an ideal world, you would do the rough stuff yourself up to the point where you would not venture any further. This requires two types of courage: the courage to refuse to go beyond a certain point even recognizing that you may suffer losses as a consequence; and the courage to tell the "International" authorities that you will go up to a certain point, the point you can morally justify, whatever Geneva says.

I think the McCain amendment approach neither acknowledges the price society should be willing to pay for upholding its morals -- it gives the appearance that upholding principles is free -- and it dishonestly pretends to a morality it is prepared to circumvent via rendition.

You have correctly pointed out that rendition is already an existing mode. But it is not the only mode and many captives can still be meaningfully interrogated under existing practices. If the McCain amendment has the effect of making any forceful interrogation short of torture illegal, then rendition will become the only mode. And the tragedy is that it will suit certain individuals just fine.

11/13/2005 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

I find it interesting that even though we accept killing our enemies on the field of battle even just to save one life, we are abhorent to coerce on captured terrorists even to save many lives.
Torture to torture is clearly wrong, but that isn't what we are talking about with this amendment is it? My solution is a legal procedure to submit a request to coerce during interrogation, necessitating the interrogating team to provide evidence that the detained is in possession of information that could save lives. Base on this, a panel of judge can then either grant the power to use coercive techniques or not. Coercive but not permanent maiming of killing.
I do think that having the power to "torture" for open ended "lets see what he knows" is fraught with opportunities for abuse and is below what we should expect of ourselves.

11/13/2005 03:10:00 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Just another pathetic gambit for McCain to get some face time on TV. He continues to be the most dangerous man on the face of the earth and the media who pander to his insatiable egomania are just as much to blame.

The security of every person on the face of the earth is at stake and they're pretending to care about whether some brutal avatar has a feather pillow and the alleged Republicans who have knuckled under to leftwing/media pressure and stalled the budget cuts and the ANWAR drilling bills have a special place in hell waiting for them too.

11/13/2005 03:32:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Dead on! If anyone doubts the effect of "changing the bean counting rules" consider what has happed in other areas. For example, nuclear power.
Periodically some hysterical antI-nuclear activist points out that official records shows that there were "5000 accidents in nuclear power plants" last year" or some such.
They neglect to mention that all of these accidents were forklifts hitting walls, trucks backing too fast into the loading ramp, people slipping in the bathroom, etc.
But since these occurred at a nuclear power plant and hence fall under NRC reporting requirements, they become "nuclear accidents".
I add to your predictions by saying that the cases of potential violations of the McCain law will soar, because they will be interpreted as falling under the law. A truck backs too fast into a loading ramp at a prison that has some terrorists there and it will become a reportable incident; you can count on it.
Finally, add the impact of the law to the possible "launch on warning" situations that we discussed earlier and you have a real nightmare. I.e., "Gee, we nuked West Badistan because it sounded kinda like they were going to pull something."

11/13/2005 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

"On the day the Amendment is passed there will be light everywhere except in the places of our soul where we don't want to look."
The story of the drunk who looked for his lost keys under the streetlamp because the light was better there comes to mind.

11/13/2005 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Our Mohammedan opponents are fighting a "Total War". There are no civilians, there are no noncombatants, there is no negotiation and there will be no Peace.
They are still of a mentality that they could lose, therefore anything goes, as long as they do not, lose.
As for US, victory is assured. Our arms and Government promises as much and more. Blood free warfare, UAVs and other Systems that let US kill from afar, without human contact or loss, to our side.
This we claim as fair, honorable and good. The opponent kills up close & personal. Often looking into the eye of the camera as the captive is decapitated. No apologies, no remorse. This we claim is pure evil. Dead is Dead.
The truck driver, bringing supplies to the Front is a combatant. Logistics being key to Victory a honest target for ambush, no matter if the driver is a "civilian" or soldier.
Targeting civilians has a long and successful history behind it, From Julius Caesar to Curtis LeMay. General Sherman tortured the South and won a War.

McCain's is a Standard born of Arrogance.

The answer to heathers dilemma as to the nature of this Mohammedan War and the debate on it's very existance. We are not, as a Country, at War. The US has Laws that describe how we, as a Nation, go to War. Those Laws have not been applied. So we are not at War. Only the Congress can put the US Government on a War footing, they have declined to do so. They have allowed the President to use Force to modify Iraq's actions and government, not War. Just Force, applied with care.
If we, as a people, want War, we should demand it and all that goes with it. But we do not.
The Responsibility lays with US.

11/13/2005 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Tell me then metadoc, who are we at War with? Saddam was named in the Authorization, where is he? Where is his Force? I'll tell you in a word, destroyed.
That Conflict is over. You are right, Congress can avoid it's responsibilities many ways, and often does. That may be just one of many reasons why public support for the President and his Policies is so high. Why we are still debating the worth of the effort, after we have completed it.
Because if you do not delare War, my friend, you are not at War. Words Matter.
Declarations of War, more than most.
The failure to enact one denotes a lack of seriousness on our part. Failure is an option, when it is just a foregin policy blunder, and not a War.

11/13/2005 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Going over past blogs on my blog (which is currently celebrating its first birthday) I came across a statement made by Wretchard in one of his old blogs.

He likens the normal law enforcement operations as being on a dimmer switch, where the use of force is carefully controlled and just enough force is applied to defeat inidividual criminal forces in society. He then stated the former administration tried to turn war fighting into a dimmer switch mode instead of a simple on/off switch.

Not only do amendments such as McCain's work to switch war fighting from on/off to dimmer mode they replace the light bulbs with bright lights.

This is not about banning torture it is about expanding the definition of torture.

Last night on TV I saw a depiction horrendous torture. Cardinal Biggles was prodding an old lady with soft cushions. Then Cardinal Fang placed her into a comfy chair (with coffee service at 11:00). Shocking!

11/13/2005 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger gcotharn said...

In a ticking clock scenario, if terrorists hide and operate inside a town of 30,000 homes, yet threaten a town of 500,000 homes, the safety of the entire town may depend on effective interrogation technique. The McCain Amendment could doom the entire town, instead of dooming one safehouse.

Second, these issues demand clear debate. It chokes me to say this, but the (cough)Senate(cough) is the designated place for America to have that debate. Here we see the practical effects of liberal domination of the media, and of the media's slide into politically correct dogma. U.S. Senators who would dare stand and legitimately debate the con side of the McCain Amendment in the (cough)"world's greatest debating society"(cough), could easily be demonized beyond repair. Their careers might effectively end the moment they engaged such debate.

If the debate does not occur: Senator reticence, left wing media, and politically correct dogma may have inevitably doomed the town of 30,000 homes.

11/13/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

Take a look at our treatment of hostiles during WWII. The Germans were more or less treated with Geneva protocols and American POW's recieved like treatment. Japan however beheaded, starved, and executed POW's. The war in the Pacific quickly became a war of no quarter.We fight a like minded enemy today. What message do we want our enemies to hear?
Torture should never be our policy, but somewhere in the shadows it will happen none the less.

11/13/2005 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Super 6,

They say the only news that spreads faster than how wounded soldiers fare in their own hospitals is how captured soldiers are treated by the enemy. What you talk about also happend WRT to the Germans and Russians. The Russians knew capture meant death by starvation in a German work camp. At least by fighting you had a chance to live.

However, what goes on at Gitmo & Abu Ghraib is nowhere near what happened in WWII to those captured by the Japanese or to Russians captured by the Germans. Not in scale nor in level of barbarity.

We have to remember quite a few of the people we are fighting against start out with death as their goal and if they can take out some infidel Westerners on the way out so much the better.

11/13/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...


Your point that the United States needs to outsource its heart of darkness is a valid one. Environmentalists that believe the rape of mother nature only occurs in America (thereby ensuring even worse transgressions elsewhere), the East Asian child sex trade that feeds off of Western tourism, the furor over child labor so long as it is connected to an American corporation (which leads to a much worse condition for the child), and the ill-advised war on drugs (where American foreign policy punishes other countries for responding to the market created by American demand) are all examples of the gap between the American image of itself--and the hidden facts and events that are subsequent to it.

All of this is to help us look in the mirror. So long as we see ourselves clean and smiling in the foreground, we can ignore all that messiness that is happening in the background.

As Hitchens says in his article about Darfur:

Nonintervention does not mean that nothing happens. It means that something else happens. Our policy in Darfur has not just failed to rescue a stricken black African population: It has actually assisted the Sudanese Islamists in completing their policy of racist murder. Thank heaven that we are tough enough to bear the shame of this, and strong enough to forgive ourselves.

11/13/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Super 6: You should know that the Germans treated our POWs as well as they did because they knew that reciprocity was possible. We held more of their troops in our prison camps then they held of ours in theirs.
But for counties for which reciprocity did not apply - e.g., Poland - the Germans treated their POWs far worse.
If indeed reciprocity is possible with the Islamic Facists, - and it probably is not - the McCain Amendment will eliminate any chance of it. They will always know that we will treat those that we capture far better than do they.
They will have nothing to lose by using torture.

11/13/2005 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

From Wikipedia:

Narcissism, in psychology is the pattern of thinking and behaving which involves infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of others. It may be seen manifest in the chronic pursuit of personal gratification and public attention, in social dominance and personal ambition, bragging, insensitivity to others, lack of empathy and/or excessive dependence on others to meet his/her responsibilities in daily living and thinking.

Sounds about right to me.

11/13/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Torture in War, what War?
Ms Pelosi declared the Mission in Afghanistan "Complete" months ago.

Now, John Edwards, an exUS Senator and VP candidate has endorsed my position on the War on Iraq.

"... The urgent question isn't how we got here but what we do now. We have to give our troops a way to end their mission honorably. That means leaving behind a success, not a failure.

What is success? I don't think it is Iraq as a Jeffersonian democracy. I think it is an Iraq that is relatively stable, largely self-sufficient, comparatively open and free, and in control of its own destiny.

A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing the American presence, building Iraq's capacity and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help.

First, we need to remove the image of an imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary KBR, then KBR should go. Such departures, and the return of the work to Iraqi businesses, would be a real statement about our hopes for the new nation.

We also need to show Iraq and the world that we will not stay there forever. We've reached the point where the large number of our troops in Iraq hurts, not helps, our goals. Therefore, early next year, after the Iraqi elections, when a new government has been created, we should begin redeployment of a significant number of troops out of Iraq. This should be the beginning of a gradual process to reduce our presence and change the shape of our military's deployment in Iraq. Most of these troops should come from National Guard or Reserve forces.

That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better-trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country.

Second, this redeployment should work in concert with a more effective training program for Iraqi forces. We should implement a clear plan for training and hard deadlines for certain benchmarks to be met. To increase incentives, we should implement a schedule showing that, as we certify Iraqi troops as trained and equipped, a proportional number of U.S. troops will be withdrawn.

Third, we must launch a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort. We should bring Iraq's neighbors and our key European allies into a diplomatic process to get Iraq on its feet. The president needs to create a unified international front. ..."

There you have it.
Define Victory and Achieve it.

John Edwards, A Man with a Plan

To those of you that were here and can remember, I hate to say it, but ... told ya so.
As Iraq goes so goes the whole War on Mohammedan Fascists.
oh yeah, what War?

Why not Osama?

11/13/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

If torture legislation does pass, expect al-Queda to have an update in their training manual to that effect within a week, informing their jihadist martyr-wannabe's that nothing bad will ever happen to them ever ever ever, and they can be just as bloody-minded as they can think up to be.

We know Al-Queda has already been training their devotee's to claim torture where none was inflicted, and it's amusing watching Gitmo captives send stories back to their homelands that are practically verbatim accounts taken from Al-Q's "instructions on what to do when you're capture".

Since they routinely claim to be tortured now anyway, what difference does it make whether we do or don't when it comes to world PR? And if we're not doing it to assure the world that we're Good Guys, then why, exactly, is this legislation needed and who is it aimed towards? Surely not the bleeding hearts in Berkley.

11/13/2005 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...


Good point. If we're already the Great Satan, what's campaign-finance-style reform laws going to do for us? They not only don't believe us already, they want us dead. This law is not about our enemies, or wished for reciprocity. This is pure political grandstanding that is only going to weaken us.

Pragmatically, such laws will lead to less and less "boots on the ground" campaigns. The USAF doesn't have boots on the ground (except Force Protection, Night Stalkers, etc.) and B-52's take no prisoners.

Many have made the point: if there's nothing can be gained from prisoners, there will be no prisoners. The Pacific Campaign against the Japanese is a very apt reference to the enemy we face.

This new law is a political sop to make ourselves feel better, and our lack of intelligence gathering capability be damned. We're Superman, doncha know?

11/13/2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

"One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends, because they will go there to conquer it. The wombs of our women will give us victory".
__Former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne in a 1974 UN speech..

anyone who has read the old testatment knows that women in that age (and probably all ages up to 1960 or so-- who were childless were deeply shamed.

now this is not officially considered to the be the way childless women feel today. but I think unofficially that's just the way women would naturally feel as having childen goes to the identity of what it is to be a woman. so I think "unofficially" things have not changed in that respect

now consider the consequence when you have a whole civilization which is barren.

can anyone draw a clear and precise distinction between what it is to be in a state of shame and what it is to feel immoral or unclean. can anyone draw a sharp line between shame and sin?

There is difference but most people don't recognize the distinction.

11/13/2005 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

RWE, I think that's a bit off.

Just take a look at the Soviet treatment of German POWs, treatment that carried into the late 1940s and even early 1950s for some.

No, I think it had much to do with the fact the Germans considered Slavs sub-human. British, Americans, and even French were at least human competition worthy of some decent treatment.

11/13/2005 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

On the HBO program ROME, Princess Cleopatra asks Caesar of his sons, his reply, "I have none."
"How sad" replies the future Queen
"Why sad?" queries the Roman
"He who has no sons, has no future."
As in was for Caesar,
so it is for Europe.

11/13/2005 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Funny we were ready to burn, irradiate millions of civilians if our own were hit. Funny that is still our posture if Russia, China, Pakistan, or Israel nukes us....


No other allies on this list with nukes? hmm can we say your perspective is biased? What about if France nuked us? What about India? or North Korea?

no, same old israel hating c4...

11/13/2005 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger sammy small said...

I expect that the McCain Amendment will be followed by other "rules of war" amendments championed by leftists and their political allies. One must ask what conditions have brought us to the current atmosphere where the use of force and techniques defined as "torture" are being questioned and challenged so seriously.

Could it be that these issues are seen as moot in the future of armed combat. Are chances that the next confrontation will be where WMD are brought forth, making the treatment of individual combatants and non-combatants irrelevant?

11/13/2005 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It would be an attempt to limit the options open to US. Where the future battles will be of continued low intensity, in the Middle East, Asia, South America and even Europe, our ability to respond, in kind, could be limited.

If you remember the story of LTC Kurilla and his alleged attacker. The suspected shooter had be arrested by US Forces previously, related to a mess hall bombing in Mosul, but had been released by Iraqi Judges. This is a case, much like wretchard describes, where we handed the suspect over to nonUS authorities. Wretchard seems to think that torture would then invariably ensue. This certainly was not the case in LTC Kurilla's story. That episode may just be the exception that proves the rule, but I doubt it.

11/13/2005 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

Aristides & RWE you miss read me. I don't think we need mccains amendment, it will only hinder our efforts.
After Gettysburg and countless engagements like it, Sherman's total war brought it to a close. The seed of blitzkrieg lies in American offensives in WWI. Combine forces and kick ass. We currently have policies against torture, and the offences that have occured in this war are trivial politics.
We have allowed congress and the POTUS to circumvent the constitution since the 1950's. If we are going to fight anywhere, let's hold the government accountable and declare our wars. The American way of fighting "total war" was pretty successful until the 50's, since then....sad

11/13/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

playah grrrl -just for your information, I find your OT comment inappropriate and offensive. I support Mr. Roggio and have already donated to him, but anyone who parachutes in commenting on "dinosaur" anything, and then begs for money from the assembled audience is green, naive, greedy and rude. Begging for money on someone else's blog -- someone who has built up an audience after careful and thoughtful posting for a long time now -- is exactly the same thing as spam from Nigeria, should one of those African fella's happen to find Wretchard's blog, too.

Run away now and practice your teeny-bopper tactics some place where they won't stand out so badly as being rude and inappropriate.

11/13/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Super 6: I was not saying taht you want McCain's amendment, I was saying that the Germans in WWII were far less motivated by the Geneva protocols than they were by fear of what the Americans and British would do to the huge numbers of German POWs that were under Allied control.
The Japanese did not believe there should be any POWs from their side and so had not problems with anything we did to them. The Soviets had much the same attitude: "Fight to the death, and if captured you no longer exist as far as we are concerned." The Soviets routinely took their own people from liberated prison camps and put them back into the combat line - usually without guns - telling them to wait until someone else was shot and then take his gun.
Cutler: My take on the POW situation is derived largely from conversations with a friend of mine who was a Polish Army POW in the custody of the Germans. He said that the Germans had no respect for anyone who was from a country not holding some of their people. In fact, I do not recall reading of the Germans treating American or British POWs according to their ethinic background. They were known to offer a newly shot down Allied airman a chance to fly for the Luftwaffe if he looked like he might have "Nordic Blood" but I do not recall hearing that they separated out the American Slavs, or even the Jewish soldiers for different treatment. I also do not recall hearing that they treated Free Poles flying for the RAF as anything but Allied soldiers.
In a related topic: I see where they captured the woman suicide bomber in Jordan; her bomb did not go off but her husband's did. She apparently has both confessed and gave details. A gold mine!
Among other things she admitted that the wedding party was a deliberate target, not merely collateral damage. That should really P.O. the Jordanians.
I wonder how much "encouragement" they applied to get her to talk?

11/13/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Oengus said...

Wretchard: "The time is long since past when politicians could say to a nation at war "death and sorrow will be the companion of our journey…"

That our politicians are hollow men is precisely why I fear that ultimately we will lose.

When there is no clarity of purpose, no solidity of concept, nor spiritual or moral center that will hold up against the storm, how can we possibly win?

11/13/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Hmmmmm. How about a stated policy that the U.S. tries the jihadis via military tribunal, and summarily execute all but a few. And, then let it be known that we don't execute those that give us information; those we release back to their country of origin.

11/13/2005 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

gee whiz, nahncee, wretchard reccomended making donations to Roggio's effort.
When it comes to rudeness, wishing nuclear war and radioactive death upon entire regions, peoples and religions puts all other forms of rudeness to shame. To beat the drums and promote the deaths of millions to further YOUR political aims, now that is RUDE. Never mentioned it before, did not want to seem rude, myself, in wretchard's salon, so to speak, but since YOU brought the subject up...

I've noticed you try to monitor the expressions of others, first ole' doug, and now this new poster, grrl. You're not one of those dinos she speaks of, are you?

Let wretchard lead the discussion about about what is inappropriate, he is more than capable, you are not.

11/13/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

RWE said...
In a related topic: I see where they captured the woman suicide bomber in Jordan; her bomb did not go off but her husband's did. She apparently has both confessed and gave details. A gold mine!
Among other things she admitted that the wedding party was a deliberate target, not merely collateral damage. That should really P.O. the Jordanians.
I wonder how much "encouragement" they applied to get her to talk?

Wouldn't it be great tv if they wrapped her in a pig skin, hung her from a crane and then exploded her with her bomb belt? now that would start a precedent!

11/13/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Porker's Hour
Now that would be "Must see TV!!!

11/13/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger THE said...

I'm thinking that there's a lot of progress being reported that fMRI scanners are getting better and better at detecting when a brain is lying - And this is only the published research. ;)

Could be only a matter of time until they just squeeze you into a MRI scanner and question you. Say anything you like, or nothing at all, and your brain responses will show the truth. It ought to be possible to interrogate anybody on any subject with the right protocol.

A disaster for privacy but an enormous advance on torture, lie detectors and "truth serum".

11/13/2005 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

opps.. to be fair...

any christian or jewish suicide bomber from the west/israel they catch with bomb belts they can do that too!

11/13/2005 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Oengus Moonbones said.."That our politicians are hollow men is precisely why I fear that ultimately we will lose."

Did you see Jay Rockefeller on Fox News this morning? Jay is definitely one of these "hollow men" you speak of.

11/13/2005 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Red A said...

I think the problem is that the public is not aware there are already laws and procedures to prevent torture.

Also, the impression now in the global public's mind is that US forces torture and there are no controls. (Thanks MSM and anti-Americanism for this.)

I see the amendment as an attempt to re-set this back to zero.

What will happen most likely is that anyone captured in Iraq or Afghanistan will be turned over to their people to interrogate.

BTW, anyone notice that Jordan broadcast a POW today? Isn't that against Geneva? Complete double standard.

11/13/2005 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

BTW, anyone notice that Jordan broadcast a POW today? Isn't that against Geneva? Complete double standard.

She aint a POW, she is the butt ugly terrorist wannabe murderer....

according to the "geneva convention" she has NO legal rights...

11/13/2005 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Dead or alive, If you harbour a terrorist you are as guilty as the terrorist.
If you pledge the US to a course of action, best to follow it to the end. If you speak, softly or loudly, best to say what you mean and mean what you say.
Or you will become known as a liar.

Truth of dare
Why not Osama?

11/13/2005 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...

What the McCain Amendment will do is change the bean-counting rules. It will not create a framework in which real torture can be limited and stopped.

Absolutely spot-on. We see this in industry daily. The industry in which I labor is heavily OSHA'd. Reported injuries on a jobsite result in a paperwork blizzard that siphons man-hours that could be used more productively elsewhere.

CEOs everywhere seek to limit this non-value-added cost by leading a charge to zero-tolerance for workplace injuries.

As if Joe Blow doesn't care if he leaves the jobsite missing a finger... or an entire hand.

Workers are educated at length in safe work habits - all incidents, no matter how minor, must be reported. Worker A snags a hangnail - queue the productivity-sapping paperwork blizzard.

End Result? Many incidents, some significant, go unreported... under the radar, so to speak. Within the last two months I've seen a guy get part of an index finger crushed to the point it didn't seem possible surgery could be avoided.

Reported? Nope. The worker wrapped the finger, slipped on a pair of leather gloves, and finished the job at hand.

Last time I saw him, the fingernail had started to regrow... looked pretty good. In another month, you won't be able to tell anything happened.

But it did happen... it's just that the employer has no idea. With less ornerous regulations in place, this would probably have been reported.

As it is, the employer actually has no idea just what's actually going on "out there."

So will it be with torture. Unless McCain lacks the intellectual candlepower to negotiate his way out of a wet paper sack, he MUST understand this reality.

The man is a publicity whore with an ego gone wild. Please, sir, step aside while the adults take the necessary action.

11/13/2005 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Why waste the pig hide on a Christian or Jew? We could skip that step entirely.

Mr Menachem Begin is already dead, as are most of his fellow King David Hotel bombers, so whom else do we find to fill the bill as the Jewish terrorists?
Terrorist bombings may have started in Palistine, it just was not the Palistinians who thought of it, first.
We could send Mr Nickols as the Christian sacrifice, he is certainly deserving, but he won't get to ride the lightning of Justice, either. Laws being what they are.

The Jordanians are not concerned about the Geneva Accords, they are not at War, they just arrest and obtain public confessions from murderers. They do not elevate Border Bandit murderers to the status of Combatant, so the Geneva Accords do not apply.
Only the US and it's Anglosphere Allies are calling this Conflict a "War".
To the Mohammedans the Conflict is a Religious Calling, a way into Paradise, much like the Catholic's Priesthood. Got to spread the word, by the sword if that is required.
To the French it is just economics and racial challenges, the conflict has nothing to do with War.
To the Palistinians it is only a dispute about "Land", not a War.
For the Egyptians and the Royals in the KSA, it's business as usual.

As for US, our authorized "War" was with Saddam and his Army. Where have they gotten off to? I've heard they're long gone, sent to the dust bin of history, either in chains or boxes.

What of 9-11?
what of dead or alive?
what of justice?

Why not Osama?
The World is to large and the US to weak for Justice to prevail, that is the message sent to his minions each and every day he breathes free.

11/13/2005 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

The fine, high-level moral sentiments being tossed around on torture are not worth much in a combat situation. When you are under the stress of being threatened with death at any moment, and the same with all of your buddies, a few simple rules will quickly emerge to handle captured terrorists.

If you capture a terrorist, he will be interrogated in the field, and if he appears to be holding out, two old sargeants will come in to find out the information. They will take the terrorist out behind the camp somewhere and either get the information or not. The terrorist will not survive.
Officers will most assuredly look the other way.

The exception to this is if they find out that the terrorist is, or claims to be, a Big Cheese in AQ. Then he will be sent back to higher HQ for their dispensation, perhaps a bit roughed up, but still alive.

The same general procedure will take place there too. If the terrorist is confirmed to be a BC, he will receive great attention. But if he is found to be a lying small fry, he just might not make it to prison in one whole piece.

Cynical? Yes, indeed so! But you are talking to soldiers who have seen their buddies blown to bits by IEDs, or shot through the head in an ambush.

Then too, the soldiers have wrecked carnage themselves, and have become hardened to the facts of horrible woundings, death, torture, and moralizing fat cats quite safe at home. Their finer sensitivities are not much in evidence anymore. To them, it matters litle what paper the President signed about torture.

Knowing this will happen puts all of us in the position of having set up a situation where torture WILL take place. Hence, if we support the deployment of troops into combat, we are accepting the fact of torture taking place in many circumstances. So very many of us have supported our actions in Iraq. We cannot duck our moral responsibilities here. We condone torture, either explicitly or implicitly, right now, and have for years.

Face it.

11/13/2005 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Where did your two old sarges come up with the language skills? Can they tell the difference between a Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi by accent? Like our Iraqi allies can?
How'd they pick up the fluent Farsi? Not at the local Shite Mohammedan strip club in Baghdad, that's for sure.
Is their Chinese or Korean just as good, or a tad better?
Spanish operations, yeah, you could field expedient with spanish speakers. That is about it though, German, Russian or other eastern European languages are beyond the linguistic skills of most E-6's. Let alone what ever language they speak in Warzistan.
It is not the Civil War, any more.

11/13/2005 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Desert Rat:

Some outfits or missions have interpreters assigned to them, and of these, a few are trusted well-enough to help out in hard interrogations as well. Indeed, they just might take a personal hand in it for their own reasons. No one said the procedure was perfect either!

But it happens.

11/13/2005 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I mean if we are wacking the suspects out back of the GP Mediums, well, it's to bad the one that shot LTC Kurilla got sent to the rear.

I can just imagine the FNG speaking to the CNN reporter...

"Why, just out back the bodies are piling up, cause the sarge, he don't speak no Ariibeck. He don't trust them interputors, neeeither, says they're Hadjis all of 'em."

I don't believe it for a moment.

Planned snatches and Phoenix Program type operations would be covered under this type of Law.

11/13/2005 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

i just reread the post from Desert Rat. I can't vouch for the linguistic skills of all E6s in the armed forces, especially not now, but I and several of my E4, E5 and E6 buddies were rather good at languages way back when. We came out of colleges with perhaps two years of a foreign language behind us, and then were immersed in the country that spoke it. But, of course, the average Ex today might not give a damn about other languages.

11/13/2005 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Desert Rat - I've also noticed a touch of misogyny on your part, but didn't want to get into it with you since I'm assuming you're an Alpha Male and far too set in your ways to change. I think that trying to change the subject from inappropriate rudeness to a discussion of nuclear annhiliation is also a questionable debating tactic, but if that's all you've got to swing, then I guess that's what you'll use.

What the Chicklet did was analagous to passing by a house and seeing an open door with the sounds of a gathering coming out.

The Grrrrrrl saunters into the house, through the open door, and enters the living room where there is a discussion already in progress. She then plunks herself down on the sofa, props her feet up on the coffee table, and announces, apropos of nothing, "Yo! I think all youwse dinosaurs should give this other guy $3,000 because it's important to me."

In addition to having nothing to do with the current discussion, it also ignores the host, or that host might be accepting contributions himself.

Now maybe in the land of Desert Rats and Grrrrrrrrls, this is intrusive begging is OK. In most other places, however, it is not (other than perhaps in the confines of the Democratic Party). And no matter how you tap dance around it, or try to change the subject, or call me names, the fact remains that it is extraordinarily rude.

And I really have to wonder, Mr. Rat, whether part of the reason you are sticking up for the Grrrrrrrrl is simply for the opportunity to attack me. And if so, why is that?

11/13/2005 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

White House declines to totally rule out torture:

Americans at large don't seem to have a clear-cut position on the use of torture. The latest Newsweek opinion poll found that 58 percent of the public would support torture to thwart a terrorist attack.

But the same survey showed that 51 percent of Americans believe it is rarely or never justified, while 44 percent said torture is often or sometimes justified to obtain important information.

Torture Poll

11/13/2005 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

This is just like when we tighten up environmental regulations here, and immediately start importing the goods made by the processes we thereby just shut down.

This will go on as long as enough of the public cares more about the pose than the substance (which means for a very long time).

11/14/2005 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

I agree with RWE's statement:

...I add to your [Wretchard's] predictions by saying that the cases of potential violations of the McCain law will soar, because they will be interpreted as falling under the law. A truck backs too fast into a loading ramp at a prison that has some terrorists there and it will become a reportable incident; you can count on it.

Yes, it could just open a can of worms. As, it stands the McCain's Amendment could be abused in many ways - on both sides.

As some posters have noticed, the Amendment is vague and somewhat circular. Some posters pointed out that the DoD controls the Army and would most likely control the Army Field manual - hence, McCain could well be defeating his own objective.

I will leave it at that because other posters have covered the subject well.

Now, I have followed John McCain and supported some of his ideas for over the years. I believe John McCain means well - yet he seems to always get himself and his supporters into a bind. John McCain just doesn't respect Murphy's laws. And, they seem to always come back to haunt him (or those around him).

From the day that air to surface missile discharged and struck his fuel laden jet on that carrier deck to the signing of the campaign finance law, his well meaning actions tend to succumb to Murphy's Laws (they go astray with negative consequences).

[3 examples of Murphy's laws]:

"If anything can go wrong, it will and at the most inopportune time.

"If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong."

"If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.

See: Murphy's laws

Now, how realistic is it to expect McCain's Amendment will pass in its current form? The chances are well below house odds (slim). In fact, McCain seems to realize it himself.

[John McCain]:

Mr. President, this amendment is identical to the one added by a 90-9 vote to the Defense Department Appropriations bill. Because of the extraordinary support for this legislation and its importance to our men and women in uniform, it is imperative that these provisions remain on the appropriations measure, which is now in conference. While I am now offering this amendment to the authorization bill in order to preserve all legislative options, I expect no one to argue that these critical provisions should thus be struck from the appropriations bill.

They should not be removed from the appropriations bill; they should stay on that "must-pass" measure to ensure their earliest enactment into law. On that bill, the provisions won the votes of 46 Republican senators and 44 Democrats. In addition, I understand, a clear majority in the House supports these provisions, wants to see them remain intact, and wishes to have them remain on the appropriations measure. I commend Congressman Murtha for his leadership and efforts to date to offer a motion to instruct conferees to keep this amendment intact without modification. I would hope that no one seeks procedural maneuvers to thwart overwhelming majorities in both chambers.

Let me be clear... a bicameral, bipartisan majority in support of this amendment will prevail. Even if the will of the majority is thwarted this month, if it is thwarted next month, it will not be denied indefinitely. If necessary, and I sincerely hope it is not, I and the co-sponsors of this amendment will seek to add it to every piece of important legislation voted on in the Senate until the will of a substantial bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress prevails.

See: McCain Statement

It looks like the McCain Amendment has a long road to travel before coming into law. Even if it does become law, I would doubt that it will be in it's current form.

11/14/2005 01:29:00 AM  
Blogger moderationist said...

Just like the fact that no laws will stop abortion, (anyone who wants one will just go where they are available), so no laws will never stop young guys from going over the line when they are in mortal combat.

11/14/2005 04:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Today even our conflicts, like our food, must be untouched by human hands.

How easily we forget that this life of ease and affluence is such a recent and nearly unique experience. Hewitt was mentioning the Little House on the Prarie books and how it is too bad that kids are not taught how tough life was for our forefathers not so distantly removed.

This interesting Russian Chronicles Blog reminded me of how tough and close to raw (and deadly) natural forces many still live.

Russian Chronicles .
The whole series on "Revisiting the Farmer" is pretty amazing.

Your Quote above reminded me of these two:

Revisiting the Farmer 12

Revisiting the Farmer 13

11/14/2005 05:08:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

As Ledger, RWE, and others point out the effects on our soldiers will be the same as they always are when those removed from and awareness of the soldier's daily reality mess with their lives.
I repost the Brits dealing with the same sort of approach:
. Iraq battle stress worse than WWII.
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.

11/14/2005 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

back in the day... that was then, this is now.
As I said, linguistic skills are few and far between, outside of Spanish, in today's military.
My son's experiences in Iraq and his after action reports confirmed it, at least in the USMC outside Fallujah. Arab speakers are very few and far between in the Corps, in Iraq.
There were many more video recorders and cameras than there were translaters, in or out of uniform.
The lack of progress in Iraqi training was, reportedly, caused by lingusitic problems and lack of translators.
Mr Yon reported the same situation vis a vie LTC Kurilla in Mosul. Not many translators on the Platoon level. If the bad guy makes it to Hdqtrs, he's not going behind the tents. Each operation, today, is covered by media and, more importantly to this discussion, by military lawyers.
Just clearing a building, as occurred in Fallujah, brings cameramen and the second guessing of Operational decisions made by privates. The Operations our military under take now, are more like Police Crime Scenes then they were during back in the day, historical operations.
In all reality it is more likely for an Officer to be fragged, as occurred in Kuwait, then a prisoner to be truely abused.
Prisoner abuse is already illegal by Combat Troops, the situation you described, manning, is already covered by the UCMJ, extensively.
Ask Lt Calley about the applicability of UCMJ to murder if there are doubts in your mind.

Attack you, me? Obviously you have never been TRUELY attacked, if you thought I assualted YOU.
Look at the archives of this site and you will see where wretchard often cites Mr Roggio as a source. You would also see that wretchard promoted Mr Roggio's fund drive, making a overt request to donate to Mr Roggio, his blog and his proposed trip to Iraq.
Ms grrl's update on the progress of that fund drive is totally in keeping with the ongoing topics that are discussed, here. Ms grrl's post was NOT a crude attempt at solicitation, but part of a continuing effort by readers. here, to get the most current and accurate information available about US efforts overseas. It was part of a Belmont Club approved and supported effort to expand our horizons of knowledge.
In your world there would be little need for the torture of individuals, you want to bring nuclear fires and genocide to Medina, in KSA, because there are important Mohammedan Religious sites there. You have advocated "preemptive" nuclear attacks against Iran.
That has been your position in the past, it is a RUDE to advocate genocide, for any reason.

11/14/2005 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

On the subject of where the Opponents stage, prior to becoming prisoners, Ralph Peters writes in the NY Post about stability and "Regime Change" in Syria

" ... You bet that the fall of the House of Assad would create a period of turmoil in Syria. But there are various kinds of instability — the murderous sort Syria exports to its neighbors, and the kind that gives people a chance at a better future.

Regime change in Damascus may turn ugly. But the longer the people's will is suppressed, the worse the tumult will be.

Excusing dictatorships is never to America's advantage. The Shah always falls; the day comes when Saddam turns.

Turning a blind eye to Assad Junior's mix of malevolence and incompetence — as our deep thinkers recommend — would only prolong the current instability in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon. If an interval of disorder in Syria is the price of increased stability in every neighboring state, that sounds like a bargain. ..."

11/14/2005 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

One of our main justifications for the War in Iraq is that we are better then them, that not only will they benefit by submiting to our superiority but so will we. Democracy will flourish and all will benefit. Yet so many here are willing to step down to 'their' level and act as they act (torture, no due process ect) because they do it and we are afraid. So many seem to try to justify it simply on numbers. Gee, we are only hurting a few and some even may be innocent, but we MIGHT be saving thousands.

Take a look at a similar ethical issue in our criminal justice system and our desire to convict based on 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. We feel it is more important to let some guilty go in order to not convict an innocent. Do not all your arguments apply in this forum as well? Should we adopt similar policies at home based on the same numbers game?

We are better then them because we believe and institute Rule of Law, Due Process, and no torture. If we abandon these tenets then we are trully no better then them and the whole underpinning for our adventure there is totally undermined.

11/14/2005 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

ash: We are not better than them just because we believe in the rule of law.
Believing in the Rule of Law is simply a reflection of our basic beliefs in human dignity and common decency. That is why we are better than "them."
We are better than them for the reasons we take up arms. We do do so to liberate, defend ourselves and others who are too weak - or too stupid - or too venal - rather than for conquest, treasure, or in the name of some aggressive religion or fascist philosophy.
Ultimately, we are better than them because of what we believe and how we act on that belief, not because we have written down elaborate tomes on self chastiment.
The fact that this was not always true - that we were not always better than "them" in every way does not change the fact that we are better now and have been for some time.
Iraq was nt invaded to ensure the rule of law would triumph, it was invaded because it was the decent, correct, and wise thing to do. The rule of law derives from that fact rather than vice versa.

11/14/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ed Brenegar said...

The torture issue is another in a series of discussions that is not really about torture, but about whether the US should have gone to war. It is a political issue. This is not a discussion about whether this amemdment will make us more secure. It is about being better than our enemies. In war, the way you want to be better than your enemies is to secure victory on the field of battle. Ultimately, this is not a question about security, but about politics. It is demonstrating the the President is weak, shouldn't have gone to war, and that "we" are better then "him."
Soldiers keep in mind their responsibility as they have been trained. If on the field of battle they are concerned that their action will be used for political purposes, it places their lives in far greater jeopardy than they already are.
I don't like torture. And the question that we should be asking is whether it is effective. And I suspect that torture that passes a certain point of harshness is counter productive.

11/14/2005 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Ed Brenegar wrote:

"and the question that we should be asking is whether it is effective."

A more important question then tortures' efficacy is "Is it Ethical"?

11/14/2005 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

(4) So thoroughly convinced of the superiority of their ideas that reality can repeatedly stare them in the face to no effect, as in recent history leaving their belief in socialism intact, or even beat "them" over the head as in the slaughter of 3,000 (largely liberal) folks on 9-11, leaving their beliefs in weakness, appeasement, and the
superiority of their liberal ideas in general intact.

11/14/2005 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Torture is not the only topic being discussed here.
We are also addressing issues such as the needless harassment and endangerment of our troops by media hungry politicians.

11/14/2005 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Doug, what, don't you believe in a free press?

11/14/2005 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

In an interesting side note,
Iraqi President calls for withdrawal talks in 2006 with troop movements in '07.

I think President Jalal Talabani has gotten to accustommed to the "Gravey Train". It should be made clear to Mr Talabani, and all Iraqis that we'll start leaving this spring, they best be getting ready.

11/14/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Funny, but President Talabani believes, like I do that aQ Iraq is a criminal, not military, problem.

"... Talabani said those orchestrating the attacks were not from Iraq and were not part of any resistance movement.

"It has nothing to do with resistance. These people kill women, children. ... These people are not part of any resistance against foreign troops," he said. "They are criminals who violate human rights." ..."

He just needs US troops to continue to fight Iraq's Civil War and legitimize the National Government. That is why he does not want US to leave, That and the money being spent.
His Goals are not exactly the same as US.

11/14/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As to US torturing Prisoners, ha
here is another "real world" example of catch and release...

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — American forces last year detained and later released an Iraqi with a name that matched one of three suicide bombers who struck Amman hotels, killing 57 people, the U.S. military said Monday

"...a man by that name was detained by American forces in November 2004 during their assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. The Americans said they did not know if the man they detained was the same Safaa Mohammed Ali identified by the Jordanians as one of the bombers.

"He was detained locally at the division detention facility" but was released two weeks later because there was no "compelling evidence to continue to hold him" as a "threat to the security of Iraq," the military said. ..."

11/14/2005 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

And from this AP Story
" ... President Bush has refused to set a timetable, saying that would play into the hands of insurgents. However, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi said Friday that U.S. troops could begin leaving in significant numbers sometime next year. ..."

Chalabi, another Man with a Plan.

11/14/2005 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

You periodically ask about what if we caught Osama.
In the realm of what if, and the category of catch and release, what if we had locked up the whole damn bin Laden retinue, instead of a free ride home.
Seems the golden chain would have had a weak master link, at least.
Oh! the humanity!
Freedom for Rich, Fat Saudi Fascists!

11/14/2005 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The evidence is all to clear.
We are not torturing any Iraqi detainees. We are not "sweating" them, if fact, many cells have A/C, while most homes do not.

Three hots and a cot, 'til released, just like the Mother of the "Bionic Runner" in Mr Yon's dispatch's told her boy as he was led away.

Combatant aged males, picked up during the assualt on Fallujah, were released in just two weeks. That must have been some kind of vetting process. At least a fast as in Mosul, maybe quicker.

The song, however, remains the same.

11/14/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

On the Editorial Page BY MARK BOWDEN Sometimes cruelty and coercion are necessary in dealing with enemy prisoners.
As the writer explains at the end of this article, torture is NOT "always evil," although it is, and should be illegal, and pardoned when special circumstances warrant.

(The ticking Nuke in NY City is the classic example. New York Liberals would NOT consider a ticking Nuke in Dallas worth any duress whatsoever, and would favor a rapid release asap.)

11/14/2005 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

melisus, a critical distinction between the Justice system and detention by the military is that there is 'due process' in the justice system.

Desert Rat, it seems Waterboarding (holding the subjects head under water for progressively longer periods of time to make the subject think that he is about to be drowned) is pretty generally used techinique. Would this not constitute torture? Has not the Bush administration specifically asked for an exemption from the McCain bill for the CIA under presidential authority. Is that not simply asking for the legal sanction for torture?

11/14/2005 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Desert Rat:

If I read correctly, your son is in the Marines, and not in Special Forces or Intelligence. There is a difference in training and other skills, such as languages, between the two. What language skills from whatever sources there are in the zone are partitioned out to the teams that need it most for their missions.

The DOD runs some very fine language training courses, and has done so for many years. It is amazing what they can do with a good pupil in 12 to 18 months to teach them conversational skills.

All of this palaver was designed to avoid the fact that torture is not uncommon on the battlefield, it is not reported, and there is plausable denial for the officers involved. And that those of us who supported the war are defacto supporting the hidden, unlawful actions of our troops as well.

Your comic interlude is meant to avoid accepting the fact that on occasion there are a few unaccounted-for bodies found somewhere in the rubble that night after the action is over, perhaps with AK-47 rounds in them. Many of our troops keep Ks around, especially in armored units.

It might be educational for you to spend some time visiting some returnees from Iraq, in particular career noncoms. That is if you can gain their trust, which just might be a huge problem. If you are not sponsored properly, you could get your walking papers real fast if you asked one about torturing prisoners! In the end, I guess it would be a really bad idea. All you might learn is something to the effect that : "We do what is necessary to protect our men."

Your relying on embedded reporters and military lawyers to uncover such actions simply won't wash for all missions and all circumstances. If they are indeed around, who in hell would wring out a prisoner in front of their cameras and notebooks? Give the men some intelligence! They know very well what the stakes are for their actions, and they probably know the UCMJ backwards. So they know how and when to break the rules, and they know how to keep their mouths' shut. SF operations, in particular, are not usually accompanied by reporters or lawyers(laughing here!).

11/14/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Not, I'd think, if the subject is not drowned. But then again who is doing this and to whom. Under what circumstances and conditions. It does not seem to be SOP at the Mosul or Fallujah Division Hdqtrs. Or if it is, the technique is none to effective at identifying bad guys.
When I did my stint in boarding school, upper classmen would, sometimes, "Flush" a freshmen, head first into the toilet. Listening to the "Ocean Roar" they'd say. Well, I never experienced it myself but I'm sure it was an unpleasent experience. But torture?
To save how many lives?
That is the ethical balance.
So just what is torture, panties on the head, a nasal flushing and pissin' on a koran or chopping off some fingers and electrified gonads.
There is a major difference.

11/14/2005 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

dave h
But the twist to your scenario

The President, if he strikes premptively, may or may not stop the first strike against the US homes, but his actions will assure a second strike of at least the same magnitude in an economic shock as the the nuclear strike. Impoverishing millions of Americans and destroying the Global Market place, as it exists today. Devastating the US and the World economies for Generations to come. As well as a verifiable danger of a possible nuclear retaliatory strike. Against US or our Allies.
That is a much more realistic scenario to play with.
What to do?

11/14/2005 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Now, what if the homes that are threaten are Israeli or Iraqi?

English, French or German?


11/14/2005 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It wasn't for you, per se.
Though a gentleman should defend a ladies honor, especially when she is in the right.
I read Mr Roggio, daily, his tactical reporting from open and nonclassified private sources is outstanding. I expect his reportage from Iraq to be first rate. It is my understanding the Marines are waiting for his arrival, before beginning "Clear & Hold" operations in Ramadi.

The handicapped thing, about the cleft palettes, well that's over the top. Really beyond advocating genocide, well maybe not.

I just have a thing about folks that are intentionally rude. To be WRONG, well that's one thing. Every one is wrong, at one time or another. But to be rude, while typing, that's pretty much a matter of self control. Just because a person is anonymous does not give them license to be less than polite. Actually being anonymous makes civility all the more important to the quality of the dialog.

11/14/2005 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger THE said...

Uh oh,

"Nurse, Oxytocin for two please."

Oxytocin: The Hormone Of Love

After all, if youre going to mudwrestle, we don't want you hurting each other.


11/14/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

The Machinist said...
Sen. McCain's defense, but please do note: in the same article, he says "The Israelis don't torture."
The Israelis DO use "moderate physical pressure."
No? Am I wrong?

Saddly israel does not torture, if you listen to the arab world it's worse than the SS, truthfully their ability to get information is based on informers, arabs settling personal scores against armed bullies that terrorise their own population with murder, torture and rape beyond anything israel could dream of let alone do.. I only like the IDEA of torture of mass murderers for PAIN, not for information, since terrorists have this "belief" system, if MENTAL games like splashing red paint from a female soldier's panties or fling pig fat on them scares them into a nervious breakdown, I say fine, seems fair for the crime of genocide, and the arguement that if we do it we are no better? nonsense, we dont pick out INNOCENT people, we pick out the MASS MURDERING SPECIFIC ASSHOLE not the same And the arguement, if we do we can not expect to be treated well by the enemy is JUST as specious. After all YOU dont what to KNOW what they do to their enemies (and have been doing for CENTURIES)

11/14/2005 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Tilo Reber said...

It seems to that people refer to morality as though it is a self existent entity. That it can be defined in absolute terms. And that to ignore it makes us "less human".

Excuse me for saying so, but I think that is absolute bunk. I think that morality, like law, is simply a convention that we all agree upon because we believe that it will make our lives better to do so. We are not elevated to super humanity simply because we do not torture. We do not torture because we do not want our own to be tortured. Any other reason to do so is fiction.

And since our opponent in the war on terror is not about to observe those niceties, it is foolish on our part to give him the advantage that not torturing him gives.

I also don't buy the argument that our society is somehow made barbaric by such acts. We are not ignorant machines that cannot differentiate circumstances. Civilized societies have in the past applied torture in certain discreet circumstances and they did not, as a result, return to the stone ages.

I also remember the history of the Indian subcontinent when it was invaded by the Muslims. The Buddhists, with their passivity and their higher moral standards, did not adopt the violent and cruel methods of the Muslim invaders. The result was that the majority of the Buddhists were wiped out. Some estimate that 70 million Hindus lost their lives. The subcontinent did not take on the aspect of the more peaceful, pacifist and humane native population, but rather it took on the aspects of the barbaric Muslim invaders. The more humanitarian culture was destroyed. Read about it in Will Durant's "Our Oriental Heritage".

11/14/2005 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Tilo Reber said...

Desert Rat said:

"Chalabi, another Man with a Plan."

I believe that a lot of the Iraqi military has been under training, and a lot of it has been in the field under US supervision. I think next year is the year that you will see many, many of these units finally crossing the threshold and coming into their own.

The political process that we have undergone will be complete once the government that will be elected in December takes office. I think that there is an excellent chance that we can begin a drawdown next year that could leave us under 100,000 by the end of the year.

11/14/2005 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Iraqis say soldiers threw them in lions’ den:

Two Iraqi businessmen, who were imprisoned by U.S. forces in Iraq, claimed Monday that American soldiers threw them into a cage of lions in a Baghdad palace, as part of a terrifying interrogation in 2003.

They both described standing in front of a lion cage, and said they could hear other prisoners screaming as the metal cage door creaked open and slammed shut.

Both men said they suffer continuing physical and psychological trauma, such as pain, ulcers, nightmares and insomnia.

Lions' Den

11/14/2005 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Yo, calm down. I'm not begrudging anybody. I didn't write the article. I saw it, looked kind of crazy, so I threw it up on the board.

11/14/2005 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I want to dovetail Doug's links and the thrust of his links.

Basically, lawyerizing the war from afar hurts the strong resolution of the troops in the battle zone (who wants to fight when one could end-up in clanger?). This is criminalizing the war effort.

With strict codified rules on the battle field troops will constatly second guess each shot they fire. Or, worse not fire at all. Lawyerizing enemy interrogations is the same. This is no way to fight a war.


...[UK] doctors described morale in some units as very low with soldiers cynically suggesting they needed a solicitor [lawyer] with them before they shot back at any Iraqi who attacked them.

Corporal Scott Evans, 32, the most senior of the paratroopers acquitted last week, said that they felt betrayed by the army: "We've been badly hung out to dry. "The army is your family, isn't it? You expect your family to look after you through thick and thin, but they betrayed us. It seems that in the army's eyes you are guilty until proven innocent.

Iraq battle stress

This circles back to the McCain Amendment. Although, McCain means well, I think that this is not the time or place to put forth just a volatile law . As some posters have pointed out, we have outlawed most of the "vile" stuff long ago. Why go farther?

Now, to publicly print a book of interrogation rules for enemy to see - and to manipulate - makes no sense. In fact, just the opposite should occur.

Interrogation rules should be flexible and more importantly kept opaque (keep the enemy guessing and fearful - despite our relatively mild form of interrogation). Also, interrogation rules should be just as secret has actual military plans for a combat missions.

We are engaged with a psychotic but clever enemy who is unlike any other enemy we have fought. We need all available tools to extract life saving information from this enemy.

Giving the enemy our game plan via public laws is a bad policy.
For example, capturing al-Zarqawi and with him knowing the US limits to interrogation would not likely produce time critical information. Just, look as Saddam. He has played the legal system like a fiddle.

Further, putting strict limits on interrogations would demoralize our troops and hamstring their missions. One can guess the out come: Troops wearing video camera's on all missions. And, then litigating his/her out of every combat situation (this would lead to a huge rise litigation costs).

I say, keep all options open and get the mission done (debate the merits later).

11/15/2005 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Ledger, is not the war being fought in the MSM? Public opinion, the worlds opinion, plays a major factor in this war. By keeping it 'opaque' you are now surrendering on the public opinion front. You are handing the 'oponents' a powerful weapon against OIF. The US, in Tilo's oh so moral relativist way, is now no better then Saddam. He tortured and so do we, in the eyes of many in the world, we (Saddam and the US) are equal.

Tilo wrote:
"Excuse me for saying so, but I think that is absolute bunk. I think that morality, like law, is simply a convention that we all agree upon because we believe that it will make our lives better to do so. We are not elevated to super humanity simply because we do not torture. We do not torture because we do not want our own to be tortured. Any other reason to do so is fiction.

And since our opponent in the war on terror is not about to observe those niceties, it is foolish on our part to give him the advantage that not torturing him gives."

You do see you moral relativism here do you not? If they can do it so can we. I think you miss the situation where the 'they' are about as inclusively 'they' as all Americans are able to be placed under a single ruberik. We torture Omar because Mohammed blew himself up. All Americans are evil....

When you all speak of the specifics of the treatment, please think of that specific treatment being done to an American soldier, for it is hypocritical of you to say we can perform such and such a deed but they can't.

So, waterboarding US soldiers, OK? Left to sit in a cold cell with menstrual blood soaked panties on the head and the body used as a mop to clean his/her own excrement. That ok for your son or daughter in the armed forces? How about just messing with your kids mind, a bit of 'truth serum' and some VR to test their stenght in facing death. OK for you kid?

11/15/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If that was all that was done to US prisoners, well, we would count our blessings. Today, if a US citizen or Ally is captured, decapitation with film at 11:00 is the Enemy Standard.

Those are the tactics we face from the competition in this War of Ideas.

So, to save hundreds of civilian children from an explosive expulsion from life, the degradation of an opponent is unacceptable to you. Better to have dead civilians, the current targets of our enemies attacks, than the pride and self respect of a captured terrorist degraded.
There is no moral or ethical challenge, there, for me.
There is no presumtion of innocence in this regard, I will, in this case take my lead from the French. Assumption of guilt and proof of innocence is required, in a Combat Zone.

I'd still stand with the innocents against the Forces of Evil. I'll check my ethical compass, as needed. I think my Nation can do the same.

11/15/2005 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I second Nathan.
As Heather has pointed out in several different ways, the
"we'll become like them,"
"that means we've lost to the terrorists,"
arguments are an offense to our Country, our Military, and ourselves.
Our country does not stand for inciting hatred against other peoples as a daily regimen.
(seems working up a healthy disregard for our enemy's "values" is becoming an "ethical" stretch)
We are not like them.

11/15/2005 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Desert Rat wrote:
"There is no presumtion of innocence in this regard, I will, in this case take my lead from the French. Assumption of guilt and proof of innocence is required, in a Combat Zone."

Where lies this 'combat zone'? We are fighting the "Global War on Terror". You are extending the 'Proof of Innocence' to the whole world. Is the US included? or are you, like Cheney, requesting that Americans be exempt from this torture policy?

Similarily, lets look at your characterization of 'the enemy'. Who are these people? 'They' chop off our heads, 'They' exist across the globe. How do we single them out for this special "degradation"? You cite chopping off of heads with film at 11 as being 'their' standard operating procedure. How many actual instances of this occured? Not many, yet you use this as justication for our national policy on torture.

Simply because you, and the nation, check your moral compass doesn't mean it points in the right direction. Many tyrants throughout history have been righteous in the prosecution of their ideals. You seem to be proceeding in the same direction.

11/15/2005 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Not at all
All of the things that you readilly admit the "enemy" does are, if done by US in a reciprical action, already illegal.
There have been no reported decapitations by US, that I know of. There have been some cases of brutality, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, that have been investigated. Some investigations have resulted in prosecutions, some have not.

The limits of US Policies are exampled using Jose Pedilla (sp).
A US citizen, detained by the Government upon reentry to US from overseas. He has since been declared an "Enemy Combatant" and is being held in a Federal facility. He has, at this point, been held for many months.
The length of his incarceration is not determined, he is in for the duration of the "War". He has had very limited access to the US legal system. His prosecution being determined detremental to the "War Effort", because of Intelligence means & methods that would be disclosed in evidence.
While Mr Pedilla has had his liberty limited without full due process, which is bothersome, his is a rare case, and has been reviewed by Federal Courts.
He has not, to my knowledge, been whipped, electrified, waterboarded, flushed, suspended by thumbs or branded.
Let alone decapitated.
Seems the Nation is doing reasonably well by Mr Pedilla, close as I can tell.

My real concern is that he is being held as an enemy combatant in a "War" we are not engaged in, legally, as a Nation. I certainly seem to be in the minority with that view, however. Most people seem to be of the notion that the Constitution is evolving and that Declarations of War are no longer relevent or required.

Thus Mr Pedilla could be serving a life sentence and not even know it. I have read that the indeterminate sentence, the lack of a time table for release, is cited as "Cruel" by detainees at Gitmo.

I have also read that some of the former Gitmo Detainees that have been released were later recaptured during engagements with US or Allied forces, in Afghanistan. Recycling POWs through Camps and back to the enemy, unheard of in WWII, is common practice today, not torture.
The harshness of the US Justice system in Iraq is common knowledge. LTC Kurilla's attacker and possibily the Jordanian Hotel bomber both passed thru it, unscathed.

11/15/2005 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Tilo Reber said...

Ash said:

"By keeping it 'opaque' you are now surrendering on the public opinion front."

I find that too much of the public has a notion of truth that is taylored for them by the MSM. And I don't like the idea that the MSM should dictate our policy, since they are usually wrong.

"The US, in Tilo's oh so moral relativist way, is now no better then Saddam."

First of all, tell me where you get your absolute standard of morality. Is it written in the stars and I missed it?

Second of all, my proposal is that we ajust our standard to who we are fighting. If we are in a war with a nation that observes the Geneva conventions, then it is logical for us to observe them as well. In such a war and with such an opponent we would not torture their and we would benefit because they would not torture ours. Saddam never observed any convention, regardless of who he was dealing with. And neither do the terrorists.

"He tortured and so do we, in the eyes of many in the world, we (Saddam and the US) are equal."

In the eyes of the world China is morally superior, even though they do far worse than we. So the eyes of the world are a poor basis for judgement.

"You do see you moral relativism here do you not?"

You are letting your intellect be guided by cliches. I ask you again, where is the absolute standard of morality.

"We torture Omar because Mohammed blew himself up."

No we torture Omar because we caught him in a gun fight where he was fighting for the terrorists. And we torture him because he adhers to an idealogy that has no limits on cruelty.

"When you all speak of the specifics of the treatment, please think of that specific treatment being done to an American soldier, for it is hypocritical of you to say we can perform such and such a deed but they can't."

No, I said the exact opposite. I said that we could perform such and such a deed when we are dealing with people who have no qualms about performing that very deed and even worse. And not torturing terrorists does absolutely nothing to protect our soldiers. If anything, it endangers them further.

"So, waterboarding US soldiers, OK?"

The terrorists could care less if you think it's okay. And they will not stop doing it simply because you are not going to do it to theirs.

11/15/2005 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Tilo rebar wrote:

“First of all, tell me where you get your absolute standard of morality. Is it written in the stars and I missed it?

Second of all, my proposal is that we ajust our standard to who we are fighting”

I agree that there are no absolutes written in the stars. I think we can agree that pulling someone off of the street and torturing that person is wrong. Normally we mete out punishment with due process, i.e. through our judicial system. Even when meting out punishment we do not do it to extract information we think the person has. We do not torture individuals in the US. We do punish them for crimes. I cannot think of a situation in which it is moral to torture someone in order to extract information that we think they may have. To do it in absence of due process is even more abhorrent. Before you drag out the ‘ticking time bomb’ example please note how it is a tautology.

11/15/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Is it immoral to defend those children from the terrorists, preemptively, as well. Are the roadblocks and searches in Iraq without probable cause ok? Or are they beyond the pale, as well. Must we take our domestic Judical System to War with US, is that your desire?

It would be immoral, ash, to allow a terrorist that was involved on an Operational level to avoid questioning and so not disrupt their next 9-11 style attack, here, there or anywhere.
It would be more than morally and ethically justifiable to secure whatever Operational data the terrorist had, to save the lives of 4 or 4,000 or 400,000 civilians. By pretty much whatever means were required. within the existing legal framework. If that includes making the terrorist believe his safety is in danger, so be it.

So far as I can see, Mr McCain's proposal is a solution to a problem that does not exist.
What are the names of American servicemen that have been accused of torture, that the existing law could not properly ajudicate. If the problem is out there, let's have the names, dates and incident reports.

11/15/2005 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Deplorable Dave said...

The narcicissm of the "anti-torture" club would be sickening, if I cared enough what they say to be sickened by them.

Their concern here is all about how they "feel" about war fighting. And they obviously think it's important to announce upon whom they would bestow their precious "morality" gold stars, and whom they wouldn't.

It's not about the most effective ways to fight car bombers or prevent schoolhouse massacres. It's all about how they "feel" about the tactics used by the war fighters who are doing all the work and who have learned the hard way what works and what is simply mental masturbation.

11/15/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I also agree with Desert Rat and Nathan.

Doug makes a good point about Heather's style of argumentation (and Ash uses a similar style). Heather uses a old debating tactic of extending a simple argument to the extreme which, if you play by her rules, can never be defeated (some call it circular and others call it rhetorical. Call it what you will but, it can't be taken seriously). One can take the old saw "Gun's don't kill people - people kill people" and extend it to "Atom bombs don't kill people - people kill people." Both have a ring of logic them but the latter is of no use when discussing nuclear proliferation. Most of us have been around professional debaters (lawyers, political operatives and the like). Some of us, such as Doug have been exposed to these debating tactics and will take the time to rebut them - and some of us will not.

Let's be honest. Some of us come here for education, some for commentary, and some just to sharpen their debating skills. The latter is fine if one just wants to develop debating skills - but one should also realize that others can see this tactic and will not respond.

11/15/2005 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Tilo Reber said...

"I think we can agree that pulling someone off of the street and torturing that person is wrong."

We can agree that it is not beneficial to a society in which we would want to live. But apparently we cannot agree that torturing terrorists is beneficial to our society. I say that it can sometimes be beneficial because:

A: It does not jeopardize our troops, since the terrorists will torture them and behead them regardless of how we treat the terrorists.

B: It can save lives by uncovering terrorists that would otherwise kill many others - civilian and military.

"Normally we mete out punishment with due process, i.e. through our judicial system."

The judicial system has never been involved in war. This is a completely new concept that has currently been introduced by the pacifist left. Embracing such a concept would guarantee that we loose every war. We may as well throw up our hands and offer our necks to the terrorists if we choose to use such standards.

"Even when meting out punishment we do not do it to extract information we think the person has."

Again, you seem to be unable to distinguish between criminal justice and war. Using your system we would need an army of lawyers, judges and investigators that was larger than the army doing the fighting in order to carry out your standards.

"I cannot think of a situation in which it is moral to torture someone in order to extract information that we think they may have."

Then I ask you again, where do you get your standard of morality. You seem to be avoiding this question. Does it come from your religion? Does it come from your head? Do you worship at the shrine of secular humanism? You seem to have a high degree of certainty about what is moral and what is not. What is that certainty based upon?

11/15/2005 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Some Apparently Tortured Detainees Found:

In a report Monday, the U.N. mission in Iraq warned about detention conditions in Iraq. The report said 23,394 people were in detention in Iraq, including 11,559 held by multinational forces.

"There is an urgent need to provide remedy to lengthy internment for reasons of security without adequate judicial oversight," the report said.

Tortured Detainees

11/15/2005 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Let the Congress and the Administration take the high moral ground: no torture. That might be considered a good move by some world citizens, and a terrible move by others. I wonder how many Muslims would be thrilled by such a proclamation? And, I wonder how many of these citizens will say: Yeah, right!

In fact, it will not be believed by many people, simply because torture of prisoners in a war (or "conflict" if you want to split hairs) has been an historical fact for millenia. As for others, very little of what we say now will be believed.

And, it really cannot be enforced to perfection on the battlefield even if the commanders in the field want to do so. I am implying that there will be cases where commanders will go through the motions of compliance, but when it is thought that there is much to be gained by torturing some captive, that captive will be tortured-- and then made to disappear, or to be "shot while trying to escape."

You will not find such incidents in the reporting, except by totally accidental discovery, and you won't find men writing about it later in any detail, either.

My point is that (in my opinion!) there will be torture by the US on the battlefield, McCain or no. But don't worry, you most likely won't read about it in the NY Times, so your moral conscience can remain pristine and unsullied by the real combat world, and most of our soldiers won't be the wiser either.

11/15/2005 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Heather said,
"Sometimes I think that the only man standing between sharia and my descendents is George W Bush."
Yeah, sometimes: Like today when Frist and Company do their best to act like anti victory Democrats, for instance.
13 GOP Senators came off like leaders, the rest sucked.
Hewitt made an interesting point about sometimes blaming Bush unfairly for not getting out the "message to the American People."
He is compared to Reagan, but he has made several good speeches recently which received scant treatment by the media, whereas ALL THREE NETWORKS carried Reagan's similar addresses.
Bush can ask them to cover him, but they have more important concerns, ya know.
As to your curiosity about ledger's post:
All I can figure is he mistook my agreement to be disagreement, and maybe didn't realize that we both agree that
"we'll become like them,"
"that means we've lost to the terrorists,"
are simply nostrums repeated endlessly by those who cannot overcome their loathing for everything this country stands for.
Is that what happened, ledger?
Usually, I find your posts easy to follow and very informative.
'Rat: Hewitt was calling for Kyle to be majority leader, then President!
He was 1 of the 13 that stood tall.
George Allen, strangely blew it.
Even McCain was not that crazy.

11/16/2005 02:14:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pajamas Media Grand Opening:


11/16/2005 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As far as my two Senators go, Kyle is the one with gravitus, Mr McCain is a carpet bagging opportunist. He moved to AZ because there was a "safe" Congressional seat open, here, back in the day.

It is interesting that the Congress is working to have the Administration develop a metric for Victory, Goals and the plans to obtain them.
The President should have been ahead of the curve on this issue. He is, instead, far, far behind. If the MSM does not cover the President adequately, he should step up his own operational tempo, he has only begun his information campaign. He must keep it up, regardless of opposition, to excuse him of his duties because others do not fall in line is not acceptable.
The failure lies with him and his cronies. Not at Dan Rather's doorstep.
Go tell the Spartans of his troubles, I'm sure they'll lend an ear.

11/16/2005 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger BBridges said...

This will probably be lost in the shuffle but I want to suggest that you revisit various blogs that have old links to this site and get them to correct it. I can't remember which ones they were but I think it was Belgravia, Vodkapundit and/or Instapundit.

Sorry but can't email from this public computer.

11/16/2005 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

According to the NY Sun, Mr McCain stood with Mr Kyle as part of the 13 Republicans that voted "No".

This let's "Define Victory" strategy been on the horizon for months. I wrote about it, here at Belmont, last May. The President has been flanked, by a tactic that even I could see coming.
If Mr Rove is to preoccupied with Grand Juries and the like, he should move on. He should allow someone that can devote his full energies to the country's challenges take up the President's sword.

11/16/2005 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger THE said...

Nice link,

Great photo's Atlas Shrugged.

11/16/2005 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/16/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Tilo Rebar wrote:
“Then I ask you again, where do you get your standard of morality. You seem to be avoiding this question. Does it come from your religion? Does it come from your head? Do you worship at the shrine of secular humanism? You seem to have a high degree of certainty about what is moral and what is not. What is that certainty based upon?”

This is a difficult question. Much like the study of epistemology - how do you know when you know? for ethics - how does one define when something is ethical or not? In general, for both disciplines you try to work from points of agreement. In both disciplines you can be consumed with whether what you are doing is ‘real’ or simply ‘interpretation’. I’ve reached the point where the difference is moot. It really is interpretation and it is all we have therefore it is, or we might as well, speak as if, it is real. In the ethical sphere I believe there is right and wrong and not simply that you believe whether something is right or wrong hence nothing is right or wrong.

So, your arguments about torturing benefiting society does not strike me as a general principal on which we can determine right or wrong. Simply because doing something to 1 benefits 10 doesn’t make what is done to that 1 right. Stealing from 1 to benefit the other 10 doesn’t make the stealing ethical.

Is torture unethical? The ticking time bomb argument is supposed to demonstrate that it is ethical to torture in some cases because the individual being tortured is complicit and he/she has knowledge that if extracted will save many. This argument is tautological. It assumes that 1. The individual has the knowledge required to stop the bad thing. 2. Torture will extract that knowledge. 3. Using that knowledge will save many. Therefore it is not unjust to torture the individual because he/she was complicit and the torture benefited many.

Any situation in which torture is used does not meet the high level of our ‘ticking time bomb’ argument. 1. You do not know that the individual has the knowledge you require. 2. You do not know he was complicit. 3. You do not know that torture will gain you the knowledge you seek even if that individual has that knowledge. Due process could conceivably adjudicate 1 and 2. There are no courts sitting to adjudicate these questions though. So we are left with a situation where individuals are left to make a judgment as to whether torture will maybe get them some intelligence that is worthwhile. This is arbitrary and unjust. It is unethical.

It is also counter productive because we claim to be a better society, that we represent what is right and good and they should submit to our will as expressed by our force of arms. There is nothing that seriously suggests that our civilization is set to fall because of the terrorists. There is also a big difference between a terrorist (someone whom straps a bomb to themselves, or plants a bomb in a hotel) and Iraqi insurgents engaged in firefights with our soldiers.

11/16/2005 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Tilo Reber said...

Ash said:

"I¡Çve reached the point where the difference is moot. It really is interpretation and it is all we have therefore it is,"

Okay, ash, so basically you consider that something is moral because you believe it is moral, and there are some other people who believe it also. Works for you. Doesn't work for me.

"Stealing from 1 to benefit the other 10 doesn¡Çt make the stealing ethical."

The government seems to think that it does. And so does most of the left. Of course the call it something else to protect the guilty.

"This argument is tautological."

Nope, a tautology is an arguement that can be known to be true or known to be false without expertiential reference to the world. For example, "A bizwit is a bizwit".

"1. You do not know that the individual has the knowledge you require. 2. You do not know he was complicit. 3. You do not know that torture will gain you the knowledge you seek even if that individual has that knowledge."

You know when a guy was shooting at you. You know when you caught someone planting an IED. You know that he takes orders from someone or was trained by someone. In war, you don't wait for a judge.

"This is arbitrary and unjust. It is unethical."

Hardly arbitrary. We are very selective in who we interrogate. And we are very selective in who we decide to threaten or torture.

And your assurance that it is unenthical because you say that it is unethical, while having no concrete standard for ethics, fails to convince me.

11/16/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Tilo, the ticking time bomb theory is a tautology because it is a statement that is true by its own definition.

Premise A: Terrorist knows information that can prevent many from dying.

Premise B: Torture will allow us to get information from Terrorist.

Premise C: Infromation gained by hurting 1 will benefit many.

Conclusion: Therefore Torture will benefit many.

Please sir, you seem to maintain there is a "concrete standard" for ethics. What is it?

11/16/2005 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Nathan, that is silly. Summarily killing them is also not ethical. Welfare recipients are also a cost. They are cheaper dead then alive. Using your logic we should kill them.

11/16/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rat says,

"According to the NY Sun, Mr McCain stood with Mr Kyle as part of the 13 Republicans that voted "No"."

I said above:
"He (Kyle) was 1 of the 13 that stood tall.
George Allen, strangely blew it.
Even McCain was not that crazy."

Rat said,
"The failure lies with him and his cronies. Not at Dan Rather's doorstep.
Go tell the Spartans of his troubles, I'm sure they'll lend an ear.
I say they are not mutually exclusive. Whatever GWB's failures, the MSM are simply Democrat shills, and should be held accountable.
(They are: Their readership/viewership is plummeting)
I judge the GOP Senators (esp Frist and the like) more harshly than Bush, myself.

Part of the DC problem is Delay's absence:
Courtesy of traitorous Dems.
Same with Rove, Libby, Cheney et al.
That they work with Judas, Brutus and Company is their problem, not their fault.

11/16/2005 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Nathan, is the Islamist philosophy so compelling that it will subsume us all? Sort of like the Borg's "resistence is futile" and we will all be assimilated. Islam will solve our existential angst?

11/16/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yes, to those who believe it is. They are compelled, by allah, to spread the Word of Mohammed across the Globe.
Historicly it has been spread at the point of the sword. While this can also be said of Christianity, the Christians have desisted in the practice for a few hundred years now. The Mohammedans have not yet given up on the growth by violence process.
You will be compelled to become a Believer or face Mohammedan Justice. The current Administrators of Mohammedan Justice have executed Gays in Iran, stoned women in Afghanistan and committed Genocide in Sudan.
These actions were taken by established Mohammedan governments in Nation States. The outlaw aQ operatives in Iraq are decapitating Infidels, such is the force of compulsion amongst the Mohammedans.

11/16/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Nathan, how do you define 'the enemy'? All muslims? All Arabic muslims? Anyone whom opposes the US effort in Iraq?

11/16/2005 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

We do not hold them for the duration, that is one of the traumas. We are operating, in Iraq, as a psuedo Police Force.

Prisoners are taken, warehoused by US, and released enmass, 1,000's at a time.
Now it seems 100's of Iraqis have been found, victims of torture. Tortured by... not US... but their fellow Iraqis. Who'd have guessed.

I have read that those that are raised in a violent enviorment are stuck in a cycle of violence, so those Shia torturers will just have to be excused, cultural sensitivities and all.
It is all Saddam's fault.

11/16/2005 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Better Muslim than a mausoleum?

11/16/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Fine, nathan. I agree.

But your last sentence was a bit misleading.

Personally, I believe that our morality works just great when we are at home and not in a conflict of life or death. But our thin vaneer of morality can be swept away in an instant if any of us are faced with a do or die situation or a question of one versus many lives. There seems to be a direct relationship between our "moral score" and our distance from the conflict-- any conflict: the further away we are from conflict, the higher our moral score is likely to be. Our "distance" can be merely in miles, but it can also be in our likelihood of not being sent to the battle.

11/16/2005 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Nathan, you are talking as if all of Islam were a coherent whole. You are also threatening all of Islam with extermination if 'they' fail to reform. This is Genocide on a huge scale. You seem to think that we have an Islamic problem much like the Nazi thought they had a Jewish problem. Desert Rat at least confines his condemnation for specific groups whom commit 'bad acts'. You cast a much too large a net.

11/16/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

If it runs around with a banner and an AK-47 shouting "Death to Infidels!" it qualifies to be shot. And I am not so hung up on it having the K, either. Who knows what is beneath those robes? A bomb, perhaps? Guess I am not hung up on it shouting that slogan, either.

We are at war with Islam, and most of us are not willing to admit it.
We look for the peaceful Muslims to assuage our fears of religious war, and guess what? They are few to be found, and extremely weak in their lying pronouncements of allegience to the US over Islam.

The Koran teaches them that lying to Infidels is fine, even cheating them and killing them is really a good service to Allah. The Koran is a Warrior's Book, not a peace-loving Bible story.

Sorry, but the clash is ever more likely to become worldwide and fierce in the coming years. You WILL hear "Death to the Infidel" here in the US very loudly in the not too distant future. At the moment it is just in the some 10,000 mosques, preaching to some 6 million Muslims here, that it is heard clearly.

I side with those who oppose Islamic insurrections anywhere.

11/16/2005 08:35:00 PM  

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