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May 24, 2005

That sees beyond the years
Posted by Patrick at 04:24 PM * 79 comments

The BBC reports:

A court and execution chamber could be built at the US detention camp in Cuba under plans being drawn up by military officials.
King of Zembla asks the pertinent question:
Would that be one room, or two?
Jeanne D’Arc reads the news stories most of us can’t bear to finish, or even begin:
Dilawar was a shy, frail, uneducated cab driver who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time — driving past a base that had been the target of a rocket attack earlier in the day. He was arrested by Afghan militiamen who turned him over to the Americans. This past February, the commander of that militia was himself arrested. He is suspected of attacking the base and turning over innocent men like Dilawar to the Americans in order to curry favor with our military. Before Dilawar’s final interrogation, the one that finally killed him, most of the interrogators had already realized that he was innocent.

We snatched an innocent young man out of his quiet life and beat him to death, even after we knew he was innocent.

Ken MacLeod knows how this sort of thing ends.
Comments on That sees beyond the years:
#1 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 04:57 PM:

It ends in revolution, if we're lucky.

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 05:30 PM:

By golly, you just can't get useful intelligence without bastinado. Every fool knows that.

#3 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 05:36 PM:

Every fool knows that.


#4 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:21 PM:

Will that execution chamber be gas or electric? Because, as I'm sure the wingnuts will tell us, if it's an electric chair, then there's no real comparison to WW II concentration camps. None what so ever. At all.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:02 PM:

Ken's post is stunning and precise:

I'm actually shaking after coming across (via) this portion of a transcript of Seymour Hersh, talking on May 10, 2005 about how the mother of a returned soldier found the Abu Ghraib pictures on her daughter's computer:
She sees a file marked 'Iraq.' And she hits it, and out comes 60 or 80 digital photographs of the one that The New Yorker ran of the naked guy standing against a cell in terror, hands behind his back so he can't protect his private parts, which is the instinct. And two snarling German dogs -- shepherds. Somebody said they're Belgian shepherds, perhaps, but two snarling shepherds, you know, on each side of him. And the sequence -- in the sequence, the dogs attack the man, blood all over. I was later told anecdotally, I could never prove it. I am telling you stuff that is not provable -- I mean, at least -- that there was an understanding at least in the prison corps population that the dogs were specially trained to hit the groin area, which is one of the reasons there was so much fear of the dogs.
You know how this stuff ends? It ends with your cities in rubble, your capital occupied, and your leaders hanged.
Ken's right about the way that story ends. We're committing war crimes. When the rest of the world sees us doing that, they immediately know three things:

1. No country can get away with that kind of misbehavior long-term unless they're unquestionably more powerful than anyone else they might come up against; and while the United States is more powerful than any other single country, we're not more powerful than a coalition of other major nations.

2. They only have a few options. They can let us get away with this crap, and pursue peace in their time on negotiated terms, while we grow more powerful and abusive. (That, too, is a story with a known ending.) Alternately, they can take up arms against an obvious evil. Alternately, they can turn themselves into the same kind of evil SOBs we're becoming. If you're putting together a coalition, the second option there is the powerful one.

3. If we don't think we need a reasonable excuse to commit atrocities upon Iraqi and Afghanistani citizens, there's no reason to assume we'll show any more restraint elsewhere; and in fact, the Bush regime has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for international cooperation and international and domestic law.

Nobody has any reason to feel safe from us. The Bushies screwed over Vicente Fox first thing, hornswoggled and crippled Tony Blair's government, drummed up unnecessary hostilities with France and North Korea (among others), and have continuously made it clear that they don't give a damn about Canada. If they did all that, they'll do anything.

The whole Weapons of Mass Destruction swindle collapsed long ago. The other nations of the world have far better grounds to go to war with us than we ever had for going to war with Iraq.

And a tangential observation: Sometimes I think a large percentage of the American public secretly cherishes stupid international policies because it's the easiest possible way for them to tell whether they have to pay attention to international affairs. If the United States is rich and powerful enough to indulge in bullshit public policies, they figure they can safely assume that they'll be shielded from any seriously unpleasant fallout from said policies, and can instead devote their energy and attention to other matters which they find more rewarding.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:32 PM:

"It ends in revolution, if we're lucky."

No, if we're lucky it ends with trials of Americans run by Americans with unexpurgated and uncensored evidence, long humiliating jail terms, an utterly disgraced G.O.P., and wingnuts reduced to ineffectual simpering and backbiting.

[bitter sarcasm]
Of course, nothing the U.S.A. does can possibly be wrong, because, you know, Jesus loves Bush or something:
[/bitter sarcasm]

#7 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:35 PM:

It was supposed to end with everybody else's cities in rubble, their capitals occupied and their leaders hanged. Because we have more military power than the rest of the world combined. Except for the part where we got bogged down in Iraq and can't stop irregular insurgents with improvised explosive devices. And the part where our worst enemies are going nuclear and we can't seem to do anything about it. And the part where we have more soft targets than any other nation and we can't effectively protect them from further terrorist attacks. And the part where we've been paying for our military by borrowing money from China. But don't worry about all that. The glorious power of our malevolence will shock and awe the world into submission.

Seriously, I think our only hope is to regain control of our government while, and if, it is still possible. Then start the war crimes tribunals on our former leaders.

#8 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:44 PM:

"Wingnut" has to be retired as a term of abuse. It is threadbare, worn out, tired. The impression oldsters evidently have that wingnut is in some way cutting edge irony could not be more wrong. Dig deeper you polemists.

#9 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:45 PM:

OK, OK -- make that polemicists.

#10 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:52 PM:

Cripes . . . "shock and awe." How could I have forgotten that bit of malevolent B.S.?

Has anyone been brought to task for the utter failure of that policy? Forget, for a moment, about the hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians killed in the early bombing campaigns. "Shock and awe" didn't kill a single damn one of Saddaam's clutch of villains. A total failure, brushed under the rug.

I have this picture in my head of a beefy jingoistic twit pulling a Shock and Awe T-shirt out of a drawer and staring at it, a puzzled expression on his face, trying to remember what it referred to and when it happened.

Something good, though, huh, huh, huh!

#11 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 08:20 PM:

No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens...

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 08:47 PM:

I actually have a threadbare wingnut. It doesn't emit any detectable malevolent radiation.

#13 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:26 PM:

"Seriously, I think our only hope is to regain control of our government while, and if, it is still possible. Then start the war crimes tribunals on our former leaders."

I think Tom up there, vdntly flly-crdntld mmbr f th Ht mrc lft, was being serious earlier in his post. I refer to "The glorious power of our malevolence will shock and awe the world into submission." Malevolence? xpct h's tlkng t th lk-mndd n ths blg, bt n th rl wrld -- th n tht dcds wh gts pltcl pwr -- ths srt f rmrk s trtd wth th cntmpt t dsrvs. Y wnt mlvlnc? G bck nd rd bt Sddm's rgm. nd, pls, n mr hy bt BSH LD!!! Tht dg dn't hnt, s w sy n Jsslnd. Cnd hs xtndd n nvttn, Tm. Th lst y cn d s lk nt t.

#14 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:36 PM:

So, Jerry, you're OK with torture and execution camps? My, what a Good German you would have made...

#15 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:27 PM:

Until the war crimes tribunals (if we're lucky) take place, I have questions I'd like to ask people with opinions like Jerry's: Can you explain why you think Bush hasn't been lying? What are you reading? Who are you talking to?

But I'm not sure whether our hosts will feel this is an appropriate place to have that discussion. There's a certain baseline of courtesy and civility required here. That baseline isn't met when you call someone who posts here a member of the Hate America left.

My feeling is that we do need places where we can participate in civil debate with people who express opinions like yours: ask you to tell us where the evidence is that the administrators Bush has appointed are good men doing good work. (Ashcroft? Rumsfeld? Sanchez? Karpinski?) In answering that question, you would need to go beyond the statement that Saddam Hussein was a terrible man -- which everyone here agrees with. (And we'd also expect you not try to tell us that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9-11 attacks instigated by Al Qaeda. If you think that statement is in error, there are some documents we would probably ask you to consider reading.)

I'd have other questions for you:

Do you think the writers of the U.S. Constitution and founders of the United States were acting unwisely when they specified that the functions of Church and State should be kept separate? How has Tom Delay acted in the Senate to improve the quality of your life?

Do you feel the Republican party campaigners in Ohio who called voters and lied about the location of polling places were performing an act of patriotism?

In what ways are the people in public life who you support demonstrating that *they* don't hate America? (Some of us would read and consider any evidence you offered along these lines -- but then we'd expect you to read and consider our responses.)

But we can't have that conversation here, if you're not willing to use that baseline of common courtesy.

#16 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:35 PM:

Nope. I'm opposed to torture and execution camps. Tr th frmr Bthst rgm hnchs nd y mght fnd sm tkrs. Dd y trmbl wth mtn t thr crms? Sgn pttns, mrch n prtst dmnstrtns? thght nt. Sddm ws mnr lg Stln bt tht dsn't mn h wsn't trly vl. Y d blv n vl, dn't y? mrc s vl, f crs, nd dsrvs whtvr t gts, bt s y lk rnd th wrld d y s t nywhr ls?

#17 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:45 PM:

Jerry: That's what we call an unresponsive answer. Lenny stipulated we acknowledge Saddam's evil, and by extension those of other Baathist leaders. But the US is now in charge of torture and concentration camps in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. God knows where else.

Perhaps you like to make a try and honestly answering Lenny's honest questions?


#18 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Sorry, Lennie, there isn't going to be war crimes tribunal. Tht's jst nthr lftst fntsy f th knd tht rss srs qstns bt snty. Bsh lyng? bt wht? f y mn WMDs, th Krry-Knndy wng f th prty, nt t mntn Bll nd Hl, blvd wth hm tht Sddm hd thm s hs gl. Y wntd t wt ntl h hd thm, lk th Nrth Krns d nw? Explain why you evidently don't believe Ashcroft et al are not good men doing good work. Yes, the Founding Fathers (ps -- plgs fr ths sxst dnttn) wanted separation of church and state. But they didn't mean for an ACLU-style ban of religion from the public square. The roll back of secular extremism presently under way is redressing that deformation of original intent. Let's see, what else? Tom DeLay is a disgrace to the Republican party and deserves something, but I don't think jail before indictment and trial, s Hwrd Dn dvcts, is the ticket. Was Ohio where the vans parked in church parking lots had their tires slashed -- the ones meant to take Republican voters to the polls? Refresh my memory. And if you want to talk about vote fraud, how about Washington state where the dead apparently rose from their graves and voted Democratic. s fr "vdnc," whr's yrs?

#19 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:02 PM:

"But the US is now in charge of torture and concentration camps in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay."

No it's not. You're confusing -- dlbrtly, xpct -- the misdeeds of a few with deliberate policy. f th lft cntns rptng ths l lng ngh t mght nd p cnvncng tslf, bt nbdy ls wll by ths hkm.

#20 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:05 PM:

Jerry --

Assertions of moral equivalence aren't exculpations.

#21 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:07 PM:

Jerry, don't question my patriotism. I am an American, proud of it, and you're just going to have to accept that. Also, I read Republic of Fear when it came out. It's not like I have been lacking some basic understanding of the Baathist regime. In other words, don't make up shit about me. As we say in the reality-based community, that dog won't hunt.

#22 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:12 PM:

When the "few" who are committing war crimes include the President of the United States, that is deliberate policy. Guantanamo Bay did not spring up like a mushroom, without human agency. Nor was it created by a few random low-ranking army officers, and closed down as soon as the president heard about it. It was created on purpose, by the top officials of the United States government. They ordered that people be held indefinitely, without trial or the right to see the evidence against them, because someone suspected that the might be a threat to our safety.

This nation was not founded on the desire for safety. Our fathers brought forth a nation conceived in liberty, not in fear.

#23 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:12 PM:

Bush did lie, and Bush continues to lie. And not about who was blowing him, either. About matters of supreme importance, matters that mean life or death to thousands of people around the world. That's beyond question and beyond doubt.

One of the problems the wingnuts have is a short memory. They forget when folks right here in the USA protested the US's support of Saddam Hussein.

You know the difference between me and Donald Rumsfeld? I never shook Saddam's hand.

Tell me, Jerry, how you feel about Bush meeting and greeting President Karimov of Uzbekistan. Karimov's one of our allies in the Coalition of the Willing. Remember them? How do you feel about the mass graves in Uzbekistan? How do you feel about President Karimov having his political opponents boiled alive?

Still support Bush? Why?

How long have you held the Constitution of the United States in contempt?

Out here in reality we recognize Bush for what he is, and we recognize his supporters for what they are. The wheel turns, Jerry. Those who stand on the platform and openly support Bush and his extremists' actions will stand on the scaffold and weepingly regret them. I have faith in America, and trust that she will prevail.

The real conservatives, the true conservatives, are all opposed to Bush and his schemes. Wake up, join the fight, or pay the price.

Winds, whirlwinds. You know.

#24 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:18 PM:

Hello, Jerry. (Sighs happily.) It's been a stressful week.

#25 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:29 PM:

Jerry, I'm probably much further left than the politicans you name, but I love the US. I wrote and installed a software patch on a sub under fire. I don't need flags and ribbons to show my love.

But now my country is critically ill, perhaps dying, and if that requires major surgery, so be it. I'll even donate some blood.

#26 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:53 PM:

"They ordered that people be held indefinitely, without trial or the right to see the evidence against them, because someone suspected that the might be a threat to our safety."

n grws wry f rptng ths, bt here goes. The Taliban fighters did not qualify for the protections of the Geneva Convention because they were not in uniform. Some of the few who have been returned to Afghanistan picked up guns again and were killed or recaptured. Nor are they entitled to any Constitutional protections. The Bill of Rights, as someone observed, is not a suicide note. Yes, someone suspected they might be a threat to our safety. The poster above suspects they're not. I'll go with the Army on this one. (Nt t slf: mk sr th jckbts r plshd fr Sndy's mrch). nthr pstr p thr thnk mnt t sy "th srrlty cmmnty" nd jst lft ff fw lttrs. "This nation was not founded on the desire for safety. Our fathers brought forth a nation conceived in liberty, not in fear." Safety is EXACTLY the reason this nation was created. Dangerous Europe powers hungry for colonies were on the prowl and the republic had to be created in self defense. Lrd, wht r thy tchng n hstry ths dys prt frm grvncs? "Tell me, Jerry, how you feel about Bush meeting and greeting President Karimov of Uzbekistan. Karimov's one of our allies in the Coalition of the Willing. Remember them? How do you feel about the mass graves in Uzbekistan? How do you feel about President Karimov having his political opponents boiled alive?" I doubt that Bush shaking Karimov's hand constituted endorsement of everything the man does. If so, I'm going to have to go back and reevaluate FDR and Truman for their tightness with Joe Stalin. Compared to him, Karimov is a piker. I'll be standing on a scaffold one day when the wheel turns, eh? Hung for my opinions, I guess. Tht's th lft n ntshll. gr wth thm r py th cnsqncs. Wll (dstng hs hnds), tht's ll fr nw. vr nd t frm Jsslnd.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:54 PM:

Jerry, what's your military background?

#28 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:19 AM:

No, Jerry. Hanged for treason. Treason against these United States that you hold in such contempt. For betraying the Constitution that you are so joyously trampling, you and your masters.

How many of the men who were in Dilawar's taxi, the guys who spent 15 months in Gitmo, have picked up arms again? They were sent to Gitmo for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. To pick up arms "again" they'd have had to pick up arms a first time,wouldn't they?

Tell me -- if someone snatched you off the street, hauled you half-way across the world and tortured you for over a year -- would you be perturbed? Would you maybe fight against the people who did it to you after they let you go? How about the rest of your wingnut chums? Would they take it lying down?

The person who said "the Bill of Rights is not a suicide note" was, if I recall correctly, the traitor John Ashcroft. His trial and conviction are coming.

Ah, but foreigners have no rights, eh? How about American citizen Jose Padilla, arrested on US soil, and held without charges, incommunicado, without counsel, for ... years. Cell without a number, prisoner without a name, right here in the United States. That's the sort of anti-American nonsense you extremists are supporting.

What protects you and the rest of your wingnut friends from being the next Jose Padillas? What happens to you if some secret informer denounces you to Attorney General "Torture Is Okay" Gonzales on the same day he needs to make news to distract the public from another Bush Blunder? How long will you hold out before you confess? Do you think they'll rip out your fingernails in Charleston, South Carolina, or will they extraordinarily render you to Saudi Arabia so the Saudis can do the job?

Tell you what. I'll make this easy for you. Here are a couple of statements. Just tell me if you agree with them or disagree with them:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

How about it, Jerry? Agree or disagree?

Here's another statement:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Agree or disagree? Straight up or down vote, Jerry. How about it?

#29 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:19 AM:

Replies to some of Jerry's still-vowled responses:

>Explain why you evidently don't believe Ashcroft et al are not good men doing good work:

Ashcroft: implemented costly procedures that caused great inconvenience for innocent citizens -- failed to apprehend and convict even one actual terrorist complicit in the 9-11 attacks.

Rumsfeld: ignored military advice of a number of experienced generals on logistics of Iraq invasion. Made inadequate plans for post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq. Complicit in top-level sanctioning of brutal and illegal interrogation methods on captured Iraqis, many of whom turned out to be innocent civilians.

See also this statement from General Anthony Zinni, who is commonly believed to have been forced into retirement for criticising Rumfsfeld's war plans.

Sanchez: Also complicit in sanctioning savage and illegal interrogation methods on captured Iraqis, many of whom turned out to be innocent civilians -- and on innocent non-Iraqis (including British citizens) incarcerated at Gitmo.

Karpinski: Locally responsible for mismanaged Abu Ghraib prison where brutal and illegal interrogations took place.

Separation of Church and State:
>But [the founding fathers] didn't mean for an ACLU-style ban of religion from the public square.

I asked the question to sound out your feelings on the source for legal judicial authority in the United States: English common law and laws passed by the U.S. Congress or translated versions of the Bible and interpretations by Churchmen? (And about attitudes like this I didn't want to debate about whether town councils are legally justified in banning Christmas Nativity scenes from shopping malls.

You appear to recognize that there seems to be a good deal of evidence that Tom Delay is guilty of financial misconduct while in office. What about his ramrodding of the Terri Schiavo bill through a Senate that had only three active members in session?

As far as voting irregularities in the 2004 Election, I know you'll consider the sources appended below to be biased. I just wanted to know whether you're familiar with the reports and have considered the arguments:

Having made that thumbnail reply, I'm still curious about the things I asked upstream: what are you reading? What do you believe the Bush administration has done that demonstrates they are serving the United States well?

Do you recognize the evidence that Bush planned to invade Iraq well before the 9-11 attack? Do you recognize the evidence that his administration discarded intelligence reports prepared by competent analysts on the true state of Iraq's weaponry? That John Kerry and Ted Kennedy gave the benefit of the doubt, in 2002, to the lies of the Bush administration doesn't alter the fact that they did consciously lie -- to promote a war that Congress would otherwise not have authorized. Was that an ethical (or even a legal) thing for them to do?

If you want to argue that the end justified the means (which most people here would consider to be unconscionable), do you think they've been doing well in attempting to rebuild Iraq to become a democratic nation? Do you think Rumsfeld's strategies have been doing a good job in dealing with the situation on the ground -- to look out for our soldiers since the time of the invasion?

Do you think the Bush administration has been managing the reconstruction well, spending money wisely, in the right places, to help Iraq rebuild its infrastructure? Are you aware of where the money has actually been spent, and that 6 billion dollars of the reconstruction funds are unaccounted for?

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:28 AM:

Teresa: You ask what this Jerry character's military background is. It's obvious that he doesn't have one.

Military members swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the Unites States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

That's incompatible with the extreme positions he's taking. Either he's never served, or he's an oathbreaker. I don't see another choice.

#31 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:35 AM:

I want to know what Jerry's historical background is.

Jerry writes: "Safety is EXACTLY the reason this nation was created. Dangerous Europe powers hungry for colonies were on the prowl and the republic had to be created in self defense."

Jerry, did you ever hear of the Declaration of Independence? What happened in 1776 is the exact opposite of what you said! We were already the colonies of the most powerful of the European powers. Safety from other European government would have logically required us remaining loyal to King George. But we didn't. We fought against King George. I say we because, among other things, I have reason to believe that at least one of my ancestors was in the Continental Army.

We were traitors. My ancestor was a traitor. George Washington was a traitor. Thomas Jefferson was a traitor. America was founded by traitors.

And ever since, because they were traitors and knew it, and were actually proud of it, the birthright of every American, even those who immigrated to this country yesterday, has been the right to tell the government, or anyone else, to stuff it. They even wrote it into the Constitution. It's called the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

You might also want to read the other parts of the Bill of Rights, especially amendments 4, 5, and 6. Note that all of these are about what rights the government can't deny people. And that our government is actually, nonetheless denying those rights to people -- and you're not only defending them, but calling us unpatriotic!

The Founding Fathers (mothers didn't vote in those days) did not declare independence out of self-defense but out of outrage at what that European power to which they had previously held allegiance was doing to our citizens. Holding patriots (or traitors, depending on your point of view) prisoner without trial was one of the offenses. The offenses were enumerated in the Declaration by that notorious red-headed traitor Jefferson and his treasonous friends. Most people skip over them (like the "begats" in the Bible) but maybe you should try reading them just once before you start telling people why America became independent.

The Founding Fathers (and Mothers) were revolutionaries, in fact the first, the precursors and inspiration for the later revolutions in France and Latin America and even later, Russia and China and Cuba. They were creating a new form of government -- not just a republic (republics already existed in Venice and Switzerland, places; "republic" basically just means "no king") a representative democracy on a geographic scale never seen before, as well as having no king, no nobility, or no established Church (some of the colonies had established churches well into statehood, but most had some form of religious freedom), and the underlying principles of law and civil rights for everyone. America was not founded on patriotism but on promise, and American patriotism has always been allegiance not to a piece of Earth or to a royal family but to an ideal: liberty and justice for all.

So when certain "Americans" twist words so that suddenly our government only promises liberty and justice to some, and even decides that "liberty" and "justice" means what they want them to mean and not what everyone has always accepted them to mean, namely liberty and justice, it's not only the right but the patriotic duty of all Americans to say, "You're wrong." Even if the two words before or after that statement are "Mr. President."

None of the arguments used by the Bush administration for what they're doing in Iran or Afghanistan or Cuba is new. Some may be new in American history, maybe, but not new in world history. But that doesn't make them right either. Evil and bad government have been around for millenia, but that's no reason to want them here. Corruption, arrogance, lack of regard for the rights of others, the hubris of claiming God is on their side while doing things Jesus (or Mohammed or Buddha or any other great religious figure) specifically preached against, the willingness to do or say or claim anything to gain power or stay in power, including lying to the gullible who are all too willing to believe those lies in the name of "patriotism," all are just as wrong for Bush as they were for anyone else.

Jerry, it is much more patriotic to know a lie spoken by a President (or anyone else) for what it is and to speak out against that lie, than it is to believe it's somehow true just because it's the President who said it. Being President does not make one infallible. (Even being Pope doesn't.)

Conversely, the real "Hate America" bunch are the people who lie to Americans -- and to everyone else, even themselves -- that these evil things are somehow "good" because they're "patriotic" and even, God help us all, "Christian". What "patriotic" things? That coercion is freedom, lies are truth, hate is love, war is peace. That freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion only apply to some speech, some press, some religions, namelythose who agree with the government, and anyone who disagrees and still dares to want those freedoms are somehow enemies of freedom. That the basic right to vote, the foundation of all democracy, can be limited or denied or faked in the name of efficiency and expediency. ("Recount? We don't need no stinking recount!") That pension plans people have paid into for decades can be destroyed overnight in the name of "capitalism" and "choice," but a woman's right to control her own body does not merit that same freedom, "choice." That privacy is not "a right", when it's actually the underpinning principal of all human rights.

The people who defend such policies are the ones who hate America, because they hate what America has always stood for, even if they work in the West Wing. (The real one, not the TV show.) And make no mistake, by supporting such "ideas", they are trying to destroy America, the ideal, even while convincing everyone -- even themselves -- they are trying to save America, the country.

Don't let them.

In conclusion (yay!), a quote from that traitorous wild-eyed France-loving radical democrat (small D, at any rate), Benjamin Franklin, who turns 300 next year:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

#32 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 08:02 AM:

A small nitpick to a Lenny Bailes post I largely agree with: Tom DeLay didn't ramrod anything through the Senate. Tom DeLay is the majority leader of the House of Representatives.

#33 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 08:46 AM:

Seems like my postings are the only ones that get garbled. Cncdnc, n dbt. Wht wndy lt trd pnns hr. Rmmbr wht thy sy bt brvty, ppl. In order then:

1-Military background: none. Since when is that a qualification for holding a political opinion? Most Americans -- r mrcns s xpct y msngly sy t -- haven't. Ths wh blv t s qlfctn shld thnk bt ddng brwn shrts t th wrdrb. Tht cllr jwlry tht lks lk lghtnng blts gs gd.

2-Jose Padilla is not quite the innocent lambkins depicted above. Abdullah al-Muhajir, his real name now, has a long criminal record, including implication in a gangland murder when he was 13. He converted to Islam while in prison. Went to Afghanistan in 1998 in enlist in al-Qaeda, according to Abu Zubaydah, a big wig in the terror gang. He expressed a willingness to explode a dirty bomb in the U.S. and received training along these lines. Arrested after flying into O'Hare airport from Pakista on a reconnaissance mission. 'm srprsd th lft hsn't rgnzd dfns cmmtt lk th n fr th Phldlph cp kllr. Prhps y'd lk t strt n. I don't worry that I'll be the next Padilla because I don't expect to join the terrorists and learn the techniques of mass killing. Ashcroft was not the author of the Constitution as suicide note apercue. dstngshd lbrl Sprm Crt Jdg whs nm 'm t lzy t lk p sd t. Th cntnd tlk p thr bt hngng m fr my pnns s knd f crpy. xpct th nxt pstng wll rfr pprvngly t drwng nd qrtrng. Tlk bt crtlmnt f cvl rghts n tm f wr.

3-I'm scratching my head over "still-vowled responses." Is a subscription to Nation necessary to understand this reference? As for Ashcroft implementing "costly procedures that caused great inconvenience for innocent citizens," I imagine if you were take a vote, the overwhelming majority of Americans would prefer to go on living to to the "inconvenience" of being blown up in the sky. As for failing to convict one terrorist, the Bush administration decided that Clinton's approach of handling terrorism as a criminal justice problem wasn't working. So we went to war. Or most of us did, anyhow. thrs ndrstndbly cldn't tk tm frm bldng gllws fr dssntrs.

4- Lois up there confuses why nations come into existence in the first place. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Convention were process. The goal was an institution that would protect us from the predatory powers abroad. "Safety from other European government would have logically required us remaining loyal to King George." No, Great Britain was ONE of the predatory powers. Yes, everyone knows those who rebelled against the crown were revolutionaries and traitors. Ds yr bg t hrt frm stmblng vr th bvs?

5-"None of the arguments used by the Bush administration for what they're doing in Iran or Afghanistan or Cuba is new." Not much is under the sun. Are you making an argument for novelty? "Being President does not make one infallible. (Even being Pope doesn't.)" Tw mr strw mn knckd vr! wsh Hwrd Csll ws cllng ths bt. sprt f hystr nfrms ths pst, th knd f sprt tht cn ld t . . . hngngs. Wht pc f wrk s th lft. llgcl, nflmmtry, hstrcl, slf rghts nd, n th strngth f sm f th bv, ppl wh blv nly ths wh hv wrn th nfrm r nttld t n pnn n wr nd pc nd thr pltcl qstns.

#34 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:14 AM:

Jerry, to quell your head scratching (about the vowels, at least, since you very likely will be scratching your head for years to come over many other subjects) those who make rude characterizations, whether they use four letter Anglo Saxon words or just plain old 'Murican English, are disemvowled by our lovely hostess, rendering the screed illegible. It's how we stay civil.

#35 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:16 AM:

4- Lois up there confuses why nations come into existence in the first place. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Convention were process. The goal was an institution that would protect us from the predatory powers abroad.

Well, that's part of it, I suppose, depending on what you mean by "predatory". The dance of British and French and Indian nations policies and interests during the Seven Years War -- and the colonial response thereto -- leading up to the war of independence was pretty complex.

One thing we don't hear about much over here: at the end of the Seven Years War, King George signed a treaty with, speaking generally, the Indian nations -- a treaty that required the British and colonial governments to respect the rights and lands of those Indian nations. The King's legitimacy of course depended on making sure that treaty was respected by his subjects, but the colonials could not have cared less about it. It fact, the treaty was doomed from the moment it was signed primarily because of the, um, predatory nature of the colonials. So much for colonial respect for the King. I think it was less than ten years after the treaty was signed (can't look it up at the moment) us colonials were at war with Mother England.

#36 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:20 AM:

Jerry -- re: "still voweled":

Our illustrious hostess removes the vowels from posts that seem, in her opinion, to be irrational or inciteful to any of a number of negative things. This slows down, but usually doesn't stop, the reading of those posts. Were one of my posts to be disemvowelled, I'd start wondering about whether my logic or assumptions were reasonable.

You're uncommon in that your posts are only partly disemvowelled -- which means that in the judgment of our hostess, the parts left fully voweled appear to be statements that have some aspect of rational thought to them. And you're still worth talking to.

"A spirit of hysteria informs this post, the kind of spirit that can lead to ... hangings." The spirit you are espousing has led to torture of prisoners, inexplicable deaths in captivity, the creation of a Department of "Homeland" (Fatherland?) Security, and more serious violations of the Constitution of the United States of America than I'd care to point to.

Glass house. Stones. You haven't responded to any of the constitutional arguments here. I'd be curious to know what your constitutional responses to what James McD posted are.

#37 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:24 AM:

As for Ashcroft implementing "costly procedures that caused great inconvenience for innocent citizens," I imagine if you were take a vote, the overwhelming majority of Americans would prefer to go on living to to the "inconvenience" of being blown up in the sky.

Seeing as how Bush's poll numbers in this area are in the low to mid thirties, I suspect you would be surprised at the outcome of that vote.

And if you really want to have Ashcroft's foibles illustrated in purple prose, I'd be more than happy. That man and his "Patriot Act" have caused me no shortage of grief, and without a single useful result.

If, as you claim, it is the job of the Government to make us safe, they've failed, miserably. Our ports are unprotected, as are our water, food and nuclear materials. On top of that, the War in Iraq has made enemies, of not just the Muslim countries, but former allies in Europe and the Americas.

Your fawning adulation for the president and his cronies only impacts the problem, as a lack of critical thinking on the part of the voters is what has foisted this fool on us for another term.

#38 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:54 AM:

I watched the ashes of my incinerated neighbors rain down on my front stoop on September 11, 2001. These days, I live three blocks from container port facilities.

Nobody gets to lecture me about the importance of national security. It would be nice to have some.

#39 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 10:01 AM:

1. No country can get away with that kind of misbehavior long-term unless they're unquestionably more powerful than anyone else they might come up against; and while the United States is more powerful than any other single country, we're not more powerful than a coalition of other major nations.

Here's the flaw in that scenario: We've still got thousands of nukes. Of course, the coalition you're thinking of would also have hundreds or thousands of nukes. But what that means is that nobody is going to invade us, bomb all our cities to the ground and hang our leaders; we'd just get Cold War II instead, US versus Everyone Else, a series of proxy wars and the occasional terrorist potshot at the civilians.

No, if the cities burn it will be because (a) Cold War II went hot and everybody died, or (b) we did it ourselves.

#40 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 10:03 AM:

...As further evidence, note that nobody ever successfully invaded and smashed up the Soviet Union; the end came differently.

#41 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 10:22 AM:


The thing about the nukes is that, if the U.S. follows this course, sooner or later they'll take on someone who also has nukes. Someone who looks at what happened in Iraq, and decides they have nothing to lose.

For ten years of my life, from the fall of the Soviet Union to the destruction of the World Trade Center, I did not expect to die in a nuclear attack. I miss that feeling.

And the clowns in Washington claim to be promoting our security.

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 11:11 AM:

Jerry, I knew you weren't turning in a thoughtful performance shortly after you showed up here, because you kept spouting off about what is and isn't typical of the left, and getting it wrong. A lot less stuff is typical of the left as a whole than you're in the habit of imagining, and some of your asserted characteristics don't match any appreciable portion of it.

Worse, a lot of what you're going on about is not and never has been leftist; it's dead-center American politics. Have you been imagining that everyone here is a leftist? Think again. Learn some real-world political taxonomy.

Please listen, because I want you to understand this: In spite of your attempts to cast yourself as a martyr, you haven't been losing your vowels for being a right-winger, and there are only a few spots where you've lost them for aggravated stupidity. In almost every case, you lost your vowels because you were being rude.

We not only allow but encourage broad-spectrum political debate here. What we don't do is let people wade in and act like jerks. It kills the conversation.

If you want to behave yourself, you're welcome to stay.

#43 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 11:30 AM:

This blogger prefers the echo chamber effect, so adieu.

#44 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 11:48 AM:

Do not fear the great vowel shiv.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 11:57 AM:
1-Military background: none.

This fact has been more than obvious from the beginning. Tell you what -- the Army's had a real recruiting shortfall. You think Mr. Bush's War is such a hot idea? Why don't you march yourself down to the recruiting station and sign up? They're waiting to hear from you.

2-Jose Padilla is not quite the innocent lambkins depicted above.

This would be even more impressive if anyone had claimed he was an "innocent lambkins." But that's aside from the point. He's done something wrong? Great! Put him on trial! Convict him! Put him in jail and throw away the key! What part of "put him on trial" is the difficult concept for you?

If one man can be jailed indefinitely without charges being laid against him so can two. So can a hundred. So can a thousand. Ten thousand. A million. What makes you safe?

So we went to war. Or most of us did, anyhow.

The Army recruiters are still waiting to hear from you. Let us know when you get back.

The question still on the table is why you hate America so much. Why are you fighting so hard to create a noble class in the United States? Do you imagine that when you've helped them reach their goals that they'll invite you to their parties?

I've asked you, straight up or down, whether you agree with a pair of statements. Do you agree with them, or disagree with them? "Yes" and "No" should stil be in the vocabulary of even the most radical wingnut.

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:01 PM:

This blogger prefers the echo chamber effect, so adieu.

Ah, gone. Unable to think, unable to argue, he takes his marbles and goes home. Back to the fellows who lie to him, who intend to do him harm, who are trampling the Constituion and destroying America.

Have fun, Jerry. Enjoy your treason.

#47 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:25 PM:

Jerry: This blogger prefers the echo chamber effect, so adieu.

This illustrates one of the big problems that our country is facing; people who are actually proud of their willingness to believe what they're told and who run away from counter-argument.

Nobody likes being told that they're wrong and denial is a powerful force. I really wish that there was a simple, fun and entertaining strategy to counter this. It's gotta be entertaining or the peepul won't pay attention.

#48 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:27 PM:

What I'm interested in from Jerry is to encourage additional reading and thinking about the reasons why a particular topic entry gets posted here. For instance, how do you feel about what happened to Dilawar the Afghani cab driver? Are you ready to understand that this man was not an insurgent, not a weapons carrier -- but an innocent man who was turned over to our army by self-serving Afghan militiamen? Furthermore, our U.S soldiers treated the man in a way that's indistinguishable from the way Nazi prison guards treated "prisoners" during World War II?

At what point do you [Jerry] draw the line in your mind between "this is another regrettable incident-- accidents happen," and "this is evidence of terrible incompetence in the Bush administration's management of the U.S. Army?"

If/when you find evidence that the Bush administration is not doing what you thought you voted for them to do, at what point will you consider voting for someone else in an election?

What I'd be happy with, right now, from you [Jerry], is a commitment to ask yourself how you distinguish factual evidence from a report that's dishonestly skewed to serve a political agenda. (This is a process that can be difficult for anyone -- I don't exclude myself.)

If you feel that asking this question constitutes "hating America," there's not much point in continuing a conversation, here.

#49 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:45 PM:

Several posts slipped in before my last one.

I'm always back to art and music that engages the consumer (in spite of his/herself)-- as a spice for making debate more trendy and compelling.

#50 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 01:40 PM:

That execution chamber story...

It's two years old.

But I wonder what has come of the plans the BBC reported in June 2003.

#51 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:14 PM:

Jerry's most recent set of comments have provided me with an insight: The American Right is built upon a foundation of poor reading comprehension skills.

#52 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:21 PM:

This new partial disemvowelment is quite cool. I imagine it requires more manual intervention than the old kind?

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:37 PM:

It's always been an option, Laura, but not all objectionable posts have salvageable bits.

Alex, I'd call it lazy mental habits.

#54 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:37 PM:

Dang. I'm sorry he took his dollies and went home as I wanted to ask upon what evidence he based the remark

Yes, the Founding Fathers (ps -- plgs fr ths sxst dnttn) wanted separation of church and state. But they didn't mean for an ACLU-style ban of religion from the public square.

Drat drat drat.


#55 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:53 PM:

I haven't particularly noticed religion being banned from the public square.

What the Founding Fathers wanted was to not have a specific denomination be the official established church of the new country. They framed a simple and elegant rule to cover it: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. It neither says religion is good nor bad. What it says is that Congress shall have no hand in it.

I know these righty-tighties are always whining about being pathetic victims, and I generally take them at their word, but it seems exceptionally lame that they can't engage in their religious observances without federal help and backup.

#56 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:02 PM:

I was reading the other day about the time when "In God We Trust" was added to U.S. coins. The author referred to it as "the unification of God and mammon."

Which gave me something of a non-denominational chuckle.

#57 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:48 PM:

The American Right is built upon a foundation of poor reading comprehension skills.

I'd like to say "It's the stupidity, stupid," but there's more to it than that.

The liberal concept of self-interest is based on enlightenment, so it values comprehension. It assumes that things will work out best if everyone is dedicated to the truth, and is loyal to humanity in the broadest sense.

The conservative concept of self-interest is based on power relationships. It assumes that things will work out better for those who follow the strong, the rest being losers. Inconvenient facts are a threat that could lead to disloyalty or weakness. Nothing is more important than avoiding comprehension and maintaining denial.

#58 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 05:22 PM:

Teresa --

Way back up there....

Basic primate band status rules (for males) come down to 'I can hit who I want' and 'I can fuck who I want'. The social system that derives from these rules works, in that the ground apes we're descended from (and our near cousins the chimps and our distant cousins the baboons) have been around for millions of years.

We got better at co-operating in groups, developed imaginations, and started having choices about social organization.

Civilization can be considered as the process of recognizing primate band status as a barrier to power. For humans, power derives from co-operation in groups; the default primate band organization max group size is quite small. Therefore, if you want a city, you need a different set of rules for determining social status.

Everything is about power, and therefor about how social standing is apportioned. Socialism is the view that status should not be hereditary, capitalism is the view that wealth and social status should be equivalent, libertarianism the view that social status is an illegitimate concept, and so on.

So there's a long bit of staggering around, trying to get this civilization thing -- this machine for increasing the amount of choice that exists for people -- to work. Even a mud-brick wall and irrigation and an autocratic priesthood give you scribes and architects and engineers, things that were not in the world before, ninetyfive percent of everybody farming onions notwithstanding.

Eventually, and erratically, it gets figured out that the trick is to prefer absolute measures of power to relative measures of power. Maximizing the amount of power available, by having the rule of law and a strong middle class and technical innovation, is hell on the stability of social status and the degree to which relative social status emulates primate band status -- this emulation is roughly equivalent to the degree to which you can use high social status to demand deference by threat of force -- but the smaller fraction of much greater power, and the expanded choice space, mean that a society which takes the 'maximize the absolute, ignore the relative' route can more or less compell its neighbours to do this, too, because if they don't, their relative choice space eventually gets so small that their wishes are irrelevant. (Post-1850 European response to British industrialization (note that the British upper class went along with industrialization grudginginly, haltingly, highly imperfectly, and only with the threat of total, obliterating defeat by Napoleon hanging over their heads) or the outside-context-problem of having people with guns and good sailing ships show up from half the world away are both examples of this. The earlier versions are muddier, but exist; the monastic Renaissance's political side effects, frex.)

Once you have a civilization, some smart people whose self image is driven by a need for primate band status (and there's a lot to be said about how there are parenting styles which make this outcome more or less likely, but this is already long enough) will notice that you can use the machinery of civilization to drive your primate band status.

This wrecks the civilization, but from their point of view, that's fine; there won't be any radical change coming along, the basis of self image is secure, and relative social status is secure.

This is precisely what short term profit-maximizing business practises and the present American political right are doing; insisting that they will not be denied either their default-low-status people (women and anyone who isn't pale pink) or their social mechanisms that require everybody else to knuckle under in an emulation of the social system used by nomadic sheep herders in the Sinai five thousand years ago.

So of course they're against education (the driving engine of social equality, greater absolute social power through innovation, and independence for the low-born), rights for women (women who don't have to bear children and submit to their husbands often won't, and these guys are for the most part heavily dependent on that set of social conditioning), or trade-maximizing peace (which leads to fundamental social change -- they're having enough trouble keeping computer technology from doing that; throw in bio and nanotech and it's hopeless.)

And they're all for making damn sure everyone else is helpless, so they can hit who they want and fuck who they want without consequence.

Of course, the Chinese (and South Asia generally) have figured out the absolute power trick, and they're doing their best to use that to drive an odd form of meritocratic autocracy.

This is perhaps a sub-optimal time to pitch the practise from one's cultural arsenal, but, hey, bad insecurity management is one of those things with scope.

#59 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 05:54 PM:

Evolution allows species to exploit niches that were previously not available to them. This leads to a boom, which is followed by a bust when the niche is fully or over-exploited. Another factor is that opening up a new niche for one species can have the side-effect of creating new niches for its parasites. Next, consider that human cultural evolution is creating new niches at an ever increasing rate. Boom, exploit, bust, repeat.

Please note that being naturally philosophical doesn't mean that I like parasites, especially among my own species.

#60 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 05:55 PM:

Should have mentioned predators in there too.

#61 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 06:07 PM:


"FBI memo reports Guantanamo guards flushing Koran

45 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An FBI agent wrote in a 2002 document made public on Wednesday that a detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet.

The release of the declassified document came the week after the Bush administration denounced as wrong a May 9 Newsweek article that stated U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to make detainees talk."

(So, who gets blamed for this? The FBI, the ACLU, or the Freedom of Information Act?)

#62 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:19 PM:

Teresa, well yeah. I was being too telegraphic again. What I meant was I wanted to know where he was getting his information about the FFs' desires. I mean there IS info out there in a lot of cases about what they did and didn't mean by what is or isn't said but I wanted his answer specifically because I suspect he didn't have one other than "That's what X told me."


#63 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 11:15 PM:

The Bill of Rights, as someone observed, is not a suicide note.

Ashcroft was not the author of the Constitution as suicide note apercue. dstngshd lbrl Sprm Crt Jdg whs nm 'm t lzy t lk p sd t.

You've changed the quote in mid-stream. Was it Constitution or Bill of Rights you meant?

I expect that disemvowelled bit orignially read "A distinguished liberal Supreme Court Judge whose name I'm too lazy to look up said it."

Well, I'm not too lazy, so I did look it up. The person who said "The Constitution is not a suicide note" was Richard Barrett, the far-right white supremacist nutjob, founder of the "Nationalist Movement." The occassion was his speech at the "Majority Rights' Freedom Day Rally" at the Forsyth County Courthouse in Cumming, Georgia on January 20, 1990.

I bet you got your information here:
4. It seems worthwhile to repeat the remark made some time ago by a very distinguished jurist :
"The Constitution is NOT a suicide note !
That was in The Free Republic, a notorious haven for traitors and their anti-American blather.

It's true that Mr. Barrett is an attorney. It's nice to know who the Freeper wingnuts consider a "very distinguished jurist."

But wait, what's this?

Back in 1945, Justice Robert Jackson did say "There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."

What else did Justice Jackson say in that dissent? "The Federal Bureau of Investigation is, and should remain, not a police but an investigative service. ... In my opinion, locally established and controlled police can never develop into the menace to general civil liberties that is inherent in a federal police."

In the same passage, Justice Jackson warned against the "arbitrary exercise of military power."

Why, Justice Jackson was arguing that the Constitution wasn't meant to be used as a tool to kill our own liberties.

What else did Justice Jackson have to say?

"Fortunately it still is startling, in this country, to find a person held indefinitely in executive custody without accusation of crime or judicial trial. Executive imprisonment has been considered oppressive and lawless since John, at Runnymede, pledged that no free man should be imprisoned, dispossessed, outlawed, or exiled save by the judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."

Those who are interested in Justice Jackson might like to read his opening statement at the Nuremberg trials.

Pay particular attention to his outline of the history that lead to that moment, how a democracy had turned into a totalitarian obscenity. He placed the turning point at a terrorist act -- the burning of the Reichstag.

Look at the list of rights guaranteed by the German constitution that the Nazis suspended:

Article 114. The freedom of the person is inviolable. Curtailment or deprivation of personal freedom by a public authority is only permissible on a legal basis.

"Persons who have been deprived of their freedom must be informed at the latest on the following day by whose authority and for what reasons the deprivation of freedom was ordered; opportunity shall be afforded them without delay of submitting objections to their deprivation of freedom.

"Article 115. Every German's home is his sanctuary and is inviolable. Exceptions may only be made as provided by law.

"Article 117. The secrecy of letters and all postal, telegraphic and telephone communications is inviolable. Exceptions are inadmissible except by Reich law.

"Article 118. Every German has the right, within the limits of the general laws, to express his opinions freely in speech, in writing, in print, in picture form, or in any other way. No conditions of work or employment may detract from this right and no disadvantage may accrue to him from any person for making use of this right ....

"Article 123. All Germans have the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed without giving notice and without special permission.

"A Reich law may make previous notification obligatory for assemblies in the open air, and may prohibit them in case of immediate danger to the public safety.

"Article 124. All the Germans have the right to form associations or societies for purposes not contrary to criminal law. This right may not be curtailed by preventive measures. The same provisions apply to religious associations and societies.

Every association may become incorporated (Erwerb der Rechtsfaehigkeit) according to the provisions of the civil law. The right may not be refused to any association on the grounds that its aims are political, social-political, or religious.

"Article 153. Property is guaranteed by the Constitution. Its content and limits are defined by the laws. Expropriation can only take place for the public benefit and on a legal basis. Adequate compensation shall be granted, Unless a Reich law orders otherwise. In the case of dispute concerning the amount of compensation, it shall be possible to submit the matter to the ordinary civil courts, unless Reich laws determine otherwise. Compensation must be paid if the Reich expropriates property belonging to the Lands, Communes, or public utility associations.

"Property carries obligations. Its use shall also serve the common good." (2050-PS)

Pay attention too to where Justice Jackson was standing that day. At a war crimes trial. Rather than Goering, von Ribbentrop, and Frick sitting in the dock, imagine Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney. And imagine yourself sitting beside them, charged with aiding and abetting.

Do you suppose that Bush will commit suicide to escape his hanging?

#64 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 12:45 AM:

This is sort of a side note, but it looks like most folks didn't get what Ken meant when he said "You know how this sort of thing ends:"

If you go here you'll see what he's referencing.

#65 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 04:03 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer, it looks like several of those authors at the Annex have a passing familiarity with Cavafy's "Waiting for the Barbarians."

#66 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 04:10 AM:

It's kind of you to reference that, Lucy, but that wasn't what I had in mind. I really was imagining world war. We all have our moments of despair. Despair is not a plan.

#67 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:00 AM:

Oh, well, Ken,I guess I have Carthage on the brain.

Including the sacrifice of children (our statistics keep seeming to get better, and then they don't).

#68 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:08 AM:

All right. I'm pissed. Angry, hurt ashamed and pissed.

I have no clue if Jerry has left the building, and at this point I don't really care.

The names in the story you linked to, Jerry. I know those people. Some of them I never took to. A few I like a lot. Thankfully the ones I like a lot weren't named. But, and this is the part that hurts, because I like them, really like them, in that cliched way only shared danger, hardship and the solidarity that comes of common purpose in trying times can give, and they are tainted, because they seem to have engaged in the complicity of silence.

I interrogate people for a living, and they (though the article does point out that most of them were counter-intelligence agents) have poisoned the well.

Newflash- Geneva protects everybody, bar none. POW is, in some ways, the status to get, in a declared war, because it recognises different rights. But if one isn't a POW, one is either a protected person, a displaced person or a simple prisoner. Prisoners are entitled to, at least, the same rights and procedures as they would get under the gov't they belonged to before the war started.

No matter how one slices that, we've violated Geneva.

I've said it before. It seems I have to say it again... torture not only doesn't work, it's counter-productive, as the story of Dilawar points out. He knew nothing, and he persisted in telling the truth (which is supposed to set one free), and that killed him.

Beaten in the legs until they could no longer hold him, chained to the ceiling (which has some of the same effects as crucifixion, in that it constricts the lungs and inhibits the diaphragm from pulling in air) and ignored in his agonies (just trying to get out of his restraints, said the guard).

That's what you are saying is needful.


What's needful is real collection. What's needful is that we be Wellington and pay for the damage we do, rather than Napoleon, and just try to run roughshod over the locals, so that they will cower before us like whipped dogs.

People don't stand for that, never have, never will. If some other country were to come here, and do something like that to someone with a name you think more normal, you'd be sharpening kitchen knives and planning ambushes.

Surprise, so are the people in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's less safe to be a soldier in Afghanistan than it is to be one in Iraq? Why? Because this gov't has committed atrocities. It has used young men and women, twisted them, released the latent beast which lives in most of us and said that was good.

Funny how you claim this is local. Aberrant behavior of a few. Maybe it is (if it were, it is a consummation devoutly to be wished) but the powers that be keep sending the same bad actors (Cpt. Wood, Gen Miller, the people actually getting their hands dirty) to new places and letting the cycle begin again.

You want to preach to me about what needs to be done... you sign up, you volunteer for the box, and see what it's like. Imagine, just imagine, that what you see being done to the people in Iraq, or Afghanistan, were being done in Montana.

Then recall the people in Montana don't all have automatic weapons, and RPGs, and more RDX than you can imagine, and be glad they are being more restrained than you seem to want to be.

We are outnumbered, a lot. Our 150,000 can reasonably expect 2-3 million people if a full-blown, all-out, too pissed to take any more, have to crush and destroy the interlopers, actually comes to pass.

Camerone, from Basra, to Irbil.

Talk your trash, feel high and mighty, because you can see the realpolitik, and ponder this: why is it all right for us to maim, and torture, and disappear people, when we are claiming it was Saddam's doing of the same which made him so evil he couldn't be left to the Iraqis to remove?

And if that was worth deposing him... what makes us different?


#69 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:37 AM:

...ponder this, why is it all right for us to maim, and torture, and dissapear people, when we are claiming it was Saddam's doing of the same which made him so evil he couldn't be left to the Iraqis to remove?

Because that wasn't the real reason for the war. That was the excuse they were finally left with after all the other reasons they tried (WMD, ties to 9/11, ties to al Qaeda, "flypaper," etc.) turned out to be such hollow frauds that they were a laughingstock not only around the world, but even in our own country.

The real reason Bush wanted this war? He wanted to prove that he had a bigger dick than his daddy.

I'm sure that it impressed his mom.

As to Dilawar, the innocent cab driver who was beaten to death: The reason he was beaten to death was that every time someone hit him he'd scream "Allah!" And hearing him scream "Allah!" was fun.

#70 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:53 AM:

Guys like Jerry are a known type. Their pleasure is to talk big about tough things the tough guys need to do, and talk trash about fictional and thoroughly demonized "liberals," and pat themselves on the back for being tough-minded guys who know what's what.

In truth, they're the biggest chumps in world politics. The Albanians who put more than half their country's GDP into Ponzi schemes were more sophisticated.

Odd note: in my experience, younger members of that species have an unshakeable belief that talking tough about military issues, and dwelling pruriently upon the gory details thereof, will infallibly prove attractive to young ladies they're trying to chat up.

I was patient and polite in my youth. I think.

It wasn't their subject matter that taxed my courtesy; it was the bombast and bullshit I could hear them mixing in. I have to think that guys like Jerry have no ear for tone, none at all, because they can't tell how different Greg, Jim, Terry, Graydon, etc., sound when they talk about the same things.

#71 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 12:50 PM:

Terry, that was spectacular. I just don't have anything to add.

#72 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 02:30 PM:

Terry, thank you for cutting through the bullshit. It helps me feel less muddled and more sure of my convictions. I particularly appreciate your explanation that the Geneva Convention doesn't have loopholes.

#73 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 04:54 PM:

Teresa: Thanks, I needed that.

I needed to vent anyway, and my blog didn't seem the place for it. Not quite the neutral ground I wanted.

Jerry was convenient, and happened to be an ass in a place I like, so using him to stomp out my aggressions was kind of nice.

James: I know that the reasons I cited are the justifications du jour. I knew they were likely to be the reasons claimed, back was I was being briefed in Kuwait about how little we had to fear from chemical attack. But since it's the rationalization of the day, well one argues with the points one has, not the points one wants.

TomB: Glad to be of service. That claim, that somehow the people we suspect of being, "terrorists" are outside Geneva, well it pisses me off. If you want, you can buy, FM 27-10 The Law of Land Warfare and read it. Not only does it have all the conventions, but it has some commentary (IIRC) and points out the actual code, and shows there are no exceptions.

I just wish my flying off the handle was a tad more finished, since there were a couple of points where the punctuation didn't make it clear. Jerry, for example, didn't link to the story, I was trying to tell him that I know the people who did those things. The monster, and Claus, and Walls, and Selena (though that name has changed) and I could find Loring, because his wife (last I heard) was still in the Army, so she can be found, and... da-dum... you'll find him right nearby.

I've been waiting for the news to break for quite some time. There were intimations of things I'd not have allowed (or think I'd have not allowed) when we were in Kuwait. Some of those people (Cpt. Wood, for example) went on to Abu Ghraib.

This is breaking my army, and it's pissing me off.


#74 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 09:55 PM:

James: The real reason Bush wanted this war? He wanted to prove that he had a bigger dick than his daddy.

I'm sure that it impressed his mom.

From what I hear, Shrub thinks his parents don't need to be impressed. I heard (indirectly, not printed but I'd consider the source reliable) about him walking into the Kennebunkport house, putting his feet on the furniture, getting told off, and telling her "You can't say that to me; I'm the President!"

#75 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 11:09 PM:

walking into the Kennebunkport house, putting his feet on the furniture, getting told off, and telling her "You can't say that to me; I'm the President!" -- I might say that he could be needing to prove himself if he behaves like that, but I admit not being very good at working people out. He could just be a sloppy, careless & rude person inside the family circle where he's relaxed & doesn't have the constant pressure of observation.
Or he could be saying it in a humorous way, we can't hear the intonation. Despite my despising & fearing our PM, John Winston Howard, & his works, I don't necessarily leap to the assumption that everything he does is vile, I just put that as the most likely hypothesis, and treat George Walker Bush similarly.

#76 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2005, 12:00 AM:

Notice that anyone with enough web access to post can freely get the official PDF for FM27-10. For easier reading and searching seems a useful resource:
" I obtained the official online version of FM 27-10 and have posted it here with some minor revisions. The only revisions I've made are as follows:
1. I changed the font to make it easier to read.
2. I added color as background to the title.
3. I amended the note beneath the title to be more understandable.
4. I deleted a lengthy document before the foreword which required certain amendments to the 1956 version, doing so because I deemed it unnecessary since the revisions are contained in the manual itself and are specifically indicated.
5. I deleted a brief "authorization" note at the end as being superfluous.
6. I corrected several obvious spelling and/or typographical errors.
7. I corrected innumerable intra-document links which would not work in order to, with hope, make them work properly.
8. I added a few hyperlinks to the text, without altering the text itself.
Field Manual 27-10 is unclassified and is in the public domain. This version, however, is my property. This is due only to the few revisions I've made as noted above. Permission to download, store, reproduce, and distribute further is hereby freely granted for this version if this prefatory note is included.
Nile Stanton
Collegiate Professor, University of Maryland University College

As an aside for the gun-nuts I notice a tremendous amount of 6.8 ammunition is going someplace likely larger units of Marines and smaller groups of Army.

#77 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2005, 09:22 PM:

6.8mm? Nothing I can think of US forces using.


#78 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2005, 11:23 AM:

Epacris: the story was relayed as involving arrogance rather than humor.

#79 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2005, 02:15 PM:

Steve Mason, 65, has died of lung cancer at his home in Ashland, Orgeon. He was considered the Poet Laureate of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Born in Brooklyn to musician parents, he joined the Army in 1960, went to Vietnam in 1966, came home in 1967, went to officer's training school, and quit as Captain in 1969 when they refused to send him back to the war zone.

Divorced, he blamed post-traumatic stress disorder. He brooded in a Washington DC ghetto for roughly 20 years before remarrying and becoming a poet, with an old Underwood his primary weapon.

He published 3 books of well-received poems. His poem "The Wall Within" was presented at the 1984 dedication of the Vietnam memorial, and read into the Congressional Record.


Most real men
Hanging tough
In their early forties
Would like the rest of us to think
They could really handle one more war
And two more women.
But I know better.
You have no more lies to tell.
I have no more dreams to believe.

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