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Tilting at Windmills

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September 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE TORTURE BILL....The "compromise" agreement on torture has apparently got everyone scratching their heads. For starters, the following (among other things like murder and rape) are specifically forbidden as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions:

severe or serious physical or mental pain or suffering....including serious physical abuse.... disfiguring the person or persons by any mutilation thereof or by permanently disabling any member, limb, or organ....serious bodily injury....sexual contact

That's all well and good, but the legislation also allows the president to unilaterally decide what's permissible below this threshold. And this threshold doesn't seem to prohibit, for example, stress positions, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, or hypothermia. Presumably, then, all of this stuff will continue. Marty Lederman's reading of the bill's language is that "the Senators have capitulated entirely," and the New York Times agrees that President Bush won nearly everything he had originally wanted:

About the only thing that Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham had to show for their defiance was Mr. Bushs agreement to drop his insistence on allowing prosecutors of suspected terrorists to introduce classified evidence kept secret from the defendant.

....On other issues, the three rebel senators achieved only modest improvements on the White Houses original positions. They wanted to bar evidence obtained through coercion. Now, they have agreed to allow it if a judge finds it reliable (which coerced evidence hardly can be) and relevant to guilt or innocence. The way coercion is measured in the bill, even those protections would not apply to the prisoners at Guantnamo Bay.

More careful analysis of the compromise language is probably needed, but at this point it looks like the three Republican "moderates" gave in completely. If that's the case, the only question remaining is whether this was all staged from the beginning to put Democrats in an impossible position, or if they genuinely caved in on practically every detail. Stay tuned for more on that.

Kevin Drum 1:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (149)

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Comments

Kevin,

Yes it was staged. But ironically it puts the dems in a great position, because its terrifically easy to explain how much of a sham this whole thing really was. All dems need to do is cite the language of the bill to show how clearly it contradicts the McCain-Warner stance.

Standing up against this bill loudly and aggressively will permit the dems to completely pull the mask off the whole charade that the "War on Terror" has become.

McCain and company have just demonstrated to the nation how clearly unpricipled they really are. No one is going to be fooled by this "legislation".

Hit them in the mouth hard and loud. The bill is not defensible. It's obvious its not defensible any journalist that tries to report this "bill" as anything other than a total capitulation is a joke.

No one is being fooled anymore. The republicans have shown that they are un-American down to the phony handshake, and the beauty is that Dems can easily show that they have been excluded from the "negotiatiions" at every step.

Team Bush/Cheney have spent two months brewing up bullshit soup and now they are going to be forced to eat it.

Posted by: patience on September 22, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

How are Democrats in "an impossible position"? Why don't they just oppose the torture bill? It's the TORTURE BILL. We're AGAINST TORTURE. Not for it sometimes if it's okay with someone somewhere in secret where we won't have to hear about it. We're always against torture. Period. Republicans are for it. Period. How hard is that?

Posted by: bobbo on September 22, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

This may be a silly question, but why should this put Dems in an impossible situation? If you mean that they'll lose votes by speaking out against torture and 'coercive techniques,' then so be it.

==========

Very interesting NEWS! Musharraf has said that Richard Armitage, in a discussion with a Pakistani officer two days after 9/11, threatened Pakistan with being bombed back into the Stone Age by the US if it didn't fully cooperate with the US. Musharraf is going to spill the beans on 60 Minutes this Sunday. Mush has also written a book which will be published on 9/25/06.

Posted by: nepeta on September 22, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Marty Lederman's reading of the bill's language is that "the Senators have capitulated entirely," and the New York Times agrees that President Bush won nearly everything he had originally wanted:

Kevin, thanks for telling me this. Now I can sleep safely knowing Bush has been given all of the power he believes is necessary to prevent the terrorists from murdering us as they did on 9/11. For a while I was afraid America was going to give in to the terrorists by being soft on them. With this new law, the terrorists know they are on the run because antiquated rules like the Geneva Conventions are no longer controlling in this new modern unprecedented War or Terrorism. Americans can sleep safely knowing the Republic is safe again under the protection of George W Bush.

Posted by: Al on September 22, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

What I want to know if if stuff like this Abu Ghraib image is now something the administration can officially do? As far as I can tell from reading the bill language, as long as no physical damage worse than "cuts, abrasions, or bruises" is created, this would be ok.

Or, for a related question, are these dog bite wounds acceptable "cuts, abrasions, or bruises", or do they rise to the level of a prohibited "burn or physical disfigurement of a serious nature"

What kind of country creates policy where it's interogators can kick the shit out of suspects as long as they don't do more than create "cuts, abrasions, or bruises"?

Or am I missing something?

Posted by: Stuart Staniford on September 22, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

If we can't betray all of our core national principles and become an international pariah, then the terrorists will have won.

Posted by: Ugh on September 22, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Coming up in 2008: drawing and quartering for convicted leakers.

Vote against that you cowardly, treasonous Democrats.

Ho ho ho.

Posted by: Linus on September 22, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter if it was staged or not. There will be no draft to get to the Senate floor for a vote.

This is all smoke and mirrors for election year politics.

Nothing the GOP can put together will pass the legal requirements for the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.

All the Dems have to do is say the deal won't pass any legal tests and shoot it down.

Posted by: James on September 22, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Dems are in a difficult position because they've been quiet the whole time and allowed McCain to be the "voice of conscience" on this bill. With McCain backing the compromise, it looks like it must be a decent bill, right? After all, McCain was the one fighting for decent treatment!

So now Dems have to argue that it's a bad bill even though St. McCain approves of it. That's a tough position to be in. Not impossible, maybe, but tough.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 22, 2006 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the Pakistan link for anyone that's interested:

US Threatens Pakistan in 2001

Posted by: nepeta on September 22, 2006 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

I agree, Kevin. The Dem silence on this has been deafening. I just don't get it. If you can't speak out about torture, then what can you speak out about? I'm beginning to be able to count the Dem politicians I respect on two hands. So they should be careful; although they might lose a few moderate R votes on the torture issue, they might just send me to a third party one of these days or find me sitting at home on election day.

Posted by: nepeta on September 22, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

I think it is a shame the Democrats largely remained silent while McCain, Graham, Powell et. al. were doing the talking. This would have been a great opportunity for some calm, bipartisan, rational statesmanlike talk to support the claims being made the countless DoD professionals who have come out against Bush's torture laws.
---
If McCain & co. indeed have capitulated to the White House, it is difficult to see how the Democrats now can do much more than hold their noses while voting for this "compromise". If they vote against while the entire GOP caucus votes for the new laws, the Dems will lose and Karl Rove will again exploit the issue in the elections.

MARCU$

Posted by: MARCU$ on September 22, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum? anybody? --

From Wednesday, September 20th, re Maher Arar, the Canadian rendered to Syria.

Lieing or supremely ignorant? Can't he be F***ing sued to blatant lieing to those who pay his wages?

ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. Attorney General: "We were not responsible for his removal to Syria. I'm not aware that he was tortured, and I haven't read the commission report.

Mr. Arar was deported under our immigration laws. He was initially detained because his name appeared on a terrorist list, and he was deported according to our -- according to our laws."

Fot those who don't know, he was denied access to the Canadian consul as is common practice under international law, and had to wait a week before being allowed a call (to his family. He then took a flight, courtesy US (CIA) to Jordan and was driven to Syria (our supposed mortal enemy, or one of them), and spent a year there. Canadian investigation has cleared him of any complicity with terrorists of any kind, let alone al Qaeda, and has agreed hed was tortured in Syria.

Can't we get this guy? Gonzalez, that is!
Or does lieing through your teeth not matter any more?

Posted by: notthere on September 22, 2006 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

nepeta MARCU$,

I can't disagree with you more. Dems weren't involved in the charade. That's a good thing. They knew there was no serious debate going on, so they didn't Lieberman up. They just let the republicans shadowbox among themselves. Now they have even better moral standing to come out loudly and proudly against the bill.

This is not a 65% favorable president. This is not a momenet of panic after a terrible terrorist attack. This is a president who's barely in the forties with a Congress who's barely in the 20's.

Literally there are no consequences for coming out hard and loud against this horrible bill. There is no down side for fighting it.

Do you guys imagine there will be marches on washington if the bill gets stopped? Angry mobs demanding the president himself start slapping around detainees? Where is the pro-torture lobby? There is no faction that wants this other than the administration.

You guys think we gonna see John Hagee up there demanding that the US torture prisoners the way Jesus would have done?

HELLO?

The republicans have over-projected and set themselves up for a huge fall.

There's no inevitablility to this at all. You guys couldn't be more wrong.

Posted by: patience on September 22, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

That's all well and good, but the legislation also allows the president to unilaterally decide what's permissible below this threshold.

That is not correct, Kevin. The legislation explicitly lists things that constitute "grave breaches", and gives the President the authority to interpret and enforce the conventions in regards to violations that are not grave breaches. I'm not trying to defend the bill, but that particular criticism is wrong.

As for whether it prohibits waterboarding and the other "torture-lite" techniques, that will almost certainly be determined by the bill's definition of "serious mental pain or injury." If you assume that waterboarding, etc. is legal under current law (and I'm not aware of any case in which they were found illegal), then any case for illegality will be based on two changes to that phrase (the rest of the torture provisions deal with physical safety, which hasn't played a role in the legal debate as far as I know so far).

The first change is that while current law apparently prohibits "severe mental pain or suffering", this bill changes that standard to "serious mental pain or suffering", which I assume is a lower threshold. Second, while current law prohibits "prolonged mental harm", this bill changes that to "serious and non-transitory mental harm."

You could probably make the case that waterboarding is transitory (the most resistant prisoner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, only lasted 2.5 minutes under it). I'd guess not so much for the cold-cells, but who knows. Whether that stuff qualifies as "serious" mental suffering when so far it apparently hasn't qualified as "severe" mental suffering, I don't know. If the sensation of drowning isn't severe, then its hard to say what any of these adjectives mean.

Posted by: Greg on September 22, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I misread your comment, Kevin. You read the grave/non-grave interpretation bit correctly, as far as I see.

Posted by: Greg on September 22, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Torture doesn't work, it endangers our troops, and is completely immoral.

WWJT?

Posted by: AkaDad on September 22, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

patience--------These are the same Democrats who couldn't stand the fuck up to 33% W and his handpicked Get out of Free Supreme Ct nominee Samuel Alito? They're suddenly gonna stand up against the torture of some furriner evildoers? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Please sir do you have a bridge in Brooklyn you'd contemplate making available for sale?

Posted by: robbymack on September 22, 2006 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Dems are in a difficult position because they've been quiet the whole time and allowed McCain to be the "voice of conscience" on this bill. With McCain backing the compromise, it looks like it must be a decent bill, right? After all, McCain was the one fighting for decent treatment!

You really are some kind of double agent, aren't you?

What's wrong with simply calling their bluff? Coming out and saying "hey, this whole thing was a song and dance aimed at approving torture. McCain is just as much for torture as the rest of them, as he just showed."

Is that so hard?

Posted by: craigie on September 22, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Now I can sleep safely knowing Bush has been given all of the power he believes is necessary to prevent the terrorists from murdering us as they did on 9/11."

Yes, you can sleep the sweet sleep of mongoloid idiotbecause these guys reallys sit around thinking about how tough our codpiece wearers are. Meanwhile, all the Abu Ghraibs we've created are churning out cadres of killers who specifically want your ass, Al. Pleasant dreams, sucker.

Posted by: Kenji on September 22, 2006 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

>Dems are in a difficult position...

I disagree. All the Dem's have to do is say McCain got it wrong. It was a good try on his part but he caved, etc, etc, and came up with a bill that won't pass any legal tests.

There will be no bill to vote on.

Use the Repub tactic of review: "It looks interesting but we have to review it before we do anything about it."

Then kill it.

Reality is on the Dem's side.

Bush and GOP are down not because of what Dem's are saying, it's because reality is bashing Bush over the head and enough people are beginning to see that.

Posted by: James on September 22, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

I truss Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, John Kerry and Barbara Boxer will be upfront against this abomination but notably the Evan Bayhs, Hillary Clintons, Maria Cantwells and Charles Schumers will be quite vociferous in their resounding silence. And I have no clue where Holy Joe will fall on this issue. I am amazed he didn't team up with warner, mccain and Huck as part of the transpartisan kick he's on. It'll be telling to see what he comes out for, and which way he votes.

Posted by: robbymack on September 22, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

i agree that the dems have misplayed their hand on this one, although i'm not sure how much political difference it makes (if you support torture, you already weren't a dem vote, so the fact that the torture-lovers get what they want shouldn't really change the political dynamic in november), but i really wanted to respond to kevin's second last sentence.

of course warner, graham, and mccain caved completely. it's what they do.

Posted by: howard on September 22, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

Drum...It's late. Go to bed.

Posted by: James on September 22, 2006 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Patience: "Literally there are no consequences for coming out hard and loud against this horrible bill. There is no down side for fighting it."

Then why does this 'put the Dems in an impossible position?' (Kevin's analysis) And why haven't Dems been loudly opposing Bush's plans to use torture regardless of whether the 'Repub three' were partaking in a 'staged' argument? If your analysis is correct, that a large majority of Americans have strong negative feelings about torture, then why are the Dems walking on egg shells? I'm tired of political strategy replacing honest and loud debate, that's all.
If Dem politicians hadn't been watching their political asses during the War Resolution vote, it's possible they could have saved the lives of many American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. It's too late now for all those who have died.

Posted by: nepeta on September 22, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

It is a sad day if, when the sun shines brightly on the moral case against torture, rendition and suspension of habeas corpus, the majority of legislators can close the door and retreat into the dark without a word.

Shame! Shame! SHAME!

Posted by: notthere on September 22, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

Yes it was staged. But ironically it puts the dems in a great position, because its terrifically easy to explain how much of a sham this whole thing really was. All dems need to do is cite the language of the bill to show how clearly it contradicts the McCain-Warner stance.

Absolutely. And it also gives the Dems an opportunity to blow away McCain's 'maverick' reputation (which was long ago proved to be bullshit).

All that the Senate Dems have to do is come out hard against McCain, Warner and Graham as flip-flopping capitulators. So, your move Senator Reid.

Posted by: ahem on September 22, 2006 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

So now Dems have to argue that it's a bad bill even though St. McCain approves of it. That's a tough position to be in.

No, it isn't. Reid can come out and say how shocked he is that his colleague Senator McCain, a man of such integrity, would capitulate on principles he holds dear. He can make it about McCain ('prepared to sacrifice his principles for short-term electoral success'), or about Bush ('this is another example of the President bullying Congress'). I'd say he should torpedo Saint McCain.

He's got the WaPo and NYT editorial boards to quote from. He'll have law professors on his side.

The only problem is whether he's got the stones to fight, and if necessary take it to the voters.

Posted by: ahem on September 22, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

It don't matter, all this media hype, Bush is just gonna make s Executive Order or a signing statement anyway.

The 'Decider' doesn't care what the 'majority' or the GOP thinks. No winners on this one folks.

Next scandal due out soon

Posted by: Taurtle on September 22, 2006 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

You know, screw the Dems and their f***ing "impossible position." We didn't send them to Washington to spend all their time worring about re-election. Stand up for what's right or you don't deserve to be there. If they are afraid to stand against torture, the Repubs are right. They truly are too cowardly to run the country.

Posted by: Ben on September 22, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

IMHO the Dems were always in a difficult position. Their partisans passionately oppose letting the CIA continue to use not-quite-torture techniques, but the country as a whole strongly supports it. Bush's contention that these techniques worked and prevented terror attacks (particularly waterboarding) has been confirmed by Brian Ross of ABC. So, the Dems will have to disappoint their partisans or disappoint the general electorate,

In addition, the Dems look weak and irrelevant. Bush is in the game. He represents security, which he believes is best for the country. McCain is in the game. He represents opposition to torture, which he strongly believes in, obviously. But, the Dems haven't been in the game. They come across as feckless observers.

And, now that Democratic Senators cannot avoid taking a position, Kevin and the posters here are focusing more on the politics of their votes than what's best for the country.

In short, even the Dems on this board see Bush and McCain leading out of conviction, while they see the Dems following based on political calculation.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, is this where so-called centrist Dem, Kevin Drum tells us that this will make Dems look weak on terrorism if they were to do anything, like standing up against this awful bill?


According to the NYT, not standing up made the Dems look weak and irrelevant. It made it look like those Dems in Washington simply just don't care about this awful bill.

What good is it to elect Democrats if they continually fail to voice the objections of their own voting constituency?

And indeed if Broder thought standing against Bush's torture bill WAS a "middle of road act" where does that leave Kevin Drum?

I just don't believe that Dems are utterly powerless to do anything, and it's been centrist Dems like Kevin, continually insisting that Dems don't re-act that has caused Dems to weak in polls and keep losing elections.

Democrats are NOT in an impossible position, and it only becomes an impossible position if Dems fail to act.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 22, 2006 at 5:57 AM | PERMALINK

Dems are in a difficult position because they've been quiet the whole time and allowed McCain to be the "voice of conscience" on this bill. With McCain backing the compromise, it looks like it must be a decent bill, right? After all, McCain was the one fighting for decent treatment!

It looks like it must be a decent bill? That's wrong Kevin because the media has spoken: "the Senators have capitulated entirely" and the Washington Post had an editoral on this too Kevin. It wasn't merely the NYT.

Unless this is a situation where the TV media states otherwise, or other then the obvious truth and the fact is "the Senators have capitulated entirely why would Dems look weak if say anything right now?

The only thing that will cause Dems to keep losing upcoming elections, to look weak is if they fail to say anything right now. Since the Dems fail to act, the solution to their problem isn't to continue to be actionless.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 22, 2006 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK

IMHO the Dems were always in a difficult position. Their partisans passionately oppose letting the CIA continue to use not-quite-torture techniques,

If you believe that the CIA is not torturing detainees, please define what you think torture is. Spell it out in detail.

but the country as a whole strongly supports it.

No, we don't. Americans have been so irrationally frightened that when poll questions are phrased suggesting that "it's okay in rare cases to torture suspected terrorists" they'll sign on, but clearly reluctantly. Americans, foolish people we, believe that there are systems of checks and balances that our government is employing to make sure that innocent people aren't being tortured. But we have the most secret administration in the history of our country operating in private and refusing to submit to oversight.

Bush's contention that these techniques worked and prevented terror attacks (particularly waterboarding) has been confirmed by Brian Ross of ABC.

There is nothing that comes out of George W. Bush's mouth, or any member of his administration, that resembles the truth. These are sick, twisted, liars.

And what possibly would Brian Ross of ABC know and be able to confirm that NOBODY ELSE outside of Bush's inner sanctum, nobody else in government, whose job it is to oversee what Bush is doing, can confirm?

Kevin and the posters here are focusing more on the politics of their votes than what's best for the country.

Let's talk about what's best for the country. I got into this earlier at Think Progress:


Over at Think Progress
:

#55. What are some other interrogation techniques we could use to get the information we need considering these terrorist(sic) have been trained to lie about what they know as well as how they are treated if captured?

I am assuming no one here is against interrogating terroristsright?
Comment by Tracy September 21, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

The simplest answer as to other interrogation techniques is `positive reinforcement,' which means rewards for cooperation, in the way of food, treatment, privileges. And, not surprisingly, just as we know that torture doesn't work, we know that `positive reinforcement' does.

But Tracy's question reveals an acceptance of false premises, perhaps because there is little to contradict Bush-Cheney dogma in the MSM.

False Premise #1:

Let's get some clarification before we label people `terrorists': These are `detainees' who have been charged with nothing, convicted of nothing in any recognized court of law. Only in `the Court of George,' which is a rogue operation with no legal authority. It's being protected by `The Court of the GOP,' (the Republican-controlled Congress), another `Court,' that has no legal authority - at least until they succeed in packing the federal courts with neo-fascists. If left standing (Republican-control), it will bring down and end the United States of America. Two-hundred and thirty years, gone. If everything that Bush-Cheney and the Republican-controlled congresses have done these last six years is left to stand, the `experiment in democracy' is over.

In the U.S., people are innocent until proven guilty. In the U.S., people are held responsible for acts that they commit that are against the law - behavior and not thoughts. Either you believe in the rule of law, or you have no business calling yourself an American.

Many of these detainees are also crime victims: They were kidnapped off of streets in other countries, their own countries, by our CIA and taken to underground prisons and tortured. Completely innocent people, with no ties whatsoever to terrorists. If they weren't terrorists before, I could certainly understand their seeking out the nearest Al Qaeda recruiting station once they got home.

That's why we have to hold to our traditions of American jurisprudence, and why the Bush-Cheney approach to the problem of terrorism is so completely off-the-mark, and guaranteed to worsen the problem, not make it better.

Experts agree that the Bush-Cheney plan for eliminating terrorist attacks will not eliminate terrorist attacks. Even Bush and Cheney admit it. The Bush-Cheney plan will never accomplish what Americans want: A pre-9/11 world, in which the U.S. is an admired, respected, and emulated superpower, not targeted for destruction and violent acts of terror. Bush-Cheney have admitted that they can't deliver that. "An impossible dream."

It's not an impossible dream. What existed pre-9/11/01 is not only doable, what existed pre-1993 (the first WTC attack) is achievable. But not with corporate shills in control of U.S. policies and power.

What they're offering is paradoxical: A chronic state of war, of escalating hostilities and broadening conflict. Of days when only 5 national airports are shut down due to terror threats, or only a few hundred people are killed, are considered the new green/low on the bottom of the Homeland Security color code. Our lives will be like how the Israelis live. Tuning out, shutting down, never knowing if today is the day that a suicide bomber will set himself off in a popular cafe that our kid frequents. Those will be considered "good days."

We have a long list of Conservatives, in both political parties, to blame for this mess. For changing America's credo, going all the way back to the end of WWII. That's how long they've been in control of U.S. government, specifically U.S. foreign policy. These are the same people who insisted that hysteria over `commies' become national policy. Their solution to preventing communism from spreading was not unlike their solution to terrorism: Spend us into oblivion while trying to undermine the economies of communist nations, escalate an arms race, wage `hate-campaigns,' blacklist anybody who disagrees, break them by driving them and their families into poverty, turning Americans against each other. Some promoters of the peaceful brotherhood of man, aren't they?

The same hate- and fear-mongers, just as greedy then as they are today, scheming for unregulated capitalism where very few enjoy extreme wealth at the expense of the many whose labor they've exploited on the cheap.

Conservatives' solution then (massive military buildup, unchecked nuclear proliferation and arrogant isolationism and bullying) was as wrong as it is now, and leveler heads managed to prevail and keep them from annihilating the world. But they are now back. Whether in their original form or this new-and-improved `Neo- form, there really is no difference. Conservatives aren't stopping Bush-Cheney, Rumsfeld, Hadley, Wolfowitz, Rice and all. McCain, Warner, Graham, Powell, Armitage, Frist, there is no one in their party who is standing up and saying, "No more." The Bush-Cheney answer is more `shock and awe', impose more military might, commit unpardonable atrocities in Iraq, in Lebanon, and surely before the year is out, Iran. Atrocities which only create more terrorists and widen the theater of violence.

Americans have to stop living in a bubble about this: Since Bush has been in the White House, terrorist acts have increased 3-fold worldwide. We are less safe than we were on 9/11/01 because Bush has made incalculable enemies for us without using any of the money he's borrowed in our names to shore up the security of America. Five years after 9/11/01 and 95% of the cargo entering this country still goes uninspected. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, money that Americans will be paying off for generations, have all gone into the pockets of Bush-Cheney's corporate cronies. There is nothing to show for all of that money.

When Bush boasts that there hasn't been another attack on home soil since 9/11/01 (five years), that's not any record of achievement. The first attack by Al Qaeda on the WTC was in 1993. It took Al Qaeda another eight years to commit 9/11/01. If Al Qaeda just went by "the most bang for their buck" strategy, which they do, they don't have to attack again on U.S. soil for another few decades. Killing Americans isn't Al Qaeda's goal; terrorizing us into ruination is what they're after.

Paradoxically again, Bush-Cheney and Al Qaeda are in a odd dependent partnership where they depend on each other for survival. The best tool that Al Qaeda has for fanning our fears of terrorism is an American election, when Karl Rove makes sure that we are at our most frightened in order for Republicans to retain control of government. If Al Qaeda was wiped out and no longer any threat, Republicans would be toast. There is no incentive for Bush-Cheney to win a war on terrorism.

Is There a Solution?

Yes. But, unfortunately, the solution that works and that is widely known and understood in circles outside of Washington and the traditional `Establishment' culture, doesn't get any play in the mainstream media. Any time that anybody gets close to bringing up any alternatives at all, the GOP-noise machine goes into action. The solution is known inside Washington, inside the State Department (government employees, not the political appointees) and elsewhere. It's even known inside the Pentagon, but until Bush-Cheney and the GOP-controlled Congress are subdued, it stands no chance.

In the last few weeks, with the suppression of alternative solutions, a new meme has been taking hold in the minds of previously reasonable Americans: That all Muslims are the problem. I guess that means that after five years of being frightened out of our minds by Bush-Cheney terrorist rhetoric, Americans are coming around to giving Bush-Cheney a blank check to kill any and all Muslims.

We are a Nation in Deep Need of Help and Healing.

Can you recall the last time you heard or saw any psychiatrists, psychologists or social scientists brought into the media to discuss anything, much less terrorism? When Bush and Republicans took over (and with the help of the DLC) we got leadership that is ignorant of (and phobic about) what drives people to commit acts of violence against others, as well as themselves (suicide bombers).

There's nothing unique to Islam that makes Muslims any more susceptible to commiting an act of violence than a Christian or a Jew or a Buddhist, or a Wiccan or a Hare Krishna or an atheist.

I think that Americans desperately want to understand why somebody would join Al Qaeda. I think that Americans are not assuaged when Bush says, "It's because they hate our freedom." After five long years in a vacuum, with no one in the `Establishment' (including Democrats, and MSM) willing to offer information and alternative solutions to the American people that challenges the Bush administration, let's start the ball rolling in the blogosphere.

Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat, by Arthur Deikman, M.D. It's a good place to begin.

Because of False Premise #2:

"There is no `them,' only `us.'"

And we're in serious trouble.

Posted by: Maeven on September 22, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: vfv on September 22, 2006 at 6:31 AM | PERMALINK

The argument here is one that the majority of Americans care about in the up coming elections and that is that most American don't like the obvious lack of any congressional oversight.

Republicans can't stop spending, can't stop corruption, can't get serious about morality if Republicans keep "capitulated entirely".

Posted by: Cheryl on September 22, 2006 at 6:37 AM | PERMALINK

This has been remarked on before, regardless, I'm not sure you Americans have come to terms with how flawed your non-parliamentarian system is. There are many good things about your 'way' but recent capitulations by congress re FISA and now military commissions and torture reveal a severe problem concerning accountability that to this foreign observer seems to stem from the fact you have no efficient voice of an offical opposition and also from the fact that your President never really has to face his accusers in the form of a question period.

Can you imagine Bush in a forum like a parliamentary question period? He'd be destroyed, it'd be a slaughter - I mean, he can barely handle a softball interview with Wolf Blizter!

You people really need to look into this before Alcibiades leads to ruin your city on the hill.

Posted by: The Ugly non-American on September 22, 2006 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

Maeven,

Thanks for that.

I just finished reading 'Bush's Useful Idiots', the lead essay in the latest London Review of Books. It details how our prominent "liberals" have acquiesced in the neo-con agenda.

And shame on Kevin for not pointing out how easy it would be for the Dems to loudly oppose this "compromise". As many commenters have already stated; the door is wide open.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 22, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

You're right, ugly. As awful as Blair is, at least he can withstand a direct blast on the floor pf Parliamentone thing that explains his longevity. Clinton and Kennedy are the only two modern prezes I can think of who could could speak extemporaneously, with persuasion.

Neanwhile, "I truss Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, John Kerry and Barbara Boxer..."

Jeez, Robbymack, you really have an intimate relationship with these people. Maybe put in a good word for the idea of winning some elections, if you get the chance. Oh, and tell them all to hold their breath.

Posted by: Kenji on September 22, 2006 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

The substance of the Geneva Conventions "compromise" may be the stuff of nightmares, but good luck to the Dem leadership selling this as an instance of Rubber Stamp Republicans caving and going along with Bush!

By sitting on the sidelines throughout this whole piece of Kabuki, our national Dem pols let the GOP frame crystallize: this was Courageous Rebel Republicans led by Straight Talking Maverick Saint John McCain standing up to the Bush White House. And the story isn't going to come out "McCain Caved"... it's going to be "Fearless Saint McCain Stood Up to Bush".

Just Wednesday, Harry Reid told the AP that the Dem leadership was "sitting on the sidelines watching the GOP catfights." Having called the debate about whether Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions should be edited by Bush a "catfight", how is our Dem leadership now supposed to argue that McCain caved on a matter of supreme importance? Having decided to sit on the sidelines as if this was just all a process story about intra-GOP squabbling, they just can't do it. Can they argue that the whole debate was phony, that this was all Kabuki? Well, they could have argued that... LAST WEEK! But that ship has sailed.

I want the Dems to win the House back so badly it physically hurts. Judging by the lunacy coming out of the White House and the op-ed pages of our major newspapers (see yesterday's entries from Dumb and Dumber), it looks like winning the House back is literally the only way to prevent a new war with Iran, let alone wind down the one in Iraq. But the Dem leadership has got to shake off this stupor they're in and get in the game.

The war for control of the House isn't lost -- far from it. The odds are Dems win. But there's no way we should be saying "Heckuva job, Brownie" to Reid, Pelosi and Emmanuel for this. By hiding under the bed and letting the GOP run this play unopposed, they blew this battle BIGTIME.

Posted by: Eric on September 22, 2006 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

OK folks we are all standing around complaining about the Democrats as if they actually have the power to stop this "compromise" bill. If it is as bad as I have heard ultimately the courts will cut it down. In th meantime, why don't we say, "we need to study the bill, oh by the way, what are we doing about Iraq? And what is all this I hear about Iran?"

I read a few sites that include far right rank and file. To hear them talk you would think we are about to invade Iran. They are all repeating the "Iranians are going to kill us, the Iranians are going to kill us, they hate our religion, they want us to adopt Shara law" line.

How about asking George what Army he intends to use to invade Iran? We can't use the army in Iraq. It is going to stay the course.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

Yhe Dems need to start diffusing this Iran adventure now, by loudly drawing parallels with the lead-up to Iraq. Who knows? The public might even pay attention this time.

Posted by: Kenji on September 22, 2006 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

at this point it looks like the three Republican "moderates" gave in completely.

I don't think anyone could have anticipated the three so-called Republican "moderates" giving in completely.

Posted by: Gregory on September 22, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

Ron, the Democrats have the power to clearly and aggressivley fight to win this election. That's what all the fuss is about. And no, "we'll study it and get back to you later" isn't going to cut it, any more than "Sure, we'll sign all the Preznit's bills into law and let the courts evaluate them later." Legislation matters. And the politics of it matter.

Yes, it would be great if this campaign were being fought on our issues only. If we can change the subject to Iraq, great. That's a great issue for us. But wishing doesn't make it so. I'm sure the Republicans wished the economy wasn't a big campaign issue in 1992... but it was. So here we are, in the campaign we're actually in. You can't just fight on the issues you like and hide from the rest of them. We should fight like hell to frame the debate in a way that is advantageous for our side, but we can't just hit the snooze button when the frame isn't the one we'd hoped for.

Posted by: Eric on September 22, 2006 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

What did Kevin know and when did he know it?

Has the Washington Monthly taken money from John Warner? Did they give it to Kevin?

Patience, bobbo, nepeta, Al, Stuart, Ugh, Linus, James, Marcu$, notthere, Greg, ahem, Taurtle, Ben, AkaDad, Robbiemack, Kenji, Howard, Craigie, ex-liberal, Ron, eric, exasperanto, Ugly:

Bush was right. I would know. I lived through both World Wars. In fact, I was President the whole time.

Posted by: Sprezzatura1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for walking staight into our sucker punch again Kevin. Can't you see the whole purpose of this exercise was to prove nothing would satisfy you Blame America First types to the swing voters?
If chilly air conditioners or the wrong mattresses are diabolical outrages, what exactly do you propose for a definition? Is a high cholestrol diet an insult to human dignity? How about being questioned by a woman or a racial minority if you don't like it?

Posted by: minion of rove on September 22, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

What does it say about the United States that the major topic of the day - and apparently the only thing that the President of the United States is able to think about - is how much torture the laws of the country will allow?

And, please, can we all stop referring to 'St. McCain'? When has he ever, EVER, engaged in anything but sheer opportunism?

Posted by: JB (not the U.N. John Bolton) on September 22, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

I say we torture them until they freely admit that we are more civilized then they are.

Posted by: Nicollo MacPlato on September 22, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Played like a fiddle...ONE MORE TIME...just what will it take to wake up the braindead boobs in this country...another war/another attack/another blowjob?

Posted by: Dancer on September 22, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Three rebel senators": Warner, McCain, and Graham. Ha.

It would be instructive to invite the administration to demonstrate publicly the techniques to be sanctioned, preferably on senators who support the legislation enough to volunteer for "interrogation".

Posted by: Feeble on September 22, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Eric

Thanks for the slap in the face. I don't know whether to hug you or to turn you in to the human rights watchdogs.

The issue is not whether we stand against torture, but how.

Clearly Rove has carefully scripted this entire episode. We have to change the subject. Time is running out. Another day we let him set the discussion agenda is another day lost.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

And this threshold doesn't seem to prohibit, for example, stress positions, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, or hypothermia.

Doesn't it make you PROUD to know that this kind of thing is being done in your name? Even PROUDER STILL that you and I are PAYING for it?

Oh, say can you see . . . [/music] !!!

Disgusting. What the hell has happened to us, anyway?

Posted by: chuck on September 22, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I guess the James Webb campaign against Senator George Allen finally found it's voice: "My opponent, George Allen, is a Jew!"

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on September 22, 2006 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Kenneth, shush. the grown-ups are talking.

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

One word sums up my view: FILIBUSTER!

Posted by: pgl on September 22, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Tom, sorry if I came on too strong. Seriously, I didn't mean to be rude (or a dick). I'm with you about the importance of fighting on favorable ground. Our disagreement is on what to do on the way there. My sense is we (our national pols) have traditionally been far too timid about calling it like it is on important issues, for fear of be branded as "weak" by the opposition.

Sure, we should try to change the subject, but let's not be afraid to throw a punch on the way there. Voters are judging us not only on our best issues but on how we fare dealing with the other side's best issues. We need to show backbone more than we need to find the ideal issue, especially since we can't always control what the issue is.

As the Big Dog said: Americans prefer Strong and Wrong to Right and Weak. It's probably true that the Republicans are *so* wrong on so many issues that being seen as strong won't cut it this time. But we're still better off being Right and Strong.

Now give me a hug.

Posted by: Eric on September 22, 2006 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Ugly Non-American,

Alcibiades??? - He was not only an astute politician, but a superb warrior and a ladies man, in fact the latter part did him in.

Little Georgie, a warrior and a ladies man?????

Warrior? - Yeah, one who picks fights and lets others do the fighting.

Ladies man? - Well, he did really turn on his Supreme Court nominee.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 22, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

In short, even the Dems on this board see Bush and McCain leading out of conviction, while they see the Dems following based on political calculation.

Just to bring this thread to a decisive (Godwin) conclusion: Hitler led out of conviction too, asshole. If Bush's conviction is that we should torture innocents, he is deranged and has no business anywhere near the Oval Office. Actually he has already demonstrated that much, but now he wants to torture innocent people, too. His manly courage is all empty gesture, and I really can't stomach this prick.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 22, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

"If Bush's conviction is that we should torture innocents, he is deranged and has no business anywhere near the Oval Office."

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed = innocent?

Talk about deranged.

Posted by: Hacksaw on September 22, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's on the media now. Dems who resist the "compromise" will be slammed in attack ads no matter what, but the media will determine how bad these ads hurt. If the CW becomes: the compromise is a joke and McCain is a fraud, the damage will be mitigated pretty dramatically. If, on the other hand, the Broder's of the world win out and the CW becomes: the grown-ups came up with a solution on a messy issue, any Dem brave enough to resist will be crucified.

In our blink-or-you'll-miss-it news cycle, the CW is established in one or two days, max. Since it's a Friday, there is really only ONE day.

In other words: the next 8 hours are critical.

Posted by: owenz on September 22, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed = innocent?

it'd be funny if anyone actually implied that.

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

It puts Dems in an 'impossible' position because most of them are on record as supporting McCain on this issue. Now, in order to continue opposing torture, they have to loudly proclaim that McCain has sold out -- and as popular as McCain is, Dems won't do that for fear they'll get a backlash.

We need one (just one!) democratic senator to stand up and say, "I cannot allow this bill to pass. And so against the wishes of my party, I am filibustering." That'll bring the rest of the spineless patsies in line.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on September 22, 2006 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Putting any faith in people like Lindsay Graham, McCain, Warner -- it was always a formula for suckers.

Posted by: sglover on September 22, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

The dems really should highlight that Canadian guy that we sent off to Syria to be tortured. His case demonstrates everything that is wrong with the Republican war on terror: the lawlessness, the stupid mistakes, the complete lack of accountability, all wrapped up with a forced confession that was proven to be totally false. That guy should headline every dem press conference for the next two months; he represents a living refutation of the torturer-in-chief's misguided policies. Most importantly, he is a concrete example that torture does not work, an argument that the average person can understand. (I like the morality argument, too, but I don't think it'll sway the average American that is scared of the terrorist bogeyman.)

Posted by: cramer on September 22, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

"....President Bush won nearly everything he had originally wanted:" - Kevin


You should be getting use to this by now.

btw, If we really wanted to torture the terrorists, we would force them to sit through a Howard Dean speech. Or better yet, one of Nancy Pelosi's finest.

Posted by: Jay on September 22, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

.. or we could lock them in a room with Jay, and he could tell them the good news about George W Bush.

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Re the Canadian guy sent to Syria to be tortured:

1) Wasn't it Slick Willie's policy to send guys to Syria so we didn't have to dirty our hands at Guantanamo? Think it was called rendition back then.

2) If you Dems wanted to seize a ripe issue to ambush the Repubs with, I'd advise you to attack the "dual citizenship" scam that this supposed Canadian/Syrian chap was operating under. American Red State boobs like me do not like these pesky ferriners coming over here and using our citizenship papers as a mere flag of convenience. If you want to become an American we welcome you with open arms, but you have to want to become an American...that means cutting your allegiance to the old country. If a Dem offered an amendment to require such a choice it would really cause a lot of favorable noise among those that distrust your party's reflexive anti-patriotism

Posted by: minion of rove on September 22, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

By the way Most Americans (56-35) think torture is never justified, and a very large majority (63-32)think that we should follow international conventions on treatment of POWs.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 22, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

If a Dem offered an amendment to require such a choice it would really cause a lot of favorable noise among those that distrust your party's reflexive anti-patriotism

somehow, i doubt that a person who would say something as asinine as "your party's reflexive anti-patriotism" would be willing to praise Dems for anything.

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

The conventional wisdom being promulgated by the pundits seems to be that Dems should go along and then try to change the debate to something else. In other words don't go on the offense.

This is precisely the conventional wisdom that was promulgated in '02 - that Dems should support the republican war without question and move on to the economy. In other words they should never go on the offense if the wise pundits tell them the issue is a republican one.

Following the conventional wisdom on this will have the same devastating result that it did in '02. If your opponent is painting you as weak, the only option is to go on the offense.

Take the effing issue and run with it. Appeal to emotions - the obvious destruction of American values and honor. Use words like honor and values. Appeal to simple black and white notions of right and wrong. Paint your opponent as unprincipled and McCain and the republicans as lacking the ability to hold the admin accountable - for anything including torture. Turn bushie's words against him - he shares the same philosophy as the terrorists - torture and that is not an America we want to become. Put the republicans on the defensive. Ask them why they support legislation that will allow the people responsible for torture accountable and responsible for their actions.

For God's sake stand up like men and women and hold this admin accountable and back the republicans up against the wall for once. It's only when Dems answer republican schemes with a loud and resounding NO like in the SS debate that they take the upper hand and win.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 22, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

All this speculation about the Democrats being in a good or bad position regarding "torture" is B.S. They actually have to DO something before it can be determined if it is good or bad.

As a 62 year old veteran, a lifelong Democrat and patriot, I am amazed at how inept the Democratic leadership is. There have been so many openings for them to stand up and proclaim that there are certain principles that we stand for and we will not compromise. They have failed as miserably at each turn. It is enough to make you lose hope.

Posted by: EKIM on September 22, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK


at this point it looks like the three Republican "moderates" gave in completely

I never doubted.

Posted by: ckelly on September 22, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Minion of Rove:

1. Gauntanamo wasn't being used as a prison until Bush thought it up. My god, its been six years, are you guys ever going to stop blaming the Clenis?

2. Dual citizenship "scam"? You are kidding, right? This guy was Canadian first, second, and third. He wasn't using his Canadian papers as a flag of convenience, that was where he had built his entire life! If anything, we Americans pulled a scam on him by calling it "deportation" and sending him to Syria, rather than his home country of Canada.

Posted by: cramer on September 22, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

JB wrote: What does it say about the United States that the major topic of the day - and apparently the only thing that the President of the United States is able to think about - is how much torture the laws of the country will allow?

It says that the President and most of the country know that techniques such as loud noises, cold, sleep deprivation and water boarding are effective tools for preventing more terrorist attacks and for winnng the GWOT.

Here's a question for the anti-terror absolutists:

Suppose the terrorists were planning more 9/11 type attacks. Suppose the only way to prevent the attacks was to use sleep deprivation, water boarding, etc. Would you authorize the use of these harsh techniques or let the attacks take place?

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

With McCain backing the compromise, it looks like it must be a decent bill, right?

No. It means that McCain caved as "the Maverick" always does - returning to his role as lickspittle lapdog for this administration.

Posted by: ckelly on September 22, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

No, I would not authorize harsh techniques, but I would not just let the attacks happen, either. Instead, I would use a Vulcan mind probe to uncover the plan!

What's the matter, doesn't that seem realistic?

Posted by: cramer on September 22, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Once again exlib, there is no evidence that these are 'effective tools' at all. None. So stop making shit up.

Posted by: ckelly on September 22, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

I agree bobbo Why don't the democrats just oppose the torture bill? It's the TORTURE BILL. We're AGAINST TORTURE. Not for it sometimes if it's okay with someone somewhere in secret where we won't have to hear about it. We're always against torture. Period. Republicans are for it. Period. How hard is that?

But, the hard part is to get the spinless, gutless democrats to get off the fence and stand for something. cleve

Posted by: bobbo

Posted by: cleve on September 22, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Should America legalize torture? The Republicans say yes. The Dems are not in an impossible situation. They just say no. Filibuster, if needed. The choice is simple.

Posted by: JJF on September 22, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

It still amazes me that nobody seems to be making the most obvious point of this whole issue. Answer these two questions: if an American soldier is captured in combat, what is acceptable treatment by his/her captors and what is not acceptable? If an American citizen is arrested and held in a foreign country, what is acceptable treatment by his/her jailers and what is not acceptable?

Is that so hard?

Posted by: wally on September 22, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

But, the hard part is to get the spinless, gutless democrats to get off the fence and stand for something.

but they are going to stand for something! they're going to make this election about... the economy.

fuck them.

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

cleek,

I am willing to amend my statement to "percieved reflexive anti-patriotism" if that will allow you to focus on the merits of my argument. If you've read a few of my posts on this blog you will know that I try to point out there are a lot of folks that would like to have an alternative to the Repubs, but don't see your party offering it. A big part of the reason is your "percieved" reflexive hostility to nearly all of their traditional values and beliefs. Here's a short list, then I have to go to work:

Respecting the flag = your agin it
Boy Scouts = your agin it
traditional marriage being special = agin it
silent prayer at public events = your agin it
any mention of our religious heritage - agin it
husband and wife raising kids being the ideal = agin it
thinking America is a special place = agin it.

I could come up with more but have to go contribute to the economy.

Posted by: minion of rove on September 22, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

As I read what is presented (which seems incomplete, since it starts with Section 7), this "compromise" does nothing but limit existing prohibitions on abuses and expand executive power to include the power to interpret the law and to make law (see Section 8(a)3) and to assert that that power has a Constitutional character.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Dear ex-liberal

It says that the President and most of the country know that techniques such as loud noises, cold, sleep deprivation and water boarding are effective tools for preventing more terrorist attacks and for winnng the GWOT.

How do they "know" this?

What this boils down to, in the end, is the U.S. resorting to physical force in everything it does around the world. The U.S. is showing that it has no clue, no interest in cooperating with other countries. Its only interest is in showing that it can do whatever the hell it likes.

Are you proud to live in a country that behaves like this? And don't feed me the line that "the Republicans are 'strong' on terror". What exactly has the Republican approach accomplished?

Give me one concrete example that shows how the U.S. is better off in this arena as a result of the last 6 years of Republican government.

Just one.

Posted by: JB (no, not the U.N. John Bolton) on September 22, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK
By the way Most Americans (56-35) think torture is never justified, and a very large majority (63-32)think that we should follow international conventions on treatment of POWs.

Yes, but this "agreement" is following international conventions. See, it says right in Section 8(a)(2) "The provisions...as amended by this section, fully satisfy the obligations under Article 129 of the Third Geneva Convention for the United States to provide effective penal sanctions for grave breaches..."

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The Dems need to get out ahead of this and start referring to the bill as "the torture bill." Take one from the repugs' playbook and circulate the meme as widely as possible:

-"We're against the torture bill."
-"Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for supporting the torture bill."
-"The torture bill is unAmerican."
-"The torture bill endangers our troops."

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Posted by: Kleb on September 22, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Minion of rove=agin it

Posted by: cramer on September 22, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

cramer,
The NPR report I heard said the guy claimed dual citizenship. As for Bush building Guantanamo, my point was that that was an improvement on our prior policy... for the record I do not approve of taking folks to Syria, having them interrogated with their techniques, then learning the suspect committed suicide by shooting himself twice in the head.

Posted by: minion of rove on September 22, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

this "compromise" does nothing but...expand executive power to include the power to interpret the law and to make law

Oh, well, if THAT's all....

I was worried it was going to be something unconstitutional and dictatorial.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 22, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

...winnng the GWOT.

When do we win, ex? When the last terrorist is killed? We gonna get them all? There's a finite number out there? Considering terrorism has been around since the dawn of man - when can we expect it to expire... 50 years...100 years...1000?

How do we win? By giving up our liberties? Giving up what we've always believed in? By allowing terrorists to dictate our way of life? By elevating a bunch of rag-tag cave-dwelling extremists to "The Greatest Danger of our Times"?
Since terror is a tactic - one that seems to be working quite nicely to manipulate the American people I might add - how exactly do we declare victory against it?

Posted by: ckelly on September 22, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Oh the face of it this is such a bamboozling type of statement for Kevin to go and make.

Dems are in a difficult position because they've been quiet the whole time and allowed McCain to be the "voice of conscience" on this bill. With McCain backing the compromise, it looks like it must be a decent bill, right? After all, McCain was the one fighting for decent treatment!

So now Dems have to argue that it's a bad bill even though St. McCain approves of it. That's a tough position to be in. Not impossible, maybe, but tough.

It would have been right if this were a true "compromised" that had been reach but the word is that "the Senators have capitulated entirely."

I think I'd start with asking Colin Powell, how do you feel about this so-call compromise? Do you think it will endanger our US citizens and militiary members abroad? Will other countries now feel free to reinterpet the Geneva Convention?

It is this Republican culture of corruption. It's like Broder wrote: The country thought Bush was a pleasant, down-to-earth guy who would not rock the boat. Instead, swayed by some inner impulse or the influence of Dick Cheney, he has proved to be lawless and reckless. He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt and repeatedly defied the Constitution.

This was NOT a plot by Karl Rove.

Bush was genuinely upset that he might not be allowed to keep right on torturing in the same old ways. Lets face it, these three amigos sure did sell old David Broder a bill of goods as well as a lot of other conservatives too.

These are not ordinary men. McCain, from Arizona, is probably the leading candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination. Graham, from South Carolina, is the star among the younger Republican senators. Warner, from Virginia, embodies the essence of traditional Reagan conservatism: patriotism, support for the military, civility.

Glory, Glory, hallelujah!

Josh Marshall is already wondering what the Dean will write next, perhaps the Dean will join those so called "vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left".

Whatever takes place now, to assume that it is impossible to stand up against this Republican cult of corruptions, would be to complicity throw this country to the wolfs of corruption.

NOPE, I expect our voted officials to do something about this bill. I expect them to take a stand. I expect, I insist on this bill going down and I'm sure the NYT expects the same and for Democtats to do something, at least by the sound of that editoral on the NYT and the Washington Post.

I mean really, Rice was out there telling world members that we don't torture people, but clearly Bush was torturing individuals far beyond what the Geneva Convention outlines - So now we have military members whom have gone to jail, some for as long as ten years, for what this administation deny that it was doing, ordering ugly types of torture to be done to war prisoners.

I don't know what David S. Broder will write next, but I should hope that Broder would be rightly embarrassed as well as deeply ashamed. After watching Republicans capitulated and cave time and again, what could that dumb old geezer have been thinking. That there were actually any decent Republicans left in Washington?

This bill is more about failing os Republicans to take any decent stand for their respective post, at least more then is about Democrats, whom were hoping they wouldn't have to do anything.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 22, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

maeven wrote:

(About what interrogation techniques should be used):

"The simplest answer as to other interrogation techniques is `positive reinforcement,' which means rewards for cooperation, in the way of food, treatment, privileges. And, not surprisingly, just as we know that torture doesn't work, we know that `positive reinforcement' does."
________________

I'm not quite certain how positive reinforcement works with detainees who are generally well treated in any case. All prisoners get the same high quality, culturally correct food, the best medical care, and respectful treatment (at least, in military hands). What better treatment could induce a detainee to turn traitor?

Also, though it is often stated that negative treatment does not work, such a belief is far from consensus. Most people who say it doesn't work have little experience in the process and are unaware of the sophistication involved.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 22, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

A big part of the reason is your "percieved" reflexive hostility to nearly all of their traditional values and beliefs.

that's 100% bullshit. everything on your list is baseless GOP talking points, cynically fabricated to keep the GOP faithful feeling good about themselves.

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Most people who say it doesn't work have little experience in the process and are unaware of the sophistication involved.

Simply untrue, and there have been posts to this blog time and time again for years that refute that contention.

Hell, there was a front page article on MSNBC just two days ago that refutes it:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14924664/site/newsweek/

Posted by: Windhorse on September 22, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Minion of Rove, you must be confused. Dems aren't "agin" or "fer" any of the things you mention. We're "agin" the government and especially self-righteous republican politicians thinking they have any business messing in personal issues of prayer or marriage or the Boy Scouts. We're "fer" people taking responsibility for their personal beliefs and making their own choices. Why do republicans need some politician to give them advice on any of these issues. What are you grown-ups or children? It's up to parents to give advice on these issues, not some politician.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 22, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

To me, the answer seems obvious. With an appropriately aggressive media strategy, the Democrats could disembowel the Republicans with this--once the vote has occurred on a party line basis.

All the Dems have to do is create an appropriately ominous tv advertisement that raises the very issues that so trouble us: That is, show what can happen when rulers are given absolute power to take the freedom of innocent people, detaining them forever without access to the courts and torturing them. Show a man being roused from his home in the middle of the night, treated roughly, and taken into a prison. Show the iron door slamming shut. Ask Americans if this is a power that they trust George Bush and Dick Cheney with. This should be the equivalent of Lyndon Johnson's daisy commercial--and the Dems should hammer it relentlessly and without remorse. It's a valid and appropriate response to the overreaching of this Administration and their Congressional rubberstamps.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 22, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

The most important civil right of the rest of us Americans is the right to remain alive.

i'm sure 99% of North Koreans agree with the sentiment.

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

BTW Minion, a politician (especially republican) is probably the last person you should be consulting and looking to guidance from on personal morality, religion and marriage.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 22, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

walley wrote:

"It still amazes me that nobody seems to be making the most obvious point of this whole issue. Answer these two questions: if an American soldier is captured in combat, what is acceptable treatment by his/her captors and what is not acceptable? If an American citizen is arrested and held in a foreign country, what is acceptable treatment by his/her jailers and what is not acceptable?

Is that so hard?"
_______________

wally, we know what treatment is due an American soldier if he is a POW. We just don't teach our people to expect such good treatment if they are captured. After all, nobody has followed the full GC, except us, and most don't even come close. If an American soldier is caught out of uniform, he can be legitimately put to death.

What happens to an American civilian citizen arrested in another country? Practically speaking, whatever that country decides is what will happen, within the limits of our power to influence them.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 22, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

From the Boys of Brazil in the Corner:

The Dream [....] consists in exercising the presidency of the Republic with a democratic facade and imperial execution, without controls, without laws, flying on a magic carpet called the presidential airplane, not only for official functions, but also to visit my friends whenever I feel like it, with submissive government cabinets consisting principally of "yes man", ordering the approval of laws, judicial decisions, policies; pontificating and intervening in the internal affairs of other countries; ...

Posted by: gregor on September 22, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Eric on September 22, 2006 at 8:08 AM

Throws cold water in out faces and wakes us the fuck up. Thank you.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

windhorse wrote:

"(Quoting me) 'Most people who say it doesn't work have little experience in the process and are unaware of the sophistication involved.'


Simply untrue, and there have been posts to this blog time and time again for years that refute that contention.

Hell, there was a front page article on MSNBC just two days ago that refutes it:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14924664/site/newsweek/
________________

The Newsweek article doesn't actually refute it, does it? It says this: "In recent interviews with NEWSWEEK reporters, U.S. intelligence officers say they have littleif anyevidence that useful intelligence has been obtained using techniques generally understood to be torture."

This statement is hardly definitive. How many IOs did they interview and for whom did they work? The article makes much of the split between the FBI and CIA, but to be completely fair, we have to consider that the FBI interrogation techniques are primarily designed for criminals, not enemy agents. Terrorist detainees are not looking for a better deal in the same way criminals are looking for easier time or a shorter sentence. Mostly, terrorist detainees are still looking for 1) any way to avoid giving information and 2) any way to kill or injure you.

The FBI usually doesn't deal with that kind of dedication on the part of their prisoners.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 22, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Show a man being roused from his home in the middle of the night, treated roughly, and taken into a prison. Show the iron door slamming shut. Ask Americans if this is a power that they trust George Bush and Dick Cheney with.

Only one president has ever done this to thousands of Americans. Hint: It wasn't Bush.

Posted by: dewey on September 22, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

JB wrote: How do they "know" this? [that techniques such as loud noises, cold, sleep deprivation and water boarding are effective tools]

Because these techniques have actually been effective, as confirmed by the President, the head of the CIA, and Brian Ross of ABC.

Are you proud to live in a country that behaves like this?

Indeed I am. The GWOT threatens the whole world. We are taking the lead at protecting the world from Islamist terror. It's too bad that some necessary steps are unpalatable, but sometimes being nice isn't enough.

Give me one concrete example that shows how the U.S. is better off in this arena as a result of the last 6 years of Republican government. Just one.

The Library Tower in Los Angeles is still standing. (That attack was learned of thanks to the harsh questioning methods used by the CIA.)

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

For once, there is an opportunity for Dems to couch an issue in moral (or even religious) terms and paint the Republicans as morally and spiritually bankrupt.

If they don't, they deserve electoral losses as much as the Republicans.

Posted by: gregor on September 22, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Only one president has ever done this to thousands of Americans. Hint: It wasn't Bush.

In the first place: how would we know? In the second place: Maybe not yet, Dewey, maybe not yet.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 22, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Because these techniques have actually been effective, as confirmed by the President,

When W tells you his pecker tastes like bubble gum, do you take his word for it, or do you confirm it for yourself ?

Posted by: W's Pecker on September 22, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The good news is we're still not as evil as Hitler.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on September 22, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

For once, there is an opportunity for Dems to couch an issue in moral (or even religious) terms and paint the Republicans as morally and spiritually bankrupt.

torture is a traditional Christian value

Posted by: cleek on September 22, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I've got to hand it to the Democrats. The strategy of allowing the Republicans to "thrash out" their differences on the treatment and prosecution of detainees has played out exactly as planned...for the Republicans. Don't let anyone convince you that you can go to the well too often...that is if you are a Republican and your opponent is a fully inept Democratic Party.

Amidst a trend of favorable polling data and a firestorm of speeches by the President to refocus the voting public on their fear of terrorism, the Democrats stood in the background for the past two weeks and watched what the GOP will call the difficult work of creating legislation that preserves our commitment to civil liberties while at the same time providing our determined President with the essential tools needed to pursue those who seek to kill us all.

OK, perhaps I'm being too harsh. There is a possibility that in the past two weeks the Democrats were able to devise their sixth iteration of a campaign slogan and strategy to roll out with less than 50 days to the election. Perhaps they could call it "Fifty States, Fifty Days...But Never Fifty Percent"! It's catchy, it's succinct, and it may well be accurate come November 8th. Arrgghh!

Read more here:

www.thoughttheater.com

Posted by: Daniel DiRito on September 22, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Baldrick's comment seems about right. This is an issue that can only be countered forcefully. The republicans have obfuscated the true horror with language like "harsh interrogation" and "aggressive techniques" (and naturally this is the language that is taken up by the MSM). The horror of what has been done and the lawless attempt to escape accountability is being covered up with euphemisms and misleading language.

The screams of a young boy at Abu Ghraib horrified the Senate and prompted Warner to promise to investigate. He never did. The only thing he did was make sure those sounds were never heard by the American people.

To Baldrick's comment I would add, the sound of a scream, especially that of a child would spell the end of the republicans. But the DSCC and DCCC probably would never touch the issue. Only some org like MoveOn.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 22, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Presumably, then, all of this stuff will continue.

As will the sunrise and sunset.

Posted by: Hostile on September 22, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Couple options:

It is simply the republican legislators knuckling under to Bush yet again as they have nearly every time during his presidency.

The whole thing was staged to give republican legislators a patina of effective oversight for the midterm elections and to make sure the top headlines were "GOP senators stand up to Bush on torture" rather than "Democratic senators object to Republican interrogation bill".

Posted by: jefff on September 22, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Terrorist detainees are not looking for a better deal in the same way criminals are looking for easier time or a shorter sentence. Mostly, terrorist detainees are still looking for 1) any way to avoid giving information and 2) any way to kill or injure you.The FBI usually doesn't deal with that kind of dedication on the part of their prisoners.

That's true -- the FBI only deals with Al Qaeda, Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Brotherhood, Crips, Bloods, Mexican Mafia, Russian Mafia, Chinese Triads, yakuza, Colombian and Mexican narco-terrorists, etc.

None of them are violent, dedicated, and/or fanatical criminals who are resistant to giving information and want to hurt you....

Posted by: Stefan on September 22, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Jason: "Well, the interrogation techniques didn't stop ALL the attacks!"

Nice goalpost-moving.

Posted by: arnie on September 22, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

W's Pecker - you want to believe that
-- Bush is lying, and
-- the head of the CIA is lying, and
-- Brian Ross of ABC is lying, and
-- all the CIA people who spoke to Brian Ross are lying.

OTOH you don't have a single source who contradicts the effectiveness of the CIA's questioning.

In the interview, Ross pointed out that some of the CIA people who spoke to him disapproved of the harsh questioning methods, but nevertheless confirmed that they did work.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

"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"

Man, I'm telling you it's tough being this good. Now watch as every Dem Senate incumbent and candidate will be forced to tell the voters how they voted or will be voting on this "compromise." Any chance of a filibuster will be quickly voted down and at least half of the Dem Senators, those up for re-election and running for Pres. in 08, will vote for this legislation.

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

Thomas1:

Just to keep it accurate, I think most of the torture McCain underwent was to beat him down, and not a direct attempt to get military information.

Posted by: arnie on September 22, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"If Walter Mondale had said, in 1984, that the United States needed to begin torturing Soviet citizens that we captured through raids into Eastern Europe to determine where the Soviet Army had positioned chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the hue and cry of the Republican Party would have been unanimous and complete in its opposition to doing this, and rightly so."

If Carter and Mondale had been president during the 80s, the Soviet Union would still be there.

Incidentally, I don't recall the Soviets actually attacking New York and Washington.

Posted by: rnc on September 22, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Is that why you guys want on your tombstones: He Believed That Torture Works? Wow, America at its finest.

Posted by: Kenji on September 22, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the record:
America is NOT a special place.
Deprived of its ideals, deprived of the guiding purposes that inform it and continue to inform it, America is just another bunch of people.
If we lay down our principles, our devotion to the rule of law, of tolerance for others, of the rights of the individual--if we lay those down and act like thugs, we're thugs.
No special dispensation because we're Americans.
The flag isn't special. The Boy Scouts aren't special. We're not special.
The dream is special.

Posted by: pbg on September 22, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

stephan wrote:

"[T]he FBI only deals with Al Qaeda, Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Brotherhood, Crips, Bloods, Mexican Mafia, Russian Mafia, Chinese Triads, yakuza, Colombian and Mexican narco-terrorists, etc.

None of them are violent, dedicated, and/or fanatical criminals who are resistant to giving information and want to hurt you...."
__________________

The dedication of a criminal is different from the dedication of a warrior. That makes Al Qaeda quite a bit different from the others in the list. The warrior is interested in his cause, rather than in getting a better deal for himself. That attitude renders the usual police-type techniques (including positive reinforcement) much less effective on such subjects.

Personally, I oppose even harsh interrogation techniques for anyone who is legitimately covered by the Geneva Conventions. I am in favor of harsh interrogation techniques well short of torture for those not covered by the Geneva Conventions. That makes it essential to be able to determine the difference between those covered and those not.

But we should not pretend that torture cannot extract useful intelligence, because it can.

We just should not use it.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 22, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

But now we're dealing with very unspecial people who don't dream, they scheme. Be sure to see "The US vs John Lennon". At the end, Gore Vodal sums things up by saying, "John Lennon represented life wile Richard Nixon, and Bush, represent death".

Posted by: Kenji on September 22, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, so I just bought the domain wetorture.com, anyone have any good ideas for content?

Posted by: enozinho on September 22, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

It comes down to this.

There are the following groups of people:
* those who believe that torture works and approve of it (as long as it's the U.S. that's doing it)
* those who believe that torture may work but that the U.S. should not do it (the U.S. is supposed to be "better" than other countries)
* those who claim to disapprove of torture but approve of "coercive techniques" as defined by Bush and his camp followers
* those who believe that torture doesn't work but the U.S. has the right to torture whoever the hell it pleases, at home or abroad
* those who know that torture is wrong, that its practice is fundamentally an admission of policy failure on multiple levels (just as war is a failure of diplomacy)

In the movie "3 Days of the Condor", John Houseman mused that he missed the "moral clarity". God know what he would say now.

Bush has destroyed morality.

Posted by: JB (no, not the U.N. John Bolton) on September 22, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Re Bush as Alcibiades. If one were to combine Bush, Cheney and Rove into one animal and read Alcibiades history with some latitude, especially in comparison to the genius of Pericles' - there are points of interest.

"Alcibiades is held responsible by Thucydides for the destruction of Athens, since 'his habits gave offence to every one, and caused them to commit affairs to other hands, and thus before long to ruin the city'"

Plutarch regards him as "the least scrupulous and most entirely careless of human beings".

In the Constitution of the Athenians Aristotle does not include Alcibiades in the list of the best Athenian politicians, but in Posterior Analytics he argues that traits of a proud man like Alcibiades are "equanimity amid the vicissitudes of life and impatience of dishonour"

Therefore, Andocides said of him that "instead of holding that he ought himself to conform with the laws of the state, he expects you to conform with his own way of life".

Kagan believes that while Alcibiades was a commander of considerable ability, he was no military genius, and his confidence and ambitions went far beyond his skills.[122] He thus was capable of important errors and serious miscalculations. Kagan argues that at Notium Alcibiades committed a serious error in leaving the fleet in the hands of an inexperienced officer, and that most of the credit for the brilliant victory at Cyzicus must be assigned to Thrasybulus.[122] In this judgement, Kagan agrees with Cornelius Nepos, who said that the Athenians' extravagant opinion of Alcibiades's abilities and valor was his chief misfortune.

Thucydides reprehends the Athenian statesman for his political conduct and motives. According to the historian, Alcibiades, being "exceedingly ambitious", proposed the expedition in Sicily in order "to gain in wealth and reputation by means of his successes"

etc etc

Posted by: big Greek Bastard on September 22, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, you maybe missed the articles about the many thousands of hours that thousands of FBI agents have spent following up "leads" that turned out to be completely useless. Based on information gotten from detainees. Of whom a preponderance have turned out to be completely uninvolved with terrorism.

That's what you call "counter-productive" and I'm only looking at the opportunity cost we wasted sending investigaors on wild goose chases. Could you think of something better they might have done with their time? Shit - we could have had a bunch of them learn Arabic and Urdu and Pashto, and could now translate countless hours of intercepted communications and documents that actually have a chance of leading to useful information.

Never mind the counter-productive impact the practices have had on the friends, families and communities of detainees.

Really - based on your rationale, it would be justifiable to drag the President out into the Mall in DC and hang him for having ordered the commission of war crimes. Is that what you want to do?

Posted by: kenga on September 22, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Now we can torture gooks!

Posted by: John MkKain on September 22, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Oh do not compare these pissant terrorist pricks to the threat that my husband spent a career facing down. He won his fucking war. Those big-brained bastards in SAC deserve a lot of the credit that somehow ended up in Bonzo's column.

The terrorist threat is a nuisance. The odds of dying of a bug bite are hundreds of times more likely than those of death due to terrorism.

I am not willing to give up a piece of my soul and my better nature to have a false perception of "safety."

If you can condone torture, and that is exactly what these methods amount to, I want DNA. You and I are not the same species, and the ideals you tout are antithetical to the American ideals that prompted my husband to spend a career playing nuclear chess with an opponent who actually had the capability to wreak wide-spread havoc all across the free world.

Men and women of honor have dedicated their entire adult lives to protecting the ideals of America and this dishonors them.

Stop me before I get out the fife and drum and lecture on the Honor Code yet again.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Global Thermo-Nuclear War, toe-to-toe with the Russkies" Now there is a scary proposition. But during the Cold War, we were defiant in our refusal to kow-tow to fear. What the fuck happened?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

That bastard traitor McCain. He gave up the starting offensive line of the Green Bay Packers. Now there is treason for you.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Neglecting mention is that fact that this bill would provide retroactive immunity for the Bush Administration for all past abuses of the Geneva Convention. Bush could have personally cut the genitals off a terror suspect and this bill would legally excuse him of his crime.

Posted by: Matthew on September 22, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew: It's astounding that the MSM has totally whitewashed, scrubbed and obscured the fact that this bill is nothing short of a Pre-emptive Pardon for bush admin criminal actions.

In the same way bush/cheney destroyed the longstanding American value of just war with it's Pre-emptive War doctrine, it is destroying American values against torture with its Pre-emptive Pardon for Torture Act. Despicable.

Why are the dems silent on this?

Posted by: Chrissy on September 22, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Jason:

You misread my phrasing. I was assuming Carter won in 1980, and Mondale, or Dukakis if you prefer, had won in 1984 and had two terms. The result would have been all Democrats, all the way, and the Soviets not only thriving, but probably owning most of South and Central America by now.

"Attack" has a real definition. Look it up. It didn't take a nuclear missile to bring down part of Manhattan, although had al Qaeda somehow possessed one, God knows they would have used it.

Others have posted the information on which attacks were stopped by the interrogation techniques. You can pretend it doesn't exist if you want.

Global Citizen:

"But during the Cold War, we were defiant in our refusal to kow-tow to fear. What the fuck happened?"

Depends on what you mean by "we." They aren't making JFKs on the Democratic side any more, the Scoop Jackson Democrats are being drummed out of the party today, and most of the 80s was a Republican president on the Cold War offensive while Democrats screamed at him to stop annoying the Soviets and to be more appeasing. In every issue, conflict in Central America, arms control, you name it, the Democrats of the 80s came down on the side of the Soviet position.

Oh PLEASE have the Democrats run for office on terrorism being a "nuisance." Are these the same Democrats who want to shut down entire industries if one out of ten thousand people dies from using a product?

Posted by: rnc on September 22, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Subhead on the article (from NY Times) published in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning says "Senators prevail in battle of wills with White House."

So it seems that it is NOT clear that the Three Wise Men capitulated. Publican'ts will run this horse all the way through the election. Bush strong against terrorists. Publican't Senators protecting civil liberties and Amerika's reputation. Democrats absent.

Sorry to say.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 22, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal said "Because these techniques have actually been effective, as confirmed by the President, the head of the CIA, and Brian Ross of ABC."

I was going to laugh at this comment (Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha) until he mentioned Brian Ross.

Because of course if ABC says something, it's true. Like how Sandy Berger called off the hit on UBL.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 22, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Soviet Union collapsed under it's own collective weight, if you will indulge that pun.

There were a lot of Democrats in those Missile Silos. And by the way, my husband served 12 years under Democratic presidents and `12 years under Republicans. And it did not matter who was in the Oval, the mission never varied.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen any Publicans who would be fit to shine Eisenhowers shoes lately either.

Intestinal fortitude is lacking all through the capitol and the electorate. It sickens me.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

The one thing that Bush gave up - the right to keep classified evidence secret, and withheld from the defendant? Within a couple of hours, the administration was devising a strategy to do an end-run around the concession. This is not the stuff of America. This is the stuff of Kafka

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the link to back up what I just said.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

kenga wrote: Really - based on your rationale, it would be justifiable to drag the President out into the Mall in DC and hang him for having ordered the commission of war crimes. Is that what you want to do?

Kenga is almost seeing the light. Based on our enemies' reasoning, it would indeed be appropriate to execute President Bush or President Clinton or kenga or any of us. They will execute all of us heathens if they get the opportunity - gays and Jews first. The job of the West is to protect ourselves against this actual threat.

If Mr. Rogers controlled the universe, virtue would be rewarded. We could be safe by being nice. In the real world, not so much.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

wow. Have you tried out for the Deliberately Obtuse Olympics? I realize the competition has been mind-blowingly strong these last 6 years, but really ex-liberal, you have a gift.

I just don't understand why you insist that our best strategy is to undertake creating enemies exponentially faster than we can eliminate them. You own any Lockheed or Wyman Gordon stock? That would explain a great deal if it were the case.

The evidence suggests our strategery is in fact counter-productive. Meaning it is not only failing, but it is making things worse.
There's things we can do that we haven't been. Why you choose to pretend that is not the case is beyond me, unless al Qaeda has infiltrated the Republican Party, and you're part of the 5th column.

Posted by: kenga on September 22, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: the Dems are in a position to get a twofer. Not only do they have the power to block the torture bill, but they can also go directly after St. McCain's halo, if they have the cajones and they don't want President McCain in 2009. Demonstrate that the man betrayed his principles.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 22, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib: They will execute all of us heathens if they get the opportunity - gays and Jews first. The job of the West is to protect ourselves against this actual threat.

1776: "Give me liberty or give me death!"

2006: "Take my liberty, I'm scared to death!"

Posted by: mr. irony on September 23, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

It is alleged that directed energy weapons are being used experimentally on unwilling,non-consenting American citizens in actions that amount to torture and leave the body destroyed and in pain.

Please go to http://www.petitionthem.com and type in the search window "expose and end electronic weapons torture". There are the signatures but it is the comments people have left that caused me wrenching anguish. Some examples:

1. The average mind could not comprehend this totally indescribable evil.

2. This shit is happening to me daily . . .for the past two years since I began organizing protests in Harlem.

3. These people are murdering me and getting away with it.

4. Ask our politicians how they can look at themselves in the mirror at all.

5. I am a victim of physical and mental electronic torture. I hope to someday know who is responsible and why.

Read this petition and the comments and you will be a believer that directed energy weapons are being used to attack unwilling, non-consenting American citizens. We need a Congressional investigation, we need media coverage.

It has been said elsewhere, The torturer is the enemy of all mankind.

Posted by: nomi on September 23, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

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