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"It's a no-brainer for me."
October 26, 2006 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Cheney indicated the Bush administration doesn't regard waterboarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said. [previously]
posted by chunking express (196 comments total)

 
I guess it's all how they spin it. "A dunk in water" sounds like the harmless dunk tank they have at community fairs.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:41 AM on October 26, 2006


The article would be more useful if it told us more about what Cheney said. Or is "It's a no-brainer for me," the sum of it?
posted by nowonmai at 6:41 AM on October 26, 2006


Cheney is just a thug.
posted by caddis at 6:43 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I haven't found any more details than what I have posted. All articles I've read say he confirmed the US uses waterboarding, and included the same quote I did. I'm curious to see if this will get picked up on the news or not. It seems like a big deal.
posted by chunking express at 6:47 AM on October 26, 2006


Let's not leave marks so there is no evidence of what we're doing.
posted by rom1 at 6:49 AM on October 26, 2006


So, can we waterboard Cheney next time he refuses to divulge information to congress?

P.S.
Is "waterboard" a word that existed before the Bush administration? The word does not play well with Firefox's new spelling checker?
posted by oddman at 6:49 AM on October 26, 2006


I'd like to see some analysis on the quality of information gathered by waterboarding. I suspect that it is poor intelligence; the kind that would tell us that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
posted by DragonBoy at 6:54 AM on October 26, 2006


Isn't this the same "Chinese water toture" that we demonized the North Korean's for using against us?
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:57 AM on October 26, 2006


In case anyone has forgotten ...

This is what waterboarding looks like.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:00 AM on October 26, 2006


I guess it's all how they spin it. "A dunk in water" sounds like the harmless dunk tank they have at community fairs.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:41 AM PST on October 26


Yeah, I'm guessing people who aren't bothered by it are able to rationalize it by thinking, "well, it's not like there's any permanent physical damage; it's just to scare them". I completely disagree with the notion, of course, but I imagine that's the thought process.
posted by Stauf at 7:05 AM on October 26, 2006


like the harmless dunk tank they have at community fairs.

actually, this is supposed to be classified, but the fun part is that they dress the suspect as a clown
posted by matteo at 8:04 AM on October 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


then they just drown him
posted by matteo at 8:05 AM on October 26, 2006


Everything's a no-brainer for this administration.

And a no-hearter for Cheney specifically.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:06 AM on October 26, 2006


It's things like this that makes me want to believe in things like karma and/or eternal damnation for the wicked.
posted by psmealey at 8:09 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


What next, pulling out someone's finger nails is indistinguishable from a manicure?
posted by jefgodesky at 8:12 AM on October 26, 2006


Wow, that's completely different than what I thought waterboarding was. For some reason I was imagining the prisoner strapped belly down to a boogie board floating in a bathtub of water, and then the torturer periodically dunks just the prisoner's face in the water. But he can't sink because of the boogie board, so it's considered "safe", or something.

It is, of course, terrible and shameful.

On preview: man, I need a stuffed animal or something.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:12 AM on October 26, 2006


Isn't this the same "Chinese water toture" that we demonized the North Korean's for using against us?

We executed Japanese for using these techniques on us in WWII.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:15 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hennen asked, "Would you agree that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Cheney replied, "It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president 'for torture.' "

Some context: every off-year election season, the Bush White House takes a day off work (with pay) and goes campaigning, by inviting all the right-wing radio hosts to the White House to broadcast a day of propaganda to the faithful. 2006 edition, 2002 edition.

It's worth noting again just how evil these people are - from the radio host to the Vice-President to the White House press people, they're justifying, advocating and defending torturing innocent human beings to death. (IIRC, the known figures are something like ~100 people known to have been tortured to death by the U.S. over the past few years.)
posted by jellicle at 8:16 AM on October 26, 2006


Let's not leave marks so there is no evidence of what we're doing.

Speaking of which ... in Bush's recent mortifying acknowledgment of his Internet illiteracy, he said this:

"I tend not to e-mail -- not only tend not to e-mail, I don't e-mail, because of the different record requests that can happen to a president. I don't want to receive e-mails because, you know, there's no telling what somebody's e-mail may -- it would show up as, you know, a part of some kind of a story, and I wouldn't be able to say, 'Well, I didn't read the e-mail. But I sent it to your address, how can you say you didn't?' So, in other words, I'm very cautious about e-mailing."

Isn't this tantamount to saying, "Naturally, I plan to lie my head off wherever possible in the coming investigations?"
posted by futility closet at 8:17 AM on October 26, 2006


Remember when the rationale for The School of the Americas was that we just taught these techniques to operatives of Banana Republics and didn't really use them ourselves because that would be wrong?

It's painful to look back on those days wistfully.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:17 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've always felt that people who are pro-torture should first be tortured themselves before they're allowed to make policy.
posted by aramaic at 8:20 AM on October 26, 2006


What I continue to find astonishing is the ready willingness of politicians and their spokesweasels to deny saying things that are easily confirmed via freely available transcripts or recordings.
posted by the sobsister at 8:25 AM on October 26, 2006


I agree aramaic but this won't work with Cheney. The undead don't need to breathe. Now cut off his supply of virgin souls and you might get his attention.
posted by djeo at 8:30 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I just want to repeat what sonofsamiam said, but this time with larger letters:

We executed Japanese for using these techniques on us in WWII.

He's right. This IS a no-brainer. There is documented, unimpeachable legal evidence that waterboarding *IS* a crime and WE, the United States, HAVE prosecuted individuals for engaging in it. There is no debate. IT IS TORTURE.

And you know what? By saying that in public, Cheney has openly made himself into a war criminal.

I hope he pays the price for it. Along with the rest of the Administration.
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:33 AM on October 26, 2006


OK, well, the letters weren't actually larger.

But the point stands.

I dare anyone, knowing of our prosecution of Japanese war criminals following WWII, to continue to defend our use of waterboarding.

I really want to hear your rationalizations.
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:34 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


You know, I would actually love to hear dios' interpretation of InnocentBystander's comments above.

Seriously....if we actually executed people as war criminals for performing these actions, doesn't that sort of set up a hell of a precedent for prosecution for war crimes?

Not being a lawyer, I would sincerely appreciate his (dios) insight...
posted by das_2099 at 8:39 AM on October 26, 2006


It continually buffaloes me how these people can continue to pretend that they are the party with the exclusive ock on morality and character.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:45 AM on October 26, 2006


Has waterboarding been used, in fact? I'm not being snarky, I actually don't know.

I know the CIA and DOD approve the use of waterboarding during interrogation, but has a member of the US military or CIA agent, etc. used waterboarding under this authority? Do we know of any cases, have any ex-prisoners spoken up?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:45 AM on October 26, 2006


AZ- the claims of morality and character are strictly though implicitly limited to sex and christianity. You can be moral if you drank and abused your wife in your past. You cannot be moral if you had gay sex in your past.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:47 AM on October 26, 2006


Good! Let’s investigate Cheney et al for treason on or around November 8th. We can impeach in the House on the 9th, and convict in the Senate by the 10th.

Hmmm, we could take a Terri Schiavo work--weekend to speed things up a bit. Would removing these bastards from office on the 11th work for everyone? Work with me people.

Let’s see, that means we can have Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeldt imprisoned by Saturday the 12th. People wouldn't haver to word. So, we can start the televised and playful waterboarding by the 13th. How lucky.

Just for fun, I’d like to find out who attended that secret energy meeting, but, hey,
we can spend the next 10 days diligently waterboarding--seeking other Haliburton—related fun facts.

After we've gotten enough torture evidence, it's off to Texas for the death penalty phase of the ensuing non-trials. Yep, we can all have something to be thankful for on the 23rd. It’s a no—brainer, isn’t it?
posted by BillyElmore at 8:48 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


have any ex-prisoners spoken up?


yes, but they were gargling real bad, it was pretty difficult to understand what they were saying
posted by matteo at 8:49 AM on October 26, 2006


Pastabagel:

In November the Administration finally indicted Padilla on charges unrelated to any dirty bomb. Why? At least in part because Padilla was arrested on the basis of information extracted from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, whose interrogation included waterboarding.
- The Nation
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:51 AM on October 26, 2006


Thanks, but who did the torturing? Pakistanis or us, or is it not clear. I know we can make assumptions, but you can't prove anything in court unless you have, well, proof.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:54 AM on October 26, 2006


No brainer indeed.... try no fucking brains.
posted by twistedonion at 8:55 AM on October 26, 2006


STAY THE COURSE
posted by Peter H at 8:56 AM on October 26, 2006


...the claims of morality and character are strictly though implicitly limited to sex and christianity.

Uh, we're talking about torture of individuals who, for the most part, aren't even classified as POW. They're simply disappeared and labeled "Enemy Combatants". In the "Struggle Against Global Extremism" our "morality" was one of the few fading visages covering the grim realities for the proles and suckers who've bought the story up to this point. You can't dance around that, but way to dodge the point entirely by alluding to the more fucked up crutch our crooked politicians use whenever they feel the heat. Too bad it doesn't explain away anything, except your desire to obfuscate the direction of conversation.

Thanks, but who did the torturing?
How incredibly predictable. Really, after digesting your grand visions of waterboarding as an slightly uncomfortable buoyant excursion on a boogie board I am just shocked, shocked that you would ask for proof outside of a Nation article. What's it going to take, a video of Darth Cheney stomping his boot on the neck of one of these poor souls as he slams a bottle of Wild Turkey and pisses down their throat? Open your mind and shut your mouth
posted by prostyle at 8:59 AM on October 26, 2006


I think that any form of interrogation under consideration should be performed on Dick Cheney to see if it really is honky dorey. I'd be more than happy to apply the electrodes to his nuts while he "danced" like a monkey on crack.

Condoning torture is wrong, for the vice president of the USA to do so is utterly shameful.

I would curious (and likely horrified) to know what else is a "no brainer" for Cheney. I wonder if that includes shooting your hunting partner in the face? Or casting your lesbian daughter to the wolves? Or giving no-bod contracts to your old company for billions of dollars?

The only no-brainer here is Cheney himself.
posted by fenriq at 9:05 AM on October 26, 2006


Thanks, but who did the torturing? Pakistanis or us, or is it not clear.

Hiring a hitman can get you convicted of first-degree murder. Hell, even driving the getaway car can.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:07 AM on October 26, 2006


PastaBagel, from the very first line in the article: "Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called waterboarding, which creates a sensation of drowning."
posted by chunking express at 9:09 AM on October 26, 2006


Oh yeah, Dick Cheney is Evil Santa Claus, look at that photo, you know he just wants to kick someone in the nuts and drink their spinal fluid.

rxrfrx, heck, trying to hire a hitman can send you to jail. Unless you're the president or vp and its a "national security" matter.
posted by fenriq at 9:10 AM on October 26, 2006


one of these poor souls

You're joking, right?
posted by tadellin at 9:10 AM on October 26, 2006


I know we can make assumptions, but you can't prove anything in court unless you have, well, proof.

Are you really that naive, Pastabagel? You think, Cheney would publically state "yes, it's allowed, it's a no-brainer" if the CIA doesn't waterboard? Cheney's words are code for "dude, you should see the shit I ain't telling you about."
posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:10 AM on October 26, 2006


Unlike the CIA, the Army does not allow waterboarding, which is why it had to be specifically prohibited in the updated field manuals, because nobody ever did it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:20 AM on October 26, 2006


Has waterboarding been used, in fact?

From this very article: "The interview Tuesday was the first time a senior Bush administration official has confirmed U.S. interrogators used waterboarding against important al-Qaida suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed"
posted by ook at 9:22 AM on October 26, 2006


tadellin, what are your thoughts on waterboarding?
posted by NationalKato at 9:24 AM on October 26, 2006


"Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?" Hennen said.

No, Mr. Hennen. No I would not agree. What threat exactly is it that we face? Is there some specific piece of information you have about an upcoming terrorist event, or are you just speaking of the threat of terrorist tactics in general. Because if it's the latter, you are a coward and I'm glad your just a DJ and not someone in a position to determine policy. On the other hand, if it's the former and there is a chance you might have information, I think DHS would like to have a word with you. I hear they have some excellent techniques for extracting bits of intelligence.

Makes call to have Scott Hennen, of WDAY Radio in Fargo, N.D. investigated as an Enemy Combatant and Terrorist sympathizer. Any debate on the subject of his innocence is just silly. Wouldn't you agree?
posted by quin at 9:27 AM on October 26, 2006


Oh come on. Now I'm just irritated.

There are PLENTY of you (*cough*DIOS*cough) who go on and on about how it's not really torture and we're allowed to and it's a post-9/11 world and blah blah blah.

Where are you now?

Your great leaders have now admitted to authorizing prisoner treatments that we have previously imprisoned and\or executed foreign nationals for conducting.

And you're... SILENT?

Surely that doesn't mean that this is the proverbial straw, and you realized how evil the men in office really are.

So quit being cowards and speak up. This is the bed you've made. Start lying in it.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:27 AM on October 26, 2006


Drop by Drop: Forgetting The History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:29 AM on October 26, 2006


Sadly, a large percentage of Americans think waterboarding is just fine as long as you only do it to bad guys.

Most of these Americans also claim to follow the teachings of a man who said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me."

Either these people aren't paying attention to what the current administration is doing in their name or they're just more than willing to sell out some of their beliefs as long as women aren't allowed to kill their babies and queers aren't allowed to get married.
posted by turaho at 9:30 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


One of my best friends is an ex-US Marine. He flew in Hueys in Iraq to establish forward air refueling points; since that involves flying over enemy territory, he had to go through SERE school (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape).

The way they do that is, they dump you as if you just crashed your helicopter in the middle of a forest. There's an enemy base nearby, staffed with Marines trained in pretending to be the enemy. There are search parties and patrols looking for you. You must evade them.

So pretty much everyone gets captured.

My friend once showed up at my front door covered in blood and laughing. He had just crashed his crotch rocket motorcycle about a mile away, had severely sprained a hand, gotten severe gravel burn over his left side where it had eaten through his leather suit, but had walked his motorcycle to my front door to get band aids and beer. The guy is comedically, suicidally tough.

When his captors waterboarded him at SERE school, he broke in about 30 seconds and gave up the locations and names of all of his unit, revealed the information he was told to keep secret, everything. There was a super hard core special operations sniper who also had the misfortune to get caught -- you know, the kind who crawl on the ground for ten miles, eat bugs for their primary sustenance even when they're stateside, made entirely of leather? He managed to keep the information for a whole 2 minutes and earned the respect and admiration of the entire SERE school.

And that was when the faux-captors are Marines who, deep down inside, know they're waterboarding a brother and probably take it a little easy, err on the side of humanity, aren't burning with rage at their victim.
posted by felix at 9:30 AM on October 26, 2006


A clip from the movie "Jacob the Liar" demonstrates how waterboarding works. You may need to whip out mailinator like I did to create an account, as the clip is flagged 18 and over.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:34 AM on October 26, 2006


Can we stop calling out Siod in this thread until he actually comments?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:34 AM on October 26, 2006


Siod? Of course, I mean Dios.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:35 AM on October 26, 2006


So quit being cowards and speak up. This is the bed you've made. Start lying in it.

...the new president will fix what was wrong with Bush. So to act like Chicken Little is completely absurd...
posted by prostyle at 9:36 AM on October 26, 2006


I dare anyone, knowing of our prosecution of Japanese war criminals following WWII, to continue to defend our use of waterboarding.



It would probably go something like this:

The Japanese attacked in large armies. What we're dealing with here are small groups or men or individuals, carrying weapons (biological, chemical or maybe even one day nuclear), that could kill large numbers of innocent Americans.

It may be "wrong" but if performing waterboarding manages to stop even one of these individuals, which it may have already done, then it's worth it.


In short, you probably can't convince Cheney. He's already sailed from that shore years ago.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:37 AM on October 26, 2006


If we are indeed holding 35,000 in secret prisons waterboarding may indeed be used, but what truely frightens me is that so many people can be locked up without due process and so few people actually care.
posted by edgeways at 9:38 AM on October 26, 2006


so few people actually care.
posted by edgeways at 9:38 AM


Do not confuse care with an inability to effect actual change.

Many care. Many of the many understand that they have no power to actualy change things.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:43 AM on October 26, 2006


Holy crap. This is really scary stuff. Hopefully these guys won't be around after the next election, although that seems small recompense for the damage they've wrought.
posted by dazed_one at 9:45 AM on October 26, 2006


We executed Japanese for using these techniques on us in WWII.

Your link said they got hard labour.
posted by biffa at 9:45 AM on October 26, 2006


AZ: Agreed. Can we still talk about Siod, though?
posted by Stauf at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2006


Why can't we just slip them a mickey and get the info that way?
posted by a3matrix at 9:49 AM on October 26, 2006


We executed Japanese for using these techniques on us in WWII.

Ok, but the link supplied by sonofsamiam above to support this claim states only that:

On the basis of those practices [including waterboarding], the United States tried and convicted Japanese war criminals, who were sentenced to prison at hard labor.

So fyi before you use this in arguments with your conservative relatives, you might want to find another source for this claim.
posted by washburn at 9:51 AM on October 26, 2006


on posting: whoops. What biffa said.
posted by washburn at 9:52 AM on October 26, 2006


Do not confuse care with an inability to effect actual change.
Many care. Many of the many understand that they have no power to actualy change things.
posted by rough ashlar


Don't make me Godwinize your ass! The comparison is glaring.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:54 AM on October 26, 2006


biffa: see my link titled 'drop by drop', the UK did execute Japanese for torture techniques including waterboarding. Maybe that's not "us" for you?

Here is an additional article, which states that the Japanese Lt. Col. Sumida who authorized the waterboarding was sentenced to hang.

Another waterboarding video (haven't yet watched this one.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:54 AM on October 26, 2006


In other news, Cheney indicated that he doesn't regard spray-painting public property as vandalism and allows his children to do it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said.

Lee Ann McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, denied that Cheney confirmed that his children spray-painted public property or endorsed the activity.

"What the vice president was referring to was a community beautification program without vandalism," she said.

I'll have a double-double talk, animal style
posted by davejay at 9:54 AM on October 26, 2006


OK, Washburn, biffa, WTF does it matter?

Fine, the link doesn't say they were executed. Does that in ANY WAY negate the fact that they were tried and convicted of doing what Cheney says is OK?
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2006


OK, Washburn, biffa, WTF does it matter?

Fine, the link doesn't say they were executed. Does that in ANY WAY negate the fact that they were tried and convicted of doing what Cheney says is OK?


It does matter. Your point that it is hypocritical with respect to what were done with the Japanese is an interesting and valid point that is cheapened a bit by the use of exaggeration. It is always disappointing to me to see arguments that I agree with being made in illogical or misleading ways. This was misleading. It is awful that we are okaying what we denounced others doing in World War II. We don't need to make it sound worse than it actually is. By making one portion of your argument obviously false, it makes it easy for the simple minds to dismiss your entire point.
posted by flarbuse at 10:06 AM on October 26, 2006


Cheney: ‘General Overall Situation’ In Iraq Is Going ‘Remarkably Well’

Cheney Still Lying About Iraq-Al Qaeda Link
posted by homunculus at 10:09 AM on October 26, 2006


From grabbingsand's link above:

Bottom line: Not only do waterboarding and the other types of torture currently being debated put us in company with the most vile regimes of the past half-century; they're also designed specifically to generate a (usually false) confession, not to obtain genuinely actionable intel. This isn't a matter of sacrificing moral values to keep us safe; it's sacrificing moral values for no purpose whatsoever.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:09 AM on October 26, 2006


IN PRAISE OF TORTURE

I'm a little baffled by people who are against torture. If we are at war, bombing women, children, houses and villages, then we can sure as heck water board some suspects.

That's what war is.

This is the mentality of war.

In war, you kill or you get killed. There are no ethics. There is no level to which you won't sink. It's war. Collapse of the social contract. Savage time.

Now, if you all don't want any war, then I'm with you, no torture. As long as you aren't having sit ins against the war every weekend though, I think you should ease off on the torture.

The people doing it are get shot down and blown up every day. They are torturing to survive, to protect their families and their friends, and to ensure that America is safe on their watch.

This is the mentality of soldiers.

We still have plenty of nukes. How far do you want this to go? What are you willing to do to keep it from getting there?
posted by ewkpates at 10:12 AM on October 26, 2006


the sad thing is, saying this kind of shit will only help the repbulicans in the election.
posted by afu at 10:13 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Is cheney OK with one of our soldiers being waterboarded?

Why the f**k does our press suck so g*dd*mn bad?

Tim Russert ... are you home?
posted by specialk420 at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2006


This is the mentality of soldiers.

This is not the mentality of all soldiers. There are things good soldiers should not and will not do. Torture is one of those things.

Not to mention the fact that we're talking about the intelligence services, not uniformed service personnel. The torture in question is presumably being conducted at detention facilities, against unarmed captives. That is wrong.
posted by Mister_A at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2006


Pastabagel: Has waterboarding been used, in fact?

Cast Doubt! Throw Up A Smokescreen! Ignore The Linked Articles! Change The Topic of Conversation! And then-- poof!-- disappear from the thread.

ewkpates: In war, you kill or you get killed. There are no ethics. There is no level to which you won't sink. It's war. Collapse of the social contract. Savage time.

Are you calling Vice President Cheney a Savage?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:27 AM on October 26, 2006


A lot of you hippies could use a good waterboarding.

It'd take the edge off of that patchouli cloud that's following you around.
posted by dsquid at 10:28 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hey, you could use a good choking on my cock, no water involved.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:29 AM on October 26, 2006


I guess it's all how they spin it. "A dunk in water" sounds like the harmless dunk tank they have at community fairs.

You know how your wife's head goes way way back when the stylist applies the blue rinse? That's all it is. Simple! Nothing to it. And when that dryer hood comes off, looky there why she's the belle of the ball, yessiree. Well, this waterboarding stuff, its the same thing. So. Be sure and vote next week, okay? We're countin' on ya!
posted by hal9k at 10:30 AM on October 26, 2006


I guess it's all how they spin it. "A dunk in water" sounds like the harmless dunk tank they have at community fairs.

You know how your wife's head goes way way back when the stylist applies the blue rinse? That's all it is. Simple! Nothing to it. And when that dryer hood comes off, looky there why she's the belle of the ball, yessiree. Well, this waterboarding stuff, its the same thing. So. Be sure and vote next week, okay? We're countin' on ya!
posted by hal9k at 10:30 AM on October 26, 2006


I guess it's all how they spin it. "A dunk in water" sounds like the harmless dunk tank they have at community fairs.

Hey, it's not waterboarding, it's Freedom Surfing!
posted by fandango_matt at 10:34 AM on October 26, 2006


Let's not leave marks so there is no evidence of what we're doing.

Child abuser advice as national policy.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:35 AM on October 26, 2006


Hey dsquid, good luck over in Iraq fighting the good fight. We're proud you volunteered to help win th-- wait, you are enlisted, right?
posted by NationalKato at 10:36 AM on October 26, 2006


what truely frightens me is that so many people can be locked up without due process and so few people actually care.

What truly frightens me is that so many people do care, but actually approve of these atrocities, refusing to see how resorting to torture like this reduce us to the level of the people we're supposedly fighting against, refusing to acknowledge how it negates the whole innocent-until-proven-guilty thing we used to be so proud of, and refusing to listen to the experts who keep telling us that torture doesn't even work, because if you think you're being drowned, or mauled by dogs, or or half frozen or kept awake for days at a time or any of the other forms of torture we've chosen to euphemize with kinder, gentler sounding phrases like "waterboarding" and "stress position", you'll say anything, anything at all, to get it to stop. (Torture is a great way to get the answers you want to hear. It's a terrible way to get the truth.)

And the middle-of-the-road people, the ones who say oh, well, the US shouldn't torture. But it's fine if we ship prisoners off to pakistan or wherever else so they can be tortured on our behalf. The ones who are ok with secret prisons and tribunals and the total subversion of the US justice system -- as long as it only applies to foreigners. The ones apparently without empathy, willing to throw anyone to the wolves as long as they think there's no chance these laws will ever apply to them.

And what it does to the tortured, the ones who turn out to have been innocent after all; what they'll say to their friends and family when they finally get home; the seeds of anti-US fear and hatred we're planting now for future generations to deal with. Entirely justifiable fear and hatred.

And even what it does to the torturers themselves. Oh, sorry, I meant interrogators. The people who are actually carrying these instructions out, the ones who tell themselves they're just following orders. How will they live with themselves, decades from now, when this current wave of national paranoia has passed and they realize what they've become?


Sorry. I slipped into rant mode. But it's gotten to the point where I literally can't listen to the radio or read a newspaper without winding up quivering with rage. I used to be so proud of my country. I used to think we were better than this.
posted by ook at 10:38 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


How will they live with themselves, decades from now, when this current wave of national paranoia has passed and they realize what they've become?

Very poorly, I hope. The torture thing is something I simply cannot keep my temper about, it's the ugliest, basest side of human action.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:46 AM on October 26, 2006


Point taken, flarbuse, except that if you look at my original post, I was quoting someone else and jumping off of it.

And there are other links posted in this thread showing that the officers who ORDERED the waterboarding were, in fact, executed.
posted by InnocentBystander at 10:48 AM on October 26, 2006


sonofsamiam: The torture thing is something I simply cannot keep my temper about, it's the ugliest, basest side of human action.

But see, if you claim that torture isn't really torture, then it's okay!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:55 AM on October 26, 2006


How will they live with themselves, decades from now, when this current wave of national paranoia has passed and they realize what they've become?

posted by sonofsamiam Very poorly, I hope.


Don't bet on it. The creatures like dsquid and ewkpates and Cheney who make excuses for torture have no problem living with themselves--they didn't abandon their humanity overnight; they gave it up in tiny incremental pieces over the years.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:59 AM on October 26, 2006


« Older Free hugs in New York City ins...
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:08 AM on October 26, 2006


Torture is abhorent by its very nature; the support or rationalization of torture is far, far beneath contempt and should be grounds of the removal from office of any official of a nominally democratic government.
This has stripped the thin veneer of morality that was left on the US's foreign policy.
posted by signal at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2006


We executed Japanese for using these techniques on us in WWII.
The US didn't execute them, but sentenced them to hard-labor imprisonment, according to your link. It's a two-fer: we used to be humane in our punishment and we punished others inhumanity. Now, not so much.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:21 AM on October 26, 2006


In further links I posted, you will see that at least one officer who ordered waterboarding was indeed executed.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:27 AM on October 26, 2006


Thanks, but who did the torturing?
How incredibly predictable. Really, after digesting your grand visions of waterboarding as an slightly uncomfortable buoyant excursion on a boogie board I am just shocked, shocked that you would ask for proof outside of a Nation article. What's it going to take, a video of Darth Cheney stomping his boot on the neck of one of these poor souls as he slams a bottle of Wild Turkey and pisses down their throat? Open your mind and shut your mouth
posted by prostyle at 11:59 AM EST on October 26


Pastabagel: Has waterboarding been used, in fact?

Cast Doubt! Throw Up A Smokescreen! Ignore The Linked Articles! Change The Topic of Conversation! And then-- poof!-- disappear from the thread.

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:27 PM EST on October 26


First of all, no, I didn't miss that first sentence, but I don't think we read it in the same context. And second, my question was an honest one. I didn't disappear from the thread. I posted 2 hours ago. Relax.

And to address the early point in the thread about putting these peope up for war crimes, I have two points.

If you have known in your heart all along that the torture was mandated from the top of the administration and conducted on a regular basis, and that it has been going on for years, then you are the most impotent, ineffective, unpersuasive group of people ever to walk the face of the planet earth.

If you knew this stuff was going all along and you didn't like it, then you, the royal you, are the worst kind of useless. People have overthrown governments for less that what you all are saying happened. And yet what have you done? Posting blogs about it? Reading Kos? God helps us all.

If what you are saying is true, then there is a real person somewhere getting tortured by your government right now. It's not a story, it's a real even taking place in reality. If you feel so strongly about it, then you need to get the data and evidence together to put on an airtight case, first in the press, then in a court somewhere. Again, not you personally, but you meaning all of us in general. And it's not going to be a world court, it's going to be a US federal district court, so you have to prepare accordingly, right?

Secondly, do you realize that you still haven't answered the question? I read the nation article again very closely, and read the linked article again closely, and at no point does he actually admit to a specific instance of waterboarding. The nation article says that KSM was subjected to it, but it doesn't say by whom. So that's not evidence, unless the nation had more information than they put in the article, which is of course possible.

The linked article is different. Read it again. Cheney made those statements to a right wing radio host which by his questions supports the idea of torture, That in and of itself is creepy, but in that light, what Cheney said could be bluster. He's talking to a fan, reinforcing how much of a tough guy he is.

What you need is a victim to name names or a soldier or CIA person to describe under oath a specific instance of it. Because then you have a crime, witnesses etc. Right now you have hearsay and a rightwing talk radio interview.

You think you're going to win a war crimes trial with that crap?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:34 AM on October 26, 2006


"...electrodes to his nuts while he "danced" like a monkey on crack..."

Now that's what I'm talking about.
posted by BillyElmore at 11:35 AM on October 26, 2006


The fact that many of the incumbents who voted to allow torture are going to breeze back into office in a week reflects very poorly on the United States. After photos of torture came out, there should have been an overwhelming response to get rid of the people who have degraded this country in such a way.

I couldn't be more disgusted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:40 AM on October 26, 2006


In war, you kill or you get killed. There are no ethics. There is no level to which you won't sink. It's war. Collapse of the social contract. Savage time.

Except we agreed in treaties and passed laws that there would be ethics, and that there would be a social contract.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:44 AM on October 26, 2006


then you are the most impotent, ineffective, unpersuasive group of people ever to walk the face of the planet earth.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:34 AM PST


The people who have decided on torture control or have far greater input than any one citizen:
The FBI
The CIA
The Attorney General
The IRS
The Department of Homeland Security
The Congress
The Judges

So somehow, people who have homes, jobs, and a nice quiet life should somehow use the tool of the ballot box and the tools of legal precedings to change things?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:50 AM on October 26, 2006


posted by Pastabagel If you knew this stuff was going all along and you didn't like it, then you, the royal you, are the worst kind of useless. People have overthrown governments for less that what you all are saying happened. And yet what have you done? Posting blogs about it? Reading Kos? God helps us all.

Thank goodness you're posting on this blog to tell us we're all useless because we're not picking up rifles and turning the country into Lebanon.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:50 AM on October 26, 2006


After photos of torture came out, there should have been an overwhelming response to get rid of the people who have degraded this country in such a way.

I couldn't be more disgusted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:40 PM EST on October 26


You know, I think that nails it. That's the point in time where people picked sides, shook hands with the devil, whatever.

The fact that the president didn't clean house call for investigations, court martials, and indictments, etc. made it clear he was a lousy president and also not really aware or in charge of anything. Rumsfeld should have been called on the carpet immediately, thrown before congress, and barring a really really really good explanation, thrown out in the street.

On top of that, when the President let Powell go, it told me that the second term was going to be an epic clusterfuck. A real leader would have pulled Powell aside, admitted that he was wrong and that powell was right, and then given him a chance to rehabilitate himself, and basedon the fact that he was right and the Rumsfeld camp was wrong, offer powell a stronger voice in the administration. Bush didn't do this because he's dumb and weak, and a timid POS who can't stand up to rumsfeld. And here we are.

The fact that republican voters are now justifying torture is despicable. Abu Ghraib, or the official response thereto, was the last chance that Bush voter had to jump ship. If you didn't then, you deserve to go down with it?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:51 AM on October 26, 2006


Except we agreed in treaties and passed laws that there would be ethics, and that there would be a social contract.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:44 AM PST


And yet...here we are. With you being impotent and ineffective. An admission by Mr. Cheney that torture was use (in violation of laws and treaties) and your reaction is....posting on The Blue.

Why arn't *YOU* doing something?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:52 AM on October 26, 2006


I'm not saying people should turn to violence. I'm saying people should organize and put a case together, not wait for the Nation or the times to do it for you.

Look, I honestly don't know of a specific instance of torture, but then I haven't read absolutely everything that's been written, so I asked a question, because a lot of people here are talking about the issue like it is common knowledge.

Waterboarding is against the law that was just passed, if the law that was just passed has any kind of teeth to it at all. So let's test it. Find someone who gave the order to waterboard one guy, get some specifics, and file a lawsuit. I'm speaking to the anti-bush camp, and to myself included I guess. But this is how these things are done. There's a process for this, let's try it. If the process is doesn't work, or is easily manipulated, then we'll know that for certain and can change it.

rough ashlar - yes, you have the tools of the ballot box and the courts. With gerrymandering, the ballot box is worthless in a mid term election, but there'll be sympathetic judges in the court system.

The constitution only gives us those two tools. So let's run people who aren't doormats and file some lawsuits. Even the repblican majority S. Ct. didn't back the adminstration in every case, so there's hope in that avenue.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:59 AM on October 26, 2006


posted by rough ashlar Why arn't *YOU* [Pastabagel] doing something?

Well, Pastabagel is doing something. He's/She's posting in a weblog about his/her outrage at how we're all useless and ineffective because we're posting in a weblog.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:02 PM on October 26, 2006


The Wet Head is Dead. Long Live the Dry Look.

.
posted by Rumple at 12:03 PM on October 26, 2006


also, I agree, I'm just as ineffective, but I'm only recently coming around to this position. I'm trying to organize my thoughts and understanding of it, but, yes, I'm no different. So what are we going to do about it? I am going to vote, and vote differently than I have in the past.

On preview - yeah I vented a little, sorry. I would like to think that the opposition party, such as it is, would at least be50-60% as organized and strategic as the Republican party, and I'm not seeing that, and that's a bigger problem. Whichever party holds will get corrupted if they hold it too long, but the system requires the party out of power to be in a position to exploit that.

If we can't outsmart the Rush Limbaughs and Dick Cheneys of the world, I'm not sure we deserve power any more than they do.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:04 PM on October 26, 2006


I don't get it. If this isn't torture, how are we using it to get information out of people? Is waterboarding the CIA's version of asking politely?
posted by aubilenon at 12:05 PM on October 26, 2006


I'm not sure we deserve power any more than they do.

Once again you iterate the most tired, ridiculous, philisophically inept point that you can trot out. I cannot count the times you have asserted what boils down to "Might is Right" when referencing the actions of Cheney and Rumsfeld. That's old fucking hat, dude.
posted by prostyle at 12:10 PM on October 26, 2006


I cannot count the times you have asserted what boils down to "Might is Right" when referencing the actions of Cheney and Rumsfeld. That's old fucking hat, dude.
posted by prostyle at 12:10 PM PST


Just how old hat? How about a hat that gets you on a $20 bill?


"John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."
President Andrew Jackson re: Worcester v. Georgia
posted by rough ashlar at 12:15 PM on October 26, 2006


I would like to think that the opposition party, such as it is, would at least be50-60% as organized and strategic as the Republican party, and I'm not seeing that, and that's a bigger problem.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:04 PM PST


Your base premise is flawed.

That an opposition party exists.

A bit of reading on the subject
posted by rough ashlar at 12:24 PM on October 26, 2006


That's what war is.

I'm still confused about this. Did we declare war? Who is our enemy? What is our objectives? When will we have won? Have we always been at war with Eastasia?

I mean, given that we have NO IDEA what kind of people are locked up at Guantanamo and the other secret bases. Given that accountability and responsibility for these decisions are something that the current administration will never allow, what kind of war is this?
posted by lumpenprole at 12:28 PM on October 26, 2006


Pastabagel, the sort of proof you're claiming we should wait for is simply not going to show up in sources we can access. By your logic, we have to wait for Cheney to say, "Yes, X was waterboarded and *I ORDERED IT!* MU HAHAHAHAAAA!"

No.

The fact that X WAS waterboarded, and Cheney says that's perfectly fine is more than enough to start an investigation. It would take court orders to dig up anything more damning. Maybe FOIA requests if you got lucky, but somehow I'm guessing that a request for "all documents where Cheney orders waterboarding" would be denied.

Just a hunch.
posted by InnocentBystander at 12:29 PM on October 26, 2006


What are you talking about? How do you think people are removed from power? Divine intervention? Might does make right. You can argue something is immoral all you want, but that is ultimately a matter of opinion, and places you squarely with the fundies who argue that what is moral should also be law. You're just disagreeing over what is moral.

Sorry, I stand by that comment, and note that you haven't come up with anything of your own, rather you're just taking potshots at me.

I'm not obfuscating anything. Am I denying torture? Nope. I'm sure it's happening right now. Am I defending the administration? Nope. So what exactly am I hiding? What am I doing that is so annoying to you. Dude, I'm not exactly sure but I think I'm actually on your side on this one.

In reality, i.e. the world of what is as opposed to the kiddie dreamland of what should be, might does make right. The powerful set up the laws and institutions and staff them as they please.

My point is that the system actually has a mechanism for removing the powerful from power without having to destroy the system. But to do that as I've said a million times, you need to build a case, gather facts, not hearsay, not reports, but actual facts, and construct a case around them.

If these things are true, then the right thing to do is to impeach these guys. That makes the november election about a referendum on the conduct and practices of the US administration in this war, right? Not so much about the war in iraq itself, but about how it's fought.

Hypothetically, let's say the Cheney group is 100% correct that the Iraq war is visionary and will usher in democracy and peace and lovein the middle east. Forget everything for a second and let's say that that's true, okay? So most people, not everyone, but you can see how most people would agree that that would make the war worth fighting.

But that doesn't mean the war should be fought the way they are fighting it. They need to account for their particular actions as well as their strategy, but the focus needs to be on their actions because that is what distinguishes them from other democrats who may have voted for the war but never signed up for waterboarding, abu ghraib, nsa wiretaps on the internet, etc.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:36 PM on October 26, 2006


Excerpt from Interview of the Vice President by Scott Hennen, WDAY at Radio Day at the White House, The Vice President's Office, October 24, 2006:

Q I've heard from a lot of listeners -- that's what we do for a living, talk to good folks in the Heartland every day -- and I've talked to as many who want an increased military presence in Iraq as want us out, which seems to be the larger debate, at least coming from the left -- cut and run, get out of there. One fax said, when you talk to the Vice President, ask him when shock and awe is coming back to Iraq. Let's finish the job once and for all.

And terrorist interrogations and that debate is another example. And I've had people call and say, please, let the Vice President know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives. Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do agree. And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high value detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed provided us with enormously valuable information about how many there are, about how they plan, what their training processes are and so forth, we've learned a lot. We need to be able to continue that.

The Congress recently voted on this question of military commissions and our authority to continue the interrogation program. It passed both Houses, fortunately. The President signed it into law, but the fact is 177 Democrats in the House -- or excuse me, 162 Democrats in the House voted against it, and 32 out of 44 senators -- Democratic senators voted against it. We wouldn't have that authority today if they were in charge. That's a very important issue in this campaign.

Are we going to allow the executive branch to have the authority granted and authorized by the Congress to be able to continue to collect the intelligence we need to defend the nation.

Q Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President "for torture." We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in. We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that.

And thanks to the leadership of the President now, and the action of the Congress, we have that authority, and we are able to continue to program.
posted by zennie at 12:40 PM on October 26, 2006


The fact that X WAS waterboarded, and Cheney says that's perfectly fine is more than enough to start an investigation.

Legally, I'm not so sure that is enough. Also, Cheny can legally ask the Pakistanis to waterboard someone, but that doesn't make him a war criminal. It makes the Pakistani's war criminals.

You need "X was waterboarded by Y", and Y to be someone in the US govt or under the US's direct command authority. Then you need Y to start naming names. Cheny's not going to talk, but the guy who was in the room when the water was being poured might want to clear his conscience. You need those guys, because they also pre-emptively neutralize the "rogue agent" defense.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:42 PM on October 26, 2006


Hey! Pastabagel's back! Come on in, sir. May I take your coat?

If what you are saying is true, then there is a real person somewhere getting tortured by your government right now.

That's right. And Dick Cheney is lying about it.

what Cheney said could be bluster.

Could be! And it could be secret code! Why, it could be almost anything-- including lying about what is torture and what isn't.

You sure do love your hypotheticals.

Am I denying torture? Nope. I'm sure it's happening right now.

Does that include waterboarding? Has the information provided in this thread convinced you that waterboarding is in fact torture and is in fact being greenlit by the United States Government?

Forget everything for a second and let's say that that's true, okay?

Also, let's forget that waterboarding is torture and let's say that it's not, okay?

You need "X was waterboarded by Y", and Y to be someone in the US govt or under the US's direct command authority.

I'm not a lawyer. I'm not building a case against the system. As a concerned voter, here's everything I need right here:

1) Waterboarding is Torture
2) Dick Cheney says it's not Torture
3) Dick Cheney is lying.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:51 PM on October 26, 2006


And terrorist interrogations and that debate is another example. And I've had people call and say, please, let the Vice President know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives. Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?

When I wrote about that devil's bargain, this is what I was talking about. Wrong, we're not all for it. And what threat against "the good fols of the Heartland" is he talking about? Also, the word Heartland should never ever be capitalized. Or used.

Note that Cheney never said KSM was tortured. He said he was interrogated. The "that's" in the sentence is unclear (the sentence is a wreck). Is he refering to a dunk in the water? Is he refering to that as something different than waterboarding? To "terrorist interrogations" from the paragraph above? There's a million ways to weasel out of this. He's not admitting to anything, and he knows it. But he is trying to pander to the guy talking to him. Ultimately, Cheney can say he lied to this guy, and be done with it.

Thinking back, it was a very stupid thing for the 9-11 commission to allow these guys to talk and testify without being under oath.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:56 PM on October 26, 2006


Obfuscate! Obfuscate! Oh man, is it ever getting smokey in here!

*cough cough cough*
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:03 PM on October 26, 2006


Hey! Pastabagel's back! Come on in, sir. May I take your coat?...

I'm not a lawyer. I'm not building a case against the system. As a concerned voter, here's everything I need right here:

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 3:51 PM EST on October 26


First of all, take your filthy proletarian hands off my fine cashmere coat and fetch me a whiskey. Brrr! Old man winter's out early this year!

As a concerned voter you probably need less than that, but the problem is that you think that by voting these guys out, the new crowd will undo the system they put in place. They won't, that never happens.

They'll promise to take a strict view of the law, or adopt new policies, blah blah, but the old system, of torture being okay if the govt really really thinks it's necessary, stays. You must have a lawsuit to render all of this very clearly illegal so that no one in the future can ever do it again whether they want to or not, and so that people on the ground and in the field will know they are breaking the law when ordered to do it.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:10 PM on October 26, 2006


Do you ever think anything you don't say?
posted by zoinks at 1:13 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


How do you think people are removed from power? Divine intervention? Might does make right.

Uhh, lets see... from your very previous tangential diatribe:

I'm saying people should organize and put a case together... The constitution only gives us those two tools. So let's run people who aren't doormats and file some lawsuits.

It's amazing that you'd all of the sudden forget your own supposed stance and drive on this issue (facts, lawsuits, etc) to defend your infantile assertion. Divine intervention, awww... you're so precious!

In reality, i.e. the world of what is as opposed to the kiddie dreamland of what should be, might does make right.

Ahh, obviously, I realize the error of my ways. I've been living in a kiddie dreamland. Again with the comedy gold! You're slaying me!

Forget everything for a second and let's say that that's true, okay? So most people, not everyone, but you can see how most people would agree that that would make the war worth fighting.


What's all this about kiddie dreamlands?

They need to account for their particular actions as well as their strategy, but the focus needs to be on their actions because that is what distinguishes them from other democrats who may have voted for the war but never signed up for waterboarding, abu ghraib, nsa wiretaps on the internet, etc.

Wtf? Faux News practices slipping into your diatribes?

If you really want to know why your actions aggravate me it's due to your incessant song-and-dance in these threads. You come in completely innocent, saying "Aww, I didn't realize it was that bad", then you assert everyone who complains and does nothing is a completely spineless douchebag. Then you say "Awww, no, what I meant was you need to work from inside the system"... then you conclude that since these nefarious bastards have totally co-opted the system, they deserve whatever they get. Same day, different shit. Obfuscation, infantile projection, inane diatribes.

You must have a lawsuit to render all of this very clearly illegal so that no one in the future can ever do it again whether they want to or not, and so that people on the ground and in the field will know they are breaking the law when ordered to do it.

Right, because the Geneva Conventions and a myriad of other assorted documents that were skirted and now by-law are officially ignored didn't count for a goddamn thing. Amazing that something that previously existed for decades that effectively "rendered all of this very clearly illegal" didn't do a goddamn thing to stop them. Critical thinking, my friend.
posted by prostyle at 1:13 PM on October 26, 2006


*hands Pastabagel a fine single malt*

Pastabagel, you and I seem to be talking about different things. I'm talking about Dick Cheney lying about torture and you keep talking about Democrats, the 9/11 commisson, and the proper way to bring about a lawsuit.

Note that Cheney never said KSM was tortured. He said he was interrogated. The "that's" in the sentence is unclear (the sentence is a wreck). Is he refering to a dunk in the water? Is he refering to that as something different than waterboarding? To "terrorist interrogations" from the paragraph above?

Read it again:

Q: And I've had people call and say, please, let the Vice President know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives. Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do agree. And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high value detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation.

Q Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President "for torture." We don't torture.


Cheney is saying that 'a dunk in water' (AKA waterboarding) has been a important tool in the interrogation of high value detainees. Waterboarding is torture. Cheney says 'We (meaning the United States) don't torture.' Cheney is lying.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:20 PM on October 26, 2006


Cheney clearly approves of waterboarding as an interrogation method. However, his sentence structure prevents a clear admission to knowledge of the actual use of that method by US intelligence.
posted by zennie at 1:22 PM on October 26, 2006


make him a war criminal.

Actually, you are made a war criminal by a judgement that you are a war criminal.

Alas, the names of the German and Japaneese generals who, in their trials pointed out that Allied force generals had ordered similar (or exactly the same) actions and were not on trial.

History is written by the victors, might makes right...blah blah blah.

Do not think for a minute if there was a buck (ok alot of them) to be made that Bush and Co would be tossed under the bus wheels and turned over for a conviction of war crimes.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:26 PM on October 26, 2006


Fuzzy Monster - you need to read that again. Your flaw is the "(AKA waterboarding)", because you're reading that in when it isn't there. Read it like a defense lawyer would, because he has a defense lawyer, and that's how it's going to be read.

The caller said, if it takes "dunking in water". Then he says, the debate seems silly given the threat, would you agree? He's asking if he'd agree that the debate is silly.

Cheney agrees that the debate is silly. Then the question is would you agree that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives. And he says yes it would be. We don't torture.

He says a dunk in water is not torture. He does not say, nor does the line of questioning imply, that a dunk in water is waterboarding. This is why talk show idiots aren't real journalists. The whole discussion is over hypothetical dunks in water if doing so would hypothetically save hypothetical lives. The interview is crap.

prostyle - Thanks for playing.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:28 PM on October 26, 2006


Why are you guys jumping on Pastabagel? He is stating what should be obvious, ie, that you need some sort of evidence of waterboarding conducted by US intelligence personnel or contractors operating under the orders of US personnel, in order to pursue legal action related to that waterboarding. And you would need very convincing evidence that this torture was indeed sanctioned by Cheney in order to prosecute him for these offenses.

He is also right in stating that Cheney, in the transcripts of this interview produced thus far, has not admitted that any particular tactic is permitted or forbidden. This is a legalism, to be sure, but we are a nation of laws after all. If this interview was introduced as evidence in an impeachment hearing, do you not think the VP's defense team would point out that there is no reference to waterboarding or any other particular tactic? It is folly and fantasy to pursue legal action on such flimsy "evidence" as this interview; such action would poison the well and make future prosecutions, with more compelling evidence, well nigh impossible.

Pastabagel makes reasonable points here about the legal ramifications of this half-revelation by Cheney, and members jump all over him. Stating that we need evidence to prosecute high-ranking members of the executive, like Cheney or Rumsfeld, is not an endorsement of their policies.
posted by Mister_A at 1:32 PM on October 26, 2006


Well, I don't want to get bogged down in semantics ("It depends on what the meaning of 'That' is") but in the context of this interview about the use of 'dunking in water' as an 'interrogation technique', it's clear (I know, I know, not legally clear) that when Cheney says 'That', he is referring to waterboarding.

"That's been a very important tool" suggests that Cheney does have knowledge of the use of this 'tool'. How could he know 'dunking in water' was an important tool if it's never been used?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:36 PM on October 26, 2006


Pastabagel and Mister_A, you are right: if I was a lawyer, I would need reams of evidence (and piles of money) to take legal action against Cheney and other enablers of Torture. But I'm not a lawyer and I'm not mounting a lawsuit. I'm just some dude on 'teh internets.'

To me it's perfectly clear what Cheney is saying, and who he is, and what he stands for.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:40 PM on October 26, 2006


Me too.
posted by Mister_A at 1:42 PM on October 26, 2006


Thank you, Mister_A! I owe you a pie.

Fuzzy Monster - I understand your point, and as far as voters are concerned, everyone gets the picture. The bigger picture problem is in the future, when some other president, D or R, needs to get tough on terrorism because of an attack, the law and the courts, need to have an established precedent setting a low bar for torture (i.e. more things are torture, not fewer), and establishing that torture is illegal and that powerful people will be punished for authorizing it.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:43 PM on October 26, 2006


Pastabagel, I can agree with that. Drinks all around!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:48 PM on October 26, 2006


Pastabagel and Mister_A - yeah I think what FM, prostyle, and others are saying is that in the kiddie dreamland of the courts and their legalese, Cheney et al could probably mount some sort of marginally plausible defense. But in the real world we ALL know what's going on, and it stinks. Even if they can't be convicted of anything.
On preview, bottoms up!
posted by zoinks at 1:51 PM on October 26, 2006


I volunteer to be John Power Irish whiskey-boarded!
posted by Mister_A at 2:00 PM on October 26, 2006


ewkpates - The people doing it are get shot down and blown up every day. They are torturing to survive, to protect their families and their friends, and to ensure that America is safe on their watch.

This is the mentality of soldiers.


Sorry bud - I got shot at over that desert country, but I'd never consider torture - nor would my compatriots. Don't try to speak for other soldiers as a testament to my(and their) mentality - you'll only make a further ass out of yourself.

But are you even a soldier, or have you just read to many wannabee novels?

Also, lets raise our hands ewkpates and dsquid - who here's been to SERE school? Well - my hand is up, and let's just say I have a DAMN good idea of what waterboarding is all about - and it's torture.

Save your romanticized red-neck notion of what it means to be a soldier for some other website.
posted by matty at 2:10 PM on October 26, 2006


rough ashlar - your link to articles about anti-corporatists is interesting, however I think there's one very important key factor missing. Does the opposition have a Grover Norquist. Is there a central, organizing idealogue who brings all the disparate groups together to form Voltron? Ok, if not Voltron, then at least some semblance of the type of direct coordination and influence that Norquist holds? If so, please feel free to point them out to me so I can join in supporting their cause. Otherwise, we (meaning anyone opposed to the current administration and their supporters) will never be able to unseat them from power. This is a matter of knowing the battelfield. You can vote and sue all you want. We will still be trailing them as long as they have the back channels and organizations in place to funnel their people into the halls of power. I love me some Jello Biafra and his anti-corporate screeds. I love the irreverence of many outspoken anti-Republicrats and anti-corporatists. But I also know that anarchists cannot defeat anything but themselves, simply due the fact that they cannot organize enough to effectively compete. We love the Matrix because it's the little guy defeating the system. We love Star Wars because it's the rebels winning over the Empire. But reality is not the movies. Having things coordinated, planned, executed with precision, with implicit support and infallable conviction are the only tools that will unseat the current power brokers.

But, you know how this goes. No one said it would be easy. Or something anyone is willing to do. Or willing to pay for. And that's one thing it will take. Money. Time. Planning. And above all, leadership with a single goal. Removing those who enable the ones in political power. Surplanting them. Replacing their channels of communication. Their channels of funding. Their channels of control. For this you need true believers. For this you need educated and indoctrinated foot soldiers, willing to lay down their stake in being an individual for the goal of being in power. And you don't find those people here. You find them in the machine. You find them in the system already. You find them pledging money to television preachers. You find them giving donations to the GOP.

Of course, I learned all this by watching movies and reading fiction. So take all this with a ton of salt and a little paprika to give it that zest.
posted by daq at 2:18 PM on October 26, 2006


Why are you guys jumping on Pastabagel?

I could go for the snark because Dios and PP arn't here....

But the comment about being impotent and ineffective comes to MY mind.

And it was refeshing to see an admission that PastaBagle is willing to consider his own impotent, ineffectiveness.


He is stating what should be obvious, ie, that you need some sort of evidence of waterboarding conducted by US intelligence personnel or contractors operating under the orders of US personnel, in order to pursue legal action related to that waterboarding. And you would need very convincing evidence that this torture was indeed sanctioned by Cheney in order to prosecute him for these offenses.
posted by Mister_A at 1:32 PM PST


And given such a high bar, what outcome is to be expected...other than impotent and ineffective action? The 'lack of direct evidence' leads to unpersuasiveness, no?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:49 PM on October 26, 2006


Evil Empires: one down, one to go…
posted by Jatayu das at 2:51 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]



“who here's been to SERE school?”
Hi there!

“In war, you kill or you get killed. There are no ethics. There is no level to which you won't sink. It's war. Collapse of the social contract. Savage time.”

Jumped right over “wrong” into “stupid.” Not a personal attack, that statement is idotic. (And well addressed by matty)

“A lot of you hippies could use a good waterboarding.
It'd take the edge off of that patchouli cloud that's following you around.” - posted by dsquid

As pro-vet and pro-troop as I am, anyone participating in a war crime, torture, what have you - can be executed for it, and in my opinion should be. It’s as bad as or worse than cowardice in the face of the enemy or disobeying a direct order in combat.

Why do you think officers carry sidearms?

I’d go further to say that were I to discover an individual who had done such things and who had escaped prosecution for it, I would do everything in my power to make sure justice was done. And in my estimation, and this is the sole exception to my opposition on the death penalty, putting some sadistic piece of shit in a grave would take the edge off of endangering the lives and welfare of my brothers.

Let me lay it out for you wannabe fuckheads - even if torture “works” (and it doesn’t) it makes the opposition resist that much more. Who’s going to surrender if they know they’re going to be tortured?
Which means more casualties for the people actually doing the fighting, people I care about, as opposed to those “supporting the troops” with lipservice while their asses remain planted in their barcaloungers.

A lot of people must have missed high school history class.
The Ku Klux Act suspended habeus corpus as well in 1871 (later ruled unconstitutional), but they were burning people in their homes (whites too) and were using violence to influence politics. In the mid 20s they had over 6 million members. Fundimentally a terrorist organization. And Cheney is telling us we’re in danger and we need to torture people now when we didn’t then? Bull shit.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:55 PM on October 26, 2006 [4 favorites]


Pastabagel: If you have known in your heart all along that the torture was mandated from the top of the administration and conducted on a regular basis, and that it has been going on for years, then you are the most impotent, ineffective, unpersuasive group of people ever to walk the face of the planet earth.

If you knew this stuff was going all along and you didn't like it, then you, the royal you, are the worst kind of useless. People have overthrown governments for less that what you all are saying happened. And yet what have you done? Posting blogs about it? Reading Kos? God helps us all.


Pastabagel, even without establishing Bush's responsibility, I would have expected that US public opinion would have been so revolted by the pictures from Abu Ghraib, released in April 2004, that they would have voted Bush out of office the following November (which is how you overthrow the government in a democracy). Unfortunately Bush managed to evade responsibility.

I would guess that most of the people here voted against Bush in 2004, and perhaps contributed money and volunteer time to the Democrats. And I assume that they'll be doing the same in the 2006 congressional elections, which are coming up in about a week and a half.

Here's a summary of some of the major developments in the Bush administration's policies regarding prisoners; the US use of torture; and public knowledge about it.

1. The Bush administration establishes military commissions to try suspected al-Qaeda members or supporters. November 2001.

2. The Bush administration states that it will not adhere to the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners captured in Afghanistan. February 2002.

3. Photos from Abu Ghraib released. April 2004.

Essays by Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books: Torture and Truth. The Logic of Torture. Abu Ghraib: The Hidden Story.

In the wake of Abu Ghraib, White House memos on policy regarding treatment of prisoners have been leaked or made public.

Here's an example:
Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush's legal policies in the "war on terror" than John Yoo. This is a remarkable feat, because Yoo was not a cabinet official, not a White House lawyer, and not even a senior officer within the Justice Department. He was merely a mid-level attorney in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel with little supervisory authority and no power to enforce laws. Yet by all accounts, Yoo had a hand in virtually every major legal decision involving the US response to the attacks of September 11, and at every point, so far as we know, his advice was virtually always the same— the president can do whatever the president wants.

Yoo's most famous piece of advice was in an August 2002 memorandum stating that the president cannot constitutionally be barred from ordering torture in wartime—even though the United States has signed and ratified a treaty absolutely forbidding torture under all circumstances, and even though Congress has passed a law pursuant to that treaty, which without any exceptions prohibits torture. Yoo reasoned that because the Constitution makes the president the "Commander-in-Chief," no law can restrict the actions he may take in pursuit of war. On this reasoning, the president would be entitled by the Constitution to resort to genocide if he wished.
David Cole summarizes:
Since the first few days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has taken the view that the President has unilateral, unchecked authority to wage a war, not only against those who attacked us on that day, but against all terrorist organizations of potentially global reach. The administration claims that the President's role as commander in chief of the armed forces grants him exclusive authority to select "the means and methods of engaging the enemy." And it has interpreted that power in turn to permit the President to take actions many consider illegal.

The Justice Department has maintained that the President can order torture, notwithstanding a criminal statute and an international treaty prohibiting torture under all circumstances. President Bush has authorized the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, despite a comprehensive statute that makes such surveillance a crime. He has approved the "disappearance" of al-Qaeda suspects into secret prisons where they are interrogated with tactics that include waterboarding, in which the prisoner is strapped down and made to believe he will drown. He has asserted the right to imprison indefinitely, without hearings, anyone he considers an "enemy combatant," and to try such persons for war crimes in ad hoc military tribunals lacking such essential safeguards as independent judges and the right of the accused to confront the evidence against him.

In advocating these positions, which I will collectively call "the Bush doctrine," the administration has brushed aside legal objections as mere hindrances to the ultimate goal of keeping Americans safe. It has argued that domestic criminal and constitutional law are of little concern because the President's powers as commander in chief override all such laws; that the Geneva Conventions, a set of international treaties that regulate the treatment of prisoners during war, simply do not apply to the conflict with al-Qaeda; and more broadly still, that the President has unilateral authority to defy international law. In short, there is little to distinguish the current administration's view from that famously espoused by President Richard Nixon when asked to justify his authorization of illegal, warrantless wiretapping of Americans during the Vietnam War: "When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."

If another nation's leader adopted such positions, the United States would be quick to condemn him or her for violating fundamental tenets of the rule of law, human rights, and the separation of powers. But President Bush has largely gotten away with it, at least at home, for at least three reasons. His party holds a decisive majority in Congress, making effective political checks by that branch highly unlikely. The Democratic Party has shied away from directly challenging the President for fear that it will be viewed as soft on terrorism. And the American public has for the most part offered only muted objections.
The only serious setback to the Bush administration so far as been the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which Cole discusses. And the latest polls indicate that the Republicans will lose control of the House of Representatives, while keeping the Senate.
posted by russilwvong at 3:32 PM on October 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


Waterboarding is totally awesome, though most my friends prefer waterskiing!
posted by wumpus at 3:50 PM on October 26, 2006


[spits]

The point isn't that the Vice-President [spits] has legally confessed to committing or authorizing crimes.

The point is that he's made statements that would lead any reasonable person to believe that he's authorized Americans to do things that are probably war crimes and certainly despicable.

These statements should be investigated by an independent prosecutor. Starr was investigating Clinton based on nothing at all for almost two years at taxpayers' expense and found nothing (before Clinton finally got the blowjob).

In a fair world, Cheney and Halliburton would be thoroughly investigated, billions of dollars stolen from the taxpayers would be returned, and Cheney would be in jail.

And, Pastabagel et al? Your legalisms are puerile. Your gold standard for honesty appears to be "statements that do not provide legal proof of crimes". Is that the best you hope from your elected officials?

And berating us for not taking to the streets or whatever violent action you're vaguely hinting at is just as childish.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:13 PM on October 26, 2006


When you're a kid, and you're hanging out at the local public pool, there are always kids who get dunked and held under the water "as a joke" by other kids. When they're caught and chastised, those other kids always claim that they weren't really going to hurt 'em, and didn't think there was anything wrong with it, or they were just "playing". Trouble is, the kids being dunked don't know that, and they're *terrified*, and so they cry "uncle" (or at least make bubbles trying to do so, or gasp it when they're allowed to gasp for air) and the other kid lets them up. The kid being dunked doesn't *mean* it when he says uncle, heck, he'd saying anything at all if it means he can survive.

And that pretty much sums up this whole thing.
posted by davejay at 5:27 PM on October 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


As far as I can tell, Pastabagel's not asking for evidence of Cheney's crimes to make our lives harder, rain on our parade, or to defend Cheney. No, I think Pastabagel would quite like to send Cheney to jail. If this is raining on our hate parade, maybe Pastabagel is right that we need to get back to work against the corrupt, immoral, malcompetent bastards running our government.

Maybe if Pastabagel started posts with a, "Fuck Bush," it'd be obvious which team he or she is on, amirite?
posted by Richard Daly at 6:02 PM on October 26, 2006


I wish there were more passive advertising being used against this kind of atrocity.

Why hasn't one of our megawealthy nouveau internet billionaires hired a hotshot designer to come up with billboards showing some swarthy guy being waterboarded with And whatsoever you do unto others, you shall do unto Me. (Col. 3:17&23) written across.

Why do we not have full-page advertisements publicising these atrocities and how they are fully contrary to multiple international agreements?

Dammit, more people would do the right thing if only they were forced to confront the inhumanity of what's being done in their name!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:06 PM on October 26, 2006


It's weird how whenever someone says "How come you guys don't DO something about these evil men in power?" someone else always says "We can't do anything, it's not OUR fault."
And yet, somehow, you guys keep on claiming to be democratic. Not only that, but the bestest of the best of "free" nations. By the people, for the people, yadda yadda...
posted by nightchrome at 6:24 PM on October 26, 2006


AstroZombie, I know you ment 'lock', but there's something about 'ock' that I dig. Ock: (verb), A duplicitous seizure of the high ground while strip mining its very foundations.
posted by hobocode at 7:17 PM on October 26, 2006


nightchrome, I think you have democracy and anarchy mixed up.
posted by fenriq at 7:28 PM on October 26, 2006


"It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said.yes

yes. indeed it is.
posted by quonsar at 7:32 PM on October 26, 2006


This is what the people get when they do what they're doing, nightchrome.

For a while I've been thinking about writing a book about America for non-Americans. What it's really like. United States Reality. I should recruit some mefites.
posted by blacklite at 7:37 PM on October 26, 2006


And yet, somehow, you guys keep on claiming to be democratic. Not only that, but the bestest of the best of "free" nations.

The "bestest of the best of 'free' nations"? Who is "you guys", nightchrome?
posted by Stauf at 7:37 PM on October 26, 2006


Dammit, more people would do the right thing if only they were forced to confront the inhumanity of what's being done in their name!

No, they wouldn't---the whole country saw the Lynndie England/Abu Ghraib pics and turned away--they didn't want to see what was and is being done in our name. Some assholes even imitated them--waterboarding is not going to wake them up now.
posted by amberglow at 8:39 PM on October 26, 2006


Orwell, 1945:
The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one's own mind.
Who still supports Bush and the war in Iraq?

The Economist, January 2003:
Peter Feaver of Duke University, co-author of a forthcoming book on public opinion and war, says that since the Korean war 10% of Americans have opposed all military action (that was the share against war in Afghanistan). The administration cannot win them over. One-third support all wars (that was the share that backed the Vietnam war to the end).
The Poor Man refers to this as the BTKWB limit.
posted by russilwvong at 8:53 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


posted by five fresh fish Why hasn't one of our megawealthy nouveau internet billionaires hired a hotshot designer to come up with billboards showing some swarthy guy being waterboarded with And whatsoever you do unto others, you shall do unto Me. (Col. 3:17&23) written across.

Here you go. Internet billionaires and other interested parties can reach me by emailing matt at the dot net of fandango.

Have pen, will travel.

Bring back the IMG tag!
posted by fandango_matt at 10:27 PM on October 26, 2006


Too wordy, far too wordy, the bit at the end. Try laying it out as "Col3:17 And whatsoever you do unto others...". In big, big letters (but no more than about 1/3 the board, if possible!), like Cooper. Something solid and traditional. Or possibly, if research showed it, there's a common typeface being used in a a large majority of the, er, guidebooks they use in churches (not the hymnal, the other...) And, sweet lordy, yes, that is the perfect image, far better than I'd ever imagined! (I was stuck on waterboarding, but the religious overtone is just. so. perfect.)

The words "Vote Wisely" might be appropriate. Perhaps in red.

Come to think of it, that image and "Vote Wisely: You May Be Next" might have enough Orwellian overtone to scare people into rejecting the lunatics who are currently entrenched in power.

'cause it's not so much the country needs to vote Democrat so much as it needs to vote for people ... well, like whatever it is I read today about why Obama appeals strongly to voters. We need more people like that.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 PM on October 26, 2006


The Torture Election
posted by amberglow at 11:14 PM on October 26, 2006


Democratic senators voted against it. We wouldn't have that authority today if they were in charge. That's a very important issue in this campaign.

Democrats, soft on torture. Can't wait to see the ad.
posted by NewBornHippy at 11:34 PM on October 26, 2006


That's a great article, amberglow. It explains the Republican strategy:
... as the election season began, the leaders of the Republican Party, in charge of both the presidency and Congress, were trying to turn the election into a referendum on torture, which they favored.
So that explains Cheney's comments--claim that only Republicans are tough enough to do what's necessary, Democrats are too squeamish and too concerned about terrorists' rights.
posted by russilwvong at 11:56 PM on October 26, 2006


Why did the US overthrow Saddam Hussein again?
posted by russilwvong at 11:57 PM on October 26, 2006


fenriq: So what you're saying is, the majority of Americans approve, and thus it's outta your hands?
Somehow that just makes it worse. A lot of the anti-Bush administration people keep claiming "most of us aren't like that, most of us don't support this stuff". Well, is it a majority or isn't it?
You guys (meaning Americans constantly posting on the topic) keep complaining, and yet, your fellows keep electing these chumps in. If the majority of Americans support this stuff, and most of the rest of the world doesn't, do we just write you off until you snap out of it?
posted by nightchrome at 12:42 AM on October 27, 2006


posted by nightchrome fenriq: So what you're saying is, the majority of Americans approve, and thus it's outta your hands?
Somehow that just makes it worse. A lot of the anti-Bush administration people keep claiming "most of us aren't like that, most of us don't support this stuff". Well, is it a majority or isn't it?
You guys (meaning Americans constantly posting on the topic) keep complaining, and yet, your fellows keep electing these chumps in. If the majority of Americans support this stuff, and most of the rest of the world doesn't, do we just write you off until you snap out of it?


What do you recommend we do, nightchrome? Pass out leaflets? Set up a pirate radio station? Pick up rifles and storm the White House? I'm always intrigued by people like you who seem to be claiming we aren't doing enough, but you never seem to have an answer as to what more we ought to be doing.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:06 AM on October 27, 2006


fandango_matt: So what you're saying is that, while you are upset about what is being done in your name, you are not upset enough to take the risk of jeopardizing your comfortable lifestyle by making political action your number one priority?
What's being done is bad, but not bad enough to warrant any life-altering action such as focusing entirely on taking over what passes for your "opposition" party and trying to win back your country?
So we should just write this all off as idle complaints then?
I don't have to claim you aren't doing enough, it's self-evident.
posted by nightchrome at 1:20 AM on October 27, 2006


fandango_matt: So what you're saying is that, while you are upset about what is being done in your name, you are not upset enough to take the risk of jeopardizing your comfortable lifestyle by making political action your number one priority?

Wrong. I asked you a question, which you've avoided answering, presumably because you don't have an answer.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:23 AM on October 27, 2006


That's odd, because I distinctly remember saying "action such as focusing entirely on taking over what passes for your 'opposition' party and trying to win back your country".
Go out there, start a grassroots organization to take over your Democratic party at a local level and replace ineffectual twats with real human beings.
Better yet, do that in a locale where it would turn the tide in an election.
posted by nightchrome at 1:28 AM on October 27, 2006


But it's interesting that you demand I provide you with a solution. I'm not the one who is tacitly endorsing torture through inaction.
I'm sorry, just saying "Well I don't agree with them, that's not my fault." isn't enough.
In any case, someone being waterboarded likely cannot hear your protestations.
posted by nightchrome at 1:33 AM on October 27, 2006


No, you're the one criticizing everyone by suggesting we're not doing enough to stop it, and then offering, "start a grassroots organization to take over your Democratic party at a local level and replace ineffectual twats with real human beings, [preferably] in a locale where it would turn the tide in an election" as a way to stop the torture. Uh, hello? That's what some of us are already doing--but more to the point, you've got a lot to learn about the way in which the American democratic process and elections work.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:44 AM on October 27, 2006


Or doesn't work, as the case may be.
I'm glad you feel you are personally doing enough, and that these events being perpetrated are not staining your hands because you're sure that someone, somewhere out there must be doing something about it. Feel free to continue chatting on the net about how much it all sucks guilt-free, I guess.
posted by nightchrome at 1:56 AM on October 27, 2006


meh, even I admit I'm just being a dick now.
Maybe you're right, maybe there isn't anything you can do.
It just seems to me like everyone is talking outrage from the comfort of their computer desk.
I don't want to write you guys off. I don't want to believe you're all just sitting in that handbasket to hell arguing over who called shotgun first.
If I didn't care, I wouldn't get so riled up on the topic and post antagonistic crap on mefi. Maybe it's time to stop caring, I dunno.
Sorry I flamed you.
posted by nightchrome at 2:07 AM on October 27, 2006


And you, too, ought to continue to chat guilt-free--I'm assuming you must not be an American citizen, otherwise you'd quit whatever cushy job keeps you ensconced in the Land of the Rising Sun and move back home to work toward overturning the parties in power.

Of course, since you aren't an American citizen, I'm assuming you're still going to quit that cushy job so you can devote your time to pressuring your government to stop doing business with my government unless it ends the horrors at Guantanamo and elsewhere. You're probably also looking into boycotting all things American, and giving all your income to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Otherwise, you'd be just another hypocrite, condemning everyone because you don't think they're doing enough.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:10 AM on October 27, 2006


Yes, well, thanks. It's not that nothing can be done; it's that we have to work within the social contract to enact the change we wish to see. Unfortunately even though I donated time, money, and the usual pre-election rabble-rousing in my circle of influence, the candidate(s) for whom I voted lost. But that's democracy, and part of the social contract is accepting the fact you don't always win and you live with the results until the next election instead of attempting assassinations.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:32 AM on October 27, 2006


Bush v. Gore
posted by rxrfrx at 4:44 AM on October 27, 2006


When his captors waterboarded him at SERE school, he broke in about 30 seconds and gave up the locations and names of all of his unit, revealed the information he was told to keep secret, everything.

So torture works, huh?

(Not surprising -- let's go of this sickeningly paltry reason for objecting to torture)
posted by dreamsign at 6:16 AM on October 27, 2006



For a while I've been thinking about writing a book about America for non-Americans. What it's really like. United States Reality. I should recruit some mefites.
posted by blacklite at 10:37 PM EST on October 26


Sign me up.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:00 AM on October 27, 2006


I'm a little confused about the argument.

1. People trained by the US military think torture is unethical.
2. Unless you are a solider, you shouldn't make statements about ethics in war.

Well, I think war is unethical. As soon as you decide to go to war, then you should fight to win, not fight to "follow rules while shooting the other guy and sometimes accidentially shooting/bombing women and children.

I am still baffled why everyone thinks waterboarding is wrong, but war itself isn't just as wrong, or more wrong, or even wronger.
posted by ewkpates at 7:50 AM on October 27, 2006


When his captors waterboarded him at SERE school, he broke in about 30 seconds and gave up the locations and names of all of his unit, revealed the information he was told to keep secret, everything.

So torture works, huh?


I've been wondering about that. In the example provided, the SERE students did, in fact have information that they were trying not to divulge. What I'm curious about is if their captors had asked them questions they could not possibly know the answers to, if they would have made up answers to make the interrogation stop.

From what I've read, this seems to be a likely case, but I'd be interested to see a practical example of it.

Moral and ethical considerations aside, I guess it comes down to this; waterbording probably works. The problem is that it is only useful if the person you are using it on actually knows something. I'm betting that it works so well that the people will make shit up just to make it stop. So if you grab some poor farmer who has never been within a thousand yards of a terrorist and apply your 'interrogation technique' he will eventually admit to wanting to blow up the White House. This makes it a useless tool. Eliciting a confession from someone who doesn't know anything is only useful if you are looking for a scapegoat. It will never provide you with useful intelligence.

Moral and ethical considerations not aside, it's fucking torture and it's absurd that we need to have this debate.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, if you advocate this as a viable mechanism for extracting information and you don't believe it's torture, would you be willing to undergo it yourself? What about one of your family members? And if not, why not?
posted by quin at 8:07 AM on October 27, 2006


nightchrome: You guys (meaning Americans constantly posting on the topic) keep complaining, and yet, your fellows keep electing these chumps in. If the majority of Americans support this stuff, and most of the rest of the world doesn't, do we just write you off until you snap out of it?

Why do you assume Americans are not trying to do something? Is it because you don't see it in the mainstream media? The same mainstream media outlets who refuse to cover "third parties" for fear of taking power away from the party they quietly back, and pretend entire political movements don't exist?

The outrage in America is real; to think it has provoked no action is to believe the propaganda. But though awareness is seeping in to the general populace, fear is deeply entrenched, and fear makes the strongest resistance imaginable.

Anyone know how to change that? We're all ears over here.
posted by zennie at 8:23 AM on October 27, 2006


Also, we don't "keep doing" anything. There was one presidential election where the issue came up. It's not like we have elections every week.

That said, the president's approval ratings are down to 30%.

As to the question of "would you like to undergo the torture yourself" I think waterboarding is torture and that torture is wrong, but I am quite certain that if the insurgent captured me, waterboarding might very well be the best thing that could happen. I think I'd rather undergo waterboarding than have my head cut off.

I am still baffled why everyone thinks waterboarding is wrong, but war itself isn't just as wrong, or more wrong, or even wronger.
posted by ewkpates at 10:50 AM EST on October 27


Forget the ethical considerations about torture for a second, ewkpates. The reason you don't torture is because you want your enemy to know that if they are caught, i.e. if they surrender, they'll be treated humanely, safely, etc. This encourages enemy figthers on the margin, who are tired, hungry, scared, whatever, to just give up. Better to shuffle around a prison camp eating a hot meal a day than getting shot at, bombed, etc. Why do you think droves of Iraqi soldiers surrendered in the 91 war and in this one?

Now, though, we have a problem. Everyone, i.e. the bad guys, have seen the abu ghraib pictures, they hear stories about americans torturing. Now the fighters on the margin is going to keep fighting, because he knows if he's captured, he's screwed. And the Iraqi citizenry won't feel as horrified to see Americans tortured by insurgents if they think we are doing it too.

Ethically, war is a political tool. The war is fought against the commanders, the political leaders who are ordering attacks, etc. The soldiers are doing their jobs. They may believe in the cause, but it's not fair and immoral to take out your hatred of the enemy, i.e. the political enemy, on some grunt who couldn't run away fast enough.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:37 AM on October 27, 2006


if the insurgent captured me, waterboarding might very well be the best thing that could happen. I think I'd rather undergo waterboarding than have my head cut off.

And I'd rather have my head cut off than have my entire family killed by bombs. This is not a legitimate comparison.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:41 AM on October 27, 2006


I think I'd rather undergo waterboarding than have my head cut off.

How would you feel about it if the waterboarding meant a false confession to be used against you? Or false information to be used against someone else? Or the name of someone you know, who will then be captured and tortured? Because make no mistake, everyone who gets tortured has valuable information to provide.
posted by zennie at 9:11 AM on October 27, 2006


ewkpates: I am still baffled why everyone thinks waterboarding is wrong, but war itself isn't just as wrong, or more wrong, or even wronger.

You can't always avoid war. But if you end up fighting a war, you don't just throw all the rules out the window. You have to draw the line somewhere (would you torture a prisoner's infant to make him talk?). A summary I wrote up here:

During wartime, the laws of war (as commonly accepted in the West) require protection of non-combatants, including civilians as well as soldiers who surrender or are captured. They can't be tortured, raped, summarily executed, starved, or worked to death. (Think of all the things the Nazis or the Japanese did during World War II.)

Attacks on military targets may endanger non-combatants. The laws of war recognize this, and require proportionality: the risk to non-combatants must be proportional to the (concrete and immediate) military benefit of the action. Bombing an entire city, for example, as happened on both sides during World War II, violates the laws of war. Destroying a dam or nuclear power plant is prohibited if it would release deadly forces endangering civilians. Smart bombs which miss their target and kill civilians do not violate the laws of war, provided that reasonable precautions were taken to prevent this from happening.

For a good handbook on the subject of the laws of war, see Crimes of War, ed. Roy Gutman and David Rieff.
posted by russilwvong at 9:39 AM on October 27, 2006


Re: SERE school: hell yeah torture worked in this case.

The problem in SERE was that the captors knew the information in the first place, they knew the victims had it, and the victims knew all of the above.

In the real world, it's entirely possible that the victim is innocent; that they have no idea what the captors are looking for; and that all they know is that the captors want some sort of damning claim that will reinforce the captors' preconceptions. e.g., "my neighbor is a Taliban high commander who was planning WMD attacks against the Sears Tower".

Torture works great if you already know many salient details of the information, and are merely looking for reinforcement or confession. It is not that great when used in a fishing expedition. Which, surprise, is how every communicating released member from the CIA and Guantanamo process describes it as happening.

Oh, and it scars people for life, turns nonpartisans into partisans, inflames the entire civilized and slightly uncivilized world, and justifies the behavior of the most brutal dictators and murderers in the world.

But apart from that it's awesome.
posted by felix at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2006


To expand on the importance of not throwing out all the rules when you fight a war:

War is a means, not an end in itself. If you subordinate all other considerations (political and ethical) to military victory, you're likely to fail to achieve your original objectives.

In the case of the Iraq War, the original objective of the war (as I understand it) was to extend US power into the Middle East. But power ultimately depends on consent, not just force--you can't hold a gun to everyone's head. And the pictures which came out of Abu Ghraib made it impossible for the US ever to win the consent of Iraqis for a US-backed government.

I've posted about the importance of consent before. Louis Halle, The Cold War as History (1967), explains why the US could not use its atomic monopoly immediately after World War II to rule the world:
... real power is always something far greater than military power alone. A balance of power is not a balance of military power alone: it is, rather, a balance in which military power is one element. Even in its crudest aspect, power represents a subtle and intimate combination of force and consent. No stable government has ever existed, and no empire has ever become established, except with an immensely preponderant measure of consent on the part of those who were its subjects. That consent may be a half-grudging consent; it may be a consent based in part on awe of superior force; it may represent love, or respect, or fear, or a combination of the three. Consent, in any case, is the essential ingredient in stable power--more so than physical force, of which the most efficient and economical use is to increase consent.

By using physical force in such a way as alienates consent one constantly increases the requirements of physical force to replace the consent that has been alienated. A vicious spiral develops that, continued, ends in the collapse of power. If the Government in Washington had undertaken to use the atomic bomb to control the world it would surely have ended by incurring the fanatical hostility of the world's peoples, with incalculable consequences. It would have found itself trying to dominate the world by terror alone; it would have found itself driven to ever greater extremes of ruthlessness; and the requirements of a totally ruthless policy would, at last, have compelled it to establish a tyranny over the American people as well as over the rest of mankind. At some point early in this progress, however, it would have fallen and been replaced.
posted by russilwvong at 10:41 AM on October 27, 2006


The White House is now saying that when Cheney said waterboarding was used and OK, he really didn't mean waterboarding was used and was OK.
Got it?
Now we know why such blatant lies are called spin.
posted by nofundy at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2006


CNN story. The White House is claiming that Cheney wasn't referring to waterboarding.
The administration has repeatedly refused to say which techniques they believe are permitted under the new law. Asked to define a dunk in water, [Tony] Snow said, "It's a dunk in the water."
The Bush administration has no regard for the truth. If it'll gain them some political advantage, they'll deny the truth with no shame whatsoever.

Washington Post: The Year of Playing Dirtier. Via www.electoral-vote.com.
posted by russilwvong at 1:17 PM on October 27, 2006


“I think I'd rather undergo waterboarding than have my head cut off.”

I agree with your other points, but good luck maintaining that mindset while you’re being waterboarded. I understand a lot of folks in Gitmo have attempted suicide, they obviously don’t think the same way.

“Unless you are a solider, you shouldn't make statements about ethics in war.”

No, unless you have an informed opinion, you shouldn’t derive statements about the hard realities of something from broader vague impressions. I myself avoid arguing with IT professionals about the practical realities of their jobs even though I’ve formed some vague impressions from some observations.
Ethics in war is based upon practical realities. Similar to economics, there are no ‘moral’ positions in economics, just what can and cannot be done and what the costs are and whether you’re willing to pay them.
Typically an individual with combat experiance has seen the costs, knows the practical realities and, more importantly, is the one footing the bill.

“I am still baffled why everyone thinks waterboarding is wrong, but war itself isn't just as wrong, or more wrong, or even wronger.”
What russilwvong sed (outstanding comments btw).

To add - inside the theater level russilwvong addressed, there are (to continue the above) practical immediate realities to deliberately targeting civilians. I don’t think there’s any argument to “is war wrong”. Of course it’s wrong. But it’s sometimes necessary. Unfortunately it can be predicated on a lie to make it look necessary.
I would not take the position that war is in any case ‘right.’ Similarly - taking human life in any instance is also wrong. But if put in the position that either I kill someone or he kills my kids or my wife or something, that person is a corpse. It doesn’t make it right, merely a “justifiable” homicide.
From there you have a wide variety of abuses possible. Often leaflets will be dropped to inform people that the area is going to be bombed days before it is. There are other kinds of acts in war that also seek to avoid civilian casualties.
But the crude tactical reality derived from the objectives of war (remembering russilwvong’s point about consent) - you do not want to waste ammunition on someone that doesn’t want to fight you. The simplest most immediate reason for this is another basic condition of modern warfighting - suppressive fire.
MOST of the bullets any given combat unit will fire (special forces aside) takes the form of suppressive fire. (There’s an old saw about how it takes 10,000 bullets to kill one soldier in a war - that’s a misrepresentation of the reality - it only takes 1.4 bullets (roughly, I forgot the exact stat) to kill an enemy soldier. It takes the other 9,998.6 to keep him from killing you).
There is no tactical reason to direct fire at a non-combatant. Ever. Any time it happens it is a mistake (you think they might be a combatant) and one that saps resources (those bullets) and attention and energy that would be better spent keeping you and your team alive.
If you think that the enemy might be in plainclothes hiding among civilians than it might be justifiable to fire on them. A good commander would not send less trained troops into such a situation (given the option) because those troops might hesitate to fire on some “mom” looking person, who then suddenly whips out an AK-47 and kills them. By the same token, a well trained seasoned group might kill “mom” on sight. But that is for any number of immediate and direct observational reasons and not predicated on - or reason to predicate - treating any civilian in a combat zone as a constant threat.
- Which is one of the (wrongheaded) rationale as to why those prisoners are being held at Gitmo.
It doesn’t mean you don’t treat them as a potential threat until otherwise neutralized and cleared. But if they’re running away the reason you don’t shoot them in the back is because they might decide to turn around and start shooting, and because it wastes ammo better spent on someone who IS shooting back.
Practial realities. And very often those practical realities are based on mutual survival - like any form of ethics. Otherwise we’d nuke anyone who looked at us funny. The costs are too high and no one is willing to pay them.

We stopped using flamethrowers for example because they were outmoded - not because they were horrific. Same reason we don’t use crossbows anymore - even though the church had condemned them as immoral when they WERE being used.

Why do you think “samurai” and “mamaluk” and other names for the elite warrior classes translated to “servant” or “slave” or some such?
The elite warriors had, very often, nothing to lose by their deaths. (And why would anyone think that had changed?) And so could push the costs of fighting them way way up (or inflict atrocities), because they were willing to in some cases die to the last man before they surrendered. That survival matrix did not apply to them.
Bob Kerrey f’rinstance was willing to continue (and in fact lead) the mission even though a granade chewed him up and he won a CMH for it. And that is indeed truly fighting spirit. But it is also the act of a man who does not have a wife and kid to care for or elderly parents to take care of, etc. etc. (or if does, doesn’t care). Part of that is being young and that mindset (less empathy, et.al), but also - no stronger commitments.
I’m a marshmellow compared to who I was when I was in. Then, I’d saw my own right arm off if that’s what it took. Now, my first thought would be “well, jeez, I gotta finish that work on my garage, and I’ve got some trees to cut down, the wife’d kill me if I don’t get that done...isn’t there some other way to complete the mission?”

There are many people in the U.S. military who have families and who push that ethics curve the other way. They think about their kids, wife, mother, before they pull that trigger. And far from being the ethical free for all one might think war is - those connections give them less latitude on either side to act.
They won’t engage in wonton slaughter, in part because of empathy, but also because they know it diminishes unit cohesion, diminishes the chances for the survival of others in their unit (’cause if you’re shooting civilians, your not covering someone elses’ ass), which diminishes the chances they themselves will go home.
And in war, that’s the bottom line for nearly everyone in uniform. It’s core unit discipline to be more concerned for the life of the men in your unit than anything else. Has been since before we discovered the phalanx.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:20 PM on October 27, 2006


“There is no tactical reason to direct fire at a non-combatant. Ever.”
-smed

I stick by that - just want to qualify - ‘tactical.’ There might be a strategic reason to do so. Bombing Dresden comes to mind (whether one agrees with it as necessary or not - there were reasons. I would have resigned before bombing a purely civilian target, but that’s given what I know now, not what those pilots were told, what the generals believed, what the politicians thought about how long the war was going to go, etc. etc.) Lots of explainations and details I’m leaving out, but I don’t wanna write a book here (and I suspect no one wants to read all that as well). Hopefully the gist is clear enough.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2006


Thanks, Smedleyman. I'm glad you're taking part in the discussion, it's good to have someone commenting who's actually been there.
posted by russilwvong at 1:45 PM on October 27, 2006


... Notice the venue and timing of Cheney's revelation. After hedging for months about whether the administration condones waterboarding, the VP drops the bomb on a conservative radio show just before the mid-term elections.

It's a perfect little bit of political theater: Remind the base how tough you are and hope that your opponents aren't paying attention. That's what torture is all about anyway. It's not a real intelligence gathering tool, it's a branding element. ...

posted by amberglow at 2:25 PM on October 27, 2006


and this pretty much says it all: ...Our highest government officials now talk openly and enthusiastically -- almost playfully -- about taking people and "dunking them in water" -- meaning strapping them to a board, wrapping their faces in cellophane, and causing them to feel as though they are drowning to death -- only to then sermonize about the need for serious leaders to spread our civilized and democratic values around the world. And finally, Bush followers accuse their political opponents of being allies of The Terrorists and working to defeat the U.S. in its War -- indeed, that has become one of their core "arguments" -- and then afterwards piously lament that "the Left" engages in such angry and mean-spirited political dialogue and that people "in the Heartland" (who are always on their side) so very much wish the tone of politics would improve. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:33 PM on October 27, 2006


Glenn Greenwald has another blog post noting that
The so-called Military Commissions Act of 2006, signed into law yesterday [October 17] by President Bush, is replete with radical provisions, but the most dangerous and disturbing is that it vests in the President the power to detain people forever by declaring them an "unlawful enemy combatant," and they then have no ability to contest the validity of their detention in any tribunal. The President now possesses a defining authoritarian power -- to detain and imprison people for life based solely on his say-so, while denying the detainee any opportunity to prove his innocence.
Paul Krugman, One-Letter Politics:
There are two reasons why party control is everything in this election.

The first, lesser reason is the demonstrated ability of Republican Congressional leaders to keep their members in line, even those members who cultivate a reputation as moderates or mavericks. G.O.P. politicians sometimes make a show of independence, as Senator John McCain did in seeming to stand up to President Bush on torture. But in the end, they always give the White House what it wants: after getting a lot of good press for his principled stand, Mr. McCain signed on to a torture bill that in effect gave Mr. Bush a completely free hand.

And if the Republicans retain control of Congress, even if it's by just one seat in each house, Mr. Bush will retain that free hand. If they lose control of either house, the G.O.P. juggernaut will come to a shuddering halt.

Yet that's the less important reason this election is all about party control. The really important reason may be summed up in two words: subpoena power.

... while the Democrats won't gain the ability to pass laws, if they win they will gain the ability to carry out investigations, and the legal right to compel testimony.
posted by russilwvong at 3:03 PM on October 27, 2006


Torture, Moral Values, and Leadership of the Free World-- ... In the discussions of the new torture-permissive legislation the media do not bring up Bush's statement of June 26, 2003, that "Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes," and that in this struggle "we are leading this fight by example." [6] This display of hypocrisy without limit, and its unintended and unrecognized designation of the United States as a "rogue regime," would be relevant context for those seriously opposed to torture, but it is not proper context for the Democrats and mainstream media. In the media the debate over the Bush push for torture legitimation was framed around three brave Republican Senators, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner, struggling valiantly in the interest of fundamental principle and against torture, versus the "security"-focused administration. In the end, however, these valiant fighters all caved in and compromised away all principle, ...
posted by amberglow at 10:23 AM on October 28, 2006


... evil done at Abu Ghraib will live on after us for a long, long time. Greg Mitchell:
[US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein] ruled today that graphic pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America's image. Last year a Republican senator conceded that they contained scenes of "rape and murder" and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said they included acts that were "blatantly sadistic." ...

posted by amberglow at 1:27 PM on October 28, 2006


There aren't many tyrants in history who can truthfully say they put the entire future of civilization at risk just to make a buck -- but Dick Cheney can.
posted by homunculus at 6:16 PM on October 28, 2006


homunculus, the most grating thing about that article is that if the author believes what he writes, he has a responsibility to act upon it.

He does not. No one has. The population has been cowed.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:39 PM on October 28, 2006


fff, evidently you didn't click on the link--the author is Jane Smiley, a Pulitzer-winning novelist. She is acting: she's trying to mobilize public opinion against Cheney and the rest of the Bush administration. In a little over a week we'll see whether the electorate has indeed turned against the Republicans.
posted by russilwvong at 10:26 AM on October 29, 2006


No, I mean acting upon it, ie. eliminating this dire threat to our very existence. If what she writes is absolutely true, then isn't she obligated to take any action necessary to immediately and forcibly force change?

There are times assassinations are good things.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:22 PM on October 29, 2006


* SS agents (hmmm, that has a nasty ring to it) board plane for Canada.
posted by caddis at 4:31 PM on October 29, 2006


fff, click on the link. Smiley is referring to climate change. It's not just Cheney who's blocking Kyoto from going forward--Kyoto had no chance of being ratified by the Senate.

Also, there's a principle of Roman law: ultra vires nemo obligatur--beyond his ability nobody is obligated. Smiley is a novelist, not an assassin.

Finally, I don't think a society in which the threat of assassination is a significant political factor would be an improvement on the current situation. (Think of Japan during the 1930s, when militarists routinely assassinated prominent figures.) The alternative to an unacceptable situation is not necessarily better; it may be far worse.
posted by russilwvong at 9:44 PM on October 29, 2006


Shreddin' With Dick
posted by homunculus at 10:06 AM on October 31, 2006


Warning: the American people are a threat to the American people. At least, according to the vice president.
posted by homunculus at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2006


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