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Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TRADITIONAL VALUES....Janet Hook and Richard Simon write today about the political price John McCain may be paying for his stance on torture and coercive interrogation, and it contains this remarkable paragraph:

"This very definitely is going to put a chilling effect on the tremendous strides he has made in the conservative evangelical community," said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, one of several conservative activists who support Bush's proposal on interrogation techniques.

Apparently an unrestricted right for the CIA to abuse prisoners is now a traditional value. Crikey.

So what's going to happen? As much as I appreciate McCain's stand on this issue, I suspect that he'll agree to watered-down language, as he did with last year's torture bill, and that this will be further watered down by a presidential signing statement that McCain knows full well will accompany the bill. So the end result will probably be: not much. But I hope he proves me wrong.

Kevin Drum 11:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (133)

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Comments

Just don't hope too hard.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on September 19, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Someone should grab Rev. Louis P. Sheldon by his shirt forcefully and... No, wait, that's one of the CIA's torture techniques.

I'm not sure how things will break when the public learns more details of "prisoner abuse." Will McCain look like a hero when he stands against inducing hypothermia on terrorist suspects (not even the North Vietnamese did that to him when he was a POW), or will he look silly because he thinks a belly slap is too harsh?

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, don't. He isn't going to prove you wrong; we've all seen his stripes.

Posted by: Ace Franze on September 19, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

If you actually read the Old Testament, you'll see that violence and mayhem are actually traditional Christianist values.

A little smiting here, some child sacrifices there.

And remember fear' "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God."

This is perfectly consistent.

Posted by: Charles on September 19, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently an unrestricted right for the CIA to abuse prisoners is now a traditional value.

Nonsense Kevin. You just don't understand the founding fathers didn't want Congress to violate the President's war-making powers. This is what the anti-"torture" law does because it restricts George W Bush's war-making powers. This is explained by Constitutional law expert John Yoo and professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law in the New York Times.

Link

"A reinvigorated presidency enrages President Bushs critics, who seem to believe that the Constitution created a system of judicial or congressional supremacy. Perhaps this is to be expected of the generation of legislators that views the presidency through the lens of Vietnam and Watergate. But the founders intended that wrongheaded or obsolete legislation and judicial decisions would be checked by presidential action, just as executive overreaching is to be checked by the courts and Congress.

The changes of the 1970s occurred largely because we had no serious national security threats to United States soil, but plenty of paranoia in the wake of Richard Nixons use of national security agencies to spy on political opponents. Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution, which purports to cut off presidential uses of force abroad after 60 days. It passed the Budget and Impoundment Act to eliminate the modest presidential power to rein in wasteful spending. The Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act required the government to get a warrant from a special court to conduct wiretapping for national security reasons.

These statutes have produced little but dysfunction, from flouting of the war powers law, to ever-higher pork barrel spending, to the wall between intelligence and law enforcement that contributed to our failure to stop the 9/11 attacks."

Posted by: Al on September 19, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Christians love torture. Didn't you see Mel's movie??

Posted by: Grumpy on September 19, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

You forget another crucial step in neutering legislative opposition to a Bush administration position: the House/Senate conference committee. Don't expect any McCain-endorsed positions to survive these late night, closed door meetings. Opposition legislation checks in, but it doesn't check out.

Posted by: Platypus on September 19, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Charles,
Is it really that uncommon knowledge that much of the "eye for an eye" stuff in the Old Testament was replaced by the words of Jesus? That's like first day Bible class stuff... or a couple seconds actually looking into the issue using Google.

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kelvin,

Good to see you looney libs fretting about the comfort levels of bloodthirsty terrorists who want to destroy our freedoms, but when it comes to support our boys and girls in Iraq, it's all "Let's head for the hills, abandon the military!"

Jerks.

Posted by: egbert on September 19, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Good to see you looney libs fretting about the comfort levels of bloodthirsty terrorists who want to destroy our freedoms, but when it comes to support our boys and girls in Iraq, it's all "Let's head for the hills, abandon the military!""

Good to see you just making shit up to complain about, asshole.

Posted by: brewmn on September 19, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

My take on the Republican/ McCain endgame is pretty different from yours: after stringing this out for another week or two, Republicans cut a "compromise" deal among themselves, with Straight Talking Maverick Republican Saint John McCain , John Warner and Lindsay Graham joining hands with George Allen and every other endangered Republican and singing the national anthem on the Capitol steps while the press celebrates their courage in standing up to a White House run amok. The script has Bush backing down, not McCain.

What's it going to take for us to shake off this stupor we're in? It's painful to watch these lickspittle Republicans putting on a show of standing up to Bush, thereby inoculating themselves against the (well-deserved and otherwise devastating) charge of being Rubber Stamp Republicans while we watch it all go down like it was somebody else's business.

We may be ahead, but we should be *creaming* these guys right now. Katrina, Iraq, Abramoff, the deficit, stem cells... even the conduct of the War on Terra. There is nothing these guys are doing right, and there is no issue we need to afraid to engage them on.

Posted by: Eric on September 19, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

same old same old.

Posted by: jeff on September 19, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently an unrestricted right for the CIA to abuse prisoners is now a traditional value. Crikey.

Two words: Spanish. Inquisition.

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 19, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that in the year 2006 Americans are actually debating whether to write torture -- torture, the tool of the evil, perverted and weak -- into law is almost too surreal, bizarre and pathetic to contemplate. Have we truly sunk so low?

At least when the Soviets tortured people they had the good grace to deny it -- they didn't boast about it and write it into the law, as we're doing now in this sad and sickening spectacle.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,
They are? Cool!

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Christians love torture. Didn't you see Mel's movie??

I know, that was totally an allegory of our occupation of Iraq. A hegemonic world power occupies a middle eastern nation. One of the natives is falsely denounced by his neighbors as spreading anti-imperialist sentiment (perhaps even inspiring insurgency) and he's whisked away to the Abu Ghraib, I mean, pilate's palace, where a few bad apples maltreat and kill him.

Really, quite surprising how well the film did in the heartland considering how strongly pro-Bush voters there are said to be.

Posted by: moderleft on September 19, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert and AL-
Neither one of you had a substantial agrument about HOW is it that Christian values can actually endorse the use of torture on anyone.
Please give me a real example of "who would jesus torture".?

Isn't this really how the social right isn't for "values", but really "power"? there is nothing christian about it.

Posted by: cboas on September 19, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

dj moonbat,
Two words: Comfy. Chair.

BTW, the Guardian has the proposed CIA interrogation techniques for those interested. I wonder how often the "attention grab" breaks down a prisoner?

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Preview is my friend.

Here's the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1874823,00.html

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, Bush isn't asking for the power to torture. His proposal includes using cold rooms and sleep deprivation. These aren't nice, but they different from true torture.

Second, in order to protect our troops, we need reciprocity. If we guarantee good treatment to the enemy even though the enemy treats our troops badly, then they have no reason NOT to treat our troops better.

Third, it's not a case of Bush taking dictatorial power. He's asking Congress for a law. Historically Commanders in Chief have had the power to do what they wanted to terrorists, because terrorists weren't covered by the Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court made a bad decision.

Forth, the most important civil liberties step the President can take is to win the war against the terrorists. He needs to do whatever it takes to win.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

You all talk about "torture", but, if you don't allow the CIA to use the interrogation techniques they are asking, what can you use?

How many lives are worth keeping a terrorist suspect from standing for a long time? Is that a winning issue?

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

unfortunately American chrsitians don't follow the teachings of jesus christ. They follow the teachings of the anti-christ.

Everything they do and believe in is the OPPOSITE of what jesus taught

LOVE THEY NEIGHBOR'-- American christians want to exclude, oppress, spy on and kill their neighbor

SHUN MATERIAL WEALTH - American christians worship wealth and material acquisitiveness. To them WEALTH is a "sign from God"

SHUN PUBLIC WORSHIP; KEEP GOD IN YOUR CLOSET -- Are there any people on EARTH who make such a public show of their alleged piety than American christians? I don't think so

EMBRACE THE POOR, DOWNTRODDEN, HUNGRY -- American christians sneer derisively at anyone who isnt rich and white. They regard those less fortunate as "lazy" and have no compassion for anyone whatsoever

JESUS THREW THE BANKERS OUT OF THE TEMPLE -- American christianity would not survive without MONEY which it lewdly and laciviously solitics on TV, radio, in public and every chance they get. The Church is so corrupted by money there is no faith recognizable anymore (not since the 4th century when Constantine really started corrupting the church)

JESUS SAID, IF YOU COME UPON A MAN WITH A BELIEF. . . LET HIM BE. jesus readily understood the value of freedom of worship and discouraged his followers from trying to impose their beliefs on others. American christians feel no compunction however, about pounding on your door or ringing your bell early Sunday to preach their hollow, sad values to you.

JESUS BELIEVED IN PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND TAUGHT THAT TO HIS FOLLOWERS, American chrsitians use jesus as a crutch, holding to the belief that jesus' death somehow excuses their sins and allows them to continue sinning with impunity as long as they show up in church every sunday so their neighbors can see how pious they are.

JESUS WAS THE PRINCE OF PEACE -- American christians are warmongering murderers who embrace and endorse violence against all their enemies, be they abortion-performing doctors, homosexuals, or foreign "enemies"

jesus was born AFTER the Old Testament was written by Hebrew prophets and poets, etc. Jesus christ REJECTED the life style, values and false worship of the people in the old testament. He urged his followers to live a new way (HENCE THE NEW TESTAMENT)

Anyone claiming to be a christian who lives by the archaic and psychotic "gods" discussed in the Old Testament doesn't get christianity. Jesus had NOTHING to do with the Old Testament. You cant have it both ways.

JESUS REJECTED THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE TEMPLE IN POLITICS -(Render under Caeser....) American christians have done their level best to intermingle religion and politics and are now attempting to rewrite American history and turn this country into a theocracy.

has anyone checked out the New Hitler Youth???

http://www.jesuscampthemovie.com/


As I said, American christians follow the anti-christ.

The Book of Revelations (which by the way says NOTHING about the "rapture" -- a completely made up NON BIBLICAL fairy tale) does predict that the faithful would be led astray by the anti-christ.

Well...it's happening right here, folks

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, Bush isn't asking for the power to torture.

Yes he is.

His proposal includes using cold rooms and sleep deprivation. These aren't nice, but they different from true torture.

No, they're not, pervert. They are real torture. Induced hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation are torture techniques that most every totalitarian regime, including the Nazis, the Soviets, and the Chinese Communists, used and/or use.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

From Al:

"Nonsense Kevin. You just don't understand the founding fathers didn't want Congress to violate the President's war-making powers. This is what the anti-"torture" law does because it restricts George W Bush's war-making powers. This is explained by Constitutional law expert John Yoo and professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law in the New York Times."

Oh for God's sake...how much more explicit can the Founders be than THIS? From the Federalist No. 49 (note the second paragraph in particular, and BOLD type is mine of course):

"As the people are the ONLY LEGITIMATE FOUNTAIN OF POWER, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory, to recur to the same original authority, not only whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of the government, but also whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on the chartered authorities of the others.

The several departments being perfectly co-ordinate by the terms of their common commission, NONE OF THEM, it is evident, CAN PRETEND TO AN EXCLUSIVE OR SUPERIOR RIGHT OF SETTLING THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THEIR RESPECTIVE POWERS; and how are the encroachments of the stronger to be prevented, or the wrongs of the weaker to be redressed, without an appeal to the people themselves, who, as the grantors of the commissions, can alone declare its true meaning, and enforce its observance?

There you go, crystal clear. Two minutes with Google and he's shot down. Why are any of these people espousing exclusive executive powers given even two minutes of serious consideration in the media??

Posted by: Mary Eliz on September 19, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

uhm Charles....there were no christians in the Old Testament, because jesus hadn't been born then.

Jesus urged people to CHANGE THEIR WAYS and stop following the Old Testament's violence and greed. Hence "Good News" and the NEW TESTAMENT.

Sheesh

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

TVA statement on this

Posted by: carlotta on September 19, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Historically Commanders in Chief have had the power to do what they wanted to terrorists, because terrorists weren't covered by the Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court made a bad decision.

The claim that "terrorists weren't covered by the Geneva Convention" is a lie, and a lie that I have exposed here time and time again, so ex-liberal cannot claim ignorance. There is no "except for terrorists" exception in the Geneva Conventions, and lawbreakers, including spies and saboteurs, are explicitly covered by the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Americas New War Is With Faceless Enemy Who Attacks Unarmed and Innocent" TVA..


are they talking about Israel's cluster bombing of tens of thousands of unarmed, innocent Lebanese citizens

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

You all talk about "torture", but, if you don't allow the CIA to use the interrogation techniques they are asking, what can you use?

Same techniques the police use to extract confessions from Mafiosi, gangbangers, druglords, rapists, serial killers, pedophiles, kidnappers, etc. -- they talk to them. Simple interrogation and investigation. Or should we start allowing the police to torture domestic suspects as well?

How many lives are worth keeping a terrorist suspect from standing for a long time? Is that a winning issue?

Do you judge morality on whether it's a "winning issue"? For Republicans questions of good or evil may boil down to "is this helpful at election time" but for the rest of us we judge based on a higher standard.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Fundamentalism is religious fascism. Fascism is political fundamentalism.

There is cognitive dissonance, to be sure, between the message of Jesus and the behavior of totalitarians like Bush. But when it comes to the fear -- and the lack of willingness to take real responsibility for their own actions -- that rules the fundamentalists, they'll go for totalitarianism every time.

That's what Rove is counting on. That's all they have left. And you can bet the good little Fascists will goose-step to the polls in November. If the majority doesn't see it coming, and get to the polls themselves, well, they have only themselves to blame.

Posted by: bleh on September 19, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

For frick's sake guys, Lou Sheldon and his TVC are very minor players among evangelicals and even fundamentalists.

Sheldon is closely affiliated with Bob Jones and that's about it. among evangelicals/fundies he's nowhere near as mainstream as Falwell or Robertson.

its like assuming that EarthFirst speaks for all environmentalists.

Posted by: Nathan on September 19, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't they just put Bush's picture up instead of Jesus'? They sure act that way.

Posted by: abe on September 19, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

they do.....check my link to the Hitler youth uhmmm i mean Jesus movie above

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

America was founded on the traditional human values of killing people to steal their land and enslaving people people to make that land productive. We are desperately trying to export these values to the Middle East, and McCain is hampering that effort.

Posted by: Hostile on September 19, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I guess torture is a family value of the "Compassionate Conservative".

In other words, Bush is saying, we must behave like terrorists, in order to defeat the terrorists.

Posted by: AkaDad on September 19, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

How did that golden rule thingy go again?

"Stick it to others before they stick it to you."

(or something like that)

Posted by: Sarcastic Bastard on September 19, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently an unrestricted right for the CIA to abuse prisoners is now a traditional value. Crikey.

Two words: Spanish. Inquisition.

If you go to Tuscany, there are a number of Torture Museums scattered about. Apparently those Renaissance chaps were quite clever with mechanical devices.

Following my trip to Tuscany, I read H. Trevor-Roper's The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Other Essays. According to Trevor-Roper, through judicial torture, thousands and thousands of defendants confessed to all sorts diabolical activity. Since apparently torture is a reliable fact-gathering technique, we can only conclude that many strange things were happening in Western Europe between 1480 and 1650.

One point that - to my knowledge - no one has considered. What - exactly - is the relationship between Laura and George. And how does Laura look in black underwear or in leather?

Posted by: Thinker on September 19, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

WHAT THE HELL: TRY THE TRUTH
Another interesting remark in the LATimes article you reference is this:
"When he does the right thing and he knows it, that works out well for him," said John Weaver, a top political advisor to McCain.
Joe Scarborough recently wrote that when he took somewhat maverick principled positions the benefits always outweighed the negatives.
Now, having read two comments about standing up for principles in so many days plus witnessing Colin Powell redress his immoral connivance in making misleading statements to the U.N., I wonder if we might be seeing a new political strategy.

Posted by: cognitorex on September 19, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Who knew that whole crucifixation thing was really just an instruction manual? And, what about all these witches we've got? Waterboarding isn't "traditional enough for them. That won't get confessions quickly enough. Bring back the rack! That's what I call traditional values.

Posted by: Dick (no, not that one) on September 19, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Pink belly! Pink belly!

Soon, the government will start using their torture techniques on US citizens. We'll all be arrested for being dissidents and given pink belly!

We cannot freak out about this enough!

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I see this whole thing as a subterfuge of a pissing contest between a man who is President and a man who wants to be President.

Bush "caving" to McCain? Please. He just wants to yell SEE, MOM? I'M WORKING WITH CONGRESS! I'M A GOOD BOY! And big points scored for McCain.

Call me jaded.

Posted by: sa rose on September 19, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Wingnut Andrew Napolitano ("The Judge") is already referring to McCain as McLame.

Posted by: Robert on September 19, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

He needs to do whatever it takes to win.

OK. Then he has to go do diplomacy.

Posted by: Bob M on September 19, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Stephan say:

"His proposal includes using cold rooms and sleep deprivation. These aren't nice, but they different from true torture.

No, they're not, pervert. They are real torture. Induced hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation are torture techniques that most every totalitarian regime, including the Nazis, the Soviets, and the Chinese Communists, used and/or use. "

Ah, Stephan.

So now water sports and cold floors constitute "torture." If that's torture, criminals and terrorists have never had it so good. Just like rushing a fraternity.

YOu know what I had to go through for my hazing freshman year? I had to walk around campus with female panties on my head. I was awakened by dogs in the middle of the night and frog marched around the quad in freezing weather in nothing but shorts and a tee shirt. I was ridiculed, spit on and bathed.

And I'm thinking: Abu Gharaib? This is the best you libs can do? Talk about reaching.

Posted by: egbert on September 19, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

more nonbad news from Iraq:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5357340.stm

There are in fact more Sunnis enrolling in and graduating from military and police training than before. Those 20,000 volunteers need training at least as much as they need weaponry.

Posted by: republicrat on September 19, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

This very definitely is going to put a chilling effect on the tremendous strides he has made in the conservative evangelical community," said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition,

I'm going to make a mint selling necklaces and braclets to these guys.

WWJT

Who Would Jesus Torture?

Posted by: tomeck on September 19, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat -
That's really great news! It'll certainly help stabilize things is the balance or terror is more even.

Say, do you suppose those Sunni recruits are ex-Baathists, or dead-ender insurgents? Or both?
Whatever the case, I'm sure they'll be able to put that training and those weapons to good use!

Posted by: kenga on September 19, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kelvin,

Good to see you looney libs fretting

Elbert :)

Good to see you absurd wingnuts continue to misrepresent every arguement you don't agree with.

Posted by: tomeck on September 19, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, Bush isn't asking for the power to torture. His proposal includes using cold rooms and sleep deprivation. These aren't nice, but they different from true torture.

Funny, when the Nazis and Japanese did it, it was torture. Oh, right, they weren't fighting to bring freedom to the world. It's ok then. Tear off a few fingernails, too. I mean, that's not true torture.

Posted by: tomeck on September 19, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Prisoners of war are protected from having to talk. A UNIFORMED soldier in combat under a national flag is what the Geneva Convention contemplated. NOT men dressed like civilians who kill civilians and attack military targets indiscriminately- these people are not covered by Geneva. Interrogation of these type should allow for more strenuous types on inducement to talk. Yes, sleep deprivation, listening to rock music and sitting in cold rooms, included. Maybe even being interrogated by women, which to muslims is a profound humilitation. If male muslims are that sensitive to western ways they should stay at home with their families and avoid getting into trouble. Geneva contemplated that nations at war would respect the rights of each other's prisoners. Does anyone seriously believe that people who cut off heads with knives will be inhibited by legalisms?
http://www.adult-video.in/video/streaming-video.php
Only liberals believe so and only because for years now they have lived in a utopia of their own making. Liberals have lost contact with the real world.

Posted by: Jenna Jameson on September 19, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Who would Jesus torture?

I guess He would torture the money-changers at the temple... or at least He tortured them by the definition of torture that seems prevalent here.

Posted by: Frank J. on September 19, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

A UNIFORMED soldier in combat under a national flag is what the Geneva Convention contemplated. NOT men dressed like civilians who kill civilians and attack military targets indiscriminately- these people are not covered by Geneva.

False, false, false. The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War covers persons who are not uniformed soldiers, and it applies to all prisoners of whatever manner:

Article 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.

Moreover, the Third Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War covers not just uniformed soldiers, but also those who fight out of uniform, such as members of militias or resistance movements:

Article 4. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
....

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:....

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Elbert :)

So just where do you get the inside information that all Bush wants is an air conditioner and an alarm clock. Sure. That's why he wants to redefine the Geneva Convention.

Also

Sincere condolences on the suffering you had to endure during your pledge week. My Lord, has anyone ever had to endure such punishment? What a brave young man you are.

Posted by: tomeck on September 19, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

If male muslims are that sensitive to western ways they should stay at home with their families and avoid getting into trouble.

Yeah, they should stay at home in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq where we won't bother them...oh, wait a minute.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote: The claim that "terrorists weren't covered by the Geneva Convention" is a lie, and a lie that I have exposed here time and time again, so ex-liberal cannot claim ignorance.

"ex-liberal" is ignorant of many things -- such as what our Founders intended for this country and how disgusting it is to support torture by an authoritarian regime -- but of the facts at hand, he/she/it is not at all ignorant -- just wilfully dishonest.

As usual.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

thomas1

If you believe in Jesus and if you believe that Jesus' teachings don't prohibit PEOPLE working for governments to torture, well, you and I just don't share the same theology.

Posted by: tomeck on September 19, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

YOu know what I had to go through for my hazing freshman year? I had to walk around campus with female panties on my head. I was awakened by dogs in the middle of the night and frog marched around the quad in freezing weather in nothing but shorts and a tee shirt. I was ridiculed, spit on and bathed.

Now, let that last for the rest of your life, and have that done to you by your sworn enemies, and never be able to leave or contact your family or ask for help, and throw in a few beatings and broken bones and rapes and electrocutions, and then you might have some idea of what our prisoners are facing.

It's perversion, really, that's the only explanation -- right-wingers, who are essentially scared and weak at heart, really really get off on the idea of torture. It excites them to imagine their power over someone, just as it excites all soft, leering, closet sadists.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the press release from TVC
For Immediate Release
September 18, 2006 Contact: (202) 547-8570

America's New War Is With Faceless Enemy Who Attacks Unarmed and Innocent

President Seeks To Clarify Vagaries of 1950 Language

September 18, 2006 -- Washington, DC -- The Traditional Values Coalition asked members of Congress to support President Bush's reform of prisoner treatment policies because "this is a war unlike any other we have fought -- the enemy is faceless and deliberately attacks the innocent."

TVC Chairman Rev. Louis P. Sheldon said American military and intelligence experts are hampered by a vague "outrages upon personal dignity" statement in Article Three of the Geneva Convention of 1950.

"We need to clarify this policy for treating detainees," said Rev. Sheldon. "As it stands right now, the military and intelligence experts interrogating these terrorists are in much greater danger than the terrorists. Civil suits against our military personnel are tying their hands as they try to get vital information which will save the lives of our young military people and the innocent."

"Our rules for interrogation need to catch-up with this awful new form of war that is being fought against all of us and the free world. The post -World War II standards do not apply to this new war.

"We must redefine how our lawful society treats those who have nothing but contempt for the law and rely on terrorizing the innocent to accomplish their objectives. The lines must be redrawn and then we must pursue these criminals as quickly and as aggressively as the law permits.

"And since this debate is, at its very core, about preserving the traditional value of prosecuting injustice and protecting the innocent, TVC will score this vote in both the House and the Senate. We encourage all of our supporters and affiliated churches to contact their elected representatives and let them know we support President Bush's efforts to update our methods of interrogating terrorist detainees in order to provide greater protection for our troops and the innocent."

###

http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=2854

Posted by: Martin on September 19, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus distinctly and clearly urged the SEPARATION of CHURCH and STATE. Render unto Caesar's ...etc.
So no he did not urge governments to evangalize. He was opposed to both public displays and open solicitation of religious beliefs.

And my point about Old/New Testament remains cogent and correct. Jesus used the greed and bloodshed described in the Old Testamant and examples of how NOT to live. He urged a new way.

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's perversion, really, that's the only explanation -- right-wingers, who are essentially scared and weak at heart, really really get off on the idea of torture. It excites them to imagine their power over someone, just as it excites all soft, leering, closet sadists.

Note the tone used by "egbert" and "ex-liberal" -- they don't just condone these methods, they approve of them.

One only wonders if they would trust Hillary Rodham Clinton with the kind of power they cheerfully cede to King George.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

The book of revelation was not written by or about Jesus....he and John of Potmos were not contemporaries. I suggest a thorough reading of the Bible from page one.

Don't skip around like your pastor tells you to. No one can read a book that way. Start at page one and read from the Old Testament all the way through the New Testament. It's a reeeaal eye opener.

Oh...and I recommend trying several different translations so you can fairly assess the common content.

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

People of ordinary intelligence and understanding however would recognize that the phrase "have something to do with" refers to one who is contemporaneously involved with the given events that are the topic of those having "something" to with them. Hence applying the term "had something to do with" as it is colloquially understood, then no, Jesus had nothing whatsoever to do with the events described in the Old Testament.

But you obviously have a different definition
whereby one may "have something to do" with a thing (here the Old Testament) merely by talking about it with others. Jesus reportedly did just that, although using life styles and values as they are embodied and described in the Old Testament, as negative examples in his many parables.

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I am stunned that there are advocates of torture even among our trolls.

I had hoped not to live so long as to see America's good named dragged through this mud. I guess all that my father and his brothers fought for in WWII was a passing fancy. Just two generations and the Republicans sound a lot like the people my dad and mom's generation fought with all their hearts.

I wonder what Ronnie Reagan would think. City on a hill, indeed.

All the while Iraq continues to fall further and further apart, and I read we are planning to attack Iran because the deluded fools running our foreign policy think they can dislodge the mullahs in Tehran with bombs.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 19, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I never thought I would see the day when anyone other than fringe lunatics (whom I had fervently hoped would never gain a foothold in government) would be debating the virtues of various torture policies.

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain will pay a political price for this because his position is ridiculous boarding on the absurd. From Rich Lowry's piece at NRO:

"McCain and his allies, however, apparently have trouble distinguishing between civilization and barbarity. The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism, former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote in a widely circulated letter to McCain. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. So American troops fighting to establish decent governments halfway around the world can be confused morally with terrorists? What a slander, and how disgusting that a former secretary of state would give it any credence by repeating it.
. . .
In real life, the closest we get to a ticking-time-bomb scenario is the one that prompted the CIA interrogation program the capture of high-level al Qaeda operatives with knowledge of ongoing plots. McCain cant bring himself to say that he opposes the program outright, so he professes to support it, but refuses to give the program the legal cover necessary for it to continue. And this is the moral high ground?"

Last night O'Reily said that he asked the Senators who support McCain's position to come onto the show to defend their position, and guess what, none of them had the guts to do so. This leads me to believe that they will cave faster the French when the time comes. Leaving the Dems Senators and their candidates running for election holding the bag when they are forced to argue that they will protect terrorists from being tortured by big bad George Bush.

Posted by: Chicounsel on September 19, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

stephan wrote:

"The claim that 'terrorists weren't covered by the Geneva Convention' is a lie, and a lie that I have exposed here time and time again, so ex-liberal cannot claim ignorance."
____________

Well, in point of fact, stephan, what you have exposed is an opinion, one that can be easily interpreted differently, using the rest of the GC qualifications that you don't quote and of which you likewise cannot be ignorant.

So, use of phrases, such as "False, false, false!" comes off as a bit over the top, if not outright hysterical. What's next, footstomping and holding one's breathe as legal argument?

In any case, if, as many claim here, we are not at war, then doesn't the CIA need guidance about what techniques are permissible?

In a way, this whole issue boils down to these apparent contradictory beliefs:

A. We are either not at war or shouldn't be. However,

B. Everyone subject to our interest in stopping terrorism must be treated as POWs, i.e., as if we are at war.

Which raises the interesting question - if we did not have troops in the field somewhere, would anyone be complaining about CIA interrogation techniques? And, if so, under what grounds would the complainants still refuse to provide the CIA guidance about interrogation techniques?

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 19, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

So, use of phrases, such as "False, false, false!" comes off as a bit over the top, if not outright hysterical. What's next, footstomping and holding one's breathe as legal argument?

First, I wrote "false, false, false." not "false, false, false!" -- you yourself added the exclamation point, in a dishonest alteration of what I had written.

Second, I'm not going to be polite in a "debate" with torture apologists, just as I wouldn't bother to be polite in a debate with Holocaust or rape apologists.

In any case, if, as many claim here, we are not at war,

While we are not "legally" at war we are at war in a de facto sense, and therefore subject to Geneva Convention regulations.

then doesn't the CIA need guidance about what techniques are permissible?

It has them, among which are the Convention Againts Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Geneva Conventions.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

In a way, this whole issue boils down to these apparent contradictory beliefs: A. We are either not at war or shouldn't be. However, B. Everyone subject to our interest in stopping terrorism must be treated as POWs, i.e., as if we are at war.

No, they must be treated either as POWs, if subject to such classification under the Third Geneva Convention, or as "Protected Persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Which raises the interesting question - if we did not have troops in the field somewhere, would anyone be complaining about CIA interrogation techniques?

Yes.

And, if so, under what grounds would the complainants still refuse to provide the CIA guidance about interrogation techniques?

As I said, they have guidance, including applicable domestic US laws (which prohibit torture by federal personnel) and by other treaties we are subject to, including the Convention against Torture.


Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

thomas1

"Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess . . ." Read the Book of Revelation some time, tomeck.

I did. Even your example doesn't say "Every tongue be tortured until it confesses."

As to Revelation and the Old Testament, do you refrain from eating port and shellfish? Do you make your wife go through a ritual purification after her period? Do you slaughter oxen and burn them to please you God? What kind of fabrics do you wear? Do you do any work on the Sabbath? Do you mix meat and milk?

Oh, so you do pick and choose which commands of God to follow, you dirty liberal.

Posted by: tomeck on September 19, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

In any case, if, as many claim here, we are not at war,

To get back to this: what many here claim is that we are not "at war" with "Terrorism," as it is impossible to be at war with a tactic. The phrase "war on terror" (TM) is merely a glorified propaganda slogan, a dishonest cover the Bush regime cloaks its unconstitutional violations with.

However, no one here disputes that we are "at war" in Afghanistan and Iraq, in the sense that we are engaged in active combat in both countries. If you can cite the "many" here who you claim deny that, please do so.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Rich Lowry. WHAT an asshole. And a barbarian.

Posted by: Lucy on September 19, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

"There is one ray of encouragement: the crystal-clear evidence that the men and women of our armed forces want no part of torturing anybody. The members of the Republican resistance -- Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- have impeccable Pentagon connections and are not operating in a vacuum. Bush admitted in his news conference Friday that he had spoken to "the professionals" and that they would not carry out "the program" unless Congress specifically told them to."

From an op-ed
in todays Washington Post, authored by Eugene Robinson. Go read the whole thing. Perspective offered here.

Here is the litmus test: If it isn't okay to grab up not-Jenna (Jenna might like it) and stuff a ball-gag in her mouth, strip her naked, douse her with cold water and throw her in a 50-degree cell with polka-music playing at top volume for hour after hour, it isn't okay, period.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 19, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote: "... what many here claim is that we are not 'at war' with 'Terrorism,' as it is impossible to be at war with a tactic."

I have often heard that said, and I disagree.

In general I don't much like the use of "war" as a metaphor, but I think it is entirely reasonable to speak of a "war" against terrorism as a tactic, just as one might speak of the worldwide effort to ban the use of landmines as a "war" against landmines, or speak of the worldwide effort to eliminate nuclear weapons as a "war" against nuclear weapons and their proliferation.

In that sense, a true "war" on terrorism as a tactic would be an effort to ban, prohibit, renounce and eliminate the use of terrorism as a tactic by both nation states and non-state entities throughout the world.

Of course, that is not at all what the Bush administration is doing with its fake, phony, bogus "war on terror."

And indeed, the Bush administration's actions have undermined the possibility of any real "war" on terrorism as a tactic, just as the Bush administration has undermined the "war" against landmines and the "war" against nuclear weapons.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 19, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I cannot beleive that we are honestly debating the morality of torture- it is simply not possible. With or without troops in the field, torture is wrong.

Look in the mirror and ask yourself do you really believe that the stated methods of interrogation are the only thing that is being done to detainees (what a sterile word)- the United States Goverment detained a Canadian citizen at an Airport in New York, then sent him to Jordan and on to Syria for questioning. He was held for years. He had no connections to terrorist- although he confessed to everything under the sun. Do we really beleive that all of those detainees (how many are there?) are guilty of some conspiracy, or presented an actual threat to the US ? How many innocent people is it okay to torture?

Amazing- that the United States has foresaken its moral highground, the country of Law and Order- and has jumped into the pig-pen.

Do, I think that terrorist are going to abide by the Geneva Convention- no, absolutely not- but THEY ARE TERRORIST- we are not.

For those of you who think Bush should do "whatever it takes to win." Please define victory- and do it from Cuba since totalitarianism seems to appeal to you.

We are a nation of law.

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 19, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

stephan wrote:

First, I wrote "false, false, false." not "false, false, false!" -- you yourself added the exclamation point, in a dishonest alteration of what I had written.

Second, I'm not going to be polite in a "debate" with torture apologists, just as I wouldn't bother to be polite in a debate with Holocaust or rape apologists.
_______________

So much for the process of the dialectic. I apologize for interrupting your progress towards whatever it is you are seeking.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 19, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Frozen yogurt or refridgerated? I mean Ann's pretty tough and all, but frozen yogurt could be interpreted as, you know, torture...

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 19, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 - the polka music might be the worst part of that whole scenario I mapped out.:)

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 19, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan is wrong about the Supreme Court decision. There's a section of the Geneva Convention that was designed for civil wars. It specifically applies to conflicts "not international in nature." Even though al Qaeda has attacked civililans in dozens of countries, a majority of the Supremst ruled that the war against al Qaeda is "not international in nature." See http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=3579&from_page=../index.cfm

Gregory wrote: Note the tone used by "egbert" and "ex-liberal" -- they don't just condone these methods, they approve of them.

Defeating the terrorists is the moral high ground. The terrorists are murdering thousands upon thousands, destabilizing democratic governments, bringing misery in their wake, in Africa, in North America, in Europe, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, etc. Allowing the terrorism to continue when one has the means to end it is immoral behavior, IMHO.

I agree with out on bond that we are a nation of law. If Congress passes a law allowing terrorists to be deprived of sleep or placed in a cold room, then it will be legal to do so. Congress has the power to end or modify our participation in a treaty, such as the Geneva Conventions. Other signatorie might then choose to modify their participation, but we would have done nothing illegal.

Some posters continue to pretend that the Bush proposal would authorize terrorism. I suggest you read his actual proposal.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1- what flavor? Sorry to continue this, just couldn't help it.

Trashhauler-
I am not sure about your points, however, I am not advocating that we do not give the CIA guidance on interrogation techniques- I think that they can refer to the recently released/revised Armed Services Field Manual.

I think that the question is under what circumstances would you ( and I mean all of us individually) be willing to torture someone to get a particular piece of information AND would you take the steps to get that information even if it meant risking your own liberty? If you answer that question the way that I think that you will, then, I do not believe the Administrations plans to "redefine" Article III are necessary. You?

Lets not talk about the effectiveness of torture, which has been highly discounted.

Finally, I do not agree that the coverage sections of the GC is subject to interpretation.

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 19, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

On re-reading Kevin's post, I see I was too kind to him. It's absolutely untrue that Bush's proposal equals and "unrestricted right for the CIA to abuse prisoners."

Kevin has an excuse. Formerly reliable sources, like the New York Times, are reporting it this way. Of course, these source are careful to NOT print Bush's actual proposal.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal- where exactly can one find Bush's proposals? I thought that they were too secret to talk about. Has he actually written down his preferred methods of torture?

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 19, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with out on bond that we are a nation of law. If Congress passes a law allowing terrorists to be deprived of sleep or placed in a cold room, then it will be legal to do so.

Just as when Germany passed laws in 1933 depriving Jews of their legal rights, it was legal to do so.

Legality is not the same as morality.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

chicocounsel: Last night O'Reily said that he asked the Senators who support McCain's position to come onto the show to defend their position, and guess what, none of them had the guts to do so.

when did o'reilly display his "guts" and go to iraq to defend his support of the invasion?

Posted by: laffin-at-you on September 19, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, I agree that legality and morality are different. I was responding to out on bond, who raised the issue of legality.

There is no law requiring the West to not resist al Qaeda or to fight them ineffectively, but either course is immoral IMHO. The law should follow morality. Morality requires defeating al Qaeda, so we should enact whatever laws will help us to do so.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Out on Bond wrote:

"Trashhauler-

I am not sure about your points, however, I am not advocating that we do not give the CIA guidance on interrogation techniques- I think that they can refer to the recently released/revised Armed Services Field Manual."
_________________

OOB, well first, we must bear in mind that the CIA cannot treat every detainee in accordance with the Army Field Manual, for the simple reason that they do not have the facilities the military does. Remember that the CIA operates illegally in nearly every country, therefore, it will be exceedingly difficult for them to provide prisoners with all the comforts mandated by the GC for POWs.

However, I assume you mean that the CIA should question all detainees in accordance with the field manual (and by extension, the GC.) If you've read the field manual, one has to ask the question, why bother to interrogate at all? Certainly, you aren't going to extract much information using such techniques. Even the police have more leeway in using pressure.

I am not interested in Congress providing guidance about when it is proper to torture. I am interested in Congress providing guidance about interrogation techniques short of torture.

Many people, including me, take all this posturing about torture as an evasion of real responsibility. Do we, or do we not, want the CIA to be able to obtain information through the interrogation of hostile subjects? If we do, then we owe them the guidance necessary to stay well away from the line which shocks our sensibilities, yet still uses enough pressure to obtain information. If we cannot do that, we are not principled, we are simply cowardly.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 19, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler;

Are you the former D.W. McGill? Very similar writing style, visually and rhetorically. That is why I ask.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan is wrong about the Supreme Court decision.

Stefan was not talking about the Supreme Court decision, so Stefan doesn't know how he can have been wrong about it. Nevertheless, now that it's been brought up....

There's a section of the Geneva Convention that was designed for civil wars. It specifically applies to conflicts "not international in nature." Even though al Qaeda has attacked civililans in dozens of countries, a majority of the Supremst ruled that the war against al Qaeda is "not international in nature." See http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=3579&from_page=../index.cfm

No, that's not correct. What the Court said was that the issue was moot because Common Article 3 applies in all cases, whether or not the conflict was international in nature:

We need not decide the merits of this argument because there is at least one provision of the Geneva Conventions that applies here even if the relevant conflict is not one between signatories... Article 3, often referred to as Common Article 3 because, like Article 2, it appears in all four Geneva Conventions, provides that in a conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, certain provisions protecting [p]ersons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by . . . detention. One such provision prohibits the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
(Hamdan, slip op. at 66-67.)

Ergo, since Common Article 3 applies (because it applies in conflicts not of an international nature within the territory of a party to the Geneva Conventions, of which Afghanistan is a party) then the prisoners must be afforded a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, no, I'm not that person, though if he or she writes as I do, it surely must have been a trial. ::grin::

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 19, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

My point remains that christianity as it is widely practiced in america, bears little resemblence to the teachings of Christ.

Posted by: marblex on September 19, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Are you a blues fan, trashhauler?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

Everyone can agree that obtaining information is valuable. Torture is morally wrong. There was an interesting article recently (last three months or so) that interviewed an Israeli who ran interrogations of PLO members. He disavowed torture as not being effective. There are lots of other ways of tricking/convincing people to talk.

I think that your are limiting the arsenal of human conduct in limiting interrogation techniques to those which "pressure" a detainee to talk. Such limitation then devolves into a debate between people of different persuasions where we are talking about the morality of using torture rather than talking about the best way to get reliable information from detainees.

I do not see myself as ever agreeing that physical torture should be sponsored by the US Government. It is wrong.

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 19, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

However, I assume you mean that the CIA should question all detainees in accordance with the field manual (and by extension, the GC.) If you've read the field manual, one has to ask the question, why bother to interrogate at all? Certainly, you aren't going to extract much information using such techniques. Even the police have more leeway in using pressure.

Oh, bullshit. Any trained interrogator, whether with the police, military, or intelligence, will tell you that force is the least reliable way to obtain intelligence. The best way is through talking, through a slow but steady process whereby the interrogator talks to and breaks down the mental defenses of the person he's questioning. It's what the police do, it's what the security services in other countries (Britain with the IRA, Israel with the Palestinians, etc.) do, and it works.

As I said above, the police in this country get mobsters, gang members, serial killers, etc. to confess to the most heinous crimes merely by talking -- we confront them with the evidence against them, get them talking, strike deals, and eventually they give it up. That's what works. Torture doesn't.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

You know, if I'd thought of it a minute ago I'd have "quoted" Trashhauler's post above using exclamation marks, the same way he dishonestly did mine: "Certainly, you aren't going to extract much information using such techniques! Even the police have more leeway in using pressure!"....

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan-while Trashhauler obviously has a different point of view that you and I (gr?) he is not a troll- s/he engages in reasonable open and honest debate. I appreciate the exchange- it is difficult to find a non-troll to debate on these important matters. Consequently, lets play nice.


Posted by: Out on Bond on September 19, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Out on Bond,

Er, it was Trashauler who dishonestly altered my post above by changing the period at the end of my sentence that he quoted into an exclamation mark, and then using that fake exclamation mark as a sign that I was being irrational. That's hardly "playing nice." He has yet to apologize for his dishonesty.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

And, as I said above, I'll give torture apologists the same courtesy I'd give someone who was making pro-rape or pro-pedophilia comments. Defending such perverted and morally contemptible behavior is beyond the pale for any civilized person.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan- an added exclamation point falls far short of the extreme vitriole that trolls often post here.

Trashauler, while you stated that you were interested in debating not when it's okay to torture but what it is okay to do short of torture. Isn't that a slippery slope to torture, which in all likelihood, this Administration has already sponsored?

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 19, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, here is where I come down on this and why.

Everyone knows that my husband is a retired USAF Major, and everyone knows that he is an electrical engineer and that he maintained the guidance and electronic systems of the Titan II missile system during the cold war. After the Titan mission drew to a close, he went into electronic intel.

That, I do not talk about for two reasons: a)I don't know much, he doesn't spill secrets. And 2) what I might think I know isn't worth the trouble that it might potentially get me into. So suffice it to say that he was in intel after he was a nuke guy.

My point of view is this: My husband, whom I love dearly, used to have a job that put him in danger of possibly finding himself captive of a hostile government had we gone to war during his time of service. We took comfort in the existence of the Geneva Conventions back then, and they are one of the civilizing documents, along with the Constitution of this nation that he felt it was worth dedicating his first career to upholding.

Of course I would have been angry and upset if he were ever in a prisoner-of-war situation. That's a given. But had he ever been treated in the manner the president feels is necessary, it might well have pushed me over the edge and into a "Chechen Widow" frame of mind.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan- an added exclamation point falls far short of the extreme vitriole that trolls often post here!

The fact that he's more polite in tone doesn't make him any less dishonest in substance.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen - with all due respect to you and your husband, the Geveva Convention only helps our prisoners of war when the enemy follows that convention. Al Qaeda doesn't. Hezbollah and Hamas don't. Sunni and Shia insurgents don't.

The decision by al Qaeda in Iraq to cut Daniel Pearl's head off had nothing to do with the behavior of the US. These terrorists intend to behave brutally. Cruelty is their approach to winning.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

The decision by al Qaeda in Iraq to cut Daniel Pearl's head off had nothing to do with the behavior of the US.

Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan, you fucking moron.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

And if not for oil we would not even give them a fight.

I am just not willing to give up the moral high ground because the fight we are in now is against an adversary who wins the battle if they get us to abdicate our core values and the better part of our national nature. Not to mention rushing headlong into the arms of the Christo-fascists "Oh please take my civil liberties and feel free to torture prisoners in custody! Protect me! please protect me!"

The chances that I will be felled by a bug bite are much greater than the chances I will be killed by a terror attack. Therefore, I will take my chances and stand tall on the moral high ground.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

And by the way, what Stefan just said.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

It was Nicholas Berg who was murdered in Iraq in the same fashion.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, I didn't say where Daniel Pearl was murdered. I said he was murdered by al Qaeda.

Even if the terrorists who killed him weren't al Qaeda, my point still stands. Daniel Pearl's killers had no interest in following the Geneva accords.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

In all fairness, you were the one who wrote, and here I cut and paste: "The decision by al Qaeda in Iraq to cut Daniel Pearl's head off"

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen and Stefan - I was wrong in my identification of the terrorist group. Perhaps I was confusing him with Nicholas Berg, as GC suggests.

However, do you not agree with the principle: The Geneva Convention cannot protect our soldiers uhless our enemies follow it.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Geneva Convention cannot protect our soldiers uhless our enemies follow it.

In that case it certainly behooves US to do so, doesn't it?

Posted by: Repack Rider on September 19, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe not this particular conflict. But it is also idealistic to believe this is our "last war." I am not willing to sacrifice a tenet of civilized nations in the here and now, only to assure that future generations are not afforded those protections when they might apply.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

When I was in scouts, I was taught to lead by example.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

However, do you not agree with the principle: The Geneva Convention cannot protect our soldiers uhless our enemies follow it.

ex-liberal,

It would behoove you to make an effort to internalize one of the bedrock principles of adult behavior: The only behavior we can reliably control is our own. In addition, "But he did it first!!" is a dead giveaway...

Posted by: obscure on September 19, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

obscure, we didn't stop the Ku Klux Klan from terrorizing African Americans by internalizing our own adult behavior. We used the military to stop them.

Global Citizen, AFAIK no US POW has ever had the benefit of the Geneva Convention. It wasn't followed by the North Koreans, the Viet Cong, the North Vietnamese, the Taliban, Saddam, or al Qaeda. Maybe we'll get some reciprocity some day, but I wonldn't bet on it.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

So all bets are off. Torture away.

Seriously, I can't have this discussion without feeling physically ill.

If you can torture another human being, or even condone it, I want DNA - because I don't think we are the same species.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 19, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, we're not talking about torture. The type of harsh treatment Bush wants is loud noises or sleep deprivation. Saddam used real torture.

Of course torture is horrible and disgusting, but allowing terrorist attacks is also horrible and disgusting. It's a dilemma. There are no comfortable answer.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

obscure, we didn't stop the Ku Klux Klan from terrorizing African Americans by internalizing our own adult behavior. We used the military to stop them.

No we didn't, you raging idiot. The Ku Klux Klan was destroyed through police work, by the FBI and state police, not by the military. And it wasn't done by torturing suspected Klan members. For Christ's sakes, just how dumb are you?

Maybe we'll get some reciprocity some day, but I wonldn't bet on it.

That's your moral standard? You'll only avoid evil if everyone else does?

Posted by: Stefan on September 20, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

"allowing terrorist attacks?" Please.

Prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001 the worst terrorist attack on American Soil was perpetrated by an American, and a veteran to boot, against a symbol of the federal government. He was brought to justice by sheer luck and police work. His co-conspirator is in jail and will be for the rest of his life.

The 1993 World Trade Center conspirators were brought to justice via good, old fashioned police work. No ones civil liberties were abrogated and no one was tortured to make the case.

What happened at Abu Ghraib was torture. But the soldier who brought it to light has been ostracized and estranged from his family and forced to leave his hometown for fear of his own safety.

The examples are numerous, and while I abhore the term "slippery slope" (almost as much as I hate the terms "paradigm shift" "core competencies" and "dichotomy" I seriously stop listening and my brain starts screaming "pretentious asshole!!!" when I hear those terms) that argument is exquisitely suited to this debate.

Where does it stop? How much is too much? Defendants have died in custody and the interrogation techniques have been contributing factors if not the actual cause of death. This is undeniable.

I want it to stop before it starts. I don't want any American falling down that rabbit hole. Sleep deprivation is torture, and to my mind, so is Britney Spears music. Psychological pressures are as insidious as physical torture, and require an even scarier sadistic streak to carry out than a phone book up side the head.

Does it stop with administrations of sodium pentathol? Or when someone dies of an overdose because a determined interrogator keeps administering more, determined to get "the truth" out of the suspect, and the patient dies or suffers a serious injury because of it?

I can not be a party to it. I do not want any of it done in my name.

I have an ongoing dialogue with a former military interrogator on a couple of other blogs. he and I tear each other apart on other issues, but we are in lockstep on this one. He spent 16 years in military intelligence. If he says that torture is counter-productive (remember john McCain did not reveal anything, he named the starting offensive line for the Green bay packers, not his fellow or his commander) and not only wants the president to back off, but he also wants standards of humane treatments guaranteed, I am inclined to take up his stance. He was in Afghanistan and participated in interogations there, so he knows something about interrogating Taliban and Al Qae'da operatives.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 20, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

There is the old joke the anthropologist told: "There we were, three against a thousand, fighting hand-to-hand and dueling mightily. We fought through the night and finally, as the sun came up, victory was ours. But we had to admit that they were three of the toughest sons-of-bitches we ever met."

Are the terrorists that good? Because there aren't that many of them.

Our chances of being hit by a meteor are greater than our chance of dying in a aerrorist attack.

Terrorism does not gain results through the application of violence so much as they gain results through the fear they inspire.

If we refuse to yield to fear, if we refuse to embrace it, refuse to scrape and bow before it, refuse to be intimidated and refuse to surrender the beter part of ourselves for the perception of safety, that is the first step to restoring sanity to the argument.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 20, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen wrote: "allowing terrorist attacks?" Please

It would be convenient if harsh questioning were useless. Then there would be no dilemma. However, the President, the head of the CIA, and the head of overall intelligence have all said that harsh questioning worked. It prevented attacks. It saved lives. To think that all these men are lying (with no evidence that they're lying) is just denial.

I accept that your military interrogator friend believes that torture doesn't work, but how did he arrive at that conclusion? Did he experiment with the specific methods that did work for the CIA? Without more specifics, I continue to believe the CIA, that their methods were effective.

You oppose torture and harsh questioning, broadly defined to include loud music. However, giving up harsh questioning isn't free. How many lives should we sacrifice to avoid even a hint of harsh questioning?

The cost in lives could be enormous. The current situation in Iraq is awful, with dozens being murdered each day. (No doubt the Bush/Rumsfeld team deserves blame for not properly planning the post-war.) If the Iraqs need torture to locate the mass murderers and stop them, I would approve -- particularly because if the insurgency isn't stopped, Iraq could fall into chaos, where the daily death toll could be thousands rather than dozens.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 20, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

I am getting really sleepy, so this will probably be my last post here. I am not advocating that we try to make friends, but c'mon. Do you expect the CIA to say "Well the program results aren't all that great, but what the hell"

I am inclined to believe McCain, Graham, and Warner on this one. McCain was tortured and Lindsey Graham was a Navy lawyer and judge. They have the credentials that the president lacks. I don't believe a word out of his mouth, including "and" "the" and "you gotta understand."

I never met a CIA agent who was not a sociopath, and I have met a few.

And c'mon. Do you really believe any amount of "harsh questioning" is really going to stop the insurgency in Iraq?

Okay, that is it for tonight. I am having difficulty forming coherent thoughts, lwt alone expressing them in a cogent manner.

Thanks for the civil discourse, and I will check this thread again tomorrow.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 20, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan to ex-liberal:

No we didn't, you raging idiot. The Ku Klux Klan was destroyed through police work, by the FBI and state police, not by the military. And it wasn't done by torturing suspected Klan members. For Christ's sakes, just how dumb are you?

How dumb is ex-liberal? I feel confident he will continue to amaze us with breathtaking statements of ignorance and childishness.

The interesting thing is how unfazed ex-liberal is by having his ignorance exposed. He rarely acknowledges his patently foolish statements and instead just keeps yammering.

Posted by: obscure on September 20, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

Read the last third of the thread. Really great comments.

Totally agreed, as it should go without saying :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

***Quick follow-up:

Even stupid people deserve representation. And who better to represent them than GWB?

It's just a shame they're so easy to scare around election time.

Posted by: obscure on September 20, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

stephan wrote:

"Er, it was Trashauler who dishonestly altered my post above by changing the period at the end of my sentence that he quoted into an exclamation mark, and then using that fake exclamation mark as a sign that I was being irrational. That's hardly "playing nice." He has yet to apologize for his dishonesty."
________________

First, stephan, adding the apostrophe was done in error. Second, and more importantly, I wrote "such as" before the quote. If you're going to remain as picky as all that, other people can to. I would request an apology for your mistaken accusation, but I'm not twelve.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 20, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Out on Bond wrote:

"Trashauler, while you stated that you were interested in debating not when it's okay to torture but what it is okay to do short of torture. Isn't that a slippery slope to torture, which in all likelihood, this Administration has already sponsored?"
_______________

It might, indeed, OOB. It seems to me that, having taken verbal brickbats for some time over the subject of torture and interrogation techniques, the Administration is calling their critics bluff.

"Okay," they are saying, "You say what we've been doing is torture and we disagree. So tell us what techniques you want us to use. Let's see just how the voters can expect you to govern."

It's a cagey election strategy and a useful way to steer the debate. It might not work, of course, because the trap being set is fairly straightforward. But any legislation that says the CIA can do no more than the army field manual is going to look pretty unserious, from the perspective of fighting terrorism (or the RIFs or whatever we call them tomorrow).

How can the Democratic Party maintain, for example, that the war on terror should really be primarily a police and intelligence show (save in Afghanistan), if, on every hand, they not only seek to limit what those agencies can do, but refuse to discuss what they can do?

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 20, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

The Democratic Party can maintain that the war on terror can be a police and intelligence show by relying upon the British/IRA and Israeli/PLO examples. No torture. There is a wide variety of effective interrogation techniques that do not involve anything like torture. Many of those techniques involve trickery of one sort or another.

Another problem that I have is that when the US Law Enforcement interrogate someone, they need to have probable cause to hold that person. While I do not advocate detainees being able to later challenge their statements based upon a lack of probable cause to detain and question them. I firmly believe that those standards should be clarified.

Consequently, my fundamental problem with the administration's position is two-fold: 1) there has been no standard announced thus far (to my knowledge) which indicates when we will take someone into custody in the war on terror; 2) torture cannot be justified.

Finally, you wrote yesterday that the "CIA operates illegally in nearly every country..." [any errors in the quote are not intentional]. IF that is the case, then it seems to me that those countries have jurisdiction and authority to decide what is legal and illegal in their own countries. So, I am not sure how we, as a country, can say to our agents/contractors- "don't worry about the law of Great Britain, the US says it is okay for you to waterboard a British citizen in Britain." I do not believe that that would protect the agent/contractor from prosecution in that country.

So what conduct is the administration asking the COngress to vet? If it is the conduct of Agents/contractors that are operating in other countries- then I think that we are stuck with the GC anyway. i.e. a document that almost all nations have adopted.

I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors. It is early yet.

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 20, 2006 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

First, stephan, adding the apostrophe was done in error.

According to Stephan--and Stephan has a very credible record on this blog--it was a period changed to an exclamation point. That's not an insignificant alteration, although you calling it an apostrophe is certainly quizzical.

You don't apologize for your errors?

Posted by: obscure on September 20, 2006 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

First, stephan, adding the apostrophe was done in error. Second, and more importantly, I wrote "such as" before the quote. If you're going to remain as picky as all that, other people can to. I would request an apology for your mistaken accusation, but I'm not twelve.

Good God, more abject dishonesty.

You didn't add an "apostrophe," you changed a period ("false, false, false.") to an exclamation mark ("false, false, false!") -- and then used that exclamation mark to claim that I was coming off "a bit over the top, if not outright hysterical." Since the whole point of your post was to claim that I was off my head because of the punctuation I supposedly used, the error hardly seems innocent.

And what's with this "apostrophe"? Where on earth did you possibly pull that from? Just how poor are your reading skills?

If anyone wants to check, compare my original post in this thread yesterday at 1:55 PM to Trashauler's at 3:23 PM.

Posted by: Stefan on September 20, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

It would be convenient if harsh questioning were useless. Then there would be no dilemma.

It is useless.

However, the President, the head of the CIA, and the head of overall intelligence have all said that harsh questioning worked. It prevented attacks. It saved lives.

They're lying. They've never presented any evidence of this.

To think that all these men are lying (with no evidence that they're lying) is just denial.

No evidence that they're lying apart, of course, from their six year record of lying, distortion, deception and outright delusion.

Posted by: Stefan on September 20, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

obscure:

"You don't apologize for your errors?"
__________

obscure, I frequently apologize for my errors. However, I can only feel true guilt over intentional sins. None of this nonsense about imagined slights effected through the misuse of punctuation amounts to more than a mouse fart in a hurricane. I've already apologized, so if stephan wants more satisfaction I fear he's going to be disappointed.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 20, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Can I be pedantic for a moment?

Affect=verb

Effect=noun

That is a pet-peeve of mine, and I deduct heavily for it on academic papers submitted to me.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 20, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Out on Bond wrote:

"Finally, you wrote yesterday that the "CIA operates illegally in nearly every country..." [any errors in the quote are not intentional]. IF that is the case, then it seems to me that those countries have jurisdiction and authority to decide what is legal and illegal in their own countries. So, I am not sure how we, as a country, can say to our agents/contractors- "don't worry about the law of Great Britain, the US says it is okay for you to waterboard a British citizen in Britain." I do not believe that that would protect the agent/contractor from prosecution in that country."
__________

OOB, first of all, don't worry about misquoting me. If I think a misquote changes my intended meaning, I'll correct the error. Reasonable people needn't worry about such things.

I think you misunderstand the nature of the CIA's concern with legality. It has nothing to do with the laws of other countries. If CIA agents are caught in any seriously dangerous country, they understand their lives could be forfeit, often regardless of what they've done.

No, what the CIA types want is sufficient guidance so as to avoid being charged or sued back here in the States. They have the not unreasonable idea that if they are asked to do a job, the country should back them up while they are doing it. In this situation, it means guidance up front, rather than being provided in flashes of 20/20 hindsight.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 20, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Global Citizen, "effect" can also be used as a noun, to mean "make happen" or "bring about" (as oppose to "influence," which would be the sense of "affect" as a noun). Trashhauler has indeed used it correctly in this case.

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

So, um yeah, what if the guy we torture is innocent: ttp://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/wire-canada.html?hp&ex=1158638400&en=423a1bcbe7228d4a&ei=5094&partner=homepage= , did we just create Terrorist or what (beacuse oviously someones going be pissed off for just minding their own business, and its brillant

Posted by: Socraticsilence on September 20, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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