Balkinization  

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Senate Vote

Marty Lederman

65-34 (Snowe not voting). All Republicans but one (Chafee) voted in favor. Democrats voting in favor included Carper, Johnson, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar and Stabenow.

Comments:

It's good to know there's a few sensable Dems out there.


In any event, I repeat my unanswered question:

What interrogation procedures are ok with you? All we see is you criticizingthe administration but you never offer an alternative set of tactics. Lets assume that KSM was captured or lets say the US captures Zawahiri or some other AQ big shot.

How would YOU interrogate him? What tactics would be acceptable to you? Lay out how it would go.

Let's say he says, "I'm not telling you anything and I'm waiting for my lawyer". Is that the end of it? Should we just say ok?

I have yet to see one liberal explain how terrorists should be interrogated and how we should get information from them. How would you do it? What's acceptable to you? And if he says "I'm not telling you anything" after you've played by CA3 rules and Geneva rules, then what?

Please, enough criticizing Bush. How would you go about it?

I eagerly await your answer
 

Sarah Weddington: I have a question for you. What would you say (let's suppose that you were one of the senators who just voted for the bill) to an innocent man, such as the Canadian whom Bush sent to Syria to be tortured, and who had spent ten months in a cell being tortured, if you had to meet him face to face? Let's assume, however, that the meeting was in a prison, because, unlike the Canadian, my hypothetical innocent man was not being charged but was being held and tortured indefinitely.
 

I'm pretty sure I saw Snowe on the floor, too.

What's she doing sitting it out?
 

I have yet to see one liberal explain how terrorists should be interrogated and how we should get information from them.

You've seen plenty of interrogators explain it. Or haven't you been looking?

Let's say I suspect that you're an enemy combatant. Heck, there's no reason why not, since you have to doubt the patriotism of people who think these things are negotiable. So, you're thrown in the slammer. What, you're a citizen? Well, I have my doubts, and you don't have the right to prove it. Etc.

"The establishment of the writ of habeas corpus, the prohibition of ex post facto laws, and of TITLES OF NOBILITY, to which we have no corresponding provision in our Constitution, are perhaps greater securities to liberty and republicanism than any it contains. The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or, in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments, have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny."

--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 84.

You will say that that's 'no answer', I presume. Well, answer it yourself: tell us what you'd be prepared to have done to yourself, without fear of recourse, by someone with the suspicion that you were a terrorist. What would you permit the state to do to you in order to keep everyone safe?
 

Snowe apparently had a death in the family, as hasn't voted in the last two days. Maybe you were mistaken that you saw her?
 

Here is how you interrogate without needing this bill. Google also Koubi and Scharff, star interrogators for Israel and the Luftwaffe, respectively. Both are famed for their skills, yet neither for his violations of Geneva 3.

Odd, that.
 

It's about payback, not interrogation.


I suppose one could actually think that it's wrong to torture American soldiers (or perhaps uniformed soldiers, or however you want to slice it), but okay to torture evil terrorists.
 

In all seriousness, I don't see how different treatment for terror suspects than for "regular" criminals can be justified. No, really.

As I understand it, wanting to subject terror suspects to "enhanced" techniques turns on 1) the desirability of the knowledge they (are assumed to) have, and 2) our willingness to treat terrorists more harshly than "regular" criminals, because we judge them to be more contemptible and less deserving of protections. The first justification is pragmatic, and the second, pseudo-moral. Neither seems workable to me. Rebuttals:

1) It seems to me that "regular" criminals will also sometimes have highly desirable information. Suppose a wacko kidnaps half a dozen young children and locks them up somewhere. They are at risk of starvation or suffocation. And yet the police are forbidden from using "enhanced" techniques. Why? It is extremely important here to extract the whereabouts of the children from the prisoner.

2) Allowing different treatment of a prisoner based on the crime they are suspected of having committed skips a basic protection of a civilized society: it bases decisions on the nature of the suspected crime without having firmly established that the prisoner is, in fact, guilty. To put this another way, even if you think that all terrorists should be tortured, you presumably think it's a great travesty to torture a non-terrorist. But giving yourself license to torture people that are merely suspected of terrorism is a terrific way to ensure you will end up torturing non-terrorists, sooner or later.

Bonus rebuttal to 2): it's not clear to me that terrorist acts are always morally worse than non-terrorist acts, unless we're going to start calling all kinds of criminals "terrorists". Serial rapists, sadistic killers, pedophiles, etc, all seem worthy of the same moral condemnation we reserve for terrorists.

So my first answer would be, whatever measures are permissible for “regular” criminals.

If you want a more aggressive suggestion, here's one that I don't actually support, but that seems at least defensible: torture warrants. If we're going to seriously advance a pragmatic justification for torture, that is, that the information we can reasonably hope to obtain justifies the repugnant act of torture, let's put safeguards in place. If the executive can demonstrate to the judiciary that it has reasonable grounds to believe that a prisoner is withholding critical information that could be extracted with torture, let the judiciary weigh the prisoner's rights against the value of the information, and issue a warrant for the harsh treatment when it is justified. But, I would still see no reason to distinguish between terror suspects and regular criminals.
 

I know SW (ironic name) is a troll, but "liberal" I assume is in the classic sense, such as this being a "liberal democracy" and so forth, right? The conservatives etc. against this thing underline we aren't just talking about the Kennedys of the world.

The Dems voting "aye" have an electoral taint to them. Several are running in November. The rather liberal L. (NJ) is surprising, but maybe he's doing it out of loyalty to M. who is running neck to neck vs. Kean.

Rockefeller's vote underlines the gutless wonder nature of his role on the intel committee, an important one in this area. The fact Sen. Roberts went too far for even him underlines the depths.

Snowe also is running.
 

Well, maiken, you are forthright, and wcw, though less forthrights, is fundamentally in accord, in agreeing with sarahweddington's hypothetical version of the absurd liberal answer: if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed asks for a lawyer, all interrogation must cease. Unfortunately, the American people don't agree with you, but maybe you can convince them at some future date.

Most of the comments here make little sense to me. wcw, why do you we assume that terrrorists are the kind of loser low-lifes who succumb to standard police interrogation techniques? pseudonymous in nc, consider this: if you were (wrongly but reasonably) believed by an American soldier to be an enemy combatant on the battlefield, would you be willing to be killed? I doubt it. Does that mean that American soldiers are not allowed to kill those they believe to be enemy combatants on the battlefield? Your argument proves too much.
 

btw maiken has a very good point.

As to warrants, that would "ruin it" by openly torturing. We don't do that, remember?
 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 

Hey Marty,

Any chance we can get some brutally detailed explanations of the consequences of this bill?

Particularly if you could post to this reddit discussion thread here.


Reddit is a bookmark aggregator. By posting some comments to this thread you would be able to inform a concerned but less scholarly community.

1:00 AM
 

Sometimes I wonder if the Bush Admin thought up all this convoluted mess just so they could sound insane and piss off the Dems.

At the end of the debate, McCaine said that all US Officials must comply with Common Article III, even if they can't be punished for less than Grave Breaches. If this is true, wouldn't it allow field agents to legally disobey an order by refusing to employ certain procedures?

But anyway, the combination of harsh techniques and the loss of habeas corpus is the worst possible situation, not on constitutional or moral grounds, but simply on long term progress against terrorism.

If these men were true POWs, then harsh treatment wouldn't matter as much: when POWs return to their homeland after the battle is over, they are under the control of their government. In addition, it is obvious that POWs don't need habeas corpus to eventually get a hearing, and maybe released regardless of individual actions.

But terrorists, or those thought to be terrorists are a special case. They represent a Nation of One. Mistreatment during detention of could easily create a threat where one didn't exist. Detainees become dangerous due to the actions of our government. We can't simply set them loose since there is no government to take them.

So it is important to have either effective habeas rights, or strict policies for detainee treatment. Maybe the CIA will consider this and go easy on their captives until habeas has been tested in the Courts.

Btw, how long before the habeas stripping is challenged? Won't it start right away?
 

Sometimes I wonder if the Bush Admin thought up all this convoluted mess just so they could sound insane and piss off the Dems.

At the end of the debate, McCaine said that all US Officials must comply with Common Article III, even if they can't be punished for less than Grave Breaches. If this is true, wouldn't it allow field agents to legally disobey an order by refusing to employ certain procedures?

But anyway, the combination of harsh techniques and the loss of habeas corpus is the worst possible situation, not on constitutional or moral grounds, but simply on long term progress against terrorism.

If these men were true POWs, then harsh treatment wouldn't matter as much: when POWs return to their homeland after the battle is over, they are under the control of their government. In addition, it is obvious that POWs don't need habeas corpus to eventually get a hearing, and maybe released regardless of individual actions.

But terrorists, or those thought to be terrorists are a special case. They represent a Nation of One. Mistreatment during detention of could easily create a threat where one didn't exist. Detainees become dangerous due to the actions of our government. We can't simply set them loose since there is no government to take them.

So it is important to have either effective habeas rights, or strict policies for detainee treatment. Maybe the CIA will consider this and go easy on their captives until habeas has been tested in the Courts.

Btw, how long before the habeas stripping is challenged? Won't it start right away?
 

It's good to know there's a few sensable Dems out there.

That's big of you, so I'll respond in kind with a tip to help you get taken more seriously next time: the word is sensible, not sensable.

But to give my answer your question: interrogation procedures that aren't cruel and that don't torture are OK with me.

And to answer your underlying question: there are numerous examples of how reasonable, patient questioning of even "hardened" suspects can lead to real results. Here are two accounts:
1) "What would Allah do?"
2) "Pray and tell"

...summarized by me here, if you prefer. I invite your focused, finite, and civil discussion there.
 

All my representatives voted for this bill: Senators Menendez and Lautenberg (D), Rep. Chris Smith (R). I sent the following letter to the Newark Star Ledger and the Trenton Times, but it has not been printed.

-----------
A dark day for New Jersey and the nation

Yesterday, our state’s senators violated the trust of their constituents, as well as the legality and morality of this country. Instead of fighting for legislation that would clearly and effectively ban torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, my senators chose to enact a terrible law that raises the bar for what is considered criminal state conduct—a law that, with its vague language, delegation of unchecked power to the executive, and stripping of judicial guarantees fails to protect us all against abuse. Along with a team of law students, I spent the last five days involved in a sleepless effort to find a senator with the backbone, leadership, and moral clarity to block this bill from passing. After speaking with staffers who work for Senator Lautenberg and Senator Menendez, it became clear to me that the necessary courage and conviction would not come from my state. But I never expected that my representatives would go this far and actually support this shocking piece of legislation. I am a New Jersey voter who has always voted Democrat. Yesterday, I renounced all vestiges of party loyalty. I believe history will find those responsible for enacting this law guilty of enabling torture, and those who support them will be complicit.

Deborah A. Popowski
Harvard Law School
J.D., expected, Class of 2008

[Institutional affiliation provided for identification purposes only. I do not speak on behalf of Harvard Law School or any student or faculty group.]

For more information on the impressive mobilization of legal scholars across the nation, see Harvard Law School website: http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2006/09/28_letter.php. The article contains a link to an open letter to Congress signed by over 600 law faculty from 49 states, 15 of them from New Jersey: http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2006/09/letter.pdf.
 

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It's good to know there's a few sensable Dems out there.


In any event, I repeat my unanswered question:

What interrogation procedures are ok with you? All we see is you criticizingthe administration but you never offer an alternative set of tactics. Lets assume that KSM was captured or lets say the US captures Zawahiri or some other AQ big shot.

How would YOU interrogate him? What tactics would be acceptable to you? Lay out how it would go.

Let's say he says, "I'm not telling you anything and I'm waiting for my lawyer". Is that the end of it? Should we just say ok?

I have yet to see one liberal explain how terrorists should be interrogated and how we should get information from them. How would you do it? What's acceptable to you? And if he says "I'm not telling you anything" after you've played by CA3 rules and Geneva rules, then what?

Please, enough criticizing Bush. How would you go about it?

I eagerly await your answer

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Snowe apparently had a death in the family, as hasn't voted in the last two days. Maybe you were mistaken that you saw her?


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Sometimes I wonder if the Bush Admin thought up all this convoluted mess just so they could sound insane and piss off the Dems.

At the end of the debate, McCaine said that all US Officials must comply with Common Article III, even if they can't be punished for less than Grave Breaches. If this is true, wouldn't it allow field agents to legally disobey an order by refusing to employ certain procedures?

But anyway, the combination of harsh techniques and the loss of habeas corpus is the worst possible situation, not on constitutional or moral grounds, but simply on long term progress against terrorism.

If these men were true POWs, then harsh treatment wouldn't matter as much: when POWs return to their homeland after the battle is over, they are under the control of their government. In addition, it is obvious that POWs don't need habeas corpus to eventually get a hearing, and maybe released regardless of individual actions.

But terrorists, or those thought to be terrorists are a special case. They represent a Nation of One. Mistreatment during detention of could easily create a threat where one didn't exist. Detainees become dangerous due to the actions of our government. We can't simply set them loose since there is no government to take them.

So it is important to have either effective habeas rights, or strict policies for detainee treatment. Maybe the CIA will consider this and go easy on their captives until habeas has been tested in the Courts.

Btw, how long before the habeas stripping is challenged? Won't it start right away?

pengertian PCI
 

I have a question for you. What would you say (let's suppose that you were one of the senators who just voted for the bill) to an innocent man, such as the Canadian whom Bush sent to Syria to be tortured, and who had spent ten months in a cell being tortured, if you had to meet him face to face? Let's assume, however, that the meeting was in a prison, because, unlike the Canadian, my hypothetical innocent man was not being charged but was being held and tortured indefinitely. Bahasa Inggris
 

Well, maiken, you are forthright, and wcw, though less forthrights, is fundamentally in accord, in agreeing with sarahweddington's hypothetical version of the absurd liberal answer: if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed asks for a lawyer, all interrogation must cease. Unfortunately, the American people don't agree with you, but maybe you can convince them at some future date.

Most of the comments here make little sense to me. wcw, why do you we assume that terrrorists are the kind of loser low-lifes who succumb to standard police interrogation techniques? pseudonymous in nc, consider this: if you were (wrongly but reasonably) believed by an American soldier to be an enemy combatant on the battlefield, would you be willing to be killed? I doubt it. Does that mean that American soldiers are not allowed to kill those they believe to be enemy combatants on the battlefield? Your argument proves too much.

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