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April 19, 2009

Wrong About Everything
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:21 PM * 196 comments

From CNN: Ex-CIA chief: Obama risks national security

No, General Hayden, it’s you who risked American national security.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A former head of the CIA slammed President Obama on Sunday for releasing four Bush-era memos, saying the new president has compromised national security.

Former CIA chief Michael Hayden said Sunday it is wrong to make interrogation methods public.

Michael Hayden, who served as former President Bush’s last CIA director from 2006 to 2009, said releasing the memos outlining terror interrogation methods emboldened terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

“What we have described for our enemies in the midst of a war are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al Qaeda terrorist. That’s very valuable information,” Hayden said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

“By taking [certain] techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult — in a whole host of circumstances I can imagine — for CIA officers to defend the nation.”

Al Qaeda was quite bold enough already. Those “techniques” were never on the table to start with. By using those “techniques” Hayden brought America into disrepute, compromised our moral stature, and helped al Qaeda recruiting. And for what? For nothing. Useful intelligence is not and cannot be gained through torture. And make no mistake: What he is defending is torture, plain and simple.

Send this man before an international tribunal to defend his actions.

Comments on Wrong About Everything:
#1 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:36 PM:

Per p. 37 of the May 30, 2005 memo (.pdf) from Bradbury (OLC), speaking of Zubaydah, they waterboarded him 183 more times, eight months after they'd done it to him 83 times.

What on earth did they think they were gonna get from a guy who'd been held in captivity for the past eight months and thus had no contact with Al-Qaeda for all that time?

Impeach Bybee first (to get him off the bench) and then haul 'em all before courts. I agree.

#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:44 PM:

Three hundred and twenty years ago, the English Parliament made William III and Mary II sign the Declaration of Right which, inter alia, stated: "that excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. "

How do Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, Bybee & Co. justify going against three fucking centuries of settled constitutional law? Where does General Walker get the brass to claim that being at war nullifies basic rights (or wasn't William at war with Louis XIV and the pretender James when he signed on the dotted line?).

It is the glory of our tradition freedom be upheld while we are at war. With real enemies at that, not just the hole-and-corner rats whom our propaganda has made into the semblance towering giants.

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:58 PM:

Those "techniques" never should have been on the table to start with.

And as far as compromising what those "techniques" were? All anyone need do to find "the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al Qaeda terrorist" is read a history of the Holy Inquisition, the KGB, or the Gestapo.

#4 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:05 PM:

A relevant blog post by Greg Laden here:

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2009/04/cia_exemption_is_the_right_thi.php

He says "the CIA exemption is the right thing to do" but the reasons he gives are... interesting.

"What happened is that a bunch of out of control cowboys (from Texas, I might add) got to be in charge of the most powerful military and intelligence system in the world and acted terribly irresponsibly.

Yes, you have the issue of getting a nice flock of canaries working, but these guys are not the only possible canaries. There is a great distance between CIA grunts and the POTUS. Flocks and flocks of canaries.

Then, there is the issue that a liberal African American Democratic community organizer has to get his ducks in a row, regarding how he manages this government that he is in charge of. Just because disobeying the chain of command is treasonous does not mean it won't happen. The military is still full of selfish unpatriotic Yahoos (mainly from Texas, as it happens) who would stick it to Obama in a second. He needs to build loyalty in key places. Let him do it."

Emphasis mine. In other words: I agree to not prosecute CIA agents who obeyed criminal orders under the previous administration, and the CIA agrees to not disobey my orders now.

#5 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:11 PM:

This explains a lot, I think:

The only reason it could be a good thing for terrorist suspects not to know the absolute limit of what the U.S. government can do to extract information from them is that they will be more likely to divulge intelligence if they fear worse treatment. [...] [T]he OLC scribes at least kept up the legal pretense that the program wasn't designed to scare the living shit out of these people and make them think that they were going to die slow, painful deaths. Mukasey and Hayden, on the other hand, admit it outright: Without the threat of more, and worse, torture, then yes—the whole program is useless. Which makes it torture.

i.e., exposure of the "techniques" is not the problem to these mofos; it's that it blows the bluff of murder.

#6 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Except that it wasn't a bluff of murder. Some people were tortured to death.

This is not about protecting important means of intelligence. It's about protecting the bastards who broke the law.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Disobeying the chain of command is not treasonous when you are disobeying an illegal order.

Any order to torture is, of its nature, illegal. Even if you're holding a letter signed by the President, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Senate Majority Leader that tells you to do it in your hand.

#8 ::: Clark ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:27 PM:

Listen up ... President Obama is and always will be correct in every decision .... and we (the American II people) will not even bother to critique him or review the actual evidence.

But remember " Wisdom is known by her children "

[Posted from 67.49.157.37 cpe-67-49-157-37.hawaii.res.rr.com]

#9 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:31 PM:

Subpontine residents appearing?

Clark @ 8, remember this stuff was ordered by Bush and Cheney, and Obama has issued orders to stop it. Check your calendar and the timelines on this stuff, when you're deciding who gets the blame.

#10 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:33 PM:

So is bone-headed idiocy, Clark.

#11 ::: Mike Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:40 PM:

The other big problem with Hayden's "thinking" is that if we really didn't want the terrorists knowing what our limits are, we shouldn't have signed things like the Geneva Conventions and the UN Conventions on Torture.

#12 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:45 PM:

Clark, #8: Listen up ... President Obama Bush is and always will be correct in every decision .... and we (the American II people) will not even bother to critique him or review the actual evidence.

There, FTFY.

#13 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:46 PM:

And the other other big problem is the whole operation was bogus. Revealing the means of torture does not compromise the effectiveness of torture. It wasn't effective in the first place.

#14 ::: left liberal ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:49 PM:

Impeachment proceedings should start immediately against BO. Worst president ever with worse cabinet ever making the worse decisions ever. Bankrupting America while calling us names overseas in Europe just adds to his legacy.

[Posted from 70.246.233.109 ppp-70-246-233-109.dsl.ksc2mo.swbell.net]

#15 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:54 PM:

It's sort of hard to troll a thread condemning torture apologists if you're not willing to condone torture yourself, so the next best thing is to make the thread about the right wing boilerplate on how liberals are worshiping Obama like he was Jesus.

See, if a liberal comes back and condemns the troll, they get validated because why else would someone attack an anti-Obama message unless they were Obama worshipers. And you get the added bonus of derailing the conversation without ever addressing the topic.

So, Clark, why are you afraid to talk about torture, the CIA's complicity, or the need for justice that you have to derail using this lame Obama-worship tactic?

#16 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:58 PM:

You want to impeach the First Dog, #14? Do you have any idea how government actually works? (Mind you, a talking dog - that's something I'd pay to see ... )

#17 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:07 PM:

Wow. We've got escalating troll topic derail going on. I don't even think this post got linked to by anywhere notable yet, and the previous torture post seems fairly troll free.

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:23 PM:

Josh, the craziness has a lot of voltage running through it these days. Stirs 'em up.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:24 PM:

#14, you're not fooling anyone.

#20 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:31 PM:

Apparently one needs a short memory to be on the jury for the Worst President Ever prize.

#21 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:32 PM:

If Rahm Emanuel is right when he says this on ABC this morning:

"Yeah, but those who devised the policy, he believes that they were, should not be prosecuted either," Emanuel said.

"And it's not the place that we go, and as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend people look at the full statement, not the letter, the statement, and that second paragraph: "This is not a time for retribution. It's a time for reflection. It's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and in a sense of anger and retribution.'

Then it appears Obama doesn't want to go after the higher-ups.

Ok, if that's accurate, then I'm officially furious. Politicians are emphatically not above the law, and the laws and treaties we signed said we would not torture.

Firedoglake has a petition demanding that AG Holder designate a special prosecutor to investigate torture.

#22 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:33 PM:

Interesting. I don't think I've seen moderators trying to intimidate trolls by outing their IP addresses here before.

#23 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:50 PM:

Just as an aside, something I'm sure CNN simply hasn't the resources to research and point out, the guy they're quoting is one of the people most likely to face prosecution, if the release of the memos causes political pressure to prosecute the folks at the top who were responsible for these policies.

#24 ::: D for America ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:58 PM:

Let Mr. Obama Send one of his cute little kids to the Middle East, then let one of the peaceful people of Islam hack off their heads on national television, and then maybe we will see a change in policy. You can't simply ask the terrorists what they are doing and where their buddies are with a smile, or be loud and scary like many of you tree huggers suggest. You must fight fire with fire. Obama and his crew will soften our policies and borders soon enough. I's say at the rate he's going we will be attacked again in another year or so.

[Posted from 96.254.65.178 pool-96-254-65-178.tampfl.fios.verizon.net]

#25 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:02 PM:

Earl at #22: It's been going on for a while.

It lets the trolls know (if they are bright enough to comprehend it) that they've left a trail, which can be followed.

#26 ::: Don h ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:07 PM:

The release of the memos is an appeasement to Europe and other places who Obama wants to find places for the people held at Gitmo. He needs to find places for these people and by releasing these memos the leaders in Europe who have to convince there people to let some of these jailed criminals into there countries , can now say yes America probably tortured these men and used harsh methods to keep them and get info they need to have a place to go. Its a political stunt for Obama's plan to close Gitmo

www.demsandpubs.com the social network for politics

#27 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:17 PM:

Don H. @ 26:

It's gotten remarkably little publicity, but there's an offer to accept all the Guantanamo detainees who aren't going to be tried for any crimes.

Little publicity, because I think someone isn't sure whether it would be more embarrassing, in this case, to say "no" or "yes" to Hugo Chavez.

#28 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:18 PM:

Is anyone here not disappointed in the Administration's conduct in this matter? The trolls are just crankier than the rest of us. On the other hand, it looks to me like the Administration is deliberately setting up ambiguity here, with Obama saying one thing and Emanuel saying something else. This may leave space for later maneuvering. I would be more angry--I am angry--except that there's apparently (as usual with Obama) political strategizing going on, and it may ultimately be in our favor. Obama's in a tough spot with the Senate conservatives and the Executive bureaucracy here--the CIA certainly, and probably factions of State and Defense--, and I think he'd lose immediately--possibly even be impeached--if he came out upfront for prosecutions of the torturers. So I will do what I can (so far, that's two petitions and a letter to my Representative), ask everyone else to do what they can, and hope for the best. Perhaps, also, we can use this to push for US participation in the International Court of Justice. It just might be possible to shame the Senate into it.

Does anyone else have the feeling that Bujold is writing this part?

#29 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:21 PM:

Re: #23:

That was a rather impolite thing you said about CNN, but yes, it does seem that the person who served as CIA Director from '06 to '09 (Mr. Hayden) would be second or third in line for prosecution if responsibility were assigned.

Meanwhile, it seems clear to me that those activities do constitute torture under any reasonable light, and that most of the applications of them could not possibly have extracted any significant amount of useful information.

#30 ::: Jena ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:21 PM:

What Obama did was extremely wrong whether one morally and legally agrees to the techniques used or not. Think about it from the CIA agent's perspective. During his service when he performed those techniques they were legal. That is very important.

Obama outlawed waterboarding when he came into office. By publishing the memos now he's politicizing the national security for short term popularity gains at the expense of long term national security risks.

How abut a current CIA agent who might be reluctant to perform currently legal interrogation techniques (or anything else required of their jobs) for fears that a future president might out that? Has Obama thought of that?

And you guys said he was smart...

#31 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:30 PM:

Wow, deja vu all over again.

Clark @8 - You'll find no shortage of people on the left willing to disagree with Obama. Your quote seems pretty close to "by your fruits you will know them" - and the fruits of the Bush administration were 9/11, torture, two wars, and economic collapse. Something isn't right about that tree.

D @ 24 - I'd give you an 'F'. You think you know more than the men who interrogated Nazis or the interrogator who led the team that found Zarqawi's trail? Torture is invalid on legal, ethical, and practical grounds.

Jena @ 30 - The president cannot unilaterally declare something legal, especially not in secret. What Constitution are you reading?

The memos were written after torture had occurred, specifically to legalize previously existing activity. The government should be hesitant to engage in blatantly illegal activity even after getting a tiny figleaf.

The Allies prosecuted Japanese soldiers who waterboarded during World War II. You want to show me where waterboarding was illegal under Japanese law?

#32 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:30 PM:

Randolph at 28, I get the Bujold feeling as well, but it may be that she's my go-to fiction for political maneuvering that hurts but doesn't depress me. However, it sucks to be anyone during and after Mad Yuri, and not everyone gets to be Vorkosigan. I'd rather everyone tried, though.

#33 ::: Jena ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:36 PM:

Fungi, you missed the point. I was not in disagreement with the legality of the methods used. My point of contention is with the publication of the memos. It undermines current and future LEGAL CIA work since there is no guarantee another "wise" president won't publish such memos in the future after declaring other techniques illegal.

What was Obama's objective with this but to increase his popularity and have people say "look how much better he is". A wise president would have handled this matter privately. The law was fixed. What's the point of jeopardizing future CIA work?

#34 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Jena, one of us is not understanding the other, that's for sure.

Obama can't declare techniques illegal any more than he can declare techniques legal. I reject the foundations of your position; torture was illegal despite the Yoo and Bybee memos asserting otherwise.

If someone tells a CIA operative that what they're being asked to do is legal, but they can't show them the memo explaining why, I want that agent to back away slowly.

Obama's objective in this is to appease the people who voted them into power by not fighting the ACLU. Secret laws are bad, period, full stop, end of sentence. He's trying to navigate a middle ground of acknowledging the excesses of the past while violating a treaty signed by the US by refusing to investigate. Good luck with that.

#35 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Randolph #28: Obama's in a tough spot with the Senate conservatives and the Executive bureaucracy here--the CIA certainly, and probably factions of State and Defense--, and I think he'd lose immediately--possibly even be impeached--if he came out upfront for prosecutions of the torturers.

What makes you think that the GOP can successfully rationalize that prosecuting torturers is an impeachable offense?

#36 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:56 PM:

Jena, the torture was illegal even when the Bush Admin lawyers attempted to redefine it in legal terms so the interrogators would actually continue their work. The tortured legal memos demonstrate just how uneasy even those lawyers were, except they ignored their inner ethical voices and concentrated on the words they were playing with.

There's no way to un-ban torture. It was and always will be illegal to use those very techniques, so it matters not one whit exactly how the CIA would like to do things.

As trained military interrogators have explained, you don't interrogate suspects for information they might have, you interrogate them for confirmation of information you already do have. Intelligence doesn't depend on breaking the detainee, it depends on gathering information from multiple sources and cross-confirming facts. It's much like real journalism in that regard.

All the CIA did was prove that people will frantically spew anything they can think of, just to stop the torture. The CIA found no information of value from the torture sessions. The FBI and military interrogators had already gotten information from the cooperative detainees before the torture began, and most of it was not all that exciting or sexy, which is why those detainees were "selected" for "enhanced interrogation". Somebody up high had been watching too much "24" and thought Hollywood was based on reality.

The publication of the memos was extremely smart -- it gets everyone else thinking about exactly what Bush/Cheney promised, and how they lied. And it makes otherwise mellow people absolutely enraged to think that American personnel were committing acts of torture, in our name.

I want those criminals named, shamed, shunned and disgraced. The memos are a good place to start.

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:57 PM:

Earl, Jim frequently does this for spam. In this case, we had a couple of first-time posters who gave obviously false addresses, and posted in defense of torture. He doesn't believe that people who do that should be allowed the luxury of believing themselves to be wholly anonymous.

#38 ::: Jena ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 10:59 PM:

No point in debating your red herrings, Fungi if you can't get something as simple as "keep it secret, Mr. Idiot, it's a matter of national security. You fixed it, now move on - no need to make a spectacle of it".

No one is talking about secret laws - something else you aren't getting - only about the secrecy required for most of the CIA's (legal) work to keep this country safe; something you and I are enjoying but only one of us seems to truly appreciate. Obama would rather sacrifice the security of the country for his gains in popularity with acts such as the publication of the memos.

Anyway, I'm done here because I'm sure you'll talk again about Obama being unable to declare laws illegal on his own instead of addressing the real topic.

But maybe you just don't get it.

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:00 PM:

#30 Jena Think about it from the CIA agent's perspective. During his service when he performed those techniques they were legal. That is very important.

No. Those techniques were not, and could not be, legal.

As they were very well aware.

#40 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:01 PM:

Jena, you've got your scenarios wrong. I'll wait to see whether Jim answers this one.

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:03 PM:

And there's Jim, right on schedule.

Jena, don't be rude to Fungi. Concentrate on the argument itself.

#42 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:06 PM:

The CIA is an intelligence gathering agency. It is not a secret. The information they gather might be classified as secret, but if someone else gathers the same information by their own means, and publishes it, you're welcome to do your own analysis.

The CIA is not a secret cabal of interrogators defending this country against evil; they're a bunch of people analyzing data from satellites, photos, intercepts, and "humint" -- what people report to other people about things going on over there.

Quit trying to imply that only you truly care about this country. The tired old Republican propaganda has been voted off the island.

#43 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:08 PM:

How about a current CIA agent who might be reluctant to perform currently legal interrogation techniques (or anything else required of their jobs)

Well, let us picture that, shall we?

CIA Agent: "I'm not torturing anybody. It'll land my sorry ass in jail."

"Oh, c'mon. The memo says it's not torture. It's "enhanced interrogation".

"Nope. Not doin' it. Ass. Jail. Mine."

"I'm your boss, and I say it's ok."

"So fire me. Ass. Jail."

"The head of the CIA says it's okay!"

"Tell him to come do it then. I'm not torturing anybody."

"The PRESIDENT says it's okay!"

"I don't give a damn. I don't care if GOD comes down and writes it on that hillside in letters of fire ten feet high. Ass. Jail. Mine. Not torturing anybody. I quit."

... Yeah. I'm good with it. I am so damned good with it.

And just to save some time here? If this leads directly to a terrorist attack on my home city which causes my crushed body to be found under a pile of smoking rubble?

I am counting on someone from ML to make sure my gravestone says "she preferred this to condoning torture". Goudy Old Style, please, large type. :-)

#44 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:13 PM:

Anyway, I'm done here because I'm sure you'll talk again about Obama being unable to declare laws illegal on his own instead of addressing the real topic.

The real topic is that Obama didn't go half far enough, but may have gone as far as he can, politically, at this time.

And the other real topic is that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, Gonzales, Bybee, and all the rest should be in a public courtroom, with on-the-record public testimony, explaining all of this.

There's precedent, even. Not just the Nazis at Nuremberg, but the Truth Commissions in Argentina at the end of the Dirty War.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:14 PM:

I agree with Marna.

#46 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:14 PM:

Earl Cooley, #35: "What makes you think that the GOP can successfully rationalize that prosecuting torturers is an impeachable offense?"

I agree that impeachment is unlikely. It would be very easy, however, for the Senate conservatives to completely undercut Obama. And it's possible that some impeachable offense might be found, or ginned up--after all, that's what was done to Clinton. I think it would be hard to get the House to vote to impeach, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility--conservatives dominate the House Democratic Caucus, despite a liberal majority. I don't think it would be hard to get sixty senators to vote to convict at all; it looks to me like most of the conservative Democratic Senators hate the man.

#47 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:19 PM:

Incidentally, the CIA apparently has no problem at all revealing their methods when what they're doing isn't flagrantly illegal and doesn't fly in the face of everything America stands for.

Future CIA officers would be well advised to only do things that they'd feel comfortable defending in a courtroom should the need ever arise.

(Oh, and you know those Nazi prison guards who are getting prosecuted these days? What they were doing was perfectly legal in their own country at the time they were doing it.)

#48 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:21 PM:

Xopher: the font, too, or just the sentiment? I wil still respect you if you want a different font. Unless it's Comic Sans. :-)

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:23 PM:

I prefer Times Roman, but I'm not especially particular.

#50 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:25 PM:

Xopher: If God Forbid the need arises, you shall have it. I swear it.

#51 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:30 PM:

Jena, do you really think people on this board can't differentiate between protecting national security and the torture memos? This has nothing to do with the CIA's legal activity. There are reasons why there are restrictions on what the US government can do.

Classification is only authorized in certain circumstances, and "concealing illegal activity" is explicitly not one of them. One of these memos, the Yoo memo, is so incompetently written there's a persuasive argument it's ground for disbarral.

The constitution in my world prohibits ex post facto laws - so if torture was legal when the CIA practiced it, there's no problem. If, however, it was illegal the whole time... well, I don't want an intelligence agency running around without legal constraints. That ends poorly whenever it's been tried.

Personally, I won't consider the problem "fixed" until everyone who participated in or authorized torture has had their day in court. Neither will the UN Convention against Torture. Sweeping the problem under the rug was tried before with Iran-Contra, and that didn't actually "fix" the problem.

I don't want John Yoo ending up Ambassador to Iraq when President Jenna invades to one-up her dad.

#52 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:38 PM:

Laser-etched Palatino would be my preference for an elegant monument epitaph. "Served with Distinction in the 1980's BBS Flamewars". The second line would be the motto "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit".

Marna's suggested epitaph is excellent.

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:38 PM:

Marna, will that be U&lc or all caps?

I'm not going to specify my typeface. I just want John D. Berry to design it.

#54 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:40 PM:

Jena @33:

I hold that a wise President does not conduct any national business of this level of importance privately. It is true, Mr. (G.W.) Bush tried to, but that only confirms my opinion that he was and is not a wise person.

I also hold that it's important to uphold the concept that "my superior told me it was okay" is not an adequate defense in matters of this import, and that "my advisors told me it was okay" isn't an adequate defense for those superiors.

Anyone who assumes a High Office also assumes the responsibility of being held accountable for everything done within the framework of that office. We'll cut them some slack -- maybe sometimes too much -- but turning our nation into "one of those countries that tortures people, and imprisons people indefinitely without a fair trial" is well beyond the tolerance level of many Americans, for which I'm thankful.

This whole foofarah is not, in my opinion, a matter of trying to punish people for wrongdoing or incompetence. It's a matter of needing to take drastic steps to make certain (as absolutely as possible) that it and similar things do not happen again.

#55 ::: Todd Green ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:46 PM:

The ex-CIA chief if LYING. If Obama did threaten national security then the CIA chief just outed that fact to Al Qaeda and therefore jeapordized national security and should be executed for high treason. Obama is following a little something we in the non-communist world call rule-of-law. So, either the ex-CIA chief is a liar or a traitor. Is it possible to be both? After all he is a neocon. Torture has harmed national security by setting the benchmark from the supposed moral leader of the free world by torturing innocent allies along with the guilty. Stalin must be winking to the ex-CIA chief from his grave. Way to go neocon commies.

#56 ::: Todd Green ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:46 PM:

The ex-CIA chief if LYING. If Obama did threaten national security then the CIA chief just outed that fact to Al Qaeda and therefore jeapordized national security and should be executed for high treason. Obama is following a little something we in the non-communist world call rule-of-law. So, either the ex-CIA chief is a liar or a traitor. Is it possible to be both? After all he is a neocon. Torture has harmed national security by setting the benchmark from the supposed moral leader of the free world by torturing innocent allies along with the guilty. Stalin must be winking to the ex-CIA chief from his grave. Way to go neocon commies.

#57 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:52 PM:

D for America: You can't simply ask the terrorists what they are doing and where their buddies are with a smile, or be loud and scary like many of you tree huggers suggest. You must fight fire with fire.

Bullshit. The fact of the matter is, you can just ask them. If you do it correctly they will tell you. If you torture them they will tell you all sorts of strange things and you will believe them; because you can't imagine someone might lie to stop the pain.

Of course my saying this means you think I'm a tree hugger. Mind you, I'm, a tree-hugger who spent 16 years as an Army interrogator; using mere talk to convince people to betray their friends so my friends could kill them.

Jena: They weren't legal, they were merely sanctioned. The Law (18 U.S.C. § 2340) is pretty clear. What they allowed themselves to be convinced to do wasn't legal. It was clearly forbidden, and the legal eagles played fast and loose with the words, to make it seem that tortures weren't, "really torture".

How abut a current CIA agent who might be reluctant to perform currently legal interrogation techniques (or anything else required of their jobs) for fears that a future president might out that? Has Obama thought of that?

I think he has. Here's the thing... if it's not a crime banning it won't make a difference, ex post facto. If it is a crime, his approving won't make a difference. So yes, I think he's smart. I just wish he'd actually prosecute; that way when the next cowboy gets elected, and tells people to do illegal things, they will tell him to pound sand.

As to red herrings... some things should not be secret. It's not that hard. Good interrogation works, even if the subject knows what the rules are. There is only one way to avoid giving up information, and that's to refuse to talk. Torture doesn't get people to talk, it gets them to say what the torturer wants to hear them say. Trust me, I did this for 16 years. I taught it for 14 years.

Ginger: You have the aims of interrogation a bit muddled. One interrogates for what they do have. By collecting enough bits of what they have you confirm them. What you don't do is look for what you think they have. That way lies disaster, death and defeat.

#58 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:56 PM:

Teresa: All caps is traditional, but consistency, hobgoblin, like that. I bow to your excellent judgement, should the need arise.

Onna nice chunk of rock from the Canadian Shield, please.

#59 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 11:56 PM:

As to headstones... what Marna said. I suppose I can add that I've already put my money where my mouth is (since I did "just ask them").

I think something heavy, and spidery. On black slate.

#60 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:19 AM:

What Marna said, in Palatino, on slate, with chalk and room for people to write stuff.

#61 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:39 AM:

In Gill Sans, please:

UNDERGROUND

MIND THE GAP

#62 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:43 AM:

What Marna said.

If you ask Americans what price they'd pay for freedom, you'll usually get answers like "Anything."

And yet, I fear that while my countrymen feel that any price is worth paying, too many imagine that the bill is settled with lavish defense spending and sacrificing a few thousand soldiers here and there.

As for me, I'm well aware that in an open society we run certain risks that subjects of a police state don't. Like Marna, I'm fine with that.

This is a really great thread. I loved the whole thing, and it became really special right around #57. I don't surface here very often, but I just wanted to offer some applause.

#63 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:43 AM:

Have there really been people who get a typeface designed just for their tombstones?

I suppose a revered type designer might be someone whose peers would honor him or her with a unique typeface.

In contemplating typographers gathered around paying tribute to a fallen comrade, I am somehow reminded of Barry Gehm's remark about the funeral of Señor Wences. All the world's most prominent ventriloquists were in attendance.

"The tension must have been unbearable."

#64 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:49 AM:

What's going on and why? Why specifically on this thread and not elsewhere, so quickly after this thread started?

#65 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:56 AM:

I'm also disappointed that he's not moving immediately to prosecute the torturers and their masters.

I wonder if it's because he thinks doing so will do even more damage than not.

Suppose they're prosecuted. This would be a just result, but about 40% of the country would be outraged, and no matter how blood-curdling the testimony at the resulting trials, they'd see it as pure partisan hackery. And then the next time Republicans win an election, and while it may be some time coming, they surely will sooner or later, they'll prosecute the leading figures of the preceding administration themselves on some pretext or other.

"Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him"

It's true, of course, that these were monstrous crimes not likely to be repeated by whatever Democratic administration is followed by the next crop of Republicans, but they and their multitude of supporters won't see it that way. Vengeance always leads to escalation because we perceive the injuries we suffer far more keenly than those we inflict.

And so it becomes routine that the incoming administration jails the last one. One key to making Democracy work is that the consequences of losing an election can be borne. You soak the hit and try again in a few years. I suspect that the first administration that thinks it's likely to be jailed upon leaving office will never leave office.

Is Obama perhaps thinking along those lines? Would Casear have led his army across the Rubicon if he hadn't good cause to fear prosecution at the hands of the Pompeians?

#66 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:06 AM:

The argument Jena seems to be grasping at, above, doesn't quite work. The one Hayden seems to be grasping at does work logically, but I don't think he'd be willing to spell it out. I'd call it the "you can't handle the truth" defense, after the Jack Nicholson speech. It goes like this:

a. We need CIA agents to be willing to do stuff that's unsavory as hell, and either illegal or right on the line (where a court might go either way).

b. The way we get CIA agents willing to do that stuff is to keep them from being prosecuted. The way we keep being able to have the CIA do those illegal things is to keep the public from learning about them, because the public would (being unable to handle the truth) demand that the illegal things stop and that the guilty face justice.

c. Obama's decision to let those memos be published, and more generally any decision that lets the public see clearly what unsavory and illegal/on-the-line stuff is done in their name, thus prevents the CIA from being able to do the stuff we want it to do.

Now, this argument would make sense as a reason for condemning Obama's decision to release the memos. But of course, it's not an argument many people are going to want to make openly. That's presumably why folks like Jena are trying to slip some kind of ex-post-facto law nonsense past us.

I think the "you can't handle the truth" defense is an argument worth addressing, though. I think it is the unspoken reason for a huge amount of the support that torture, secret prisons, going to war on false pretenses, and massive illegal wiretapping all enjoy.

Several people here have commented before on that whole creepy thread in US movies and literature, in which the hero must discard all principles, morals, and humanity in order to become strong enough to defeat evil and protect us. I think the thousands of lessons in this belief we've all read and watched are bearing fruit in this discussion, as many people have just accepted the idea that this is how you fight evil. You could see this idea in the dismissive comments about how, if we prosecuted Al Qaida terrorists in US courts, we'd be facing a bunch of OJ trials. You could see it in everything the Bush administration did w.r.t. the war on terror.

#67 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:07 AM:

Raphael #64: What's going on and why? Why specifically on this thread and not elsewhere, so quickly after this thread started?

Typefaces and headstones? I suppose some of us are just taking a little breather from staring into the gaunt face of evil.

On another note, I'd just like to say that I feel very fortunate that we have Terry Karney here to give perspective to these topics.

#68 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:16 AM:

I think that a good part of our current problem comes from failing to prosecute and jail Nixon.

#69 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:26 AM:

Jim: Yep. I used to think Ford did the right thing. Sometime about 2003 I realised this was wrong, and BushCo were doing things in the knowledge the Nixon Precedent would cover their ass.

#70 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:35 AM:

No, Earl, I meant our right-wing friends.

I kind of agree with Laertes, but I'm more worried about elections than coups.

#71 ::: JuztWonderin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:40 AM:

It seems convenient that now "Mr. Hayden" has forgotten what "General Hayden" always knew.

American soldiers went to prison for the least of what is outlined in the memos. I guess they didn't get the same memos at Abu Ghraib.

I guess you have to be the "approved" torturer in order to be absolved. Sorry, you FAIL, there is no righteous application of evil, it's still evil.

We can't win wars of ideals unless we fight with values.

#72 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:41 AM:

Terry Kearney, #69: One of the best reasons for prosecution is that these younger members of such administrations come back for sequels. Doug Feith is a likely candidate. Some of the key figures in the current crop of problem children were in the Nixon administration. Rumsfeld was in that administration, and Cheney was his subordinate. Wolfowitz was also in the Nixon administration.

Ewwww. Anything but Comic Sans...

#73 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:46 AM:

Earl @ 67: I had the honour of proofing Terry's Lj posts about torture.

Which, frankly, convince me that reading the memos themselves would be masochism, and made me want a very stiff drink or an insurrection, or both, very badly. Poor bugger had to listen to me freak out all the time I was working.

So, "let's talk of graves, of worms and epitaphs"... because ... it's cheerier. Somehow. And because it's a sort of luxury to just collapse in horror, whimpering and helpless, and whatever makes it possible not to do that is our friend right now.


#74 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:50 AM:

Raphael #70: No, Earl, I meant our right-wing friends.

Oh, that. Perhaps ML is finally prominent enough to be assigned our own strike force of neocon astroturfers.

#75 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:57 AM:

Don Fitch @ 54: "Anyone who assumes a High Office also assumes the responsibility of being held accountable for everything done within the framework of that office."

Yes . . . however, as Laertes @ 65 notes: "One key to making Democracy work is that the consequences of losing an election can be borne."

There is a critical distinction to be made between the political consequences to the losing side after an election, and the winners' post facto criminalization of the losers' previous political acts. The first is normal, accepted, and a fact of political life in any non-single-party state. The latter is a warning to any would-be political leader: Whatever you do, once you are in power, you cannot afford to let go.

And both are quite distinguishable from the criminal prosecution of actions which were clearly criminal at the time those actions were taken, even though the offenders may have held political office at the time, or have been shielded by others who did. (See, e.g., Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, and their counterparts in many another local administration, during the last century and a half or so.)

#76 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:59 AM:

How is this President Obama's decision to make anyway? I'd like to think that where the Justice Department finds crime, it prosecutes crime, and permission from the Oval Office is neither necessary nor welcome.

Is the President playing some kind of long game where he downplays the threat of prosecution while setting in motion a chain of events that'll inevitably lead to prosecution anyway?

I'm thinking here of the way FDR often crab-walked toward his objectives, not quite leading but creating space and nudging public opinion in the direction he wanted it to go, then "following" the herd once he'd set it in motion.

Are these memos the last and most shocking bit of the last administration's dirty laundry that the new administration is going to reveal?

#77 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:03 AM:

Old English for me:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Note: I live in Houston. If Bush II goes up at the same time, that gives us a patriot and a (would-be) tyrant both. I'm cool with that.

#78 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:06 AM:

Earl (and this isn't aimed at you in specific, you just happen to be the ready example, forgive me):

I'm glad my experience helps you, but I feel; uncomfortable isn't the right word, but is as good as I can find, with being the source of "perspective".

What I offer is my expertise. But all I am trying to do is show why the things we know to be true, are also right. Lord, I'm making a hash of this.

I am not a paragon. I have my biases on the subject (not all interrogators will draw the same lines I do, and not all of those with a larger idea of, "not torture" are bad people, or wrong).

My verdicts on those limits were made because I didn't want to drive myself to madness or suicide. I made them a long time ago; when I agreed to become, as SSG Parker put it, "an asshole".

I know what I do/did. I have no illusions about that job. It's like collecting trash, cleaning sewers; someone has to do it, and I could, so why not me?

It was a good ride. I got to some swell things (and some of them might end up being world-changing... luck of the draw). I like to think that, had some other interrogator been a member of ML, s/he would have done the same.

So, thank you (and Laertes, and all the others through the years) who have said the same. It's been a real comfort to have a place I could let my hair down without feeling I was trying to be stem the tide.

But I am not the fount of wisdom, to be received (to reference the Slushpile thread). I just happen to have dirty hands, and am willing to wash them here.

#79 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:12 AM:

Marna Nightingale @ 43: ""I don't give a damn. I don't care if GOD comes down and writes it on that hillside in letters of fire ten feet high. Ass. Jail. Mine. Not torturing anybody. I quit.""

This is win.

"And just to save some time here? If this leads directly to a terrorist attack on my home city which causes my crushed body to be found under a pile of smoking rubble? I am counting on someone from ML to make sure my gravestone says "she preferred this to condoning torture". Goudy Old Style, please, large type. :-)"

This is also win. This is a rich vein of win you have struck!

#80 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:16 AM:

Heresiarch @ 79: I got raised up in the ways of righteousness by some older people. :-)

Well, no. I was always sort of like this, but I've gotten more coherent and rather louder recently.

#81 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:18 AM:

A potential clarification to my #1: The NYT says it was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who was the recipient of the 183 rounds of waterboarding, not Zubaydah.

I dunno. I've read that section of the memo three times and it's unclear to me from the memo whether Zubaydah was the subject of all of that or whether KSM got the second round eight months after the first round. Remembering all the claims of valuable information gained by questioning KSM, I think I'd agree that he was the likely recipient of the 183 March 2003 waterboardings.

#82 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:21 AM:

Randolph: At the risk of phrasing it poorly; I don't mind being called by just my first name. I don't mind both names. I would prefer it if my last name were spelled as I use it, Karney.

As to the problem of the Elliot Abrams, et al, yes that was what made me realise my previous ideas on Ford's pardon were wrong.

Laertes: It's not his, it's Holden's, but if Holden won't toe the line he can be fired. He serves at the pleasure of the president. Just ask the victims of Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre"

#83 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:51 AM:

Laertes, #76: "I'd like to think that where the Justice Department finds crime, it prosecutes crime, and permission from the Oval Office is neither necessary nor welcome."

The President is the AG's boss. The AG discusses major prosecutions with their boss, the President, and prosecutorial discretion has long been part of the system.

Terry Karney, #82: my apologies for the consistent mispelling.

#84 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:55 AM:

Randolph: No problem. It happens. I am terrible with some names (Nielsen Hayden, for example, gives me fits).

#85 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:01 AM:

How did the comments get so far without anyone simply pointing out that “I was only following orders” is no excuse?
I mean, c’mon, Yom HaShoah is tomorrow.

#86 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:13 AM:

Neil in Chicago: If not later than #31, it was brought up (the president cannot just declare something legal).

I made the same point at #57; which was only as late as it was because I didn't log on any sooner.

#87 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:28 AM:

And there are circumstances under which even the President's opinion doesn't mattter. (See Albert Fall and John Mitchell.)

#88 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:34 AM:

It rather looks as though the Bushistas hung the Army out to dry on this one. The non-military types, CIA and "civilian contractors", got these memoes, which apparently don't take account of the UCMJ. So a bunch of soldiers at Abu Graib ended up in court. Their non-military accomplices didn't.

And letting off the superior officers who were in the chain of command which passed down those orders: that hardly maintains good order and military discipline.

#89 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:38 AM:

Dave Bell: Yep. That's the crux of the problem I'm having with someone at my Lj. He thinks I am being unfair to the army when speak of things being broken, and that prosecutions aren't in order because, "It's being fixed in house."

In house isn't good enough.

#90 ::: mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:12 AM:

What Marna said. Don't care about the font, but an inuit sculpture next to the text would be neat.
Thanks for the post and the sane reaction and the pointer upthread to at least one instant way to take action at FDL.
As a graduate of Boalt Hall and a government lawyer (but speaking as a private citizen now*) (*mandatory disclaimer) I want the lawyers who wrote those memos disbarred, disgraced, unemployed (and thus for Bybee impeached), and prosecuted and jailed. The lack of compassion and the arrogance which went into those memos makes me angry. Some of us government lawyers do our best to take our compassion to work with us and to respect the reasons for boundaries. Sorry for the prissy tone but I need to say that, because I feel that failing to prosecute smears all of us who are still toiling in the depths of the fed govt. I sincerely hope the Obama administration is crabwalking and pressure can make a difference. The republican DOJ attorney in charge of the Illinois governor prosecution right now (completely blanking on his name) would be a great choice for special prosecutor.

#91 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:40 AM:

Terry Karney @ 78: "I'm glad my experience helps you, but I feel; uncomfortable isn't the right word, but is as good as I can find, with being the source of "perspective"."

I believe this is because you know the limitations of your own knowledge--you don't feel like an oracle, and so being treated as such gives you the willies. Ironically, this will make people rely on you even more.

Marna Nightingale @ 80: Coherent is always good and, conditional on the coherency, volume is too!

#92 ::: Ingvar ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:57 AM:

I don't know if it's good or bad that I initially read "Michael Hayden, who served as former President Bush’s last CIA director from 2006 to 2009" as speaking about Bush's last CIA dictator.

James McDonald @ #39:
I agree that torture was illegal at the time, but I suspect that sufficient wrangling and showing of carefully worded memos may have made a sufficiently motivated CIA agent to believe that it was legal.

As regards that last point, it shouldn't (to my mind) have made it OK (in their mind) to do these things. But, then, I have willfully disobeyed illegal orders from superior officers, to their face, with my reasoning and a willingness to sign a statement as to why I refused to follow orders. OK, it was only the once and had we been operating under wartime laws, it wouldn't been illegal. But we weren't and it was.

#93 ::: syd barret ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 05:51 AM:

What has to be remembered is Bush with his war in Iraq, based upon lies; a risk to our national security. Bush, with his, "bring em on" statement; a risk to our national security. Bush, with his acceptance of rendering and torture of foreign nationals; a risk to our national security. Bush, a failure at diplomacy; a risk to our national security. Seems that the former president caused great damage to our country.

#94 ::: Realitt Check ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 06:52 AM:

I'm so sick of Former Bush administration criminals coming back to tell us that President Obama is making us less safe. It's complete BS. We know it, the press knows it and yet, they still give these cretins air time. Why?

It is very clear to anyone who was paying attention that prior to 9/11, the Bush administration did not suffer a failure in intelligence, but rather, allowed the attack to happen, so that it could serve as Bush's personal Pearl Harbor and, thereby, justify the war that his PNAC handlers had already planned.

Obama is dismantling the PNAC policy of fear-mongering and world domination and that's what the Bushites and neo-cons are pissed off about.

#95 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 07:27 AM:

This is getting weird: after some generic mostly probably cut-and-paste right wing comments loosely related to the topic of the post from people with no previous posting history, we're now getting some posts that are more in line with the majority opinion here, but mostly aren't all that original themselves and come from people who don't have a previous posting history, either.

#96 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 07:46 AM:

We're not getting all the usual suspects, but we are seeing posts from folks who've been lurking for the last five years finally being drawn to comment.

#97 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:01 AM:

My cynical side wonders if one reason for the Bush administration's enthusiasm for torture was that it 'played well with the base', and was thus useful for Karl Rove's electoral strategy.

Just reading the trolls on this thread makes it pretty obvious that the wingnut right really loves torturing 'bad guys' because it feeds their power and revenge fantasies.

#98 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:12 AM:

Terry Karney #59: "As to headstones...[...] I think something heavy, and spidery. On black slate."

Hmm. If you've been to any Colonial graveyards, you might note that slate gravestones aren't terribly durable.

I do hope Obama is "crabwalking toward justice", but:

Leroy F. Berven #75:

There is a critical distinction to be made between the political consequences to the losing side after an election, and the winners' post facto criminalization of the losers' previous political acts. The first is normal, accepted, and a fact of political life in any non-single-party state. The latter is a warning to any would-be political leader: Whatever you do, once you are in power, you cannot afford to let go.

Except that it's the neocons who set the pattern of trying to criminalize their opponents, and that was before they even lost power!

Jim #68: I think that a good part of our current problem comes from failing to prosecute and jail Nixon.

Word. You can't negotiate with a cancer.

#99 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:46 AM:

What can you get out of a prisoner after the 182nd waterboarding that you couldn't after, say, the 2nd or 3rd?

When you do it that repeatedly, it's clear it's not information you're after, you really want to totally break the prisoner so that they'll give A Confession that allows the torturers

a) to make a public show-trial to tell everyone how excessively guilty you are of the most politically advantageous charges they can think of,

and b) provide the most advantageous 'proof of guilty' that justifies the torture in the first place.

As for my tombstone near the smoking ruins of my city, I'm thinking I'll go with the simplicity of "I'd Rather Be Right." Possibly in Scriptina.

#100 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:57 AM:

Marna, if there is a terrorist attack on your city, it probably won't have anything to do with questioning any terrorists we may have in custody.

I have a friend, a retired colonel whose politics would make some of these trolls look moderate. Far from being angry at anyone Godwining him, he jokes about taking over the concentration camps come the revolution. He is a retired lawyer. He opposed torture because of the practical reason that any information gleaned would most likely be inaccurate. And he had this view back when it wasn't so easy to have that opinion.

I haven't asked his opinion on putting the former administration on trial over torture. I myself think it would be a lousy idea because it would become a political trial that would start a vicious circle. Even if legally and morally it would be right, it would still be seen by some quarters as politically tainted. As someone else has said, we would face a situation in the future where a Democratic administration would face trials and/or impeachment for some pretext.

Torture has been stopped. Can that not be enough?

#101 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:00 AM:

Terry @ 57: Point taken. (I was rather enraged by the latest information from the Times, and wrote too hastily.)

I think, upon reflection, that what I meant to say was most interrogations are about confirming the outline of the case -- I'm thinking of homicide investigators interrogating a suspect*. By the time they have the suspect in hand, they've got witness statements, videos, physical evidence, and information through the grapevine, so they're mainly getting the suspect to confirm it by confessing.

In wartime, interrogators are looking for more concrete evidence, such as maps, ciphers, intelligence reports, orders, and so on. In that case, those interrogations would probably be more "fishing" and less "confirmatory", but the overall purpose would always be the same: the interrogator needs the detainee to talk truthfully about the important information.

Most humans have a tendency to talk, given a chance and the offering of a sympathetic ear. I can't imagine that it's extremely difficult to bring even a jihadist into some sort of willing state, just by showing some respect and connection.

*I love A&E's "The First 48".

#102 ::: WakeUP ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:06 AM:

Im sick of the Bush cronies coming out to say we are not safe or Obama has done whatever and it hurts America, waaaaah. Where were they when Bush tore this nation limb from limb? They were right next to Bush helping him rape the world, cheering him on, while we all suffered for it. None of this crap would matter had Bush not screwed up everything he touched. We would be safer and stronger and without this economy mess, we would have the worlds respect and we would have been so far ahead of the game then we are now.
They sound like a kid that just got kicked out of some ones yard because they didn’t play fair. Now they want to say they were better or that they did a better job and bitch, like any of this will make life easier on Obama, or will help anyone? What the real problem is they come out saying these things and rational Americans can see through it and they know that they haven’t a leg to stand on, but it’s the sheeple that take this crap to heart and then Fox and all those haters fuel the fire. We are coming to a point where these idiots are going to do something stupid and someone is going to get hurt or worse they will hurt kids or kill someone, then what?
If anything Mr. Hayden is the one that brought more attention to this issue then would have been with just the release of the documents. Its people like him that think they can and should do anything and everything they want too, and all in the name of security. When did we decide to forgo everything we stand for to ensure anything? We don’t do that, that’s what made our country better then or above the rest. We had moral ground and right on our side, but we have lost that perception around the world and its going to take some time to gain that back, but Obama is doing a fine job of securing our position in the world again.

#103 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:12 AM:

James D. Macdonald @96, I disagree. I have the strong impression- it's gotten stronger with WakeUP's post @102- that there's a bait of some kind going on here.

#104 ::: Hitobito ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:25 AM:

As a former CIA trained Case Officer, there are many activities that were sanctioned 35 years ago that are still classified and will in all likelihood never be declassified. Its great to sit in your home and pontificate about what a CIA operative who is in a denied area should or should not do. When I went through espionage training at a huge US Army facility where denied area borders were set up for training purposes, we were instructed to penetrate these borders, were apprehended and interrogated for 72 hrs. Yes, we were water boarded. The difference was we knew (or hoped) we would survive. For the record, it was still terrifying. I don't agree with General Hayden who has never been a case officer. Our country is safer under this Administration because professionals are more vigilant than ever. It is a shame that Hayden must become political on Fox News to protest an activity that has already been curtailed, is well known by the world at large and frankly has little or no effect on what happens to an operative when apprehended. (He or she will be tortured and executed.)

#105 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:42 AM:

Digg? Slashdot? A thread on some high-traffic forum? But that doesn't quite explain the pro wrestling style "first only hits from one side, then only hits from the other side" sequence. Speculating widely, I'd say getting a lot of new posters posting pretty much boilerplate right-wing stuff and then a lot of new posters posting pretty much boilerplate left-wing stuff so shortly after the Taft exhumation thread might not be a coincidence.

#106 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:03 AM:

Raphael #103 James D. Macdonald @96, I disagree. I have the strong impression- it's gotten stronger with WakeUP's post @102- that there's a bait of some kind going on here.

Yeah, "WakeUP" and "Hitobito" are definitely first-timers who clearly have never read any other threads here.

But Realitt Check has, I promise you, been around for years.

What I don't know is where the link leading back here is. But not to worry -- I'll find it.

#107 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:21 AM:

I think we should mention that laws against torture are not ex post facto. They are way, way, way pre-facto.

Suppose a sitting president were to rob a bank, the classic tommygun and bandanna way. Would he get a pass on it since any prosecution would be seen as politically motivated?

#108 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:35 AM:

"Suppose a sitting president were to rob a bank, the classic tommygun and bandanna way. Would he get a pass on it since any prosecution would be seen as politically motivated?"

Doesn't seem likely, when you put it like that.

But it wouldn't be like that, if it happened. Might he get a pass on it, however, if for six years of his Administration his supporters reshaped their self-conception around support for armed robbery? They'd be encouraged and aided in this act of mental self-mutilation by a friendly news network and a string of helpful radio broadcasters.

They'd spend years mocking their "weak" and "soft" political opponents--whom they all hated to begin with--for their opportunistic and politically-motivated opposition to bank robbery. "Dillinger Derangement Syndrome," they might call it.

There's no crime so awful that people can't bring themselves to support it if it's perpetrated by a figure they admire and deplored by people they hate.

#109 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:37 AM:

Palatino, I think, though I can see an argument for Courier, having conducted so much of my life to date in it. I think that I might like to put something of a forward spin on the epitaph though, something to be shoved in the face of those trying to use that next pile of rubble to justify evil deeds. Perhaps something like: "Never torture in my name, not even now."

#110 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Wyman @100

Stopping it isn't enough.
As it stands now, Obama has said, "My administration doesn't torture, because it's against what America is about." Which is fine for the next 3.5-7.5 years. I mean, it's better than nothing. But it is explicitly taking the stand that it is not a president's responsibility to fix the oversights of a previous president. That's out and out foolishness.

"I didn't do it, and I won't do it," is definitely not enough. The correct message here is, "If the president commits crimes and encourages his staff to commit crimes, he will find that when he is out of power, he is in jail."
Yes, it encourages criminal presidents to not lose power... but the other way encourages criminals to become president. (You should note that it makes as much difference either way.)

On a personal note, President Obama's refrain of looking forward, not backward gives me the "who did he have to cut deals with to become president" willies. But I know there's a simpler, truer explanation. Also, on that topic. "Looking forward" and "moving forward" should both include prosecution. It's not as if legitimate prosecutions ever occur in advance of the crimes. Prosecution is always backward looking, and it annoys me that President Obama is just broadly, generally, platitudinally (pardon me for not finding a real word that carries this meaning) uninterested in prosecution.

#111 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:41 AM:

First, I'd like to say that I just want my tombstone to have sufficiently obvious writing that it's hard not to read while walking by.

Secondly, I'm in complete agreement with everyone who is rather irate that Obama isn't prosecuting torturers. My last desperate hope is that he's trying to string things along a bit to get into an economic recovery period, or baring that to try to get through mid-term elections while evidence is continually mounting, then make the second half of his first term about bringing down some good ol' wrath on the evildoers.

(note that, unlike Bush's claims of having a wrathgasm all over the evildoers, prosecuting torturers actually does make us safer in the long-term and makes the world a Better Place™)


Laertes @108: Clearly the banks deserve to be robbed, in light of the economic atrocities they have recently committed. As our current administration is in cahoots with them, constantly funneling money into their coffers, there is no choice but to take matters into out own hands. True patriots exercise their second amendment rights and bring to bear the wrath of patriots against those soulless bankers who are ruining the hopes of our children for a wealthy future. That money was stolen from us by an unethical taxation scheme and its return to our pocketses is only right.

#112 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:49 AM:

Yeah, there's this thread of argument that assumes that torture was legal when Bush authorized it, and now is being made retroactively illegal. If that were happening, it would be all wrong, but it's not what happened.

An important point here, which lots of people seem to miss: The president cannot make things legal or illegal. That's just not among his powers. He can give orders to the military and the executive branch more generally, but he can't change the law on his say so.

Suppose President Obama wants to have Rush Limbaugh assassinated[1]. He may very well have people who are capable of doing it, and willing to do it on his order. He may give them some piece of paper saying "what the bearer has done is done for the good of the state." He may even get another lawyer in his employ to write some legal opinion saying it's all okay. But none of that makes it legal--that's simply not within the power of the executive branch. The executive branch does not make or repeal laws. If the assassination plot is uncovered, the would-be assassin will be looking at a long prison sentence for conspiracy to commit murder, and "the president told me it was okay" will not be a defense.

This does indeed decrease the ability of the president to get people to do illegal things. That's the point of having laws, after all--to convince people not to do stuff, because they don't want to go to jail for it. That's what's supposed to happen.

As I said above, I think a lot of people who are upset about the disclosure of the torture memos believe that the president and CIA need to be able to ignore the law in some cases, in order to do their jobs. I disagree (or rather, I think the added ability to do their jobs comes at too high a price), but that's probably a worthwhile topic for discussion.

[1] This is a silly example, as there's zero chance of Obama trying to order the execution of Limbaugh, but it makes a useful illustration.

#113 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:07 AM:

jim@68: Yes, I've always thought Ford did a great disservice to the country there. He talked about promoting healing and I think he even said "moving forward", a phrase I'm coming to REALLY despise lately. You shouldn't advance until you can secure your flanks.

#114 ::: TruePatriot ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:14 AM:

"Wrong About Everything"

It is clear, that you and many of the posters here are wrong about everything.

Nothing described in the memos is torture under US law. They did nothing wrong.


albatross "The president cannot make things legal or illegal."

Bush didn't need to, US law at the time of these memos makes it very clear that what was described in these memos is legal and by definition NOT torture.

[Posted from 71.120.95.170 static-71-120-95-170.frstil.dsl-w.verizon.net]

#115 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:26 AM:

O drive-by troll: It is not the law which makes torture, but the human nervous system. If law is your recourse in saying that an act is not torture, then it is torture.

#116 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:33 AM:

TruePatriot @114

Is it honestly your intention to state that nothing in those memos causes severe pain and suffering? Really? Seriously? Even if you don't like that wording, the Red Cross is the designated body that defines torture, and it said that stuff that some of what happened in GitMo was torture (I don't know whether the stuff the Red Cross declared as torture was stuff in the memos)

Or is it your mistaken belief that international treaties to which the U.S. is a party are not part of US law? (This belief would allow the US to define torture in its own way, and would then allow a different definition to demarcate violations of the 8th Amendment). And that's just on the unimportant side topic of whether it was legal under US law, because it certainly wasn't under international law, and the US has an obligation to prosecute those crimes anyway.

#117 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:34 AM:

Hitobito, I can see reasons to train somebody in your position to resist interrogation. It buys time for the people you might identify to make their escape.

I've some knowledge of the WW2 history. The methods Terry Karney describes are very much the methods the Luftwaffe used against captured RAF and USAAF aircrew. The methods associated with the CIA-interrogations closely resemble those of the Gestapo.

It's oddly illuminating that Hermann Goering was in charge of both the Luftwaffe and the early Gestapo.

Anyway, with all the examples of twentieth century history of how torture doesn't work, and of how terror isn't an overwhelming weapon of war, I have to wonder just what sort of ill-educated idiots were backing this.

I don't know what American cities are like. When London had its terrorist attack--nothing like the spectacle of 9/11--there was a certain element of derision in the response. Maybe it's a bit of a myth as a foundation for how we react, but the blitz is within living memory.

And there's an old guy who says he's been bombed by professionals: London Can Take It.

Sure, it's propaganda. It's nearer the reality than amything in Things to Come

Maybe we Brits are lucky. Our Air Force sells itself on the idea that they beat the bombers, even if that story is as ridden with myth as yours. We have the Spitfire.

Maybe I'm rambling, but torture? For a war on terror? What planet did these gys come from?

#118 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:34 AM:

Laertes@108: See, for example, Dan White and the Twinkie defense.

TruePatriot -- IANAL. Are you? How do you know these things were legal? Do you have citiations?

#119 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:40 AM:

It does feel like we're caught up in someone else's game. It's very hard for me to read "TruePatriot" unironically.

On the off chance that this is the pro-torture equivalent of Poe's Law, US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, Section 2340 defines "torture under US law".

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—

(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

(C) the threat of imminent death; or

(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;

One of the objectionable aspects of the memos is that they redefined torture based on intent. By the the terms of the memos, waterboarding someone 183 times or keeping them awake for 11 days in a stressful environment wasn't torture if the primary purpose was to gather information. The fact that our famous historical torturers called themselves the Inquisition never really seemed to make an impression.

By US law, the standard sensory deprivation of prisoners sent to Guantanamo qualified as torture, and so did quite a raft of other things. Part of what the memos did

To quote General Taguba, "After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.".

Anyway, if it was all legal and we are all wrong, isn't the right answer to give the Bush administration their day in court to clear their names? I wouldn't mind using tax money to pay for a fair defense in a war crimes trial, which should be open and shut according to TP over there.

#120 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:46 AM:

...what was described in these memos is legal and by definition NOT torture.

How wonderful! How special!

Those "techniques" were torture when the Inquisition used them, they were torture when the Gestapo used them, they were torture when the NKVD used them, they were torture when the Khymer Rouge used them ... but now, suddenly, they aren't torture!

I am illuminated!

No, actually, they are clearly torture and clearly illegal. Any attempt to make them legal is itself illegal.

Glad to have cleared that up for you.

#121 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:53 AM:

If it's legal to waterboard people, what was the court case or law passed that changed things after we prosecuted people for waterboarding after WWII? Because back then it was illegal, and now people are claiming it is.

When did the laws change, who changed them, and how was it done?

#122 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:59 AM:

People love to cite the Nuremberg trials for the principle that "just following orders" is no defense. But those trials also stand for the principle that even if your own regime declares something legal, it can still be a crime against humanity for which you can be tried, convicted and punished.

Just saying.

Palatino, all caps:

I SHALL FOREVER HAUNT ANY POLITICIAN WHO INVOKES MY DEATH FOR THEIR GAIN.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:03 PM:

I kind of prefer being on the moral high ground, like in this movie. Of course, that probably makes me a naive fool, especially if I let myself be defined by tales of fights against oppression. Many of America's Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.

#124 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Everyone else here has said things better than I would, so I'll just chip in a few responses of my own.

Marna Nightingale @ 43:

Still not sure I'd go with Goudy Old Style, but agreed for sure.

Scott @ 116:

It's not worth bringing up the matter of international law with certain types of people, since they believe that the US is and/or should be above it. (Some of them think that we're the only force protecting against the oncoming one-world government, don't you know.) The main thrust is that these memos try to rationalize torture, and torture is both wrong and also illegal under US law then and now, end of story.

Dave Bell @ 117:

When I was in England the IRA was still sort of active, although they were winding down. You just dealt with the possibility of a terrorist bombing because otherwise you'd live your life in fear, and that's just not worth it. Except for underreported abortion clinic bombings and the occasional thing like the Oklahoma City bombing, the US hasn't had to deal with terrorism in any big way. September 11th was a spectacular shock to just about everyone, especially because of its method of execution and damage caused.

Mark @ 122:

If I believed in any sort of afterlife, I'd want that on my gravestone too.

#125 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:22 PM:

Typeface: something good and visible.

Keeping it simple: NOT IN MY NAME

#126 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:25 PM:

Old English: "Never Again."

#127 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:46 PM:

Ginger @ 126

Yeah, that too.

Suddenly I find myself with flashbacks to:
a) Flanders and Swann's song "The Reluctant Cannibal"
b) The Onion's piece "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule"

#128 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:49 PM:

and... Mark #122 Wins the thread with a meta! ;-)

#129 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:03 PM:

Dave Bell: What planet did these gys come from?

They come from the planet where You Have To Look Strong.

Interestingly enough, my father once commented that weak people worry about looking strong, and strong people worry about doing the right thing.

If what Nixon claimed, "It's not illegal if the President does it" was true, there were no grounds for him to be impeached--and yet he resigned, in large part because senators from his own party told him that based on what they had seen so far, they had no choice but to vote to convict him, should his impeachment proceed.

I realize the GOP of the early 1970s was a different creature from the current GOP, but it looks like there was indeed a point in time where people knew Nixon's claim for the toxic waste* that it was.

For the benefit of all our new visitors, let us, O Fluorosphere, recite in unison:

The President Is Not Above the Law!

I am trying to imagine the reactions of Francis Biddle and Justice Robert Jackson to the news that Jay Bybee is now on the federal bench. Paint would blister, among other things, I should think.

The Fluorospheric Chorus might also want to work on its version of Torture Is Torture Is Torture, with a descant (Xopher can work one up, surely) of Torture Doesn't Work Except As A Terrorrist Tactic.

I'm pretty sure we can get a good back-up band as accompanists.


*Hey, bullshit make good fertilizer, so let's show some respect for that substance.

#130 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:08 PM:

Now I remember the other substantive point I wanted to make about Hayden and his rectocranial inversion.

"One of them actually told me, 'I thought you would torture me, and when you didn't, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That's why I decided to cooperate.'" - "Matthew Alexander," Air Force intelligence officer, on the jihadist who gave his team the location of Abu Musab al-Zaqari

Proof positive: Torture makes us far, far less safe by becoming a-Q's big selling point. Refusing to torture makes us safer by proving a-Q wrong.

#131 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:08 PM:

Fidelio @ 129... They come from the planet where You Have To Look Strong

Triskelion?

#132 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:29 PM:

Only if that's the Planet of the Boneheads, Serge.

#133 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Then you get people like "TruePatriot" above who would rather live on their knees in fear.

A real, true patriot defends the Constitution.

#134 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:36 PM:

In case I was over-cryptic @ 127:

Replace "eating people is wrong" / "don't kill" with "torturing people is wrong" / "don't torture" and it's that simple.

#135 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:54 PM:

And here I thought you wanted to make the meal roast leg of Republican Senator, dcb. I prefer you being elusively allusive. (Actually, though, Limbaugh may be better marbled....)

#136 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:58 PM:

fidelio @ 132... Is that an absolute requirement? Don't you want to go around wearing silver go-go boots? Or is your pride's price so high that there aren't enough qwatloos in the galaxy to make up for the embarassment?

#137 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:04 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ #135: "Limbaugh may be better marbled"

Oh, man. Did you have to put that image in my head?

I would worry about unwanted chemical content there, too.

#138 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:07 PM:

Terry, #78: Let's put it this way -- I'm a lot more inclined to believe you than either (1) a chickenhawk who's never served or (2) a guy whose own neck is in the noose. And as far as I can tell, those are the only two categories of people who seem to be defending the torture.

Wyman, #100: And who was it that set up the situation where any prosecution of Administration officials for genuine crimes would be seen as "politically motivated"?

This is the payoff of a long-term Republican strategy, and you've bought the line they wanted you to buy. It is NOT enough that torture be stopped; the people who broke the law MUST be brought to book for it, or we'll be going thru this whole cycle again in another 20 years. The legality of torture must not be based on the personal opinion of whoever is in the White House.

Not to mention that prosecuting the war criminals would go a long way toward restoring the international respect for America that Bush II spent 6 years trashing.

#139 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:10 PM:

Laertes@65:

Suppose they're prosecuted. This would be a just result

If they're convicted it will be a just result. Is it a foregone conclusion that this will happen? (Genuine question: I don't know enough about Anerican courts to say.) I've also noticed a couple of people using the phrase 'prosecuted and jailed'. But there's a stage in between.

#140 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:18 PM:

If they're prosecuted and justly acquitted, that will be a just result.

If they're prosecuted and justly convicted, that will be a just result.

If they are not prosecuted, or if their acquittal or conviction is unjust, that will not be a just result.

∴ the only possibility of getting a just result is to prosecute them

#141 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:21 PM:

Serge, I can hardly keep shoes on as it is--go-go boots, silver or otherwise, are Not An Option. All those lovely qwatloos would go for the necessary heatstroke treatment.

#142 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:40 PM:

Lee, when I express a personal opinion, I find myself accused of parroting either a Republican or Democratic party line. I think of that as a cheap trick, and I don't like it.

#143 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:41 PM:

I'm a bit boggled by the idea that you can order fonts for a gravestone the same way you can order them for a newsletter. Surely the style of the individual gravestone carver comes into it somewhere? I suppose that while many typefaces owe their designs to the style of ancient inscriptions, modern inscription styles might owe something to modern letterforms; but I still wonder how many typefaces designed for output on a typesetter are easily reproducible on a gravestone.

If I could have any typeface, though, I think I'd like Melior.

#144 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:46 PM:

I can't help but think that a lot of the accusations of political motivation could be silenced (for reasonable people, at least) by having Bush, et. al. prosecuted by the International War Crimes Tribunal. This isn't something that just offends the sensibilities of Democrats.

#145 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:52 PM:

...but not a guarantee, I meant to add.

#146 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:56 PM:

In reality I intend to be cremated and the ashes scattered. I don't plan to have a gravestone. I'm thinking that if I die in a terrorist attack, the line should be "I regret only that I had but one life to give to prevent torture." Tell people I said that; that will be enough.

#147 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:08 PM:

NelC @143 - I wouldn't be surprised if current methods involved laser cutting or some other automated process. (Superficial Googling backs this up.) So specifying a typeface shouldn't be difficult.

Make mine Garamond. I've always liked Garamond.

#148 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:15 PM:

NelC, when my mother and her sisters ordered a replacement tombstones for their infant great-aunts (long story), they were offered a choice of letter styles--and there was a fairly wide range available, especially for a fairly small town in Missouri. The owner of the monument company noted, with some pride, that he had a man on staff who could "work with you" if any of their standard designs didn't suit. IIRC, they did both laser and high-pressure water cutting.

#149 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Hmm. With the rise in both cremations and real estate prices, are headstone-cutters in the same position as buggy-whip manufacturers c. 1910?

#150 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:42 PM:

albatross @112 "Will no one rid me of this troublesome radio personality"

The last 7 years or so, I've been much more afraid of the U.S. government that of the terrorists. I do not want torture done in my name. I do not want cameras on every street corner. And I really would like to see prosecutions of criminals from the Bush administration, including Himself, for condoning torture, for lying to drag us into war, for many many other known crimes.

And if necessary, dig up Nixon and prosecute him as well. We have to stop this rot *NOW*.

#151 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 05:18 PM:

I am thinking that this is not just about the President. I suspect if they were to truly pursue this in any prosecution it could gut the government to a level where it is non-functional.

What happens if you have to prosecute half of congress, most of the former cabinet, the president and veep as well as top officials in the doj/cia both then and now? Not to mention state and any other groups who may have had knowledge or input. You'd end up with a non-functional government. I wonder if that is the real reason he is not going after anyone because in going after them he'd have to go after everyone.

#152 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 05:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore @135

I expected the real ML'ers to get the point. I wasn't sure about the semi-trolls.

As for "roast leg of Republican Senator" I'll have to pass (since I'm vegetarian).

#153 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 05:56 PM:

Senators are not vegetables. Rather, they are better compared to sessile and relatively unintelligent animals, such as sea anemones. If you can imagine a very long winded sea anemone with an extremely high regard for itself. A diet of Senators is not recommended, because it would be high in fats and cholesterol, and also because it would be geographically confused, what with the Diet being in Japan and the Senate in the US.

#154 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 05:57 PM:

Probably healthier than a Diet of Worms, though.

#155 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 06:00 PM:

144#

"I can't help but think that a lot of the accusations of political motivation could be silenced (for reasonable people, at least) by having Bush, et. al. prosecuted by the International War Crimes Tribunal."

Oh yeah, that would be non-controversial---not.

#156 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 06:23 PM:

Wyman Cooke, controversy isn't the issue; restoration of the rule of law is. And you can't have a rule of law if some group or class, e.g., the president and his operatives, is not prosecuted for crimes they have committed, for whatever reason.

#157 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 06:41 PM:

Ah, TomB, but Senators are a highly renewable resource. More so than the canonical insurance salesman.

#158 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 06:44 PM:

Also, Wyman, any prosecution of the Bushistas will be controversial to some extent. But anyone who thinks the International War Crimes Tribunal is a partisan tool of the Democratic Party isn't in the category of "reasonable people."

Controversy cannot be avoided when so many people think America is or should be exempt from the rules we insist on for everyone else, or that some Americans (say, people who have been President) should be above the law. Those people are always going to be outraged when people who really understand and love America and what it stands for call for justice to be applied equally.

#159 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 07:19 PM:

Seriously, if the officials who authorized or performed torture did so justly and legally, as they say, then they should have nothing to fear. If is very clear from Obama's statements that he is not vindictive. We need to have a thorough accounting of what they did. They should welcome that as an opportunity for vindication.

Another possibility is that what they did was illegal but that it was necessary or just in a greater sense. If so, their best recourse is to seek a jury trial and make their case as fully as possible.

If what they did was neither legal nor necessary, their best recourse is to take responsibility, come clean, and avoid the additional charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

It would not be in their interest to continue arguing, as they have, that what they did was legal but secret. If the law is secret, then we no longer have the rule of law, just the rule of those who meet in secret. Now that the Bush administration officials are no longer in power, they should have a deep and enduring interest in helping to restore the rule of law. Otherwise what they did to others could be done to them.

I think Obama is faced with a genuinely difficult problem. We need our intelligence and security forces to be accountable, but we also need them to keep working for us. When the ANC was elected in South Africa, they had it worse. They had to cut a deal with the South African security forces, or they might not have survived. But in exchange for amnesty, they asked for full disclosure, and so the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions were born. There is no reason why we should not get at least as good a deal as the ANC got. No amnesty without full disclosure. And I mean full, in public court, and naming names.

Regardless of their situation, the best thing the Bush administration officials can do is come clean. Even if Obama isn't asking them to. Things will work out better for them, and for the country. It would be the patriotic thing for them to do.

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 07:25 PM:

TomB, I agree, but if any of these men had any tiny smidgen of patriotism at all, they would not have done the things they did in the first place.

#161 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Wyman, #142: Sorry, I was unclear. The long-term Republican strategy I referred to is that of taking impeachment, and/or later prosecution for impeachable crimes, off the table altogether as a Democratic option. It worked a treat after the 2006 elections, and appears to be continuing to work now in that people are continuing to argue that we must not prosecute lest it be seen as "politically motivated". It doesn't matter whether they argue this out of Republican loyalty or not -- that it's argued seriously at all was the intended result.

Your personal opinion is one that I find deeply and tragically flawed, for reasons already stated.

#162 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:09 PM:

I'm adding my belated voice in agreement with Marna's request; I prefer Kelmscott, and there's a gorgeous Columbia River boulder in the precise center of the lower garden, if that's left to the world.

#163 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:25 PM:

Also, Tom Whitmore at 135, Rush may be better marbled, but he's old, and I'm sure he'd only be useful to provide fat in a mixed product like baloney.

#164 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:32 PM:

@144: That would require the US to sign up to the International Criminal Court. Any word yet on whether Obama's likely to do that?

#165 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:32 PM:

Given how rancid Limbaugh is, I think the best thing to do is make scrapple with him.

#166 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:40 PM:

TomB@ 159: Well-said!

Various: Rush is toxic, and full of drug residues -- it would be illegal to use him it in any food for human consumption. Better to send all of that finely marbled steak to the rendering plant, for processing as inedible.

The best thing to do, of course, is to take off and nuke him from orbit. It's the only way to be safe.

#167 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:19 PM:

My understanding is that Obama didn't so much "decide to release the memos" as "decided not to further resist a court order to release the memos". I'm glad he consented, and repudiated torture, but I'm starting to get worried that he will continue the line that the president can legally do what he wants without legal recourse.

Consider not only the noises he's making here about not prosecuting those who were involved in torture (something that the law requires), but the immunity arguments his administration is making on warrantless wiretapping, arguments the EFF calls "worse than Bush's".

Now, in my more optimistic moments, I think he *might* be "playing the long game" and trying to walk back out of the Bush doctrines in a roundabout way. But I'm not at all confident about that, at this point. Moreover, *even if he is*, it's important that citizens keep the pressure on against the idea that the President is entitled to act like an elected dictator, whether or not he's pursuing policies we like.

Because if both parties get comfortable with this idea (at least when they're in power), our future as a democratic republic is in serious jeopardy.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:27 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 165... When I mentionned to the mother of my youngest nephew that he had the same birthday as Rush, she exclaimed "Gross!"

#169 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Bruce Cohen #165: Given how rancid Limbaugh is, I think the best thing to do is make scrapple with him.

Another reasonable alternative is portable soup.

#170 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:09 PM:

Garamond. Name and years.
I figure I'll be cremated, but I want the marker planted in one of two cemeteries in Kansas - either Lake Creek near Bartlett, where about half the people are relatives one or another way, or Oak Hill near elk City, where my great-grandfather and his sister and her husband are. (There are at least two other cemeteries in that area with various ancestors and other relations, but they aren't as appealing, for whatever reason.)

#171 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:47 PM:

I LIKE Rush. Even if they did have that obnoxious Libertarian streak that lasted for two-three albums.

Oh... Limbaugh. He's a pus filled boil on the body politic, no lie.

#172 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:57 PM:

Dave Harmon: I have. They aren't. I don't mind. The flesh will decay, and I be food for worms. So long as someone thinks me worth commemorating (for whatever reason), the stone will be kept up.

So long as the internet remains, I suspect my words, and more of "me" will survive.

I don't mind that either.

Wyman Cooke: #100: Torture has been stopped. Can that not be enough?

In a word, no.

In another word, why? What makes this crime so special we can afford to not only ignore it, but make it easier to commit again (which is part of the stated rationale given by many of the torture apologists)?

More to the point... you are saying the previous administration is exempt because... they were the other party? That's stuff and nonsense. Did anyone say that when the Arkansas Bar was pursuing sanctions against Clinton (who had broken no law)?

Bush was not a king. He was not annointed. He was, at most, primus inter pares, and that but for a sum of years. He was the hired help. If it was some petty shit (he took some of the Nixon china) I'd be willing to say... "Give it back, and we'll forget the whole thing. That's not what happened.

We've already seen a Democratic president impeached on "some pretext". The country saw that for what it was. They are smart enough to see this for what it is too. Make the trials fair, and public, and the pieces can fall where they may. Charge those who are implicated, convict those who are guilty, acquit (and clear the name) of those who were not guilty.

If you read the things I've said in various places... what I'm asking for (investigations, prosecutions) reaches right to me. I know I didn't commit torture. I know there are people I worked with who did. I know there are people I worked with who might. Some of them are friends of mine.

I hope none of them crossed the line. I hope that any prosecutions take mitigating factors into account in verdict and sentence.

And I hope that anyone I know, who did things like this, is convicted.

Ginger: Not "Never Again", because that's what the torturers use to rationalise the torture. They are just, "doing what we have to do to make sure it never happens again".

Larry @151: Do you really think that many people were involved in the torture? If so... then we REALLY need to get them out. Because having that many careerists (the one's who shape the continuity of policy) be that corrupt (that they believe the president gets to make things legal), is terrifying.

What someone (who was involved in the tortures) said recently was, "Now that you've said you won't torture you just made another attack more likely.

As to Limbaugh... I don't know that (apart from whatever stew of chemical enhancements there might be) the meat is all that marbled. I don't get the impression he is large because is active, and eats too well.

I suspect he is just covered with a deep layer of fat, around weak, and miserable, muscle.

Lee: Heresiarch hit it on the head. I know what I know. I know what I don't know. I know that I can make things clearer, but I know that I am not the fount from which to take recieve wisdom.

I can deal with it. It's not as if I am not holding myself out as an expert, but I am leery of being seen as some sort of paragon. It is what it is.

#173 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 01:43 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 157:
Ah, TomB, but Senators are a highly renewable resource.

A good thing, too, since they seem to spoil easily...

#174 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 01:53 AM:

Larry's argument makes sense, if we assume that once the disclosures start, it won't just be torture, it'll be wiretaps on congressmen and journalists and judges, black-bag jobs, blackmail, disappearing political opponents, assassinations, preparations for a coup, etc.

And there's some part of me that fears all that. I expect that if we start looking, we may find that what we know now of the Bush administration's actions is the tip of a very foul and frightening iceberg. I think there's a real chance that serious investigation will find that the post-9/11 spying powers were used extensively within the US to help keep Congress and the press in line. I fear we will discover that we did a lot worse overseas than we know yet. I'm still creeped out over how the anthrax attack case was closed (after the prime suspect conveniently committed suicide just before he was to be arrested by the FBI), and it's downright terrifying to think about what might be discovered there, with some digging.

To cross threads, I think the argument that may be being used within the administration and congress, and at some levels of the news business as well, is that public disclosure of the full depth of what the Bush administration was up to will shake the country in ways even Watergate didn't, and that it is too destructive to let that information come out.

I hope this is all late-night fears, and that we've already heard the worst. But I don't believe it, not anymore. The people who were willing to authorize those tortures, I put nothing past them. And leaks and stories we've had for years now suggest a pattern of much more widespread domestic spying than has yet been disclosed, and probably worse stuff.

And if we haven't heard the worst, well, we need to. We can't have a democratic government if the people are too delicate to be permitted to hear what their government is doing in their name, allegedly for their interests. But that may very well implicate prominent Democrats as well as Republicans. It may lead to such popular outrage and widespread mistrust of the federal government that all kinds of beneficial things are made impossible. It may even lead to civil unrest. But we need to know.

#175 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 02:02 AM:

As a bit of a continuation, I can imagine easily that a lot of what may eventually be disclosed has been done in the past by Democratic as well as Republican administrations. And that full investigation may also lead to the release of the blackmail information collected and used by the Bush administration against both Democrats and Republicans.

#176 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 03:17 AM:

albatross, #175: I think there's a real chance that serious investigation will find that the post-9/11 spying powers were used extensively within the US to help keep Congress and the press in line.

That would explain an awful lot, wouldn't it? OTOH, it raises different questions, especially in light of Obama's current behavior.

#177 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:56 AM:

Perhaps slightly off the thread of this discussion lately, but I was just watching some news and someone mentioned the "War on Terror" again, which is a name I've always despised, but it returned to mind one of the many fatal fatal flaws in the entire theory of torture in this situation.

Even assuming that torture were legal or acceptable or effective or any such nonsense, it's really a case of fighting battles and not wars. If you torture someone to stop an attack, woohoo, you stopped one attack. If you uncover a group of operatives from torture, woohoo you caught some people. Wars are not won by killing enemies and defeating attackers, wars are won by removing the ability to launch further attacks.

In the case of the "War on Terror", there is little of the terrorist system that we can attack. The individuals are largely unconnected. Their weaponry is cheap and impossible to cut production of. The only thing we can possibly attack is their source of new recruits.

The main method for recruiting new members for terrorist endeavors is anti-American sentiment. Torture does more to improve this than just about anything else.

Of course, I suppose this has been said a hundred times before here, but I hadn't seen it in this thread and I sorta felt like saying it again. It makes me happy to say it, and I like being happy (hence the definition of the word happy).

#178 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:09 AM:

James D. Macdonald @106, But Realitt Check has, I promise you, been around for years.

Do you say that based on some stuff moderators have access to that I can't see, or simply based on the fact that there've been two previous posters who gave "nospam@nospam.org" as their email address?

#179 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 06:06 AM:

Monument: I'd welcome suggestions to improve this motto (sometimes used in my sig), which was adapted from Frank Herbert's Dune. In some circumstances it could be used as an epitaph:

"The greatest victory your enemy can have is to make you a mirror of himself."

But as of now it's name, dates [+ whatever friends want], Palantino* in a durable local stone like trachyete or Marulan granite as either the back or arm/endpiece of a comfortable stone bench, probably Pyrmont sandstone, slightly dished, with runnels for drainage, maybe with a bowl for thirsty animals, ridged to stop drownings. There's a place on a hillside out in the country where I hope to feed a few trees and bushes in my biodegradable coffin.

On the Rule of Law, and how much advance has been made to get away from anyone being able to say "Thus and So", and it being done as if law. From A Man For All Seasons

Roper: 'You would give the devil the benefit of law'.
More: 'Yes, what would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get at the devil?'
Roper: 'I would cut down every law in England to do that'.
More: 'And when the law was down and the devil turned around on you, where would you hide; the laws being all flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast, and if you cut them down, do you think you could stand in the winds that would blow through them?'.
*Garamond is nice and strong, though.

#180 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 06:59 AM:

Mark @ 122: "I SHALL FOREVER HAUNT ANY POLITICIAN WHO INVOKES MY DEATH FOR THEIR GAIN."

I dunno--if I die in a terrorist attack, I wouldn't mind certain politicians invoking my name, even if they benefit as a result, as long as they're invoking it to try to prod the country towards a more sensible course. It's not being put to political purposes that fazes me, it's being put to abhorrent political purposes.

albatross @ 174: "And if we haven't heard the worst, well, we need to. We can't have a democratic government if the people are too delicate to be permitted to hear what their government is doing in their name, allegedly for their interests. But that may very well implicate prominent Democrats as well as Republicans. It may lead to such popular outrage and widespread mistrust of the federal government that all kinds of beneficial things are made impossible."

Given that the wiretapping coverup legislation seems to have been passed at least in part by Democratic fears of being held accountable for what they failed to do at the time, this is depressingly plausible.

#181 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 07:32 AM:

Do you say that based on some stuff moderators have access to that I can't see,

I can manifestly see IP numbers.

#182 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 09:17 AM:

Ok, sorry.

#183 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 10:12 AM:

xopher@140: All that is true. Nevertheless, it would not be a good result for Obama, or indeed for anyone, if they were prosecuted, acquitted, and came out saying 'The courts have vindicated that fundamental bulwark of American liberties, the right to torture terrorists'. So I would still be interested to know what the chances of that happening are.

John Mark Ockerbloom@167: Does the law require that those who have committed torture be prosecuted? I'm fairly certain it does not require that those who have committed any crime be prosecuted. If it does it's a very odd law; it's normal for prosecutors to have discretion. Is there a specific law relating to torture, and if so how did it originate?

#184 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 10:22 AM:

@183: I haven't read the UN Convention against Torture, but the UN special rapporteur says it requires that torturers be prosecuted.

#185 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Andrew @ 183: The Geneva Conventions do specifically state that torture and other war crimes must be prosecuted by its signatories (and that the ICRC decides what torture is). The US is a signatory, with congressional ratification, of the Geneva Conventions, which means according to our Constitution that they have the full force of federal law.

#186 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:13 PM:

Today, CNN:

President Obama on Tuesday left open the possibility of criminal prosecution for Bush administration officials who drew up the legal basis for interrogation techniques that many view as torture. Obama said it will be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether to prosecute the former officials.
#187 ::: mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 03:15 AM:

I'm one of the folks speaking up on this thread but usually silently reading along. I know that the moderators can see where I'm located (hi!) but I'm not giving my email because last time I did that I got lots of spam and a lovely close relative has helpfully told me that the relative googles me regularly. I'd like to be able to speak up without feeling like I'm at thanksgiving dinner. Sorry for being technologically primative in my approach. And sporatic in my participation in the conversations - as the time stamps might show, I just check in late at night and wander into reading other threads so am not good enough in quickly continuing conversations on threads. And my store of puns, SF references, and esoteric knowledge is not sufficient to regularly comment at the calibur of chat here.

I just HAVE to speak up to respond to folks like Larry upthread and everyone else wondering if we should leave the worms under the rock since there might be too many guilty parties -- No. There are plenty of competent Americans to fill any vacancies and starting legal action against the lawyers who gave legal cover to torture would be a really, really good idea.

Government lawyers are in so many ways safer than private practice lawyers from malpractice suits - something I LOVE under normal circumstances but there must be limits and the torture lawyers like Yoo and Bybee need to be shown that they crossed the limit.

The thing that is really striking to me in reading the memo I just finished is the poor reasoning (sleep deprivation causes halucinations but somehow imposing this on a unwilling person who is under stress doesn't meet the standard quoted above of torture? How?) and how the lawyer documents in the memo that he has NO EXPERTISE in the subject of torture and what is torture, discounts the experts such as the State Department report on torture abroad, doesn't reach out to do research on torture (and there is plenty of documentation available to someone doing good faith research but feeling unable to pick up the phone and chat. And the literature shows that there is lasting mental harm from the methodologies blythly authorized, that it is not unknown for torture regimes to have medical officials standing by, etc., etc.), and then draws conclusions by using information from a different area (SEER training). Breath-taking legal incompetence. The first rule of competent lawyering is that if you are not yourself an expert in the area (and you can't do the best thing of referring the client to an expert) then you go running to an expert to learn the law (and from the news it seems to me that there were experts in the State department with the necessary security clearance). These criminals hide behind "policy differences" but that is bunk. If they had reached out to real experts on torture and the law of torture they would have been unable to authorize such behavior. Time for a trial. I am very much looking forward to the release of the DOJ Office of Ethics report which I deeply hope is at least sufficient to support disbarment -- and after disbarment the firing for cause of Yoo and the impeachment of Bybee, etc.

Hm. I can see why lurkers like me can seem spam-like when I finally start commenting. Sorry for running on so long.

#188 ::: mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 03:51 AM:

Report on torture by Congress posted online:

http://armed-services.senate.gov/Publications/Detainee%20Report%20Final_April%2022%202009.pdf

Chilling to read.

#189 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 05:34 AM:

It occurs to be that one reason to be diffident about pursuing Bush administration torture policies is that if all that gets illuminated by the bright light of Truth and Justice, then we also might hear things we hadn't heard before about the torture policies of the Clinton administration (more than just the offshoring of America's torture needs that we've heard about before).

#190 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 07:04 AM:

I don't need a tombstone -- I'm content for my ashes to turn to ashes and dust to dust.

I would like people who have known and loved me to say that I "loved my neighbor as myself." The problem I get into here is that I cannot reconcile a commander-in-chief who claimed to be a Christian who so wantonly led the nation to violate the Golden Rule. I'm having a very hard time with the remaining "Christian base" who justify imposing the kind of treatment Christ and his followers suffered just to save their own privileged, pampered hides.

#191 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Another mostly-lurker here. Thanks for the impetus to write: I just put stamps on letters to my senator, representative, and president.

#192 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 03:19 PM:

Back in 1989, when the Soviet Bloc was unraveling with astonishing swiftness, there was a phrase used over and over by news folks:

"Things are happening very quickly."

Often spoken in dazed disbelief: The Berlin Wall is being torn down? By happy Berliners? And no one is shooting at them? Things are happening very quickly.

I'm getting a things are happening very quickly feeling, and if I were a neoconservative I'd be packing a grip and emptying out my safe deposit boxes.

#193 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 05:43 PM:

Earl, #189: I don't have a problem with that either. First off, if we were doing it, it needs to be exposed and STOPPED; secondly, it would at least give the Clinton-bashers something appropriate to yowl about, since nothing is ever going to shut them up anyhow.

#194 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 10:23 AM:

Yep. It's a very bad thing to have a lot of people whose position on whether X is a crime is determined by whether the person who did X is in their party or the other party. It's an even worse thing to have criminal prosecutions determined mainly by which party is in power. The common justification you hear for this is always some variant on either:

a. Well, the other guys do it too, and worse. (Aka "Clinton did it too.")

b. Hey, this sort of thing always goes on, stop being a crybaby/idealist/stick-in-the-mud and go along.

#195 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 05:20 PM:

As an aside, there has been some discussion of torture issues on Megan McArdle's blog, including a pretty large number of apparent astroturfers. I guess there are folks who are willing to pay to push back, simultaneously, on the ideas that:

a. We tortured
b. We shouldn't have tortured
c. Anyone at all should face any penalty for the above.

I'll admit that my cynical guess is that astroturfers are being paid by people whose greatest concern is (c). But I have no real strong reason to say so, just a guess.

I'll note that there are also apparently real commenters taking one or more pro-torture lines. But the feel is quite different, somehow.

#196 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:26 AM:

National security... WHAT "national security" ?!! The sort of "national security" that the NKVD and KGB etc. gave the citizens of the USSR, or the Stasi gave East Germany, or the Revolutionary Guard gave Iraq, or the Khymer Rouge gave Cambodia, or Madame Mao gave China?! Hordes of zealous extremists and sociopaths along for the funs, out abusing and torturing and murdering anyone on any pretext they chose claiming it was "national security?" Disappear into the night, into a cells to be beaten, waterboarded, starved, brainwashed, interrogated, and not necessarily emerge alive from later.... Gulag USA, 2001-2008, raping every principle underlying the establishment of the United States of America.

The trolls show up like Communist terrorist agitators back in the Cold War days, out looking to create as much turmoil and disturbance as possible, so they can get the foothold, remove the existing rule of law, and replace it with their ideology and control and lack of tolerance for anyone else....


"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary...."

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