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Gulags, American-Style
November 2, 2005 7:00 AM   Subscribe

The administration's latest innovation in its effort to export democracy: Soviet-style gulags, a network of secret C.I.A. prisons known as "black sites." [From the Washington Post]. Meanwhile, SecDef Rumsfeld says no thanks to the idea of U.N. inspectors talking to detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
posted by digaman (369 comments total)

 
Freedom is on the march!

Defending Liberty one tortured gulag prisoner at a time!

Democracy at work!
posted by nofundy at 7:17 AM on November 2, 2005


America actually is the Great Satan.
posted by chunking express at 7:24 AM on November 2, 2005


In the same press conference linked above, Rumsfeld dismissed Lawrence Wilkerson's assertion (previously discussed here) that a "cabal" led the US to war with a definitive "my goodness gracious." He hadn't, you know, read about this fellow (who was Colin Powell's former chief of staff.)


Q Mr. Secretary, recently Larry Wilkerson, the former State Department official, has described what he said was a cabal between you and Vice President Cheney in forming public policy leading up to the war. And he described what he said was a seriously dysfunctional foreign policy. I don't think we've heard you speak on that. Can you just respond to that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I haven't read this. I've heard about it. And I don't know the man. I've never met the man, and I don't believe he's ever been in a meeting of the NSC. So it's hard for me to understand exactly what his insights might have been.

But, obviously, the president is the one who makes foreign policy, and the secretary of State is the one that implements foreign policy. And it's the country's policy.

I don't know what else one could say.

Q If I can just follow up. He seems to be complaining that the State Department's role in that was minimized in the lead-up to the war.

SEC. RUMSFELD: My experience in those meetings is that the president is the principal person who decides these things, and if he -- what was his job, this fellow?

Q He was -- forgive me, I cover the Pentagon, but he was the chief of staff to Powell.

Q He was chief of staff to Powell.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know what his perspective was or what his expectations were.

Q Do you think he was speaking for Secretary Powell?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh my goodness. Secretary Powell is perfectly capable of speaking for himself. I can't imagine --

Q You didn't interpret it that way?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't.

Q So there was no cabal?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Of course not. My goodness gracious. The president of the United States makes these decisions, and he did it in open meetings and discussions that went on, and at great length. And that kind of a perspective obviously is looking through the wrong end of a telescope, I think.

posted by digaman at 7:24 AM on November 2, 2005


It looks to me that Rumsfeld came out just fine in that exchange. He denied the allegations and made the point that the guy was not involved.

I don't really see that as anything damning to Rumsfeld there.
posted by dios at 7:37 AM on November 2, 2005


America actually is the Great Satan.

I'm starting to form that opinion myself. The Americanisation of this planet is not a good thing. It is very, very, very scary.

Look at the problems facing us these days - pollution, obesity, Global Terrorism... Now we can't say America is to blame but it certainly isn't helping matters is it?
posted by twistedonion at 7:37 AM on November 2, 2005


As far as I'm concerned, the War on Terrorism might as well be declared over. If America is doing stuff like this, the terrorists clearly won.
posted by alumshubby at 7:37 AM on November 2, 2005


I think with all that's going on, we can all take great pride in the fact that our nation has both the capacity and the compassion to assist the Pakistan government in their disaster relief efforts. Right now we have over 800 U.S. armed forces on the ground, side-by- side with their Pakistani counterparts, over 24 medium- and heavy-lift helicopters with nine more on the way. Fixed-wing airplanes are dropping relief supplies. Almost 4,000 tons of relief supplies have been delivered. Hospitals providing medical care, engineers and Seabees who are helping to clear roads and make it possible for the government of Pakistan to provide the help that those citizens need. So we are proud to be part of it.

24 helicopters. Shock and awe.
posted by three blind mice at 7:37 AM on November 2, 2005


Also, I didn't see the word gulag in the article that is linked to that word, so I think you do your good story a disservice by needlessly editorializing. The story would have been good enough without that sort of hyperbole.
posted by dios at 7:38 AM on November 2, 2005


dios, while I appreciate the open-mindedness in being willing to take everything at face value, if Wilkerson, the chief of staff to the Secretary of State until last January, was "not involved" or in no position to know what was going on with the push to war, that is as much proof of an insulated cabal that excluded the Secretary of State from the decision to go to war as anything Wilkerson claimed. There's a difference between credulity and willful obtuseness.
posted by digaman at 7:45 AM on November 2, 2005


dios, you have a point. "Secret interrogation and torture camp" would have been more literal.
posted by digaman at 7:49 AM on November 2, 2005


Gulag:

In 1931–32, [Soviet] Gulag(s) had approximately 200,000 prisoners in the camps; in 1935 — approximately 800,000 in camps and 300,000 in colonies (annual averages), and in 1939 about 1.3 millions in camps and 350,000 in colonies.

...
The total documentable deaths in the system of corrective-labor camps and colonies from 1930 to 1956 amount to 1,606,748, including political and common prisoners; note that this does not include more than 800,000 executions of "counterrevolutionaries" during the period of the "Great Terror", since they were mostly conducted outside the camp system and were accounted for separately. From 1932 to 1940, at least 390,000 peasants died in places of labor settlements.

Their memory is insulted by the glib use of the word.
posted by loquax at 7:50 AM on November 2, 2005


Also, I didn't see the word gulag in the article that is linked to that word, so I think you do your good story a disservice by needlessly editorializing.

dios has a point. The article mentions a "soviet-era" camp in eastern europe, but fails to draw any parallel to the system of gulags.

Indeed, the comparison is weak. Most Soviet citizens were sentenced to the "gulags" after trial. Of course these were show trials and there was no justice, but at least the Soviets gave a nod to the rule of law by going through the motions.

Rumsfeld can't even be bothered to go through the motions. Calling the CIAs secret prisons "gulags" is a compliment they do not deserve.
posted by three blind mice at 7:50 AM on November 2, 2005


dois does have a good point - Rumsfeld handled the question perfectly fine - it was a ridiculous question to begin with. What, is Rumsfeld going to actually say "Yes, yes there was a cabal - I'm glad you asked that, is there a followup?"

Come on - the press conferences are jokes.
posted by odinsdream at 7:53 AM on November 2, 2005


In fact, loquax, their memory is insulted by apologists for the current system of secret prisons, torture, and indefinite detention without charge.
posted by digaman at 7:53 AM on November 2, 2005


dios, I would guess that a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe is what digam is calling a Gulag. Maybe it isn't. Maybe with the Americans in charge it is a lovely place to stay.

Though you are right, America comes off looking like a piece of shit country whether you call the covert prisons gulags or not.
posted by chunking express at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2005


dios: if we're actually using facilities in E. Europe that had been employed to detain political prisoners under Communist regimes, then "gulag" isn't really a term that's out of bounds. It stretches matters a bit, but since "gulag" is now used as a metonym for the entire Soviet apparatus of state detention, the term fits here as well.

It's Abu Ghraib all over again. I can't believe nobody in the CIA/Defense Department looked up from their briefing papers and said, "Um, guys? These prisons have a pretty nasty history. Maybe we could, like, just build our own somewhere else?"

By using these sorts of facilities, the ethics of indefinite detention notwithstanding, we invite the supposition that our government is like the Soviet Union or a Baathist dictatorship.

I should hope we can all agree that that's a bad thing.
posted by felix betachat at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2005


Arbeit macht frei.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2005


On preview, it's not a point of lexical accuracy, it's one of perception. If people can say gulag and be believed, that's enough to tarnish the US government's reputation pretty severely.

They should have known better.
posted by felix betachat at 7:57 AM on November 2, 2005


Maybe so digaman, but to equate the detention of (possibly) several hundred suspected terrorists with the systemic murder of millions of complete innocents, along with forced slaverly is absurd on its face.

That being said, what do you propose the US government do with the 30 "major terrorism suspects" being held in these jails?
posted by loquax at 7:59 AM on November 2, 2005


odinsdream, when the man making the "joke" is in charge of the young Americans fighting and dying in a war he was instrumental in launching by helping to distort intelligence, the joke isn't funny.
posted by digaman at 7:59 AM on November 2, 2005


The CIA is running secret detention camps with no civilian oversight. This is bad enough. Why weaken your argument with claims about what goes on in them that have no basis in evidence, as yet?
posted by event at 8:07 AM on November 2, 2005


You're correct, loquax. Equating the systemic murder of of millions of innocents with the systemic murder of tens of thousands of innocents is an error of magnitude. My bad.
posted by digaman at 8:09 AM on November 2, 2005


event:

Although the CIA will not acknowledge details of its system, intelligence officials defend the agency's approach, arguing that the successful defense of the country requires that the agency be empowered to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists for as long as necessary and without restrictions imposed by the U.S. legal system or even by the military tribunals established for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

Do you suppose that the "holding" and "interrogation" tactics used in this network of secret prisons are considerably more humane than the detention centers we already know about? If so, you have more faith in the CIA's determination to act humanely than I do, and more than the evidence we do have suggests.
posted by digaman at 8:14 AM on November 2, 2005


Equating the systemic murder of of millions of innocents with the systemic murder of tens of thousands of innocents is an error of magnitude.

The war in Iraq is not related to the capture of international terror figures. Regardless, America is not killing civilians in Iraq intentionally, or enslaving them for political or economic purposes. That is what the "insurgents" hope to do, and what Hussein did for decades. You may disagree with the war, and your disagreements may be valid, but to equate America's actions in Iraq to Soviet concentration camps, show trials, mass executions and ethnic cleansing is again, absurd.

I'd really like to know, what do you want to do with the chaps in the secret jails?
posted by loquax at 8:15 AM on November 2, 2005


The Americanisation of this planet is not a good thing

Indeed... in the face of that why shouldn't another nation be allowed to justify, say, the Chinazisation of said planet?
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:16 AM on November 2, 2005


I'd really like to know, what do you want to do with the chaps in the secret jails?

Not have them in secret jails?
posted by petri at 8:18 AM on November 2, 2005


How did our moral compass get so out of whack that we have the Whitehouse advocating for the right to use cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment against prisoners?
posted by caddis at 8:20 AM on November 2, 2005


America is not killing civilians in Iraq intentionally

Perhaps, but individual soldiers or commanders with an urge to pump lead demonstrate a lack of distinction between insurgents and folks sleeping in their bedrooms or heading out to buy groceries. When that carnage occurs under the banner of legitimate conflict (Afghanistan) it's a miserable fact of war. When it occurs under the banner of a falsehood, it's a crime, and that understanding of moral outrage is what fuels an enormous amount of the insurgency in Iraq.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:21 AM on November 2, 2005


loquax, I think maybe, just maybe, they should stand trial for something. Or is being a suspect enough to jail someone indefinitely. Oh wait, it is! Yay freedom.

Also, I like how these sort of facilities are illegal in America, which is why they are housed in foreign countries. The CIA obviously knows they aren't quite kosher. Still, I like how the CIA doesn't let any sense of morality or justice get in the way of doing their job.

I'm surprised Iran, North Korea and America don't get along better. They need to get past their difference sand see that they have so much in common.
posted by chunking express at 8:24 AM on November 2, 2005


What three_blind_mice said.

For years I've been tempted to believe that "Al Qaida" is a CIA operation or at least heavily influenced by CIA agents provocateurs. I'm of course not sure the CIA was behind "9/11", but in general I think if Al Qaida did not exist the CIA would gladly invent it.

First they'll do it to foreigners, then they'll do it to us. In fact, hey, I have an idea: would y'all rather take the threat seriously and work to stop it before it gets even worse, or would you rather do what's easier now and bet your freedom that I'm a "conspiracy- theory wacko"? My money's on the latter: Americans are lazy cowards. (Avoid the rush, order your orange jumpsuits now!)

And to answer caddis: 1798, at least.
posted by davy at 8:25 AM on November 2, 2005


I'd really like to know, what do you want to do with the chaps in the secret jails?

For one thing, loquax, you don't know any more about the identity of these "chaps" than I do, and there is considerable evidence to inspire disbelief in the official claims of who they are. But even if these guys really are the Bad Guys, we might consider, oh I dunno, following the Geneva Conventions?
posted by digaman at 8:25 AM on November 2, 2005


Maybe so digaman, but to equate the detention of (possibly) several hundred suspected terrorists with the systemic murder of millions of complete innocents, along with forced slaverly is absurd on its face.

Yeah, we're not AS bad.

That being said, what do you propose the US government do with the 30 "major terrorism suspects" being held in these jails?

Ahmm, what about that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing? Oh yes, 911 chaned everything.

I'd really like to know, what do you want to do with the chaps in the secret jails?

What do you mean? Why shouldn't they do what they were always supposed to do? Put them on trial, provide evidence of their guilt, and if it is not sufficient for conviction, release them. What exactly do you have a difficulty with?
posted by c13 at 8:27 AM on November 2, 2005


America is not killing civilians in Iraq intentionally

I have had a problem with this for a while. If I drive a humvee into a crowded shopping mall at high speed and try to avoid running people over while never slowing down am I killing them intentionally? I am not driving through the mall to kill them. I just want to get my shopping done. I know some people will be killed and that is sad but getting my shopping done is really really important to me. I will do my best to avoid them but some people will still probably be hurt and killed.

To me, if you know your actions will result in deaths, then following through on those actions is intentionally killing people.

[/end rant]

I do agree that the U.S. isn't operating at the level of soviet gulags or WWII japanese concentration camps. Yet.
posted by srboisvert at 8:28 AM on November 2, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'd really like to know, what do you want to do with the chaps in the secret jails?

What a dumbass statement. If they have nothing on them that would stand in a court of law, release them. Otherwise, try them.

How hard could that be.
posted by twistedonion at 8:29 AM on November 2, 2005


I can't believe nobody in the CIA/Defense Department looked up from their briefing papers and said, "Um, guys? These prisons have a pretty nasty history. Maybe we could, like, just build our own somewhere else?"

that's because you're assuming they operate following basic rules of honor, decency and humanity. you're also assuming they're smart.
thay may not be.

we invite the supposition that our government is like the Soviet Union or a Baathist dictatorship.
I should hope we can all agree that that's a bad thing.


no, you missed the post-9/11 memo. if you're against torture, that makes you a "liberal". those of us who think torture sucks, we're all "liberals" in America.

if/when America is attacked again, it'll make you a "radical".


what do you propose the US government do with the 30 "major terrorism suspects" being held in these jails?

well, many of the Abu Ghraib torture victims were either petty thieves or innocent randomly arrested out of frustration by impotent security forces. I'd worry about them first.
it's also funny how you seem to be unable to recognize that torture is not good, and not conductive to good stuff. men smarter than you and me figured that out 300 years ago already.
posted by matteo at 8:30 AM on November 2, 2005


You're correct, loquax. Equating the systemic murder of of millions of innocents with the systemic murder of tens of thousands of innocents is an error of magnitude. My bad.

It's hard to respect anything you say on the subject when you compare wartime deaths—involving innocents, insurgents, Ba'athists, Saddam Loyalists and everything in between—to the wholesale liquidation of innocents under Communist regimes. It tells us something about the sobriety of your perspective and your knowledge of wartime history.
posted by jenleigh at 8:32 AM on November 2, 2005


loquax, check out this new invention: it's cool
posted by matteo at 8:32 AM on November 2, 2005


digaman: Do you suppose that the "holding" and "interrogation" tactics used in this network of secret prisons are considerably more humane than the detention centers we already know about?

The point is that we don't know. It is entirely possible that whatever goes on in these places is even worse than the stuff in places we already know about. But if this article is all we have to go on, then any discussion of what actually happens there is pure speculation.

The big issue, as I see it, is the lack of oversight -- it would have gone a long way toward limiting both the speculation (which is now rampant) and the actual deeds we're speculating about.
posted by event at 8:34 AM on November 2, 2005


jenleigh, it's hard to respect torture enablers, too. very hard.
posted by matteo at 8:36 AM on November 2, 2005


(in fact I have only contempt for them)
posted by matteo at 8:36 AM on November 2, 2005


odinsdream, when the man making the "joke" is in charge of the young Americans fighting and dying in a war he was instrumental in launching by helping to distort intelligence, the joke isn't funny.

Of course it isn't funny. Something else needs to be done - actual investigations into this mess that end in criminal charges and sentencing. The press can only do so much, and it can't do shit in these goddamn Q&A sessions.
posted by odinsdream at 8:38 AM on November 2, 2005


(That's a very bold stroke of you, matteo. For the record, so do I. But I take issue with digaman's characteristic melodramatic interpretations.)
posted by jenleigh at 8:38 AM on November 2, 2005


Not have them in secret jails?

So do what with them instead? Specifically? I agree, secret jails suck. Terrorists who have value as intelligence providers also suck. I am honestly asking, as I don't know how to deal with such a real and dangerous threat.

it's a crime, and that understanding of moral outrage is what fuels an enormous amount of the insurgency in Iraq.

Perhaps. I disagree with this and the rest of your comment strongly, but equating the behaviour of the US or the administration with Stalin's Soviet Union in almost any way is still inappropriate though.

Genva conventions

Which convention or protocol applies to terrorists of the type currently incarcerated in the secret jails? Which specific articles are being violated? Granted the US should not be torturing or killing people indiscriminantly - there is no evidence to suggest that they are in the secret jails, and only flimsy evidence to suggest it in Guantanamo, all depending on what the definition of torture is in the first place (certainly nothing like what the gulags were like). The guards at Abu Ghraib were tried for their crimes.

Beyond that, what should be *done* with them? Put in a very public glass cube over the potomac? Tried by a 5th circuit judge and put in Sing Sing? These (presumably) aren't American citizens, (presumably) are valuable information sources, and (presumably) there is a reason why the CIA wants to do it this way, beyond satisfying the deep desire for precious sweet blood within the administration. All that being said, I don't know enough about the type of people incarcerated, or the circumstances of their incarceration to even begin to hazard a guess as to how it could be better handled, and I seriously doubt anyone here can either.
posted by loquax at 8:39 AM on November 2, 2005


jen, when my country is building networks of secret prisons, calls the Geneva Conventions "quaint," passes laws at home to eliminate the constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure, lies about its reasons to go to war, covers up the sanctioning of torture by the officials leading the war, and engages in personal attacks against those who point out those lies to the point of exposing covert operatives in its own intelligence agencies, you'll forgive me if my "knowledge of wartime history" prompts me to be reminded of every other regime that exployed these tactics. We used to call them "the enemy."
posted by digaman at 8:42 AM on November 2, 2005


so many (presumably) statements loquax. In a freedom loving country you should never hold people on assumption, never.

I don't know how to deal with such a real and dangerous threat.

Is there one? are you sure? why are you sure?
posted by twistedonion at 8:45 AM on November 2, 2005


So have we done enough shit to have deserved 9/11 yet?
posted by wakko at 8:45 AM on November 2, 2005


I for one vote "yes".
posted by wakko at 8:46 AM on November 2, 2005


Today's Papers brings up an interesting point about the WaPo article:

Elsewhere in the piece the Post mentions that legal experts think the prisons, if they were known about, "would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries." Doesn't that, at the least, complicate the Post's decision to withhold the names?
posted by mkultra at 8:48 AM on November 2, 2005


Beyond that, what should be *done* with them? Put in a very public glass cube over the potomac?

Why do you immediately resort to ridiculous hyperbole like this? Do you seriously believe there's no middle ground between secret detention in other countries and a "glass cube over the potomac"?

I don't know enough about the type of people incarcerated, or the circumstances of their incarceration to even begin to hazard a guess as to how it could be better handled, and I seriously doubt anyone here can either.

Disclose the names of people being held, to the best of our knowledge. What's so difficult to imagine about that?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:48 AM on November 2, 2005


I for one vote "no," but that doesn't relieve us of the civilian duty to be as diligent in our efforts to protect democracy as we expect our soliders to be overseas.
posted by digaman at 8:49 AM on November 2, 2005


No-one deserves 9/11. Your administration deserves to be hung, drawn and quartered.
posted by twistedonion at 8:49 AM on November 2, 2005


So have we done enough shit to have deserved 9/11 yet?
posted by wakko


Ugh.
posted by jenleigh at 8:51 AM on November 2, 2005


No-one deserves 9/11. Your administration deserves to be hung, drawn and quartered.

Sorry, but, since we elected these shitheads, it's our fault.
posted by wakko at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2005


The press can only do so much

Indeed, odinsdream, and as a member of the press, I suggest that one of the things that the press can do is exactly what the reporter at the Washington Post did in the story I linked to: tell American citizens like you what your government is doing, so that you can vote wisely in the next election, and in the meantime, write your congressperson to demand investigations into the violations of human rights that you have read about in the press.
posted by digaman at 9:00 AM on November 2, 2005


jenleigh:Ugh.
What's "Ugh" is people who believe America was an innocent victim in the affair. At least wakko seems to comprehend the notion of cause and effect


wakko: Sorry, but, since we elected these shitheads, it's our fault.

If you had a fully functioning Democracy, perhaps.
posted by twistedonion at 9:00 AM on November 2, 2005


I'm with you on that "ugh," jen.
posted by digaman at 9:01 AM on November 2, 2005


Sorry about your disgust. But, really, we're just reaping what we sow.
posted by wakko at 9:11 AM on November 2, 2005


jenleigh writes "wholesale liquidation of innocents under Communist regimes."

Not being an expert on the subject, i cannot say for certain, but I would imagine that the 'innocents' liquidated in the gulags were probably charged with some crime or other, possibly found guilty in a court. Whether or not the court had any legitimacy or was in any way 'justified' in sending people to the gulags is open for discussion. The 'renditions' that the US and UK are performing are not very different, apart from the bit where the victims are charged with a crime and convicted in a court.
posted by asok at 9:12 AM on November 2, 2005


dios, would your sense of propriety be assuaged if we called them something like "a bunch of American-sponsored Lefortovos"?
posted by alumshubby at 9:12 AM on November 2, 2005


twistedonion: If you had a fully functioning Democracy, perhaps.

Ugh. To the max.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:13 AM on November 2, 2005


Being kidnapped and then placed in a legal limbo where I am not charged, I am not given a fixed sentence nor, in fact, is my existence / condition even recognized is one of the worst forms of torture that I can imagine. After all, both beatings and murder do have an end.

Without a proper trial, anyone that is claiming that these folks are dangerous criminals / terrorists / devils / what have you is full of steaming and stinking bullshit.

Are you guys really so off the scale that this is not immediately apparent?
posted by magullo at 9:15 AM on November 2, 2005


twistedonion: Is there one? are you sure? why are you sure?

Are you kidding? You're not sure that there's a real and dangerous threat associated with international terrorism?

Why do you immediately resort to ridiculous hyperbole like this?

Well, to be fair, I didn't start with the hyperbole here, but check the next line in that comment. I suggest trying them and putting them in a regular old jail. Is that appropriate for these people? Again, I don't know, so I'm not suggesting anything. Keep in mind too that most countries in America's position, historically and currently, don't even give a crap about any of this, and would just execute whomsoever they please as soon as its convenient. Yes yes, this isn't a justification, but it is mitigation.

Disclose the names of people being held, to the best of our knowledge.

The FBI doesn't even do this with mob informants that they flip. Is that really an appropriate thing to do if it endangers ongoing intelligence operations or puts innocent people at risk? Difficult choice. Again, not knowing more about the circumstances, I can't say.

Re: Wakko - I've been waiting a long time to say this - ignore the troll!
posted by loquax at 9:19 AM on November 2, 2005


stinkycheese: Ugh. To the max.
So you do?

Please explain how your system is fully democratic and that the citizens are ultimately responsible for the decisions of their leaders. As far as I'm aware no Government on this planet can lay claim to that.

Wakko stated that because you elected the dickheads you have that he feels responsible. I replied, fair enough, if you lived in a democracy, you would be... but you don't.

How is that ugh, to the max?
posted by twistedonion at 9:19 AM on November 2, 2005


Oh, it's apparent. It's just that most of the people who are defending this are sitting behind a desk, or at home, nice and safe and comfortable. They are not being told what to do, where to sit or stand, when they will be able to leave, whether they can use the bathroom, if thier family knows where they are, who is holding them there, why they are being held, how long they will be held, etc, etc, etc.

They just don't think about those things. That might make them uncomfortable, you know, because it's icky and stuff.

Oh, wait, this isn't Germany 1939. Is it?
posted by daq at 9:20 AM on November 2, 2005


Oh, wait, this isn't Germany 1939. Is it?

No. Feel better?
posted by loquax at 9:21 AM on November 2, 2005


Are you kidding? You're not sure that there's a real and dangerous threat associated with international terrorism?


I think the threat is as dangerous as crossing the road and not looking. I just don't buy the fearmongering.
posted by twistedonion at 9:21 AM on November 2, 2005


If we are not part of the solution ....
posted by 31d1 at 9:21 AM on November 2, 2005


considering the sounce could this possibly be some crazy scare tatic? Maybe these prisions are build on top of the WMD's and just smiply don't exist. How many times will we be lied to before we start to seriously question things?
posted by hexxed at 9:22 AM on November 2, 2005


wakko's comments are a bit of derail, shame. Still, I suppose the point trying to be raised is that America does some seriously disgusting things and many American's don't seem all to bothered by it. I can't believe people are defending the actions of the US described in the articles linked. This is precisely the behaviour the US government condemns when the countries doing these evil deeds aren't friendly enough to US interests.

jenleigh, dios, etc: arguing these secret prisons aren't as bad as gulags is stupid. Dare I say, Fucking Stupid. Way to go America, you aren't as bad as Stalin's Russia just yet. Keep working hard and you'll get you will be soon though.
posted by chunking express at 9:23 AM on November 2, 2005


I think the threat is as dangerous as crossing the road and not looking. I just don't buy the fearmongering.


I retract that. Crossing a road without looking is dangerous.
posted by twistedonion at 9:23 AM on November 2, 2005


Tried by a 5th circuit judge and put in Sing Sing?

Better than indefinite detention without being charged.

These (presumably) aren't American citizens,

Because only American citizens deserve a speedy and fair trial.

(presumably) are valuable information sources,

You have no evidence of that other than the government's say-so.

and (presumably) there is a reason why the CIA wants to do it this way, beyond satisfying the deep desire for precious sweet blood within the administration.

The reason is that due process is a pain in the ass and it's far simpler just to throw someone in a secret prison and forget about them.

All that being said, I don't know enough about the type of people incarcerated, or the circumstances of their incarceration to even begin to hazard a guess as to how it could be better handled, and I seriously doubt anyone here can either.
posted by loquax at 8:39 AM PST on November 2


How about we do it the way we (used to) do to American citizens? Charge them with a crime, prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and imprison them if found guilty? That's at least better than ignoring basic human rights. Right?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:24 AM on November 2, 2005


Are you kidding? You're not sure that there's a real and dangerous threat associated with international terrorism?

Everyday I wake up and pray to God that the terrorists don't get me. So far so good. Thank you Jesus.
posted by chunking express at 9:25 AM on November 2, 2005


Regardless, America is not killing civilians in Iraq intentionally, or enslaving them for political or economic purposes. That is what the "insurgents" hope to do, and what Hussein did for decades. You may disagree with the war, and your disagreements may be valid, but to equate America's actions in Iraq to Soviet concentration camps, show trials, mass executions and ethnic cleansing is again, absurd.
posted by loquax at 11:15 AM EST on November 2 [!]

Railroading a weak Constitution through a country bound for civil war, just to get our petrochemical companies cheap access to crude oil — and look how that turned out — is close enough to enslavement that these distinctions are quickly becoming a matter of comparing one number with another, as if that imparts some fundamental difference.

And intention to kill civilians could well be described by promoting insurgencies that murder indiscriminately, insurgencies that somehow give Bush a reason to keep troops in Iraq in the first place, with the disgraceful excuse that leaving would make things worse.

I'm with wakko. We've become the enemy, and if we didn't deserve 9/11 then, we're sure making a good case for it now with this sham of a war and all the human rights abuses that have followed.
posted by Rothko at 9:25 AM on November 2, 2005


If you had a fully functioning Democracy, perhaps.
posted by twistedonion at 11:00 AM CST on November 2


Two questions:
1. Does our Constitution create a Democracy?
2. How is our current system not "fully functioning" as intended?

_____
As to wakko, let me agree that such comments are reprehensible and shows such loathing that he obviously does not understand how to rationally asses blame and cause and effect.

_____
As to digaman's complaint: I agree that it is not a good thing that these are secret. But it seems to me that the government is doing the right thing by admitting their existence. Sunlight is indeed a great disinfectant. But I am no Pollyanna about this. I completely disagree that things would be all great if we televised the whole thing and gave terrorists the same rights as American citizens have with respect to criminal procedure. There is probably some national security reasons to keep the identity and location of the prisoners secret. There is probably national security reasons to keep them arrested. The government should disclose that such prisons exist so that the citizens know generally what is going on. But it is foolhardy to argue that the government should be giving press releases saying "Prisoner X is being kept in Cell Y at Prison Z. He is being asked questions regarding the location of Mr. Q. If he tells us that he doesn't know about Mr. Q or any of our enemies, we will let him go. At the very most, he will only be incarcerated for one week." We could not conduct an effort to combat terrorism if we act in such vacant-headed and defanged ways.
posted by dios at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2005



How about we do it the way we (used to) do to American citizens? Charge them with a crime, prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and imprison them if found guilty? That's at least better than ignoring basic human rights. Right?


You would think, but why bother when you can get twice as much done in half the time by cutting out rights. More then a few leaders in history found that to be true.
posted by hexxed at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2005


Keep in mind too that most countries in America's position, historically and currently, don't even give a crap about any of this, and would just execute whomsoever they please as soon as its convenient. Yes yes, this isn't a justification, but it is mitigation.

Please name one other current western democracy that you believe would "execute whomsoever they please as soon as its convenient". Canada? Australia? The Netherlands?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:28 AM on November 2, 2005


twistedonion: How is that ugh, to the max?

It's ugh to the max because it lets people off the hook. It's a cop-out. Yes, the US democracy is in serious trouble but ultimately the only people who can fix it are US citizens.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:29 AM on November 2, 2005


2. How is our current system not "fully functioning" as intended?

Redistricting? Use of the Supreme Court to elect a certain President? Voting machine irregularities and security design issues? Voter disenfranchisement? Campaign finance scandals? Intimidation through enforcement of the PATRIOT Act?
posted by Rothko at 9:31 AM on November 2, 2005


There is probably some national security reasons to keep the identity and location of the prisoners secret. There is probably national security reasons to keep them arrested. The government should disclose that such prisons exist so that the citizens know generally what is going on.

There is probably some national security reasons, known only to the Commissioner of the Central Committee, the Kommadant, the Secretary of War, the Fuhrer, the ayatollah, the General, and the Minister of Truth, why we should stop asking these questions.
posted by digaman at 9:31 AM on November 2, 2005


when my country is building networks of secret prisons, calls the Geneva Conventions "quaint," passes laws at home to eliminate the constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure, lies about its reasons to go to war, covers up the sanctioning of torture by the officials leading the war, and engages in personal attacks against those who point out those lies to the point of exposing covert operatives in its own intelligence agencies, you'll forgive me if my "knowledge of wartime history" prompts me to be reminded of every other regime that exployed these tactics. We used to call them "the enemy."

Amen.
posted by Shanachie at 9:32 AM on November 2, 2005


digiman said "There is probably some national security reasons, known only to the Commissioner of the Central Committee, the Kommadant, the Secretary of War, the Fuhrer, the ayatollah, the General, and the Minister of Truth, why we should stop asking these questions."


I like you. You smell shit and you say "this is shit". You could one day maybe go somewhere with this.
posted by daq at 9:33 AM on November 2, 2005


what your government is doing, so that you can vote wisely in the next election

Three things:

1). Those of us who care, already know. The others don't care. There have been enough stories about this stuff, that I think it's pretty safe to assume that those who don't know don't want to know. Or, basically, they don't care. They believe what they're told - these are "bad people", therefore they deserve nothing whatsoever, not even the respect accorded an animal.

2). Those of us who care didn't vote for these no-talent ass-clowns in charge of this shit. We voted for the other guy, many of us on electronic machines made by Diebold that have no paper trail. So you can see what good that did us.

3). The problem with a democracy is that (I'm going to catch a lot of heat for this I'm sure) the vote is too important to trust to idiots who are easily led by propaganda, don't bother to keep informed, don't even know how their government works, and only listen to what they want to hear. What kind of outcome do you expect in a society so anti-intellectual, anti-science, and oh I could go on but it's just pointless... Face it, there are way more people in this country who are perfectly content to have this go on in their name than there are people outraged about it.

And yes, this is one of those things that makes me ashamed of my country. I really wish we were more civilized. Even if every one of us diligently voted (on machines guaranteed to count our vote - heh, that'll be the day, but I digress...) and did our best to convince our fellows that torture and indefinite detention is wrong... we still won't outnumber those who think it's just peachy.

I don't know what it would take, really. Maybe a group of white American Christian missionaries held indefinitely and tortured, with plenty of pictures of their misery, before people realize that shit like this has a lot to do with reaping and sowing.

They can't even comprehend that the good name of our country is at stake in cases like this (whatever goodness remains is debatable). They think as long as America has the biggest military and the biggest economy, it can do whatever the hell it wants - yahoo American triumphalism. I honestly don't know how to get through to these people. I wish I did. They've got us outnumbered.

Any ideas? Help. (please)
posted by beth at 9:34 AM on November 2, 2005


I think the threat is as dangerous as crossing the road and not looking. I just don't buy the fearmongering.

Well then, this is the basic disagreement. If the consensus here is that terrorism is not a serious concern, then of course, imprisoning suspected terrorists is as wrong as imprisoning traffic violaters. My personal perspective is a little different.


Because only American citizens deserve a speedy and fair trial.

What right does the US have to try non-US citizens? Under what statute?

You have no evidence of that other than the government's say-so.

For what logical reason would the CIA choose to do this otherwise?

The reason is that due process is a pain in the ass and it's far simpler just to throw someone in a secret prison and forget about them.

In this climate? With this level of reporting and civilian oversight? You've got to be kidding. It would be faaar easier to try them, convict them and be done with it. The political and strategic risks associated with secret prisons is much higher from this perspective.

Charge them with a crime, prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and imprison them if found guilty?

I don't disagree in principle, but this ignores the value these people have as strategic intelligence sources. If you agree that terrorism is a real danger, and if you agree that terrorists of this ilk operate outside of conventional boundaries, how do you reconcile the need for transparent justice with the need for security? The Soviets chose to imprison and kill millions. The Americans have apparently chosen to imprison several hundreds for (so far) 4 years. I'm not saying it's "right" by default, but until we learn that these people were innocent, or had no strategic value, I think the CIA deserves some benefit of the doubt in this circumstance. I fully acknowledge the validity of the opposing view, however.

Please name one other current western democracy that you believe would "execute whomsoever they please as soon as its convenient"

I said a country in America's position, as in leading the effort to attack terrorism and deal with terrorists. Canada, the Netherlands and so on are not in the position of having to make these choices, but I'm damned sure that they would behave similarly if they were.
posted by loquax at 9:34 AM on November 2, 2005


I also find the new-found love of the Geneva Convention and similar international treaties to be superficial, at best.

The same people declaring how essential such treaties are appear to be the same people who could not accept an action into Iraq to remove Saddam. He certainly didn't follow the Geneva Convention. He certainly didn't give prisoner's rights. But, those people now trying to bash the US over the head with the Geneva Convention are the ones who think it was not moral to deal with Saddam.

And what of the Genocide Convention? The Genocide Convention mandates that a country act with military force to remove a leader who engages in Genocide. Shouldn't we respect that treaty as much as you all are deifying the Geneva Convention? If so, we had an obligation to remove Saddam.

My point is this: it is awfully superficial to deify the Geneva Convention and disclaim how horrible the U.S. because of questionable conduct under it, but in the same breath argue that there was no basis whatsoever to engage in a military action against Iraq. Is everything the US been doing in the world pristine examples of righteousness? No. They are not. Are they the great Satan? Of course not. Are radical Islamists exporting terrorism? Of course. Is that a Bad Thing that should be stopped? Of course. Can it be effectively done without engaging in hard Realpolitik? No.

I will now await the ignorant retorts of "someone should invade the US and institute regime change."

On preview:

This is an excellent point by loquax that will surely be glossed over, but I want to echo it in hopes it will not:

I said a country in America's position, as in leading the effort to attack terrorism and deal with terrorists. Canada, the Netherlands and so on are not in the position of having to make these choices, but I'm damned sure that they would behave similarly if they were.
posted by loquax at 11:34 AM CST on November 2


When you are given the job of dealing with this, and the world looks to you, you can't be the nice fluffy bunny who gets to make all of their decisions knowing that they will never have to do anything aggressive.
posted by dios at 9:38 AM on November 2, 2005


America hates our freedom.
posted by Foosnark at 9:38 AM on November 2, 2005


terrorism is not a serious concern

Flat-out nonsense, loquax. If terrorism is a deeply serious concern, then one of the gravest dangers in a democracy is that a group of leaders would come along, get elected on the basis of their claims that they are tough on terror, and then enact a series of policies that greatly increase the risk. A number of patriots who take terrorism very seriously, myself included, believe that is what has occurred in America, and see it as our patriotic duty to expose these frauds.
posted by digaman at 9:40 AM on November 2, 2005


I'm not saying it's "right" by default, but until we learn that these people were innocent, or had no strategic value, I think the CIA deserves some benefit of the doubt in this circumstance.

So, loquax, are you really saying that they are guilty until proven innocent?
posted by c13 at 9:40 AM on November 2, 2005


I agree, secret jails suck, too.
posted by petebest at 9:41 AM on November 2, 2005


What I don't understand is how they use these utilitarian arguments (greatest good for the most people is more important than individuals) to justify this horrible stuff, yet fail to wonder if things like habeas corpus, presumption of innocence, and human rights are perhaps the things that are actually more important than individuals.

We always hear about how good and great and wonderful "freedom" is, yet if it was always so perfectly great it would not need defending. There is a dark side to freedom, the freedoms of others are not always pleasant to us, and our reactions to this "bad freedom" is why our freedom requires protection. And if I'm not mistaken, it was pretty much ironed out a few hundred years ago that violating our most basic freedoms is not a good idea, no matter how tempting it is, and we have all these laws that are explicitly designed to enforce that, which our government is currently breaking.
posted by 31d1 at 9:41 AM on November 2, 2005


I want to add one other thing - this stuff makes America look weak. Frankly, what I was led to believe growing up was that America was strong enough to Do The Right Thing and Catch The Bad Guys. Using secret prisons, torture, and indefinite detention suggest that we simply aren't capable of doing it above-the-board with a real trial, real evidence, and real deliberation over violations of the law.

I mean, Jesus Christ, we even gave the fucking Nazis themselves a goddamn trial. Wtf.
posted by beth at 9:42 AM on November 2, 2005


Canada, the Netherlands and so on are not in the position of having to make these choices, but I'm damned sure that they would behave similarly if they were.

You didn't say they would "behave similarly". You said they would "just execute whomsoever they please as soon as its convenient".

I can't see any particular reason to trust your judgement as to what other countries would do, given your insistence on wildly mischaracterizing so many of the things you write about.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:42 AM on November 2, 2005


Dios, you're a lawyer, what's your take on loquax' statement I alluded to in a previous post?
posted by c13 at 9:43 AM on November 2, 2005


dios: "When you are given the job of dealing with this, and the world looks to you, you can't be the nice fluffy bunny who gets to make all of their decisions knowing that they will never have to do anything aggressive."

...so incredibly sad.
posted by prostyle at 9:43 AM on November 2, 2005


you can't be the nice fluffy bunny

Because when threatened, there's clearly no choice of action other than A) Hubris-fueled, democracy-undermining human rights abuses and B) Fluffy Bunnydom.

moron.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:44 AM on November 2, 2005


I said a country in America's position, as in leading the effort to attack terrorism and deal with terrorists. Canada, the Netherlands and so on are not in the position of having to make these choices, but I'm damned sure that they would behave similarly if they were.

This is complete BS. Canada doesn't have capital punishment, and rejected the chance to participate or even give tacit approval to Bush's illegal war in Iraq. These are both choices that Canada *did* make.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:44 AM on November 2, 2005


And what of the Genocide Convention? The Genocide Convention mandates that a country act with military force to remove a leader who engages in Genocide. Shouldn't we respect that treaty as much as you all are deifying the Geneva Convention? If so, we had an obligation to remove Saddam.

Dios, that argument would have been useful — and applicable — back when the Reagan administration installed and maintained Saddam Hussein two decades ago, after Hussein gassed Kurds.
posted by Rothko at 9:45 AM on November 2, 2005


When you are given the job of dealing with this and the world looks to you

Oh please. The current administration wasn't "given the job" and the majority of the world would fire them given the choice.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:46 AM on November 2, 2005


but until we learn that these people were innocent, or had no strategic value, I think the CIA deserves some benefit of the doubt in this circumstance

That "until" is actually located firmly in the past.
posted by magullo at 9:47 AM on November 2, 2005


There is zero evidence that the Bush administration's "war on terror" has decreased the risk of terrorist attacks, other than optimistic statements made in press conferences by the people running the war, and plenty of evidence from government sources that the Bush approach -- from the war in Iraq to torture to secret prisons --is increasing the danger. That's deeply serious.
posted by digaman at 9:48 AM on November 2, 2005


So, loquax, are you really saying that they are guilty until proven innocent?

I'm saying sometimes things aren't that simple, as much as I wish they were. As with all principles, it is not absolute in the eyes of the law, or rational action. Just like free speech has its limits, like shouting fire in a theatre, or slander, so to must this principle bend to acknowledge and properly deal with people who wish to inflict great harm to societies that operate outside structures that can effectively hold them accountable.

claims that they are tough on terror, and then enact a series of policies that greatly increase the risk

How do you quantify this? I don't think it's true, just the opposite, especially looking long term. If I agreed with you on that, then I'd agree with the rest of your argument as well though.
posted by loquax at 9:48 AM on November 2, 2005


Because when threatened, there's clearly no choice of action other than A) Hubris-fueled, democracy-undermining human rights abuses and B) Fluffy Bunnydom.

Yep, more ridiculous hyperbole. They just can't seem to stop doing it. I wonder why that is.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:48 AM on November 2, 2005


dios your arguments about the Geneva Convention and etc. would make maybe a bit of sense if had anything to do with the reasons we went to war.

My point is this: it is awfully superficial to use the Geneva Convention and disclaim how great the U.S. because of its conduct under it, and in the same breath argue that that was our basis to engage in a military action against Iraq.

You ignore that we are not ourselves following conventions, and we have explicitly stated that we do we want to, nor will we allow any process that could lead to us being judged on our conduct as we judge others, and we are breaking every rule we claim to uphold.
posted by 31d1 at 9:49 AM on November 2, 2005


Redistricting? Use of the Supreme Court to elect a certain President? Voting machine irregularities and security design issues? Voter disenfranchisement? Campaign finance scandals? Intimidation through enforcement of the PATRIOT Act?
posted by Rothko at 11:31 AM CST on November 2


This is just an absurd laundry list of complaints which does not indicate our government is not fully functioning.

Redistricting is not only Constitutional. It is a necessary action under the Constitution. How one argues that it is an indication of a lack of function is astounding.

Use of the Supreme Court to pick the president? This is just the already disproved sour grapes argument. The Country voted for and picked George Bush. Even if the recounts had been done by the method preferred by Gore, Bush would have won. Regardless, had the Supreme Court voted the way you want, you would be trumpeting how it was an indicator of a healthy system. Your focus on the ends shows how such an allegation is hollow.

Voting fraud. That is just tinfoil hat crap. Yes, voting ought to be done in the most efficient manner as possible. Yes, the world is not perfect and a massive vote of hunderds of millions of people will probably have some room for error. That such error exists is not an indication that our government is not "fully functioning." It is an indication of reality. The underlying argument here is that fraud was used to steal an election, and that is just more tinfoil hat crap that losers argue. A nationwide caclulation of error will even out.

Voter disenfranchisement? Please. Jesse Jackson bullshit. It'd be great if there was one single provable case of this. As it is, it is just some baseless accusation that people throw around knowing that it never has to be proved.

Campaign finance scandals? Campaign finance laws in general are an anathema to the Constitution. Campaign finance laws ought to be unconstitutional. The violation of those laws does not indicate a problem with the system when the laws shouldn't exist anyhow. The existence of campaign finance laws itself would be closest you have come to actually pointing to a defect in the system.

Intimidation through enforcement of the PATRIOT Act? I don't even know what the hell this kind of frothing is about. I'm sure there is a response to such an accusation, but the allegation seems so absurd and made up that I don't know how to retort to it.

Let me sum it up for you in a simple statement: Because your guy lost doesn't mean the system is broke; it means the majority of Americans disagree with you and think you are wrong. Accept it instead of trying to rationalize it.
posted by dios at 9:50 AM on November 2, 2005


These are both choices that Canada *did* make.

Both had no possibility of negative consequences for Canada, therefore they could be made with the knowledge that US would continue with their efforts irrespective of Canadian support. Don't forget Arar either.
posted by loquax at 9:50 AM on November 2, 2005


OK, simple question.

Would you trade habeas corpus for 3,000 lives?
posted by 31d1 at 9:52 AM on November 2, 2005


I'm saying sometimes things aren't that simple, as much as I wish they were. As with all principles, it is not absolute in the eyes of the law, or rational action.

Ok, so laws are not absolute, and when "things" get "not simple", its perfectly OK to disregard them. Do I understand you correctly?
posted by c13 at 9:54 AM on November 2, 2005


And I'm still waiting for dios to weigh in..
posted by c13 at 9:55 AM on November 2, 2005


c13: I would argue that the criminal procedure regulations are unworkable in times of war and national security is paramount. In other words, I would agree with the Supreme Court in Korematsu, and I would agree with the recent rulings on enemy combatants.
posted by dios at 9:56 AM on November 2, 2005


OK, simple question.

But not a fair question - the suspension of habeas corpus is effectively for a very small number of specific people, for whom the presumption of innocence is a stretch to begin with, and for whom the extension of habeas corpus could be disastrous for society. Phrased that way, the answer isn't so simple.

its perfectly OK to disregard them. Do I understand you correctly?


No. I am saying that US laws as currently written already allow for exceptions in many cases (as I noted with free speech), and that exceptional circumstances should not be used to judge the system or a country or a "war effort" as a whole.
posted by loquax at 9:56 AM on November 2, 2005


Because only American citizens deserve a speedy and fair trial.

What right does the US have to try non-US citizens? Under what statute?


Damn good question, I say. How about taking this position to its logical conclusion, though? What right do we have to apprehend, indefinitely detain in secret prisons, and [theoretically] torture individuals who are not US citizens?
posted by Suck Poppet at 9:57 AM on November 2, 2005


loquax: I'm not sure what point you're making here. The US has made it abundantly clear that they'll do what they want regardless of how anyone or any country 'feels' about it.

My point is that Canada wouldn't go the same way (say, executing suspected terrorists), as evidenced by a) our refusal to support the invasion of Iraq; and b) our refusal to execute people in this country period.

As to Maher Arar, yes that is a black mark on our government and the outrage over Arar's treatment will hopefully ensure such hand-overs to the American government do not continue. Although the recent arrest of Mark Emery gives one pause...

The fact remains that neither of these men would have been arrested in the first place if the US didn't want them arrested.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:57 AM on November 2, 2005


Would you trade habeas corpus for 3,000 lives?
posted by 31d1 at 11:52 AM CST on November 2


More information is needed to address this question. It is clearly not simple. As it is, habeas corpus can be suspended domestically. If the question is whether it should be permanently discarded, the answer is now. But it can certainly be suspended in limited areas.
posted by dios at 9:57 AM on November 2, 2005


tinfoil hat crap... sour grapes... absurd... Jesse Jackson bullshit... your guy lost

That's a lot of rhetorical acrobatics to dismiss concerns that should be central to the process of democracy when there are a lot of danger signs that we have gone off-track, not the least of which is that this White House is currently under investigation, and that one indictment for five felonies has already been issued for one of the main architects of this war, who also happens to have been the chief of staff for the vice-president.

If this was all tinfoil hat crap, why do these danger signs keep accumulating, dios? Oh, I forgot: sour grapes.
posted by digaman at 9:58 AM on November 2, 2005


My god, the torture apologists here are simply amazing.

A question: what is it that seperates the bad guys, from the good guys?

An answer: the good guys do what is right, even if the bad guys don't.

That's why the Geneva conventions matter; not because we will be held repsonsible, but because they are the right thing to do.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 9:59 AM on November 2, 2005


This is just an absurd laundry list of complaints which does not indicate our government is not fully functioning.

Of course.

Redistricting is not only Constitutional. It is a necessary action under the Constitution. How one argues that it is an indication of a lack of function is astounding.

If it was, it would have been done in areas where it would not have benefitted the GOP. If Democrats tried to pull this stunt today, the GOP talking points in the media would all cry foul. And you know this.

Use of the Supreme Court to pick the president? This is just the already disproved sour grapes argument.

Hardly. You know that the use of the Supreme Court to decide a presidency was a gross abuse of the Constitution. Even Rehnquist wanted no part of it.

Voting fraud. That is just tinfoil hat crap.

Well, I'll simply put on my computer science hat and tell you that you're flat out wrong, that there were many security issues with the input into and output from those machines, and several irregularities reported post-election, if not followed up upon.

Voter disenfranchisement? Please. Jesse Jackson bullshit.

You mean there weren't black people labeled as felons and prevented from voting?

Campaign finance scandals?

Are you actually suggesting that campaign payola is a sign of a healthy, functioning democracy? Are you really? Honestly?

Intimidation through enforcement of the PATRIOT Act? I don't even know what the hell this kind of frothing is about.

Don't read the news much, do you? Citizens getting interrogated by the FBI under the auspices of a new and controversial law is not a sign of a healthy democracy. Even the FBI recognized this and there was a news story about it several weeks ago.
posted by Rothko at 10:00 AM on November 2, 2005


are a lot of danger signs that we have gone off-track,

That's exactly it. There are not "a lot of danger signs." There are fringe group allegations that haven't been proven at all.
posted by dios at 10:01 AM on November 2, 2005


My point is that Canada wouldn't go the same way (say, executing suspected terrorists)

I agree with you, the US doesn't either. My point was that many countries in the position the US (as opposed to Canada) finds itself in, would. It is to America's (and Canada's) credit that they wouldn't, and it mitigates without admittedly, fully justifying the secret jails in question. Ask yourself how China would handle things, or Russia, or Iran, or just about any empire or major power in history.

what is it that seperates the bad guys, from the good guys?


Accountabilty, for one thing.
posted by loquax at 10:02 AM on November 2, 2005


A question: what is it that seperates the bad guys, from the good guys?

An answer: the good guys do what is right, even if the bad guys don't.


Seriously you think that? I think there are quite a few shades of gray there.
posted by hexxed at 10:02 AM on November 2, 2005


Um, secret prisons run by the CIA count as a danger sign.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:02 AM on November 2, 2005


Um, secret prisons run by the CIA count as a danger sign.

Is there any reason to believe that this is a new development, by the way? If the movies are to be believed, this sort of thing has been going on forever and is just part of the spy scene.
posted by loquax at 10:04 AM on November 2, 2005


Seriously you think that? I think there are quite a few shades of gray there.


Really? What exactly are those shades of grey, re: the Geneva Convention?

That it's okay to disregard this convention if the opponent does? Or what?
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:05 AM on November 2, 2005


AlexReynolds,
Read history. Re-districting is done everywhere. Believe it or not, it is done in Democratic states that help democrats. Believe it or not, it was done in the South to help Democrats and the issue went to the Supreme Court.

Redistricting is a constitutional requirement.

I really don't think you know what you are talking about on this point.

As for campaign finance: yes, I am arguing that political speech is a healthy sign of our functioning government. That you want to label it payola doesn't make it any less so.

As for felons not being able to vote: that issue has been litigated. The Constitution supports the removal of the franchise to those convicted of felonies. That you don't agree with it doesn't make it a sign of a failure of our system.
posted by dios at 10:05 AM on November 2, 2005


someone not familiar with the U.S. Constitution wrote "What right does the US have to try non-US citizens? Under what statute?"

Um, the same as every other human on the planet, when deailing with the U.S. Justice system. Amendment 6 of the U.S. Constitution has all the fun wording.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment06/02.html#1

The fun part comes with this part.

" Offenses Against the United States .--There are no common-law offenses against the United States. Only those acts which Congress has forbidden, with penalties for disobedience of its command, are crimes. ....To what degree Congress may make conduct engaged in outside the territorial limits of the United States a violation of federal criminal law is a matter not yet directly addressed by the Court."


Which means the U.S. has no clear right to pursue anyone outside of the territorial U.S. (barring of course, some legislation I am not aware of, however, last I checked, we didn't pass anything called "go get those bastards" or anything the press has reported on).

But, I'm not a lawyer, so I'm sure dios could represent to U.S. Government for us and explain why this does not apply.
posted by daq at 10:06 AM on November 2, 2005


Ask yourself how China would handle things, or Russia, or Iran, or just about any empire or major power in history.

Ok, I get it.
posted by c13 at 10:06 AM on November 2, 2005


It is to America's (and Canada's) credit that they wouldn't, and it mitigates without admittedly, fully justifying the secret jails in question.

How does not doing one wrong thing mitigate doing another wrong thing? If I don't kill anyone, does that mitigate, without admittedly fully justifying robbing a bank?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:06 AM on November 2, 2005


Is there any reason to believe that this is a new development, by the way? If the movies are to be believed, this sort of thing has been going on forever and is just part of the spy scene.

Oh, well, that makes it okay, then. Since it's always been going on, now that we've found out about it, we shouldn't be worried, no matter what the activity is, because it's obviously nothing new.

Sheesh
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:07 AM on November 2, 2005


Do you consider Patrick Fitzgerald's two year investigation to have been the work of fringe group, dios? Do you consider the former chief of staff to the Secretary of State to have been a fringe guy? Was former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft wearing his tinfoil hat when he criticized the current administration's approach to "exporting democracy"?

I'd hate to write you off as just another bloviating troll, dios, because I know you're smarter than that.
posted by digaman at 10:07 AM on November 2, 2005


loquax again makes an excellent point too easily glossed over.

The fundamental difference is accountability. The implications of that difference is enormous.
posted by dios at 10:07 AM on November 2, 2005


If the movies are to be believed, this sort of thing has been going on forever and is just part of the spy scene.

Did you see the recent Frontline report about the "war on terror" detention centers? There appears to be a significant debate within the government (White House, DoD, FBI, CIA, military leadership) about whether it's good or bad to skip around the globe, locking guys up and torturing them like this.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:08 AM on November 2, 2005


digaman: no, that is an indication that the system is working. That there are investigations and indictments of leaders for when they do wrong are indications that our system is just fine.

But, in spite of that, the investigation of the Plame case is not what the original poster was saying. He was arguing there was a defect in the procedure of representative government. The Plame thing has nothing to do with elections, so it isn't really on point. But the existence of the investigation is, to me, a very good sign that our system is doing just great.
posted by dios at 10:09 AM on November 2, 2005


The fundamental difference is accountability

The whole topic is about secret prisons, troll.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:10 AM on November 2, 2005


My god, the torture apologists here are simply amazing.

no, they're simply human. if it makes them feel safe and secure, fuck "right" and "wrong." they're scared, that gives them a god-given right to do whatever it takes to not feel scared.

some of them, bothered by the ghost of an echo of a twinge of guilt will resort to the "regrettable but necessary" rhetoric favored by remf and politicians looking to be seen as firmly resolved to send other people's children to die far from their homes.

i'm no better: i'm also a coward. i'm becoming increasingly scared to speak out against practices like this and the people who are fine with it, because i know it's a short hop to the point where they'd be just fine with the government rounding up critics in the name of "freedom and security" -- all the govt would have to do is announce that they have perfectly legitimate, but undisclosable, reasons for it, and the apologists would be like, "well, shit, negro -- that's all you had to say! round 'em up!"
posted by lord_wolf at 10:10 AM on November 2, 2005


If I don't kill anyone, does that mitigate, without admittedly fully justifying robbing a bank?

Absolutely. You won't get the chair, for one thing.

Oh, well, that makes it okay, then.

I didn't say it made it OK on its face, just wondering.

daq - exactly the problem. Exactly. So you are the President of the US, there are terrorists actively planning to kill American citizens within the US. You catch some of them somehow somwhere. What do you do with them? Unhook them and throw them back because you don't have jurisdiction?
posted by loquax at 10:11 AM on November 2, 2005


But it seems to me that the government is doing the right thing by admitting their existence.

Except that they're not. "The CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites."

And they're being increasingly less selective about who they imprison:
But as the volume of leads pouring into the CTC from abroad increased, and the capacity of its paramilitary group to seize suspects grew, the CIA began apprehending more people whose intelligence value and links to terrorism were less certain, according to four current and former officials.

The original standard for consigning suspects to the invisible universe was lowered or ignored, they said. "They've got many, many more who don't reach any threshold," one intelligence official said.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:11 AM on November 2, 2005


As for campaign finance: yes, I am arguing that political speech is a healthy sign of our functioning government. That you want to label it payola doesn't make it any less so.

Dios, you should live in Philadelphia for awhile, get to know our (Democratic, BTW) mayor. You won't like payola — sorry, political speech — so much after trying to run a business here without paying kickbacks to City Hall. That's not a democracy, that's corruption.

I won't mention DeLay, since I believe that people are innocent until proven guilty, even if you don't.

As for felons not being able to vote: that issue has been litigated. The Constitution supports the removal of the franchise to those convicted of felonies. That you don't agree with it doesn't make it a sign of a failure of our system.
posted by dios at 1:05 PM EST on November 2 [!]


Um, no, Dios. You know that I meant black people incorrectly called felons by the state of Florida and prevented from voting. That's a danger sign.
posted by Rothko at 10:12 AM on November 2, 2005


daq, though you may think you have found a glaring constitutional argument, it is really not on point. Read the Supreme Court opinions in Korematsu, Ex parte Quirin, Hamdi (and the lower court's ruling in Padilla).
posted by dios at 10:13 AM on November 2, 2005


dios: "loquax again makes an excellent completely duplicitous point too easily glossed over ignored.

The fundamental difference is accountability. The implications of that difference is enormous.
"


Yeah, it's looking like the United States has that accountability thing covered pretty well by avoiding it entirely.
posted by prostyle at 10:14 AM on November 2, 2005


dios: The fundamental difference is accountability.

A difference that the torture apologists here are trying to undermine with their rhetoric of "well, the CIA probably has a good reason for this, let's cut them some slack."
posted by papakwanz at 10:15 AM on November 2, 2005


Dios
loquax again makes an excellent point too easily glossed over.

The fundamental difference is accountability. The implications of that difference is enormous.


It's not that the point was glossed over; it's that noone can believe you, or Loquax, would say such a thing in a thread talking about secret prisons, which by definition have no accountability.

On preview: Armitage Shanks made my point nicely, with far less words. Kudos.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:16 AM on November 2, 2005


Ask yourself how China would handle things, or Russia, or Iran, or just about any empire or major power in history.

So this is meet the new boss, same as the old boss?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:17 AM on November 2, 2005


The Plame thing has nothing to do with elections.

"Has anyone noticed that the coverup worked?"
In his impressive presentation of the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby last week, Patrick Fitzgerald expressed the wish that witnesses had testified when subpoenas were issued in August 2004, and "we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005."

Note the significance of the two dates: October 2004, before President Bush was reelected, and October 2005, after the president was reelected. Those dates make clear why Libby threw sand in the eyes of prosecutors, in the special counsel's apt metaphor, and helped drag out the investigation.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:18 AM on November 2, 2005


The CIA is accountable to civilian government, the civilian government is accountable to the voting public and the media. This oversight ensures that any missteps, any paths that stray too far from what is deemed "right" (even if incorrect) by the people are rectified sooner or later, by way of democratic renewal.

So this is meet the new boss, same as the old boss?


No, in fact I was drawing a clear distinction between them and the US.
posted by loquax at 10:19 AM on November 2, 2005


papakwanz: It seems to me that there is evidence of accountability. This information did come out: evidence right there. If we didn't have accountability, we would never have known about these secret prisons. If we didn't have accountability, there would never have been investigations into Abu Ghraib. There wouldn't have been prosecutions. There wouldn't have been convictions. There would be a national dialogue.
posted by dios at 10:19 AM on November 2, 2005


If I don't kill anyone, does that mitigate, without admittedly fully justifying robbing a bank?

Absolutely. You won't get the chair, for one thing.

Um, what? That is a ridiculous answer. You're not going to get the chair anyway for just robbing a bank, so not killing someone doesn't MITIGATE anything, it just means you won't get that additional crime charged to you. You will still be tried to the full extent of the law for robbing a bank.
posted by papakwanz at 10:20 AM on November 2, 2005


Erm, that last comment was supposed to go to Cylcoptichorn.
posted by dios at 10:20 AM on November 2, 2005


So you are the President of the US, there are terrorists actively planning to kill American citizens within the US. You catch some of them somehow somwhere. What do you do with them? Unhook them and throw them back because you don't have jurisdiction?

Oh Jesus Christ! IF they are indeed terrorists, and you have PROOF of that, charge them, try them in a court of law, then execute them. Skin them alive and throw them in the bath full of acid. Burn them. Whatever. BUT YOU HAVE TO POOVE THAT THEY ARE INDEED TERRORISTS FIRST! Because otherwise everybody is a suspect. Everyone can be a terrorist potentially. Including you and I. If people have to poove their innosense, we get Spanish Inquizition and Salem. There is no stopping point, no boundaries then, do you not understand that?
posted by c13 at 10:20 AM on November 2, 2005


As for felons not being able to vote: that issue has been litigated. The Constitution supports the removal of the franchise to those convicted of felonies. That you don't agree with it doesn't make it a sign of a failure of our system.
posted by dios at 10:05 AM PST on November 2


Pay attention, because reading is fundamental: while it is Constitutional to remove the voting rights of convicted felons, it is not Constitutional to remove the voting rights of people who merely share the same name as a felon.

That is the issue at hand, though I thank you for once again twisting someone's arguments into something it is not and never was.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:22 AM on November 2, 2005


Did dios and loquax even read the article?
The CIA have not admitted to the prisons, specifically for the reason that they know they are illegal under US law and under the law of many of the host countries. So, no accountability.

But, by all means, keep the blinders on.
posted by papakwanz at 10:22 AM on November 2, 2005


Three people in this thread are full of shit.
You know who you are.

Answer the question 31d1 poses just above, using plain, simple and direct answers such as Yes or No and why so.

The twisting, gymnastics, and contortions the Defenders of Dubya go through is enough to qualify them for the circus. As ass clowns.
posted by nofundy at 10:22 AM on November 2, 2005


papkwanz: I was referring to the Governmental investigations referred to in the article.
posted by dios at 10:24 AM on November 2, 2005


I answered 31d1's question.
posted by dios at 10:25 AM on November 2, 2005


Dios:

So, we have accountability by leaks?

If the Post had never written this article, would there still have been accountability?

In a transparent government such as a democracy, accountability means a lot more than just explaining things after you've been caught.

And, btw, there was no investigation and prosecution of Abu Ghraib; just a bunch of patsies who took the fall for the leadership. And, once again, without leaks even that wouldn't have happened.

I can't believe that an intelligent poster such as yourself would forward such a position; accountability means that you don't have to rely upon leaks to find out the truth. What you are talking about is the complete opposite of accountability...
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:26 AM on November 2, 2005


Cycloptichorn: I was referring to the investigations by Congress referenced in the article.
posted by dios at 10:27 AM on November 2, 2005


So you are the President of the US, there are terrorists actively planning to kill American citizens within the US. You catch some of them somehow somwhere. What do you do with them? Unhook them and throw them back because you don't have jurisdiction?
posted by loquax at 10:11 AM PST on November 2


Are you stupid? Why are the options either a) summary execution or b) let them go and give them ten bucks for a pre-attack Happy Meal?

Because, you see, in the United States, there are all sorts of bad people who do bad things. We arrest them and put them on trial for their crimes. We have already gone over this. How did you forget about the existence of criminal trials in twenty minutes?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:29 AM on November 2, 2005


I never thought it would come to this, but I had to go throw up after reading this thread. And I mean it literally.

You finally got to me, fuckers. Good job.
posted by mr.marx at 10:30 AM on November 2, 2005


You will still be tried to the full extent of the law for robbing a bank.

Ah, I missed that distinction that was being drawn. Mitigating circumstances are a fact of life in criminal law anyways, as non-analagous as it is to this case.

There is no stopping point, no boundaries then, do you not understand that?

Yes, which is why I believe it's important to carefully monitor what the government does and why it does it to ensure that we do not cross over the line into creating a police state. Obviously the difference between our positions is the location of the line. I don't know how else to argue that the incarceration by the CIA of about 100 people is not indicative of the collapse of American morals, barring further proof of such, and that it may in fact be very appropriate and neccessary on national security grounds. I don't understand why so few here are willing to accept that on principle.

Three people in this thread are full of shit.

Who's the third? Did I misread something?

Answer the question 31d1 poses just above

Both myself and Dios did, I believe. Again, to the question as stated, as I understand it (permanently giving up the concept of habeas corpus in exchange for saving 3,000 people), with no qualifications, my answer is no.

Are you stupid?

No. At least, I don't think so.

Why are the options either a) summary execution or b) let them go and give them ten bucks for a pre-attack Happy Meal?

Who said anything about summary executions? Is that what they're doing in the secret camps?

but I had to go throw up after reading this thread. And I mean it literally.

Maybe it was the pre-attack happy meal.
posted by loquax at 10:32 AM on November 2, 2005


loquax: Got you on the new boss thing. I misunderstood. Shipping your suspects out to people who do that stuff - or in this case doing it in some secret 'black site' - is just one split hair away from doing it yourself back home though.

The CIA is accountable to civilian government, the civilian government is accountable to the voting public and the media. This oversight ensures that any missteps, any paths that stray too far from what is deemed "right" (even if incorrect) by the people are rectified sooner or later, by way of democratic renewal.

Sooner or later is too late.

It's not enough that someday some of the people responsible may do some time, or receive some public shaming or whatever passes for 'rectification'. The changes GW & Co. have made go too deep for that. This stuff is going to alter the world's perception of what America is for decades.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:34 AM on November 2, 2005


Not that the world's perception of what America is is the most important thing going, but you know...
posted by stinkycheese at 10:36 AM on November 2, 2005


Who said anything about summary executions? Is that what they're doing in the secret camps?

Is it a stretch to say the CIA would kill people in secret camps when they're just as happy to fly prisoners to countries with no human rights standards at all?

Is it a stretch to say that the CIA would kill people in secret camps when they've already had prisoners die from interrogations?

Summary executions? Maybe, maybe not. Without accountability it's kind of hard to say, right?

Is it really that much of a stretch, given what is already publically known about the CIA's practices, to extend their crimes to executing prisoners outright?
posted by Rothko at 10:37 AM on November 2, 2005


Sooner or later is too late.

Maybe, depending on your point of view, but it's the best we can do as a society, without having a popular revolution whenever things don't go quite the way a certain group want them to. Obviously I believe this is the right track, to a certain extent, but I fully support your right to vote in a new administration that will behave differently, and we can then reverse roles. It happens every decade or so.
posted by loquax at 10:38 AM on November 2, 2005


This is an excellent point by Cycloptichor that will surely be glossed over, but I want to echo it in hopes it will not:

If the Post had never written this article, would there still have been accountability?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:38 AM on November 2, 2005


"Publicly", rather.
posted by Rothko at 10:39 AM on November 2, 2005


Defend torture.

Defend secret prisons.

Defend unjust wars.

Defend chicken hawk cowards and liars.

But blow jobs? Now that's a serious thing worthy of years of attacks, impeachment and all knids of senseless shit slinging.

We got your number. Zero.
posted by nofundy at 10:40 AM on November 2, 2005


Why are the options either a) summary execution or b) let them go and give them ten bucks for a pre-attack Happy Meal?

Who said anything about summary executions? Is that what they're doing in the secret camps?


Please stop. You claimed that the only options were either secret indefinite prison stays or letting them go. I and others have pointed out that this is a false dichotomy, and also that once captured, they deserve a fair trial. You resist this idea for nebulous reasons of "security." Never mind that all the good-old, home-grown American terrorists have gotten trials.

Well, except for Padilla, but I guess he's not white and therefore foreign.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:41 AM on November 2, 2005


But we can't carefully monitor what the government does because it does so IN SECRET. Those camps, we're not supposed to know about them. And a hunderd people? How are we to know there are not more? What, because if there were, someone would surely LEAK the information about them?
Furthermore, what insures that we don't "cross the line" is a rule of law. It TELLS us where that line is, but only if we don't try to disregard it when "things get tough". Because if we do, there is no law. Thats what happened in Russia. We did have the "most democratic constitution" in the world. But we were wiling to bend the rules in "some cases", only when there was "imminent danger". Except the the "imminent danger" lasted from 1918 well into 1960s and 70s.
posted by c13 at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2005


Is it really that much of a stretch, given what is already publicly known about the CIA's practices, to extend their crimes to executing prisoners outright?

In theory, no, but then I'd have to ask why the CIA would want to capriciously murder innocent people in cold blood, or kill real terrorists in their custody once they've outlived their intelligence usefulness. Because they're inhuman monsters? Because Bush needs the blood of muslims to live? There has to be a reason for doing so, when a court in the US would convict them and throw away the key easy as pie. Or when they could just keep them in perpetuity in secret jails around the world. The Soviets had a motive for killing people. So do the Chinese. Their "enemies" threatened the state by their very existence, by the ideas that they held, or by their religious or cultural practices. The 100 or so terrorists held by the US pose no such threat, and therefore there is no particular need to kill them. Of course, as far as I know.

If the Post had never written this article, would there still have been accountability?


The CIA, unless it's operating completely of it's own accord, for it's own purpose, is still accountable to the civilian government, which is judged on the outcome of its policies. Perhaps not everything a government does is made public, but in this day and age, certainly enough is that the population can make an informed opinion as to their suitability to govern, as is made abundantly clear here.

Optimus: I posted several times throughout the thread that there were many options, including trial and imprisonment in the US (and a glass cube over the potomac), and I stated that since I was not aware of the particulars of the people being held, or the circumstances under which they are being held, I am not qualified to definitively say what should be done with them.
posted by loquax at 10:46 AM on November 2, 2005


It seems to me that there is evidence of accountability. This information did come out: evidence right there.

Oh sweet crap, dios, that is so unworthy of you. The government completely refuses to admit that these prisons exist and has done so for the last three years. The reports of them were dismissed (probably at one time by you, even) as 'tinfoil hat stuff' by apologists. More and more international stories crop up about it, and finally the Washington Post does a story, the cia still won't admit it and this is 'evidence of accountability'.

I hate to get so pedantic as to suggest a dictionary, but accountability refers to you accounting for your actions which obviously is the second step after, you know, admitting your actions.

Implying that anything about this sad mess is indicitive of the way the USA should conduct itself is such a pitiful and sad argument that I really wonder what the hell kind of justifications you use to sleep at night.

I'm sure you know what the star chamber was, dios. Remember that that was one of the reasons this country got its start. People escaping from a system that allowed secret trials.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:47 AM on November 2, 2005


[T]he suspension of habeas corpus is effectively for a very small number of specific people, for whom the presumption of innocence is a stretch to begin with, and for whom the extension of habeas corpus could be disastrous for society.

This is, IMO, the crux of the problem- there have been no rigorously-applied guidelines (and if there ever guidelines that needed to be rigorously applied, these would be them) regarding who qualifies in this group. Time and again, the Administration has broadened their already vague "definition" (if it can be called that) to encompass whomever they want.

If anything, what little information we have seen come out of these facilities indicates that most of the inmates have no ties to terrorism whatsoever.
posted by mkultra at 10:48 AM on November 2, 2005


In theory, no, but then I'd have to ask why the CIA would want to capriciously murder innocent people in cold blood, or kill real terrorists in their custody once they've outlived their intelligence usefulness. Because they're inhuman monsters? Because Bush needs the blood of muslims to live? There has to be a reason for doing so, when a court in the US would convict them and throw away the key easy as pie.

I don't think there was any real reason to torture people at Abu Gharib and look how that turned out.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:51 AM on November 2, 2005


In theory, no, but then I'd have to ask why the CIA would want to capriciously murder innocent people in cold blood, or kill real terrorists in their custody once they've outlived their intelligence usefulness... The 100 or so terrorists held by the US pose no such threat, and therefore there is no particular need to kill them. Of course, as far as I know.

I can think of one very good reason: to get rid of witnesses who would talk to the press about their treatment. But that aside, my point is about accountability, that they can do pretty much whatever they please when there's no oversight — not about reasoning for one decision or another.
posted by Rothko at 10:55 AM on November 2, 2005


This helps explain why the administration wants to exempt the CIA from the Senate's proposed anti-torture legislation.
The proposal...states that the measure barring inhumane treatment shall not apply to counterterrorism operations conducted abroad or to operations conducted by "an element of the United States government" other than the Defense Department.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:00 AM on November 2, 2005


I don't think there was any real reason to torture people at Abu Ghraib and look how that turned out.

The US army servicepeople implicated in the crime were prosecuted for said crimes. Case closed, as far as I can tell. I don't know what Abu Ghraib has to do with anything, let alone CIA run jails.

But that aside, my point is about accountability, that they can do pretty much whatever they please when there's no oversight

Well, true, I suppose, but I guess the difference is that I assume that their actions will be in the best interests of security, and society, and whatever else, and you don't. A fair disagreement, but not one that can really be hashed out.

Time and again, the Administration has broadened their already vague "definition" (if it can be called that) to encompass whomever they want.

I agree, but I have no idea how you'd go about defining such a thing, let alone codifying it.
posted by loquax at 11:03 AM on November 2, 2005


As to wakko, let me agree that such comments are reprehensible and shows such loathing that he obviously does not understand how to rationally asses blame and cause and effect.

Or maybe I just don't see everything through the magic "America Is Always Right" lens. Is it really that hard for some of you to believe that the things we have done in the past led directly to acts of terrorism here?

Moreover, is it hard to believe that the things we're doing now will only lead to more retribution in the future?

It's fine to flippantly dismiss my terse comments as "reprehensible" or "trolling". I expect that here. But the truly reprehensible shit in this thread, in my opinion, are all the foolish comments defending everything our government is doing on our watch, with our tacit approval. If you're an American and you aren't ashamed of the things going on in this story, there is something wrong with you.
posted by wakko at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2005


I guess the difference is that I assume that their actions will be in the best interests of security, and society, and whatever else, and you don't. A fair disagreement, but not one that can really be hashed out.

I have an idea how we can hash this out - why don't you *pretend* to be a member of Al-Qaida. We can help by leaking the authorities your name and attributing terroristic threats to you. Then, the authorities pick you up and take "actions that will be in the best interests of security, and society, and whatever else", and surely they will find that you are innocent and the charges against you are groundless, and let you go (after treating you humanely, in a way you would not object to your mother being treated).

When it's all done, you can report back to us on how well you were treated. Ok?
posted by beth at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2005


wakko, by your logic, every dead Iraqi civilian "deserved" what they got. They were just reaping what they sowed from Kuwait, from Iran, from Israel...After all, if they didn't like Saddam, they should have revolted.
posted by loquax at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2005


Read the Supreme Court opinions in Korematsu, Ex parte Quirin, Hamdi (and the lower court's ruling in Padilla).

All of them had charges filed, except Padilla. All of them got a trial, except Padilla. All of them had legal representation, except Padilla.

Those cases were used as precedent for Padilla yet they did not provide it w/r/t habeas corpus.
posted by 31d1 at 11:09 AM on November 2, 2005


wakko, you might think that America deserved it. But your rationalization does not reflect on the stated reasons behind the attack. You see it as having a basis because that is how you want to see it. But the people who perpetrated the attacks and are driving the rise of Islamic terror explicitly disagree with you. Your argument that this is because something the US did shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivations of those who attacked us. There interest is reestablishing a Muslim Caliphate to rule over the entirety of the House of Islam. This ground that we covered recently and extensively on this website. One thing is for certain: the argument that you are asserting that 9/11 was an act of revenge for the wrongdoings of the US is completely and explicitly wrong.
posted by dios at 11:11 AM on November 2, 2005


wakko, by your logic, every dead Iraqi civilian "deserved" what they got. They were just reaping what they sowed from Kuwait, from Iran, from Israel...


I don't care about Iraqi civilians. That isn't what we're discussing.

After all, if they didn't like Saddam, they should have revolted.

Yes, and now let's try being realistic.
posted by wakko at 11:12 AM on November 2, 2005


The US army servicepeople implicated in the crime were prosecuted for said crimes. Case closed, as far as I can tell. I don't know what Abu Ghraib has to do with anything, let alone CIA run jails.

It has to do with your naive thought that people need a "reason" to do hideous, horrible shit on the taxpayer's dime. If highly trained soldiers will torture people, why not highly trained CIA agents who enjoy far less visibility?

Sometimes the reason is "because they can." That's why we need transparency and accountability. And no, sorry, leaks don't count as accountability.

Finally, loquax, I'm interested in your interpretation of this article that kirkaracha posted.

Why would the CIA need to be exempt from laws prohibiting torture if they weren't already doing it? Just planning for the future? Please. If you don't think the CIA already tortures people - or has a free agent in some hellhole somewhere doing it - you are being willfully ignorant.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2005


beth, the world has 6 billion human beings. The United States had 300 million. The day that every decision that impacts populations this large is filtered through the eyes of one individual hypothetical person that it may or may not impact adversely is that day that government and law as we know it cease to exist and we go back to every person for themselves-style anarchy. Let me ask you this, how would you feel, as an innocent german farmer outside of Berlin when US and British tanks rolled through your village and took over your house as a barracks, making you homeless? Does your pain or hatred make the action any less justified?

If I were that Al Qaeda member, and I was treated badly by the CIA, and I was innocent of what they accused me of I would hate the US. So there. Where does that get us?

Yes, and now let's try being realistic.

Hey, that's what I was about to say to you!
posted by loquax at 11:17 AM on November 2, 2005


words
posted by dios at 11:11 AM PST on November 2


I know it's a lot easier to debate whether or not the U.S. "deserved" the 9/11 attacks rather than discuss the real issue here; clearly, the answer to the "did we deserve it" question is no. Murder is murder.

Now. Can we talk about why we have secret jails, and why the CIA wants to be exempt from laws prohibiting torture? Can we talk about why detainees from Afghanistan and Iraq have been murdered under our watch?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2005


Yeah lol, accountability. Where was it that we had that again?
posted by 31d1 at 11:19 AM on November 2, 2005


Dios:
One thing is for certain: the argument that you are asserting that 9/11 was an act of revenge for the wrongdoings of the US is completely and explicitly wrong.

This lie again?

From Osama Bin Laden's statement here:

I say to you, Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike the towers. But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced.

I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy.

The situation was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn't include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but it didn't respond.

In those difficult moments many hard-to-describe ideas bubbled in my soul, but in the end they produced an intense feeling of rejection of tyranny, and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.


Of course, I'm sure you believe that Bin Laden is lying about his reasons for attacking. Naturally.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:20 AM on November 2, 2005


There interest is reestablishing a Muslim Caliphate to rule over the entirety of the House of Islam.

A 1998 fatwa [10] issued by Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu-Yasir Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, Shaykh Mir Hamzah, and Fazlur Rahman lists three motivations for the holy war.

1. U.S. occupation of the Arabian Peninsula.
2. U.S. aggression against the Iraqi people.
3. U.S. support of Israel.

The 1998 Fatwa states that the United States:

* Plunders the resources of the Arabian Peninsula.
* Dictates policy to the rulers of those countries.
* Supports abusive regimes and monarchies in the Middle East, thereby oppressing their people.
* Has military bases and installations upon the Arabian Peninsula, which violates the Muslim holy land, in order to threaten neighbouring Muslim countries.
* Intends thereby to create disunion between Muslim states, thus weakening them as a political force.
* Supports Israel, and wishes to divert international attention from (and tacitly maintain) the occupation of Palestine.

The 1998 Fatwa states, "All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger, and Muslims. And ulema have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries."


What's next? "They hate us for our freedom"?
posted by mr.marx at 11:24 AM on November 2, 2005


That is NOT the speech he gave right after 9/11. In the speech he gave that time, he made it clear it the attacks were do to the embarassment suffered by Mulims "for the last 80 years." He made it clear in that speech that it was the dismantling of the caliphate, and the desire to bring it back into force. The speech you are referencing was a subseqent speech by Bin Laden after he realized that he could get traction with the anti-Americanism you highlighted.

So don't call me a liar when you are the one with wrong facts.
posted by dios at 11:24 AM on November 2, 2005


We might have secret prisons, people detained indefinately, torture, private contractors all over a war zone, a boatload of bunk intelligence, treason in the White House, no paper trail in elections, and a devasted gulf coast, but we have TEH ACCOUNTABILITY!!!
posted by 31d1 at 11:24 AM on November 2, 2005


And what Cycloptichorn said...
posted by mr.marx at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2005


mr. marx: that was the '98 fatwa. Again, look at the speech right at 9/11 when Bin Laden makes his point clear.
posted by dios at 11:26 AM on November 2, 2005


I said a country in America's position, as in leading the effort to attack terrorism and deal with terrorists. Canada, the Netherlands and so on are not in the position of having to make these choices, but I'm damned sure that they would behave similarly if they were.

in your Arab-hating, torture-loving dreams.

this anti-Muslim wave also has the bonus of being a great shield -- you just can hide your anti-brown-people bias behind a cowardly sheen of "terrah terrah terrah" screams. nice Southern folk in the Fifties didn't have the luxury, of course. nobody really bough the "Negroes are commies" J Edgar Hoover line, then.

it's fascinating how the many torture and secret-prison apologists here (you know who you are, you who made my good comrade mr. marx lose his lunch) would have been first say, in Soviet Russia, or in Mussolini's Italy, or in Hitler's Germany, to be either apologists for the destruction of civil rights in name of that era's equivalent of "security", or, simply, to be government's snitches. out of cowardice, or stupidity, or of simple spite.
posted by matteo at 11:27 AM on November 2, 2005


The speech you are referencing was a subseqent speech by Bin Laden after he realized that he could get traction with the anti-Americanism you highlighted.

So don't call me a liar when you are the one with wrong facts.


Who said that this was the first, last, or whenever speech that he gave? I never claimed it was the first speech after 9/11. Just because it wasn't on the day after 9/11 doesn't make it untrue.

Basically you are, as I predicted, stating that Bin Laden was lying when he gave this speech. Typical. No, I guess we should believe that they 'hate our freedom,' right? Because that is what your masters have told you is true, right? Right.

Not to mention what Mr. Marx said.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:29 AM on November 2, 2005


I see, so bin ladens justifications are ever changing to take sneaky advantage of political climate, yet our administrations ever changing justifications for the war in Iraq are because of ... well, what exactly?
posted by 31d1 at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2005


link, please
posted by mr.marx at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2005


This is an excellent point by lumpenprole that will surely be glossed over, but I want to echo it in hopes it will not:

Oh sweet crap, dios, that is so unworthy of you. The government completely refuses to admit that these prisons exist and has done so for the last three years. The reports of them were dismissed (probably at one time by you, even) as 'tinfoil hat stuff' by apologists. More and more international stories crop up about it, and finally the Washington Post does a story, the cia still won't admit it and this is 'evidence of accountability'.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:31 AM on November 2, 2005


Your argument that this is because something the US did shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivations of those who attacked us. There interest is reestablishing a Muslim Caliphate to rule over the entirety of the House of Islam.

That was their ultimate goal, yes. However, the reasons given by Bin Laden for their aggression, after the attack on the Cole, addressed very specific greivances which you either don't know about or are pretending not to.
posted by wakko at 11:32 AM on November 2, 2005


Look, we had a several hundered comment thread about this, and we don't really need to have it here again. Bin Laden and his people want a restoration of the caliphate and shariah law based on their understanding of the Koran. The caliphate was dismantled after it was defeated by Western forces. Countries were partitioned. All of these were good things from the West's perspective and I doubt that you would say they were justification for 9/11. Bin Laden thinks they were bad things because they took Muslim lands out of Muslim hands. His problem is that his understanding of the Koran was jeoparadized by the current status of the Middle East. His problem was not that the US wasn't following the Geneva Convention or anything of the like.

The argument that it was specific retaliation against the US because of a prisoner abuse or anything specific and unique to the US is absurd. There were bombings in Bali, were they because of the polcies of the US? Of course not. As they were said then, the bombings in Bali were a result of the removal of Muslim lands from Muslim hands--in this case, the land being referred to was the liberation of East Timor by the US and the UN.

You aren't really understanding their motivations if you think it is all revenge because of US policies. It shows a lack of appreciation for their deeply held (and confused) religious beliefs.
posted by dios at 11:35 AM on November 2, 2005


It's important to separate "what Bin Laden believes/wishes" from "what motivates his followers." Yes, Bin Laden and other Saudi-bred extremists hate the US for its decadence, and would like to establish an Islamic theocracy in its place.

But does this truly motivate people to commit suicide attacks on the US? Is it reasonable to believe that these people are motivated by a desire to spread repressive, religious government? It seems much more plausible that the significant numbers of those who want us dead are motivated by the acts of violence perpetrated by the US, detailed in that Bin Laden message from 1998. I think most of us saw the WTC falling and thought, damn, I want to go kill the guy responsible for that. How can you say that the US's actions haven't inspired similar feelings in "the terrorists?"
posted by rxrfrx at 11:38 AM on November 2, 2005


Why don't you link to the speech where Bin Laden stated the reasons behind the 9/11 attacks on Oct. 7, Cylpto? Is it because you know it will disprove your statements? The speech you linked to was from 2004, and it was a speech that was markedly different than the speech from Oct. 7, 2001. Now ask yourself why it was different. The reason is that bin Laden learned that the arguments you made had traction and could be useful to him.

But if we want to know the reasons for the 9/11 attacks, he made them clear in his speech of Oct. 7, 2001. And it fits with the basis for his crusade.
posted by dios at 11:39 AM on November 2, 2005


Oh, I get it, it wasn't in response to US policies, it was merely in response to US policies!
posted by 31d1 at 11:39 AM on November 2, 2005


There were bombings in Bali, were they because of the polcies of the US? Of course not.

[T]he bombings in Bali were a result of the removal of Muslim lands from Muslim hands--in this case, the land being referred to was the liberation of East Timor by the US and the UN.


So what you're saying is that the bombings in Bali were a direct result of the policies of the US.
posted by wakko at 11:42 AM on November 2, 2005


The October 7th 2001 speech.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:44 AM on November 2, 2005


OK, I just read the 10/7/2001 speech. Dios, wtf are you talking about? He mentions the destruction of Israel and safety in his own land. He doesn't mention extension of the caliphate to North America.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2005


The US army servicepeople implicated in the crime were prosecuted for said crimes. Case closed, as far as I can tell.

Sorry, Case Not Closed. Try not shutting your eyes at the earliest possible convenience next time:

The officer who spoke to Human Rights Watch made persistent efforts to raise concerns he had with superior officers up the chain of command and to obtain clearer rules on the proper treatment of prisoners. When he raised the issue with superiors, he was consistently told to keep his mouth shut, turn a blind eye, or consider his career. When he sought clearer procedures from general officers, he was told merely to use his judgment.

Altogether this officer said he spent seventeen months trying to clarify rules for prisoner treatment while seeking a meaningful investigation. He explained at length how he openly had brought his complaint directly up the chain of command, from his direct commanding officer, to the division commander, to the judge advocate general's (JAG) office, and finally to members of the US Congress. In many cases, he was encouraged to keep his concerns quiet; his brigade commander, for example, rebuffed him when he asked for an investigation into these allegations of abuse. He believes he was not taken seriously until he began to approach members of Congress, and, indeed, just days before the publication of this report he was told that he would not be granted a pass to meet on his day off with staff members of US Senators John McCain and John Warner. He said he was told that he was being naive and that he was risking his career...

The accounts presented in this report are further evidence that this decision by the Bush administration was to have a profound influence on the treatment of detained persons in military operations in Iraq as well as in the "global war on terror." In short, the refusal to apply the Geneva Conventions to Guantánamo Bay and Afghanistan was to undermine long-standing adherence by the US armed forces to federal law and the laws of armed conflict concerning the proper treatment of prisoners.


Torture In Iraq

Nov. 7, 2005 issue - Army Capt. Ian Fishback is plainly a very brave man. Crazy brave, even. Not only has the 26-year-old West Pointer done a tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, he has had the guts to suggest publicly that his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, lied to Congress. After making headlines a month ago for alleging that systematic interrogation abuses occurred in Iraq—and that the Pentagon was not forthright about it—the plain-spoken Fishback went back to Fort Bragg, N.C. He is now practicing small-unit tactics in the woods for a month as part of Special Forces training. After that, he hopes to fight for his country once again overseas.


Fishback's courage in taking a lonely stand may be paying off. Inspired by his example, "a growing critical mass of soldiers is coming forward with allegations of abuse," says Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch, the New York-based activist group that first revealed Fishback's story. One of them is Anthony Lagouranis, a Chicago-based Army specialist who recently left the military. He supports Fishback's contention that abuses in Iraq were systematic—and were authorized by officers in an effort to pressure detainees into talking. "I think our policies required abuse," says Lagouranis. "There were freaking horrible things people were doing. I saw [detainees] who had feet smashed with hammers. One detainee told me he had been forced by Marines to sit on an exhaust pipe, and he had a softball-sized blister to prove it. The stuff I did was mainly torture lite: sleep deprivation, isolation, stress positions, hypothermia. We used dogs."

Fishback has also won a devoted and powerful ally in Sen. John McCain, who says that the captain's tale "is what I view as the tip of the iceberg in the military today." Fishback's account has proved to be a prime exhibit in McCain's long-running feud with Rumsfeld over conduct of the Iraq war. In a long letter to Congress obtained by NEWSWEEK, Fishback told McCain and others in Congress that when the Defense secretary testified before Congress in the aftermath of the 2004 Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, Rumsfeld did not accurately represent what was occurring in Iraq.

Fishback said that many of the brutal practices shown in the Abu Ghraib photos—which the Pentagon called the work of a few rogue soldiers "on the night shift"—were actually "in accordance with what I perceived as U.S. policy." After he heard Rumsfeld testify in May 2004 that the U.S. forces were following the Geneva Conventions in Iraq, Fishback wrote: "I was immediately concerned that the Army was taking part in a lie to the Congress, which would have been a clear violation of the Constitution." Based on what he saw, Geneva rules for prisoner treatment were not being followed, he says. And for 17 months, a frustrated Fishback tried to get a clear answer about what standards were being used— consulting his superior officers, Army lawyers, even a professor of philosophy at West Point, Col. Daniel Zupan. He says he never got an answer. A devout Christian, Fishback held soul-searching discussions with fellow officers in Bible class about what he should do. In the end he went to Human Rights Watch for guidance.


Truth About Torture
posted by y2karl at 11:50 AM on November 2, 2005


PinkStainlessTail, aw, man, why'd you go and do that? We were having so much fun before you went and used facts to back up an argument. I want to play more in the fantasy land of the administrations propaganda and talking points.
posted by daq at 11:51 AM on November 2, 2005


Yeah, no caliphate there, though he does question our accountability:
"And there are civilians, innocent children being killed every day in Iraq without any guilt, and we never hear anybody. We never hear any fatwah from the clergymen of the government."
posted by 31d1 at 11:52 AM on November 2, 2005


Seeing as how the invasion of Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and the war on Afghanistan has about 1% to do with 9/11, can we kindly shut the fuck up about 9/11 for one goddamned minute?

Now. Can we talk about why we have secret jails, and why the CIA wants to be exempt from laws prohibiting torture? Can we talk about why detainees from Afghanistan and Iraq have been murdered under our watch?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:52 AM on November 2, 2005


In fact, Dios, I was in the proccess of linking to the Oct. 7th speech, as it confirms exactly what I've said. You really should try reading it:

link

The nations of infidels have all united against Muslims. You American people - can you ask yourselves why [there is] all this hate against America and Israel? The answer is clear and very simple, that America has committed so many crimes against the nations of Muslims.

He also asks,

Why [is] your government...supporting the rotten governments of our countries?

It seems quite clear to me that while Bin Laden may desire the reformation of the Caliphate, he has stated time and time again that the policies of the US and Israel are what has lead to AQaeda attacks against the US.

You, of course, refuse to believe this. Why?
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:52 AM on November 2, 2005


I'm not sure what it has to do with anything, but here are some indications of what Bin Laden is up to.

"In order to establish the Islamic state and spread the religion, there must be [five conditions], a group, hearing, obedience, a Hijra, [2] and a Jihad. Those who wish to elevate Islam without Hijra and without Jihad sacrifices for the sake of Allah have not understood the path of Muhammad…"


"We are in a situation of no longer having a country to which to make Hijra. There was an opportunity [to create such a country] – a rare opportunity. Since the fall of the Caliphate, the Crusaders made sure not to enable the true Islam to establish a state. Allah decreed that there be events in Afghanistan, and the U.S.S.R. attacked [Afghanistan]. The Crusaders relinquished their resolve [to prevent the establishment of an Islamic state] because of their fear of the U.S.S.R. [They] had no choice but to repel the U.S.S.R. by any and all means, even by means of the Mujahideen, the fundamentalists, and the young Jihad warriors of Islam."

"Afghanistan is [but] a few hours away from the Arabian Peninsula, or from any of the countries of the Islamic world… but the Taliban state disappeared, and they did not lift a finger. I say that I am convinced that thanks to Allah, this nation has sufficient forces to establish the Islamic state and the Islamic Caliphate, but we must tell these forces that this is their obligation. Similarly, we need to tell the other forces, those who [are] restricting these forces, that they are sinning by restricting these forces…"
posted by loquax at 11:53 AM on November 2, 2005


Though Optimus Chyme is correct; this is the wrong thread for such things, sorry.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:53 AM on November 2, 2005


Well, I come a bit late among all the mud-flinging, but I think I have a serious question to ask: The Washington Post demonstrates, imho, a serious lack of backbone in refusing to disclose the names of the Eastern European countries involved. They claim that they do this by request from senior US officials who are afraid that this disclosure could "jeopardize operations". Could this be because those Eastern European countries are presumably signatories to the European Convention on Human-Rights, and that those Eastern European "black sites" are almost certainly illegal?
posted by Skeptic at 11:54 AM on November 2, 2005


dios, come on, give us a link to that 9/11 caliphate-speech. we're dying (if we were Iraqi, literally) here.
posted by mr.marx at 11:55 AM on November 2, 2005


Sorry, Case Not Closed.

No, but now the small tag is. That really messes up My Recent Comments.
posted by caddis at 11:59 AM on November 2, 2005


PinkStainlessTail, aw, man, why'd you go and do that? We were having so much fun before you went and used facts to back up an argument.

Oh I wasn't trying to prove/disprove anything (I'm useless in this kind of discussion). The speech was being thrown around so much I just figured someone should actually link to it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:03 PM on November 2, 2005


and that those Eastern European "black sites" are almost certainly illegal?

Coming back to the law again, without actually "knowing", I'd agree that these prisons are almost certainly "illegal". The question is are they right. Laws often proscribe remedies that are unjust in the eyes of some, such as minimum mandatory drug sentencing, for example, or say, prohibiting homosexuality. Normally, the way to handle this is to change the law to reflect the will of the people. If these sites were made "legal" in the eyes of US law, would there then be no argument with them? If the outrage expressed with them is due to their existence, fine, but then let's not talk about what the law says about the topic. Otherwise the question becomes "if the law doesn't fit the circumstances, do you follow the law or do what is right?"
posted by loquax at 12:03 PM on November 2, 2005


If the outrage expressed with them is due to their existence, fine, but then let's not talk about what the law says about the topic.

We can do both, hoss. They are either illegal or immoral or both; therefore, we should neither condone such actions nor participate in them. There is no reason for us to murder detainees from anywhere, for any crime. Say what you will about capital punishment, but at the very least those on death row had at least some semblance of a trial, however unfair. Similarly, there is no reason for us to torture detainees. Yet we are doing both. Why do you defend both torture and cold-blooded murder?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:09 PM on November 2, 2005


loquax, are you attempting to inspire the rest of us to take a trip to the latrine like mr.marx, or does this just come to you naturally?
posted by prostyle at 12:10 PM on November 2, 2005


The reference in the speech of 80 years of humilation is the reference to the 80 years since the removal of the caliphate. The reference to Israel are references to land that was taken out of Muslim control. You have to know a little about the history of Islam to understand the speech about Bin Laden.

The caliphate was the head of Islam. Islam is not just a religion, it is a political institution as well. Whereas we are trained to view our country as one country divided into various religions, Islam is one religion falsely dividing into various contries. The law of the Koran says there are two lands, the house of Islam and the House of War. Land, once part of the House of Islam, can never be taken from it. And land within the House of Islam is to be controlled by the caliph.

Thus, when bin Laden is referncing Israel, the "80 years of humilation" and the like what he is referring to is the destruction of the caliphate and the partitioning of Muslim lands.

Now, if you want to say that those things were a result of American imperial policy, you are going to need to go back in history and look at the basis for those international acts (the dismantling of the caliphate, partitioning of countries, the founding of Israel). What you will find is none of those acts that bin Laden complained of were acts of American imperialism. They weren't acts of American agression. They were acts of toture or terror.

What bin Laden's problem is that there were actions over the last 80 years that resulted in the inability for the law of Koran to keep Muslim lands in the House of Islam.

Now, if you want to say 9/11 was justified on the terms that bin Laden used, you have to say that the actions of the last 80 years justifed an act of mass murder.
posted by dios at 12:11 PM on November 2, 2005


Yeah, my bile is beginning to rise too.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:11 PM on November 2, 2005


Obviously in the last sentence of the 4th paragraph it was supposed to say "were not..." Please don't be petty and harp on a typo.
posted by dios at 12:13 PM on November 2, 2005


They are either illegal or immoral or both; therefore, we should neither condone such actions nor participate in them

I'm saying that they may be illegal, but that they are moral. I notice many attempts at a legal argument against them, so I was wondering if the objection was strictly legal. Of course we can argue both, but if you think it's immoral, then the fact that it may be illegal is really besides the point.

Why do you defend both torture and cold-blooded murder?


I missed the part of the article where they mentioned torture and cold blooded murder. I would be happy to discuss both if we are discussing specifics, both in terms of occurrences and definitions.

loquax, are you attempting to inspire the rest of us to take a trip to the latrine like mr.marx, or does this just come to you naturally?

Think of me as your own personal detoxification regime!
posted by loquax at 12:14 PM on November 2, 2005


loquax: Let me get this straight. You say the sites are probably "illegal," but raise the question of whether or not they're "right." Then you state that not everyone thinks every law is "right" and ask if changing American law regarding torture would make make torture "right"....no, I don't follow you. Your logic is, pardon the expression, tortured.

Part of the reason we have laws is because everyone's got their own definition of what is "right".
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2005


I took the loquax diet & lost five pounds in two minutes!
posted by stinkycheese at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2005


To those of you who seem unable to stomach having a dialogue and feel it necessary to add nothing but noise by informing us that you feel the need the vomit, can I please ask you to feel free to part from this conversation and allow the people who have a desire to discuss substantive issues do so without pointless and childish noise.
posted by dios at 12:16 PM on November 2, 2005


dios: fuck you too.
posted by mr.marx at 12:18 PM on November 2, 2005


heh.

Loquax:
I'm saying that they may be illegal, but that they are moral. I notice many attempts at a legal argument against them, so I was wondering if the objection was strictly legal. Of course we can argue both, but if you think it's immoral, then the fact that it may be illegal is really besides the point.

Is it moral to break the law?

I missed the part of the article where they mentioned torture and cold blooded murder. I would be happy to discuss both if we are discussing specifics, both in terms of occurrences and definitions.

What other reasons can there be to have secret, ex-Soviet prisons, holding secret prisoners, other than the fact that there are activities going on there which are either illegal or immoral? Such as torture and murder. Otherwise, there is zero reason not to have them in a non-secret prison; it isn't as if we don't have plenty of those.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 12:21 PM on November 2, 2005


how would you feel, as an innocent german farmer outside of Berlin when US and British tanks rolled through your village and took over your house as a barracks, making you homeless?

Let's see, if I'm "innocent", then I'm not a Nazi. In fact, I'm probably against the Nazis... which means I welcome the US and British soldiers as liberators, and bring out my finest wine I'd been hiding in the cellar to serve them at the most sumptuous dinner I can prepare.

Also, being a farmer, I have a nice cozy barn to sleep in while the soldiers use my house. This may surprise you, but I have at one point in my life lived in a barn, and it was nice.

Look, the larger point is you can't seem to put yourself in the shoes of someone wrongly accused and put into one of these secret detention centers. Odds are good this would never personally happen to you. Yet you think it's okay to be blind to the fact that this is injustice, or excuse it away in the name of "national security", or what-have-you. It is views like yours, where the comfortable never have to worry themselves about discomfort because it won't happen to them, that most readily lend themselves to an anarchic system of dog-eat-dog, "might makes right". Because if it feels good for *you*, then another person's suffering matters nothing. Isn't that the definition of sociopathy?

Anyway, I am different. I can imagine what I would think if this happened to someone I cared about, or myself. It's just as much of an injustice happening to someone else. This is because I have empathy, and I give a shit about my fellow human beings. And I know that when we stand for injustice against our fellows, and fail to live up to the basic principles of the foundation of our country, it hurts all of us. It makes us less human, and less what we ought to be.

These chickens will come home to roost someday. Americans are going to be treated like this (innocent or not), and they don't deserve it either. Will it bother you then?
posted by beth at 12:34 PM on November 2, 2005


Is it moral to break the law?

Yes, when the law is immoral, and following the law could result in the death and destruction of thousands if not millions of people, and where breaking the law would have minimal impact on society at large, and be broken judiciously. That is my personal opinion, and I realize it is a leap of faith into the arms of the government and this administration in particular. It's one I'm willing to take. I understand you're not.

Otherwise, there is zero reason not to have them in a non-secret prison; it isn't as if we don't have plenty of those.

We've been over this, read the thread. Intelligence, security, operation integrity, etc...

Part of the reason we have laws is because everyone's got their own definition of what is "right".

Part of the reason we have governments and secret services is that sometimes the laws and morals of one society cannot easily be translated to accommodate the actions of people who operate outside of that society with the intention of destroying it. Was it right or legal for the United States to threaten the deaths of 200 millions Russians by pointing ICBM's at the Soviet Union? Was it right or legal for Israel to assassinate escaped Nazis? Was it right or legal for the US to drop the bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki? These situations cannot be defined easily (or at all) in terms of normal laws for normal situations with normal people.

Look, the larger point is you can't seem to put yourself in the shoes of someone wrongly accused and put into one of these secret detention centers.

I can, I said I would hate the US. That was your point wasn't it? I just said that it was beside the point.

These chickens will come home to roost someday. Americans are going to be treated like this (innocent or not), and they don't deserve it either. Will it bother you then?

No, because I a monster that makes people vomit on the Internet, I hate Arabs and love torture!
posted by loquax at 12:37 PM on November 2, 2005


To those of you who seem unable to stomach having a dialogue and feel it necessary to add nothing but noise by informing us that you feel the need the vomit, can I please ask you to feel free to part from this conversation and allow the people who have a desire to discuss substantive issues do so without pointless and childish noise.
posted by dios at 12:16 PM PST on November 2


i agree; debating whether or not torture is "awesome," "mega-awesome," or "boner-inducingly awesome" is a serious subject let's not not make ourselves look foolish gentlemen
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:39 PM on November 2, 2005


Beth's earlier comment was right on the money: I mean, Jesus Christ, we even gave the fucking Nazis themselves a goddamn trial. Wtf.
posted by chunking express at 12:39 PM on November 2, 2005


Yes, when the law is immoral

So, laws against secret prisons are immoral?
posted by Cycloptichorn at 12:41 PM on November 2, 2005


This isn't April 1st, you kids.
posted by Dean Keaton at 12:42 PM on November 2, 2005


"...allow the people who have a desire to discuss substantive issues do so without pointless and childish noise."

Actually, disgust (and expressions thereof) are completely valid responses to what some feel are extremes of behavior in a given culture. You, Dios, may not identify as part of that culture. You may not find some behaviors (torture, et al?) extreme. But you, Dios, certainly have no fundamental privilege to describe their response as "pointless" or "childish" because it offends your self-imposed rhetorical rules.

(Barf!)

Indeed, that offense is precisely the point, and your sniffy response its validation.
posted by Haruspex at 12:43 PM on November 2, 2005


What Beth and chunking express said, with the point (made by many other people in many other threads and articles) added that Allied forces in WWII were able to defeat the combined armies of Nazi German and Imperial Japan without adopting an official policy of torturing enemy prisoners.

That's one hell of a leap of faith, loquax.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:44 PM on November 2, 2005


I mean, Jesus Christ, we even gave the fucking Nazis themselves a goddamn trial. Wtf.

Yeah, when there was zero danger of those trials impacting the course of the war. How many captured officers went on public trial before then? How much information about the course of the war or upcoming operations was released to the general public between 1939 and 1945?

Don't worry though, I personally assure you that Bin Laden's trial (assuming he's caught) will be the most public trial ever in recorded history, like Saddam and OJ combined.

So, laws against secret prisons are immoral?


They are if those laws directly lead to the deaths of millions because the authorities in charge of capturing terrorists and preventing attacks were not given appropriate tools to do the job.
posted by loquax at 12:44 PM on November 2, 2005


Allied forces in WWII were able to defeat the combined armies of Nazi German and Imperial Japan without adopting an official policy of torturing enemy prisoners.

I'd argue that that was a pretty big leap of faith.
posted by loquax at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2005


The righteous indignation of knee-jerk conservatives has always seemed to me to be more than a tad disingenuous. I've thought so since I was a conservative teenager, being raised by big-"C" conservative parents, and I think so today.

To say that it's somehow excusable for America to stick people in secret prisons without a trial and without criminal charges, but it's not excusable, say, for Syria (or Pakistan, or Russia, or France) to do the same, under the same justification, is such an obvious error of logic that it makes my head spin. I wonder how to have a dialog with a person who makes such an error.

The rationale is indeed functionally identical in all cases: The people being detained are "presumably national security risks"; it's "presumable" (because the Gov't says so) that they know things valuable in our fight against international terror; in turn it's "presumable" (again, because the gov't says so) that the risk from "International Terror" is sufficient to justify the loss of personal freedoms.

Finally, I find it queasily ironic that so many of the people standing up for the CIA's moral right to do this stuff would protest endlessly about property rights and taxation as a violation of personal freedom. If you're for the State's right to jail people as it sees fit, then you're for the State's right to do anything as it sees fit. Any other position is rank hypocrisy.
posted by lodurr at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2005



Two things I have a problem with:

“I don't know what Abu Ghraib has to do with anything, let alone CIA run jails.”
...
“The difference is that I assume that their actions will be in the best interests of security, and society, and whatever else, and you don't.”
posted by loquax at 11:03 AM PST on November 2 [!]


Make no mistake. It is very clear that CIA interrogators were in charge at Abu Ghraib. Not officially of course. But that is always the way. The fact that you don’t know this is in itself indicative of the problems there.
Someone who is not in the chain of command should have no influence on it. Unfortunately this is not always practical and we must be nice and accomodating to the Col.’s wife. That is a courtesy however, not policy. To allow a CIA operative to issue direct orders to military personnel (without going through channels) is to adopt a command style similar to the Soviets or National Socialists with the “loyalty” or “political” officers who make sure things are in line with party doctrine.
Brig. Gen. Karpinski said there were problems with the CIA interrogators issuing orders to the MPs. End of story.


I cannot make the assumption that anything done without my defacto approval is done for my benefit.
(If you truly believe that loquax, send me $10,000. I promise to use it to make your life better.)


from article:
“It depends on...keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.....are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.”

I refuse to allow my representatives to be left in the dark on matters such as these. It’s my money, it’s my country, I want to know what is being done in my name. If that is not possible because of security considerations, then I want my elected representatives to know about it.
It’s how the system is supposed to work.
The president is not and should not be the sole arbiter of how the CIA conducts it’s operations. Congress is supposed to have oversight over these matters. There are ample reasons for that going back to the praetorian guard.

The anti-terror business doesn’t require any of this. There is no mystique. But some people get off on this like Rove jacking off over Gannon.

There are good reasons to withhold the names of those being held. Sometimes it’s good to keep the enemy from knowing whether someone is captive or dead or alive or what. But keeping the names of those held as classified is enough. It’s wonderful some of you are lawyers or writers or whatever, and we get those perspectives. But I can tell you that what this is, is lazy intelligence gathering. These methods are a direct result of the cuts in human intelligence resources, mostly in the Clinton administration. Bush started rebuilding the agency’s analytic capabilities, but warped the whole community to run through his office instead of through the usual channels (memorandum in Nov. 2004 et. al.) using this intelligence failure crap and the idea that agencies butt heads over sharing intelligence (they didn’t really - it was more over jurisdiction, and the rivalry was similar to say the Navy - Marines rivalry).
posted by Smedleyman at 12:48 PM on November 2, 2005


The reason America doesn't implode on itself is because of apologists like loquax. You should all take comfort in knowing nothing is wrong. Nothing at all.
posted by chunking express at 12:48 PM on November 2, 2005


Don't worry though, I personally assure you that Bin Laden's trial (assuming he's caught) will be the most public trial ever in recorded history, like Saddam and OJ combined.

Well, not necessarily: we're very likely to be given the excuse that none of Bin Laden's statements can be made public because they have secret coded messages in them that could be used to kill millions of people if they fell into the wrong ears.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:50 PM on November 2, 2005


They are if those laws directly lead to the deaths of millions because the authorities in charge of capturing terrorists and preventing attacks were not given appropriate tools to do the job.

If the tools we use are secret prisons, torture, murder, and assassination, we might as well be Uzbekistan, the USSR, Cambodia, or Saudi Arabia. What's the point of living in a country that's a democracy in name only?

P.S. "24" is a drama, not a documentary.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:51 PM on November 2, 2005


So, laws against secret prisons are immoral?

They are if those laws directly lead to the deaths of millions because the authorities in charge of capturing terrorists and preventing attacks were not given appropriate tools to do the job.


So, that is what you are claiming now, Loquax? That millions will die if we don't torture people?

I find this rather hard to believe; there is little evidence to support this proposition, other than hypotheticals.

I also find it hard to believe that you consider torture a necessary tool for extracting information; how many times must it be pointed out that the US' own experts have said that torture is ineffectual in providing hard, usable data?
posted by Cycloptichorn at 12:52 PM on November 2, 2005


Torture is not a tool.

I'm sorry, loquax, but that argument just flew out the window. The only purpose of torture is torture.

The reason the CIA has these secret prisons is because they can't have them here (in the U.S.). They shouldn't have them anywhere, really, because the other reason they have them is apparently so they can detain and torture prisoners.

We, the people of the United States of America, are not supposed to do that. Period. If you disagree, then just stop, go away somewhere and think about how much you enjoy torturing people.
Really. Seriously. Because that is what you are defending. You are defending actions that make us, the people of the United States of America, torturers. You are defending Americans behaving in the same way as Saddam's Republican Guard. The same as Baath'ist jihadist. The same as the shit-heels that beheaded contractors in Iraq. That is why you should stop trying to defend these actions. If you think the rest of us are crazy or stupid, or don't understand the nuances of international anti-terrorism, fine. But don't defend torture, of anyone, anywhere, ever.
Unless you are willing to die after weeks of starvation, extreme heat and cold, "stress positions", sleep deprivation, water boarding, broken limbs left untended, open sores and infections, and constant insults of your cultural upbringng.
In fact, just go ahead and turn yourself in to the CIA and ask to be tortured for the information you hold in your head, because you think it would be justified. You think it is justice to destroy another human being for thinking differently than you.

This took a while to edit.
posted by daq at 12:52 PM on November 2, 2005


Oh, also coming up right here is a statement that's not very nice so cover your precious eyes if you don't want to be offended.

Ahem:

If you are so afraid of terrorists that you are willing to sacrifice your rights and the rights of everyone else on the planet to stay safe, you are a huge fucking pussy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:55 PM on November 2, 2005


Here here, lodurr. Not to mention that the effectiveness of torture, even in "ticking time bomb"-type situations, has been and continues to be questioned or outright rejected by professional intelligence officers like retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock:

"Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea.""

But, of course, proponents of torture on the sidelines would know more about the effectiveness of torture than he would.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:57 PM on November 2, 2005


Well, I don't know about pinching tits but I could sure go for torturing a big fucking pussy.
/sorry
posted by stinkycheese at 1:00 PM on November 2, 2005


They are if those laws directly lead to the deaths of millions because the authorities in charge of capturing terrorists and preventing attacks were not given appropriate tools to do the job.

This is an idiotic and childish argument that has been refuted over and over. If it turned out that repealing laws against sodomizing babies would cause a butterfly to flap his wings at the exact moment needed to prevent a terrorist bomb fracturing the earth's crust and killing two billion people, then what?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2005


Dammit! Huge fucking pussy.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2005


So, the question keeps coming up, implicitly: Why would a presumably logical outfit like the CIA do torture if they didn't think it would work?

The answer is simple: Because they were told to. And they do what they're told. And by god, if you give them long enough, they even learn to like it.

If there's one thing the Company has always been good at, it's grokking the koolaid. Not just drinking it: grokking it. Loading it up into a long-needled syringe and shooting it straight into their cerebro-spinal fluid. Once it's on the other side of the blood-brain barrier, that shit does some amazing things, man....
posted by lodurr at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2005


Armitage Shanks, you're thinking too hard. That's your problem. Turn off your brain and it all is so much simpler.
posted by chunking express at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2005


I'd like to commend loquax and dios for their behavior in this thread. It's hard to imagine how they've stayed calm and civil with all the shit thrown at them.

"It's not much of a stretch..." doesn't help the discussion. You're taking your point-of-view and your understanding of the situation and extending it. Well, basically I think that's what loquax and dios are doing. Their premise is that we're the good guys and that this latest revelation is suspect and incomplete. It isn't much of a stretch to find excuses for what the US government has done if you want to look for them. That's what people do when someone they have a large emotional investment in lets them down.

As for my opinion, well, I think the US has always done this sort of thing and many worse, besides. The reason this administration seems so bad is because they don't have enough sense to be ashamed of it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2005


"I suppose the point trying to be raised is that America does some seriously disgusting things and many American's don't seem all to bothered by it. I can't believe people are defending the actions of the US described in the articles linked. This is precisely the behaviour the US government condemns when the countries doing these evil deeds aren't friendly enough to US interests."
Chunking Express

Never before in history have we had so much ability to get information, yet at the same time reminded how deeply debilitating having none can be. Typical Americans aren't worried about torture and wrongful detaining of suspects. There seems to be no neutral news source on television anymore and we all have other things in our lives. College, kids, work. This detainee stuff, let the pros figure it out.

It is certainly not one thing, and it is certainly not that we are stupid. We have had wool over our collective eyes for decades. No matter who's in charge, things will mostly stay the same. A momentary diversion on the road to the grave. Another war, more money for the effort. It's like 1984 except everyone is cynical and there is free press. The best thing we can do is to educate our family and friends on what we feel is the truth... let them decide for themselves. Become active in your community for the rights of others.
posted by Dean Keaton at 1:06 PM on November 2, 2005


Extraordinary rendition
posted by stinkycheese at 1:06 PM on November 2, 2005


the shit thrown at them

You know, for a couple of guys who are pro-torture, I'd say they're taking remarkably little heat.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:08 PM on November 2, 2005


There's nothing worse than a rude torture apologist.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2005


but it's not excusable, say, for Syria (or Pakistan, or Russia, or France) to do the same, under the same justification

I think it is excusable for France to do the same thing, with the same qualifications that I earlier place on US actions. France has a civilian government that is democratic and accountable. The other countries you mentioned do not. It can be assumed that when totalitarian countries act in this way, it is to preserve their totalitarianism or for the profit of a given agency or ruler, and that is inherently wrong and unacceptable, just as it would be if democrat party supporters were rounded up here, or for that matter, the personal enemies of George Bush. The CIA presumably is acting in the best interests of the United States via directives from the civilian government. There is presumably no personal gain to be made here, no blood lust, no killing of elements that are dangerous to the state only on the basis of their ideas.

Again, if you think the CIA and/or George Bush and/or America and/or capitalism are evil, then don't bother responding to me and I won't bother responding to you, because we'll never agree on anything. Anything they do will be morally wrong by definition.

-----

Hold on a second. In all seriousness, I never said that I loved torture and thought it was a great tool - I was talking about detaining people indefinitely without trial if the risk of trying them or releasing them was deemed too high by the people that we elect and trust to make such decisions. I agree, torture is bad as a general rule, and usually doesn't yield results, as my casual reading on the subject indicates. It's also wrong and reprehensible, depending on the specific definition of "torture" that we're working with. I support the John Howard Society, and if it were up to me, the incarcerated terrorists should be allowed to take college courses, eat and drink to their heart's content, and have nothing but the finest linens to sleep on.

If you are so afraid of terrorists that you are willing to sacrifice your rights and the rights of everyone else on the planet to stay safe, you are a huge fucking pussy.


I'm not, but I am willing to have habeas corpus suspended for a limited number of people suspected of planning mass death and destruction. I am very afraid of terrorists though.

This is an idiotic and childish argument that has been refuted over and over

Why? I'm personally opposed to guns, but I support their unpleasant use by the police in order to keep society safe. I'm opposed to prisons and incarceration in principle but I support their necessary function. I'm opposed to secret jails but if there is a need out there to use them (and again, I'm assuming there is), I support their use in a limited and reasonable fashion.

Well, basically I think that's what loquax and dios are doing.

Exactly. Speaking for myself at least, the argument just boils down to being on two totally diametrically opposed sides. There isn't much point in debating specifics if our entire worldviews are complete opposite of each other. I'm still happy to do it, as many around here express an interest occasionally in hearing how others think, and I'm happy to hear the same, but I hardly expect to "convince" anyone of anything.
posted by loquax at 1:15 PM on November 2, 2005


they've stayed calm and civil

Condoning torture while maintaining a condescending attitude... not so civil.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:16 PM on November 2, 2005


If you are so afraid of terrorists that you are willing to sacrifice your rights and the rights of everyone else on the planet to stay safe, you are a huge fucking pussy.

word up. thing is, they've convinced themselves of the opposite: they're hardcases for supporting it b/c it's regrettable but necessary in their minds, and they have a conviction that us anti-torture/secret prison punk asses lack.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:17 PM on November 2, 2005


This is an idiotic and childish argument that has been refuted over and over

Why?


Because you can never prove cause and effect. You're in favor of breaking basic rules of civilized behavior because you can imagine some scenario where it will save millions of lives. The problem is that you have to break the rules first, and you'll never be able to demonstrate that doing that, and only doing that, had the desired effect.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:20 PM on November 2, 2005


I think it is excusable for France to do the same thing, with the same qualifications that I earlier place on US actions. France has a civilian government that is democratic and accountable. The other countries you mentioned do not.

So, it is alright for democratic governments to engage in non-democratic, non-accountable behavior, but not okay for Totalitarian governments to engage in non-democratic, non-accountable behavior?

If there is no oversight, no way of the populace to find out about problems other than through leaks, than the actions in question are inherently neither transparent nor democratic. When these actions in question also involve serious moral breaches, well, we are talking about a serious problem.

There is presumably no personal gain to be made here

On the contrary; there are those who have had everything to gain from the events that have taken place over the last several years, and moreover, have done exactly this.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2005


"You know, for a couple of guys who are pro-torture, I'd say they're taking remarkably little heat."

I doubt they're "pro-torture". But, hey, make justifcations for anything anyone says here on the basis of "they deserve it" and "he is bad person". It's a state of mind quite like that of a torturer, I'd guess.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2005


I am very afraid of terrorists though.

Honestly, that's like being afraid of lightning strikes and meteorites. You should be afraid of heart disease and cars.

I'm not, but I am willing to have habeas corpus suspended for a limited number of people suspected of planning mass death and destruction.

It already is suspended for quite a few possibly innocent people. Hope you're happy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:25 PM on November 2, 2005


I doubt they're "pro-torture". But, hey, make justifcations for anything anyone says here on the basis of "they deserve it" and "he is bad person". It's a state of mind quite like that of a torturer, I'd guess.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:24 PM PST on November 2


what
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:26 PM on November 2, 2005


I'd like to commend Ethereal Bligh for keeping his utterly incoherent comments short so they're easily skipped over.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:28 PM on November 2, 2005


There isn't much point in debating specifics if our entire worldviews are complete opposite of each other. I'm still happy to do it, as many around here express an interest occasionally in hearing how others think, and I'm happy to hear the same, but I hardly expect to "convince" anyone of anything.

Loquax, let's take this from the other direction. Let's play some game theory.

Given the facts that:

1) Torture essentially recruits new terrorists

2) We know empirically that torture has no benefit in terms of the intelligence it provides

Would you acknowledge any benefit at all from transparency in our humane treatment of terrorism suspects?

That is, if we are strict about not torturing suspects, and enforce this view from top to bottom, and we're transparent to the world about enforcing this policy, wouldn't that pay dividends in the "hearts and minds" part of the war on terrorism?

That is, isn't there a more tangible and beneficial effect on national security from having a better human rights record than the enemy?
posted by Rothko at 1:40 PM on November 2, 2005


Presumably we had a better human rights record when Clinton was in office, and that didn't really pay dividends to us against terrorists.
____

I would just like to add one comment: the behavior of many in this thread is reprehensible and really gives me a lot of support for my position that this place tends towards being an echo chamber with overt hostility to differing views.
posted by dios at 1:44 PM on November 2, 2005


Calling someone "pro-torture" is really a very serious charge against their morality. But it comes easily, right? Because dios and loquax are wrong, right? Not just a little bit wrong, but really really wrong, right?

Dios and loquax are obvious ready to claim that these camps are justifiable because Al Qaeda is really really bad, and, anyway, this is a special situation, and of course we're the good guys.

That's how the bad guys think when someone notices their bad behavior. Seem familiar?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:46 PM on November 2, 2005


That New Yorker article was refreshing.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:46 PM on November 2, 2005


I think it is excusable for France to do the same thing, with the same qualifications that I earlier place on US actions.

What makes those two countries special? For example, Iran is a democratic republic. A what point does the US cross the line from being a democracy to being a "democracy"? Frankly, being democratic shouldn't give you a free ride when it comes to undemocratic despicable behaviour.
posted by chunking express at 1:48 PM on November 2, 2005


Presumably we had a better human rights record when Clinton was in office, and that didn't really pay dividends to us against terrorists.

If we did, that would be news to anyone paying attention. The CIA was no more accountable then, as it is now.
posted by Rothko at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2005


Dios and loquax are obvious ready to claim that these camps are justifiable because Al Qaeda is really really bad, and, anyway, this is a special situation, and of course we're the good guys.

Isn't that pretty much what Loquax has been saying this whole thread. I'm glad you're here to inject some noise in to the discussion.
posted by chunking express at 1:51 PM on November 2, 2005


I'd just like to take a second to applaud Loquax for being reasonable in his responses, given the heated discussion taking place.
posted by Rothko at 1:52 PM on November 2, 2005


I would just like to add one comment: the behavior of many in this thread is reprehensible and really gives me a lot of support for my position that this place tends towards being an echo chamber with overt hostility to differing views.

Well, I don't think there is anything wrong with being hostile towards those who advocate the usage of torture, do you? It is one of the most morally reprehensible acts a person or society can engage in, and should be condemned.

It isn't as if we are arguing over whether red or white wine is better, I mean, sheesh; these are real people's lives we are discussing...
posted by Cycloptichorn at 1:55 PM on November 2, 2005


Calling someone "pro-torture" is really a very serious charge against their morality.

If you believe that torture works, and that a government agency is justified in its use, you are pro-torture. The moral judgments of others when you reveal yourself to be pro-torture is not of my doing.

But it comes easily, right? Because dios and loquax are wrong, right? Not just a little bit wrong, but really really wrong, right?

Yeah, torture is wrong, dude.

Dios and loquax are obvious ready to claim that these camps are justifiable because Al Qaeda is really really bad, and, anyway, this is a special situation, and of course we're the good guys.

Okay.

That's how the bad guys think when someone notices their bad behavior. Seem familiar?

No, not really. I don't think that dios and loquax should be tortured for their opinions, nor, I presume, do they think I should be tortured for mine. It seems to me that we're having a discussion about torture, and discussions about such topics tend to get heated. However, since no one here has tortured anyone else, I don't quite see what you're getting at.

I would just like to add one comment: the behavior of many in this thread is reprehensible and really gives me a lot of support for my position that this place tends towards being an echo chamber with overt hostility to differing views.
posted by dios at 1:44 PM PST on November 2


No one has called you any names, unless you are really afraid of terrorists and didn't cover your eyes as requested, so I hardly think you've experienced "overt hostility."

If you want overt hostility, go to FreeRepublic and make a thread called "Maybe Bill Clinton isn't the Antichrist" and see what happens.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:56 PM on November 2, 2005


"I would just like to add one comment: the behavior of many in this thread is reprehensible and really gives me a lot of support for my position that this place tends towards being an echo chamber with overt hostility to differing views."

Yes, but I don't think it's fair to assume that this thread is representative. This is a very serious topic. If you assume that this is as bad as the critics here do, then it's easy to see you and loqaux as collaborators in some far-removed sense.

And, if you believe this news is true—and if you believe that these camps are very, very wrong and place it in the larger context of this administration and its supporters and how they've suddenly become moral relativists—then it's very frustrating and it makes you angry. I'm angry.

We excuse in the name of expediancy much inexcusable behavior by our government these days. And, frankly, I believe that is the road to Hell. You can always justify; and what you fail to justify you can forget. I think this is what happened and has happened with Abu Ghraib, and it may happen with these camps. I've been watching "The Sorrow and the Pity". People are people and it's easy to look the other way when the truth is inconvenient.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:59 PM on November 2, 2005


Honestly, that's like being afraid of lightning strikes and meteorites. You should be afraid of heart disease and cars.

Optimus wins.

Even if an tactical 5-10 kiloton nuke is exploded in the center of a US city, heart disease would still pose a greater overall threat to the general population.

Any attacks much larger than that and you have not global terrorism as the nexus of your threat, but rather a strategic enemy most likely originating from a nation state. And retaliation is possible. Intellegence garnerd from torture of individuals much less valuable or operable.

There is a REASON why pre-9/11 the neo-cons, the Pentagon, military and intelligence planners never saw non-state sponsored terrorism as a large scale strategic threat... becuase IT'S NOT. Yeah. It's a short term threat. But not near on the level of other strategic threats.
posted by tkchrist at 2:00 PM on November 2, 2005


One point on the pro-torture comment. I haven't responded to it because it is so obvisously a troll and insult intended to shame someone in not asserting a contrary position that it doesn't bother me. Rather, it is a marker for me in indicating who is worth discussing things with and who is out for the sole purpose of shouting/shaming down those who disagree.

But as loquax commented on it, I will restate my position that I asserted before. I don't support torture as a good policy. I support interrogation and psychological methods in the limited circumstance when those who job it is to gather intelligence have a belief that useful intelligence can be gathered.

Support in limited circumstances is different than advoacting something and doesn't mean someone doesn't like it. I don't like swatting my dog. I definitely don't promote swatting my dog. But that doesn't mean that there aren't limited circumstances wherein swatting my dog is useful.

I think everyone understands this. But to some people, it is just easier to be insulting and trying to shame and shout down people by mischaracterising their position. Which is what we see here.
posted by dios at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2005


I don't like swatting my dog. I definitely don't promote swatting my dog. But that doesn't mean that there aren't limited circumstances wherein swatting my dog is useful.

We're not talking about you swatting your dog. We're talking about you kidnapping someone else's dog, shipping it to a pound out of state where they give it electric shocks and keep it there indefinitely, while you deny knowing anything about the dog.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:11 PM on November 2, 2005


Actually, terrorism is a threat, just one we are not deailing with effectively. If you want to deal with a threat, deal with the source of the threat, not the damn heads. "Al Quaeda" has a literal translation meaning "the base". Remove the base and the rest will topple. Speaking in koans, soon I will be.

Anyway. The more better butter way to deal with this whole international terrorism thing is not to lock people up, and oppress populations (through occupation or otherwise). It's to lift them up from the disparity and injustice they see themselves being thrust into by the actions of others. Educate them, give them a foundation to stand on and they will not feel the connection to the rebellious rabble rousers and psychotic ravings of the disaffected and disenfrachised madmen (with guns and small explosives). Make the world a better place for everyone and you soon see radical zealots moving back into the hills, away from civilization (and much easier to kill in the dark of the night out of the public eye, and blame it on bears or something, maybe a chupacabra). The more we behave in exactly the way we are heading (secret prisons, torture claims, occupation of foriegn lands) , the more we create our enemy.

But then again, maybe that's what our current leadership wants. It is a wonderful tool, after all. A population in fear of "the enemy". The "enemy" that we keep creating, refreshing it's numbers every time a new story about our actions against them is leaked, or news of some horrendous act of agression is spread like wildfire through the world.

You say we are blind because we cannot see the justification for secret prisons. It is you who are blind because you cannot see the implications beyond the narrow scope of our actions. Yes, the intention is to stop terrorists. The method, however, is creating fresh fodder for the gulag, I'm afraid.
posted by daq at 2:13 PM on November 2, 2005


I am very afraid of terrorists though.

I am not afraid from Krakosia....I am a little afraid from this thread...
Ok, ok, I am afraid from ghosts...


Presumably we had a better human rights record when Clinton was in office, and that didn't really pay dividends to us against terrorists.

posted by dios at 1:44 PM PST on November 2 [!]


Uh, yeeaaahhh. See, that was my watch. Terrorists were stopped. I don't know where you were during that period. It's not like they stopped an attack on the World Trade Center back then or anything or it made the news.
How was Clinton's HR record better? Branch Davidians, Ruby Ridge? Hello?

The difference there though, it wasn't a matter of policy.


this place tends towards being an echo chamber
with overt hostility to differing views.

posted by dios at 1:44 PM PST on November 2 [!]

A. No one responded to my argument which did not echo others.

B. It's a sensitive subject. Argue in favor of NAMBLA,
see how charitable people are.

C. Lots of gratitude was shown here for opposing arguments. Some didn't. But then
people are people.

D. No one, except me, jumped on you for the assertion that our human rights record during the Clinton era didn't pay dividends in stopping terrorists even though there is ample evidence of us doing so.

Let's all not try to win arguments instead of engaging in discourse.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2005


Support in limited circumstances is different than advoacting something and doesn't mean someone doesn't like it. I don't like swatting my dog. I definitely don't promote swatting my dog. But that doesn't mean that there aren't limited circumstances wherein swatting my dog is useful.

If you think torture is useful - even if only in limited circumstances - then you are pro-torture. I don't see how it gets any simpler than that. You can call it a troll all you want, but the fact of the matter is that you think a government agent paid by tax dollars should be allowed to inflict intense pain, suffering, and possibly death on a man or woman who has not been convicted of any crime.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:15 PM on November 2, 2005


P.S. Don't hit your dog; not only is it mean, it is a bad training method that will not result in a well-behaved animal.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:16 PM on November 2, 2005


Oh, and I do appreciate dios and loquax bringing their views to this discussion, however, I think they would be wiser served in thinking of the views from their counter arguements has being a little more thought out than just "George Bush is a prick".

We do have reasons for opposing this administration, and it's not just the kooky liberal peacenik rants you see on DU, or the damn foolish counter-jingoism of the libertarians.
posted by daq at 2:16 PM on November 2, 2005


"No, not really."

You can't have it both ways. On the one hand, you say this is such a big deal that some can behave badly. On the other hand, you say that this bad behavior is trivial. Maybe it is trivial. That doesn't make it not-bad.

A big part of the context of these camps is the demonization of the enemy such that one's own acts against the enemy are justified, whatever they may be. Well, when you say that loquax and dios are "pro-torture" you're demonizing them, and when you say that any abuse you might heap upon them is okay, you're justifying.

This type of thinking and behavior is everywhere—it's of a piece, whether it's about calling your spouse names or torturing terrorists. The other guy always "deserves it". Always.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:16 PM on November 2, 2005


For pete's sake, Armitage, I wasn't comparing it swatting dogs because I think they are comparable. I was using the swatting my dog analogy to explain how someone could support something in a limited sense without being an advocate for something.

Please, please try to engage in a dialogue in good faith. My comment shouldn't have been misinterpreted in the way you did.
posted by dios at 2:17 PM on November 2, 2005


Well, when you say that loquax and dios are "pro-torture" you're demonizing them,

I'm in favor of abortion rights in limited circumstances. Whether I like the phrasing or not, that makes me "pro-abortion".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:19 PM on November 2, 2005


P.S. Don't hit your dog; not only is it mean, it is a bad training method that will not result in a well-behaved animal.

I second this sentiment. Any good behavioral psychologist or dog trainer will tell you the same thing. (Now back to lurking...)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:21 PM on November 2, 2005


I was using the swatting my dog analogy to explain how someone could support something in a limited sense without being an advocate for something.

Putting aside the fact that it's a dreadful analogy in too many ways to count, what's the difference between "supporting something in a limited sense" and "being an advocate for something in a limited sense"?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:22 PM on November 2, 2005


I would just like to add one comment: the behavior of many in this thread is reprehensible and really gives me a lot of support for my position that this place tends towards being an echo chamber with overt hostility to differing views.

The behaviour of many in this thread has been exemplary overall.

The saddest thing is that we, once again, get this weak, "I'm persecuted" argument and "everyone who disagrees with me can't possibly actually simply disagree with me, but they are all effectively mindless who simply echo the thoughts of a mysterious few. And of course, they are most likely of a certain 'wing'."

The majority of talking points go like this:

Statement and argument. Counter-statement and argument. But if it is counter to yours it's reprehensible? What utter nonsense.
posted by juiceCake at 2:23 PM on November 2, 2005


I'm in favor of abortion rights in limited circumstances. Whether I like the phrasing or not, that makes me "pro-abortion".

The problem is when the term is used to dismiss someone's views outright, without further consideration. Much like when being called a "shrill liberal", it does nothing for good-faith discourse.

Did I just say that?
posted by Rothko at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2005


Well, when you say that loquax and dios are "pro-torture" you're demonizing them,

Not everyone thinks being pro-torture is a bad stance to take. Besides, if they don't want to be called pro-torture, they should oppose torture.

and when you say that any abuse you might heap upon them is okay, you're justifying.

I didn't heap abuse on them.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:25 PM on November 2, 2005


dios: ... I was talking about detaining people indefinitely without trial if the risk of trying them or releasing them was deemed too high by the people that we elect and trust to make such decisions. [emph added]

I didn't elect them. And I don't trust them.

Which is only slightly facetious of me. But this isn't the slightest bit facetious: I haven't seen anything in the last six (yes, six) years that makes me any more likely to trust them.

If you think that means I "think George Bush ... is evil", you're welcome to think that, and I wouldn't dream of trying to disabuse you of your dodge. For the record, I don't believe in evil. I believe in bad (I guess that makes me a 'master morality' guy). And as far as I can see, the Bushites are Bad for America.
posted by lodurr at 2:28 PM on November 2, 2005


"Whether I like the phrasing or not, that makes me 'pro-abortion'."

Boy, howdy, could I ever find a bunch of pro-choicers that would be very pissed-off at this assertion.

On preview: juiceCake, there's about a bazillion comments from loquax and dios in this thread and I only see one, from dios, complaining about how they're being treated. And, "But if it is counter to yours it's reprehensible?"—I don't see loquax or dios making that claim. I do see the people arguing against them making that claim. I think you must live in an alternate universe.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:30 PM on November 2, 2005


Still, I really would like to know what people who sympathize with a pro-torture policy think about torture's seeming inability to do anything positive for security. It's an odd line of reasoning to me and one I'd like to figure out.

Specifically:

1. Torture motivates and recruits new terrorists, at least as we've seen in Iraq

2. Torture, as admitted by many within the military, has no empirical benefit on gathering quality intelligence

If I had no position on this issue, either way, it would seem as though promoting (or pardoning) the use of torture in a codified way would have a deleterious effect on security, not a positive one. Frankly, I would question the use of torture, if its effect hurts my cause.

The only reason I can think that someone "pro-torture" would disagree with this is that they have some issue with the factual basis of the two points above. I'd genuinely like to know what issues folks like loquax have with those two points.
posted by Rothko at 2:32 PM on November 2, 2005


Rothko: The problem is when the term is used to dismiss someone's views outright, without further consideration.

This thread has nearly 300 comments and most of them are directly addressing a quoted previous comment. To paraphrase Spinal Tap, that's too much fucking consideration.

EB: Boy, howdy, could I ever find a bunch of pro-choicers that would be very pissed-off at this assertion.

That's because they're playing the same semantic game as people who insist on being called "pro-life" rather than "anti-abortion". I don't particularly care if it pisses them off.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:34 PM on November 2, 2005


I disagree with the factual basis of those points. I do not accept as a truism that torture "has no empirical benefit." I don't believe that argument. If you want to understand the argument, try reading Alan Dershowitz's book on torture. His argument is that, though torture is not a good thing, it is inevitable because in many regards it works, so we should have laws in place to govern it because it will occur.
posted by dios at 2:37 PM on November 2, 2005


"For the record, I don't believe in evil."

For the record, I do. I also believe that many/most of the people at the highest levels in this administration are evil. Certainly Cheney. Possibly Bush.

"...they have some issue with the factual basis of the two points above". I think it'd be this one:

"2. Torture, as admitted by many within the military, has no empirical benefit on gathering quality intelligence".


My guess is that almost everyone believes that torture "works", or is at least be useful in some way. That includes you and me. We know that people can be coerced into doing something by violence and the threat of violence. Why is getting someone to tell a secret any different? #2 strikes me as something that isn't always true but it's a good thing for us to assume that it's always true.

I think that the people who want to justify torture thinks what I wrote—once you are willing to say that torture is okay in some circumstances, then you've cleared the biggest hurdle. Now you only have to justify it. And if you want to, that's not hard to do. Assume the worst about your enemy and assume the best about yourself. Weigh the worst consequence of failing to hinder your enemy in some action against what is supposedly wrong with getting them to talk via violence. Keep assuming the best about yourself ("this is exceptional", "I have a good sense of where the lines are drawn"). I think almost everyone is susceptible to this line of reasoning given the right set of circumstances.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:46 PM on November 2, 2005


What does Dershowitz know that Col. John Rothrock doesn't, dios?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:48 PM on November 2, 2005


Anyhow, we are just going to go in circles on this point. I agree with loquax that I fundamentally trust the people in our intelligence programs are not evil bastards. I understand dislike for Bush, but he isn't the one doing the interrogations.

I know military people like my cousin who is in the Airforce. I know a couple of people who joined the FBI after law school and one that joined the DEA. I assume the people who joined the CIA are similar. I have no reason to believe that the people in our intelligence agencies are sadistic murderers. Granted that evidence for me is anecdotle, but I have no evidence to the contrary, so its good enough. I have no evidence that the people I know or otherwise are picking people up who are wholly innocent and killing them for the hell of it. They are doing their job to the best of their ability. (The same kind of nonsense is often leveled at cops. People talk about them as if they are hateful, evil people instead of people doing their jobs).

Some people in this thread want to argue that we randomly and without cause arrest people and kill them. I don't believe that.

I have no reason to believe that these "secret prisons" are death camps. I have no reason to believe that we are engaged in genocide or extermination. I have no reason to believe we are randomly murdering people there. And if we don't know whats going on there, then I don't see how people on the street of Tehran know either.
posted by dios at 2:50 PM on November 2, 2005


Goo. I need to proofread more. Strike the single paragraph as I rephrased it earlier and it shouldn't be there. And the last sentence of the last paragraph was in reference to the "it encourages our enemies to torture our guys" argument.
posted by dios at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2005


dios - do what now? Dershowitz? That's absurd.

To quote the man himself; Alan Dershowitz said this in 2002 "My basic point, though, is we should never under any circumstances allow low-level people to administer torture. If torture is going to be administered as a last resort in the ticking-bomb case, to save enormous numbers of lives, it ought to be done openly, with accountability, with approval by the president of the United States or by a Supreme Court justice."


And the best counter arguement I have ever heard comes from Ken Roth, in that same interview where Dershowitz dropped that doozy. Ken Roth stated "Once you open the door to torture, once you start legitimizing it in any way, you have broken the absolute taboo. President Bush had it right in his State of the Union address when he was describing various forms of torture by Saddam Hussein and he said, "If this isn't evil, then evil has no meaning.""

This is all from a CNN Wolf Blitzer interview here : http://edition.cnn.com/2003/LAW/03/03/cnna.Dershowitz/

But I digress. Using Dershowitz's arguments is just silly. He may be a Harvard Law professor and all, but I'm sorry, even I know when you start asking lawyers (this is not an ad hom attack on you dios, but I really think Dershowitz is great at theory of law more than actual application) if you can justify something like torture, your asking to be shocked at the answers they will come up with. After all, that's what they are paid to do.
posted by daq at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2005


Granted that evidence for me is anecdotle, but I have no evidence to the contrary, so its good enough.

I don't have evidence that Santa Claus doesn't exist; that doesn't mean I'll be leaving out milk and cookies just in case.

They are doing their job to the best of their ability.

SS men were just doing their job, too. That doesn't excuse their behavior. Further, no one is condemning all soldiers or government agents, just the ones doing the torturing.

Some people in this thread want to argue that we randomly and without cause arrest people and kill them. I don't believe that.

Even people not arrested "randomly" can be innocent, dios. Besides, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, remember?

I have no reason to believe that these "secret prisons" are death camps.

No one has said that.

I have no reason to believe that we are engaged in genocide or extermination.

No one has said that.

I have no reason to believe we are randomly murdering people there.

No one has said that.

Please go back about twenty posts and start reading again, because I think you're looking at a different website than the rest of us.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:58 PM on November 2, 2005


2. Torture, as admitted by many within the military, has no empirical benefit on gathering quality intelligence

Though, in total, I agree - I would still like to see some good cites on that.

Torture, if it IS to garner useful information, must be applied selectively and with some idea that this person is a known "unknown" (as Rummy likes to cypher to the press). Lifting random people out of a neighborhood in Kabul is not likely to to much for you.

Then there must be ways of cross referencing the information with the known facts garnered in the interrogations of others.

Human nature and animal response to pain being what they are then a significant % of information you get is what you want to hear. So you have to have some way of verifying it for it to be useful on the ground, and not simply an exercise in sadism.

intelligence gathering. It takes time. Even through torture. And there for is not useful to diffuse the ticking nuke. And that pretty much dispels the canard of needing to torture to save time. torturing the rapist to find the kidnapped child? Ok. Maybe. Torturing some peasant to find out the secret intricacies of a terror network. Not that useful.

Ultimately. Torture is usually about sadism and revenge. Maybe useful 5-10% of the time. Maybe?

It's not like on 24 where they torture one guy and suddenly he bursts out spontaneously with exact information and the Sixth Fleet is then re-direct to this secret missile base or some shit.
posted by tkchrist at 2:59 PM on November 2, 2005


Oh, and dios, since we're recommending reading material, how about this one?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:59 PM on November 2, 2005


Rothko, are you asking why we're doing it, even though rationally we ought to know it's bunkum?

Actually, I'm guessing that loquax and dios would not overtly favor torture -- well, maybe loquax would, I lose track, to be frank.

Some people do quite strenuously take issue with the factual basis of your two points. They think that torture's great for getting facts out of people, and that it's excusable because it saves lives. You and I can look at the evidence we know of, or interpolate from our own experiences, and come to opposite conclusions; at that point, it's an honest disagreement (though I'd argue they've got less evidence than we do).

But after that, I'm still puzzled about why we do torture. Because we do have a lot of evidence that torture isn't much good for anything but getting people to tell you stuff you want to hear. Torture is not interrogation, after all -- they are not synonymous. We're doing both; a lot of the time, our "interrogation" is really torture. Good, proper interrogation -- the kind that works to get information out of people -- makes them want to tell you things not to stop you from hurting them, but because they want to please or impress you. I'm sure you know that -- not lecturing you.

There's good evidence that we've doen a lot of that. There's also good evidence we've done a lot of torturing. The two would seem, superficially, to be really at odds with one another -- that is, until you start thinking about the kind of mindfucking and gaslighting that goes on in abusive relationships. I'm guessing, mind you, but I'm thinking that's what the CIA is up to when they use torture: They're trying to establish an abusive dominance relationship with their prisoners, in order to make the prisoners want to please their opperssors.

Which is pretty sick, of course, and it would be no surprise if interrogators, be they "contract" or Company, got caught up in it. And at a distance, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the civilians in the chain of command are exactly that caught up in it, in a voyeuristic, proxy kind of way: They're getting off on it, really. That Abu Ghraib stuff was like bondage porn. It's not coincidental that some of the same people getting busted for Abu Ghraib were also getting busted for conduct unbecoming for making amateur porno flicks.

So, in other words, I think we do it because the people who think torture works and a bunch of sexually violent deviants are enabling one another.

###

Something has been nagging at me for a few months, ever since i learned that Rumsfeld works standing up at a podium. In Gordon Liddy's first novel, there's a Serious Bad Guy character -- something Ballinger -- who's a sleeper agent, who passes himself off as a Good Guy for many years by becoming a successful business man. He's what passes for a conservative, this character -- he's the very model of a modern NeoCon, really, internationalist in bent and ruthless in mien.

He ends up being a very seriously bent guy. The very image of deviancy. The kind of guy who has a henchman cut off a pretty asian woman's fingers and crank them through a meat grinder, just for fun.

I've beein wondering if that guy's not based on Donald Rumsfeld.
posted by lodurr at 3:00 PM on November 2, 2005


Sorry, perhaps everyone has moved on, I wrote this a while ago but couldn't post:

The problem is that you have to break the rules first, and you'll never be able to demonstrate that doing that, and only doing that, had the desired effect.

Well, ok, but I'm operating under the assumption that the hundred or so people being detained are demonstrably dangerous, so dangerous that suspension of habeas corpus is necessary in some way, and that's why the CIA is behaving this way. You're right in terms of generalities, but habeas corpus has not been suspended at large, it has been suspended for a very very ultra exclusive group of people, and I assume that there is a very very good reason for it on the premise that it's a giant pain in the ass to have secret jails around the world, and nobody would want to deal with such things unless it was important.

So, it is alright for democratic governments to engage in non-democratic, non-accountable behavior, but not okay for Totalitarian governments to engage in non-democratic, non-accountable behavior?

Yes, with all of the qualifications I've made, in very limited ways. This is a philosophical difference, I understand if you believe it to be hypocrisy on my part.

1) Torture essentially recruits new terrorists


I don't know that that's true, and I don't support torture, at least how I define it.


2) We know empirically that torture has no benefit in terms of the intelligence it provides


I don't know that that's true either, but I accept it as a general rule, though probably not a battlefield rule, which is neither here nor there.


That is, isn't there a more tangible and beneficial effect on national security from having a better human rights record than the enemy?


Again, I'm not advocating torture, I don't know how that was misconstrued. If I misspoke, I apologize. I was only expressing approval for detention without trial if appropriate in very limited circumstances. Of course, that may well be considered torture by some. That being said, I do believe that "we" have a much better human rights record that "our" opponents, and I do agree that it's very beneficial to have that moral advantage. How can it be argued that the Iraqi insurgency has a better record? Or Al Qaeda? Admittedly it hasn't been perfect, but there seems to be an honest effort to extend humane treatment to prisoners, to avoid civilian casualties and to prosecute offenders. The two notable exceptions to the following of Geneva conventions that I'm aware of is Guantanamo and now these camps. Both deal with a very limited number of people, and theoretically very very dangerous people. Accusations of abuse and "torture" are almost exclusively levied by former prisoners, and are impossible to verify conclusively, for all extents and purposes. If one were to say that the US has lost the moral high ground against the Baathists, the Taliban and Al Qaeda because of this, I'd have to question their impartiality. Perhaps, however, the US has lost "moral high ground" compared to France, or Canada, and so on, but as I said before, the countries that have chosen to effectively sit out the fight are not faced with the same decisions that Americans are, and shouldn't be judged by the same criteria.

Frankly, being democratic shouldn't give you a free ride when it comes to undemocratic despicable behaviour.


It doesn't. Witness this thread. Witness the democrats calling for the closed session. And so on. If Iran acts in this way, who finds out? Can there be a whistleblower? Is there a free press that will report it? Is there any reason Iran would act this way except to preserve the power of the ruling theocrats? Obviously it's more complicated than that, but that's where I'm coming from.

You can always justify; and what you fail to justify you can forget.

I totally agree, and nothing I say is said glibly, or without considering the circumstances. I do believe that even vocal opposition that I disagree with is valuable and necessary. I believe that oversight is extremely important. I hate the idea of secret jails. I don't know how to reconcile this with the very real and scary threat that I believe terrorism/radical fundamentalists to pose. I suppose it's a sliding scale. Some percentage of the population will be outraged at step A, some at step B, and so on. I guess that we're heading in that direction somehow, in some very specific ways, and there is definitely a point at which I will be outraged, the US just hasn't reached it yet. I just do not believe that this is the first step on the way to a modern-day gulag system, or nazi-style concentration camp way of dealing with undesirables. Of course, that premise is neither provable nor disprovable.

Honestly, that's like being afraid of lightning strikes and meteorites. You should be afraid of heart disease and cars.

I am. That's why we have lightening rods and, well, I guess we don't have anything for meteorites. I don't drive and eat well though. So terrorists are up there for me. Just ask the vacationers in Bali, the commuters in London and Madrid, the office workers in New York or just about any Northern Irelander, Sri Lankan, Israeli or Basque person.

Even if an tactical 5-10 kiloton nuke is exploded in the center of a US city, heart disease would still pose a greater overall threat to the general population.

As soon as that happens, society as a whole will have much bigger problems balancing security and liberty than secret jails in Eastern Europe.

I think they would be wiser served in thinking of the views from their counter arguments has being a little more thought out than just "George Bush is a prick".

For some, I believe it is. For most, I don't.

Did I just say that?


Careful Rothko, I'm starting to like you.
posted by loquax at 3:01 PM on November 2, 2005


The two notable exceptions to the following of Geneva conventions that I'm aware of is Guantanamo and now these camps.

I should say, assuming they even are in contradiction of the Geneva conventions. Either way, they are not preferred ways of dealing with people, even enemies, I grant.
posted by loquax at 3:04 PM on November 2, 2005


daq, the quote comports with what I said above. His argument is that toture is not a good thing. He believes that it will occur inevitably because it works. He does bring up the ticking-time bomb case, and he notes that we will use torture there because it works and it is necessary. His point is that we need laws in place to regulate it use because when it comes down to it, we will use it because it works. His framework on how it is to be done is not something I assert an opinion on. But I agree with his one point that when those in charge find a threat to be serious enough, we will use interrogation tactics commensurate with the threat because it works. Deprivation of sleep and disorientation wouldn't be the one we go for in a ticking time bomb case, but I think it is acceptable in a case of trying to find out the location of a terrorist cell when we have good reason to believe the person knows it. And disorientation is considered torture under most broad definitions.

As far his reliability, he quotes extensively from sources, and I, for one, don't have your belief that all lawyers are liars.
posted by dios at 3:04 PM on November 2, 2005


2. Torture, as admitted by many within the military, has no empirical benefit on gathering quality intelligence

Let alone the standard defense for torture that involves disabling a ticking nuclear bomb by torturing one person, I'd even add a third point that further weakens the defense of torture:

3. Torture, as admitted by many within the military, and as evident by "scare" events within the US, has a demonstrable negative effect of increasing intelligence "noise"

If you're torturing someone and they feed you whatever you want to hear, what if the information weakens your military, by diverting resources needlessly away from where those resources need to be to keep your soldiers alive and to complete your mission?

Let's bring this further home, even, and make the point stronger: What were the recent NYC subway and Baltimore tunnel scares but the costly results of following through on bad information, likely obtained by questionable means?
posted by Rothko at 3:07 PM on November 2, 2005


As soon as that happens, society as a whole will have much bigger problems balancing security and liberty than secret jails in Eastern Europe.

All the more reason we should work this shit out now, huh?
posted by tkchrist at 3:08 PM on November 2, 2005


All the more reason we should work this shit out now, huh?

Well. Yeah. I guess. Are you being sarcastic?
posted by loquax at 3:13 PM on November 2, 2005


So, in other words, I think we do it because the people who think torture works and a bunch of sexually violent deviants are enabling one another.

Lodurr, between you and me I think you absolutely have something, and that the main reason the torturer tortures is not primarily to obtain intelligence, but simply to assert a dominance relationship with the victim. This psychological worldview now extends all the way up an empire-minded administration and may soon work its way into our code of law.
posted by Rothko at 3:13 PM on November 2, 2005


I think there's good reason to see torture as sublimated sexuality. See Irma Greese for an example.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:24 PM on November 2, 2005


but I'm operating under the assumption that the hundred or so people being detained are demonstrably dangerous, so dangerous that suspension of habeas corpus is necessary in some way, and that's why the CIA is behaving this way.

And that's the crux of the matter. WHY do you assume that? This is exactly opposite of the way our system is supposed to operate. We assume that a person is NOT dangerous or gulity. And if there is sufficient proof to the opposite, THEN we punish them. But then there is no need to suspend habeas corpus.
And if we deside to make these assumptions out of sequence, than we are in no way different form the people we're fighting.
posted by c13 at 3:26 PM on November 2, 2005


c13, but those assumptions are based on a peaceful administration of our rule of law. Consistently the Supreme Court has held that in times of war or crisis, those rules are not as rigidly applied.

We are in one of those times.

It isn't like we are suspending habeas corpus here at home and locking up jaywalkers without charge. It is only in a very limited circumstance in which enemy combatants are being held to try to help dismantle the infrastructure of terrorist cells.
posted by dios at 3:31 PM on November 2, 2005


In other words, in normal course of business, there is no reason not to afford a burglar all of the rights of criminal procedure. There is no rush. There is no national security issue.

But when we have terrorist cells and enablers taking up arms against us, and they make repeated threats about what they are going to do us, then we have a different scenario. Urgency and national security enter the picture and that is why the situation is different.
posted by dios at 3:33 PM on November 2, 2005


"But when we have terrorist cells and enablers taking up arms against us, and they make repeated threats about what they are going to do us, then we have a different scenario. Urgency and national security enter the picture and that is why the situation is different."



Dios: Making excuses for fascism since the year 2000™
posted by stenseng at 3:37 PM on November 2, 2005


And that's the crux of the matter. WHY do you assume that?

Here's what I imagine a typical scenario to look like, tell me if you disagree:

-The CIA is tasked with eliminating terrorists and protecting American and other lives
-Person is flagged one way or another as being a terrorist
-Person is captured and detained

So far, the CIA is acting just like the police in a criminal matter. Normally, the police must charge a person after that, allow contact with a lawyer with privilege and allow them to post bail, except when the charges are especially egregious, as a charge of terrorism would likely be.

-CIA chooses not to release suspected (or confirmed) terrorist, nor inform anyone of his or her capture

Why? I have no idea. I think the onus is on you to suggest why they wouldn't release this person. What plausible scenario implicates professional CIA agents in kidnapping and detaining people for no reason whatsoever? Are they being brainwashed into being a butler corps? I would understand (though clearly disapprove) if these people were being summarily executed - that makes sense - you don't have to deal with them anymore. But short of any evidence of that, why keep them around?

-CIA extracts information from (suspected or confirmed) terrorist.

I can think of myriad reasons why the fact that they've confined someone and are interrogating him or her should not become public knowledge. For example, as soon as it does, plans change. Perhaps reprisals are conducted against that person's family. Perhaps a spy's identity will be revealed. Perhaps they are trying to turn the suspect. Perhaps the suspect's knowledge of CIA knowledge will compromise something, somewhere. Perhaps they haven't yet revealed what CIA investigators know that they know. I don't believe, as you say, that this is a matter of punishment at all. This is a matter of security and strategy. Punishment is easy, and if that's what the CIA wanted, you'd be hearing about guys dropping dead all over the place at the hands of assassins.

I do give the CIA the benefit of the doubt because, as I said above, I can see many positive reasons for doing this from an operational perspective, and almost no reason for doing it if it is not effective. Maybe it's just a matter of me saying that the ends justify the means and you disagreeing in principle. That's fair.

And what dios said.

There is an article that I read once in a magazine that dealt with exactly this topic in the context of Israel detaining suspected Palestinian terrorists. I'll try to find it.
posted by loquax at 3:45 PM on November 2, 2005


But when we have terrorist cells and enablers taking up arms against us, and they make repeated threats about what they are going to do us, then we have a different scenario. Urgency and national security enter the picture and that is why the situation is different.

But how do we know there's a real threat? We have to take the word of a bunch of guys who we know to have lied to us about some pretty important things, like their reasons for taking us into a war that's had a disastrous effect on our standing in world opinion and cost a couple thousand lives and I don't even know how many non-fatal casualties.

Here's what we know about terrorism in the world today: We know that some guys did something that it would have been nearly impossible to prevent them from doing, and we know that our world is full of really risky stuff that would allow a small number of conspirators to kill a comparable number of people with a comparable or lesser amount of effort, at any time. Any reasonably clever person can think of ways to kill a lot of people at a single dramatic stroke, especially if he's got a small cadre of folks who are willing to die to make it happen.

And guess what? Short of a totalitarian state a la Stalin or Orwell or Zamiatin, you aren't going to be able to prevent that. Look at the blockbuster bombs in Moscow in the '80s; that happened while the Soviet intelligence state was still intact.

We also know that whatever we're doing, it ain't working: There's more terrorism now than there was a few years ago. Despite how the DoD and the White House want to split their hairs, it's worse than it was.

So you'll always be able to find a rationale for extreme measures -- for the violation of open society. All you have to do is look for it.
posted by lodurr at 3:48 PM on November 2, 2005


This is the one, from the Atlantic Monthly, however it's part of their paid archive. If anyone has an old copy lying around, I highly recommend it.
posted by loquax at 3:49 PM on November 2, 2005


This is more than just a legal decision. Its a philosophical issue, a way of looking at reality. Something akin to scietific method.
Either you assume a person is innocent until proven guilty, or you assume the person is guily until proven innocent. But since you cannot prove a negative (not guily), you have to assume the former. IF you want to know the truth, that is. If you just want to kick ass, or make yourself feel better or whatever.
I assume that what we really want to accomplish is to stop the terrorists. Therefore we have to be honest with ourselves that we know who these people are. Therefore we need poof. AND IF WE HAVE proof, then there is simply no need for secret camps, torture and coverups. I'm somewhat distracted, and I'm not sure if I'm making my train of thought clear. But what I'm trying to say is that these people, who are locked up, are either guilty or not. But they are already locked up. And if we're willing to risk the chance that some of THOSE people are innocent, than there really nothing to stop us from locking up some other 100 peope, maybe including you and I. Because we MAY be guilty as well.
Furthermore, the reason for the suspension of habeas corpus really does not matter. EVERYONE ALWAYS has a good reason. Inquizition had it, Germay had it, Russia, China, Syria.. The result is the same.

On preview:
Again, loquax, I'm saying that you're missing the most important step:
Person is flagged one way or another as being a terrorist
-Person is captured and detained


The way it is supposed to work is
A: Person is flagged one way or another as being a terrorist
B Sufficient proof is obtained that he is indeed a terrorist.
And only then:
C: Person is captured and detained
posted by c13 at 3:51 PM on November 2, 2005


The first part is in response to Dios...
posted by c13 at 3:52 PM on November 2, 2005


-CIA chooses not to release suspected (or confirmed) terrorist, nor inform anyone of his or her capture

Why? I have no idea. I think the onus is on you to suggest why they wouldn't release this person. What plausible scenario implicates professional CIA agents in kidnapping and detaining people for no reason whatsoever?


Specious. No one is suggesting it's "for no reason". The reasons could be pretty lame, though, and we have some good evidence to suggest that, so far, they have been.

Once you've expended effort getting someone, though, there's a strong motivation to justify your actions. So you do what you have to to make that person look dangerous. That may involve "interrogating" them until they say things that help you rationalize them as sufficiently dangerous that you were justified in violating the most basic tenets of the civil society you're ostensibly protecting.

And at the end of it all, this is not just a bureaucratic exercise; A lot of these Company Men almost certainly believe the narrative they've cooked up for themselves. They believe that the man they arrested really was dangerous. After all, why would they say they were if they weren't?

Truth is, we know that people confess to crimes they didn't commit. Happens all the time. Why should suspected terrorists, held in extremely demoralizing circumstances, be any different from a scared inner city kid in that regard?
posted by lodurr at 3:54 PM on November 2, 2005


Ok, lodurr, so these things are going to happen and we shouldn't be trying to stop them. So are we going to absolve blame for our leaders when they occur? Are we going to not criticize them for not doing enough? Or are we going to critize for what they try to do, and then criticize when it isn't enough?

Our leaders are tasked with, first, foremost and primarily with protecting the welfare of the state---trying to ensure that no harm falls the state. That is the primary obligation of the government: protect the people from dangers. Obviously we can't completely protect them, but we can try. And it is obvious that the Middle East would have been a serious problem even if we didn't go into Iraq. How do we know that? Look at the Cole, WTC attacks, etc. Those things were not in response to Abu Ghraib. Not in response to removing Saddam. This is something we had to confront. We couldn't just ignore it.

You are suggesting to me that we can't trust our military and intelligence agency because you think Bush lied. I don't think he lied; I think global intelligence failed and our people believed the wrong conflicting reports---that is vastly different than lying (please don't get in barrel of worms!). But, even assuming that Bush did lie on the matter of the real reason why we went into Iraq, why is that dishonesty imputed to the people in our military and intelligence agencies? I said I implicitly trust the fact they are sadistic and insane people. They are not Bush. They are people who are trying to do the jobs we tasked them with: protecting our national security. I see no reason to believe they are inherently evil even if Bush lied about the real reason of going into Iraq. He is not them; they are not him. His failures do not implicate their natures. So taking the word of a man on the ground whose entire carreer is to fight these groups is not implicated by the "Bush lied" argument.
posted by dios at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2005


we have some good evidence to suggest that, so far, they have been.

Such as?
posted by dios at 4:00 PM on November 2, 2005


I said I implicitly trust the fact they are not sadistic and insane people.
posted by dios at 4:01 PM on November 2, 2005


For the record, I believe that the punishment of torture should be reserved strictly for those guilty of torturing others, to show them that torture is wrong. That is all.
posted by mullingitover at 4:03 PM on November 2, 2005


I said I implicitly trust the fact they are not sadistic and insane people.

Why?
posted by c13 at 4:03 PM on November 2, 2005


Why? Because I have no evidence to the contrary. And the people I know who enter similar fields aren't. And because I assume that people generally aren't sadistic and insane.

So, I turn this on you: why do you assume they are?
posted by dios at 4:05 PM on November 2, 2005


But how do we know there's a real threat? We have to take the word of a bunch of guys who we know to have lied to us about some pretty important things

But terrorism exists, doesn't it? It existed before Bush, before Iraq, before Israel even. Why do you believe there's no threat? You refute this in the following passage. Unless you're referring to specific cases?

There's more terrorism now than there was a few years ago. Despite how the DoD and the White House want to split their hairs, it's worse than it was.

Why then, is the assumption that American actions have caused it? Even if that's true, is it not reasonable to assume that "terrorism", or more accurately, the actions of a specific group of people that have a specific agenda that involves destroying Israel and the US, among others, would ramp up as their base of operations was directly attacked, and the allies invaded and took control of an Arab muslim country? This isn't just the flypaper argument, if you believe that invading Iraq and Afghanistan and deposing the Taliban and the Baathists was right and just, it continues to be right and just even if your sworn enemies attack you all the more for it. We just have to beat them. A successful and prosperous Iraq and Afghanistan would be excellent first steps.

So you'll always be able to find a rationale for extreme measures -- for the violation of open society. All you have to do is look for it.

I agree. This is a danger. You hope that the use of extreme measures is temporary and judicious, and that power is not abused. I don't know how to avoid this and still have a government of any stripe.

B Sufficient proof is obtained that he is indeed a terrorist.

What is the obtaining of sufficient proof has the potential of costing 10 lives. 100? 1,000? 1,000,000? I'm not saying you're wrong and you're right, but I am saying that you must see why doing such a thing *has* to be considered at least. Also, what is sufficient proof? Beyond a reasonable doubt? Is that really fair in this type of scenario? What if you had detained 10 of the 19 9/11 terrorists, but had to release them because a prosecutor said that there wasn't enough to convict? What if by allowing them to speak to a lawyer, they were able to communicate a change in plans to their coconspirators? I know, I know, what if, but still, how are these doubts mitigated? By blindly following laws not written to account for the situation you're in, no matter how absurd it may be given the circumstances?


Truth is, we know that people confess to crimes they didn't commit. Happens all the time. Why should suspected terrorists, held in extremely demoralizing circumstances, be any different from a scared inner city kid in that regard?

We're talking about two things here: one is obtaining valuable information. In that, I agree with, every effort must be made to use techniques that are effective and don't result in false positives and are as humane as possible. I don't know enough about the subject to comment, but I think it's obvious that beating people into submission is counterproductive. Two is simply removing people until it can be conclusively determined wether or not they are dangerous, or until the danger they pose has passed. Put them up in the Ritz for all I care, but it's not related to the question of torture/interrogation.
posted by loquax at 4:06 PM on November 2, 2005


so these things are going to happen and we shouldn't be trying to stop them

I never said that. What I said is that you can't guarantee safety, short of extremely repressive measures.

As for the good evidence, we know for example that most of the people at Abu Ghraib were useless as intelligence assets. That's a start.

You are suggesting to me that we can't trust our military and intelligence agency because you think Bush lied.

Not entirely, no; I'm suggesting that we don't have any reason to "just trust" them to start with, and that I "think" he lied to us about his reasons for going to war gives me even less reason to "just trust" him and his regime.

Incidentally, I dont' really see how you can argue that he didn't lie. It's well documented that he wanted to get Saddam a long time before he had any intelligence to bolster his arguments for WMDs. That means he lied: He had reasons for doing it that were other than those he told us. That's lying.

But let's forget about that; I'll stipulate that we can forget about that. I still need a reason to trust him. I don't have it. I guess it's my conservative upbringing hanging on into my adulthood: I was raised not to trust the government. "We're from the government and we're here to help" used to be greeted with reliable snorts at my father's family gatherings. So naturally I find it a little jarring whenever i see people who call themselves "conservative" knee-jerking to "just trust" the government at such times. You wouldn't "just trust" them about taxes or about school desegregation -- why "just trust" them about civil liberties?

But I suspect that this isn't going to have any traction with you. A few messages back you made what amounted to an economic argument in toleration of due process -- you argued that since it didn't cost much, in terms of risk, to give a crook due process, that it was OK to do so. That's a pretty basically un-American view. It's basically saying that habeas corpus -- one of the most basic things we wanted from the Crown when we filed our grievances in 1776 -- is something that we need to justify on cost-effectiveness grounds.

It's just not. Whether you want to accept this or not, we are not at war. This is not a time of great risk from violence, for Americans. And if it were, the appropriate, American way to deal with it would be to at least try to use due process. If that failed, then we could look at doing it another way. But it didn't -- because nobody tried.

And nobody tried, I'm convinced, because a bunch of guys wanted to get their rocks off. Metaphorically, of course. Maybe.

Whatever. As I said, I don't expect this idea to have traction with you. I don't think you really care that much about fundamental American values. I think you care about the idea of security. I think you care about the idea of safety. Me, I care about actual security and actual safetly. That's why I worry about my blood sugar, and not about the possibility of being killed in a terrorist attack.
posted by lodurr at 4:16 PM on November 2, 2005


A successful and prosperous Iraq and Afghanistan would be excellent first steps.

Agreed. But we seem to be bungling both.
posted by lodurr at 4:19 PM on November 2, 2005


Also, what is sufficient proof? Beyond a reasonable doubt?
Ahm.. yes.
Also, if you're wasting your time trying to beat the confession out of some innocent fucker, you're not spending it chasing the actual bad guys. What is the cost of that? You know, like when we kicked the shit out of Iraq, when most of the people involved in 911, by far, were Saudis.

Dios, I'm russian. My grandfather, on mom's side, was a cheif of Novosibirsk district of camps. He also fought in WWII, went all the way to Berlin, just like grandma. So I heard from primary sources what the germans did. Our school museum had postcards made of human skin.
But again, reading history, it looks like both russians and germans had pretty good reasons for what they did. All that stuff about national security and war and special circumstances. Terrorists... they were also called saboteures in russia. Very familiar...
posted by c13 at 4:26 PM on November 2, 2005


lodurr: I really need to get going for the day, but let me point a few things out quickly before I go:

- You didn't address my question as to why your lack of faith in Bush should be imputed upon those out in the field making the day to day decisions.

- Your argument that my view of criminal procedure is un-American. I don't know how you can say that because my view is uniquely Constitutional---which is the very definition of American. As I have said, read jurisprudence regarding wartime, and you see the same argument I asserted above that you are calling un-American. I submit to you that it is not.

But going beyond my point that habeas corpus can be suspended/limited in times of war and crisis, I would like to disabuse of the notion that economic decision-making has no place in criminal procedure. Interestingly, we learn that crime increases when we have very accused-friendly criminal laws. When we have very accused-harsh criminal laws, crime goes down. (This is well documented; and I was suprised to see it again in the Freakanomics book). As such, I think it is unwise to criticize ecnomic thinking in the area of criminal procedure. There are important incentives and trade-offs at stake in times of war and crisis which it makes sense, both legally and rationally, to limit process rights and habeas corpus.

And finally, you said the following:
naturally I find it a little jarring whenever i see people who call themselves "conservative"

There is something very wrong this statement, and I'll leave you to guess what it is.
posted by dios at 4:33 PM on November 2, 2005


Well. Yeah. I guess. Are you being sarcastic?

Only slightly. But I do think it is inevitable that some large scale attack will occur - and we had better not let that be an excuse for these kids of inhumane shenanigans to US citizens.
posted by tkchrist at 4:39 PM on November 2, 2005


He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
{He has} depriv{ed} us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
{He has} transport{ed} us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

posted by Floydd at 5:12 PM on November 2, 2005


I said I implicitly trust the fact they are not sadistic and insane people.

Account of Sergeant A, 82nd Airborne Division(Sergeant A served in Afghanistan from September 2002 to March 2003 and in Iraq from August 2003 to April 2004. Human Rights Watch spoke with him on four separate occasions in July and August 2005.)

In Afghanistan we were attached to Special Forces[9] and saw OGA. We never interacted with them but they would stress guys. We learned how to do it. We saw it when we would guard an interrogation. I was an Infantry Fire Team leader. The majority of the time I was out on mission. When not on mission I was riding the PUCs. We should have had MPs. We should have taken them to Abu Ghraib [which] was only fifteen fucking minutes drive. But there was no one to talk to in the chain—it just got killed. We would talk among ourselves, say, "This is bad." But no one listened. We should never have been allowed to watch guys we had fought.

...On their day off people would show up all the time. Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport. The cooks were all US soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the fucking cook. He shouldn't be in with no PUCs. The PA came and said to keep him off the leg. Three days later they transported the PUC to Abu Ghraib. The Louisville Slugger [incident] happened around November 2003, certainly before Christmas.

People would just volunteer just to get their frustrations out. We had guys from all over the base just come to guard PUCs so they could fuck them up. Broken bones didn't happen too often, maybe every other week. The PA would overlook it. I am sure they knew.

The interrogator [a sergeant] worked in the [intelligence] office. He was former Special Forces. He would come into the PUC tent and request a guy by number. Everyone was tagged. He would say, "Give me #22." And we would bring him out. He would smoke the guy and fuck him. He would always say to us, "You didn't see anything, right?" And we would always say, "No, Sergeant."

One day a soldier came to the PUC tent to get his aggravation out and filled his hands with dirt and hit a PUC in the face. He fucked him. That was the communications guy.

One night a guy came and broke chem lights[10] open and beat the PUCs with it [sic]. That made them glow in the dark which was real funny but it burned their eyes and their skin was irritated real bad.

If a PUC cooperated Intel would tell us that he was allowed to sleep or got extra food. If he felt the PUC was lying he told us he doesn't get any fucking sleep and gets no food except maybe crackers. And he tells us to smoke him. [Intel] would tell the lieutenant that he had to smoke the prisoners and that is what we were told to do. No sleep, water, and just crackers. That's it. The point of doing all this was to get them ready for interrogation. [The intelligence officer] said he wanted the PUCs so fatigued, so smoked, so demoralized that they want to cooperate. But half of these guys got released because they didn't do nothing. We sent them back to Fallujah. But if he's a good guy, you know, now he's a bad guy because of the way we treated him.

After Abu Ghraib things toned down. We still did it but we were careful. It is still going on now the same way, I am sure. Maybe not as blatant but it is how we do things.

posted by y2karl at 5:13 PM on November 2, 2005


But if he's a good guy, you know, now he's a bad guy because of the way we treated him.

I think these words bear repetition.
posted by Rothko at 5:18 PM on November 2, 2005


People would just volunteer just to get their frustrations out. We had guys from all over the base just come to guard PUCs so they could fuck them up. Broken bones didn't happen too often, maybe every other week. The PA would overlook it. I am sure they knew.

The interrogator [a sergeant] worked in the [intelligence] office. He was former Special Forces. He would come into the PUC tent and request a guy by number. Everyone was tagged. He would say, "Give me #22." And we would bring him out. He would smoke the guy and fuck him. He would always say to us, "You didn't see anything, right?" And we would always say, "No, Sergeant."


People do not have to be sadistic or insane to commit sadistic and insane acts. They merely have to be shown what they could get away with and given tacit permission to commit such acts while their superiors look the other way.

The PA would overlook it. I am sure they knew.

This was not a few bad apples from some former prison guards in a National Guard unit at Abu Ghraib. This was the 82nd Airborne--an elite unit. An officer spent seventeen monthys trying to get a response from the Army. He finally wrote Senator McCain and Human Rights Watch before any investigation was begrudged by his usperiors.

And what did we gain from all this fucking a PUC ? Vital information ? How much and how vital ?
Inquiring minds will want to know.

All these revelations--and they are but a tip of an iceberg that will come out in time--are a stain on the Army's and the country's honor that will will take years and years to wash away. Decades. In the eyes fo the world, we stand for torture.
posted by y2karl at 5:31 PM on November 2, 2005


a horrifying account
posted by y2karl at 5:13 PM PST on November 2


Kablammo.

Sadly, I suspect that this is the end of the thread. We'll go through the whole goddamn mess again in a month or so, and there will still be two or three people justifying torture. And they'll all forget we had this conversation.

God bless America.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:52 PM on November 2, 2005


digaman writes "In the same press conference linked above, Rumsfeld dismissed Lawrence Wilkerson's assertion (previously discussed here) that a 'cabal' led the US to war with a definitive 'my goodness gracious.' He hadn't, you know, read about this fellow"

How could Mr. Rumsfeld be part of a cabal...Oh my goodness?

alumshubby writes "As far as I'm concerned, the War on Terrorism might as well be declared over. If America is doing stuff like this, the terrorists clearly won."

I think Al Qaeda couldn't have picked a better enemy than BushCo. BushCo seems to fall into Al Qaeda's every trap with such gusto.

digaman writes "dios, you have a point. 'Secret interrogation and torture camp' would have been more literal."

Yes. And I agree with the comments affirming the denigration of the experiences and deaths of so many real gulag victims; yet, although the Soviets certainly didn't start with a few prisoners...what about these few whom our government have defined as possessing no rights...less even than lab rats? Where does that road lead us?

odinsdream writes "Rumsfeld handled the question perfectly fine - it was a ridiculous question to begin with. What, is Rumsfeld going to actually say 'Yes, yes there was a cabal - I'm glad you asked that, is there a followup?'"

"Oh my goodness"

This liar is teaching my son that it's OK to beat people into submission if that seems to be their cultural expectation.
posted by taosbat at 6:09 PM on November 2, 2005


Selective Intelligence:
They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal--a small cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:29 PM on November 2, 2005


I know this is way late, but I couldn't resist.

Metafilter: You finally got to me, fuckers. Good Job.
posted by papakwanz at 7:35 PM on November 2, 2005


On preview: juiceCake, there's about a bazillion comments from loquax and dios in this thread and I only see one, from dios, complaining about how they're being treated. And, "But if it is counter to yours it's reprehensible?"—I don't see loquax or dios making that claim. I do see the people arguing against them making that claim. I think you must live in an alternate universe.

The dialog from most, including dios and loquax, has been great. I was just wondering why we had this single comment, that dios most certainly made and generalized about the entire thread. That others have made some bad comments I don't deny. That I live in a different universe. I do. And I'm more than happy to hold a different opinion and viewpoint on this than you do. Glad to read your different viewpoint.
posted by juiceCake at 8:38 PM on November 2, 2005


to some people, it is just easier to be insulting and trying to shame and shout down people by mischaracterising their position.

posted by dios at 2:06 PM PST on November 2 [!]


As to wakko, let me agree that such comments are reprehensible and shows such loathing that he obviously does not understand how to rationally asses blame and cause and effect.

posted by dios at 9:26 AM PST on November 2 [!]


Hypocritical fucktard.
posted by wakko at 8:41 PM on November 2, 2005


dios: You didn't address my question as to why your lack of faith in Bush should be imputed upon those out in the field making the day to day decisions.

Yes, I did. If that's not enough for you, other people have provided what I'd regard as ample tokens. Tokens, in this case, are valid, because they form the dataset you demand to determine whether trust is warranted. In my view, trust would have to be not merely warranted, but merited. You seem to want to grant trust first, and ask questions later -- which is kind of a problem when you let the people who are trying to earn your trust keep all of their actions a secret. I want them to earn trust; that means I need them to tell me what they're doing, and I need to believe that they're telling me the truth.

That's how democracy works. When it works. Which, in this case, it isn't.

dios: .... As I have said, read jurisprudence regarding wartime, and you see the same argument I asserted above that you are calling un-American. I submit to you that it is not.

Again: Whether you wish to believe it or not, it's not wartime -- not any more than it ever is. Which was my point about risk and terrorism: It's always there, and it always will be. If you choose to view the present state of the world's hostility toward us as "wartime", then I submit that you'll probably never have a time that you don't view as "wartime." Hence, the violation of habeas corpus and other foundation stones of American civil society will always, to you, be justifiable.

dios: And finally, you said the following:
naturally I find it a little jarring whenever i see people who call themselves "conservative"

There is something very wrong this statement, and I'll leave you to guess what it is.


I don't have the foggiest, dios. Perhaps it's that you don't think of me as a conservative, and thus have no right to judge people who really are conservatives. (Which would be a pretty odd thing to think, fwiw.) By your way of thinking, I'm not. I was raised to be one, though, by people who would to this day fit anyone's definition of the term, and I do in fact fit the dictionary definition.

Or perhaps it's that you dont' think you identify yourself as a conservative. If you've never applied the term to yourself, then I apologize for tarring you with that (these days, very value-laden) brush.

Other than those possibilities, I don't know what you could possibly mean. Unless you don't really mean anything.
posted by lodurr at 2:47 AM on November 3, 2005


When we have very accused-harsh criminal laws, crime goes down.

and the trains run on time!
posted by matteo at 3:11 AM on November 3, 2005


So, matteo -- I've been told that the whole "Mussolini made the trains run on time" thing is a complete myth. You'd know the real scoop, maybe?
posted by lodurr at 4:17 AM on November 3, 2005


If torture is done in my name, the prisoner should be strapped down to Bush's desk in the White House. Conducted by the CIA, with Bush, Rummy, et al watching.
If the info is that important, Bush should hear it with his own ears. Then it would really be a policy decision, and not the rogue actions of some privates.

If Bush doesn't want the fallout of personally bringing torture to the USA, and in fact his desk, then he should condemn it, and anyone caught torturing could be brought to Bush's office, and he can use Saddam's personal pistol, that's sitting in his desk, to execute them. Then THAT would be official policy.

The way they are trying to frame the debate now makes him look like a chickenshit, yet again.
posted by Balisong at 5:40 AM on November 3, 2005


I'll doubtless be accused of being overly simplistic, but it seems that when providing apologetics for torture, it's necessary to resort to assertions of faith (cf. Dios: "I believe... I trust..."). The circularity of much of the discussion then derives (deteriorates?) from the inherent dichotomy between opinion vs. fact.

No snark (or "childishness" or "reprehensible behavior") intended. But is this not an accurate assessment?
posted by Haruspex at 6:44 AM on November 3, 2005


How many variations of the "ticking time bomb justifies immoral behavior" are there?
Listen closely now, the experts tell us that torture, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons and murder of prisoners does NOT improve intelligence gathering but harms it. Got that?

We also know that doing such crude and inhumane shit has tremendous blowback potential. That means more attacks, more bombs, more terrorists for the slower ones in the class. Got that?

So, explain to me one more time why Defending Dubya's stupid Administration PNAC warmongers is good for the American people? Is it because more terror = more glory = more dead soliders and civilians?

Your twisted pretzel logic gives me a headache while your cold-blooded defense of inhuman acts makes others physically sick.
posted by nofundy at 6:50 AM on November 3, 2005


"Trust, but verify." -- Ronald Reagan
posted by lodurr at 6:55 AM on November 3, 2005


The European Commission said Thursday it will investigate reports that the CIA set up secret jails in eastern Europe.

"Trust, but verify." -- Ronald Reagan

I agree 100%, with the codicil that verification should not cause harm in its application.
posted by loquax at 8:45 AM on November 3, 2005


First of all, that AM article was a great read so thanks for that.

Secondly, I'd like to thank dios and loquax for at least letting us see how the 'other half' thinks, and for largely keeping it civil through a heated but very interesting thread.

Lastly, I apologize for my rather poor jokes.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:46 AM on November 3, 2005


verification should not cause harm in its application.
I don't see wht you're getting at with that.
posted by papakwanz at 9:33 AM on November 3, 2005


I don't see wht you're getting at with that.
posted by papakwanz at 9:33 AM PST on November 3


I believe he means we should verify as long as it's not inconvenient for those acting unlawfully.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:06 AM on November 3, 2005


Yeah, that's what it sounded like to me.
posted by papakwanz at 10:15 AM on November 3, 2005


Thanks for finding that stinkycheese - it is good.

I don't see wht you're getting at with that.

This is what I'm getting at:

In one case Koubi had information suggesting that two men he was questioning were secretly members of a terrorist cell, and knew of an impending attack. They were tough men, rural farmers, very difficult to intimidate or pressure, and so far neither man had admitted anything under questioning. Koubi worked them over individually for hours. With each man he would start off by asking friendly questions and then grow angrier and angrier, accusing the subject of withholding something. He would slap him, knock him off his chair, set guards on him, and then intervene to pull them off. Then he would put the subject back in the chair and offer him a cigarette, lightening the mood. "Let him see the difference between the two atmospheres, the hostile one and the friendly one," Koubi says. Neither man budged.

Finally Koubi set his trap. He announced to one of the men that his interrogation was over. The man's associate, hooded, was seated in the hallway outside the room. "We are going to release you," Koubi said. "We are pleased with your cooperation. But first you must do something for me. I am going to ask you a series of questions, just a formality, and I need you to answer 'Yes' in a loud, clear voice for the recorder." Then, in a voice loud enough for the hooded man outside in the hall to hear, but soft enough so that he couldn't make out exactly what was being said, Koubi read off a long list of questions, reviewing the prisoner's name, age, marital status, date of capture, length of detainment, and so forth. These were regularly punctuated by the prisoner's loud and cooperative "Yes." The charade was enough to convince the man in the hall that his friend had capitulated.

Koubi dismissed the first man and brought in the second. "There's no more need for me to question you," Koubi said. "Your friend has confessed the whole thing." He offered the second prisoner a cigarette and gave him a good meal. He told him that the information provided by his friend virtually ensured that they would both be in prison for the rest of their lives ... unless, he said, the second prisoner could offer him something, anything, that would dispose the court to leniency in his case. Convinced that his friend had already betrayed them both, the second prisoner acted promptly to save himself. "If you want to save Israeli lives, go immediately," he told Koubi. "My friends went with a car to Yeshiva Nehalim [a religious school]. They are going to kidnap a group of students ..." The men were found in Erez, and the operation was foiled.


If these men were al Qaeda operatives held in one of these jails, and were announced as such and publicly put on trial with lawyers, their associates would have simply changed their target and carried out their plan. That's how verification can theoretically cause harm.
posted by loquax at 10:20 AM on November 3, 2005


I have to state the absolute disgust I feel about US policy towards torture.

And the near equal disgust towards the hysterical attitudes of people on this board claiming the US DESERVED to be attacked on 9/11. And then the surprise they claim to have when people are offended. Like they are righteous clarions of truth. Bull-fucking-shit.

That is some sick fucking reasoning. That two wrongs make right now?

Look, somebody you know dies of lung cancer. Do you go the funeral and admonish them in front of their loved ones for smoking?

Yes. US foreign Policy towards the mideast has created a hive of discontent and injustice. But this can be said for almost EVERY Colonial Western Power to one degree or another. Depending on how far back you go. England. France. Germany. Italy. So bombing civilians there is "deserved". Sick.

To excuse Bin Ladens actions on 9/11 as justified retribution is an idiotic mischaracterization of historical fact.

The man had indeed gladly received his training from US intelligence services. He had been involved in killing and bombing fellow Muslims long before his direct attacks on the US. His track record as a murderer had long been established.

As a matter of strategy Bin Laden would inevitably HAVE to attack the dominant world power to achieve his clearly stated aims - stated PRE-9/11 - of a New World Caliphate. He would have to tackle the big power if they were meddling in his backyard or not. Now he COULD have done this ala Gandhi. But he CHOSE the path of indiscriminate violence.

It could be argued that the US would not BE a world power with it's strategic placement in the Mideast. Regardless, to aspire to be a heavy weight champ you don't drop weight and go on the middle weight card. You train up. To be taken seriously - to BE a world player on the level Bin Laden had clearly aspired to be as early as 1990 it was obvious he was gunning for the west and the US in particular. It would not have mattered if we had presented a new puppy to every Muslim on earth. When presented with such driven orthodoxy like Islamo-fascism eventually a violent clash of civilizations would happen.

This chickens and egg argument is an apologia of barbarism. We can argue this about every violent historical conflagration. Hitler's rise was due to the injustice of the League of Nations. Etc, etc.

While evil begat evil and violence begat violence it cannot be justified or dismissed so flippantly - so callously - when you brethren HERE are still in anguish over the events of 9/11.

The pain is still there. It shouldn't be diminished because you think a nations interests were Imperial anymore than it should be exploited by the imperialists.
posted by tkchrist at 10:33 AM on November 3, 2005


a story
posted by loquax at 10:20 AM PST on November 3


That's interrogation, loquax, not torture. Criminal suspects in the U.S. are regularly interrogated before trial, so what the hell are you talking about?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:00 AM on November 3, 2005


If these men were al Qaeda operatives held in one of these jails, and were announced as such and publicly put on trial with lawyers, their associates would have simply changed their target and carried out their plan.

Loquax: You're overlooking the fact that these men could be given reasonable due process and still have their names kept classified. It's been done effectively many times in the past, and there's no reason it couldn't be done effectively in these cases.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:03 AM on November 3, 2005


You're overlooking the fact that these men could be given reasonable due process and still have their names kept classified

How would that work? What is reasonable due process in your opinion? Due process as I understand it could not co-exist with the scenario described above. Due process would demand their release if there is no evidence, access to a lawyer, etc. Following due process would have resulted in the deaths of those children, if we are to believe that scenario.


That's interrogation, loquax, not torture. Criminal suspects in the U.S. are regularly interrogated before trial

Well, I posted that to demonstrate a real example of a ticking bomb-type situation, not to demonstrate the usefulness of torture. I've said over and over here that I don't support torture, and that I agree that it is inefficient and counter productive. I agree with most of the conclusions in the article posted by stinkycheese to that effect. That being said, they slapped the guys around, didn't charge them with anything, presumably didn't allow them access to a lawyer or a telephone, and held them indefinitely without being subject to any civilian oversight, only on the "suggestion" that they knew some terrorists. I don't see how this scenario is very different from the CIA secret jails (in general). Or read the article about the guy who was taken in 6 times by the Israelis, for up to 70 days (IIRC). These are examples of working outside the lines of normal criminal due process, or what I believe to be moral behaviour in normal circumstances, regardless of whether or not these people are tortured. My point is, how would you react had these two farmers been released due to lack of evidence, or allowed to contact lawyers that communicated with co-conspirators, leading to the deaths of the schoolchildren? Due process was followed, justice was not breached, procedure was not violated, and 20 kids end up dead. I'm not saying the solution is lock up everyone until proven innocent, but in certain specific circumstances, with certain specific people, under the watch of trained professionals, perhaps procedures, the law and even morals should step aside for the greater good. With all the oversight possible until said oversight compromises the safety of the public.
posted by loquax at 12:25 PM on November 3, 2005


Online discussion with Dana Priest, the reporter who wrote the article.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2005


How would that work? What is reasonable due process in your opinion? Due process as I understand it could not co-exist with the scenario described above. Due process would demand their release if there is no evidence, access to a lawyer, etc. Following due process would have resulted in the deaths of those children, if we are to believe that scenario.

Well, actually, you're right to a point. On review, I did speak too hastily earlier (I was actually thinking generally about previous cases involving classified information). The point is you can't just allow a veil of secrecy around these things. There should be a formal, fully-disclosed and fair and humane process for dealing with suspects of the kind your describing. And Congress should play a direct role in the oversight of the process.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:31 PM on November 3, 2005


Thanks for the link kirkaracha.

Things I find interesting:

Dana Priest: I don't think the CIA or administration really thought out the question of "how long" when they began this program. I'm not sure they have done so yet. There are plenty of intelligence people who believe these detainees will stay inside for their entire lives. There are others who believe these terrorist suspects will one day be put on trial. Some are held temporarily, but only those who turn out not to be "high-value" terrorists. They are transferred to other countries--like Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and other places. For how long is unclear. No, the scale of this is not Guantanamo. It's much smaller.

Dana Priest: It's new. The Clinton administration shipped terrorist suspects off to foreign intelligence services are brought them to trial here.

Is this any better? Especially considering the Atlantic Monthly article?

Dana Priest: They are not illegal under U.S. law, which allows for the CIA to undertake covert actions abroad. Executive Order 12333. Maybe I can get it posted here.

Interesting.

Dana Priest: Now that would be illegal. For the CIA to hold an American citizen that is. As for torture, it is not possible to say with any certainty. We know the CIA has been given approval to use so-called "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" and one of those techniques is "waterboarding" in which the interrogators makes the subject feel as if they are going to drown. I have no idea how often that has been used, nor on whom.

This discussion started out about the plain and simple detention of suspects without trial. The story by the Post does not discuss the specifics of any torture that may or may not be occurring, any accusations of torture or summary executions is pure speculation.

Denver, Colo.: It sounds like the White House is very involved in the creation and continuation of these camps. If Congress cannot publicly question them and it is a crime to discuss covert operations, how is there any oversight of such activities?

Dana Priest: The oversight is done behind closed-doors in classified sessions.


There's the oversight, there's the accountability. Maybe not ideal, but there are civilian members of government who are aware of what's happening, and who can and should be held accountable by voters.

Dana Priest: What I am finding is that different people have different lines. You just stated yours. Others have said The Post is complicity in an illegal act since it's illegal abroad and we aren't naming the countries. Others say the abusive treatment is illegal under several treaties the US has signed and the Senate has ratified. My larger point would be this: how does the country come to a consensus on what is okay and what is not okay in fighting the war on terror if we don't know how it is being fought. My goal is just to define a little better how the US is fighting the war on terror.

I applaud this sentiment. I think it's important to know of the existence of these jails, and other such CIA endeavors, as well as general circumstances, however not specifics.

All seeing eye dog:
There should be a formal, fully-disclosed and fair and humane process for dealing with suspects of the kind your describing. And Congress should play a direct role in the oversight of the process.

I think there is - see the executive order above, or the directive on torture, and what methods can and cannot be used. You may not agree with the process, or that it's humane or fair, but it is disclosed, AFAIK, and it is subject to congressional oversight, as the author notes, in secret sessions, typical for military or classified matters.
posted by loquax at 1:38 PM on November 3, 2005


think there is - see the executive order above, or the directive on torture, and what methods can and cannot be used.

Thanks loquax! This is new information to me, and I'll give the Executive Order a thorough read as soon as I can (have to run soon). And honestly, I'm relieved to hear there's at least a modicum of congressional oversight... Not that I don't still have serious reservations...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:49 PM on November 3, 2005


Don't give me any credit, I just reposted what Dana Preist mentioned in the link kirkaracha posted.

Don't get me wrong either, it's not as if I don't have reservations. In the course of arguing, it may seem like I'm gung ho on secret jails and torture (at least to some people), but I'm not. I only believe that certain exceptional steps need to be made at exceptional times. I'm also a supporter of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but I understand the exception that allows for detaining and searching people without probable cause in the case of drunk driver sweeps, for example.
posted by loquax at 3:16 PM on November 3, 2005


there are civilian members of government who are aware of what's happening, and who can and should be held accountable by voters

But if the oversight is "done behind closed-doors in classified sessions," how can the voters know enough to hold the government accountable? The voters didn't know about our secret prisons until this article came out, a year after last year's presidential elections and a year before next year's midterm elections.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:33 PM on November 3, 2005


Sorry I got back late....

My problem with some of the dancing in this thread:

I said I implicitly trust the fact they are not sadistic and insane people....You didn't address my question as to why your lack of faith in Bush should be imputed upon those out in the field making the day to day decisions
posted by dios at 4:01 PM PST on November 2 [!]


It should be/should have been clear - one does not trust the man one trusts the office. The office is supported by the system - which is what we trust. Laws, not men.

The system is set up for congress to have oversight over things that affect foreign policy. This affects foreign policy. Congress knew nothing about it. See the problem?



Using Dershowitz's arguments is just silly.
posted by daq at 2:55 PM PST on November 2 [!]



I dunno daq. I remember when "Dersh" and I were on an FTX - this was while we were at Ft. Benning, y'see, after he'd graduated from Yale Law School but before clerking for Chief Judge David Bazelon and going on to DIS at Meade and completing Special Ops Target Interdiction at Bragg, but he'd already planned to be a professor at Quantico Law School...er, I mean Harvard. "Dersh," I said. "This torture thing...?" (joke ends).


1 - Torture is counterproductive. Make no mistake. It is counterproductive to national security and urgency is only in your fucking bladder because I'd rip my grandmother's eyes our of her head if necessary to complete a mission, but that doesn't mean it should be policy.

The Marine Corps Small Wars manual written in the 1930's is an excellent resource on how to fight guerillas, etc.

An excerpt:

"Peace and industry cannot be restored permanently without appropriate provisions for the economic welfare of the people...hatred of the enemy is entirely inappropriate during an occupation...Torture only creates more recruits for the rebels....In small wars, tolerance, sympathy and kindness should be the keynote to our relationship with the mass of the population."
This is not bleeding-heart humanitarianism. It is a vital step to winning hearts and minds.

It worked in the Philippines and El Salvador (whether you like that politically or not). In Vietnam, Gereral Westmoreland shitcanned it. Guess what happened?


Accurate intelligence does not come from torture. Period.


You disagree with that fact? You don't like it? You think maybe there are some circumstances, blah blah blah, than YOU go out and do it. Because that is the only way to make sure it is being done for the "right" reasons.


I've previously conceded holding people incommunicado, in secret, etc. as a necessary evil, with the exception that congress is aware of and has oversight over it.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:14 PM on November 3, 2005


/to add: there should not be secret jails, only secret prisoners.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:16 PM on November 3, 2005


how can the voters know enough to hold the government accountable?

I agree that this is a problem in general, but this is true for all governments, at all times. We're probably only aware of, what 5% of what the government actually does? The stuff that actually affects us, everyday. The rest is buried in documents, memos, bills, appropriations committee memos, wherever. Security by obscurity I suppose. How many secret programs with no direct public oversight are being conducted in the Pentagon as we speak, regardless of administration (or even of country, for that matter). By this logic, all ongoing criminal investigations should be made public, transcripts between military officers should be made available on the Internet, and memos detailing trade strategies among nations should be available during negotiations. We rely on the media to raise issues of importance, and to a great degree, to frame them for us. As such, I think this article is very valuable in terms of raising this issue in front of the public and allowing debate to occur. I don't see these jails as very different, from say, the very much in plain sight deplorable conditions of regular old maximum security prisons or (insert issue here) that people pretty much don't notice or care about until someone points it out on the news.

That being said, I can understand why the government would want to keep these secret, for practical reasons given that they're hosted in foreign countries and run by the CIA, an agency generally not subject to direct public oversight by design. Maybe this goes back to my basic faith in the system, but I do believe that anything truly wrong, or truly corrupt will eventually be exposed and corrected (or not) as the public sees fit. Witness Watergate, Iran-Contra, Abu Ghraib, and so on.

To that end, I agree in principle with this: there should not be secret jails, only secret prisoners., with the obvious qualifications.
posted by loquax at 5:29 PM on November 3, 2005


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