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Of course, if he really had been a “detainee,” it would have been okay.

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May 26, 2004

Central front in the war on terror. Newsday reports that Iraq is full of people who kidnap the innocent in order to blackmail their enemies.

Unfortunately, they’re us:

Her plight began on Jan. 30 at 2:30 a.m., when two U.S. Humvees pulled up to the door of her family’s house as an Apache helicopter circled overhead. The soldiers asked for her father, Abdullah, 66, an American-educated geologist. Moayad insists that she does not know what U.S. forces wanted from her father, whom she described as a low-level Baath party official.

Moayad told the soldiers that her father had gone to neighboring Jordan to undergo surgery for prostate cancer and she showed them his medical records. They arrested the only other man in the house: Moayad’s husband. As her mother and children started to cry, Moayad said the troops told the family that they just wanted to ask Ibrahim some questions and they promised to bring him back the next day. […]

On Feb. 17, Moayad said, a group of soldiers knocked on her door and delivered a handwritten letter from Ibrahim. It said he was being transferred from a U.S. base in Baghdad to Abu Ghraib prison “until the arrival of my father-in-law.” […]

Moayad has made the 40-mile roundtrip journey from Baghdad to Abu Ghraib 18 times. On most visits, she stood outside the gates with other family members waiting in vain for information about their relatives. One soldier who felt sorry for her looked up Ibrahim’s name on the prison’s computer system and told her that he was marked as a detainee with “intel value.”

Moayad, whose patchwork English is the legacy of her Texas childhood, doesn’t know what “intelligence value” means and how it might affect her husband’s status. But the Red Cross report documented a pattern of abuses—including humiliation, hooding and threats of execution—against Iraqi prisoners deemed to have an intelligence value.

“The American soldiers kept on telling me, ‘Bring your father, and you will get your husband back,’” said Moayad, her soft voice trailing off. “How can they say that he’s not a hostage?”

On May 15, her 18th visit to Abu Ghraib, Moayad finally got to see her husband. Ibrahim told her he was being well treated, but he said that military officials had forced him to write the letter pleading for his father-in-law to surrender.

When will the civilized world realize that there can be no compromise with those who practice terrorism? [08:00 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Central front in the war on terror.:

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 09:06 AM:

Just to make sure that this is clear, the entire third article of the Third Geneva Convention (1949):

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

We've sort of left footprints all over that one, haven't we?

The "High Contracting Parties" is us, among other countries. This means this is in violation of the UCMJ, as well as USC Tit. 18, Part 1, Chap. 118, Sec 2441 (hostage taking is defined as a "grave breach"}. Hostage taking is defined as "Hostage taking is defined as the seizing or detention of an individual coupled with a threat to kill, injure or continue to detain such individual in order to compel a third person or governmental organization to take some action."

There is nothing ambiguous about any of this and I am not buying the "the lawyers signed off on it" excuse this time.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 10:13 AM:

Also of note is Article 34 of Convention IV: "The taking of hostages is prohibited" (short, and to the point). In addition, Article 147 defines both "unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person" and "wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages[....]" as "grave breaches."

Of course, the fourth convention applies to "international conflicts" — if one were to take the tack that this is an internal Iraqi conflict (...one would be insane; but still, arguendo), then the first convention would apply — and Article 3 there forbids "(b) taking of hostages."

And even if you view this as purely an internal US Military matter, there's Subchapter X, 897, Article 97 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which states, "Any person subject to this chapter who, except as provided by law, arrests, or confines any person shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

The sad thing is that I had all these links handy from the last time we did this in Iraq, or maybe the time before that.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 10:16 AM:

Hmmm. Somehow, the link to Article 34 didn't work. Well, here's a new one, then.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 10:47 AM:

To the person whose comment just vanished: Comment sections are for commenting, not for non-sequitur posts entirely devoted to advertising your product. That's true whether your product is herbal Viagra or a political weblog.

Feel free to comment if you have something to say to the subject at hand.

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Patrick: I bet I just edited a comment over at Chad's blog (in his absence) from the same person you zapped. I probably should've just zapped the comment too, but, well, I went for the cheap joke instead.

Maybe said person is working down the scholars list?

david ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 12:14 PM:

Dude, the guy was in the Bath party. His family, who he lived with, supported him. It wasn't a hostage condition or kidnapping. It's the same thing that happens in the US when a people lie to the police about a murderer living with them. They get arrested for aiding and abetting. We need to stop wining about "rights" and worry about American saftey - especially when American's don't have these "rights".

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 12:16 PM:

In the same issue of _Newsday_, the opinion pages carried this, by Esther Jungreis:


Pertinent excerpts:

What is happening in the world today is scary - and it's even more scary that most people are asleep, unaware there is danger looming everywhere. We have become accustomed to catastrophe, so we do not react as the terror escalates and becomes global. But that is exactly what has happened in the wake of the scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. And the worst of it is that it is we Americans who are giving life to it. America bashing, military bashing, president bashing have become the vogue. The media have seen fit to focus on nothing but the perverse acts of a handful of soldiers in Abu Ghraib while totally ignoring the honor and integrity of the U.S. Army, which sacrificed and continues to sacrifice to bring freedom to a beleaguered nation.

How, you might ask, could a responsible media in time of war publish those photographs, knowing full well that such publicity could jeopardize the entire war effort as well as the lives of innocent people? And more, how can responsible leaders of the American government, like Sen. Edward Kennedy, make the most obscene analogies, comparing the unmitigated evil perpetrated by Saddam Hussein to our valorous American troops?


Surely, these media people and politicians realized that it is an obscene travesty to compare what occurred in Abu Ghraib to the horrific evils perpetrated during Hussein's despotic regime. The inmates at Abu Ghraib are not Boy Scouts. They are not innocent civilians, but include vicious killers who made a career out of torture. This is not to say that there is any justification for what transpired at Abu Ghraib, but at the same time, let us not forget that we are at war and those Abu Ghraib prisoners are a threat to the civilized world.


These savage terrorists succeeded in overturning the government in Spain. The question is, Will we allow them to succeed in the United States as well? This is a time for all those who believe in America, who cherish freedom and democracy, to rally around our armed forces, our government and our flag.

Me: Reading this piece made me feel ill. And also weird, because, wasn't this the Republican line of a couple of weeks back? Haven't we moved on to another part of the spin by now?

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Well, now we know why the Colonel wasn't chastised back in July/August when it came out he'd taken a family hostage to get someone to turn himself over to us.

My anger meeter is starting to peg out, with resigned disgust taking over, and that pisses me off.

That and other stuff making me want to be more defensive/feel less capable of being listened to in the torture debates.

Oh, yeah... this is not only illegal, bbut morally wrong, and ought to be repugnant to anyone.

But the response will be, "We are doing it for good, and Hussien was worse."

Is it just me, or does the last one sound like the sort of argument one hears from children, and discounts, " But Billy hit her first, and he isn't being punished."

dave heasman ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 12:26 PM:

> Dude, the guy was in the Bath party

Dear Lord, the old man was a 66-year-old geologist, a "a low-level Baath party official".
How many of these people would there be? Hundreds of thousands.

> It wasn't a hostage condition or kidnapping.

What would need to be changed for it to be a hostage condition, then?

> It's the same thing that happens in the US when a people lie to the police about a murderer living with them

c/murderer/66-year-old geologist/all

Now try again.

oh and c/lie/produce documentary proof of justifiable absence/all

There's no point mentioning representation, habeas corpus, communist stuff like that.

There is,however, a large bloc in the US, viz the charming Mr Lott's latest outpouring, who feel that any torture is fine as it's against the enemy. Do you think this feeling is strongly, imrpregnably, held by a lot of people?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 12:59 PM:
There is, however, a large bloc in the US, viz the charming Mr Lott's latest outpouring, who feel that any torture is fine as long it's against the enemy.
There is indeed. The next step will be deciding that anything's fine as long as it's against those who, for instance, oppose the President.

Note the Esther Jungreis column that Melissa quotes upthread:

These savage terrorists succeeded in overturning the government in Spain.
Which is to say, the voters of Spain elected the democratic opposition, rather than re-electing the incumbent government.
The question is, Will we allow them to succeed in the United States as well? This is a time for all those who believe in America, who cherish freedom and democracy, to rally around our armed forces, our government and our flag.
Remember, if you don't vote for the incumbent government, you're against "our armed forces" and "our flag."

Tell me, what's next in this sequence of events?

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 01:09 PM:

To the tune of Queen's "We are the Champions"

I look at these things
my heart at my feet
The standard's not high
that we fail to meet.
Life's simple mostly
Right's right and wrong's wrong,
Grey areas we can discuss endlessly,
But isn't one:
are the bad guys,
my friends;
We've gone in fighting to these ends.
are the bad guys
are the bad guys
We don't care for losers
For we are the bad guys:
No amends.

Now we know they're no boyscouts,
We're quite justified
We must never back down from our claims
Or they'll think that we lied.
We take pictures of torture
We take hostages too
And if you complain very much at this stuff
We might just take you!
are the bad guys
my friends.
We made these choices for these ends.
are the bad guys.
are the bad guys.
Spit on the losers
For we are the bad guys:
No amends.

ElizabethVomMarlo ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 01:16 PM:

"There is,however, a large bloc in the US, viz the charming Mr Lott's latest outpouring, who feel that any torture is fine as it's against the enemy. Do you think this feeling is strongly, imrpregnably, held by a lot of people?"

No, I don't think so. I think it's just strongly held by a small number of really powerful people.

The people I know personally--on all ends of the spectrum--are deeply ashamed about the torture.

I have also read plenty of morally outraged conservative (or beyond) bloggers, op-ed writers, and journalists.

However, what worries me is that the public (including the aforementioned news folks) doesn't directly control this sphere. It's the people who have direct control that concern me: the neocons in the executive branch, the dubious military officers (Sanchez, Miller), the GOP senate-congress who are trying to save party face regardless of feelings, etc.

We can influence those people with letters, etc, but that assumes they're willing to listen and act on popular opinion. IMO the Supreme Court is our best chance since they are the official check and have the legitimate power to stop this sort of thing.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 01:19 PM:

"Tell me, what's next in this sequence of events?"

Toddlers stand at roadsides waving little flags as troops return home from victorious War Against Terror.

Jesus comes back, abolishes Death Tax, burns up all the homosexuals (except the ones on that Queer Eye show, they seem OK), returns illegally taken wetlands to rightful owners, poses with Hummer drivers to celebrate new $.99 / gallon price for gasoline.

Bill Clinton forced to do daily perp walk to entertain visitors to PatriotLand USA (matinee Sundays).

Ronald Reagan $5, $10, and $1,000 bills introduced.

Tedious, pesky "freedom of speech" thing gotten out of the way so decent folks can live normal, untroubled lives.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 01:51 PM:

No, I don't think so. I think it's just strongly held by a small number of really powerful people.

You'd be wrong. I personally know quite a number of folks who think just like those powerful folks. The last really bad argument I had with family members involved the treatment of people in prison. They didn't see any reason why they should be treated, well, like human beings. The discussion didn't go well. These sorts of beliefs are widely held by a great number of people. People like my family and their friends. (It's very odd being able to see the 2 (at least) cultures in this country when so many people I know don't.)

Patrick: What's next? Martial law and canceling the November elections would be my guess. But it's a cold rainy day and I'm feeling down. Maybe it will only be the institution of the Treason and Sedition Acts...


bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 03:28 PM:

Also this 'Jesus' would reign for a thousand years.

Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 04:22 PM:

As Mary Kay wrote, I, too, have many many people in my life who are repeating the Party Line that those who are in Iraq (except the US and British soldiers) and those in the prison system (known and unknown) in Iraq and elsewhere are "not human beings" and should not be treated as real humans deserve. Moreover, these people are those who, until recently, I could have a decent conversation over beer with, go to the movies with, and call my friends and family.

I need new friends and family. And neighbors. We are scared to put any sign up in public that makes it clear we disagree with the current administration. It's not just the people in town who would tear down such signs, but the ones who threaten with bodily harm and burning down the house.

I'm not kidding.

And I live in what is considered a typical New Hampshire "suburban" town. I'm not out in the back woods, and my neighbors by and large are not particularly redneck (granted, NH is all relative as far as that is concerned). But until recently, this was a very Libertarian-minded area: You do what you want to do, and, dammit, you have a right to do whatever you want to do. And your neighbors would defend your right to do that. No longer true: You are considered Unpatriotic and possibly Suspect (are you a terrorist?) if you say anything against the Administration.

I'm not going to go into how unbelievably weird people act if you tell them you're Jewish. Antisemitism is rearing its ugly head around here, at least, in the guise of "Jewish = Middle Eastern = Suspect Terrorist."

Scary times here, folks. I also suspect, and have said for about six months now, that they will suspend the elections For Our Safety. Mark my words.

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 05:31 PM:

Just more examples
of why we are so proud to
be Americans.

Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 05:53 PM:

This is getting serious.

Jo Walton is writing protest songs.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 05:55 PM:

And worse are those who listen to the Esther Jungreises of the world.

Maia has a couple of mottos in her car's rear window, the one on the driver's side is, "Anti War", the passenger side, "Pro Troops' (she no longer has, "Bring my soldier home under the, "Anti War" one).

One afternoon, while I was in Iraq someone tried to run her off the road, and into a concrete piling. She thought, at first, it was just bad driving, but the passenger flipping her the bird made it plain that wasn't the cause.

The Highway Patrol blew it off.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 06:06 PM:

I'm not going to go into how unbelievably weird people act if you tell them you're Jewish. Antisemitism is rearing its ugly head around here, at least, in the guise of "Jewish = Middle Eastern = Suspect Terrorist."

Okay, I haven't heard this one before and it's scaring me. I'm married to a Jew. Anyone else encountered it? Any more details? (Nancy: feel free to email me if you like and thanks for the support.)


Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 06:10 PM:

Nancy, I apologize on behalf of whatever redneck goons you may be encountering in my native state.

I love New Hampshire dearly, but I don't love all its inhabitants, that's for sure.

Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 06:46 PM:

Mary Kay -- This one is just my encounter(s) lately, since I've stopped hiding that my mother was Jewish.

(To make all this stranger, my mother was a Sephardic Jew who hid as an Episcopalian during and after WWII. I was raised Episcopalian, even went to the National Cathedral School for Girls in D.C., and didn't know my mother was Jewish until I was about 16 yrs old. That is a long story short.)

My locals, including some of my neighbors, have started to have the following conversation with me upon learning that my heritage is Jewish. It's come up lately because I've been talking to the local (next town's) rabbi, to learn more about my mother's heritage, and thus my heritage. And around here, nothing is a secret for more than about one day.

Typical conversation:

"You're JEWISH?! You don't *look* Jewish." Sideways glance. Raised eyebrows. Furrowed brow. "You Jews. You're ... you stick together don't you." Another sideways glance. "Ohhhh. That explains why you read so much. You people seem to all be so stuck up." Nodding head. "It's not your fault, Nancy."

Then, after I explain that I was raised Episcopalian in D.C. & my father is Scottish ...

"Yeah, but you Jews ... You know, your skin, now that you mention it ... You *do* look Jewish." (Note: I look dead-on like my mother, who was of Sephardic/French-Spanish descent, not typical "Jewish" at all for skin or hair tone.)

More sideways glances. "You people. You Middle East people. You know, those are the ones who blew up the World Trade Center, you know."

Then I get the "I don't talk to you anymore" look.

Yeah, me, I blew it up. Right. Jews blew it up. Right.

This isn't uncommon. We have Rush & Co. to thank for this particular idiocy.

My husband, bless him, is very supportive, but is constantly reminding people that he *isn't* Jewish, and, frankly, it bothers me but it is true. He's of Main Line Philadelphia nonsectarian Protestant descent. About as white-bread as you can get on the East Coast. I guess it's the "I'm one of you (other white-breaders)" things that this society, and in particular, living in NH, does to one.

Jill -- No need to apologize. I've lived here for 15 years now and have no intention of leaving NH. It's a weird state, but I like it, or at least I used to like it. I figure if my neighbors can turn into rushbots without notice, it's happening everywhere.

(But I swear, the next person who utters "You Jews" to my face gets smacked.)

Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 08:51 PM:

Nancy - yeah, I know there's no NEED to apologize. It's just an ingrained response from a child of Midwesterners brought up in NH. "Apologize first - ask questions later."

Remember that, for one shining term, Jeanne Shaheen was governor. The state has a chance...

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 03:56 AM:

Nancy: Really, for serious? People in NH don't understand the difference between Jews and fundamentalist Muslims? I am so completely boggled I'm speechless and that doesn't happen very often. No, really, just speechless. I can't imagine what it must be like for you.


Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 10:21 AM:

But Mary Kay, didn't you know that Israel was actually behind the September 11th attacks? After all, all the Jews who worked in the Towers were told not to go to work that day, so none of them died. The secret Jewish cabal got the word out.

I heard that a lot for a while, though not lately.


Nancy, you have my every sympathy. For whatever comfort it gives you, you are not alone. Every Jew I have ever known (including me) has had similar encounters, and in some cases encountered far worse.

I wish you much luck and joy in discovering your mother's--and your--heritage.

entlord ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 02:07 PM:

What amazes me in these latter days is the easy use of words like "treason", "traitor" and "UnAmerican". The same people who use these terms also justify our torturing Iraqis citizens on the grounds that "we are at war".
I thought the war was over when "Mission Accomplished" was proclaimed and we are now involved in a surrealistic civil war in which it seems the citizens of the country are either neutrals or else "insurgents" so that we are now battling these insurgents.
At least in Viet Nam, we had the figleaf of legitimacy provided by Diem, Thieu, Ky and their governments. In Iraq, we have a Viceroy, Bremer, who has already announced blanket clemency it seems for any act committed by an American citizen in Iraq, precluding any prosecution by any subsequent Iraq judiciary. We are now involved in picking the government to replace Saddam.
However, sovereignty as granted by us, will not include the ability by the new Iraq government to veto any American military operation. The only question that seems to remain is whether, de facto, we intend to annex Iraq as a state, a territory, or a protectorate? The Phillipines come immediately to mind as a model...........

Rachel Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 02:38 AM:

Melissa, I'm Jewish (and very typically Eastern-European Jewish-looking) and I've never encountered anything like what Nancy described.

There have been a few times when some stranger I was chit-chatting with made a vague and mild anti-Semitic reference; I inform them in pleasant tones that I'm Jewish and listen to them backtrack to inform me that of course the reason Jews have a lot of money is that they're smart or value education, so they've earned it and deserve it. Unlike those... you know... those welfare cheats. (At which point I have to decide just how much consciousness-raising I'm in the mood for.)

That is to say, I've had people say ignorant things, but I've never had anyone react in a personally hostile manner after I've informed them who they're talking to. I found Nancy's post quite disturbing, and unlike anything I would ever expect to hear in Los Angeles.

Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 07:34 AM:

Rachel - I grew up in New Hampshire in the 70's and 80's, and returned to live there in the middle 90's (my mom still lives there, so I have regular reports and occasional eye-witness trips yet). I grew up along the southern border of the state, which skews my experience a bit because of border-creep from Massachusetts; however, it was a very homogenous place and hasn't progressed a whole heck of a lot, especially the further in you go from the borders of MA and VT and the coastline.

Frex: when I was growing up, I would estimate that 80-90 percent of my classmates were Catholic. There was a lot of "I didn't see you at CCD," said to me in my early years, when I would have to tell people I went to a different church. As we got older, it got easier, but early on there were a lot of baffled stares (what? there is another religion?). Granted, we're talking about kids here, but we're also talking about the same kids I went to nursery school and kindergarten, Brownies, and the 4-H. They knew me, their parents knew my parents, we all ran around together on the town green when there was a parade, what's the problem?

The problem was, it's such a homogenous state there is/was very little need (often) to educate yourselves and your kids that there are people who believe differently, live differently, have different skin tones, etc. So when differences crop up, people get uncomfortable in the best circumstances, hostile in the worst. Just figuring that everyone "over there" (e.g. The Middle East) is all the same is pernicious shortcut thinking, but it's not terribly surprising, I'm afraid. Because of how insulated people in NH can be from the rest of the world, there is a part of the population that allows itself to just not think about the rest of the world until they absolutely have to. Ignorance and fear take care of the rest.

Sidenote: Anecdotally, it appears that educated people in their 20s-30s tend to leave NH for more/better opportunities in big cities (of which NH effectively has none). Make of that what you will.

Joerg ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 11:39 AM:

I am reading this blog (and others) now for a few weeks and let me say, it is really reassuring to see this liberal and critical thinking.

The most/loudest things that reach us Europeans from the US were quite depressing.

But anyway, in this thread and elsewhere I have found the fear that the november elections might be cancelled after another terrorist attack and/or martial law might be installed.

Is this really a possibility? I mean, from what (little) I could stomach to read of some right-wingers opinions, there seems to be the strong and eerie conviction that they are always correct per se and that those who disagree are either lying or immoral/godless or America-hating - so after all, there might be people (beyond the immediate administration) who would favor such measures if the current administrations approval ratings drop and martial law seems like the only way to maintain the Crusade on Terror. "Protecting the public from itself", or so.

But still, could it happen? Would the military support this?

If it did, what measures could and would be taken against internal "unpatriotic" opposition?

How would the general public react? Outside the decidedly pro-Bush or anti-Bush circles, what is the general opinion? On one hand, many Americans maintain how much they love (and would fight for) freedom, but there have been historical cases where "getting rid of the troublemakers" was met with much more acceptance by the population than seemed likely beforehand - so would it depend whether the Martial Government would "just" try to mute the opposition or attempt to remake the US according to their non-centrist convictions? Or would, after a terrorist attack, their position no loege be radical?

IMO, the currently ruling group would probably bungle it anyway, since they seem to be in the habit of relying on wishful thinking and crony talk; but I admit that I only watch from the distance. And frankly, I am glad about that.

At least quite a few of the right-wing-bloggers I have sampled really look like they could need being the suporting chorus of anti-democratic putschists for a few weeks and then appropiatly chastened afterwards, IMO.

But believe me, I would also be happy if you answer that I have read too much dystopian SF for coming up with these questions at all.


Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 12:07 PM:

Rachel, I think you're lucky--though I will agree that _most_ of the anti-Semitic stuff I hear is from people who don't know that I'm Jewish (and who make matters worse by apologizing horribly once they find out; they don't realize that those sorts of apologies merely confirm their bigoted attitudes).

In Cleveland, when discussing the nice price I'd gotten on some item at a flea market, a fellow college student said to me, "that was because you Jewed him down, wasn't it."

Excuse me?

This was in the mid 70s, btw.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 10:39 AM:

Joerg -- I'm not American either, but I think it very unlikely they'd cancel the elections. The bit of SF that goes through my mind is Professor de la Paz in _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ saying that it's necessary to be elected today in the same way it was once necessary to obtain the mandate of Heaven or be crowned by the Pope. The characters are, of course, elected, but the election is held on computers which are under their control -- the votes are never counted by anyone independent. When that's so easy, why cancel an election?

Joerg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 08:20 AM:

Jo Walton -- Yes, I do not understand the subtleties of the US voting system, but with the importance of "swing states" and the introduction of those Diebold voting computers, I think technically it is possible to "correct" results in a way that is very hard to detect.
OTOH, I remember a tale about a voting district soewhere in the former East Bloc where the official were so eager to please the party that the reported more votes in favor of it than voters existed. And they were, probably, very experienced at that kind of fraud.
So I have some doubt that those people who have brought us the last few years´ US show will be able to be subtle and effective now.

Spontaneous thought: It would be interesting in a horrible way if there is fraud and a winner is declared and then, perhaps even after the inauguration, there are enough clues about some foul play. I guess there would be still quite a few people demanding that in favor of stablity and national safety nothing must be changed.

Slightly OT: a few weeks ago, a quite-left german newspaper, the taz/tageszeitung (they use the lower-case style), speculated that another four-year term for Bush would be what Europe really needed. And they weren´t sarcastic: They argued that with continued US unilateralism, the Europeans would be forced by the circumstances to get up and make their common policy and their common defense projects work, finally, instead of relying on the US/Nato for such things. At least an interesting line of thought.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 08:45 AM:

"It would be interesting in a horrible way if there is fraud and a winner is declared and then, perhaps even after the inauguration, there are enough clues about some foul play. I guess there would be still quite a few people demanding that in favor of stablity and national safety nothing must be changed."

I think that's pretty clearly what happened in 2000 and 2001, actually.

Joerg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 05:02 PM:

PNH -- Yes, but AFAI can tell, the foul play of 2000/01 was still inside the borders of "acceptable", even if very contested policy. It involved partisan decisions, but not outright fraud. At least I have not read (yet) a source that accuses the winning party of willfully fabricating votes out of thin air, "only" of miscounting them.

Here I was speculating about the possibility that a party in power is so convinced of their historical, predestined role to Defend Liberty, Fight the Just War and avoid Shameful Surrender to Evil that some influential members decide that outright fraud is acceptable if their defeat would mean a victory of appeasers.

And then this becomes public knowledge since it is not really done with the necessary subtility.

That was the scenario I thought of.

And the scary thing is that I can easily picture the most awful, genocide-advocating right-wing bloggers out there (what little I could bear to look up, I admit) arguing that even then the offenders were somehow defending democracy. I don´t want to sound smug here, but this level of "right or wrong, my party" politics I had only encountered in texts about the Weimar era.
[Note: No, I do *not* compare the GOP and the Nazis. In Weimar, many parties from all over the spectrum showed a bigoted, almost blind partisanship and gut-level hatred of their opposition.]

Sorry for the rant. Even if I would not be directly affected, I am in a quite pessimistic mood right now.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 01:50 AM:

Well, I've been in a "pessimistic mood" since December 2000, specifically because large numbers of people like you appear to be willing to consider the putsch of 2000 to be "inside the borders of 'acceptable'" and "not outright fraud."

What does it take for something to be "outright fraud"? Oh, right, the overt and shameless disenfranchisement has to happen to white people. I always forget that part.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 02:06 AM:

No, Jeorg, they didn’t fabricate votes out of thin air, they discounted legitimate votes into thin air. Not a heck of a lot of difference that I can see.

Fer chrissake, it’s not like this is an obscure topic that any interested party couldn’t learn about with an afternoon’s Googling. Here, I wrote about it myself, a whole long page with simple summaries and links to news stories.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 02:14 AM:

Forget it, Avram, it's Chinatown.

One of the most discouraging things that's happened to me in the last three and a half years was hearing Jim Henley, a man whose language and insight I admire more than I can say, announce that he couldn't care less about the dispute over the 2000 election.

I think that may have been the point at which I began to really believe that we're lost, and that the rest of our lives are fucked.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 03:55 AM:

At the time, I thought much what Joerg does, and I still would like to see more discussion of tallying very close votes that draws on the well-established facts about the limits of statistics and reliability in tallying.

But I've since realized that folks like Avram and Patrick are quite right: there was electoral fraud that dwarfs the sort of corruption that Kennedy and Nixon's crews engaged in, and hearkens back to the very worst of the 19th century. Had we had merely the routine level of fraud, intimidation, and such, Gore would be president now. It is right and proper to insist that the election did not come down to a few hundred iffy ballots in a dead heat, but that the crucial votes are the many thousands of eligible voters not allowed to vote and the ballots wrongly dismissed or altered.

I also commented at the time that I found the stridency of anti-Bush rhetoric from many quarters off-putting. But...y'know, the intervening years have made every doomsaying prediction short of full-blown nuclear war or city-scale annihilation come true, and a bunch of freaky shit that I don't recall anyone foreseeing. Were I capable of sending a message back in time to the summer of 2000, simply tallying major developments of the Bush administration as carefully and calmly as possible, I would come across as strident myself. The doomsayers were and are right, and and while I continue to believe that a certain tolerance and suspension of judgment are just plain good ideas, there were facts on the ground that I assessed wrongly.

Really, I'm in the same position as the folks who supported the war on Iraq and then realized they were wrong, just a couple years earlier. I got my clues in time to realize that that conflict was a bad idea, but not in time to play an active part in maybe keeping Bush out of office in the first place or doing more in 2001-2002. And I think that all of us who thought we were playing it prudent owe some of those we criticized then an apology, and owe our hopes for a civil society some more careful examination now.

The fraud in the 2000 election foreshadows a bunch of later developments. If I'd paid more attention then, I'd have been less surprised later.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 10:49 AM:

Bruce, that post made me want to cheer. You're wonderful. You admit when you were wrong.

I remember at the time of the 2000 election someone said on rasseff that the vote counting would be "the" issue of the mid-term elections and of the 2004 elections, because what could happen that would eclipse it?

I keep wanting to say "All it not yet lost" -- which was a message in a fortune cookie.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 03:30 PM:

Jo, believe me, I'd much rather be able to gloat that I was right after all. But yeesh. It's been a weird, weird administration. Since it obviously went far worse than I suspected, and since in retrospect there's data and opinion I underestimated at the time, I'm trying to avoid the same trap again. And I've been thinking about the phenomenon on various fronts of people proceeding with critique that doesn't refer to the facts, and trying to set a good example of correction.

That's a great fortune. I'll file it alongside the one that Lee Gold or one of her friends got: "Proceed accordingly."

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 05:26 PM:

File this under It Wasn't Just Chalabi.

If you want to find a big part of the fantasyland where the Neocons were planning their war, you have to look at Laurie Mylroie.

Mylroie believes that Saddam was not only behind the '93 Trade Center attack, but also every anti-American terrorist incident of the past decade, from the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to the leveling of the federal building in Oklahoma City to September 11 itself. She is, in short, a crackpot, which would not be significant if she were merely advising say, Lyndon LaRouche. But her neocon friends who went on to run the war in Iraq believed her theories, bringing her on as a consultant at the Pentagon, and they seem to continue to entertain her eccentric belief that Saddam is the fount of the entire shadow war against America.

Reality has a dreadful way of intruding on cloud-castles. To save themselves from finding out that they believed nonsense, the neocons insulated themselves from everyone with a contrary point of view, and declared whole piles of facts to be invisible. Alas, this bit of bad intel has gotten a whole pile of people killed. Furthermore, in my opinion, this particular pooch is so screwed that there's no unscrewing it. We'll be another fifty years or more in digging out of the hole George and his pals got us into during the last three years.

What shall we do?

Bruce ...

...the intervening years have made every doomsaying prediction short of full-blown nuclear war or city-scale annihilation come true...

I hate to say this, but we still have another eight months to go.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 11:28 PM:

I wonder where to border the Central Front?

The trackers are on loan from America to help the European Union to strengthen its new external borders against drug traffickers, arms smugglers and terrorists.

As yet, there has been no sign of people smuggling components for weapons of mass destruction or radioactive material along the border near Huwniki. Usually, the people caught are ill-dressed, without the right equipment for their journey and are exhausted after a long trek through woods and hills. According to the station's Polish commander, Krzysztof Dyl, however, there were two cases of suspected terrorists last year. The men were better clothed than the usual detainees and had money on them. "Last year we caught two Pakistanis with scorpion tattoos that suggested they belonged to a fundamentalist Islamic group," said Dyl. "They were sent directly from Huwniki to Guantanamo Bay." Emphasis added

Navajo Indian trackers trail illegal immigrants on Europe's wild frontier
By Astrid Nolte in Huwniki
(Filed: 30/05/2004)
Telegraph UK - exchange of information required

Mez sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 03:33 AM:

In Polish(?) yet.