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October 2, 2006

ATTENTION US MILITARY PERSONNEL
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:05 AM *

You are not required to obey an unlawful order.

You are required to disobey an unlawful order.

You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Constitution states (Article VI):

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Here is article 3, the common article, to the Geneva Conventions, a duly ratified treaty made under the authority of the United States:

Article 3

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.

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is straightforward and clear. Under Article VI of the Constitution, it forms part of the supreme law of the land.

You personally will be held responsible for all of your actions, in all countries, at all times and places, for the rest of your life. “I was only following orders” is not a defense.

What all this is leading to:

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, it is your duty to disobey that order. No “clarification,” whether passed by Congress or signed by the president, relieves you of that duty.

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, this is what to do:

1. Request that your superior put the order in writing.

2. If your superior puts the order in writing, inform your superior that you intend to disobey that order.

3. Request trial by courtmartial.

You will almost certainly face disciplinary action, harassment of various kinds, loss of pay, loss of liberty, discomfort and indignity. America relies on you and your courage to face those challenges.

We, the people, need you to support and defend the Constitution. I am certain that your honor and patriotism are equal to the task.

This post may be quoted in full. A linkback would be appreciated.

Comments on ATTENTION US MILITARY PERSONNEL:
#1 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:16 AM:

Don't I know it.

I have already started to figure out how I intend to deal with all this shit.

I don't plan on going gentle into that good night.

#2 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:16 AM:

It shows just how far things have fallen that it is necessary for a retired officer in the United States Navy to make such a post...

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:28 AM:

If you're reading this, pass it on.

#4 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:38 AM:

I have a dear friend who is a lawyer and a Marine; currently in Iraq. I considered sending this to him, but I can't imagine that he has not already thought long and hard about this.

#5 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:38 AM:

Teresa: I want to, I don't think I dare (which bothers me).

#6 ::: Chris Ashley ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:47 AM:

Delurking to say: I've posted this to my LJ, and I hope plenty more people will do the same. This is simple moral clarity at its best. It deserves a great big hearing.

#7 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:47 AM:

So Say We All.

Nothing more to be said, except - This ex-soldier hopes none of my brothers (and sisters) in arms are put in the position.

I fear my hopes are all too soon to be dashed. I therefore pray they will have the courage and strength of their convictions to stand up and be counted among those who put their oath to the Constitution and the people of the United States above their personal situation.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:49 AM:

What we need right now:

A organization with the resources and fortitude to provide legal aid to service people who go this route.

My checkbook stands ready.

#9 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:25 AM:

Posted to LJ. No trackbacks from there, unfortunately.

One more thing that needs to be done, if possible, is to widely disseminate the stories of any instances of any individuals who do take this course of action. For example, Lt. Ehren Watada (whose case was widely in the news when he refused to deploy to Iraq on June 22, 2006). The more of these stories in the news -- provided they're not put there to Swift Boat the personnel involved -- the better.

#10 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:37 AM:

You will almost certainly face disciplinary action, harassment of various kinds, loss of pay, loss of liberty, discomfort and indignity.

Well, I'd say that if you disobeyed an order to violate the Geneva Convention, the one thing you would not lose is your dignity. It might be all you're left with, but you would own your dignity and honor.

Gawds. Have things gotten so outlandishly out of control that it comes to this? I suppose they have. If anyone needs me, I'll be over here with my head in my hands...

#11 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:40 AM:

This post may be quoted in full. A linkback would be appreciated.

That would be the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license, if anyone's interested. Certain search engines will grok content that has been tagged with the appropriate flags as being CC licensed.

#12 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:09 AM:

Apparently this argument applies to more than torture - for example aggresive war, attacks aimed primarily at civilians (for example Fallujah).Please note the article I'm about to link is not by a lawyer, and its interpertation probably would not be upheld by a U.S. court:

==========
http://www.counterpunch.org/mosqueda02272003.html

A Duty to Disobey All Unlawful Orders: An Advisory to US Troops - by LAWRENCE MOSQUEDA
=========

#13 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:35 AM:

Jim, we've only met a few times in passing, but I wanted to say that I'm proud to know you.

And to know the other bloggers here.

I hope this gets read not only by anyone asked to violate Article 3, but also by anyone on the carriers sailing for the Straits of Hormuz.

Teresa, of the two places I have to pass this on, one won't get anywhere worth getting and the other may or may not be appropriate. But I will talk it up wherever I can.

Thank you.

#14 ::: Rose Fox ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 03:41 AM:

Hi Jim,

When I reposted this in my LiveJournal (with all attributions etc. intact), I got a response saying that it doesn't hold for anything currently going on because of Article 2 of the Geneva Conventions, which says that the Conventions "shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties". Since Iraq and Iran are not on that list, they don't get the benefits. Article 3, as you quoted, refers to "armed conflict not of an international character" (which would exclude making war on another country) and "in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties" (which would exclude the current war and all likely near-future ones). Are you intending this to only refer to Americans detained in armed conflict on American soil? I would really love to see these rules applied to all prisoners ever, but when you're talking about the letter of the law, I confess I don't quite see your point in this instance.

I'm not a lawyer and I'm not well-versed in international or military law, so I would really appreciate discussion on this topic from people who know more about it than I do.

#15 ::: Rose Fox ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 03:48 AM:

I'm corrected: Iraq is indeed a signatory. The issue is apparently more of those who fail to "carry arms openly" or observe the proprieties of the Conventions, and of al Qaeda and other "independent" fighters who are not party to them. As I said, I know very little about all of this! I'm hoping those here who know more can educate me.

#16 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:56 AM:

Rose - this is a post about Not Torturing Prisoners. It doesn't matter whether the prisoner is a regular Iraqi soldier, a civilian, an insurgent, an Iranian SF operator, an Al-Qaeda member, a child murderer - if he's a prisoner, he's a "Person 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" and falls under Article 3. The whole "but it doesn't apply to people who haven't signed" thing is a red herring. Article 3 is about what to do with non-combatants - which includes prisoners, whatever their background and however acquired.

In the case of an Al-Qaeda member or a military or civilian criminal, you can try them for murder and execute them, but (as part d says) only in a proper court.

#17 ::: Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:58 AM:

Rose,

it does not matter for article 3 whether a person is a prisoner of war or not. Article 3 applies to any person who is not actively taking part in the hostilities (even if that's only because they've been captured). Those are the minimal guarantees applicable to anybody; prisoners of war (and civilians, and the wounded and sick) simply enjoy more extensive protection, as laid out in the subsequent articles of the respective conventions.

So, regardless of how despicable and dangerous a person is and how lawless their conduct has been, as long as it is a conflict of the nature described in article 3, all violence to life and person, all cruel treatment, torture, even humiliating and degrading treatment are prohibited. There's really no ambiguity whatsoever and no "clarification" should be needed, as Jim put it.

#18 ::: Martin GL ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:00 AM:

Doesn't really matter whether or not they're combatants. That's just splitting hairs. The UN Declaration of Human Rights is still in effect, and takes precedence over anything. Torture is not now, nor will it ever be, legal. Any violation of the physical and mental integrity of others, unless in battlefield situations or self-defense, is strictly and completely unambigously forbidden.

#19 ::: Rebecca Borgstrom ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:45 AM:

Rose Fox,

It should scarcely be surprising that one can assemble an argument, plausible on its face, purporting to legitimize torture. Assembling such arguments is the principal industry of the depraved and they churn them forth in great thick chunks.

For myself, I am treating it as an affirmation: I am trying very hard to treat every paean to torture that I hear or read as motivation to do something good and positive that day.

Rebecca

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 08:36 AM:

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is called the "common article" because it is included in every Geneva Convention. The various Geneva Conventions cover various aspects of war; under none of them is there a status called "unlawful combatant." There is no person in an armed conflict to whom one or another of the Geneva Conventions does not apply.

#21 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 09:05 AM:

I'm taking a quick break before returning to shul (it's Yom Kippur) but much of our discussion last night was about Article 3 and this country's descent into -damn, I don't even have the words for it.

I second the offer upstream that if there is a place to offer donations for legal aid to those who might have to do this, my checkbook is also ready.

#22 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 09:08 AM:

-damn, I don't even have the words for it.

The word is "barbarism."

#23 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 09:26 AM:

Jim, I will first say, yes yes yes. I seem to remember being schooled on this when I was in the service. Something about "remembering your oath, the first priority was the Constitution, chain of command was way down the list."

However, from what I remember, disobeying the direct order of your superior officer while under fire is an offense punishable by summary court-martial for (among other things) deriliction of duty of abandonment of post. So if you are a service person under fire or in a hot zone, choose how you present your dissent carefully.

#24 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 09:35 AM:

Steve, it's unlikely that an order to torture a prisoner would be given while under fire... but fair point.

#25 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 09:54 AM:

While re-reading Common Article 3 I suddenly had a flash: "Maybe this is what all of those DoD comments about prisoners at Guantanamo practising asymmetrical warfare by killing themselves is about."

If the battlefield is everywhere in the world, and committing suicide alone in a cell is an act of war on the all-important public-relations front, then it follows that no one is placed hors de combat by detention (or sickness, or laying down their arms, or even by being killed, since their corpses can still be displayed for propaganda purposes). Abracadabra, a brave new world where Common Article 3 never applies.

I wonder if this is how my great-uncle felt in germany.

#26 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 09:59 AM:

Ajay at #23: you are probably right. But consider what happened at Abu Ghraib, and who was held responsible. The "bad apples" were convicted (I am not saying they were innocent) while Miller, Sanchez, et. al. were protected and praised. The civilian leadership (and some of the high-ranking officers, God help us) of our military appears to be corrupt. They cannot to be trusted to protect the people who fight -- only their own skins and their political ambitions, and to do that they will gladly sacrifice the troops.

I can easily see a situation in the current fight where a soldier refuses to an order to obey what appears to him or her to be an unlawful order to degrade or torture a prisoner, and finds him or herself fighting a charge of dereliction of duty.

#27 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 10:13 AM:

Lizzy, "and finds him or herself fighting a charge of dereliction of duty."

That most certainly would happen in any case. The service personel who disobeys the order will then have to show how by disobeying the order they were adhering to their oath and that the order was either illegal or would have caused an illegal action. This would be after a field "busting of rank" and the accompanying "disiplinary actions." The point I was making is that disobeying an order while under fire would have a slightly different proceedure.

#28 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 10:32 AM:

Does anyone have any notion or guess concerning whether one of the Joint Chiefs has stepped forward to advise his Commander concerning unlawful orders? Somehow, I must expect that one of them at least knows how this works, and doesn't see the need to wait for a JAG to make an "expert's" statement about it.

This is the part that gets me the most. No one expects a president to have any military experience, let alone be versed in military law and protocol. That's why a security council exists, and why each Chief of Staff sits on it. I'd prefer to not believe that every one of them is a wimp, unable to stand up to authority when the issue is clear, and the advise obvious.

#29 ::: Syona Luciuna ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:09 AM:

So, in essance. Bush has forced the personnel of america's miitary to either choose between disobeying an illegal order, or obeying orders dictated by his policy and violating their oaths.

I would hope they choose the former over the latter.

I would also hope they decide enough is enough and return home and throw the bums out of the Whitehouse and into jail.

#30 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:10 AM:

Does anyone have any notion or guess concerning whether one of the Joint Chiefs has stepped forward to advise his Commander concerning unlawful orders?

<Nixon>
If the President orders it, it isn't unlawful.
</Nixon>

#31 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:13 AM:

Franklin, by all accounts, when the JAG people were dragged over to the White House to be bullyragged about supporting all of this, they were doing whatever the military lawyer equivalent of screaming bloody murder over it is.
However, our military (luckily for us, really) isn't accustomed to the idea of overthrowing their civilian authorities, and so arranging the coup to stop it (which is what it would have taken, given Bush's intransigence, and Congress' venal spinelessness) is not a part of their repertoire.

#32 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:14 AM:

Does anyone (else) think that the United States government, by refusing to ratify the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, is sending the message through the rank and file of the military that it is safe to obey unlawful orders? I understand the more traditional objections to the Court, but I don't particularly like the aura of immunity it grants the American military for war crimes it might commit.

#33 ::: Dylan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:14 AM:

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, it is your duty to disobey that order. No "clarification," whether passed by Congress or signed by the president, relieves you of that duty.

This is flatly untrue. The US Supreme Court has made it clear that where treaty obligations clash with domestic law properly enacted "last in time" controls. A so-called clarification passed by Congress and signed by the president is in fact law.

As a matter of domestic law, the obligations of US service personnel are whatever Congress and the President most recently said they are. Foreign nations, could, of course, choose to prosecute them, but that would be true in any case - they can always just make having been a member of the US armed services itself a crime. Had any of them sworn an oath to uphold the laws of any other countries this might actually be relevant to something.

#34 ::: Dylan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:18 AM:

But take it from an expert.

I am not aware of other examples where Congress has reversed a Court's interpretation of a treaty, but there is zero doubt in my mind that this move is constitutional. Congress has the authority to nullify the domestic effect of treaties via the "last in time rule" and this authority almost certainly includes the power to adopt a binding interpretation of a treaty for domestic purposes as well. In other words, Congress might be adopting an incorrect interpretation of Common Article 3, but its "incorrect" interpretation is still binding as a matter of domestic U.S. law.

#35 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:25 AM:

Fidelio, I hope you are at least a little facetious about coup d'etat; I had no intention of even implying it.

"I am required to advise you" is something every commander hears at some point, if the situation is serious enough and he has a command staff he trusts. An admiral or general should find this introductory phrase coming very easily to his lips, no matter who is president or what the situation is. As a well-read layman, this just seems completely intuitive to me.

Dylan, you make an excellent point. I causes me to ask: if a treaty signatory passes a domestic law contradicting one or more treaty obligations, is that not a de facto violation of that treaty, thereby making that nation an ex-signatory?

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:28 AM:

It is a strange day when a veteran is calling for civil disobedience (literally the disobedience of a citizen) on the part of serving military officers confronted with unlawful orders. The Greeks, btw, had a word for government that ignored the law, they called it 'tyranny'.

W. seems determined to be George III in every possible sense of the term.

#37 ::: Dylan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:30 AM:

Well, no, it just means they won't domestically enforce that particular part of the treaty that others think they should. It's not like when someone ignores a WTO ruling on tariffs the offending country is thrown out of the WTO; other nations simply can under WTO rules retaliate with their own punitive tariffs.

Other nations annoyed with this can take their own actions, but then they always could.

#38 ::: Dylan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:32 AM:

Fragano, he hasn't demonstrated the potential for any unlawful orders. The law has been changed. The change is valid as a matter of law, whatever you think of the morality of it. There is certainly a case to be made that officers should not follow "evil" orders, and perhaps that case should be made here. But abrogating or modifying treaty obligations is not illegal, anymore than the repeal or modification of any domestic law would be.

#39 ::: Dave Lartigue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:43 AM:

I have a request from all the good people here at Making Light. Elsewhere I was lamenting this decision and was met with the usual right wingers saying that this was hogwash, we weren't doing anything worse than making prisoners slightly uncomfortable, that Abu Ghraib was simply a few bad apples who have been removed and punished, and that our prisoners are all enemy combatants and not just hapless schmoes picked up and thrown into Gitmo.

Now, I know this is all not true, but I know this because of a great many things I've read over a long period of time.

Is there a sort of one-stop-shop for, say, the Torture Truth? Some place or a few select places with clear documentation that can be forwarded to such people? I realize arguing with many of them is a lost cause, but one or two people has said, "If you have supportive evidence to the contrary, I would like to see it." I'm sure someone has been collecting all of this someplace, just not sure who or where.

#40 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:57 AM:

I wonder if one could base a similar refusal on the Eighth Amendment's prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishments. That would get around Dylan's "last in time" problem, since the Constitution trumps other laws, although you'd never know it looking at this administration.

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:58 AM:

Dylan: I don't see why your appeal to authority ought to trump James. Futher I think the authority to whom you appeal is wrong.

It appears, oddly enough, that so to does much of the legal community which is why we see things like this
Abstract:
For nearly 150 years, courts have applied the last in time rule to resolve conflicts between treaties and federal statutes by giving effect to whichever was enacted later in time. Despite its acceptance by the courts, this rule has received unanimous criticism in the legal academy.
That's the set up for Law Review Article trying to prove the point your refrence so blythely states as settled.

The doctrine of "last in time" is for statute. The Constitution raises treaties above statute, making the equivalent to itself. They only fail to have that level of solidity, because the means of repudiation are less difficult. Until, however, a treaty is truly repudiated, it can't be merely papered over with a statute.

For a couple of views less amenable to the idea that statute trumps treaty,

Charters and judicial reviewThere is a long-standing controversy about the idea of parliamentary supremacy -- the idea that legislative law trumps all other law. That is currently the dominant theory in England, but the United States holds a contrary view -- here judges review legislative laws against a prior and higher law: a written constitution (and perhaps also against natural law, but that is a subject we won't pursue here)

Letter to The American Journal of International Law(again just the first page), with citiations, as to why a president can't just paper over international law

Justice Ginsburg's first page of a Law Review article on the subject.

So we have no awareness of other examples where the Congress has reversed a court's interpretation of a treaty (per your source), but no doubt that it can, as compared to the clear text of the governing rule (i.e. the Constitution) and no small amount of controversy on the basic principle of "Last in Time", esp. as it relates to things like treaties (which are not statutes, governing internal matters, but agreements detailing international relations; which if they are to be seen as binding [and thus worth entering] by other nations, can't really be subject to the whim of congressional fiat [I shan't even go into the idea the Executive has final say over such things, that "Art II" argument of Yoo and Gonzales is laughable on it its face, as evidenced by the White House being completely unwilling, at every turn, to let it be heard by a court]).

So I'll take the plain language of the Constitution (which seems to clearly show the founders' "original intent") to the twisting of a principle for domestic statute to fit international agreement

#42 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:59 AM:

Sigh, I was afraid of that. Too many URLs.

First time for that, I thought I was below seven.

#43 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Dylan:

As a matter of domestic law, the obligations of US service personnel are whatever Congress and the President most recently said they are.
Nope. Not true. Don't know where you got that idea, but it's seriously mistaken. Want to try again?

Rose Fox, I've posted in the thread back on your site. I think the person you're referring to is being deliberately obfuscatory.

For future reference, anyone who refers to entire classes of people as "fair game for torture" has gone wrong. There is no such thing as "fair game for torture".

#44 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:08 PM:

patgreene: I don't see a problem with last in time (and when my comment clears holding, my supports for this view will be more plain) because treaties are, as Jim said, in a class above mere statute, which changes the application of "last in time" since it applies to satute (and isn't as settled as it might seem, see this discussion on the issue, as it is going on in Illinois).

If the Constitution is controlling; a higher piece of law than statute, and that constitution holds (as it seems to) that treaties, duly ratified, become equivalent to itself in binding power, then where a statute conflicts with the provisions of a treaty, that statute is void.

Now, there have been, of late, a lot of arguements that the internal application of treaties is different for federally contructted nations; that the only places they are binding is on the federation, as a whole, and that in the individual states of the federation they may be differently interpreted, but I don't see how that idea (even if it is correct) can be applied here, as the question is what shall the "armed forces" (a federal object) be allowed to do?

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:09 PM:

Hang on, Terry. Let me see if it's in the "waiting to be okayed" bin.

#46 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:10 PM:

"fair game for torture".....?!!!

Head explodes.

Must go make coffee, look at kittens, lock weaponry away.

rosefox, I am so sorry you got something like that.

#47 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Okay, Terry's long comment is displaying now.

#48 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Speaking as a war criminal, I would like a definition of Outrages on personal dignity. I have been near den Haag once, for the North Sea Jazz Festival. I would rather not go as a defendant (though if things ever got to that point, I'm sure I would be waaaaay down on the list).

Now that I have your attention:

Yes, I said "as a war criminal." Depending on how much one would want to push the issue, I would have to stand trial for violating Article 3 to truely settle whether or not I was a war criminal. However, based on some of the legal precedents the US Supreme Court cited when it told the White House to fall in line with international consensus on giving a narrower definition of "Outrages," I would definitely go to trial.

So, oh gentle reader, you must be asking yourself, "Self, what vile acts did this evil man commit?" I'll tell you in explicit, excruciating detail. I made a 35 year old, Iraqi male of Sunni descent cry when I confronted him with documentary evidence he had committed a crime and lied about it to gain employment on a Coalition Forces base camp. In front of witnesses. In an airconditioned room. In a comfortable chair (his was more comfortable than mine darn it). With nary a weapon in sight.

I recommended he be fired from his job for lieing during his screening interview. He drove home to his family, and there were no other consequences from the interview. However, I committed an outrage against his personal dignity. So I hope the cell I'm headed for is nice and clean.

Miles

#49 ::: Rose Fox ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:15 PM:

Thanks for the clarifying comments here and in my journal. I look forward to seeing how it all hashes out.

I certainly agree that morally and pragmatically there is no justification for torture and never has been. I hope some agreement can be reached (among the people discussing the topic on my LJ, and in the national and international legal communities) that there is no legal justification for it either.

#50 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:36 PM:

Miles, that's a red-herring. I've made people cry in interrogations. I've made people walk in circles (had nothing to do with interrogation).

The easiest way to interpret this (and it's been the law for 59 years, with no lack of clarity. It was so clear that we passed a law making it binding on all U.S. citizens back in '98, and no one quibbled or caviled then) is to say, "how would I feel if it happened to me."

If you think your reaction would be shame and disgrace, then it offends human dignity.

It's a bit more complex, and subtle than that (because things like feeding a Hindu beed are also offenses against dignity, sort of like casting a cross on the bottom of Falwell's chamber pot) but that's a decent rule of thumb.

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:43 PM:

pat greene, Dylan is asserting that the Supremes have ruled that Article VI of the Constitution does not hold. If he's right, we're screwed. I find it hard to believe that he is.

Dylan, who is the expert you quote?

#52 ::: Tom Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Quoted and linked to from my LJ and my political blog. Many thanks for this.

#53 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Xopher: Well, I suppose I could have been as concise as you were. That does sum him up.

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Terry: LOL! You were actually informative. That's better. And your informative post came in while I was writing mine.

#55 ::: Dylan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Terry, you're citing in defense of your position what I myself was about to use to back up my own position!

Indeed: For nearly 150 years, courts have applied the last in time rule to resolve conflicts between treaties and federal statutes by giving effect to whichever was enacted later in time.

The courts have and still do say that's the law. Legal academics are pissed. So what?

Pat Green has offered the only intelligent response, which is that, of course, the Constitution itself still overrides whatever laws or treaties are passed. (Although perhaps that was the unsaid basis behind Teresa's "nananana I can't hear you" response at #43.)

Xopher, he's a law professor who specializes in international law. I've been trying to find the actual Supreme Court case that held that a later domestic statute overrides a prior treaty, but it's so old and settled (as a matter of law, not legal academic opinion), that it doesn't pop up easily in the google searches I've tried.

Also, I'm not saying Article VI doesn't "hold." I'm saying it doesn't mean what you think it means. It says only that the US Constitution, treaties, and US domestic law are supreme to state laws and constitutions and requires state judges to enforce federal law when it conflicts with state law. It says nothing about the ranking system of Constitution vs. treaty vs. domestic law. That particular question has been long settled by the Supreme Court in favor of the last in time rule.

For what it's worth, I am a law school graduate. I'm not offering you my opinion, but what I know. Hopefully I'll eventually find the case that actually settled this. Until then, I've offered you a link to a profesor international law who says it's open and shut. Terry has cited his article that notes that the courts have ruled this way for almost 150 years, notwithstanding the bitching of the international law community.

This is not to say the Constitution cannot possible forclose enforcement of the statute at issue. But the Geneva Conventions sure can't. They've been displaced to the extent they conflict with later US law.

The idea that we can't refuse to dishonor a treaty without permission from some or all other participants is simply bizarre, in any case. Google "Kellogg-Briand Pact." The US has signed and ratified a treaty that renounced war as an instrument of national policy...in 1928. We've not withdrawn or specially abrograted it since, as far as I know. Perhaps Germany, another bound member, should have sued us in December 1941 so that our declaration of war could have been quashed by the courts.

I suppose if the right must have its tax protestor cranks it's only fair that the left shoulder their "supremacy of international law" mirror images, but one hopes for better from the "reality based community."

#56 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:36 PM:

#35 Franklin Evans

From time to time, someone posts here who really does not grasp the way the US military is taught to regard their relationship with civil authority. (I am not including you in this number, by the way--just noting that these innocents do hang around here.) Inevitably, they wonder when the ranks (led, they hope, by equally outraged officers) will rise against GWB & Co. I'm to the point where I always add the explanation of why they will advise, argue, disagree, and even resign, but not actually rebel violently.
I'm glad the US military does not think it is their job to decide for the rest of us who's running the country. Every example I've seen of a country where that happens has not been a happy picture.

#57 ::: Rose Fox ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:38 PM:

Dave Lartigue: I would start with the Wikipedia article on the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp. While Wikipedia itself is not an authoritative source, there are lots of links at the bottom to external sites that may prove useful. See also the article on Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse.

#58 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:41 PM:

Thank, Fidelio. Being new here I had to ask/mention it. :)

I don't mean to be one-upping here, but it didn't occur to me that my own heritage would be relevant... and I'm not quite sure it is even so, but here it is.

My late father was a convicted war criminal, in absentia of course or I'd not be here writing this. He was a chetnik, a native son of Montenegro and an officer in the Serbian royal army when Tito and his partisans set off the first phase of the Yugoslav civil war. The charges were treason (an odd thing, considering the government he "betrayed" came into existence after his defeat as a member of the losing army) and the more serious charge of collaboration with the Nazis. That, I cannot get into, because he never discussed details with me, but I can speculate: the chetniks were outmanned and outgunned almost from the beginning, and were even worse off when their only source of supply, the British, was cut off in the early stages of the Nazi conquest of their neighbors. They certainly gave intelligence aid to the Nazis in exchange for basics like food and ammo; it can be demonstrated by some that the intelligence was in whole or in part fabricated. Desparate times bring desparate measures.

Anyway, something can often be said about the accusers of "war crimes", and the old saw about the winners writing the histories. My father's permanent exile brought him to a country he loved, as much for its opposition to his communist enemies as for its military traditions, with which he was as much at home as he was in his youth.

#59 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:44 PM:

My big fear is that any soldier who does challenge an order to torture someone on the grounds that it is an unlawful order will simply be declared an enemy combatant and put into cold storage.

#60 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:45 PM:

Interrogating/questioning/even making people upset by talking to them shouldn't be considered outrages.

But...

some of what happened at Abu Grahib
some of what's going on in Guantanimo
and in the secret detention facilities
not giving a full accounting of all
detainees to the families
not permitting the Red Cross/Red Crescent
to visit many detainees
not giving most detainees access to counsel
accepting heresay and evidence gotten
from torture
the fact that we have secret detention
facilities and foreign "interrogators"

these things ARE outrages.

Jim M., thanks you've made some great suggestions here.

#61 ::: Dylan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:55 PM:

To give you some hope, however, I offer you this .

It is true that, under the last-in-time rule, Congress and the President can legislate in contravention of a treaty obligation. But it is significant that, in a decision on Wednesday, Sanchez-Llamas v.Oregon, the Court relied on Article III of the Constitution and quoted Marbury v. Madison in holding that it is the province and duty of the Supreme Court to interpret treaties. The Court gave that as a reason why the interpretation of another treaty by the International Court of Justice could not be considered binding, but presumably this analysis also makes the Supreme Court the authoritative interpreter of treaties vis-�-vis the President and even Congress. If so, then the Court�s analysis in Sanchez-Llamas rules out a statute that purports to reject the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Geneva Convention and "restore" the President's interpretation, as Professor John Yoo has urged Congress to do. The law-makers could, of course, repeal the Geneva Convention's domestic effect, but, in light of Sanchez-Llamas, they would have to do so by openly rejecting the Geneva Convention. Openly rejecting the Geneva Conventions would of course be a terrible idea, given the protections they provide to our troops. I assume (and hope) that such repudiation is not within the range of plausible options. If Congress is powerless to reject the Supreme Court's interpretation of the treaty, and repudiation of the treaty is not conceivable, then any legislative solution would have to comply with the Supreme Court's interpretation of Common Article 3.

I'm not sure it's right, but to the extent it may be it is for other reasons than those proposed - if a statute is an abrogation or rejection of a treaty provision, rather than an "interpretation," it unquestionably controls. And I doubt it is right. I'm much more persuaded by the second comment to this post:

As much as I admire your work on treaty law, I must say that I was puzzled by this post. Do you really think that a statute declaring that common Article 3 does not apply to the conflict against al Qeada would not be controlling? The logic of Boerne doesn't apply to this situation. Per Marbury, the Supreme Court may have the final say on the interpetation of the Constitution, but that's only because the Supremacy Clause gives primacy to the Constitution over any statute. But that's not so with treaties. Indeed, at least as a matter of domestic law, it's been settled since the Head Money Cases that Congress can override treaties by statute. So, just as Congress can "correct" a misguided interpretation of a statute by enacting a contrary statute, I fail to see why it couldn't do the same with an interpretation of a treaty. Maybe you call it restoring what Congress sees as the proper interpretation of the treaty; maybe you call it abrogating the domestic law obligation that the treaty imposes by virture of the Court's decision. Either way, the result should be the same.

#62 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:57 PM:

I'm suddenly understanding exactly why some unexpected parties pushed for review of the Boldt Decission after review was denied certiorari the first time: no matter what else it said about the particulars of the case (which was, most importantly in the long run, to assert that the tribal signatories to the Medicine Creek Treaty had deciding interest in the health of aquatic resources, importantly, but not limited to, the anadroumous fishery of lower Puget Sound) its most important general point was that treaties, even treaties with small, poor representatives of the Several Indian Tribes, had status equal to the constitution.

A dangerous precedent, but one which is plainly stated in the constitution itself.

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:08 PM:

Well, IANAL, but

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land
seems pretty transparent to me. Yeah, then it talks about how the Judges "in every state" have to act accordingly. But it's already said that the Constitution and the Treaties are the supreme law of the land.

If you're arguing that treaties don't supersede Federal law, it seems to me that you also have to be arguing that the Constitution doesn't either. And that's Just Plain Wrong.

#64 ::: Douglas Knight ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:15 PM:

How do you interpret article VI as saying that treaties trump congressional laws? It says that treaties are supreme, but it also says that congressional laws are supreme--if you don't believe that, what do you believe the first phrase means? If you think that treaties are more supreme because the word supreme appears near them, then they're more supreme than the constitution, which is pretty implausible. I admit that comma after Constitution is pretty weird in its asymmetry.

The first clause declares three things supreme, without saying what "supreme" means, but the second clause says that they trump the states, so overall it's pretty clear.

#65 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:17 PM:

Xopher: that is what he's saying and why concision is, at times, to be preferred.

That there are others who agree with him, that whim should supercede Art. VI, is, sadly predictable.

#66 ::: Alex R ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:32 PM:

Dylan -- In a similar note to your last post, see this comment by Marty Lederman to the post you referenced... He says that Congress can only override a treaty by doing so explicitly, not simply by specifying how to interpret it. What's more, he gives internal evidence that Congress understood this:

That's why section 6(b) of the bill -- this is the key -- would simply cut off any judicial power to adjudicate the meaning and enforcement of the Geneva Conventions. If the "congressional interpretation" of CA3 trumped the Court's, there would be no need to prohibit any party from invoking Geneva in court. But it doesn't trump the Court's interpretation, which is why the bill will try to silence the Court.

#67 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:32 PM:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.

IANAL, constitutional or otherwise, but the this section of the Constitution is rather clearly an inclusive conjunction. What remains is litigation and legislation attempting to clarify it within specific circumstances, a process with which any First Amendment lawyer is quite (painfully) familiar. :)

#68 ::: Douglas Knight ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:37 PM:

JESR:
treaties...had status equal to the constitution.

Where do you see this in Boldt? It's about treaties v states: the case is US v Washington. I don't think it sheds light on treaties v federal laws.

#69 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:41 PM:

Posted and linked back. Thanks.

#70 ::: Kelley Shimmin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:48 PM:

This is totally off the subject, but... the Making Light LJ feed appears not to be working. I tried a Google search of this domain with all the words "LJ Feed" and maybe the word "problem" but couldn't find anything recent, so I suspect no one has reported this to you yet. Anyway, it isn't working anymore. The last post we got was "Sign Your Donor Card."

I am of course perfectly capable of trotting over here myself and checking to see if you've updated, but the LJ feed is convenient. I noticed the problem because a lot of my friends have been complaining about the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and I thought for sure you'd have said something (which you have, today and previously), but recent posts haven't show up.

#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:49 PM:

'The Laws made in Pursuance thereof' means "laws made to enforce the provisions of the Constitution"—like, say, the Voting Rights Act. This new bill doesn't qualify. Therefore it is superseded by the GC, including CA3. That's what the language actually means.

Its force in law, unfortunately, is subject to the rule that the law "is not what is written, but what is read," and the SCOTUS have the ultimate right to read the law. And they're by and large a bunch of right-wing ideologues at this point.

Et tu, Scote? Then fall America!

#72 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Part of the argumentation of Boldt decision is a restatement of the relationship of state laws to the federal constitution. An old, and repeatedly overturned, argument in Indian treaty claims cases is that the states and their subordinate polities are not bound by federal treaties (there's more on that in the case against Pierce county's condemnation of the eastern half of the Nisqually res to "donate" it to the Army for the enlargement of Ft. Lewis in 1916). Boldt explicitly restates the place of federal treaties under the Constitution, and then contrasts that to state laws and regulations, in providing background for his decision against the state's attempt to put Indian fisheries under state catch limits.

That the explication of the primacy of treaties is presented to contrast it to the subordinacy of the states doesn't make it any less a strong statement of the role of treaties in constitutional questions.

#73 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 02:53 PM:

OT:
Kelley Shimin, the Making Light feed is here:
http://syndicated.livejournal.com/making_light/profile

(There's an added underbar between making and light, from what I understand on another thread.)

#74 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 03:19 PM:

Certainly the position of the current administration:
(b) The status of treaties and the effect of their conflict with statutes. Under principles of Constitutional law, 3/ a convention (an agreement in the nature of a treaty), or a treaty, when self-executing in the sense that no additional legislation is required to make it effective, is equivalent to and of like obligation with an act of Congress. When a treaty is in conflict with a congressional enactment, that which is later in date will control. Thus, a treaty may supersede or abrogate an act of Congress, and vice versa. However, repeal by implication is never favored, and a later treaty will not be regarded as repealing an earlier statute by implication unless the two are incompatible to the extent that the statute cannot be enforced without antagonizing the treaty. Conversely, the same principles are applied when considering the effect of new legislation upon an existing treaty. 4/

#75 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 03:41 PM:

The effect of international treaties in courts is generally treated under the confusing categories selfexecuting and non-self-executing. These have their origin in the US case Foster v. Neilson, in which justice Marshall argued that when the terms of the stipulation import a contract, when either of the parties engages to perform a particular act, the treaty addresses itself to the political, not the judicial department; and the legislature must execute the contract before it can become a rule for the Court.29 Since then the category has become extremely popular, to the extent that it seems to say too many things.30 In short, the doctrine of self-executing treaties argues that courts are obliged to apply treaties as if they were congressional statutes. Its basis is to be found in the supremacy clause of the US Constitution, which provides that This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.31 In the United States, the doctrine of self-execution has for decades been at the center of the controversy over the effects of international treaties. This controversy goes to the very essence of the supremacy clause. The fundamental question is whether that clause should be read as a federalist or as a separation of powers provision. Those who claim that it should be read as a separation of powers provision are sometimes referred to as the internationalists. They argue that the provision obliges courts to apply international treaties as if they were acts of congress.32 Their opponents claim that the purpose of the supremacy clause was to solve a specific problem that plagued the Articles of Confederation, under which some states refused to implement the treaties concluded by the Continental Congress. The supremacy clause's effect would thus be limited to making international treaties mandatory upon states, not upon courts.33 The terms of the controversy are extremely subtle and they turn to a fight on history.

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES UNDER THE SPELL OF BROWN
Rodrigo P. Correa G.*

#76 ::: Joe ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 03:42 PM:

As a veteran, let me tell you how it really works. No commander is going to get in a pissing match with a grunt about a lawyerly discussion of the rules of engagement. That would lead to anarchy in the ranks. Group discussions and hugs are nice away from the job, but let's keep them there. What's going to happen when a grunt challenges an order to waterboard a "suspect," is that the commander will say "Fine." The poor grunt will find himself on the quick boat to Baghdad instead of in tropical Cuba for the rest of his tour, and there is nothing he can do about it ("bad attitude," "not a team player," etc.). The army has a lousy union, and some jobs are definitely better than others.

Joe

#77 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 03:51 PM:

Joe, the thing of it is when out of 12 soldiers assigned to the duty, six of them decline to obey what they see as an illegal order (hypothetically, of course), reassignment to Baghdad becomes less of an option, and once the word gets out (and it will), those commanders will have no choice but to play politics.

#78 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 03:58 PM:

The poor grunt will find himself on the quick boat to Baghdad instead of in tropical Cuba for the rest of his tour

It's a choice: waterboard the guy tied down in front of you, keep a comfy tour, finish out your 20 year gig, retire at half pay,

Or, refuse to obey the order, end up in some shithole, don't re-up, and get a job somewhere else.

It's a question of what price your conscience can be bought...

#79 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Joe: Speaking as a recent vet: The way deployments (esp. of intel personell) are happening now... the send 'em to Bagdad option isn't that easy.

It takes a couple of months to get all the ducks lined up, and in the meantime the troop can do all sorts of things (not least of which an IG complaint that they are being punished for refusing to obey an unlawful order).

A few calls to the ACLU, various committees of the Religious Society of Friends, and any number of other interested parties (my senators, and representative, for three) could be used to hold that up.

The people who are going to be asked to do this, the ones who do it as a job, are not as easy to push around as a line-doggie. They are not only smart, they tend to be a trifle... independent of mind, with a healthy scorn for idiocy, and of regulations which don't really apply (I know of more than one commander who asked, plaintively, why we didn't have any respect for the army pass system).

One guy can be quashed, a dozen may be hidden under the rug, but if enough (and that's the rub, i'nt?) stand up for what's right, the cracks in the façade will show.

#80 ::: Randy Beck ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:11 PM:

I think you guys are confusing two issues. Waterboarding was a CIA measure.

Military interrogators work under the Army field manual. It was recently revised but I don't think it's affected by the current controversy. They've taken the Geneva Conventions into account.

#81 ::: Kelley Shimmin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:23 PM:

#73 Nancy C. - Thanks! I got it.

#82 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:33 PM:

It is long settled that "the provisions of an act of Congress, passed in the exercise of its constitutional authority, . . . if clear and explicit, must be upheld by the courts, even in contravention of express stipulations in an earlier treaty" with a foreign power. Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698, 720 (1893); cf. Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979). This Court applied that rule to congressional abrogation of Indian treaties in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 566 (1903). Congress, the Court concluded, has the power "to abrogate the provisions of an Indian treaty, though presumably such power will be exercised only when circumstances arise which will not only justify the government in disregarding the stipulations of the treaty, but may demand, in the interest of the country and the Indians themselves, that it should do so." Ibid.
UNITED STATES v. DION, 476 U.S. 734 (1986)

Then again I'd hate to think John Yoo is correct in The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11

#83 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:41 PM:

I guess I'm the only person who thinks they could just take the soldier and stick him in one of the cells and tell anyone else who has a problem that they can share it with him? Deny him access to a lawyer and tell the family he is missing. It's not like they aren't already doing that to detainees.

Isn't the whole point of the new bill to give them indiscriminate and complete power over anyone who gets in their way?

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:45 PM:

And the people who say "well, they can't do it to citizens" are just wrong. Remember, if you're declared an enemy combatant, you don't have the right to challenge your detention in court. That includes the right to challenge it on the grounds that you're a citizen. If it got before the court, you'd win, but it never gets there.

#85 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:49 PM:

That's what I'm saying. The private refuses an unlawful order, the private goes into a dark cell. The private complains, the private gets waterboarded. It's not like these are new concepts, they are just new to us, thanks to this administration.

#86 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 04:57 PM:

Dylan #38: There's this curious constitutional prohibition on 'cruel and unusual punishment'. Perhaps it doesn't matter?

#87 ::: Pat ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:23 PM:

What Jim McDonald has posted is _exactly_ what we were trained to do in the Vietnam era, including how to disobey an unlawful order.

"I was only following orders" is never a defense.

#88 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:24 PM:

Sean: It's a good question, and hinges on the definition of "material aid/support". A suffiently broad interpretation could say anything which those authorised to determine who is accused of being an "unlawful" enemy combatant makes the efforts of "the enemy" easier counts, and so into the naval brig he goes.

But, and this is where it gets sticky, the servicemember belongs to one of those pesky groups which makes its members wear uniforms, and the group in question is, unquestionably serving in the furtherance of a war by a state.

So the prima-facie case says they aren't unlawful enemy combatants.

Which puts any prosecution back into the UCMJ, with Art. 32 hearings and formal charges, and protections against self-incrimination and mandatory representation and all the other safeguards of the U.S. legal system come into play.

More to the point, members of the service are less likely to use this against each other. It's not quite the "blue wall" but we can see that using it on one person would reach back to ourselves.

Further we are told, from the very beginning, that unlawful orders are not to be obeyed, so when someone says they are refusing something, as unlawful; given the serious repercussions, in event of error, that carries a lot of weight, both logical, and moral.

If I were in a position where I was told to treat someone who refused an order, on the basis it was thought to be unlawful, as though they were an enemy combatant (lawful, or unlawful), I would refuse it, as an unlawful order.

#89 ::: Phoenician in a time of Romans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:46 PM:

It's a choice: waterboard the guy tied down in front of you, keep a comfy tour, finish out your 20 year gig, retire at half pay,

Or, refuse to obey the order, end up in some shithole, don't re-up, and get a job somewhere else.

It's a question of what price your conscience can be bought...

Yep - I guess it comes down to whether a person wants to be an American patriot or to, you know, actually live up to the values America claims as its own.

However, from an outsider persepctive, two points spring to mind:

i, Given the claim that domestic legislation can rewrite treaties, what criticism can America level against other countries that do this. Like, say, Iran?

ii, Isn't just posting this incitement to disobey orders enough to place you in peril of being deemed to be "helping the enemy" and liabled to be Gitmoed?

"America the Free"? Don't make me laugh.

#90 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Sean --

Yup. They can; they will.

It won't be legal, but that doesn't keep things from happening.

There is no safe way out of this very unsafe place.

#91 ::: Steinn Sigurdsson ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:56 PM:

Dylan: Germany declared war on the USA - it is an important distinction.
And, as I understand it, the violation of the Kellogg pact was a key element in the Nuremberg prosecutions - when Germany lost, their violation of that treaty was a breach of law, and a cause for prosecution. And the Germans knew it, that is why they tried to fake a casus belli with Poland rather than just attack.

If Saddam Hussein had got the Iraqi congress to pass a law saying he could torture people, or decree by executive order what was actually legal through interpretation of Iraqi laws and treaty obligations, then would he be free now? After all if he had done so, then he could be guilty of no crime. Unless ex post facto legal principles are also broken and a new law of attainder passed against him by the Iraqis.

#92 ::: Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:59 PM:

I second (or ninety-second, or whatever) Jim Macdonald's statement here. I plan to repost it to my blog, and will of course link back.

I would add, though, that it's likely to be the CIA carrying out the worst interrogation techniques because they're not covered by the UCMJ; over the past year or so, Marty Lederman ("Balkinization") has argued that this is what has driven much of the legal maneuvering -- although I freely confess I got lost in the thickets of the last-minute drafts to the MilComAct, and don't know how this particular issue (military vs. CIA) played out in the end.

I personally think the CIA should have been always understood to also be governed by the most conservative (read: restrictive, ethical) reading of the Geneva Conventions, but this is or was apparently up for lawyerly debate.

So I plan to either subtitle my version of this "...and all other government employees" or add some language to that effect, since courts-martial don't apply to CIA personnel as far as I know.

#93 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 06:03 PM:

It should be obvious that I don't think the Geneva Convention rises to Constitutional Level though I might make a case the Convention embodies in part the natural law on which the Constitution draws. Just the same I'm left wondering why the issue comes up? Why don't the NCO's who form the backbone of the Army (and other branches) keep things in line?

Of course Abu Ghraib did happen but I'm still wondering where the First Sergeants were? And will be?

I'd have some hope - perhaps misguided - that a First Sergeant someplace would advise the private not to water board, advise an officer not to give such orders and share concerns with the officers who were butterbars when the first shirt was a private?

The version I heard of Abu Ghraib - a sun trumped a star :) - is Janis Karpinski acted like she still wore Harpers Ferry pistols and figured the silos/stovepipes (pick your metaphor buzzword) met someplace above her grade so folks who wore a sun (and dagger) ;) ranked somebody who wore just a star?! No sergeant to save Karpinski from herself and no sergeant to save Spec Graner and Pvt. Englund from themselves?

#94 ::: Lucifer ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 06:13 PM:

So, let me see if I understand all this legalise correctly.

So if given an order that may or may not be illegal, but is certainly unethical and was previously illegal, an officer could refuse to carry it out. If they do refuse, then their commanders have many ways of punishing them.

Perhaps I'm being cynical, but I rather get the impression that many would be perfectly ok with torturing prisioners. Wether or not they be arabs or americans.

So, what it comes down to is this:
Bush has rewritten the Consitution to make his war crimes legal, and ultimatly although the military will bitch and moan about it and some will refus to participate, and folks back home will protest... there will be enough people that won't do anything that he'll get away with his coup by stealth.

So, in effect, he's won already.

#95 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 09:10 PM:

Joseph Heller writes [ganked from Wikiquote.Org]:

"'Catch-22...says you've always got to do what your commanding officer tells you to.
"'But Twenty-seventh Air Force says I can go home with forty missions.'
"'But they don't say you have to go home. And regulations do say you have to obey every order. That's the catch. Even if the colonel were disobeying a Twenty-seventh Air Force order by making you fly more missions, you'd still have to fly them, or you'd be guilty of disobeying an order of his. And then the Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters would really jump on you.'"
--Chapter 6, pg. 68

"You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!" --Chapter 27, pg. 309

"The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character." --Chapter 34

"Morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian's fault. The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them." --Chapter 39, pg. 415

"He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden's secret. Drop him out a window and he'll fall. Set fire to him and he'll burn. Bury him and he'll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden's secret. Ripeness was all." --Chapter 41

Finally, Henry David Thoreau writes: "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison...the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor." --Civil Disobedience (1849)

#96 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 10:13 PM:

Lucifer: That about sums it up...

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 10:25 PM:

Posted it as a bulletin on MySpace, in my LiveJournal, and in my blog. All with linkbacks, and a note on the linkback request that they should link to ML, not to my post. Just in case anybody is having an airhead day.

#98 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:34 PM:

Linked. Going back and reading comments now.

#99 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 12:50 AM:

This afternoon, I talked to someone at the Cambridge branch of the American Friends Service Committee about this. (It seems to be within their brief, and I wanted to offer what help I could.) The person I talked to said they would want to help any service member who called them and reported getting in trouble for refusing an order to mistreat a prisoner. He had not heard of any situation like that. He doesn't know why. He hears about lots of other kinds of harrassment and bullying, official and otherwise. I don't think we have enough information to determine if only those with a prior inclination to torture are being pushed to torture, or if others are being intimidated into cooperation or silence.

If you are passing the word to military personnel, tell them about the GI Rights Hotline. 800-394-9544 (the overseas number is 215-563-4620) www.girights.org or girights@objector.org

#100 ::: Daulton ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 01:23 AM:

I just posted this here:
http://www.veteransforamerica.org/index.cfm/page/weblog/subpage/display_blog/bid/0C96D115-123F-747A-1B249BD92E6E5FEB

#101 ::: David Parsons ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:08 AM:

Posted and linked back. Thank you for posting it in the first place.

#103 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:49 AM:

Adrian, I don't have the cite, but there was an NPR piece (from This American Life or possibly an author interview) from a servicewoman who was told to sexually harass a Moslem prisoner. She didn't have any idea what might work and didn't want to do it. IIRC, she thought it was a bad idea at the time, but didn't register until later that she was being misused, too.

#104 ::: Liz Henry ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 12:36 PM:

Thank you for writing this and posting it. I agree completely and am committed to acting on those beliefs, and to the best of my ability, supporting anyone in the military who invokes that duty to disobey.

#106 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:11 PM:

Thanks to all who have been reposting and discussing this.

In this week's Newsweek, a letter to the editor:

I've been a professional soldier all my working life and I am offended when people advocate giving the same rights granted legitimate soldiers under the Geneva Conventions to psychopathic mass murderers such as members of Al Qaeda. PEople who target innocent civilian women and children are not soldiers. Since the Geneva Conventions refer to military prisoners, not coldblooded murderers and criminals, the argument that torturing members of Al Qaeda is a violation is totally irrelevant. Giving them the same status as soldiers only helps them recruit and brainwash more naive young Muslims

-- James Schmidt, Lt. Col. US Army Special Forces, (Ret.), Jupiter, FLA.

Shall I count the ways in which LCOL Schmidt is mistaken?

First, no one is arguing that criminals should be treated as prisoners of war. The first step under the various Geneva Conventions is to determine the person's status. Prisoners of war get various rights and privileges. Other groups (for example: protected persons; displaced persons) don't get those same rights.

Common criminals -- murderers, rapists, brigands -- who fall into military hands, are addressed in the Geneva Conventions. They, too, fall under Geneva. They are protected from abuse and torture, and are specified as being given a trial before a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. This is clearly and explicitly stated.

Thus, of the folks in Gitmo (and other places): If they are prisoners of war, grant them the status of prisoners of war. If they aren't, try them before a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

If they're prisoners of war, treat them as such. If they're accused criminals, treat them as such. This isn't hard to understand, nor is it hard to implement.

Bush's stumbling blocks appear to be "regularly constituted court" and "judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

We, as civilized people, don't have the same difficulty that George does.

#107 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:21 PM:

If they're prisoners of war, treat them as such. If they're accused criminals, treat them as such. This isn't hard to understand, nor is it hard to implement.

Bush's stumbling blocks appear to be "regularly constituted court" and "judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

His first (?) mistake was deciding that terrorists were a problem requiring a miltary solution. On the other hand, if you're looking for an excuse to start a war, then terrorists are really convenient.

After the last few years, I'm thinking that anyone wanting to go into politics needs psychiatric evaluation first.

#108 ::: nn ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:23 PM:

Ths s fn sntmnt. Hwvr, kp n mnd wht y'r skng.

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Y'r skng lt, wtht dng sht yrslvs.

Bsds, yr pstng s mr-r-lss rrlvnt. s w'v lrdy dtrmnd, th .S. mltry s NT th rgnztn cndctng rtn trtr f prsnrs. Tht's th C. Thr's n sch thngs s n "nlwfl rdr" n th C.

#109 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:29 PM:

Anon: You're complaining about Teresa's guests, in Teresa's blog, but you won't put a name on your post?

You don't know what anyone here might or might not be doing, at some other place.

There's an awful lot of 'you people' in that post, too. Smells like troll.

#110 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:32 PM:

After the last few years, I'm thinking that anyone wanting to go into politics needs psychiatric evaluation first.

...thus handing effective control of the country over to the psychiatric evaluators.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:44 PM:

After the last few years, I'm thinking that anyone wanting to go into politics needs psychiatric evaluation first.

Not first. Instead.

#112 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 03:52 PM:

thus handing effective control of the country over to the psychiatric evaluators.

You do realize that they already hired the Vogons to destroy the computer that has the question to life, the universe, and everything, the answer to which is "42"?

Yellow.

Now if we could only figure out if this is pre-domolition earth, or some post-demolition replacement paid for by the dolphins.

Big.

Are there still dolphins in the ocean?

Bulldozer.

#113 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:00 PM:

Here is the definition for UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT from S3930. Part (ii) is the troublesome part that got added as a result of the "compromises".

`(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means--

`(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

`(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.

#114 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:29 PM:

This is a fine sentiment. However, keep in mind what you're asking.

I know exactly what I'm asking. I'm very, very clear on what I'm asking. I'm as sure of it as I'm sure what it meant when I myself put my hand in the air and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.

You're asking military personnel to utterly destroy their careers and to go to prison for you.

We're already asking them to die for us.

I put my own life on that line for years.

Where were you?

As we've already determined, the U.S. military is NOT the organization conducting routine torture of prisoners.

Are you claiming that the people at Gitmo, at Abu Ghraib, and Baghram aren't military personnel? That Janis Karpinski et al. weren't in the service? Reality refutes your fantasy.

#115 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:42 PM:

You, and I'm talking to everyone who has commented on this blog posting, have NOT stood up for them. There are soldiers right now that are refusing to go to Iraq, are being punished, and you are NOT standing up for them. You're not sending them money, you're not helping them with their legal battles, you're not offering them a job when they get out of military prison, you don't even know their names.

You anonymous coward, you have no idea who we are or what we do. You stink of the offal beneath your bridge. Better slink off before you are turned to stone by the light.

#116 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:52 PM:

Big talk, Anon. You have no idea who these people are or what they've done. What I know about you is that you're such a wuss that you can't even sign your name to your posts.

#117 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:02 PM:

We, as civilized people, don't have the same difficulty that George does.

Well, he does have a wooden head.

Smells like troll.

On the barbie!

#118 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:12 PM:

Our anonymous traitorous troll posted from 70.24.177.46

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:53 PM:

He was a drive-by. He won't be back. Why waste our time?

#120 ::: Ken Burnside ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Note - I'm on the conservative side of the spectrum. I am appalled at the idea that we're stepping down that slippery slope towards torture.

That being said, I AM trying to find primary sources about what went on, without the histrionics and vitriol and the "Bush Wants It, It Must Be Bad". Not that I'm in any way a fan of Our Great And Glorious Shrub; would've voted Dems last time if Daschle had been the nominee.

I tend to hold that Article 2 of the Geneva Convention quite specifically states that those who violate the conventions by their actions and deeds, and those who fail to act in accordance with it, are not protected by it. I can understand the opposing view, I hold many of you in high regard. I do not expect my statement to change anyone's opinion here.

Question is, can the folks at Making Light, who generally regard tolerance as a virtue, tolerate someone who holds a contrary opinion on this matter and form an actual dialogue and discussion? Or will I be castigated as being an idiot for holding a contrarian view, as has happened here before?

That question asked, I have the following:

I'm still back-checking this source.

How To Interrogate A Terrorist

And, by way of comparison:

Abu Ghraib After America Leaves


#121 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 07:14 PM:

Ken Burnside, we'll be happy to talk to you if you'll take back the unwarranted remarks about histrionics, vitriol, and mindless opposition to Bush, and the equally rude question about whether we can actually have a discussion with you. Plenty of centrists and old-line conservatives get along just fine here.

If you had difficulties here before, it was almost certainly your manners, not your political opinions, that got you into trouble.

#122 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Ken Burnside: For purposes of avoiding later condfusion, please tell me which of my posts, here; or in, In case I disapear or I put my fingers agains the glass I have been what you consider histrionics and vitriol and the "Bush Wants It, It Must Be Bad".

Articles 3, and 4 address your questions vis-a-vis Art 2.

As for Heather MacDonald; she's full of crap.

She's not an interrogator, I am. What she is spouting is party-line spin, and serves to muddy the waters.

I do have to give her chops for pointing to people who disagree with her, but on the same count that she also links to LGF is a strike against her.

Chris Mackey (a pseudonym) is a friend of mine, and if one reads his book, his questions were about how far the line might be stretched, they weren't about waterboarding, but much lesser issues; and issues we've been talking about in the schoolhouse for longer than I've been teaching the discipline (which is since 1994).

The apparent fact of the matter is that this quote, in that piece, "simple refusal to cooperate. They offered lame stories, pretended not to remember even the most basic of details, and then waited for consequences that never really came.� has more to do with most of them being non-terrorists; hell, it seems a considerable percentage weren't even soldiers. They weren't refusing, they just didn't know anything.

But the belief that such persons do, and that all such captives are such persons is why this doctrine (the the old ways, the tried and true ways are suddenly no good, and have to be replaced with something else, ranging from "torture light" to being beaten to death for being ignorant [see Dilawar]) is so evil.

And yes, I use the word evil. This is a moral issue. This is one of those touchstone issues the Right is so fond of saying the left doesn't have. This is my "values" issue. That and things like free speech, the right to assemble, and petition for redress of grievance. The right to face my accusers, be tried by my peers, to not be held without charge or counsel.

Little things like that, which I am being told by those who support this piece of legislation aren't all that important because the "real" targets are only "terrorists."

Well, that's not what the law says; which means I don't trust the gov't (any gov't) to have that kind of power.

As I said elsewhere, the (very slight) risk of being killed in some feat of terror causing violence bothers me less than giving up the core principles of human decency on which the country was founded, and which we (however imperfectly) have striven to uphold.

I have more dignity than that.

#123 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:47 PM:

Ken, I would question your interpretation of Article 2, but I'm not sure that's what you're asking about.

I would like to point out that 1) at least one of the commenters here is a professional interrogator, and 2) an examination of the writings of the first author shows her to have such a decidedly right wing bias -- she identifies the New York Times as being a threat to national security -- that I don't trust her to report fairly or accurately what she's been told, even if she's been told the truth. Also, her belief that the use of computers for the NSA information gathering program means it is not an invasion of privacy leaves me in doubt as to her cognitive abilities.

Before anyone raises this strawman, I don't think being conservative makes one biased, but this author has demonstrated bias in her writing to the point of making her unreliable.

#124 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 08:52 PM:

I'm completely new to this forum, so can someone answer my dumb question: why is post #108 devoid of vowels, but is quoted in the clear by subsequent posts?

#125 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 09:10 PM:

Franklin: Excessively discourteous posts are disemvowelled. (That's what you noticed with #108. It's readable with difficulty.) It's a feature of local moderation. It tends to interrupt the process of trying to pick a fight, while allowing sensible conversation to happen around a momentary loss of temper.

#126 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Franklin, by local custom, excessively uncivil comments have their vowels removed (except for Y). They can still be read, but you don't automatically read them when your eye passes over them.

I'm amenable to being argued with about the need to disemvowel a message, or part of a message. And if someone who's previously been disemvowelled comes back and posts in a more normal tone, he or she is welcome.

The single thing I have most trouble getting across to people who've been disemvowelled is that it's almost always a problem with their manners, rather than their opinions.

As for those comments that quote the message in full, they got posted before I disemvowelled it. I haven't felt the need to wipe out every trace of the original.

#127 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 09:17 PM:

Franklin Evans: The reason there are posts with the vowels is that they were seen, and quoted, before the disemvowelling took place.

#128 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 09:18 PM:

Adrian, that's a good explanation. I may snitch parts of it on future occasions.

#129 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Pat Greene, at least two of the commenters here have been professional interrogators.

#130 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 10:08 PM:

TNH writes: by local custom, excessively uncivil comments have their vowels removed...I'm amenable to being argued with about the need to disemvowel a message, or part of a message. And if someone who's previously been disemvowelled comes back and posts in a more normal tone, he or she is welcome.

I would welcome her comments on #87 in the thread Rumsfeld: Man of War.

#131 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 10:53 PM:

Teresa #116, I almost blew a mouthful of wine onto my new keyboard. (My flexi keyboard started getting more and more... hard to type on). New one is a new Mac extended....

Fortunately I swallowed before I hit the link..... most excellent!

#133 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 11:50 PM:

When I was almost 2 decades younger I seriously considered joining the military. And while I was doing this, I asked my dad, an ex-marine, what I should do if I was given an illegal order.

He paused in paying the bills, and gave me the following advice.

"Cover your superior with your weapon and state that it is an illegal order and order him to to surrender his weapon to the sergeant. If he hesitates at all, kill him. Either way, expect a courts martial and time in the brig."

Made me think quite a bit and I wonder if any of the soldiers in Iraq had dad's like that.

#134 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 12:04 AM:

Teresa, thanks for clarifying that. I was pretty sure that was the case, but couldn't remember who other than Terry was an interrogator. I imagine if I go back and reread the thread it will jump out at me.

#135 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 12:57 AM:

Our anonymous drive-by troll claims that we "don't even know their names".

That'd be 1LT Ehren Watada. Y'see, some of us Army brats still read our old hometown papers on this Intarweb thing.

#136 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 01:12 AM:

Thank you, Christopher, I've been trying to scrape together enough of Lt. Watada's name to google it. (Bad wiring strikes again: I keep metathysizing his name with a member of the North Thurston Public Schools board).

His story is another one that gets lost in the chaff that's gotten thrown into the public radar this past week.

#137 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:17 AM:

Our troll seems to be coming from Toronto Canada. He's not posting via proxy, and uses Rogers cable.

But Teresa did a better summing up than that.

#138 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:01 AM:

In #108, Anon wrote:

As we've already determined, the U.S. military is NOT the organization conducting routine torture of prisoners.
In #114, James D. Macdonald wrote:
Are you claiming that the people at Gitmo, at Abu Ghraib, and Baghram aren't military personnel? That Janis Karpinski et al. weren't in the service? Reality refutes your fantasy.
Not having seen Anon or Ken Burnside respond to this point, I'll hazard the guess he meant that CIA staff were the ones doing the "routine torture" -- although military personnel were also tasked with "softening up" prisoners.

We've seen photos of the military personnel showing off what they were doing. We haven't seen photos of the CIA staff actually doing whatever they did... just photos of some of their victims' bodies.

This doesn't mean the military personnel were doing more than the CIA staff were. It may only mean the CIA staff were more circumspect about leaving an evidentiary trail. In support of that interpretation, at least some of the CIA staff didn't even let soldiers learn their right full names.

#139 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 05:01 AM:

From CNN (emphasis mine):

RADCLIFF, Kentucky (AP) -- An Army soldier who fled to Canada rather than redeploy to Iraq surrendered Tuesday to military officials after asking for leniency.

Spc. Darrell Anderson, 24, said he deserted the Army last year because he could no longer fight in what he believes is an illegal war.

"I feel that by resisting I made up for the things I did in Iraq," Anderson said during a press briefing shortly before he turned himself in at nearby Fort Knox. "I feel I made up for the sins I committed in this war."

Anderson, of Lexington, returned to the United States from Canada on Saturday. He could face a charge of desertion.

His lawyer, Jim Fennerty, has said he was told the Army had decided not to court-martial his client and plans to release him within three to five days.

Fort Knox public affairs officer Connie Schaffery has said officers had been in touch with Anderson, but she couldn't say what would happen until after he surrendered.

Anderson joined the Army in January 2003 and went to Iraq a year later with the 1st Armored Division. He was wounded and received a Purple Heart in 2004.

He fled to Canada in early 2005 after receiving orders to return for a second tour of duty in Iraq, becoming a highly visible war critic and spokesman for Canadian peace groups.

So why is this interesting? I suspect that the Army isn't 100% sure that a courtmartial board wouldn't buy Anderson's defense that this is an illegal war. With that as a legal precedent....

(For contrast: I once sat on a courtsmartial board for a kid who'd just walked away from boot camp. He turned himself in some years later. Point is: that guy got courtmartialed for desertion (convicted, too). Why not this guy?)

#140 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 07:39 AM:

James at #39: that is very interesting. It makes one wonder what, exactly, Specialist Anderson did in Iraq that he feels were "sins" (his words) and who ordered him to do them? Torture? Killing civilians? It may be the guy threatened to expose someone that the Army really doesn't want named. Just a thought.

#141 ::: hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 09:53 AM:

Our anonymous traitorous troll posted from 70.24.177.46

Actually your troll appears to be from Canada, so he's not traitorous (to your country anyway). I, however, have my doubts about his loyalty and value to my country. It's embarrassing to be associated with people like this.

#142 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 11:08 AM:

It's embarrassing to be associated with people like this.

Hmm. Given that Dubya is President POTUS, I guess you can't expect a whole lot of sympathy for those of us who live there!

#143 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 11:35 AM:

Thanks for the explanation for disemvowelling. A word for the favorites list, for sure; it rolls of the tongue in a most satisfactory manner. I sympathize completely: I'm a moderator (we're called volunteer hosts) for Beliefnet. We do not have editing capability, only hide, move and delete. Disemvowelling would be an excellent practice there, methinks.

#144 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 11:58 AM:

James, I doubt any courts martial is going to accept the legal arguement the United States is not allowed to make war on other countries without international approval (i.e. the UN which in my opinion suffers from quality control, I love reading about representatives for autocratic nations complaining the UN needs to be more democratic). I equally am skeptical of the boards buying into the splitting of hairs regarding whether the bill which Congress inacts to give the President "war powers" MUST be named "US declares War on 'Country X'" to be a bona fide Decleration of War. Beyond those two arguements, I must admit to a failure of imagination regarding how the war in Iraq can be classified "illegal."

Now as to the regret SPC Anderson expressed for his actions in Iraq, does anyone know what his M.O.S. was? I am aware that some of the "insurgents" shot at checkpoints in the early stages of the war were people who were avoiding the cp's in fear they were traps by insurgents. The Army had failed to put out a press release to the Iraqi people telling them what cp's looked like and to stop for them or risk being fired upon. If SPC Anderson was in an incident of mistaken identity leading to his unit firing on civilians, I understand the regret. If he is merely expressing reget for being over here, then I think he is letting his angst get the better of him.

I love my country's penchant for beating ourselves up over everything. Everything turns into a crisis of faith. It will hopefully keep us from truely taking a headlong plung down the slippery slope into barbarism (#22). But to label us as barbarians now when we are discussing what is and is not acceptable behavior boggles my mind. I have talked to locals who were tortured by the previous regime. In one instance, the fellow was beaten and waterboarded on a daily basis for eight months while being held and questioned for desertion from the Iraqi Army (or more acurately for his statement to his CO that he would desert at every available opportunity).

Such harsh questioning has proven to be a matter of course in numerous countries the world over. Many of these same countries would hunt us down and silence us for good if we were their citizens discussing their regime in such a manner. To state we are already at that point here in the US is at best unfounded paranoia . We should be careful to cry foul when such things as the Patriot Act are enacted, but we are definitely not at the point where disident voices are disappeared overnight never to be heard from again (#83 & #85).

This current fight has definitely caught us flat footed. On the one hand we are facing an ideology that will stop at nothing to force us out of the region. Those so inclined are hidden amongst a population which does not bear us this ill will (though they definitely don't love us either). We have tried to face this as a law enforcement problem and got blindsided with the deaths of 3000 people in New York. Now we are looking at this as an ideological "war" which will last until we defeat those ideologues who espouse violent jihad (not to be confused with the internal spiritual struggle to perfect one's self more often meant when an Arab or Muslim mentions jihad). In the past we have fought to win. When we have failed to follow the Spartan ideal ("Come back with your shield or on it") we have gotten more than a bloody nose. This is not the first time we have faced suicide attackers. In that conflict, we used two bombs on two seperate days to wipe out two cities (with the implied threat there was a third bomb) to end the war. Both targets were civilian and meant to shock our foes into capitulation, incidentally not the first time in that conflict we targeted a non military area (e.g. the Dresden fire bombing which took weeks, multiple sorties, hundreds of planes and thousands upon thousands of bombs). Now we must decide what we are to do about it. How far are we willing to go? Those who say their opponents want to "cut and run" are oversimplifing and misrepresenting their opponents position. Those who state "staying the course" is a misguide, muddle attempt at saving face for lack of planning are forgetting that using colonialism to instill Democratic ideals (not to be confused with the political party of the same name) takes DECADES, not weeks/months/years. So where do we go from here? Do we accept 50 years of staying in Iraq to see them become a stable country? We are only now leaving Germany after the spectacular collapse of the Weimar Republic (i.e. WWII). They are now at the heart of a going concern people call the EU and incidentally now lap dog to the US. Not bad for a nation that had a half @$$ed attempt at democracy which collapsed under threats and back room deals.

#145 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 11:59 AM:

I just heard John Yoo being interviewed by NPR. He stated that Congress decided to eliminate habeus corpus for non-citizens because keeping it would be too "expensive." His word. Damned if I know what he meant.

He agreed that the new law meant that non-citizens could be held indefinitely, without ever going to trial or even being allowed to have contact with a lawyer, and with no way to challenge this detention. This did not seem to trouble him in the least. He also stated that the new law did grant US citizens the right to contact a lawyer and to challenge his/her detention, but that "classified" evidence could be withheld from that citizen during the course of the challenge.

It turns out that he was being consulted on the wording of the new law almost up to minute of passage. Not surprised.

#146 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 12:13 PM:

I tend to hold that Article 2 of the Geneva Convention quite specifically states that those who violate the conventions by their actions and deeds, and those who fail to act in accordance with it, are not protected by it.

practical examples that show this failing to achieve any form or sense of justice is to consider how this would apply to a murder suspect, not a convict, but a suspect.

Because torture and the lack of rule of law has been applied to terrorist suspects, before they were ever convicted in a fair trial, or before they ever saw a trial. Actual real world examples of innocent and uninvolved people who were black-bagged, shipped off to be tortured for months or years, and then dumped in the street when the mistake is finally admitted, are not hypotheticals. They are the direct outcome of a lack of due process, of a lack of innocent before guilty, of a lack of rule of law.

On a more gut level, you are applying, not the golden rule, but the exact opposite: Do unto others as they have done onto you. I'll call it the Vengeance rule.

The problem with that, of course, is that you've lowerd the bar, and if everyone lowers the bar, not just Al Queada we're fighting today, but the enemies we fight tomorrow, how exactly do you expect any enemy to relate to us as anything but what we did to our enemies, torturing them, etc.

It would be naive to think our next enemy will relate to us as anything but torturers, as anything but people who do not extend human rights. And if they apply the same Vengeance rule we did, do unto others as they've done onto you, then they'll keep the bar down, and we'll keep the bar down, and the Geneva will be pointless.

From an engineering point of view, you've created a state called Human Rights, but you've designed the system based on the Steel Rule so that the system never enters the state of Human Rights. Instead it remains locked in a barbaric state.

Once someone does something inhumane, we respond inhumanely. Others see us acting inhumanely, and if they fight us in some unrelated war, they will fight inhumanely, so we fight them inhumanely.

Do onto them as they have done unto you, as a guiding rule for individuals in a system where all individuals follow that rule, leads to one thing: barbarism.

You want any semblance of human rights to exist in the system, the individuals must be driven by rules for supporting human rights, no matter what.

That does not mean you cannot defend yourself, but it certain does limit you from launching unjust wars, killing civilians, rounding up people and detaining them indefinitely without trial, torturing people, and murdering people you've rendered helpless by disarming, shackling, and imprisoning.

Those who get this, who get the idea that for human rights to exist in the system, that the rules for behaviour require a respect for human rights no matter what, read the Geneva Convention as laying down non-negotiable rules, rules without exceptions, that raise the bar of acceptable individual behaviour.

Those who subscribe to the notion of revenge, of do unto others as someone has done to you, who think Human Rights is something they only have to respect as long as everyone gives them that respect first, might read the Geneva Convention and see that it contains a complete opt-out, an escape clause, such that none of it applies to them if anyone violated it against them.

The thing is that viewing Human Rights as optional, viewing the geneva convention as having a opt-out clause, can only result in one thing: barbarism.

#147 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:05 PM:

True, I agree wholeheartedly that we should ensure our principles are maintained even if our enemies hold to another, more violent, less empathetic viewpoint. There is, sadly, a breaking point for us, be it a timeframe or a total casualty number beyond which we have not the will to continue (at least within near recent history). The question is what should we do to ensure we are not in the best case scenario pushed out and barred from acting on the world stage? What should we do to counteract an enemy that struck us and killed over 3000 people in less than a day for being involved in the Middle East? What should we do so that we don't further the precedents that our will can be broken (Vietnam, obviously, but Somalia is definitely no success as the government we sought to help is lucky to be in control of a few buildings in one town)?

In my opinion, the enemies we will face on the battlefield will come from autocratic societies which view our notions of Human Rights as a foolish weakness we use to inexplicably hinder ourselves. However, it is a "hinderance" we must bear all the same, for if not us, then who? If we should ever face a nation on the battlefield who holds then the same ideals our citizens hold now, we should seriously ask ourselves where we went horribly wrong. Don't get me wrong, we are no angels, no perfect beacon of liberty and hope. Neither are we demons speaking with silver toungues and acting with blackest and cruelest of intentions. We are humans, who fall down, make mistakes and blunders. But we hold on to these foolish ideals that all men are created equal (in spite of many a third world dictator proving different on a daily basis).

As far as our current actions are concerned, I prefer that vengence belong to the Lord, on a spiritual level. On a temporal level, we must injure our enemy's capacity to strike on the scale of 9/11 ever again. The ideals are espoused and taught from a certain region of the world. Should we indiscriminately attack that region in retaliation for our injuries? For PAYBACK? NO, flatly and unequivocally NO! Have we been successfuly. Yes, to a degree we have. Other nations are being struck by those holding the ideals of violent jihad against unbelievers acting in the holy land (and sadly "home grown" ones at that), so we have not been completely successful. Will we completely eliminate the beliefs which fuel the other side of this "war?" No, there will be those who continue to call for "martyrdom operations" against the "Great Satan." However, we can make it look like anything but a glamourous act, something to be sought out by all. While it is not a matter of mathematics, we can ensure the equation will not be "martyrs" 20, their victims 3000.

We must respond to an attack made by ideological enemies who see us as a thing that must be swept aside if not destroyed outright. To paraphrase von Clausewitz, war is diplomacy by other means.

#148 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:23 PM:

miles c:

What makes you think that the problem is a lack of will?

Why do you think we need to take vengeance for 9/11 on people who were not involved in any way (like about 99 percent of the Muslims in the world)?

What would the world be like if we had actually used diplomacy instead of military force?

#149 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:30 PM:

In my opinion, the enemies we will face on the battlefield will come from autocratic societies which view our notions of Human Rights as a foolish weakness we use to inexplicably hinder ourselves.

So the solution is to take away those Human Rights?

I'm not buying it.

On a temporal level, we must injure our enemy's capacity to strike on the scale of 9/11 ever again.

What was the matter with international cooperation and policework?

The obvious difficulties of making war on a tactic still remain. One might as well declare the War on Ambush, the War on Siege, and the War on Frontal Assault.

#150 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:56 PM:

Miles, the flaw I see in your argument is that it is impossible to remove the enemy's capacity to strike on the scale of 9/11 through force. Once you allow for suicide much that is "inconceivable" becomes straightforward. The whole point of guerilla and terrorist tactics is that they don't require the vast infrastructure of modern warfare to accomplish their goals. A small handful of not-particularly well funded people can do serious damage if they don't expect to get out alive - look at what one madman can do with a handgun.
I really believe that our security depends on the paucity of nutters who are willing to kill themselves in pursuit of their cause. And that in turn is predicated on how angry the zealots are. I don't favour appeasement, but neither do I favour stirring up hornet's nests. Sadly, millitary adventurism usually is usually stirring up rather settling down. Furthermore, declaring war on terror grants a certain legitimacy to the irregular combatants, probably making the pool of nutters larger.

#151 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 02:57 PM:

we should ensure our principles are maintained even if our enemies hold to another, more violent, less empathetic viewpoint. There is, sadly, a breaking point for us, be it a timeframe or a total casualty number beyond which we have not the will to continue

Speak for yourself. When I hear someone say "will", I usually think of something else. I think of some kid who doesn't have any will at all, who only behaves because someone imposed it on them, and now they've lashed out.

A principle based on convenience is worthless.

Freedom of speech granted to the majority view misses the point. Suppressing some minority view, some inconvenient view, because it's too much trouble, and you don't have the "will" to demand freedom of speech -for all-, is to take weakness and cobble it up in papermache and call it "principle".

We either have the principle of human rights or not. It is not something you can hold "up to a point". It is not something you can impose conditional exceptions and escape clauses to.

#152 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:09 PM:

My mind is mush right now, so please forgive any mangled references, but I'm wondering...

Wasn't it Teddy Roosevelt who coined the statement, "Walk softly, but carry a big stick"? In any case, this concept seems to have been lost in the shuffle of Cold War MAD, and the need to bolster the self-esteem of nations whose claim to self-esteem is at best self-delusion, at worst outright and deliberate fabrication, all for the sake of "national unity" or diverting their citizens' attention from corruption.

I digress. I've run this by friends and contacts, but none of them have the experience or perspectives shown on this forum, so I humbly submit: why not make it simple? Why not build on the precedent we established in Afghanistan, and then proceeded to botch so thoroughly with Iraq?

Hurt us, and you go down. Support those who hurt us, you go down with them. [Bear with me, I'm trying to keep this from being a magnum opus; I think you all are smart enough to catch my drift.] Back off completely on the nuclear power thing, and tell Iran and NK in no uncertain terms: test a nuclear bomb, your launch site is toast. Use a nuclear bomb against any target, military or civilian, and your seat of government will be a slagheap. Permit any group or individual to acquire a nuclear bomb from you, and if they use it (especially on US soil), it will be as if you launched it.

Yeah, yeah, way too simplistic, and rhetorically provocative, but I can't help thinking: if Iran (for example) had a good sense that we'd actually do this, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect them to do our policing for us, and nip the terrorists in the bud themselves? Who would be in a better position than the very supporters to not only say "don't do this" but to catch wind of their attempt to do it.

Anyway, I apply the principles that Greg alludes to, but in this specific way: unless we want to conquer the world, there is just no way, diplomatic or otherwise, to prevent another 9/11. Given sufficient motivation (and there seems to be no lack), a group with the resources and planning skills will pull it off. The analogy is that in a free and open society, the collective will tolerates the possibility of homicide because it realizes that the only way to prevent it is to be anything but free and open; blood is part of the price we pay for our liberty.

So, is there anything of value in there, or am I just monumentally naive? Pull no punches, I come to learn.

#153 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Miles, I think we can agree that we all want to prevent further terrorist acts on the US. The question is what methods will be successful?

If we make ourselves cruel, we only increase the number of terrorists by making our enimies appear sympathetic. If we hold the moral high ground and treat people with dignity and respect, we make people question why they should attack us. (Of couse, cultural differences will persist, as well as economic inequalities. Both of which will make the US a target no matter what we do.)

This is a war of PR more than anything else. Perception matters more than weapons. We can win so long as we are no longer seen as enemies.

#154 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 03:51 PM:

Franklin Evans: What sort of stick do you have in mind? We are not able to attack, anyone we want, with impunity. China may be upset that N. Korea is making her life difficult, but she won't be happy to have us screw the place up.

The idea that we "did it right" in Afghanistan has some flaws. We managed to topple a third world army in short order. But we didn't even try to stabilise the place after we did that.

Here's the rub. Iraq is exactly what we did in Afhganistan, writ large. We toppled the gov't, and the warlords are taking over. The problem is that what did, in both cases, was not use a big stick, but rather grab a tiger by the tail, after we greased our hands.

For all that the place is a mess now, there were people glad to see us in Iraq. I saw them lining the roads and blowing us kisses. And I saw it all pissed away, because the stick was all the people in charge thought was useful.

That and cronyism. Chalabi was flown in, with a private army, in the belief that he would be accepted as our annointed replacement; that the Iraqis would be willing to accept the new boss; same as the old boss, because we (the "good guys") said he was the new boss.

Terrorism is like gangsterism. It's a game of whack-a-mole, and investigation, not brute force, is what it takes to prevent, and spoil.

It also takes outreach. Sure, if you have a teenager who is being unruly, you can go all Dobson on them, and beat them into submission, but it breeds resentment (or a dwarfed personality, incapable of really becoming autonomous).

Reason with them. Show them why your way is good. Allow them to accomodate their wishes, to your wishes; attain a modus vivendi, a happy medium, and while they may do things you disagree with, they may even do things you think are wrong, they are far less likely to hate you, to do things just to spite you.

The things "the big stick" breeds, when the target of persuasion isn't the sort of thing it works on, are the suidice bombers, the IED makers, the snipers on rooftops and all the other tools of asymetric war.

The things "the big stick" workd on, are governments. Terrorism is not a government, and so it doesn't work on them.

#155 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 04:19 PM:

Actually, Cold War MAD was a perfect example of "Speak softly but carry a big stick." Either could be restated as "We can't stop you from attacking us, but we can make you wish to Ghod that you hadn't."

#156 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 04:23 PM:

(#144)I love my country's penchant for beating ourselves up over everything. Everything turns into a crisis of faith.

If we're not going to beat ourselves up over torturing people to death...

when should we start?

#157 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 04:58 PM:

Franklin: I would agree to some extent we be the quiet, well armed guy sitting in the corner of the UN. A Pax Americana is out of the question though. There is a need for consensus before action. I just question WHO we need that agreement from. Too many of the "non aligned" countries in the UN make us look like we have a spotless record and they're callling for more "democracy" in the UN and less US lead, "dictatorial" decrees from the Security Council.

Paul: The "terrorists" (or "freedom fighters") of the 80's have mostly called it quits. The Basque separatist movement is laying down its arms. The Provo's destroyed their weapons. While Hizbollah was wildly popular in the immediate days after the Israel/Hizbollah war, there are now counter movements inside Lebanon. Hamas is learning the hard way that they did not receive a local mandate (let alone an international mandate from the Pan Arab societ) for the destruction of Israel. They are learning in a bloody, internecine battle in the streets that they were hired only because of Fatah's corruption and cronyism. So yes, these asymetrical warriors are not the best target for a thermonuclear warhead. Israel learned that using artillery on Hizbollah only drew condemnation when they learned Hizbollah had parked most of their missle launchers in civilian's backyards. We win by changing the dynamic and one of the biggest dynamics in this area are autocratic regimes who at best turn a blind eye to extremism and at worst export it to other nations. If we have a hand in setting up a successful, stable, representative government that can withstand external and internal pressures, we have taken a step towards lessening the ideals which fuel this fight. The violent jihadists already had a reason to hate us. Unless you are willing to convert to Islam and then move far away from any non Muslims (so as not to be caught in collateral damage) the violent jihadists are probably going to leave you alone. Though I'm not sure how they will pick you out of the rest of the 300 million citizens of the US. Our job in this region isn't to slaughter muslims (the vast majority of muslims being outside this region) nor is it to slaughter Arabs (or the Persians, Kurds, Turks, Bedouins, Jews and other such ethnicities in the region). Our job is to show we are not out to shoot anything that moves and that we realy believe our own brand of bs (namely that there is something beyond tribe and Inshallah).

Terry: Sadly you are right. Too many people in the planning stage forgot "hope for the best, plan for the worst." Too many felt if you planned for the worst you would jinx it. It was felt Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact Block would be the prime example of our time in Iraq. "We'll roll in. Saddam will disappear. There will be dancing in the streets. Democracy will appear. We'll be home for Christmas." Not so much, neh?

I'll tell you one thing though, it is amazing how many "Iraqis" are new to their town, married to a local girl and don't speak the Iraqi dialect. Same thing happened in Bosnia. Dayton said all foreign fighters have to leave. The Bosniacs said "what foreign fighters? All we got are nice local boys. See they're married and part of the community." There are a fair number of violent jihadists who come here to carry out the will of Allah as it has been taught to them versus going to the US one way or another, learning to fly a plane and taking out a few hundred people as they go. These guys were doing "martyrdom opperations" before we were in Iraq, so they didn't necessarily need us to "stir them up." If we help set up a government that answers to its people (an idea not truely common in this part of the world), we will have a region which is less likely to foster and forment such ideology. Win for us. Yea!

Joe: I think I've "gotten off message." I don't think we should use torture or even overly harsh questioning. I do think some better defining of what is "outrages upon personal dignity" are necessary so our interrogators can opporate without fearing prosecution. Key word there is "fearing." An EMT can do everything by the book and it is just not his day and the patient dies on the way to the hospital. Follow the protocols and a lawsuit will fail. That doesn't mean some bereaved relative won't sue. It just means they won't win in court. Same here. There are some interrogation tactics which go beyond "name, rank, serial number? Ok, anything else? No? gee, ok" which aren't torture but aren't nice. Hell in the first world war, Congress didn't authorize various espionage initiatives because "gentlemen don't read other's mail" (i.e. it wasn't nice). We do need to be able to interrogate. We don't under any circumstances need to torture. We do need to know where the line is drawn and "outrages" isn't a line, it's more like a disputed border zone. It is indistinct territory on the best of days.

#158 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 05:12 PM:

One more thing and then I've got to get some sleep (it is midnight).

Joe: There is a PR element to this thing true. It is something that has helped dismantle the European Nationlist Terrorists (Provo's, ETA, Red Brigades, etc). The combination of a general population that wouldn't support violence to gain political goals, more open borders and nations who showed they were willing to meet violence with action (arrests, trial, incarceration and more) led to the view that political violence was a tool that just didn't get the job done for these groups. However, the hardliners in this region aren't going to play nice after some positive spin. Hizbollah is still convinced they are 100% necessary for the defense of Lebanon, no matter what the duely elected Lebanese government says. HAMAS is still convinced it was elected to destroy Israel, not to rebuild the Palastinian Authority. Some of these groups and their ideals are not going to "go gentle into that goodnight."

Thanks, Ma as salama wa mabruk ramadan.

#159 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 05:58 PM:

milesc: Care to back up your assertion about, "amazing how many "Iraqis" are new to their town, married to a local girl and don't speak the Iraqi dialect," because my experience, the reports I've seen and the public statements of generals from Iraq put the number of those sorts who are engaged in the fight at not more than 2-3 percent.

Assuming 2 percent of 30 million people (rounding) off), engaging in active resistance, we get about 6,000 outside actors. That's a lot of people, in an absolute sense (about the same as 4 infantry bns, or an overstrength bde), but not a huge number, in an absolute sense.

Certainly not not enough to be noticed as a large influx in the towns and cities.

Now, even if we say that ten percent of the resistance/insurgency, is "foreign fighters" and we move the number of those fighting us up to five percent, that's still only 15,000 people, in a population of 30 million.

In the thousands of prisoners we had moving through the cage, during the shooting war, we had a scant handful who weren't Iraqis.

In the year we were there, we didn't encounter many more than that.

Do such people have effect out of proportion to their appparent number, sure. They not only have more, personal, dedication, but the act of coming in from outside to fight the battle gives them a a credibility which causes others to listen to them.

If they have skill, or training, that's another force multiplier.

So, yes; from a tactical/pragmatic standpoint such people are worthy of concern, but I don't believe there are so many of them as that comment of yours makes it seem.

#160 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:01 PM:

milesc: I've been doing this (interrogating, for the Army) for almost 15 years now, and I've never had any fear of being prosecuted.

That, "disputed border zone," you refer to, seems a pretty clear line to me.

The only people who seem confused about it, are the people saying that torture equals pain equivlent to organ failure, and that so long as injuries aren't of "long duration" they are kosher.

I can see why they might want to, "clarify" the present language.

#161 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:14 PM:

Miles, I'm not saying that good PR is going to stop the hardliners, but it will slow the growth or their ranks.

#162 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:18 PM:

#157: Hell in the first world war, Congress didn't authorize various espionage initiatives because "gentlemen don't read other's mail" (i.e. it wasn't nice).

That was Secretary of State Henry Stimson, in 1929. Hardly WWI. Hardly Congress.

#163 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:27 PM:

In WWI we were reading other people's mail: read up on the Zimmermann telegram some time.

#164 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:29 PM:

Miles C, where are you getting your information?

#165 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:32 PM:

WWI and later -- consider Herbert Yardley and the American Black Chamber. That quote comes from Stimson's explanation of shutting down Yardley and MI-8.

#166 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:40 PM:

TNH said Miles C, where are you getting your information?

Teresa, I get the feeling he's pulling it from somewhere in the Republican Party apparatus. That bit about lacking will being the cause of losing the Viet Nam war is Kissinger's contribution to world peace and brotherhood.

#167 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Terry, everything you say is true; I'm trying to not get bogged down in the details of the actual results, but to suggest that our approach was the correct one. You'll get no argument from me that some or all of the execution was SNAFU.

I really am suggesting a policy shift, and I'm suggesting that it can be done with little to no prior agreement from rest of the world. I'm couching it as a moral statement:

Nuclear weapons are immoral. We vow never to use one as a first-strike option; we further vow to respond with overwhelming force against any nation or agent that does use a nuke as a first-strike weapon.

I'm submitting a philosophical statement, and I'm filling in the blanks as a way to illustrate the concept, not to dictate how it must be seen or implemented. James definitely seems to follow my gist, because "We can't stop you from attacking us, but we can make you wish to Ghod that you hadn't[.]" is precisely what I'm aiming for.

The major effect I'm expecting -- hence my leading with my chin over my possible monumental naivete -- is that the big players will take us seriously and act to quash the little players: China will force NK to change course; Iran will rein in Hezbollah; any national unit who might be a US target because of an al Qaeda use of a nuke will grab them by the short hairs... that sort of thing.

I don't know strategy and tactics any more than what I've absorbed second- and third-hand from reading history and listening to experts. To say that I'm a well-read layman is a stretch. I do know law enforcement on the ground (so to speak), I'm a community activist and I've had a personal relationship with every police district commander for every home I've had, and the overriding fact is that policing has no chance of succeeding without the cooperation of the local citizens. I'm applying that concept as stated.

#168 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 08:42 PM:

Franklin Evans: When you say things like this, "test a nuclear bomb, your launch site is toast," you lose me.

The other part, about response to first strike, has been our (and the rest of the Nuclear Club's) motto for decades.

As for being taken seriously by China, why in the world (other than us having lots of nukes) should China care what we say? Our domestic policies of the past five years have put them in the catbird seat. We can't make payroll without the money they are lending us.

Nations don't have friends, they have interests. China has been following hers, and where they run, generally congruent to hers, she joins us.

But if they don't, why should China care what we do, except insofar as it hinders China's interests?

Iran has no interest in reining in Hezbollah, and our posturing on the issue won't change that.

Want to know what was working with N. Korea, and Fatah/Hamas/Hezbollah? The doctrine of engagement. Of treating them as adults (or at least adolescents) who were allowed a place at the table, and a role in the conversation.

Diktat only works when the person to whom it is issued has no way to protest. If they do, they will.

People have pride, and it matters more, esp. to groups, than most politicians are willing to admit. They see force (or bribery) as the cure to all ills. Promise to not beat up on them, if they behave and actually beat up on them when they don't is seen as all the diplomacy needed.

It wasn't the Isreali bombs, or troops, that settled the recent mess in Lebanon, it was the French coming up with a compromise, which let both sides say, at least for the moment, that they had kept their pride.

#169 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 09:08 PM:

Franklin --

Gaping vast pit of a problem in that policy -- how do you know who the agent was, that set the thing off?

It's easy to tell who launched all those ICBMs, relatively speaking; that still takes dedicated satellites and all manner of effort, but it is at least in principle straightforward, big hot things moving very fast in accordance to Newton's laws.

Agent, though -- how can be you sure? Wouldn't it be entirely in somebody's interest to frame their enemies? What if you got it wrong? How is it sensible or moral to flatten cities over the actions of a lunatic?

#170 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 09:24 PM:

As Terry rightly points out, I've got some gaps to try to fill, if filling them is at all relevant to the validity of my suggestion. Graydon, the practical answer to your challenge is: the same way we identified the training camps and headquarters of al Qaeda in Afghanistan as the source of the 9/11 attacks. I don't really need to try to answer your question -- in point of fact, because any answer I give will be a guess. Intelligence professionals will confirm or deny the practicality of this aspect in short order.

Terry, I'm forced to agree with you (not that I find that at all objectionable), so I now have to wonder: has the last two Bush administrations botched engagement badly enough to ever be able to recover? Would a change in the White House have any credibility to re-engage? I don't expect you to be able to answer, only the attempt and time will tell, but if you have a speculation I'd like to see it.

#171 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Terry Karney writes: "The other part, about response to first strike, has been our (and the rest of the Nuclear Club's) motto for decades."

That's a bit of a simplification. It might be an oversimplification, but I'm not going to argue.

I'd like to clarify that, for a long time, the posture was Assured Second Strike, i.e. don't expect to knock us out with your preemptive first wave, because we will hit you back. To that end, we demonstrated our seriousness by negotiating the ABM treaties and moving our launch capability onto expensive and hard-to-find boomers that could move in close where you'd have little or no chance of knocking the missiles down. At the same time, we could have done a lot more to harden our civilian populations, but we didn't. (I know. Some of you remember bomb shelters and duck/cover drills. But that was nothing compared to what could have been done if we'd been serious.)

We really did have a posture of sitting out in the open daring them to nuke us, while we loudly swore that we'd nuke them back if they tried it. This worked remarkably well as the starting point for a cooperative threat reduction plan, because the other guys had every incentive to do the same thing.

Alas, we don't have that posture anymore, and we stopped trying to hold that posture some time ago when we withdrew from the ABM treaty. We now go beyond simply promising a retaliatory strike. We also promise to defend ourselves against their retaliatory strikes. It's "Assured Second Strike with a side order of Threatened Preemptive Strike."

It really is a no-brainer to understand why everybody and their dog is trying to get a nuclear weapon system up and running. The "nuke in a terrorist backpack" scenario is really the only way to present a credible Assured Second Strike to the United States anymore. (Sssh. Don't tell the guys at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands, though. They're still convinced they're gonna save our bacon some day.)

Oh, and by the way, CTR is just another one of those "quaint" relics of the Cold War now. Nobody is really interested in trying to cooperate with foreigners to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation anymore. Nobody anyone wants to listen to, anyway...

#172 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 02:27 AM:

Re #144, miles c:

... I must admit to a failure of imagination regarding how the war in Iraq can be classified "illegal."
Please review the Nüremburg Trials' charge of "aggressive war" (essentially, invading or otherwise warring upon a nation that was not attacking anyone). That is still an offense in subsequent international law, including Geneva and UN.

This is why the Bush Admin tried to tie Iraq to 9/11, so the US invasion of Iraq would be seen as a justified counterattack. The WMD issue was supposed to make the US the authorized enforcer of UN rulings... but then the US jumped the gun, ahead of authorization.

The evaporation of both the 9/11 tie and the WMDs left this invasion without legal grounds -- an aggressive, therefore illegal, war.

But to label us as barbarians now when we are discussing what is and is not acceptable behavior boggles my mind.
Beyond merely "discussing," the US has actually committed the torture and murder of helpless unarmed prisoners, without any "ticking nuclear bombs" at issue; and now has formally passed a law to authorize it, and retroactively immunize those who already ordered and performed such torture.

Again, review the war crimes trials of German and Japanese military and civilian officials, including Japanese Prime Minister Tojo (who was executed). If the US government and military are doing now the same things those defendants did, then in theory the US participating officials (including the President) may face the same penalty under international law.

In fact, enacting rules to authorize torture is itself a defined offense. That makes several hundred members of Congress, as of last week, personally liable to war crimes trials themselves.

Bush clearly realized his own liabilty when he fought tooth and nail against being subject to the International Criminal Court. He has now given those members of Congress a powerful incentive to continue fighting the ICC after his own term in office ends.

#173 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:06 AM:

quoth Franklin Evans @170

Graydon, the practical answer to your challenge is: the same way we identified the training camps and headquarters of al Qaeda in Afghanistan as the source of the 9/11 attacks. I don't really need to try to answer your question -- in point of fact, because any answer I give will be a guess. Intelligence professionals will confirm or deny the practicality of this aspect in short order.

Unfortunately, this is a case where justice must both be done and be seen to be done. Therein lies a problem.

In your scenario, we would need to know the source of the attack (to punish it) and let it be known why we were turning the source into fine-grained dust (lest we ourselves be punished, and to deter anyone else tempted to have a go).

Now, can anyone think of a reason that the US (the proposed leader of this move) might not be seen as the most reliable source of information in this context? Particularly the US government?

The motivations of any punishing nation would be examined for conflicts of interest. And in this heavily interlaced world, I can't think of a single place we would strike that would not lead to accusations of imperialism or bias, feeding the persecution complexes of the very terrorists we're trying to stop.

#174 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:01 AM:

"We can't stop you from attacking us, but we can make you wish to Ghod that you hadn't."

I'm starting to think that this is part of the rationale behind legalizing torture.

Message to terrorists: If we catch you, you will be tortured. If we catch any of your relatives, we'll torture them too.

It's not really about extracting information. It's purely punitive.

#175 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Oh, it's absolutely punitive, in the "cruel and unusual punishments" kind of way.

It's also about fabricating confessions, to justify the further "War on Terror."

And it's about terrorizing the population. "Toe the line or this could happen to you.

But as far as any legitimate purpose? Gathering information to save lives? Useless.

#176 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:16 AM:

Franklin, it's good to see you here.

#146, Greg, thanks for summing things up. One more point--I've been noticing that a lot of the people who support torture don't point to specific atrocities against Americans, they just say "our enemies would do the same to us". I suppose it's another example of wanting the gut feeling rather than evidence.

Also, false urgency is an important source of blur--they talk as though having complete control of a prisoner is just as desperate as being on a battlefield.

#147: On a temporal level, we must injure our enemy's capacity to strike on the scale of 9/11 ever again.
Afaik, 9/11 took a couple of hundred thousand dollars and what, maybe fifty or a hundred people?

We can't destroy that level of capacity without genocide.

#177 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:31 AM:

Revolt of the Generals at The Nation.

I speak regularly to retired generals, former intelligence officers and former Pentagon officials and aides, all of whom remain close to their active-duty friends and protégés. These well-informed seniors tell me that whatever the original US objective was in Iraq, our understrength forces and flawed strategy have failed, and that we cannot repair this failure by remaining there indefinitely. Fundamental changes are needed, and senior officers are prepared to make them. According to my sources, some active-duty officers are working behind the scenes to end the war and are preparing for the inevitable US withdrawal. "The only question is whether a war serves the national interest," declares a retired three-star general. "Iraq does not."

See also: Night of the Generals at Making Light.

#178 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:32 AM:

James D. Macdonald @ #175:

Oh, it's absolutely punitive, in the "cruel and unusual punishments" kind of way.

So, what is the response to the argument "There's no such thing as 'cruel and unusual punishment' for terrorists! They are so evil that any means of retaliation, including torture, is justified"?

I mean, if the goal is to make them sorry they attacked us, why isn't torture a valid means to that end? Why should you draw the line at anything?

I think that's what conservatives mean when they say that opposition to torture is being "soft on terrorists." It's like saying, "Oh, when we catch you, we're not going to do anything really bad to you. We'll just lock you up in a nice comfy cell. With television."

#179 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:38 AM:

Who said the goal was to make them sorry they attacked us? The true goal is to stop terrorist acts. Punishing people doesn't necessarily stop them from repeating their crimes. If it did, we wouldn't have repeat offenders returning to prison.

#180 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:39 AM:

Fighting terrorism by becoming terrorists ourselves is essentially counterproductive. As the rightwingers are fond of saying, "then the terrorists have already won."

Torture is, by its nature, evil. There is no argument that justifies it; to take torture's side is to become evil oneself. When I hear someone arguing for the use of torture I hear the voice of Satan.

As Americans we value liberty above all else. To take away a person's liberty is the greatest punishment we can give to a person. Even if it includes TV.

Let us not forget that, as far as identifying exactly who the terrorists are, we might be wrong.

#181 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:40 AM:

Sorry, Laurence. I missed the context of your remarks. Disregard my previous post.

#182 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Joe J: I think it was James Macdonald who originally posted:

"We can't stop you from attacking us, but we can make you wish to Ghod that you hadn't."

I'm trying to explore the ramifications of that statement. And I think you raise some good points:

The true goal is to stop terrorist acts.

Is "making them wish they hadn't done that" the way to stop terrorist acts?

Your next statement seems to suggest that it's not:

Punishing people doesn't necessarily stop them from repeating their crimes. If it did, we wouldn't have repeat offenders returning to prison.

I don't know the answer. There probably is no good, morally unambiguous answer. But any hint of retaliation is starting to make me nervous.

#183 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Re: Nuclear proliferation

What country possesses nukes and has used them as 'first strike' weapons?

Given our track record, with the Idiot CNC proclaiming that we have the right to use nukes in a pre-emptive manner, what country who didn't have them wouldn't be striving to either develop or buy some?

It is my humble opinion that we have someone who is certifiably insane in the White House, and that a number of his Cabinet members/advisors are not in their right minds either...

#184 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Let us not forget that, as far as identifying exactly who the terrorists are, we might be wrong.

That's the insight that the fanatic right is determined to exclude from its consciousness. They really seem unable to cope with building in mechanisms to deal with their own errors. (There are still prisoners in Gitmo whom everyone knows are innocent of terrorism, mostly folks whose personal or political enemies "turned them in" to the US forces in Afghanistan.) It seems easier for the right to simply deny that they make mistakes, or, when it's clear beyond all doubt that a mistake has been made (as with the Foley matter) to blame it on other people. I can't help linking this mode of thought to the kind of wacko Biblical literalism we see in, for example, creationists: it seems to me to come from the same place. Sara Robinson at Orcinus has been running some superlative posts deconstructing that kind of thinking. And of course, one thinks of our president, who seems psychically unable to admit that he might make or have made mistakes...

#185 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Y'all want to look at posts #154 and #155, to see the context and the full quote.

Any time you reach "torture" as an end result (even "torture-lite") you know you're on the wrong track.

#186 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:20 PM:

/Sarcasm on/

Lizzy L, don't you understand? W found Jesus and was "saaaavved" so from that point on not only were his sins washed clean, but he became perfect -- and is unable to make mistakes...

God speaks to him, you know.

\Sarcasm off\

#187 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:28 PM:

James D. Macdonald said (quoted out of order):

As Americans we value liberty above all else.

Possibly. As human beings, we value safety (survival) above all else, however we define it.

Torture is, by its nature, evil.

There is a point where self-defense trumps any other question of morality. That seems to be true, for most people in most cases.

Maybe they do know torture is evil, but they think we have no choice. They're too afraid.

There's no question that Americans are afraid of terrorism. Who wouldn't be? I'm referring to everybody who supports torture: including Bush, Rumsfeld and all of those who are supposedly "in charge." Yes, they're doing their best to keep the rest of us in fear. But I believe they must be frightened themselves.

#188 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:38 PM:

I went back to post #154, and found Terry Karney's comments on how to deal with terrorists:

Reason with them. Show them why your way is good. Allow them to accomodate their wishes, to your wishes; attain a modus vivendi, a happy medium, and while they may do things you disagree with, they may even do things you think are wrong, they are far less likely to hate you, to do things just to spite you.

That requires the belief that a happy medium is possible, and that these "Muslim fanatics" don't just want to kill us all (as too many people appear to believe.)

It is good advice, though. I wish we could get to the point where someone was advocating negotiation. Or even admitting that we can't kill them all - that would be a start.

#189 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Torture has nothing whatever to do with self-defense. That's a false argument.

#190 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:06 PM:

Torture has nothing whatever to do with self-defense. That's a false argument.

Well, why is it false? (Socrates asked.)

Because it is no deterrent to terrorism?

#191 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Yes, and because it's completely ineffective at getting useful information out of a suspect. Anyone who thinks otherwise has watched too many cop shows.

#192 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Laurence said at #187:

Maybe they do know torture is evil, but they think we have no choice. They're too afraid.

Back a week or so, in another thread (I think), there was a search for slogans; I saw a great one on a friend's CR-V last weekend: Frightened People Do Stupid Things.

#193 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 02:15 PM:

As human beings, we value safety (survival) above all else, however we define it.

There is a point where self-defense trumps any other question of morality. That seems to be true, for most people in most cases.

Maybe they do know torture is evil, but they think we have no choice. They're too afraid.

There's no question that Americans are afraid of terrorism. Who wouldn't be?

Laurence,

Fear will not give you Civilization. Can you understand that? If Fear runs the show you get barbarism. That is the only inevitable outcome. Even if Fear brings a group of people together on the grounds of their own survival, the inevitable outcome is that the Fear will eventually drive those brought together out of survival to Fear each other, so that if the external threat doesn't kill them, they will kill themselves.

The idea of civilization, of creating something better than the simple brutality of nature, requires something more than Fear. If a civilization built on some founding principle to improve the human condition forgets its roots and remains together only out of fear, it has returned to raw nature's "kill or be killed" state.

Fear is the basis for all of your arguments. You extend them once in a while to some statement that doesn't use the word Fear, but has Fear as an underlying assumption.

Now, this is the important bit, and it may be very hard for you to get, but here goes:

The first requirement for pulling human kind out of the kill-or-be-killed mentality based in Fear and to create something that is for the betterment of humankind is this:

You must be responsible for your Fear.

You.

Not Al Queda, not Iran, not Saddam, not WMD's, not North Korean nukes, nothing. There is nothing that you are afraid of that takes your responsibility for your Fear away from you and puts it in anyone else's hands.

You must control your own fear.

No one else can.

If you fail to control your fear, you cease to be a stand for civilization, and become a stand for us-versus-them, of kill-or-be-killed, of anything-goes-as-long-as-I-live-in-the-end. Because that's what fear does. It turns on that part of your brain that allows "other" so that everyone else is less important than you. Civilazation, rule of law, and a government that serves the people, requires at its foundation the notion that all people are equal. Fear kills that.

And only you can control your Fear.

This sort of goes back to the thread about language controling what you think. But in a way, Fear controls what you think and what you allow for. And no one else can control your thoughts but you.

It doesn't matter that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and the whole administration is encouraging you to be afraid.

No one can make you Fear but you. And if you continue to live from Fear, any argument that anyone here makes for Civilization will not be heard by you. You won't understand it. Your thinking affects what you can hear. It will sound like nonsense to treat a terrorist humanely, because you will be in Fear of your life.

So, while you keep asking questions, and people keep trying to explain their points of view to you, I won't bother. Not until you either control your Fear, or at the very least can become aware of your Fear enough to see that it controls you. Once we've gotten to the point that your Fear is not in control, then we can talk about Civilization. But as long as Fear is in control, I think it is a waste of breath, because Fear colors everything Civilized into a barbaric state.

Courage Vow

#194 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Greg:

I understand that you're trying to be helpful, and you make some good points. But I have to state, for the record:

You do not need to explain to me what Fear is. I'm not expressing my own fears (except in the sense that, like everybody else, I am naturally afraid of another terrorist attack.) I'm trying to understand how so many Americans can support torture. I believe that fear drives them. I'm not saying that I agree with them.

Please refrain from addressing me with statements such as "Can you understand that?" and "it may be very hard for you to get." That is not polite.

I have been playing dumb to a certain extent in my posts here. I'm not going to say that you "should have known" I wasn't expressing my own opinions. I'm simply pointing out that I was not.

On a different topic: barbarism vs. civilization. (I'm not sure I believe in civilzation. Even in "civilized" countries like America people do horrible things to each other. But I digress.) Last night I was reading Visa for Avalon by Bryher, which is a GREAT book, and brings up an often-stated idea: that barbarism always lurks just below the surface, no matter how civilized we think we are. Is that true?

#195 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 03:25 PM:

I'm not expressing my own fears

Laurence,

This is what I quoted from you:

As human beings, we value safety (survival) above all else, however we define it.

There is a point where self-defense trumps any other question of morality. That seems to be true, for most people in most cases.

Maybe they do know torture is evil, but they think we have no choice. They're too afraid.

There's no question that Americans are afraid of terrorism. Who wouldn't be?

Of those four statements, only the third one is clearly assigning this fear to other people. In the other three statements, you are making blanket statements that do not exclude you, and go so far as to not exclude anyone. You consistently used the term "we" and "Americans" and "most people in most cases" rather than "they" or "those who support torture" or any other signifier that would separate people into more subtle groups.

I'm sorry if I haven't been followign along from teh beginning where you might have clarified your position on this, but basing just on the post that I replied to, I see no reason I should have thought you were talking about some category of people that you were not a member of.

#196 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 03:58 PM:

Greg: You're right. I did not make it sufficiently clear that these were not my own opinions. (If I had said they were my own opinions, somebody probably would have called me a troll.)

I don't think it matters if they are my opinions or not. I wanted to hear what people had to say in response to those ideas.

I also wanted to see how you would respond when I pointed out that you made the wrong assumption. And now I know.

#197 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:06 PM:

We rise above the barbarisms that have limited us in the past, not because we will be safe, but because that is what civilization is about. Civilization promises us intellectual accomplishments, elevated standards of living and comfort, sublime improvements in arts and culture, and many other good things, but it fails to promise us the one thing we cannot let go of: personal safety and survival. Civilization, if it's going to succeed, promises only that it will survive. No individual can, with any connection to sanity, extend that to himself.

Patriotism is only possible in a civilization. It happens on the individual level, but the rewards are never felt at that level, and the sacrifice often goes unnoticed except by those in the immediate vicinity.

Anyway, sorry for the soapbox lecture. As horrific as it was, as traumatic as it remains in our collective memory, 9/11 was simply part of the price we pay for civilization, and for the peculiar version of it in this republic: individual freedom is the foundation of our civilization, and anything done to undermine that freedom undermines our civilization. It truly is as simple as that.

And for anyone reading this that lost a loved-one in NYC, the Pentagon or western PA, I will gladly stand still while you rip me a new orifice... but I won't change or take back a single word.

#198 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:14 PM:

Franklin, I didn't lose a family member or loved one, but I did lose a bunch of coworkers, many of whom I'd talked to the previous day, and I agree with you wholeheartedly.

In fact, I've said before that I'd rather die in a terrorist attack myself than live in the country Dubya and his puppetmasters want to turn America into.

#199 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 04:45 PM:

Laurence -- I'm curious about how you interpret Greg's response, since you say "and now I know."

To me, it seemed civil, direct, and attempting to move the conversation forward.

Your "and now I know", with no further comment, looks hurt and dismissive, to me. This is intended as feedback, not as correction.

#200 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 05:47 PM:

I did not make it sufficiently clear that these were not my own opinions. (If I had said they were my own opinions, somebody probably would have called me a troll.)

I don't think that would have been the response. Trolls aren't the types to come out and say they're afraid, that they feel fear. That requires more honesty than your average troll has.

I don't think it matters if they are my opinions or not. I wanted to hear what people had to say in response to those ideas.

If you're generalizing what some other group of people say, then it matters because you aren't raising an actual concern, but a generalization of a concern. And personally, I put a lot less weight into second hand information, simply because of its fallibility. The way you present someone else's point of view might be as accurate as the way Fox portrays the idea of withdrawing from Iraq as "Cut and runners".

I also wanted to see how you would respond when I pointed out that you made the wrong assumption. And now I know.

I responded specifcally to several blanket statements that put you in a category of people who are afraid.

You replied you aren't afraid, that you were talking about other people.

My response was to direct you back to your specific words, which you admit were not clear. I did not make a wrong assumption, I took your words at face value.

And if you want to know how I reply to all of this, it comes back to my attitude towards generalized second hand information. I don't find as much value in discussing it.

If you wish to discuss your opinions, lets talk.

If you wish to discuss what others think, I'd request that you (1)be clear you're talking about others, (2) identify some categorical statement that describes this group in some way, and (3) quote someone you believe is representative of the group, with a quote that you feel represents the category. Without something specific, it can become too hypothetical.

All requests specifically from me. You can choose to ignore them as you wish. And others might be more open to discuss hypotheticals and other scenarios at leisure.


#201 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 06:06 PM:

barbarism always lurks just below the surface, no matter how civilized we think we are. Is that true?

I have issue with the language used.
"lurks just below the surface"
describes barbarism as if it were a thing
independent of humans, something beyond our
control.

I don't think that is true at all.
I think it is totally a matter of choice,
and I think every individual is ultimately
responsible for whether they choose
Civilization or Barbarism.

And I believe someone who has subscribed
to Civilization could drop their principles
in an instant and choose a barbaric path.

So, there is some truth in the statement,
but I feel the language misrepresents the
full truth of the situation.

And the add-on that says:
"no matter how civilized we think we are."
extends this further. As if choosing to
be civilized has no weight to it.
As if we are a people with no honor
to the point that our words mean nothing.
As if civilization is just a ghostly facade
and the meat and bones of reality is barbarism.
As if Civilization is just a thought
and barbarism is real.

If "all men are created equal" is nothing but
a ghostly facade, then yes, barbarism is just
below the surface. If people are not responsible
for their choice to be civilized or barbaric,
then yes, barbarism is just below the surface.
If Civilization is simple something we "think"
we've achieved because we've fooled ourselves,
then yes, Barbarism is just around the corner.

Which is to say that while the statement has
some truth to it, (that someone could suddenly
and instantly choose to drop their principles
in exchange for barbaric behaviour), the entire
statement is embedded in a faulty premise: the
lie that Civilization is just an illusion and
barbarism is real.

Were I to state the situation, it would look
something more like this:

People choose to be Civilized or Barbaric.
And they can change their choice in an instant.

Those who state their commitment to the
principles of Civilization and hold to those
principles even when it is inconvenient
to them personally, are people who honor their
word and demonstrate integrity.

Those who state their commitment to Civilization
and then revert to barbarism when it is
convenient to do so, have no honor and have
no integrity.

#202 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 07:36 PM:

Well said, Greg, very well said.

#203 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 07:41 PM:

I feel that Greg London is being unnecessarily argumentative, and focussing on aspects of what I wrote that are incidental to the discussion. I have no interest in entering into his argument.

Otherwise, I am finding this thread to be very educational.

#204 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 08:07 PM:

Laurence, I notice you didn't answer or address my question.

#205 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 08:51 PM:

I have no interest in entering into his argument.

The discussion, as I ended it, was this:

"If you wish to discuss your opinions, lets talk."

"If you wish to discuss what others think, I'd request..." (that you get more specific).


#206 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Um, no, Greg. Your 201 ends as "Those who state their commitment to the
principles of Civilization and hold to those
principles even when it is inconvenient
to them personally, are people who honor their
word and demonstrate integrity.

Those who state their commitment to Civilization
and then revert to barbarism when it is
convenient to do so, have no honor and have
no integrity."

This is very different from how you present your response in 205.

#207 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:19 PM:

Torture has nothing whatever to do with self-defense. That's a false argument.


Well, why is it false? (Socrates asked.)


Because it is no deterrent to terrorism?

This should be intuitively obvious: by the time you have a man in a position in which you can torture him, he is not in any position to harm you, or to threaten to harm you.

Self-defense cannot be used as a justification for torture.

#208 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:42 PM:

James Macdonald wrote:
Self-defense cannot be used as a justification for torture.

Nor, realistically, can defense of others - just as he cannot harm you, if he is in custody such that he can be tortured, he cannot harm anyone else - except possibly himself.

While it can be argued that his co-conspirators might, in fact, be able to - torture is unlikely to deter them in this - and to the level that it is likely to deter them because of possible consequences (if I go after the Americans, they will torture me and mine), that is a place that I do not wish my nation to go, and to which we cannot go and hope to hold any sort of moral high ground.

If we wish to be able to claim we are, in fact, better than our enemies, we cannot - we must not - sink to their levels.

Or we will have seen the enemy, and they will be us.

It is in our own best long-term interest to act like heroes, instead of villains. Too bad too many people - and not just in the US - think a year, or at best an election cycle, is long-term.

#209 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Um, no, Greg. Your 201 ends as...

My 201 was in response to a tail-end question by Laurence (#194): On a different topic: barbarism vs. civilization. ... that barbarism always lurks just below the surface, no matter how civilized we think we are. Is that true?

And absolutely none of it was directed at Laurence or anyone else. It isn't an "argument" or a debate or a proof or whatever. It was my opinion of the statement. I start off the post saying "I have issues with the statment" in para 1, and say "I think" three times in para 2, and "I believe" in para 3. After that, I started to drop the "I think" because I've thrown enough flags to make clear that I'm talking my opinion.

My message at #200 was actually directed at Laurence and ends with the point: if you want to discuss your opinion, lets talk. If you want to discuss other people's opinions, that's fine too, but you'll need to get more specific for me to get engaged.

Laurence said: "I feel that Greg London is being unnecessarily argumentative, and focussing on aspects of what I wrote that are incidental to the discussion. I have no interest in entering into his argument."

But there is no argument in 201, only a statement of my opinion. To a question where he asked my opinion. On a completely different topic that he brought up.

The only "argument" or debate or discussion or whatever you want to call it from me, was to tell him if he wants to discuss -his- opinions, fine, and if he wants to discuss -other peoples- opinions, fine, but be more specific. Which isn't "incidental to the discussion", but central to the discussion, because basic information wasn't being conveyed that it was obvious who's opinion he was talking about, and if it wasn't his own opinion, where did it come from, and how did he come to describe it however he did.

He was making assertions by genereralizing someone else's opinion without being clear it was someone else's opinion and without backing up the assertion as to how he decided that was the thinking/opinion behind someone else's action.

the only "argument" I made was to invite him to discuss the topic with more specifics and less hypotheticals.

#210 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 10:47 PM:

As Americans we value liberty above all else.

Possibly. As human beings, we value safety (survival) above all else, however we define it.

Observation proves this later statement to be false. If it were true, no one would snatch a child out of the way of a speeding car at the risk of his own life; no one would rush into a burning building; no Marine would ever dive onto a grenade; there would be no martyrs.

#211 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:34 AM:

James, #210, you can add to that list other, dangerous but not always lethal pursuits: field research in dangerous locations, being a war correspondent, aircraft testing, spaceflight. (If you had asked astronaut candidates the morning after Columbia broke up if they had changed their mind about applying for the program, I bet you would find few if any had.) And the stuff we do just for fun: hang-gliding, bungee jumping to name the most obvious examples.

It may be that we only want to be faced with dangers we choose, since we frequently value excitement over safety.

#212 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:00 AM:

Greg: I might take you more seriously if I hadn't seen you get into huge flailing arguments with other people on this blog, about what you thought they said. I have yet to see you admit the possibility that you might have been mistaken. You just keep escalating; writing these horrendously long posts.

I was talking about fear. You thought I was expressing my own fears, and responded to me on that basis (in a rather patronizing way, as I pointed out.)

I explained that I was not expressing my own fears: you wrongly assumed I was. Since then, you've gone on to opine:

1) that your assumption was not wrong;

2) (although this contradicts #1) that I should have been expressing my own fears. In other words, I'm in the wrong because I didn't say what you thought I said.

I'm done with this now. If you want to think you won, please go right ahead.

#213 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:23 AM:

The failure of torture, as well as the use of terror-against-terror, was amply demonstrated during the Algerian war of independence. The French used torture against anyone they thought might have useful information; they also employed terror-against-terror methods. They had short-term gains, and they lost Algeria. The Algerians who might have been prepared to accept the status quo, or even anything short of full independence, changed their minds as a result of the French tactics.
The military side of the Pentagon has been studying this war very closely these days; the civilian side seems to have jammed their fingers in their ears and chanted "la-la-la-la-la-la-la" any time Algeria is mentioned.
We are in the process of making every single mistake the French made, if we haven't made them already.

#214 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:29 AM:

James D. Macdonald, #207:

Torture has nothing whatever to do with self-defense. . . . [because] by the time you have a man in a position in which you can torture him, he is not in any position to harm you, or to threaten to harm you.

That's true: once you've got him locked up, he can't harm you. But as a deterrent, I still think there's a certain argument to be made:

If you knew that performing a certain action could lead to your being imprisoned and tortured, would you do it?

#215 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:39 AM:

pat greene, #211:

It may be that we only want to be faced with dangers we choose, since we frequently value excitement over safety.

That could be it, the element of being able to choose. It does seem to apply to all of the situations James listed:

no one would snatch a child out of the way of a speeding car at the risk of his own life; no one would rush into a burning building; no Marine would ever dive onto a grenade; there would be no martyrs.

I wonder what goes through those people's minds when they decide to do one of those things? In some cases (especially if it's a question of dangerous sports) they might believe that nothing really bad will happen to them.

In the case of martyrs, obviously, they have decided to give up their lives for a higher cause. But I don't think that anyone who had anything to live for would choose martyrdom. It's a form of suicide, really.

I know what it feels like to be suicidal. And it just occurred to me that maybe suicide does preserve one's safety: if life is a thoroughly unsafe thing. If one would be better off dead.

#216 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:42 AM:

If you knew that performing a certain action could lead to your being imprisoned and tortured, would you do it?

Apparently yes. Given that minding your own business can also lead to your capture and being tortured, why not perform those actions?

Torture by the Gestapo didn't stop the French Resistance. Torture by the French didn't stop the revolt in Algiers. Torture by the Americans isn't stopping al Qaeda (in fact, much as the other examples show, it has increased the number of persons in their ranks and turned general sympathy against us).

You might want to look up how effective the cases of the Birmingham Six and the Guilford Four were in detering the IRA.

Our rule of law has stood us in good stead for the past 200 years. I see no need to change it now.

#217 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:49 AM:

Laurence, human history says that while the prospect of being locked up and tortured might deter some, it does not deter everyone. The people who are willing to risk that result are likely to cause a great deal of damage as a result, both because they cause damage themselves, and beause they act as encouragement and incentive for others to do the same.
Every revolution, including our own, has had its glorious martyrs and shining heros, who are cited as an example to others. Nathan Hale was aware of the risks he ran when he stayed behind in New York to spy on the British--and he's been revered ever since the British hanged him (perhaps less so now, since the teaching of American history has been changed in so many ways). Even the people who might have been unwilling to be the first to take the risk can often be encouraged to follow where others have gone, if they believe in the cause strongly enough. People who do not feel that they were "born brave" can take amazing risks for a cause when they are faced with the choice. Consider all of the people involved in various acts of resistance to the Germans during World War II. Not every one of them may have felt, at the beginning, that they were brave enough to fight in the face of the punishments the Germans offered--but an amazing number were brave enough to hide Allied airmen, Jews, and others wanted by the Germans, were brave enough to hide weapons and supplies, to observe German movements and pass messages. Many never had their hands on a weapon, or planted a bomb, but they all took risks, and they all faced torture and death.
When you find yourself talking to the people who are convinced that fear must discourage everyone, since it discourages them, you'll find plenty of examples in history to use.

If Socrates comes into it, then the questions that come to my mind are: Are all people everywhere exactly the same as you? Is it possible that there are some who are more fearful than you, and others who are braver? Would you be discouraged from taking any risks by the fear of torture or death, or can you think of some things that would be worth the risk of such an outcome?

Clearly, plenty of people have faced such choices over the years, and have been willing to take the risk. Anyone who is convinced otherwise is ignorant of history or lacks imagination--and I realize how common that is.

#218 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Laurence, when you say

I wonder what goes through those people's minds when they decide to do one of those things? In some cases (especially if it's a question of dangerous sports) they might believe that nothing really bad will happen to them.

In the case of martyrs, obviously, they have decided to give up their lives for a higher cause. But I don't think that anyone who had anything to live for would choose martyrdom. It's a form of suicide, really.

in response to Jim's examples of

no one would snatch a child out of the way of a speeding car at the risk of his own life; no one would rush into a burning building; no Marine would ever dive onto a grenade; there would be no martyrs.

I get the feeling you are missing out on an important component. People who do these things feel, at least for the moment, that there is something more important than themselves, something of greater worth than their own lives and [possibly temporary] safety. For some, it is a sense of obligation to comrades, for others, self-respect, for others, conviction that the accomplishment of a goal is more important that whether they are alive to see that goal achieved.

I would not call a martyr suicidal, out of hand. Some may well be, but I don't think that description applies to everyone who has been labelled "martyr" since we started using that term.

My landlord is a reasonably cautious man (he needs to be, he works for the railroad). In Vietnam, he was a crew chief and door gunner on a Huey. (He was drafted, BTW--so he didn't go looking for this risk--it found him.) He says that shortly after he started, he realized there was a very good chance he wouldn't go home alive. However, it was within his power not to let the people he was with down--he could do his part to avoid increasing their risk by doing his job to the very best of his ability.

In the calculus of "why would X take risk y?", please keep in mind the factor of commitment. Also, remember that some risks are not sought--they appear, and are dealt with in hot blood rather than cold.

#219 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:09 AM:

Everybody: I don't really believe that torture is a deterrent to terrorism. Neither does it deter acts of courage, resistance, or martyrdom, whichever one prefers to call them. If anybody else (in addition to Greg London) finds my devils-advocate position to be annoying, I apologize.

People will put their lives on the line for what they believe in. I know that. I've done things which I perceived to be "risking my life" (although not in the physical sense) because I believed it was more important to do those things than to continue with my life as it was.

But for some reason, the problem of torture has been on my mind a lot recently. I've been trying to figure out why some people do obviously support torture, and what are the alternatives to current American policy on terrorism. And this discussion has helped me a great deal. Thank you all.

#220 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:35 AM:

Why do people support torture?

Because they are fools, because they are cowards, and because they are evil.

When you say "devil's advocate" you're speaking true. Only the devil advocates torture.

#221 ::: Franklin Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:36 AM:

Who was it that said or observed: terrorism never accomplishes its goals.

Terroristic tactics have been, I suppose, effective in accomplishing military objectives (the underground in Europe during WWII might provide some examples), but no campaign of terror has ever succeeded so far as I know... and my reading of history is far from extensive.

Any comments?

#222 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:54 AM:

Mr. Evans, I think you will find that where terrorist tactics have been tried, the populace subjected to them has become even more firm in resisting and/or ignoring them.

The only way to go after terrorism is by treating the terrorists as criminals -- even popular fiction has championed this method, Tom Clancy's _Patriot Games_ in particular.

If you glorify their cause by calling for war against them, you give the terrorist political standing.

#223 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 11:20 AM:

Laurence, as devil's-advocate types go, you are far from the most annoying I've ever seen, and you are honest enough to admit you're using that position to try and deal with people who do believe the things you brought up, or are confused as to whether they should believe them or not.

Besides wickedness and stupidity, another reason why people fall for this argument (Torture works! Ask me how!) is ignorance. They are sold on this concept in fictional examples: in books, on television, and in the movies. A good many don't think to ask, or don't have anyone handy they can ask who is in a position to answer with anything like Useful, Actual, True Knowledge*. Most of us don't like the idea of being hurt, and can imagine that given prospect of torture, we'd tell anything we know just to make it stop. However, the risk is that because we'd say anything--we'd say anything, so long as the bad things stopped. That's where a lot of the ignorant get confused--because one would say anything, the things one would say might have no value, with no way for the torturer to be sure whether it was useful or not. They also forget that the reaction to news that a friend, family member, or mere acquaintance has been arrested and tortured is not always just fear, but often also anger as well.

Another way of looking at all this is to remember that the Bill of Rights, and our traditional rights under law, like habeas corpus are there because they restrain our natural tendency to push people around, if we can get away with it. Personally, given the chance, I'd love to supress Ann Coulter's right to free speech--whether with a baseball bat, an old sock, or a shoelace with a slipknot in it dropped over her head. However, once I start to supress the Toxic Toothpick's rights, there's every chance someone else will find that a precedent to supress mine. It is astonishing how many people do not see this--that the freedoms we do not wish to extend to others are the same we ourselves are able to enjoy.

*as opposed to this it must be true because I want to believe it kind of knowledge.

#224 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 11:22 AM:

148 PJ: What do I mean by lack of will? Peace moms calling for an immediate withdrawal, anti war protestors stating any loss of life is too much. Generally, I believe that peace negotiations cannot go forever and throwing up your hands and leaving because things aren't easy doesn't solve anything. We are in the middle of this and just leaving will cause the world a number of problems. It is my view we can not leave until the Iraqi government answers to ALL of its citizens, protects them and is stable enough to stand up against internal and external pressures. Everyone fears a civil war in Iraq. I fear a war that enflames Sunni against Shia, Turk against Kurd, Muslim against Christian, but I am a paid, professional paranoid. Welcome to my world.

149 James: No the solution is to fight to win. I question those who view a redefining of outrages on human dignity as their opposition stating "Hey lets go pull this guys arms off and see if he talks" a bit disengenuous. Don't speak for me and I won't speak for you (actually I will because I've a terrible long term memory and poor manners, but if you call me on it, I'll back down).
I must admit to prefering Anti terrorism to counter terrorism. I get hot under the collar when seeing reports on terrorist activities. Hell, I even dislike the Sons of Liberty since they targeted civilians in an attempt to frighten them out of supporting the Brittish agenda in America. For the record anti means you do the police work to then attack the groups who are planning to attack us at their bases BEFORE they attack, while counter is investigating an incident that happened and find the four or five guys who did
it and deal with them.

I would ask who you feel we must cooperate with internationally. I have stated I believe in cooperation with nations who share our ideals of democracy and freedom. The UN General Assembly is full of representatives of nations which are autocratic and brutal. It is in my opinion a poor place to go when you want to properly deal with a nation which is causing problems. North Korea is days away from proving they have a working nuclear device. They have continually taken a provocative stance in regards to their neighbors. My favorites were the testing of a medium range missile on the day the new South Korean President made his inaugral speach and the testing of a two stage missile where stage one landed on that side of Japan and stage two landed on this side of Japan. And where was the NK Ambassador recently? At a meeting of the "Unaligned Nations" in Cuba calling for the world to leave them alone and let them do their thing.

150 Paul: Some of the capacities are will/ideology and personnel. We need to work to make Wahibism/Qutbism and the like unpopular and remove it as appearing as a natural choice for the youth of the Middle East. We will do that by promoting diologue, definitely; we'll also help by helping governments in the region which are free and democratic. Having a free (even from us) and democratic Iraq will go a long way to that goal. It will be extremely tough, but can be done.

151 Greg: Somalia was an excellent example of our not having the will to follow up. That mission violently changed from humanitarian to nation building. When we started taking casualties, we started running from that region. Now the "government" of Somalia is isolated to a few buildings in one town. Not exactly a shining success, neh?

153 Joe: Yes we can agree that stopping terrorist attacks on the US is a priority. We can also agree that maintaining our civil liberties is equally a priority at ALL times. I futher stipulate that while a POW or terrorist caught in the act of furthering violent jihad should not gain a US citizen's civil liberties, they do have full Humanitarian Rights to protection from torture and mistreatment. Having worked with Army interrogators for years, I am aware that beatings and similar harsh treatment (what James calls "torture lite") are ineffective in getting info. They are unnecessary and needless. There are some approaches which are harsh in tone and may raise the fear of the person being questioned, but there is no need for physically striking a person. I would question whether some deprivation (keeping a smoker from smokes, continual questioning for hours upon hours at a time) designed to tire and confuse a person to keep them from remembering their complicated lies is torture. It is my understanding this is for the most part what was asked for in the redefining of Article 3. Now as far as waterboarding goes (which is supposedly nonleathal and "not torture"), I have no experience with and can't comment on it; however, here I go commenting anyway, I dont think from a personal standpoint it is necessary either. Convincing a guy they are going to die by drowning, even if they are supposedly not in any danger of dieing, is not Kosher.

156 Sandy B: I was not my usual elloquent self when making that statement. I believe our exercising of free speach is one of the most wonderful things in the whole world. The fact we are critical of ourselves and our own harshest, worst critic is a good thing. I feel some go over board and assume the worst in many cases, but I equally feel it should (in a nonpartisan inspired way) continue.

159 Terry: I speak of the number of foreign fighters, who like Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, married into local families. In AMZ's case, in spite his targeting local Shia, Sunni Imams who spoke for participation in the elections and his own fellow countrymen. I speak of instances where Iraqis expect us to find the true insurgents (i.e. those who come from outside Iraq, not home grown dissidents) but refuse to (or are fearful of) pointing them out to Coalition patrols. There are a number of reports to the extent of "there are some people who don't speak Iraqi dialect around. Where? I don't know, I just know there are some." I read a BBC report on the reported death of Al Masri in Haditha, which listed the Al Qaeda in Iraq numbers as 5% of the overall insurgency. From my experience here, that is about right. Most of the problems are locals pushing their tribal or religious agendas by violence (i.e. there'll be no Sunni in this town, by gum!), but the AQIZ are much better trained and much more violent. A real combat multiplier as you stated.

I was an Army CI agent for 12 years and am now a DoD Contractor in Iraq providing HUMINT support. I was in Bosnia, twice, for a total of 15 months where I saw evidence of foreign fighters fading into the background instead of leaving as dictated by Dayton.

164 & 166 Teresa and PJ: I get my information from a number of sources. I work in Iraq currently (as stated above). I have 12 (going on 13) years experience as a CI guy. I draw from news sources as diverse as the BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, and Fox. I would go to others, but my french sucks, I read none of the asian languages and the arabic only websites are blocked during business hours. I don't get my views from any political parties talking points. I am no stooge, hack or parrot.

PJ we lost Viet Nam for a number of reasons. Poor planning was one of them. Backing our flavor of dictator over theirs was another. Being locked in an ideological battle with Communism and blinding ourselves to the potential of turning Ho Chi Minh to our cause was another. But lack of political will was definitely a contributing factor.

172 Raven: I draw a distinction between "agressive" (to whit one to seize territory) and "preemptive." A prime example of preemptive war would be the Six Day War (or the 1967 Arab-Israeli War), wherein Israel attacked first in response to evidence of a pending attack from Egypt.

I believe it is wrong to equate our country and its participation in the war in Iraq with the National Socialists Party and their conquest of Western Europe. Calling for the heads of Bush, Rumsfeld, et al and equating them to the participants of the Wannsee Conference is wrong! Bush is no Reinhard Heydrich and Rumsfeld is no Adolf Eichman!

I understand the American people are made uncomfortable about us being in a state of war. I know we love to hear "It'll be over by Christmas." I sympathize with those who have family members in harms way and empathize with those who have lost loved ones. But we are not the devil and we are no where near one of the most vile political regimes to exist on this earth because we went into Iraq. Truth be told, Saddam did this to himself. Between believing he could avoid regime change and survive any face off against the US was foolish. He had deluded himself into thinking he could hide his forces, bleed us enough we would go away, then reassemble his forces in time to quell unrest from within and power grabs from without. His national security policy was obfuscation and lies. He relied on everyone not truely knowing what capabilities he had and reinforcing the uncertainty by cheesing us off and getting away with it. He coupled that with the belief we would never really do anything about our concerns.

If we loose in Iraq and thus our true intentions are never shown, or if we remain in control of Iraq for the next 100 years ruling it as a colony, then I feel a case can be made that we were agressors on par with the Nazis. If we succeed in helping stand up a free and democratic (free even from our influence) functioning government in Iraq, then there is no case for agression on par with the Nazi's seizing Poland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, et al.

184 Lizzy: Excellent statement. We must indeed be careful of our actions, for we are not perfect and are prosecuting/questioning those innocent of attacking us. So, we should treat our prisoners Humanely. I base this on the sheer number of people held in Gitmo and elsewhere. That large a population can not help but contain those who meant us no harm (note past tense).

#225 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 11:28 AM:

Getting back on topic:

Military prosecutors charged him under the theory that he did nothing to stop the alleged crime.

Yes, if you do nothing to stop a crime, you yourself can be charged under the UCMJ.

(This does make me wonder, in the Abu Ghraib case, where was the First Sergeant to say, "Private! Just where the hell do you think you're going with that dog leash?" And the Lieutenant to say, "Sergeant, just what the hell is going on down there?" and the Captain to say, "Lieutenant, get your people under control." And the Major to say, "Captain, you will comply with the Geneva Conventions." ... and the Secretary of Defense to say, "There shall be no torture or mistreatment of prisoners on my watch. General, you're fired." And the President to say, "These are not America's values. My new Secretary of Defense is...."

Every layer of the chain of command is implicated. There is no refuge for those who failed to do their duty.

#226 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 11:30 AM:

Laurence,

I have yet to see you admit the possibility that you might have been mistaken.

You want me to apologize for "assuming" wrongly that you were talking about your own fear when you yourself admitted at 196 "I did not make it sufficiently clear that these were not my own opinions"? OK. I'm sorry you kept saying stuff like "As human beings, we", and "That seems to be true, for most people in most cases", and "Americans are afraid of terrorism. Who wouldn't be?" and took you at your word to mean you were talking about a category of people to which you yourself belonged.

Better?

You just keep escalating; writing these horrendously long posts.

No. I keep taking you at your word. If you say something like "we", I take that to mean "you, me, and everyone you're talking to, and possibly some larger group not in the conversation". Because that is what "we" means. When you say "americans", I take that to mean "americans" without qualification, not some, not a few, but all.

What you can't seem to grasp is that what you say and what you later explain yourself to have meant, are extremely different. All I've been doing is tryign to poitn that out and get you to say what you mean.

And yes, Devil's Advocate stuff does annoy me to a degree, especially when the basis for your arguments are your own interpretations of what you think the Devil or some other category of people to which you do not belong, would think.

There is always some hypothetical situation that any current, real-world, solution does not address.

"OK, fine, you want Warrants before the State can search. But what happens when Nazis storm a nunnery and hold everyone hostage and pigs could fly and fish walk on the land and you don't have time for a warrant? What do you do then? Huh? Huh?"

I've said this to you before that if you want to discuss someone else's concern, fine. But make it real at least to the point of quoting someone specific so we don't have a hypothetical concern to deal with. You could even discuss some assinine opinion, like Ann Coulter, but at least quote her.

I've been trying to figure out why some people do obviously support torture, and what are the alternatives to current American policy on terrorism.

Ah, so it would seem that you were hypothesizing why someone would support torture rather than attempting to represent the opinions of any specific group or individual who really does support torture. That explains things a bit.

If the conversation is "Why would people support torture?" then that's different than the conversation we've been having. My answer to that question is "because they are afraid." If you want to have a conversation about how to respond to terrorism differently than the US is currently doing, then I believe the answer is "Pirates".

#227 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:01 PM:

No the solution is to fight to win.

Define "win." What exactly are your goals and objectives? How will you know when you've achieved them? Can they be achieved through military force?


For the record anti means you do the police work to then attack the groups who are planning to attack us at their bases BEFORE they attack, while counter is investigating an incident that happened and find the four or five guys who did it and deal with them.

In other words, you don't know what you're talking about.

I would ask who you feel we must cooperate with internationally.

Our allies. Which, if we're doing it right, should work out to "everyone, or nearly everyone."

It is my understanding this is for the most part what was asked for in the redefining of Article 3.

Your understanding is incorrect. And any unilateral "redefining" is immoral and illegal.

A prime example of preemptive war would be the Six Day War (or the 1967 Arab-Israeli War), wherein Israel attacked first in response to evidence of a pending attack from Egypt.

And look how well that's turned out in the long run....

Bush is no Reinhard Heydrich and Rumsfeld is no Adolf Eichman!

Okay, how about Heydrich-lite and Eichman-lite?

I understand the American people are made uncomfortable about us being in a state of war.

The plain fact is that we aren't in a state of war. If we're in a war, who's the enemy? Who will sign the surrender documents? Where?

Truth be told, Saddam did this to himself. Between believing he could avoid regime change and survive any face off against the US was foolish.

You've now gone off into Cloud-Cuckoo Land. Don't you recall the UN inspectors all over Iraq? Didn't you notice that there weren't any weapons of mass destruction and there were no links with al Qaeda? Sure, Saddam was a Very Bad Man. There are many Very Bad Men in the world. Shall we invade them all?


If we loose in Iraq and thus our true intentions are never shown, or if we remain in control of Iraq for the next 100 years ruling it as a colony, then I feel a case can be made that we were agressors on par with the Nazis. If we succeed in helping stand up a free and democratic (free even from our influence) functioning government in Iraq, then there is no case for agression on par with the Nazi's seizing Poland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, et al.

So, you're proposing that we wait 100 years, and if we're still there and Iraq is a colony, you'll say "Oops!"? How about a shorter term? 50 years? You'll still be long dead and unable to apologize, and America's democracy will be in tatters if not gone, but Oh Well? Maybe ten years? How about that?

At what point will you admit that the only rational course is to kick out Bush, put him on trial for war crimes, and ask for international assistance in fixing our muddle?

In the meantime, I ask you, personally, to do your plain duty and refuse to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and to bring up on charges anyone who does violate them.

#228 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:01 PM:

151 Greg: Somalia was an excellent example of our not having the will to follow up. That mission violently changed from humanitarian to nation building. When we started taking casualties, we started running from that region. Now the "government" of Somalia is isolated to a few buildings in one town. Not exactly a shining success, neh?

miles, when I hear "lack of will", I hear one thing: stupid bullheadedness. more specifically, I hear an unwillingness to assess the situation rationally and choose the best course going forward, and instead hear someone emotionally pleading for "victory at all cost" even if victory is not possible, or possibly pleading that we must consider the Sunk Costs that have been paid in a war up to this point.

I addressed the problem of Sunk Cost to someone else recently over here.

Somalia was not a lack of will. Aidid won the PR war and managed to convince the Somalis that the Americans were here to murder Somalis and take over the country. By the time Black Hawk Down occurred, and we were trying to nab Aidid's lieutenants, Somalis were convinced Aidid was the good guy, protecting their best interests, and we were not.

The mission didn't change with Black Hawk Down. It changed when we went from delivering grain to trying to kill or capture Aidid. And long before Black Hawk Down, Aidid's propaganda machine won the hearts and minds of Somalians, convincing them we were the enemy and he was their protector.


Throw in the fact that we sent troops into the worst part of the city, the home of the most heavily armed warlord army, in nothing more than Hummers, and you've got disaster.

The event happened in a heavily populated civilian city. By the end of it all, we killed over a thousand militiamen and civilians, and wounded several thousand more civilians and milia. We had proven Aidid's propaganda true to most Somalis.

There was no way to "win" at that point. Even if we got Aidid, we had killed enough civilians that someone would have taken his place against us. The country had been wracked by war lords with their armies for years and years prior to our arrival. That was part of the cause for the humanitarian crisis, the starvation of people, in the first place. All we did was give the somalis a common enemy to focus on and made Aidid irrelevant and replacable.

It was not a lack of will. It was a no-win scenario. And those arguing "lack of will" in situations like this are covering up and ignoring the fact that it was no longer a winnable war. We had blown it.

It might have been winnable at one poitn, but the destruction we rained down on the city of Mogadishu during the battle ended that possibility. We had become the enemy. Aidid had become the protector. Aidid had become as irrelvant as Bin Laden. They were no longer needed to sustain the fight against us. Kill Aidid and someone would rise up to take his place.

Arguing a "lack of will" is a convenient way to avoid admitting we blew it and blew it badly. We sealed our own fate there, not any "lack of will".

Actually, "lack of will" has another face I've heard in the Iraq war. It's called "it's bad right now, but it should turn around in six months". What unmitigated horseshit that is. The folks who argue this are convinced we can have "victory" and there is no way to prove to them they are wrong. If we haven't had victory now, then it's just a matter of more time and more will. Impossible for them to imagine is that they are in a no-win scenario, that they are fighting an unwinnable war. we just need a little more time, a little more will.

#229 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:05 PM:

"it's bad right now, but it should turn around in six months".

Hm, is there a Fairy Tale that exemplifies this sort of stupidity? Emporer's New Clothes doesn't quite represent the specific argument about time. It's an unwillingness to admit soem truth and to argue that you just need more time.

I don't know my fairy tales well enough to be able to think of one that matches this.

#230 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Re #226, Greg London:

Arrrr, me hearty, but grant us Letters of Marque and Reprisal to sail against terrorists, and we'll be not "pirates" but "privateers".

(Yes, I know what you meant, but I couldn't resist....)

#231 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:15 PM:

I don't know my fairy tales well enough to be able to think of one that matches this.

Perhaps Rumplestiltskin?

Perhaps it's that if they admit we've bungled, they lose. But if they hold on for another six months (and six months after that, and six months after that...) that perhaps a miracle may happen, and if enough six-months go by that they'll be out of office and it'll be someone else's problem. What they fail to understand is that "winning" isn't just "not losing." There's a reason why, in chess, if the pieces and pawns take identical positions three times, the game is over.

#232 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:26 PM:

"There's a reason why, in chess, if the pieces and pawns take identical positions three times, the game is over."

It's related to the reason that you aren't even allowed to place the pieces in the same configuration twice in a game of Go.

#233 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:47 PM:

#229;#231:

"And besides, the ass may speak"?

--Mary Aileen

#234 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:48 PM:

Franklin, you're right that we shouldn't think civilization guarantees absolute safety, but improving the odds of being safe is both part of what civilization is for and what frees up people's minds and time so that they can do the wonderful things that civilization makes possible.

As for people and safety generally, people risk their lives and health for all sorts of things, including rather minor travel goals.

One more argument against the effectiveness of torture for getting information: I don't know about you guys, but I'm not always impecably accurate about who, what, when, and where. I get less accurate if I'm tired or stressed, even at quite ordinary levels.

Push me to the point where I can't maintain a lie, and I'm not likely to be able to keep the truth straight either.

#235 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 12:52 PM:

#224, miles c:

I draw a distinction between "agressive" (to whit one to seize territory) and "preemptive." A prime example of preemptive war would be the Six Day War (or the 1967 Arab-Israeli War), wherein Israel attacked first in response to evidence of a pending attack from Egypt.
In 1967 the Arab forces were actually massed at borders and being prepped at air bases for attack.

In 2001-2002 Iraq's forces were in no position to attack or invade outside its own borders -- or even suppress hostile forces camped within its own borders, due to the "no-fly" zones we'd imposed. Containment was working. Inspection was working.

So our attack wasn't "pre-emptive" -- there was no Iraqi attack to "pre-empt". We weren't attacking Iraqi invaders of Kuwait this time, but launching a decapitation attack on Iraq's HQ, the goal being to overthrow or eliminate Iraq's government, imposing our own rule on that nation. This was, in plain language, invasion and conquest; and of a nation that was not attacking anyone outside its borders, thus an aggressive war.

If we loose in Iraq and thus our true intentions are never shown, or if we remain in control of Iraq for the next 100 years ruling it as a colony, then I feel a case can be made that we were agressors on par with the Nazis.
Holding power for 100 years is not a requirement of "aggressive war" -- or else the Nüremburg defendants could not have been charged with that offense, at least not until 2038 or so, and even then only if they'd been left in possession of the territories they'd invaded and conquered, for the intervening century. But by then they'd all have died, and could never be tried anyway.

So under your private redefinition of the crime of "aggressive war"... no-one can ever be charged with it. Nifty.

#236 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 01:10 PM:

milesc: Define win.

Also please note that you said it is amazing how many "Iraqis" are new to their town, married to a local girl and don't speak the Iraqi dialect.

I never argued that some of those who have come in have taken local wives (or are just hanging out in town, trying not to stick out) but you imply that this is some great number, that the problem is all the non-Iraqis (which is a subset of the, "we're fighting them there, so we don't have to fight them here", which is hogwash, if they were coming here, they not only would stand out, but the locals wouldn't harbor them, and so they would bem in short order, dead or imprisoned. That the locals are willing, per your scenario, to court the wrath of the occupier, says that the local support them. If they didn't, they would turn them in).

As for lack of will, it's hogwash. It's worse than hogwash, because defining it as an act of will means that anything short of, "victory" is more than just a military loss, it's a defeat of our ability to act.

Isreal in Lebanon was an "act of will" conflict. Israel lost. Had they had a real, attainable, military objective, then they could just say, "oops, we planned/executed badly. Next time will be better." But as an "act of will" they have been percieved as unwilling to do what needs to be done. They don't really "want" to win, and so they will lose.

It's not really the case, but that's how it plays out.

Then again, what I see is you being something trollish, and given your general attitude (inferred from several long posts) you happen to think that decrying a vote to legalise torture as a blight on the nation is shortsighted, because being able to complain that we have legalised torture shows us to be civilised. Me, I happen to think actually legalising it is a strong argument that we are losing the claim to be such, and our disagreement is one of those "never the twain shall meet sort."

And not one in which the application of such difference is something on which I am willing to agree to disagree.

#237 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 01:19 PM:

#224, miles c:
150 Paul: Some of the capacities are will/ideology and personnel. We need to work to make Wahibism/Qutbism and the like unpopular and remove it as appearing as a natural choice for the youth of the Middle East. We will do that by promoting diologue, definitely; we'll also help by helping governments in the region which are free and democratic. Having a free (even from us) and democratic Iraq will go a long way to that goal. It will be extremely tough, but can be done.

It's interesting that *before* the US aggressive incursion into Iraq it was the only secular government in the region. Iraq was *NOT* the source of whacko nutjobs blowing themselves (and others) up to further some faux-islamist agenda. It is now. Tell me whose fault that is.

#238 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:09 PM:

#224-225: Miles. Jim is a little short with you in his reply. But if you can get past that to the content, I hope you'll see that each question he asked and each factual statement he made is right on addressing the practical and ethical issues you're facing. The bottom-line statement is:

In the meantime, I ask you, personally, to do your plain duty and refuse to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and to bring up on charges anyone who does violate them.

I hope you'll have the courage to do that. I don't envy you the situation you're facing.

#239 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:17 PM:

Perhaps Rumplestiltskin?

yeah, that might do it.

It also occurred to me that this "Six more months and it will turn around" is sort of a perverted "little train that could" fairy tale. It's the little train that can't, but can't admit he can't, because he thinks if he just thinks hard enough, if he just has the will, it will happen.

Which then brings to mind a perverted and twisted version of Peter Pan, having the audience wishing Tinker Bell get better, and if they just wish hard enough. But really, she's dead.*

All of which convinces me more and more that this administration is run by a bunch of preschoolers in business suits, who model life in terms of fairy tales and magical thinking.


*also, it brings to mind "Did you will the towel to fall? DID YOU!?!" being screamed by Jim Belushi at Dan Acroyd, I think, but I have no idea where that came from...

#240 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:32 PM:

I keep responding to individual post and spreading myself thin, so I'll try to give my ideas one go. If I miss something, just whack me again to gain my attention.

Our goal in going in to Iraq was to overthrow the Ba'athist regime and replace it with a democratic government. Our "win" state is a regime that is stable, inclusive, responsive and lasting. In short, a government that will be here 100 years from now which answers to the will of its people. It may not look like the US form of democracy. It may not look like the parliamentary system popular in Europe. However, it and the idea that a government should answer to its people should be firmly routed in Iraq before we leave.

As far as how this war started, I see it as a response to frustration at Saddam's obsfucation. When does one say "enough?" Saddam spent over a decade hiding his capabilities from the world. His concerns were Israel and Iran. He was not truely concerned with the US or the UN.

Iraqi Army after action reports from the first Gulf War show Saddam considered that war a success for his side. He was still in power and his army survived to secure his regime after we left. Those same reports and others captured after the fall of Baghdad show he felt this war would be the same. He was only concerned with what it would take to bloody us enough to leave and how quickly he could reassemble his scattered forces to regain control of the country. James, you want "Cloud-Cuckoo Land?" I give you Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti.

I consider our actions in Iraq as colonization. I general refrain from using such words because of the vastly negative results and conotations they have. However, it is as close to a proper word as you can get. We are here to instill in the Iraqis a culture of democracy. You can't just generate a constitution for them and then leave. You either have to stay until they "get it" and carry it on themselves, or you smash the existing power structure and leave. We were really hoping for the later. We seem not to have what it takes to bear the strain of hanging around in Iraq until they "get it." Anything less in my mind is a waste of time and lives. We already started this goat rope (or cluster or SNAFU or what have you), pulling out now means we have allowed over 2600 soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines to die so we could piss off a lot of people at home and abroad.

We were in Germany for over 50 years rebuilding a government and instilling democratic ideals. The Weimar Republic didn't count. It was some poorly cobbled togather thing which collapsed like a house of cards at the slightest breeze. Most of those who built it only did so because they were told to at the end of WWI. They didn't do it because they believed in the system.

Our system saw it's birth in the Greek city states and got its real start for us in 1215 with the Magna Carta. Numerous centuries, legal precedents, and documents later, we have one of the finest democracies on paper (though few show up to vote these days and many show up to criticize). With all of these centuries of history behind our system, you would think we have learned to be patient. We haven't. We want Iraq to get it's stuff togather now, all so we can leave now and feel good about ourselves.

James, as far as anti versus counter terrorism. These are terms taught at the school house in Fort We gotcha, AZ. Anti is attack and usually consists of SEALs and SF. Counter is your friendly, neighborhood CI guy and is slow, methodical and passive. Counter is finding out the ongoing op and disrupting it. Anti is finding the training site and blowing it and its current class to hell and back.

On the issue of Article 3, James is right on one point. Though he did not say it as such, I need to go back and read the new law passed by Congress to see what it says and attempt to extract the ideas and meanings behind the words before I comment further on the subject. I would point out the Supreme Court decision directed the White House to look at international precedents before submitting this bill. This isn't happening in a vacuum and, if I recall correctly, one of those precedents was from France. So I'm not talking about third world dictatorial nations who define torture as "anything we are not doing."

As far as the accusation of trolling is concerned. I resent the remark. It implies that I am trying to bait you into needless bickering. I do enjoy arguements. My definition of arguement being an exchange of logical ideas between two or more sides, where each side is trying to convince the other of the validity of their ideas, such backed up by research. And yes, I have multiple websites and other sources open while I write these, my mind otherwise being swiss cheese at the best of times. I have great short term memory but my borderline compulsion to collect stories, facts and anecdotes has my mind full of as much useless trivia as it does useful facts. Hell, it is one of the reasons I keep coming back here when I appear to be in one hell of a minority. The obsession with a good give and take arguement has me checking this site utnil 2am local (not good when you have an interview schedule for the next morning).

Well, I have bored you with my overlong posts enough for one day. I shall quietly retire (or at least pretend to as I don't do quiet well) and see you tomorow.

#241 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:39 PM:

Terry Karney writes: "As for lack of will, it's hogwash. It's worse than hogwash..."

It's the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics.

The relevant quote from Yglesias's piece: "What's more, this theory can't be empirically demonstrated to be wrong. Things that you or I might take as demonstrating the limited utility of military power to accomplish certain kinds of things are, instead, taken as evidence of lack of will. Thus we see that problems in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't reasons to avoid new military ventures, but reasons why we must embark upon them [...]"

#242 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Our goal in going in to Iraq was to overthrow the Ba'athist regime and replace it with a democratic government.

It's a nice goal. Sounds good in the papers.

Our "win" state is a regime that is stable, inclusive, responsive and lasting.

And if we just had enough "will", we could do it.

As far as how this war started, I see it as a response to frustration at Saddam's obsfucation.

That looks good in the papers, too. But has little to do with reality. The only "frustration" was that Bush kept trying to find a smoking gun and didn't, and finally said, F-it we're going in anyway.

Of course, for all this horsepucky to be true, it requires additional supporting horsepucky, to explain away why the rest of teh world was not "frustrated" with Iraq, why the inspectors said they believed Saddam was clean, and why we had to invent a "coalition of the willing-to-bend-the-truth" to invade.

CIA intel prior to the invasion was squarely saying Saddam was clean. They found most sources saying saddam was hiding something were connected to Chalabi and the Iraqi National Council, created in 1992 for the purpose of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Well, Duh.

Just prior to the invasion came the intel about "yellowcake" from Niger. Former Ambassador Wilson had investigated those claims and foudn them to be false. The nuke inspectors looked at the documents and said they were clear and obvious forgeries. And Bush said F-it, we're going in anyway.

So, I can see why soem consider you a bit trollish. You echo the propaganda machine sound bites that justify the war but ignore historical facts. But that really doesn't mean you're trollish. the word I'd use is gullible.

Oh, and for Our "win" state is a regime that is stable, inclusive, responsive and lasting. to be anythign but complete manure, it requires the erasure of history that Bush Senior and his military people looked at the invasion option and found it to be completely stupid, predicting everythign that has in fact happened.

#243 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:56 PM:

There's a truism in parenting: once you enter into a battle of wills, you've lost.

May I suggest this is as true on the global scale?

#244 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 02:57 PM:

It's the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think the "lack of will" argument is really a subscription to the fairy tale that if we all just wish real hard, Tinker Bell will come back to life. This is the real life. Tinker Bell was collateral damage. She's dead and she ain't coming back.

So, my new response to "lack of will" is

"and if we wish real hard, we can bring Tinker Bell back to life".

just to make clear that "lack of will" is fairy tale thinking controling international politics and war making decisions.

#245 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 03:50 PM:

I still think Yglesias conflated the ethical values of the fictional GL Corps in that article with the philosophy of Hal Jordan, one renegade member. The bulk of stories written about the various Green Lanterns don't embrace the notion that all the world's problems can be solved by mustering sufficient will power.

This nit may be decreasingly worth picking in the light of what DC has been doing recently. But, as a footnote, I'd like to recant my opinion that the muddying of Hal Jordan's character can be laid at the feet of Ron Marz. Marz was the writer who piloted Hal Jordan through the entire "renegade/Parallax" sequence. Wikipedia sheds some light on what was going on with DC at the time, backstage. As I read more stories by Ron Marz, outside of that particular arc, my respect for his writing talents is increasing. He had a difficult assignment with GL that wasn't really of his own making.

This is trivia, but it pertains to the principle of God (or the Devil) being there in the details.

#246 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 05:34 PM:

Re #240, miles c:

Our goal in going in to Iraq was to overthrow the Ba'athist regime and replace it with a democratic government.
As I said in #235, "... the goal being to overthrow or eliminate Iraq's government, imposing our own rule on that nation. This was, in plain language, invasion and conquest; and of a nation that was not attacking anyone outside its borders, thus an aggressive war."

In other words, that goal itself is not a legitimate and legal casus belli; it does not justify starting a war -- which is why the Bush Administration had not proffered that goal when seeking authorization from the UN or Congress, but rather used the pretexts of enforcing a WMD prohibition and pre-empting an Iraqi first strike ("mushroom cloud").

Nearly sixty years earlier, some other nation invaded Poland on the pretext that Poland had attacked them. It's an old and tattered pretext, worn thin, and easily seen through.

Our "win" state is a regime that is stable, inclusive, responsive and lasting.
The same hope might have been expressed for le Régime de Vichy or the regime of Vidkun Quisling: «Unser Sieg holt Ihnen ein Reich, das ist beständig, einschließlich, entgegenkommend, und aushalten.»
I consider our actions in Iraq as colonization. I general refrain from using such words because of the vastly negative results and conotations they have. However, it is as close to a proper word as you can get.
I agree. Thank you for conceding the point.

In the same sense, Germany was colonizing other nations, und morgen die Welt.

Heimat [Homeland] über alles....

#247 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 06:29 PM:

Well, my obsession has gotten the better of me, though technically it is "Oh my god it's early" one hundred hours here and so I did wait until "tomorow" to post again. 8-P on me and yeah for my one day off a week!

242 Greg: If I'm reading your post right, your contention is there were no WMD as of 1992. There were only the lies of Chalibi? There was only the fabrications of Bush? The only thing was "hey what lie can we tell everyone to go kill someone?" This in the face of "groupthink" and "intelligence failures" which by their very nature were people interpreting information in front of them to conform to what they already believed.

UNSCOM generally felt Saddam's stockpiles were 90-95% destroyed as of 1998, before they were tossed out on their ear. The evidence of the last 5 - 10% was too muddled to ever really know. As far as Saddam's obstructionist policies are concerned, they are a fact which ended in his expelling the UN inspectors in 1998 and was led to four years under no supervision. Now, when one is faced with starting from a known capability to produce and a stockpile of weapons and one faces continued resistance to fully accounting for those stockpiles for over 10 years, what conclusion should one draw when faced with similar foot dragging and incomplete documents? Why naturally one should assume they are 100% honest about everything. Silly me.

Documents captured in Baghdad and translated from Arabic, show one of Saddam's policies was to play a kind of brinksmanship with the US, a tactic perfected by the Soviets. He was counting on other regional powers to be awed of his chutzpa and in fear of his "weapons stockpiles" in order to assure his safety. He didn't really consider the possibility we would ever attack and even if we did, we would never succeed. He bought his own bs. How many of you remember the Iraqi Information Minister telling the world press how wonderfully the Iraqi Army was defeating and humiliating the US led coalition? All of this while we were rolling into BIAP and Baghdad proper? Saddam became victim of his own propaganda. It is only one contributing factor, but whom the gods would destroy, first they make mad.

One thing I would point out, when asked "what is victory," I have never said "100,000 dead insurgents." Military might is necessary to ensure security while a government is stood up. Military might will not solve all the ills in Iraq. There is no magic number of people to kill or places to destroy. We must fight to quell sectarian violence. We must also politic and deal. The Iraqis had decades of living in a society where bare survival was the end all, be all. You did what it took to survive and didn't question it. Under Maslow's heirarchy of needs, the Iraqis are most definitely stuck at the safety level. They are not in a position to move beyond that point. They won't be until one of two things happen, we either prop them up and train them until they can take over or the various factions tear each other apart in a bloody, horrible fight and the last men standing wearily agree to lay down arms and work togather because it is that or a fight to the death which no one wins. For many decades, bribery and corruption have been a way of life here. Looking out for number one (and immediate family) has only been supressed when one's tribal leaders and imams have been particularly insistent on an outcome. Else wise, it has been "me and mine are getting out of this alive, Inshallah. You and yours can go hang." This belief that things work by bribery and corruption has become so ingrained, I have seen locals go out of their way to purchase false ideas at great time and expense, when the legitimate ones can be had closer to hand and for far less money.

Thomas E Ricks, a writer for the Washington Post, wrote an article on September 11th, 06, referencing an article by one of the top analysts in the Marine Corps. It states Al Anbar Province has been lost because there are not enough US troops in the area to ensure security, not enough of an Iraqi presence leading to a vacuum filled by the insurgents and criminal elements and not enough of a political campaign (or "PR" campaign if you will) to win the hearts and minds of the locals. That wars are won or lost in the political arena is no new idea. Carl von Clausewitz forwarded this notion in Vom Kriege, published posthumously in 1832. von Clausewitz began revising the work in 1827 to include the political angle, but died before finishing the work. So if it was know at least by 1832 that politics was part of war (or rather war was part of politics), then what went wrong in Iraq and why is this idiot (namely me) believing we can win? We went wrong from the get go because high level planners and policy makers confused Iraq with Eastern Europe. It was assumed we would be welcomed and shortly thereafter democratic institutions would be created and democratic traditions would be followed. But no such institutions or traditions had ever truely existed in the region. Eastern Europe had at least rubbed shoulders with such things at worst and had fledgling institutions which were subsumed by Cold War maneuvering at best. Any attempts by subordinates to "plan for the worst" were literally shouted down in favor of only "hoping for the best" (good song by Mel Brooks by the bye). This is finally being realized in the open. While we are still in Iraq this flaw can be corrected for and the use of military forces to provide security while political forces work to shift public opinion and action to support a working government can proceed. A true establishment of democratic traditions which would create a democracy that lasts would take decades. Americans, in my opinion, can not wait that long. We must settle on a government that answers to the will of its people, exchanges hands in a non violent method and can ensure on its own safety as an acceptable end point. This would take a few years (a figure I am not qualified to calculate, not being a political theorist). I would however point to Egypt and its slow and steady walk towards what we would consider democracy. Something in my opinion that must be applauded and encouraged.

When I speak of lack of will, I speak of stamina to continue in a difficult course. I remind you that WWII was started with the promise the boys would be home by Christmas. "Johnny come lately" was coined to describe those bright eyed and bushy tailed, idealist young "yanks" who felt they would come in and pin Hitler's ears back, save Europe and go home with little interruption in their lives. 407,300 dead latter Germany and Japan were defeated. An interesting footnote, Japan attacked us in a preemptive strike on 7 December, 1941, but it was Germany who fell first. VE Day came before VJ Day. MacArthur was pulled out of the Pacific Front ("I shall return") to push the European front. We knew what the disaster of a united Europe under Nazi occupation would mean and felt safe in keeping the Japanese occupied while we focused on dropping Germany and Italy. Japan hit us but we took out Germany. I can't help but wonder how public opinion would paint that fact if it happened today.

As far as Bush Sr and his decision to stay out versus Bush Jr (or shrub as my wife calls him), I would point to Jim Baker's recent interview where he pointed out realities on the ground had changed since 1991 and Bush's decision not to go in.

Raven: Just a few points. I have stated time and time again that an independent regime was equally important. And by independent, I have equally stated it be independent of us. As long as the Iraqi government answers to the Iraqi people AND NO ONE ELSE, then we have succeeded in our goals.

I would also point out, I have in the past written and publicaly posted to my lj, a treatise that colonization is not always a bad thing and if done right could result in positive things (note the could). It has almost always ended in rebellion as the colonizer has usually held on waaaaaay too long. However, I would point out that our notion of democracy grew from British common law and we are currently on good terms with the Brits (for the most part) in spite of a little tea party we threw in their honor a few years back. India, too, is no blood enemy of the UK. Australia has a fairly good view of those Pommy limeies these days. The two regimes you point out were collaborationist governments cobbled up so that Germany could push its goal of Heute Europa, Morgen die Welt. Stating the Iraqi government is meant to be such a government used to give us a foothold as we conquor more land on our way to out doing the Brittish Empire at its 1921 height (36.6 million km squared) is slanderous at best. I'm afraid I'll next be hearing people claiming Bush is going to tell Arabs "Arbeit macht frei."

P.S. For everyone's peace of mind (not to mention my sleep cycle), I'll shut up if at least four people ask me to do so. Honestly, its about the only way I will as my wife is at home and not here to regulate my love of arguing.

#248 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 06:36 PM:

One correction to above. I stated Iraqis have gone out of their way to purchase false ideas. That should read false ID cards AKA Gensias or Bitakat Gensiya or Iraqi National Identification Cards (INICs).

And let me be the first to vote for me to shut up. Just three to go, hehehehe. *yawn*

#249 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 07:26 PM:

Raven #246: Und morgen die ganze Welt.

#250 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 07:30 PM:

Miles: "I would also point out, I have in the past written and publicaly posted to my lj, a treatise that colonization is not always a bad thing and if done right could result in positive things."

Like this?

#251 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 08:20 PM:

miles c: And this Lj of vast information is where?

Because miles_c and milesc come up empty, and miles__c isn't. So your words of wisdom are lost to us.

For substance here, have you anything more than tired/exploded talking points (I particularly like the one about our justification for the war being the removal of the Ba'athish regime of Hussein, because he was a bad person, though as pointed out, that's not a legal justification for war, nor does it meat the requiements for the "just war" of either Augustine, or Aquinas; from whom the modern defintions depend).

#252 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 08:46 PM:

I have seen locals go out of their way to purchase false [IDs] at great time and expense, when the legitimate ones can be had closer to hand and for far less money.

I've heard that this is because having the wrong name on an ID (one identifying the holder as Sunni or Shiite) could be fatal if one were stopped by the wrong militia and asked to show one's ID. Is this untrue?

...not enough of a political campaign (or "PR" campaign if you will) to win the hearts and minds of the locals. That wars are won or lost in the political arena is no new idea.

How exactly does a policy of torture, of ignoring international law and common decency, lead to winning hearts and minds? This has been tried before, I'll note, with equally dismal results.

Japan hit us but we took out Germany. I can't help but wonder how public opinion would paint that fact if it happened today.

Folks who don't know much history frequently forget that Germany declared war on us.

...as of 1998, before they were tossed out on their ear.

The UN inspectors weren't "tossed out on their ear." That's a common Limbaugh-think item, but it's untrue. They were withdrawn by the UN ahead of the US bombing campaign, ordered by Clinton, that the right-wingers at the time insisted was "wagging the dog" to distract everyone from Lewinsky.

If the war was truly to establish a US colony, that should have been the question put to congress and to the American people. Honestly stating the goal would have kept us from the dreadful place we're now in. If the people voted to establish a colony, then the current events would be expected. But that wasn't the question we were asked. The mission was supposed to be the overthrow of Saddam. Well, he's been out of power for three years. And it was supposed to remove the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. There is no such threat.

But all that aside: Why is it necessary for George W. Bush to set aside the Geneva Conventions, to gut the Bill of Rights, and to ignore hundreds of laws passed by Congress?

We, as citizens of the US, need to put a stop to Bush's anti-American acts by refusing to follow illegal orders, even if they come straight from the President.

#253 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:06 PM:

James: It isn't just that it was to overthrow Saddam, but that he was, because of the WMD, which the White House lied about, he was alleged to be in violation of a UN resolution.

When the UN didn't agree, we said, "Oh, well there's this other resolution we can twist into a rationalization of just going in anyway."

And then that fell apart, and we're on "Why we really invaded Iraq" Version 2.4.

#254 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 09:20 PM:

miles c: "For everyone's peace of mind (not to mention my sleep cycle), I'll shut up if at least four people ask me to do so."

I'm not going to ask you to shut up, but I will offer this piece of unsolicited advice from someone who's learned this lesson: there are many fine sites on the World Wide Web where intelligent people can participate in contentious online discussion about weighty matters, while simultaneously experiencing serious sleep deprivation and dealing with high-stress lifestyle management problems, without having to work too hard to hold their own intellectually with the regulars, and without running much of a risk of embarrassing themselves in the process.

This is not one of them.

Get some sleep. Come back when you're feeling more self-regulated. That's my recommendation... for what it's worth.

#255 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 10:50 PM:

When I speak of lack of will, I speak of stamina to continue in a difficult course.

You can't even see the great sailing ships from the New World, can you? You just don't have the language for it. "Lack of will" is hogwash. Nothing more. "difficult situation" is irrelevant. All that matters is the choice of actions available and their outcomes. And then you select the best outcome.

You are simply arguing "lack of will" as a way of framing any option other than "fight, fight, fight, until victory is ours, even if takes a hundred years" as weak.

It's a pity, you can't see yourself, really. But you are arguing against choosing the -best- course, whatever that course might be, and simply saying, forget the analysis, if we wish hard enough, Tinker Bell will come back to life and the insurgency will disappear.

"lack of will" is code for "do not analyze: fight".

As far as Bush Sr and his decision to stay out versus Bush Jr (or shrub as my wife calls him), I would point to Jim Baker's recent interview where he pointed out realities on the ground had changed since 1991 and Bush's decision not to go in.

Er, right. Except, that they obviously haven't. If the "realities" had really changed, we would have ended up with a result different than what the Bush Senior plan predicted. But what they predicted way back then is exactly what we have now. So, it wasn't really different.

Jim has pointed out numerous historical misdirections you've performed, so I'll assume you'll try to smoke and mirror this away too.

I don't think I'm interested anymore. I don't have the feeling I'm having a discussion with someone who might either change their mind or tell me something I didn't know and get me to change my mind.

Instead, I feel like I'm talking to an extreme right wing republican version of the Eliza program. It repeats old soundbites and then asks non-directed questions. Pointing out even the most rudimentary and obvious factual errors simply results in more old soundbites on completely unrelated topics and more non-directed questions.

I think I'll pass. Eliza got old for me years and years ago.

#256 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 11:14 PM:

miles c:

Short is better than long. Short-and-intelligent or short-and-entertaining is good. If you're going to be posting essays, they need to be very good in either way. So far, they aren't.

By the way, most of us here are information junkies. Welcome to the first (maybe) edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica.

#257 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:22 AM:

Re #247, miles c:

He bought his own bs. ... Saddam became victim of his own propaganda. It is only one contributing factor, but whom the gods would destroy, first they make mad.
Do you understand that many of us see this as fitting George W. Bush equally well?
We must fight to quell sectarian violence.
And is the level of such violence lesser or greater than before we invaded?
"Let's kill to stop the slaughter!"
"We must bail more seawater
        into the boat
        to keep afloat!"
"To be loved, beat your daughter!"
Perhaps you meant "We're most quiet to fell Victorian silence"? or "We must write by quill stentorian violins"? Either of those would make as much sense.
This belief that things work by bribery and corruption has become so ingrained....
I'm sure Halliburton/KBR will set them straight on that.

Too bad Enron and Andersen aren't there to help, but maybe Diebold and ES&S can clean up on the electoral process.

... I have seen locals go out of their way to purchase false ideas at great time and expense, when the legitimate ones can be had closer to hand and for far less money.
Yes, cable-TV rates are just atrocious.
An interesting footnote, Japan attacked us in a preemptive strike on 7 December, 1941, but it was Germany who fell first.
(1) Still viewing "aggressive war" as "pre-emptive strike"? What imminent attack was the US about to commit upon Japan?

(2) Germany declared war on the US immediately after Pearl Harbor.

(3) Besides the factors you mention, there was also a considerable difference in the terrains and distances involved... notably, one theater being somewhat moister than the other.

I have stated time and time again that an independent regime was equally important.
The Vichy officials were French governing French; Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian governing Norwegians. Stating their governments were puppet regimes is slanderous at best, even seditious! Would you like a blindfold or a cigarette now?
... colonization is not always a bad thing and if done right could result in positive things (note the could). ... I would point out that our notion of democracy grew from British common law and we are currently on good terms with the Brits (for the most part)....
But your poll is among the descendants of the colonizers, not of the pre-colonization population, right?

So your reassurance to the present-day Iraqi population would amount to, "Don't worry, you may hate your living conditions, and so may even your few distant descendants off in their squalid reservations, but the descendants of the American colonizers, ruling most of what used to be your territory, will probably be on good terms with the Americans (for the most part)."

Stating the Iraqi government is meant to be such a [puppet] government ... is slanderous at best.
You left out "seditious" and the implicit threat of a firing squad, but otherwise you've got the "Outraged at impudent and inconvenient truth" bluster down pat. How DARE anyone compare OUR torture to the NAZI torture, even if we use the same methods, etc., ad nauseam. Thump on Godwin's Law, while you're at it.
I'm afraid I'll next be hearing people claiming Bush is going to tell Arabs "Arbeit macht frei."
عمل سيجعل أنت حرّة.

Wasn't that inscribed over the gates of all those secret prisons the Red Cross was never allowed to visit?

Do you understand that people are going to hear the names "Abu Graib" and "Guantanamo" with a sense of sick loathing similar to that of hearing the names "Auschwitz" and "Buchenwald"?

#258 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:52 AM:

Re #252 James D. Macdonald:

[Re Iraqis buying false IDs more expensive than the real thing]

I've heard that this is because having the wrong name on an ID (one identifying the holder as Sunni or Shiite) could be fatal if one were stopped by the wrong militia and asked to show one's ID. Is this untrue?
It's characteristic of a war zone, civil (which our President assures us is not happening there) or otherwise.

My foster grandmother (the woman who raised my mother after my grandmother was shot) had been a travelling nurse during the Russian Revolution. She carried three passports: one for the Reds, one for the Whites, one for the Provisional Government. Since the armed men who demanded papers often had no formal uniform, it took careful observation to know which passport to show.

#259 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:58 AM:

Oh, and about "staying the course" and we just need, "the will."

It seems Al Qaeda agrees with us.

Letter of Al Qaeda.pdf

Summation

So...

#260 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:58 AM:

#257: *sigh* Font that worked in preview didn't work in final post. Old problem, I know. Gullible me.

#261 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 01:20 AM:

(3) Besides the factors you mention, there was also a considerable difference in the terrains and distances involved... notably, one theater being somewhat moister than the other.

There was also the small matter of the Soviet Army sitting in Berlin, and that of the war in Europe having already been in progress for two years by the time Germany declared war on America. Even so, the difference between VE Day and VJ Day was on the order of just three months.

Speaking of Japan and Germany:

Has anyone mentioned the Nuremberg trials, and the reaction to the defense "I was only following orders," or how Simon Weisenthal spent the rest of his life tracking down Nazis, right the way down to some very junior enlisted who had only served for a short time? Has anyone mentioned the war crimes trials against the Japanese? Did anyone mention that torture was one of the charges commonly leveled against both German and Japanese war criminals? And that whether what they'd done was legal under their own country's laws wasn't really considered?

#262 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 02:01 AM:

James: Yes, we have, but the stock answer is bullshit.

Oops, I meant to say that those rules don't apply to the good guys.

Damn, I keep getting it wrong, see the people whom we have captured aren't really prisoners, and the Geneva Conventions never applied to them, so we don't have to conform to them, because they are all terrorists, and we'd be well within our rights to just beat them to death in the streets, like they'd be willing to do to us.

Did I get it right the last time?

Anyway, those are the arguments I get, and I wish the first two were more facetious.

#263 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 02:15 AM:

Has anyone mentioned the Nuremberg trials . . .

What I could not believe was the bill passing just the day before the 60th anniversary of the verdicts in the principal Nuremberg trial.

#264 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 02:59 AM:

Posting "a" closing tag to close the "a" started in #259 at "Summation". Editor, if you could edit #259, the intervening comments will be more readable.

#265 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 03:52 AM:

For the record my lj is mhammer, though I originally started it to keep up with my then fiance's lj when I was at Fort Irwin (the worlds largest cul-de-sac) and she was on the east coast. So I don't post much, but go read for your amusement.

As far as going after Germany. If they'd been smart they would have kept quiet. The Irish-americans were clamouring to get in the war on Britain's side, though thankfully FDR was no fool (lend-lease program anyone?). Of course, if Hitler were smart he would have honored his pact of non agression with Stalin. But he had to learn the lesson Bonaparte learned, in the exact same way Bonaparte learned it.

And Raven, the Vichy and Quisling governments were "neutral" collaborationist governments. They may have dragged their feet on certain policies, namely the final solution, but they did what their advisors told them to on most things.

As far as the lenght of my posts, I am answering four of five people at one time. You are only answering one guy.

As far as my hard headedness, I'll point to my definition of arguement. I am here to be persuaded. If I read this particular page's premise right it is in short: "Top to bottom the Bush Administration and US military's policy is to torture and murder our way through Iraq and to hell with the consequences." If someone else has a different take on what we are arguing, I'll stop arguing against that point. And if anyone wants to know what the official position of I MEF is (and by extension MNC-I), I'll go ask tomorow, as it is my day off today.

I'm not here to argue just for the sake of arguing. I saw the page, disagreed with it's premise as it is something that is close to me, and felt like joining the debate. I'm not heckling you. I'm not driving you spare for entertainment's sake. I actually believe that I and the soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines are not the vilest things to walk this earth (and that includes their leaders).

I think Bush has made a lot of mistakes in planning. He and his advisors came into this with a head full of wrong ideas about how it was going to go down, but something can be made of it. You forget, I'm the guy in this discussion who talks to people and two days later reads the reports on their deaths. My prediction of where this is going if things don't shape up, and especially if we leave before they do shape up, is far, far worse than your most violent, bloody nightmare of an impossibility could ever match.

#266 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 04:58 AM:

The Irish-americans were clamouring to get in the war on Britain's side,

(Where I say Irish-American, I mean Catholic Irish-American, and I presume quoted does too.)

I'm not a historian of Irish-American politics, and given that:

* De Valera was remaining neutral, in the belief that the Fascists and the Allies were both bad,

* Elements of the Irish-American community were supportive of the terrorist acts of the IRA,

* In the prior war the Irish-American community came down on the islationist side,

* The IRA had talked to Nazi Germany about plans for the invasion of Ireland,

I'd be very interested in the documentation behind this claim.

#267 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 06:25 AM:

"Top to bottom the Bush Administration and US military's policy is to torture and murder our way through Iraq and to hell with the consequences." If someone else has a different take on what we are arguing, I'll stop arguing against that point.

That's not the point, and it's not the argument.

The argument is this: Setting aside the Geneva Conventions is wrong; it is up to individual members of the US Military to abide by Geneva.

The point is that individuals are always responsible for their own actions. "Following orders" is not an excuse.

#268 ::: miles c ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 06:49 AM:

Fair enough James, and I still haven't done my homework on that point. Anyone got a link to the new law?

#269 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:01 PM:

I actually believe that I and the soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines are not the vilest things to walk this earth

miles c: NO ONE in this post has said anything like this. Some who post here are currently serving, some have served, and others have friends in the U. S. military. You imply that we think soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines are vile. We have clearly and strongly attacked torture, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and SecDef Rumsfeld's morals and judgment. If you wish to defend any or all of the above, give it your best shot, but don't accuse us of saying things we haven't said.

#270 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:13 PM:

miles c: Special pleadings that you are combining comments to many, and we tend to limit it to one doesn't really help.

Not the least because you choose to do it that way, and not the most because you are, in each argument (no matter how many arguments you choose to string together)adressing only one idea/person at a time.

That out of the way, before I spend more of my time pursuing the Lj you mentioned, without pointers, as being a place to see your thoughts on the beneficent application of colonial power, and then dismiss said Lj as not worth the time.

For the text of the law, (which really isn't that hard to find, but I can be charitable)

This PDF is the working text of the bill we were told was being voted.

Now, it seems, looking at Thomas that this is the senate version passed.

What we actually have out of committee isn't really known, and probably won't be until it's passed law.

#271 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:16 PM:

miles c:

As far as going after Germany. If they'd been smart they would have kept quiet. The Irish-americans were clamouring to get in the war on Britain's side, though thankfully FDR was no fool (lend-lease program anyone?). Of course, if Hitler were smart he would have honored his pact of non agression with Stalin.

Instead he honored his pact with Italy and Japan.

My prediction of where this is going if things don't shape up, and especially if we leave before they do shape up, is far, far worse than your most violent, bloody nightmare of an impossibility could ever match.

My it's nice meeting a telepath. For the record, if everything goes bloody I don't expect to see the old record from Bangladesh (2.4 million--the figures are shaky), Cambodia (2 million dead) or Armenia (1.5 million dead) equaled. I know with a CIA estimate of 26 million as of June the potential for a bigger slaughter is there, but the majority of violence has taken place in one-third of the country, which if the pattern holds would cut the body count a bit. The Rwandan total of 800,000 is possible, of course, but the Bosnian estimate of 200,000 seems more likely to me. Of course these estimates are body counts only: I don't have a good way to figure out the number of maimed that would result. Total number of deaths if things go really nasty: say the total population of Reno, NV dead amongst the rubble in the streets.

Especially with the way things are being handled now.

Either the US troop strength needs to be upped by (my guess) 250,000 more troops, or something like George McGovern's proposal of bringing in Muslim cops from the Arab League and using them instead of the police currently in the area of hostilities needs to be done. Otherwise, in my opinion, we're going to keep seeing folks joining the cops and killing members of other sects as secondary targets, while the increasingly hostile regional population uses US troops as primary targets.

Part of this has to do with the fact we're in a country that consists of three factions spot-welded into a nation. Part of this was best summed up by Pitt the Elder's last speech in Parliment: "My Lords, if I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country I never would lay down my arms--never, never, never. I would not rest until the last foreign soldier had left my soil." Sadly, none of the current administration seems to have run into this quote.

#272 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:19 PM:

Oh, another good quote I ran into along the way:

"The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered."

-- Edmund Burke in his speech to Parliament on American Taxation, April 1774

#273 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:24 PM:

miles c: I mean this well, though it's not likely to feel as friendly in the reading as I mean it in the saying.

Go and re-read j h woodyhatt (at #254).

James D MacDonald, who wrote this, is an officer in the Navy, though his commission is not (so far as I know); at the present time, active.

I, as said elsewhere, have almost 15 years in the Army, teaching interrogation, as well as (since the POI change before last) the common core elements of CI.

There are a few others here who have, or are, serving. A brief glance at past posts on topics military will show that the people here are far from thinking those who serve are evil.

Neither, because they know human nature (as well as history, psych, politics, and a slew of other fields, which relate to people) do they think them heroes; one and all.

The baseline of the political flavor here is, IM(not so)HO, "My country, When in the right to be kept right, when in the wrong to be made right."

And looking at this law, if no other aspect of this administration, my country is in the wrong.

#274 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:32 PM:

Miles, you said that "frustration" with "Saddam's Obfuscation" led to our invasion.

My frustration with someone down the street is dealing with the cops who are trying to investigate whether or not he has a stockpile of weapons gives me neither moral nor legal justification to take matters into my own hands. Living with "frustration" is something adults do, be they individuals or nations -- they take actions in concert with others, using appropriate channels.

I notice, that is often the wont with people who insist on "staying the course," you give at least two different rationales for invasion. Neither of which is convincing.

Invading because of the alleged WMDs other people have handled. I would also point out that it should have been handled by cooperative international action -- other than just us, the British, and Spanish.

Invading because we wanted to free the Iraqi people is ridiculous. There are a lot of dictators out there, and we're not taking them on. In fact we support several of them, as we supported Sadaam when it was useful for us to do so. "We were freeing the Iraqi people" is a cynical attempt to trade on Americans' desire to help others in need, and to see themselves as the guys in the white hats.

Your talking points track the Administration talking points in selling this war. The fact that the reason for the war turned out to be a moving target should have been the first clue that they didn't have any idea about what they were doing.

#275 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 12:51 PM:

I actually believe that I and the soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines are not the vilest things to walk this earth

I was going to react to this with scorn, but then I realized that, at this moment, I am afraid to encounter young men in uniform in a way I have never been before, in a life spent just over the line from one of the biggest military complexes in the US. Not the career guys whose kids went to school with mine, but the young guys. Part of it is having two hulking twenty-somethings in Army Airborne uniforms practically take me out with a flat cart in the Home Depot parking lot, snickering about making the "old dyke" run; part of it is the result of being abused on the phone by recruiters calling to talk to my college-age offspring.

Some days I suspect that the "support our troops" rhetoric has engendered an attitude of entitlement beyond anything I've experienced before.

#276 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 01:47 PM:

miles c: Before I forget; that whole, "soldiers etc. are the vilest things on the earth" thing you are saying you don't believe in, is a strawman.

No one here has said that. It's not what this conversation is about, or what the thrust of the parent post is.

The underlying thought is that they are decent people, and will refuse orders they know to be illegal.

This is an attempt to remind them of what the controlling law is.

#277 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 02:42 PM:

On Ireland and WWII, and completely ignoring miles c since I'm sure he's getting paid to write his crap, there were several strands of political thought in Ireland on the war. In no particular order:

The UK, while our neighbour, was also the power forced to relinquish control only 18 years earlier after 800 years of British rule in Ireland.

The people most sympathetic to the UK politically were the opposition at the time, and the two sides had fought a nasty civil war after Independence.

Ireland was fairly new to the world stage as an independent nation, and strictly speaking nobody attacked us or declared war on an ally, so we had no more reason to join the conflict than the US had until it did. A telling example of this was De Valera's dopey condolences to the German People on the death of their Fuhrer: it was his reading of the duty of the leader of a neutral nation.

WWI was a recent memory: tens of thousands of Irishmen died in the British army in that singularly sordid spectacle of European stupidity. WWII turned out to be perhaps the most just war on record, but that was not obvious in Dublin in 1939.

#278 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 02:50 PM:

miles c said, a while back:
What do I mean by lack of will? Peace moms calling for an immediate withdrawal

Peace moms like retired Gen. William Odum, former head of the NSA. To be fair, that is a known problem at NSA, all the hippies and peace moms in charge (particularly in the Reagan years).

You aren't the first person here to use the fear of a massive US civil war to justify continued US occupation. But, tell me - do you think there's more chance of that than there was a year ago? How about a year before that? How does that play into justifying military occupation as the solution to this problem?

I'm also interested in your explaination how the US plan for electing a new government via a caucus instead of elections showed the US intention to build a democratic Iraq.

#279 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 05:05 PM:

JESR at 275: it's too bad you encountered those idiots in the parking lot, but please don't attribute their rudeness to the fact that they were wearing a uniform. My guess is they would have been rude had they not been wearing it.

The recruiters are desperate to make quota. It doesn't excuse their abusiveness, of course, but it might explain why they see you mostly as an obstacle, not a worried mom.

I can't speak to the "entitlement" thing, but it troubles me that you are afraid of Americans in uniform. I wonder if any other folks who post here have had similar experiences...?

#280 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Re 265, miles c:

And Raven, the Vichy and Quisling governments were "neutral" collaborationist governments. They may have dragged their feet on certain policies, namely the final solution, but they did what their advisors told them to on most things.
Unlike, say, the present Iraqi government?

Since it seems irony and satire don't get across, my "defense" of the Vichy and Quisling regimes used parallel construction to your defense of the Iraqi government: of course those regimes pretended independence, that was the propaganda advantage of having local puppets rather than the foreign invaders publically in charge -- the proud locals had their pride salved, the (truly or willingly or wishfully) ignorant believed they really had local rule, the aware could hope that things might not be as bad as under openly foreign direct rule, the resistance would find less public support... and on the world stage the invaders could say they hadn't "conquered" but merely "liberated" these now-subject nations.

"Operation Iraqi Liberation," anyone? ... Oops, bad acronym there, say "Freedom" instead!

#281 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 05:52 PM:

Re #279, Lizzy:

The Army's been having trouble meeting its recruitment needs; for some unguessable reason a lot of the well-qualified candidate pool aren't joining up any more.

One solution applied has been to lower recruitment standards, so that people could be enlisted who previously would have been rejected due to criminal records, substandard IQ/education scores, etc.

JESR appears to have encountered some of the more immediate effects of this change.

Think about the likely long-term effects. They could be scary for everyone, literally everyone.

Do you recall the case of a female Air Force officer, a bomber pilot, being court-martialed for adultery? Some people wondered at the severity of this response to what, in civilian life, is rarely prosecuted at all. Others had to patiently explain that military officers are expected to hold the highest ethical standards, because the safety of the nation and possibly the world rests upon them. We entrust nuclear weapons to their care. We may have to go to war based upon their given word. They must, they absolutely must be utterly reliable and trustworthy.

(So must their Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of Defense.)

You want your drinking water supply to be pure, for the sake of your health and your very life. You would be more than mildly dismayed to discover that someone was letting raw sewage leak into that supply. You would feel deeply threatened. Am I right?

Letting the ethical standards of the military, and the US government itself, drop sharply... should be a cause of even greater dismay.

Consider JESR's experience one of many early harbingers: the misbehavior isn't limited to prison guards, or overseas. JESR is one of the canaries in our mine.

#282 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 08:34 PM:

Raven She wasn't cashiered for adultery (which isn't, despite the allegations to the contrary, an, ipso facto court martial offense)

She could have been, because the circumstances of her adultery were such that Art. 134 could have been invoked.

Art. 134 General Article

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

That's the only place one can make a charge of adultery.

It happens that her affair was 1: with a married airman (these days that would be, automatically, fraternization, and so be chargeable, but at the time this wasn't the case; though for other reasons, which will become clear, it could have been charged anyway) 2: he was in her chain of command (under the definition of fraternization in use at the time, this could have counted), 3: his wife was also in the Air Force.

It is the last which made it possible for her commander to tell her to terminate the affair, or face official sanction. He could, then and there, have cited her, because it was having a direct affect on the ability of the Air Force to conduct the mission (by distracting the three of them, he because his wife was upset, his wife because her husband was betraying her, and the pilot because this was getting out of hand).

She chose, rather, to lie to her superiors, and continue the affair.

When it was discovered she was charged with a violation of

Art. 92. Failure to Obey Order or Regulation

Any person subject to this chapter who--

(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;

(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or

(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties;v

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct

Personally, I don't really care who someone is sleeping with, but I can see where, in the specialised context of the military, sometimes it can matter.

I don't think, all things considered, she was treated unfairly, as she wasn't punished for the affair until (in light of the contextual issues) she refused to end it, and it was still an issue.

#283 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 09:12 PM:

Lizzy, it's more wary than afraid, and it is very much a new thing; as I said, I've lived my entire life in an environment when seeing people at the grocery store in their BDUs is a daily experience.

As I said to the young men when I was safe on the curb, a uniform in public is something which used to mean a degree of respect to elders and women. Out of uniform was always a different matter, but rudeness and bullying of civilian women in their fifties was something which didn't used to happen.

#284 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 09:22 PM:

The fact that the reason for the war turned out to be a moving target

I remember calling it the 'Excuse of the Month' because the reason changed about that often. It was what clued me in that Bush and company wanted to start a war.

#285 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 09:40 PM:

Re #229, Greg London, and fairy-tales emblematic of purblind stubbornness:

Not exactly a fairy-tale, but still a golden oldie: read "Pigs is Pigs".

#286 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 09:48 PM:

PS - any resemblance to Martian flatcats or tribbles is strictly coincidental... but RAH, at least, aknowledged the inspiration.

#287 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 11:06 PM:

errr, "acknowledged".

Meanwhile, some topical reading for miles c:

How "independent" is this regime? — Coup In Iraq?
("Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy," said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.)

VOA: Marine Sergeant: Guantanamo Prison Guards Routinely Beat Detainees
(not exactly news, except that it's the Voice of America reporting this)

#288 ::: Conrad ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 12:32 AM:

The fact that you don't have to follow an unlawful order shouldn't surprise any member of the military - we get annual training on the "law of armed conflict" that reminds us of this.

So if your boss tells you to "torture that prisoner" then it's an easy call to say "no" and even report your boss to higher authorities. But when your boss says, "turn down the temperature and don't let him out to go to the bathroom, because we're afraid he might start fighting and cause injury to himself or to our soldiers" then what do you do? Refuse and tell him that you consider that to be torture or more vague yet an "outrage against human dignity"? Yeah, good luck at your court martial...

#289 ::: D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 12:40 AM:

Um, is there a reason the text is a funny color (in the comments, that is), lightening almost to invisibility when the cursor rolls over the central area, or is it just Safari being strange?

#290 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 01:12 AM:

Raven:

RAH, at least, aknowledged the inspiration.

Aren't you being a little harsh here? David Gerrold has said he thought he was doing a comic version of what happened when rabbits were released in Australia and was horrified when the similarities to The Rolling Stones were pointed out: it was Heinlein who, after the legal departement of Desilu sent him a copy of The Trouble with Tribbles, wrote a note to Gerrold that said "We both owe a debt to Ellis Parker Butler, and possibly to Noah." Gerrold has freely admitted he read The Rolling Stones when he was a kid: considering how infrequently Butler's story was reprinted in the 60's I don't know how strong a case you can make for him having been exposed to it--I first ran into it in a very old anthology of short stories in the University of Washington library that hadn't been checked out in years...

#291 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:34 AM:

Re #289, D: The text color change is due to that "a" tag (not followed by "/a" tag) before "Summation" in #259.

Some browsers take the next "a" tag (at the start of #260) as terminating the previous "a" field. Safari doesn't (it allows nested "a" fields), so all the subsequent non-link text is assumed to be part of the "a" field starting with "Summation".

I've tried to post a solitary "/a" tag to terminate this field, but the posting software strips it out again.

So it really will take an EDITOR! to go into #259 and delete that lone tag.

#292 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:43 AM:

#290, Bruce E. Durocher II:

Raven:
RAH, at least, acknowledged the inspiration.
Aren't you being a little harsh here?
How so? RAH did acknowledge the inspiration, and you've just documented that.

#293 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 09:35 AM:

Hmm, nested "a" tags? What the hell use is that? Is there any occasion when it's needed or useful or even just nifty to nest "a" tags? Is this just a misfeature of Safari?

#294 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 11:57 AM:

Re #290 :[..] considering how infrequently Butler's story was reprinted in the 60's I don't know how strong a case you can make for him having been exposed to it--I first ran into it in a very old anthology of short stories in the University of Washington library that hadn't been checked out in years...

There had been a Disney cartoon adaptation of Pigs is pigs in 1954. I'm certain I saw it on television more than once while I was growing up.

Considering the rule-obsessed railway agent in Pigs is pigs, Freeman Dyson told a story of another railway agent (copied here from his review of Daniel Dennett's recent book):

When I was a boy in England long ago, people who traveled on trains with dogs had to pay for a dog ticket. The question arose whether I needed to buy a dog ticket when I was traveling with a tortoise. The conductor on the train gave me the answer: "Cats is dogs and rabbits is dogs but tortoises is insects and travel free according."

In the article quoted, he was discussing science, religion, education and politics, and how these interests could be accommodated. Dyson admired the conductor's flexible approach to the rules, and was suggesting that workable solutions do not need to be scientifically or philosophically consistent.

Appropriate in that context. I would prefer the rules regarding torture were less flexible (i.e., don't do it).

#295 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Bob, I'm pretty sure that the Freeman Dyson anecdote goes back to a cartoon in Punch, rather than to any real event.

#296 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 01:06 PM:

Raven: Yeah, and I'm sorry for that. There are some quirks to the editing (Thomas has URLs that it refuses) which look like valid links until preview, and are then stripped, because the system here doesn't like them.

And I do mean strippped. All the text of the link is just gone when that happens.

Somehow the first link was choking the system, and when I fixed it (after about four attempts) the second turned up borked, which didn't show in preview.

I don't know why that happened.

#297 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:08 PM:

Raven:

How so? RAH did acknowledge the inspiration, and you've just documented that.

And Gerrold acknowledged that he read RAH's novel when younger. No indications he saw the primary source before he wrote his script, and I've never seen a copy of The Rolling Stones with Pigs is Pigs bound into it. If Gerrold wasn't exposed to it he can't be dinged for not having acknowledged it. There are enough differences between the two stories that you can't map them together the way that Black Destroyer can be mapped to Alien: it seems closer to the story (and damn me for forgetting the names) about the G.E. official who suggested to a visiting dignitary (Wells?) that he might write a story about ice that wouldn't melt. I've yet to see Vonnegut dinged over that one--and he worked at G.E.

Rob Rusick:

Good point: I'd forgotten about the Disney version and that it was nominated for an Oscar. Since Gerrold would have been ten years old when it came out there's a fair chance he would have seen it if you wanted to argue it as one of the sources for The Trouble With Tribbles. I haven't seen it: is it memorable, or is it on the level of the animated Pecos Bill they did for Disneyland/Wonderful World Of Disney that managed to suck the life right out of the source material?

#298 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Bruce Durrocher, I haven't seen "Is Guinea Pigs Pigs or Is They Pets" for forty years, minimum, but it was my favorite Disney material at the same age when I was a fangirl for "Mr. Peepers."

#299 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Re #297: I'd forgotten about the Disney version [..] is it memorable, or is it on the level of the animated Pecos Bill they did for Disneyland/Wonderful World Of Disney that managed to suck the life right out of the source material?

I can't remember much of it myself, but it seems to still be highly regarded. The animation was done in a “UPA style” that was popular in the 50s; a little unusual for Disney. Here is a link to an aspiring animator's blog which posted a series of screen grabs from the Disney cartoon; he is clearly a fan (and so are the commenters who posted).

Disney took some liberty with the story. This page on the Ellis Parker Butler site states (under entry #9):

Unlike the 1937 cartoon (which is an altogether different story with the same title), this is truly a derivative work. While it's the same story, the filmmakers show no desire to follow the original text. This story is told in rhyme. Flannery (no first name) is still the station agent but his customer is now McMorehouse.
#300 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 03:07 PM:

Dave Bell @295: Bob, I'm pretty sure that the Freeman Dyson anecdote goes back to a cartoon in Punch, rather than to any real event.

You may be right. Should we tell him?

#301 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 04:03 PM:

Bob, it comes up at snopes.com with a specific reference to the cartoon. And it looks like he knows.

#302 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:34 PM:

Dave Bell @295: Bob, I'm pretty sure that the Freeman Dyson anecdote goes back to a cartoon in Punch, rather than to any real event.

When you mentioned this, I could vaguely recall the cartoon. An old cartoon, more like a captioned engraving than what we'd call a cartoon today.

My first thought was, did Dyson confabulate this? Remember the cartoon and put himself in it? Then I realized it was more likely that it was a favorite cartoon of the railway conductor. And when he got himself a straight man (kid wants to know if he needs to buy a ticket for his tortoise), he couldn't resist playing out the punch line.

I'm trying to follow up your suggestion to look at snopes.com, but I'm not having any luck finding any search terms that get me to that story. Do you have a direct link?

#303 ::: VJB ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:57 PM:

but this is why they recruit 18-year-old kids who don't have the experience or cojones to call them out.

#304 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 05:58 PM:

Never mind, found it here (better luck searching via Google than using the search function on snopes front page).

Dyson himself considers both of the possibilities I suggested.

#305 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 06:55 PM:

but this is why they recruit 18-year-old kids who don't have the experience or cojones to call them out.

It's the lack of (substantive) cojones that made them attractive in the first place...

#306 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 10:31 PM:

Re 297, Bruce E. Durocher II, ff.:

To sum up, RAH knew who had used the idea before him, and acknowledged it when the topic came up.

To mention this is not (in my view) "harsh" — nor does it constitute "dinging" anyone else, such as Gerrold.

I don't presume omniscience on anyone's part, including my own.

I knew that RAH had acknowledged the inspiration. I did not know that anyone else had, nor that everyone else had not. To say that "only" RAH had would have been to say more than I knew. Within the limits of my knowledge, I could (and did) say that "at least" RAH had.

"At least one" = possibly just one, possibly two or more, but certainly not less than one. That's the number of writers who had acknowledged inspiration from "Pigs is Pigs".

If Gerrold also had, then I've allowed for the possibility, not denied it.

If Gerrold had not, I've made no presumption as to why not.

Whether he came up with the idea independently, was inspired by some unrelated source (rabbits in Australia), was inspired by some secondary source (a cartoon or RAH's novel) and didn't know its background, had actually read the original story but forgotten where the idea came from (cryptomnesia), or had read and remembered it but simply never mentioned it — I made no speculation, implication, or insinuation. That simply wasn't what I was addressing.

If I now correctly understand what you're driving at (and I'm still not quite sure that I do), you seem to have read some intention to "ding" Gerrold into what I wrote, and this intention is what you mean by "harsh".

I assure you that I had no such intention.

What alternative phrasing would you suggest, to communicate briefly what I have expressed in detail above, such that it will lend itself less to being interpreted as hostile?

#307 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Incidentally, from what's been posted above — if it's correct and complete and I've read it right — the Desilu research department, in trying to track down possible plot similarities, did find RAH's novel, but did not find either Butler's original story or the Disney cartoon adapted from it. Oopsy!

Under the copyright law of that time, before the current "author's life plus 75 years" rule, "Pigs is Pigs" might have fallen into public domain. I don't know whether the copyright was renewed since original publication, but I suspect all copyrights had expired by the time Disney adapted it, given their tendency to use public-domain plots when possible — fairy tales, Victor Hugo...

If Butler's story had fallen into public domain, then it was as available for plot-borrowing as the works of William Shakespeare, and Desilu could have pointed to it, in order to turn away any complaints or lawsuits alleging plagiarism or copyright infringement of more recent (still copyrighted) works.

#308 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 12:43 AM:

Raven:

Whether he came up with the idea independently, was inspired by some unrelated source (rabbits in Australia), was inspired by some secondary source (a cartoon or RAH's novel) and didn't know its background, had actually read the original story but forgotten where the idea came from (cryptomnesia), or had read and remembered it but simply never mentioned it � I made no speculation, implication, or insinuation. That simply wasn't what I was addressing.

If I now correctly understand what you're driving at (and I'm still not quite sure that I do), you seem to have read some intention to "ding" Gerrold into what I wrote, and this intention is what you mean by "harsh".

I assure you that I had no such intention.

Fair enough--I'm not Gerrold or his agent, and didn't mean to sound as if I were a random nut screaming on a streecorner.

What alternative phrasing would you suggest, to communicate briefly what I have expressed in detail above, such that it will lend itself less to being interpreted as hostile?

Well, your originally said "PS - any resemblance to Martian flatcats or tribbles is strictly coincidental... but RAH, at least, aknowledged the inspiration." It's the" but" and "at least, aknowledged" that bothered me, since it gave me the impression that Gerrold should have done so and did not, since his is the only other work mentioned. Perhaps "... RAH considered it an inspiration."?

Oh, and on the Desilu research department's memo: I don't know if they missed Butler and the Disney film--Gerrold didn't print the entire thing, just said that they'd thought the Tribbles were close enough to Flat Cats they wanted to send the script to Heinlein for approval, and that he was horrified because he'd read The Rolling Stones (and if they missed it you're right, it's a major Oopsy)--but he did mention that they'd spotted that the trader made his way through the food fight untouched just the way that Leslie Gallant III did in The Great Race. I was suprised: there is no greater fan of The Great Race than I am, and I didn't even notice the similarity until I read about the memo Gerrold's book.

#309 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 12:47 AM:

Damn. "memo in Gerrold's book."

#310 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 06:21 AM:

Re #308, Bruce E. Durocher II:

Fair enough. Accepted as a friendly amendment.

(I can't actually edit that comment, but please take the thought for the deed.)

Thanks!

#311 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 11:11 AM:


FYI to pass on to any enlisted people you know:

GI Rights Hotline:
(800) 394-9544
(510) 465-1472 (also international calls)

www.objector.org

girights.objector.org

from the website:
"We are a network of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations who provide information to servicemembers about military discharges, grievance and complaint procedures, and other civil rights."

#312 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 11:44 AM:

Victoria, your links are broken.

#313 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:59 PM:

I'm just slightly younger than David, and I certainly knew "Pigs is Pigs" when I was growing up. And having read it, and the Heinlein, and seen the Gerrold ST -- there's a lot more of "flat cats" in the tribbles than there is of the guinea pigs. Haven't seen the cartoon, and I'd like to.

On topic, I think that in fact this thread does say that there are people engaging in illegal activities (torture), either by performing it or condoning it, at all levels in our current government. There are grunts on the ground doing it; there are noncoms telling them to do it; there are low-level commissioned officers supporting the non-coms; and the President himself is demanding the right to do it.

These are a relatively small portion of each of the classes of people involved (except at the top). The problem is not ubiquitous (found in all cases) -- it is pervasive (found at all levels). And the evidence that is found at all levels is pretty striking. I believe that the vast majority of people in our armed forces find this kind of behavior reprehensible. And every report I've seen indicates that there are a few people at each level of command who do not.

#314 ::: robin gibson ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 07:03 AM:

I only pray that those responsible for placing those orders are HELD TO ACCOUNT, and referred to The Haig for TRIAL!!!

#315 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 06:50 PM:

US citizen and "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla is alleging that he was tortured while in US military custody, and is requesting that all charges against him be dropped.

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Accused al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla alleges he was tortured during more than three years in U.S. custody as an enemy combatant.

His mistreatment included threats of execution and being forced stand for long periods, Padilla charged in court papers filed in federal court in Miami, Florida.

Padilla's lawyers are asking a judge to dismiss the terror support charges against him because he suffered from "outrageous government conduct" during more than 1,300 days in military custody.

"Many of the conditions Mr. Padilla experienced were inhumane and caused him great physical and psychological pain," Padilla attorney Michael Caruso said in court papers. "The pain and anguish visited upon Mr. Padilla will continue to haunt him for the remainder of his life."

Full story here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/11/01/padilla.torture.ap/index.html

#316 ::: Clifton Royston sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 06:58 PM:

Links checked to confirm it.

#317 ::: Fidelio cries Spam Ahoy! ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 07:18 PM:

They're baaaaaaaaaaack!

#318 ::: Greg London see sneeky spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 09:52 PM:

#326 looks like spam
unless this is #326,
in which case the problem has been rectified

bunch more like it, I think, in other threads

#319 ::: fidelio is astonished by the breadth and determination of this spam attack ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:22 PM:

Although the spammer is probably not from Halicarnassus.

#320 ::: Karl Wurz ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2008, 03:47 PM:

I am a former military officer of the German Federal Armed Forces and now US citizen.

The legal situation is the same in Germany as in the US. Actually, as a company commander in the German armored infantery, I taught hundreds and hundreds of soldiers their legal rights and responsibilities.

I cannot and will not believe that this is not taught in the US Armed Forces. However, I was very astonished that nobody of the US military leaders took the consequences of this quite simple rule of law.

For me, the attack on Iraq was unconstitutional and - since it was not approved by the UN Security Council - against international law. I know, that there are legal opinions who disagree. As some say "2 attorneys, 3 opinions", and if you are a dirtbag you will always find an attorney who will say that you are just fine, if you just pay the "dirtbag lawyer" well.

At this point I can only hope that the Obama administration will live up to their promise of change. For me, it means cleaning up the mess and going after the war criminals.

Let’s see whether the US will be able to clean up the mess from the inside. As far as the rule of law is concerned, it seems to me that convicting a few enlisted men is not enough. Justice needs to prevail from the top down. Let’s see what is going to happen on January 21st 2009. There might be nothing. The only alternative left is then to wait for some good old “victor’s justice” after losing a major war, and that will not happen in our lifetime.

As far as I am concerned, I am more pre-occupied with the way the US military treats a close relative of mine in bootcamp. There is a lot which makes me concerned looking at it from the outside. Maybe there is someone who can guide me in the right direction for me to find out about the legal rights of US military recruits.

Unfortunately, there is very little about the legal rights of the US military on the Internet (or did I overlook something?). That is quite different if you search in German and for information about rights of German military personnel. You wonder why.

#321 ::: Spam Deleted ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 07:20 AM:

[Spam from 86.83.186.68 -- ip5653ba44.direct-adsl.nl]

#322 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 08:34 AM:

I don't know if this is technically spam or not, but I'm not sure you want to enable it either way. Perhaps a refutation?

#324 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 12:32 PM:

Isn't it a bit late to be calling on all soldiers to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to remove a usurper from the White House?

(The site is both silly and moderately ugly, pushing the usual claim that Obama's not really a U.S. citizen, and noting that "we still have our second amendment right and we might need to use it to defend our rights and freedoms" if the courts allow him to take office.)

#325 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Same exact post, word-for-word, has appeared elsewhere on the 'net. It's spam.

#326 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 06:19 PM:

Has anyone answered Karl Wurz's question @322 – “I am more pre-occupied with the way the US military treats a close relative of mine in bootcamp. There is a lot which makes me concerned looking at it from the outside. Maybe there is someone who can guide me in the right direction for me to find out about the legal rights of US military recruits.”

I could barely even begin, but I'm sure there are people here who'd know some, or where to point him for information.

#327 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 10:27 PM:

Epacris: Absent any details, I don't know where to point Mr. Kurz.

#328 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2008, 03:04 AM:

Karl @ 322: The GI Rights Hotline is where I would start. If they can't help, they can likely tell you who can.

#329 ::: rcklnd stl ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 04:23 AM:

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Th cnvntns hv bn sd qt dptly by Rg, trrrst, nd crmnl mlt, vtcng, hms, hzzbl, pl, l qd t nm fw, n wy t frthr thr tctcl dvntg n th bttl fld.
S vn thgh ths flks dn't fllw th cnvntns, thy knw tht w nd hndfl f rpn ntns tr t fllw thm. nd s t gnst s wth ddly ffct. t's bn lng tm snc th Bttl f Slfrn. nd th cntrs (12) tht sgnd t rgnll wr ll rpn. Ths cnvntns r t dtd, nd wr nly ffctv fr th S f w wr fghtng thr rpn ntns. rbs nd mslms,cmms lk lt f flks hr, dn't fllw th cnvntns. Lt's tlk bt th trtmnt f S srvcmn n cptvty snc th 1950's. t hs nt bn vry plsnt. Shld w tlk bt hw r prsnrs r trtd nw by th nm? t's smpl thr ddmn! Trrrsts dn't tk prsnrs, nd f thy hppn t, prhps t s grnt s pwn. Thn thy d s n wys tht lwys vlt th GC.
Th pnt f yr pst sms t b t scld r wrn r brv mn nt fllwng th GC. Whn th fct s th vst mjrt f th mn nd wmn n cntry wld nvr drm f dng smthng bd t nyn. Bt f thngs hppn tht y cn't vn mgn n cmbt, nd prhps cvln r llh brkr gts smkd, t bd. nd t's wr. f thght fr n mnt tht rghng p sm twl wld gt m nfrmtn tht wld sv m mns lvs, nly trtr t r cnstttn wld hstt.
Hw mny gys n D dy, whn thy fnlly brchd th bch nd whr bl t ngg nd vr rn th nz pstns wld hv bn trd fr wr crms f y hd yr wy? t wld hv bn lgn. Grmn frnt ln nts sffrd nrly 93% cs rts tht dy, y fgr t t. S sv yr prchng fr th nm. Tll thm nt t vlt th cnvntns by blwng bbs p n bss n srl, r scrmng ll kbr nd flyng plns nt m fckng ffc bldng.
Fck swtzrlnd nd thr nz bld mny,nd s y dn't fl lft t,fck yrslf whl yr t t. Y wnt t mk sr yr wrthlss cnvntn gt's fllwd, jn p, y cn b th GC ffcr.

#330 ::: rcklnd stl ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 04:33 AM:

rq wr ncnstttnl? krt mrn, N scrty cncl> dd nt k t. r y n drgs.
wht s wrng wth y mthrfckr? Jst cn't gv t p cn y. k yr dm nd ht bsh. w gt t. T bd ppl lk y dn't spnd mr tm thnkng bt th gys nd gls srvng, nd lss bt yr dlgcl spsms. Lbrlsm s trly mntl dsrdr. Gd blss th trps, Gd Blss thr mssn. nd t hll wth vry sngl trrrst tht rss thr wpn n r trps drctn.

#331 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 05:40 AM:

Wow, that was straight out of the 101st Fighting Keyboards Manual of Style, 2005 edition. Retro.

#332 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 06:19 AM:

Invisible in war zones, invincible on the home front.

#333 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 07:53 AM:

Ironically, disemvoweling actually improved his spelling. He had some...nonstandard vowel choices. Did you know he served in the mariens?

The use of "kraut" as an insult was also notably retro.

#334 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 08:29 AM:

Say what you will about the mariens, abi, but I'll always love their trench. I'm sure he's proud to have served there.

#335 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 09:45 AM:

John A Arlansawyer @336:

Personally, I can't say I think well of trench warfare.

#336 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 11:12 AM:

Maybe he meant the de riens? Alternatively, doesn't 'ma riens' mean "my nothings"?

And probably it was tranche warfare...you know, with exotic options, on Wall Street.

#337 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 11:39 AM:

Xopher--"mes riens" is an archaic way to say "my stuff." As in Mozart's _Les Petits Riens_, "the little things."

#338 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 12:15 PM:

Abi @ 335

If he meant 'Marianas', then that's way too deep for this moose.

3:O)>

Cadbury

#339 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 01:00 PM:

I had the fortune to read the article while it still had a full set of vowels.

1: He claimed the Geneva Conventions were not a Treaty.

2: And, anyway, you couldn't expect even US soldiers to follow the rules in the heat of battle.

Trouble is, Common Article 3 has been enacted into US Law by Congress, and Gitmo is hardly "the heat of battle".

I can't say I've come across the 101st Fighting Keyboards before, but if this is an example of their competence, then Making Light can certainly manage the verbal equivalent of the pre-WW1 "mad minute"

#340 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Dave Bell: I don't know that fortune is the word. Even my masochistic urges to read such things are stymied by the length of this one.

As to mad minutes, these guys fail.

The appalling jingoism of the text is only made worse by the pathetic showing they did in the attempt.

They doubled the target size, and failed to come close to standard. The guy with the M-1 Garand failed miserably too.

Then again, they also, almost, doubled the range. Clue-impaired seem the best description.

#341 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 02:05 PM:

Dear rcklnd stl:

Please stop dishonoring America, the Corps, and yourself.

Thanks.

#342 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 03:16 PM:

Terry @ 342: I'm slightly disturbed by how easy it is to learn to read disemvowelled text, actually. Someday the trick may stop working just because everyone can read it anyway. I've was just looking at that and realising that despite never having made any particular efforts, I have mthrfckr, gnv cnvntn, ncnstttnl, trtr, lbrl, and ntrntnl lw pretty much down cold ...

thnk hv ld m str. :-)

#343 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2009, 01:48 AM:

A reasonable point, but I think it would take a very long time and a lot of practice to get to the point where it's swift and unconscious, the way reading regular text is for a lot of us here. Having to process consciously helps remove a lot of the emotional loading.

#344 ::: spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2010, 01:06 AM:

[ spam from 64.120.30.210 ]

#345 ::: Xopher sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2010, 01:30 AM:

And again.

#346 ::: Kevin Hollis ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 12:50 AM:

I have a question in regards to kidnapping of children. If I was given a Military Discharge with Dependency and then my children were kidnapped is this not an unlawful act against both the Constitution and the Geneva convention as a whole as kidnapping is a Capital Offense? This is especially true during an active war. So if I am ordered by a State Court to disobey a military order that is justifiable but the State order is unconstituional, what should I do about the State order since it makes it ok according to the state order to kidnap a child?

#347 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:14 AM:

Kevin Hollis @348:

You lost me on the curve there. I can only parse about half of your comment, and am not sure you have your facts straight there.

1. How is kidnapping children a violation of the Constitution? It's a violation of other laws, but I'm fairly sure that the Constitution does not touch on the matter.
2. What part of the Geneva Convention touches on kidnapping?
3. Since when is kidnapping a capital offense? In what jurisdictions?
4. Are we in a state of "active war"? When did Congress, to which this power is reserved, declare it? I don't recall reading about it anywhere, but I could of course be wrong.
5. What State Court? Name, please.
6. What military order? Content, please.
7. What State order? Content, please.

It sounds to me like you have a specific situation in mind in your last sentence there. Maybe if you explain that situation rather than trying to refer to it quite so vaguely?

#348 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:42 AM:

Dollars to donuts, the specific situation is a valid custody order with which our correspondent disagrees. This bears all the markings of a garden-variety MRA rant.

#349 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:09 AM:

abi, #349: "Active war" refers to an odd little factoid: we have never formally declared WWII over. This is one of the reasons Bush II had such an easy time running roughshod over, well, everything -- the President has a lot more power under active-war status, and the checks and balances part is less balanced. One of those things that the framers of the Constitution meant well by, but didn't realize would be so subject to abuse.

And yes, this is almost certainly a child-custody dispute participant looking for some rules-lawyering with which to game the system. While I recognize that it's unfair to judge someone solely on the basis of a single online interaction, the combination of lack of coherence and reaching for far-fetched arguments does not fill me with confidence in his grasp of reality.

#350 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:03 AM:

I've Googled the gentleman's name , and yes, there appears to be a specific child custody case. I haven't found many details; most of what's online is commentary rather than text.

I can't say that I agree with the reasoning as set out here, but I sympathize with the emotions that lead him to discuss the matter online.

#351 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:13 AM:

At least World War I is finally over. It's a start.

#352 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 12:14 PM:

That "end of war" story is the Daily Telegraph[1], reporting on a German newspaper report, and I wouldn't trust them to get things right.

The armistice: Takes effect 11th November 1918.

The Versailles Treaty is signed in 1919, and there are various other treaties settling post-war borders and other stuff. By then, most of the wartime soldiers had been discharged.

These treaties do matter, but such things as the Internment of the High Seas Fleet (21st November 1918) are a pretty definite marker of the end of the war.

[1] On British newspapers:
Hacker: Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers:
The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country;
The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country;
And The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?
Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

#353 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:16 PM:

Lee@351: I've just grepped the constitution for "war", and while the topic is dealt with in various places, none of them seem to me to grant the president special powers during war (and the phrase "active war" does not occur at all). I didn't check the amendments.

So, what specific bits of the constitution grant the president additional powers in time of war?

(And if "active war" is the standard, WWII is certainly not still active, whatever the formal state of its existence may be.)

#354 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:30 PM:

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 is why the US doesn't have official "wars" any more.

#355 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:15 PM:

I'm unaware of a "Military Discharge with Dependency." There is a Hardship or Dependency Discharge, but I fail to see how it could be relevant.

#356 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:53 PM:

#355, ddb:
Article 1, Section 9. "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

It looks like that's the core of declaring martial law in the US. Habeas Corpus is the law that says you have to produce some reason to arrest a person and imprison them.

(I got there by searching for "Abraham Lincoln martial law" and following links.)

#351, lee: "rules-lawyering" to "game the system" - wouldn't this be actual-lawyering? Law-lawyering? It's the law, this individual can take their best shot at interpreting it to their advantage. This particular shot doesn't sound very good from here, but I have no specifics.

#357 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 05:22 PM:

George W Bush is now an admitted war criminal and traitor. He admitted in his new book that he authorized waterboarding on KSM and that he would do it again...

#358 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:02 PM:

James D. Macdonald @ 357: What I suspect is going on is that our correspondent was in the midst of a messy custody fight and obtained a Hardship or Dependency Discharge to fight and/or care for his kids. (He seems to imply that some order of the state court hearing the custody case was incompatible with continuing service in the military.) He then lost custody and is here characterizing the turnover of custody to the children's mother as court-ordered kidnapping.

#359 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:08 PM:

Mark @360:

Per my search results, something like that. In-laws also involved in some way.

Where I get the twitches is the bit about kidnapping being a "Capital offense". That I do not like the sound of at all, in this context.

#360 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:15 PM:

abi: me too, especially after having witnessed a 'dad shoots mom' scenario. Dude, your kids will NOT be better off with no parents than with 2 (however angry at each other) parents. Nor will they fondly remember the occasion.

#361 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:24 PM:

Having done a bit of Googling, from what I glean of his military service it's unlikely that he actually had a Top Secret clearance, and if he did, I seriously doubt that it would have survived his separation.

Which is all wildly off-topic for this thread.

#362 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 10:12 AM:

This note for both Constance Ash and Charlie Stross for rather different reasons:

Renowned Jamaican Professor Alston Barrington Chevannes died moments ago.

Chevannes, a sociologist and cultural icon, died at the University Hospital of The West Indies earlier this afternoon.

Professor Chevannes had been hospitalized since September 4 after he complained that he was in pain.

Professor Chevannes, a sociologist, had lectured at the University of the West Indies for many years, and was a leading activist for peace in Jamaica.

He was also chairman of the Violence Prevention Alliance and a founding member of Fathers Inc, a group which encourages fathers to play their rightful role.

The exact cause of death was not release.


Read more: Breaking: Professor Alton 'Barry' Chevannes is dead | Urban Islandz

#363 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 10:12 AM:

Ooops, wrong thread.

#364 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 07:54 PM:

#359 Robert

I think the credo of the Republican Party for the past several years advocated war crimes and repudiated the Bill of Rights.... And I want Scott Brown thrown out of the military reserve and out of Congress as an oathbreaker and liar, and the rest of the Republicans signed on for those things....

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