Balkinization  

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This Is What It's Come To

Marty Lederman

Our government is now unable to say whether it would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions for the Iranian government to waterboard a downed U.S. airman. How do officials such as Brigadier General Hartmann sleep at night, I wonder? How many decades will it take to undo this damage? Kudos to Lindsey Graham, whose disgust is really the only appropriate response. Now, if he can only muster some of his colleagues to support a two-thirds vote to override the forthcoming presidential veto of the law that would end the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Comments:

That was a dumb response.

Among the privileges provided by GC3 to regular forces who do not violate the laws of war is to be free from coercive interrogation. Thus, for what very little this has been worth in the past and present, GC3 would prohibit the use of waterbording or any other coercive interrogation on a downed US airman.

However, al Qaeda do not enjoy the GC3 privileges from coercive interrogation because they systematically violate the laws of war.

That is the easy distinction.

A better question would have been whether GC3 prohibits Iran from waterboarding a Delta Force soldier who was captured disguised as an Iranian civilian. The answer is no.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Zubaydah was captured making a bomb to blow the hell out of kids at a school

I'm sure the Iranians could come up with a similar justification for torturing US pilots.
 

"Blowing the hell out of kids" *is* what American pilots have been known to do, and then some.
 

I agree with Bart. I think it is a testament to the bravery, patriotism and magnficence of our current President that his lawyers can read an entire body of international (and moral!) law into non-existence.

The President's heroic hair-splitting no doubt saved me from having terrorists sneak up and cut my head off and blow me to smithereens after trying to convert me to islam, burning my house down, raping my cat, and subjecting my wife and child to white slavery in their reeking Mohammedem harems.

If there's anything I've learned from all this, it's that I need to wear a uniform at all times so no one confuses me with a law-of-war scofflaw and invites me to go swimming. Now, where are my jodphurs?
 

Zubaydah was captured making a bomb to blow the hell out of kids at a school

Wasn't he captured in Pakistan after a firefight? I've never really seen anything about being caught at that encounter in the process of making a bomb to blow up kids.
 

bitswapper:

Go to the ABC interview link which was posted earlier and watch the entire interview with Kiriakou. It is really quite interesting.

During the interview, Kiriakou describes in detail his experiences with Zubaydah, including finding bomb components, a hot soldering iron being used to assemble the bomb and a map of a school.
 

During the interview, Kiriakou describes in detail his experiences with Zubaydah, including finding bomb components, a hot soldering iron being used to assemble the bomb and a map of a school.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 2:49 PM


Baghdad, the fact that someone was planning to blow up a school is not justification for torturing him.
 

It makes you wonder whether DOJ and DOD would agree that it would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions for the Iranian government to strangle a downed U.S. airman to the point he think he's going to die (but not actually dies). No harm no foul?
 

Bart,

I actually agree with you that people who simply dismiss torture as ineffective are trying to avoid having to face difficult and painful policy tradeoffs. But your assumption, that either we torture and thwart Al-Qaeda terror plots or we do not and the thousands are killed rigs the question by grossly oversimplifying. Reality is more complicated than that. In considering the use of torture, I believe we should take the following into account:

(1) Most Al-Qaeda operatives captured (especially higher-ups) will be plotting terrorist attacks.

(2) Most of Al-Qaeda's terrorist plots never get off the drawing board.

(3) The ones that do get off the drawing board take months, if not years, to come to fruition.

(4) The more a plot matures, the more external evidence it creates. (Abu Zubaydah captured with a bomb being assembled and map of a school is a fine example. The threat was close at hand, but we captured enough evidence to thwart it without laying a hand on him).

(5) High-ranking Al-Qaeda operatives are captured with an abundance of evidence, such as documents, laptops, maps, bomb-making components, etc.

(6) Finally, we have Bin Laden's statement that if any member of 9-11 (or presumably any other plot) had been captured, they would have considered the plot compromised, cancelled it, and withdrawn their operatives. Of course, he might just be lying to keep us from waterboarding captured terrorists, but the basic concept is operationally sound and, if true, would mean that whenever an important conspirator is captured, the immediacy of the danger falls.

So what do I conclude from this. That torture is the easiest and most convenient way to thwart terrorist attacks, but by no means the only way. That using torure does make us safer by some undefined percent, and neither you nor I nor even the CIA know how much.

To me, torture makes us X% safer when no one knows what X is just isn't good enough.
 

So what do I conclude from this. That torture is the easiest and most convenient way to thwart terrorist attacks, but by no means the only way.

You concede way too much, nearly-Enlightened Layperson.

A relevant quote comes from a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency:

It is far from clear that the information obtained from this prisoner through illegal means could not have been obtained through lawful methods. The FBI was getting good intelligence from this prisoner [Zubaydah] before the CIA took over. And there are numerous examples of cases where relying on information obtained through torture has disastrous consequences. The reality is that use of torture produces inconsistent results that are an unreliable basis for action and policy.

Some people will tell the truth under torture. Some people will not. How do you know?

Torture is resorted to out of frustration, at best. It's a great way to hear what you want to hear, and a terrible way to find out the truth. There are standard interrogation methods that work perfectly well, but which require investing in personnnel who can carry them out -- whereas any dimwit can waterboard a guy, or dunk him in ice water and then set the thermostat to 50F.
 

el:

You offer a very astute analysis with which I am in nearly total agreement. I would offer some observations, though.

1) While it is easier to discover a plot as it matures, we need to take down the plot before it gets close to maturing for a number of reasons.

A mature plot, especially one already underway, provides only a very short time horizon to act and stop the enemy.

al Qaeda is very well compartmentalized. One attack may have multiple separate cells whose members do not know each other. The only reported sources who have the information about the location and activities of multiple cells are the leaders and it takes time to find them.

Consequently, we need to take down the leaders when we have the opportunity and break them as quickly as possible.

2) I am not assuming an all or nothing proposition where we always use coercive interrogation or we fail to gather actionable intelligence. In reality, it is only rarely necessary to use the most coercive techniques like water boarding. We have captured hundreds of al Qaeda and reportedly used this method only 2-3 times. However, the leaders who we did break with waterboarding had invaluable information and failing to gain this information would have almost certainly cost lives.
 

A relevant quote comes from a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency:

It is far from clear that the information obtained from this prisoner through illegal means could not have been obtained through lawful methods. The FBI was getting good intelligence from this prisoner [Zubaydah] before the CIA took over.


Even the critics are putting the lie to the Suskind claim based on anonymous sources that Zubaydah was a minor figure who provided no actionable intelligence.

DIA knows the actionable intelligence CIA was able to obtain from Zubaydah. They simply wanted to give FBI more time. However, time was at a premium and CIA quickly gained the information which FBI could not.
 

I'm firmly in the camp of "NO TORTURE, EVER!" regardless of whether it provides us with actionable intelligence or not.

In the practice of determining who we will torture and to what degree, we play at being god...in short, we become monsters.

What kind of humans--what kind of society--can dispassionately carry out the willful subjection of another human being to physical abuse and degradation? How can such humans--such a society--not itself be permanently degraded?

What is it we think we're protecting if we become mere brutes? Through the sanctioning of torture we are killing the society we hoped we were or could be, and we are reborn as savage nihilists.

Once we have accepted that any human beings are deserving of torture, we will see all human beings as deserving of torture.

As Arthur Silber so correctly says, we are in the business now of accepting and championing nothing else but pure evil.
 

Bart,

However, time was at a premium and CIA quickly gained the information which FBI could not.

The facts are they already knew about KMS and the others, as stated in the NYTs and WaPo. Also, as big of scum of the earth that they are, blowing up schools and kids isn't AQ style. Not even hard core Taliban do that, although they'd think nothing of drawing and quartering a girl's school teacher. Hence, the dilemma of torturing a retarded guy and now telling the world they can waterboard our guys.
 

robert cook said...

I'm firmly in the camp of "NO TORTURE, EVER!" regardless of whether it provides us with actionable intelligence or not.

In the practice of determining who we will torture and to what degree, we play at being god...in short, we become monsters.


Thank you for you honesty.

However, if we become monsters by inflicting 35 seconds of panic on a terrorist, what do we become by killing the enemy by the thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Conversely, if killing the enemy is OK, why is the far lesser act of inflicting 35 seconds of panic monstrous?
 

russ said...

BD: However, time was at a premium and CIA quickly gained the information which FBI could not.

The facts are they already knew about KMS and the others, as stated in the NYTs and WaPo.


We knew who KSM was, we did not know where KSM was to capture him.

Also, as big of scum of the earth that they are, blowing up schools and kids isn't AQ style. Not even hard core Taliban do that, although they'd think nothing of drawing and quartering a girl's school teacher. Hence, the dilemma of torturing a retarded guy and now telling the world they can waterboard our guys.

It is true that al Qaeda and its Islamic fascist allies prefer to murder children in open markets and funerals where they can more easily drive a car bomb among them. For example, these "heroes" planted a bomb in a cart of toys meant to attract children in an Iraqi market.

However, these terrorists have also targeted schools and school busses, including the infamous Breslan school massacre, the building of an Iraqi girls school laced with explosives to murder all the new students, and a suicide bombing of a school bus.

The "people" who perpetrate such monstrous acts of barbarism may indeed be mentally ill as you claim was the case with Zubaydah. However, that does not give them a pass from interrogation to stop future mass murder of children and others.

robert cook may be able to blithely accept the loss of actionable intelligence giving us the ability to stop such mass murder, but I cannot. In my world, the moral cost in inflicting 35 seconds of panic on a terrorist simply does not come close the benefit of stopping this heinous mass murder.
 

Conversely, if killing the enemy is OK, why is the far lesser act of inflicting 35 seconds of panic monstrous?

# posted by Bart DePalma : 8:13 AM


Baghdad, what if the prisoner happens to he as tough as the Americans who didn't give in to the torture that the Vietnamese inflicted? How long are you in favor of torturing them?

And I assume we won't hear any more whining from you about how badly US troops are treated when they are captured.
 

However, these terrorists have also targeted schools and school busses, including the infamous Breslan school massacre, the building of an Iraqi girls school laced with explosives to murder all the new students, and a suicide bombing of a school bus.

The "people" who perpetrate such monstrous acts of barbarism may indeed be mentally ill as you claim was the case with Zubaydah. However, that does not give them a pass from interrogation to stop future mass murder of children and others.


How do you think the casualty numbers from those attacks compare to Dresden, Tokyo, , Hiroshima, and Nagasaki? And what do you think of the mental condition of the people who conducted those attacks?
 

Bart said, "However, if we become monsters by inflicting 35 seconds of panic on a terrorist, what do we become by killing the enemy by the thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Conversely, if killing the enemy is OK, why is the far lesser act of inflicting 35 seconds of panic monstrous?"


In our killing of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq we are also monsters...and mass murderers. Who says our actions there are ok? I don't.

I do not assert we are never justified in fighting wars...but we are rarely so. Only when we are attacked first, or are threatened with attack, such that our society is at risk for its life, may we use deadly force justifiably. In our republic's history, I know of possibly only one war that fits that description...WWII. Most of our wars have been driven by ideology or greed, (or usually greed justified and compounded by ideology), and thus, in most of our wars, we have been engaged in the business of mass murder.

You assume all those we have killed in Afghanistan and Iraq to have been people intent on destroying America; I see them as having been mostly just citizens of sovereign nations we have invaded fighting off the invaders--as we would if we were invaded by an outside force--or, more tragically, citizens who were not even fighting us as invaders of their countries, but noncombatants who have been killed by aerial bombs or by scared, trigger-happy (and sometimes xenophobic) soldiers.

I do not accept your glib reductionism of the policy decision by government to engage in torture as being merely "inflicting 35 seconds of panic" on someone. You ignore the other tactics used, first of all, many of which are longer in duration and which cause physical injury and degradation beyond mere "panic." Beyond this, you ignore the state of mind we must adopt to inflict torture as a matter of course, the vivisection of our own humanity that is necessary for us to be able to inflict injury and humiliation and terror on others and not be forever shamed and disgusted with our own evil, the view a government must take that people are mere bodies, to be used or abused at will, however it serves the regime. Such a view applies to the government's own people--subjects, no longer citizens--as much as to its titular enemies; a government that engages in torture as policy sees all people as potential enemies.
 

Bart,

I thought we were talking about AQ. Torturing these thugs never saved any children. The facts are, better techniques are available and do a better job. Torturing them just makes them heroes in the eyes of radicals and not , as should be, like cheap worthless killers behind bars.
 

Let me add that a nation that engages in torture rightly sees all people as potential enemies...for a nation that engages in torture is the enemy of all people.
 

Apparently it is acceptable to state all kinds of fictional opinions. Some observations:
1 Since detainees are not always captured on the battlefield, and not even engaged in combat, it is difficult to see why they should be treated as terrorists. What happended to "presumed innocent ....?"
2 Since we do not know who is a terrorist and who is not, the above comments imply it is OK to torture innocent civilians because if we do not "the end of the world as we know it is near."
3 If we think torture is acceptable, does that mean we allow other countries (i.e. Iran, North-Korea, et cetera) to torture our citizens?
4 If we have a law prohibiting certain behaviour (UNCAT!!) are we here suggesting that such a law does not apply while fighting the "bad guys?"
5 If point 4 is adopted, are we thereby not effectively abolishing the rule of law?
6 Above all, is there anybody that realises terrorism is absolutely not a serious threat when compared to car accidents, malaria, hunger, gun violence, heart attacks, et cetera? Those killed by terrorism are a very small fraction of these examples. But for some very important reason suggesting gun control (which might save 30000 lives, that is thirty thousand, each year), free condoms (which might save > 500000 lives each year) is blasphemy.
 

Robert, with regards to your comment at 9:57 A.M., I would also note that Bart's absurd reductionist approach to justifying torture is also predicated on the fact that 1) the tortured individual gives every bit of information he has ever had ever had access to after 35 seconds of torture, 2)the torturer is able to instantly verify that, in fact, the encyclopedia of vital facts the torturee has just blurted out is coterminous with the torturees personal knowledge and, therefore, the torturee does not require further torture, and 3) the torturer isn't some sadistic bastard who then proceeds to torture some more because he happens to like it.

Anyway, looking beyond that sort of laughable logic, you're still faced with the soul-deadening nature of Bart's worldview which, as far as I can tell, is some sort of fucked up manichean nihilism in which there are Us, there are Them, and our actions as they relate to Them aren't governed by any sort of moral or ethical standards apart from some low-grade consequentialism. Even more disturbing, though, is the apparent fact that Bart thinks this dissociative approach is sustainable, that it can be divorced from domestic policies, and that it doesn't reflect at all on the values or character of our Nation. Ugh.

On the other hand, if you can (like Bart) dissociate yourself from your worries about the state of our Nation, reading Bart's commentary here is kind of like watching the blog version of a Saw movie and wondering how he's going to mutilate law and morality next.
 

russ said...

Bart, I thought we were talking about AQ. Torturing these thugs never saved any children.

al Qaeda attacks which do not murder children among other civilians are far and few between.

Consequently, any information we obtained from Zubaydah and then KSM by waterboarding them which stopped attacks almost certainly saved children as well as adults.
 

al Qaeda attacks which do not murder children among other civilians are far and few between.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 11:53 AM


You sound a lot like the propaganda minister of (name of a country we have bombed in the last 75 years).
 

Bart, with regards to your 8:42 comment, are you actually asserting with a straight face that the CIA is going to use those reams of "actionable intelligence" they've acquired through torture to stop suicide bombings in Russia, Iraq, and Afghanistan? C'mon Bart, that's a laughably weak claim even by your low, low standards. Assuming, arguendo, that the CIA isn't inventing stories about the effectiveness of their torture techniques, you can bet your sweet (and yet so fascistic!) ass that they're focusing their efforts on protecting us innocents here in der Heimatland and not the swarthy denizens of those exotic locales.
 

everett volk said...

Bart, with regards to your 8:42 comment, are you actually asserting with a straight face that the CIA is going to use those reams of "actionable intelligence" they've acquired through torture to stop suicide bombings in Russia, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

My examples of attacks on schools was simply meant to rebut the claim that al Qaeda would not bomb schools and thus Mr. Kiriakou's statement that Zubaydah and his compatriots were making bombs for a school were lies.

As to your point, I see no reason why we would not share intelligence about plans to bomb other countries. Our goal is to take down al Qaeda and its allies in their entirety, not just those who directly threaten the United States and certainly not, as has been suggested, only those directly involved in 9/11.
 

Our goal is to take down al Qaeda and its allies in their entirety,

# posted by Bart DePalma : 2:18 PM


I thought our goal was to end terrorism? And why did we invade Iraq? Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda.
 

... including finding bomb components, a hot soldering iron being used to assemble the bomb and a map of a school.

"Those drugs were in his pocket, and that gun was in his hands. That Amadou guy really was scum of the earth...."

Cheers,
 

TO CIA TORTURERS
(unsolicited, totally unqualified advice)


Look guys we know you decided not to go down like sacrificial lambs, like little pawns in Cheney's greater scheme of things that you are. Instead you wanna fight it tooth and nail.

My advice is - DO NOT. Fighting will not get you anywhere.

Here is what you need to do - Fess up to your crimes and proclaim yourself ready to stand a trial and accept any punishment that can come your way.

No, I'm not out of my mind, the idea isn't as stupid as you may think. To see it start with this.

Was any Syrian torturer ever tried in Syrian courts? Iraqis torturers in Iraqi courts? German or Russian in theirs? The answer is no, never. See my point? Yes we know given what you've done we would have you executed in a jiffy were you a German or Japanese in 1945, but this is not Germany or Japan in 1945, you are still in your own country. Extradition is not even remotely possible. Take it to the bank it takes external force or major regime changes to prosecute people like you.

Assuming you agree let's see what's potentially in store for you:

18 USC 2340A

(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

So, given that you tortured some so bad that many of them expired the worst is any number of years or death. Or - pay attention here - nothing, the statue does not prescribe any minimum penalty, they can simply send you home scot-free, with time served at worst.

You ask how can we be sure? Think again. Police kill thousand of citizens of this country every year with total impunity, yet prosecutions are extremely rare. When actually prosecuted they usually get sent home scot-free with a minor wrist slap at best. Or think FBI. They have been massively violating people's rights in Hoover days and continue to do so to this day and prosecutions are basically unheard of. So you see you will be in the soft embrace of our judicial system, our own judges, they are a third branch of the same government you are an integral part of so why should they be harsh on one of their own? You are like cops and FBI agents, like family. See my point?

And finally trying to take Cheney to go down with you is unwise. Look as sad as it is you cannot claim that you had no choice but to torture because you were ordered or authorized by people higher up. This went out the window in 1945. Cheney can order you to do anything but neither he nor Gonzo's DoJ can immunize your crimes. The sad fact is you had to refuse their orders, torture is a crime regardless of what Cheney and his lawyers say.

So fess up and let them go through their motions.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

"Bart" DePalma and the ChiComs:

1) While it is easier to discover a plot as it matures, we need to take down the plot before it gets close to maturing for a number of reasons.

[...]

Consequently, we need to take down the leaders when we have the opportunity and break them as quickly as possible.

2) I am not assuming an all or nothing proposition where we always use coercive interrogation or we fail to gather actionable intelligence. In reality, it is only rarely necessary to use the most coercive techniques like water boarding. We have captured hundreds of al Qaeda and reportedly used this method only 2-3 times. However, the leaders who we did break with waterboarding had invaluable information and failing to gain this information would have almost certainly cost lives.


"Bart" has some "need" to excuse torture. I don't think it worthwhile for him to explain that, or for us to speculate on from whence this arises.

But his 'argument', such as it is, is a string of propositions and non sequiturs, each of which must be true (or accepted), in order for the argument to work (and neglecting, as he does in the last paragraph, any counterarguments). As it is, though, "Bart" conveniently finds the "right" way each time, and arrives at his conclusion that what we did "needed" to be done, and thus that the torture was legal, moral, and proper. This 'argument' of his gets repeated over and over, never changing a note, so it should be clear to all by now what the bones of the 'argument' are.

Let me lay the basic ones out:

It wasn't really torture.

We've seen enough of this from "Bart". "35 seconds of panic", he called it. What's the big deal, anyway? Hell, if it was good enough for the Spanish Inquisition for their purposes, and for the Imperial Japanese in WWII, surely it's good enough for us?

Torture works.

We see this repeatedly in this thread, as well as previous ones (enough to want to say, "Stop the 'water torture' of endlessly repeated assertions, "Bart"). Well, yes, it may work. Or maybe it doesn't; c.f. al-Libi. There's a range of scholarly sentiment on this, but "Bart" chooses, as he must, only to hear the claims that it "worked" ... and this from the rather less-than-honest maladministration (you know, "WoMD in Iraq" and all that), their sycophants, or the torturers themselves.

There's no alternative.

While paying lip service to objections concerning this above, "Bart" really doesn't address it. He says, "yes, there's alternatives, but they don't work" (or wouldn't for the situations at bar). It's amasing how much like the Jack Bauer "24" show with a Ticking Time Bomb™ every situation becomes, when it becomes necessary to defend the maladministration. Why, Zubaydah even had the soldering gun in his very hands at the moment of capture (never mind that he had this when we captured him, so it's not so obvious why "Bart" brings this up in a defence of torture ... except for rampant stoopidity or just profoundly dishonest 'argument').

They deserved it; they're enemies.

"Bart" still hasn't addressed the moral issue that others have raised: The use of torture doesn't say much about the moral status of the torturees (unless, say, you happen to be "Bart" Torquemada); it talks to the moral status of those who do the torturing.

But there's always an assumption by "Bart" that we're torturing the "right" people (and not, say, folks like Khalid el-Masri and Maher Arar).

- - - - -

"Bart" has joined the ChiComs (or at least the ChiComs as alleged by the RW in the U.S.):

If it's permissible to torture someone, perhaps to death, in order to save a thousand lives, then surely organ harvesting from prisoners should be allowed. After all, they're moral scum; even convicted (in what passes for regular courts) of crimes. And for those dying of organ failure and in need of transplants, there is truly no other "alternative". For that matter, why not harvest the organs of people off the streets; one such "donor" could spare five, ten lives. The arithmetic is easy; isn't it? Ten for one. Well, ten is much bigger than one, so that's a no-brainer (so to speak). Or at the very least, you'd think that the RW in the U.S., so hot on Dubya's "utilitarian" logic, would let us harvest organs from the recently deceased without permission. Now that would be an easy call for those of such a moral ethic. And blastocysts? We have too many already. Why not use them, if they can save a life? But the breadth of the "utilitarian" argument seems to encompass the "specifics" at hand and no more; kind of like Dubya v. Gore, 'good for this case and this case only'.

- - - - -

But "Bart" makes another elision, one that I have repeatedly pointed out, but that he has never addressed or acknowledged. It is this:

If torture works, we "need" to do it, and thus it should be legal and our policy

"Bart" tries this fallacy here (amongst other places):

"I will take the moral complaints of a critic of waterboarding seriously when they openly admit the opportunity cost in intelligence and lives of their position.

"To date, I think one poster here or over at the Volock Conspiracy has admitted the trade off and openly stated that he was willing to lose lives to ban waterboarding. While I disagree, at least he was honest."


Whereas "Bart" is not. The question is not whether someone (like "Bart") would go ahead and do what "needed" to be done if truly a thousand lives were at stake (or a million even). I don't know what I would do. But maybe I'd do it. Hope I don't have to make that choice.

What I find interesting and disturbing is not that "Bart" thinks such ought to be done, but rather that he thinks that it is legal in all cases and should be our policy (or at least this is the 'argument' he seems to make with his purposeful elision). IOW, he wants legal indemnification for the act, even if the requisite "necessity" and efficacy wasn't there (because the laws make no distinction for such "need" or for such exigency). When he makes this 'argument' above, he talks about the "need", but in the end, the issue we're considering is whether such should be legal, let alone established U.S. policy. But the "need" argument (even if true) collapses the moment you realize that nothing prevents people from doing whatever is "needed" (including torture, assassination, or murder) if there in fact is a compelling case for such exceptional actions. People are known to be heroes and jump on grenades ... but not "Bart"! This brave "video war" soldier wants indemnification in advance for his (and any other "REMF"s) actions in all cases before he'll "go do the right thing", regardless of whether the predicate circumstances seem to, or actually do, warrant the extreme acts in the 'argument' he asserts above. What a "brave" boy.

That's all you need to know about "Bart".

Cheers,
 

"Fuzzy math" in action:

Under my moral calculus, saving a single life outweighs imposing 35 seconds of panic. How about under your moral calculus?

And ten lives outweighs one. Do I have the numbers right? I have to admit, I only got 800 on math in the SATs....

Cheers,
 

Robert Cook:

Once we have accepted that any human beings are deserving of torture, we will see all human beings as deserving of torture.

Excellent point. As I stated above, the law apples to all. If torture is 'legal', then they can do it to whoever they please.
"Bart" can cite no law to the contrary.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma, candidate for the Schutzstaffel:

However, if we become monsters by inflicting 35 seconds of panic on a terrorist, what do we become by killing the enemy by the thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I dunno. You brought it up; why don't you tell us?

Conversely, if killing the enemy is OK, why is the far lesser act of inflicting 35 seconds of panic monstrous?

The same would apply to, say, John Gacy, or Timothy McVeigh (to put it in more familiar terms), eh? All for the greater good", right? (The linked short story by Harlan Ellison is a very interesting ... and troublesome ... one). Maybe we made a choice a long time ago, "Bart". If you disagree, don't try and tell us that the choice was not made. Argue for a change in the laws; don't tell us that we didn't make that tradeoff.

Cheers,
 

If it's permissible to torture someone, perhaps to death, in order to save a thousand lives, then surely organ harvesting from prisoners should be allowed. After all, they're moral scum; even convicted (in what passes for regular courts) of crimes. And for those dying of organ failure and in need of transplants, there is truly no other "alternative". For that matter, why not harvest the organs of people off the streets; one such "donor" could spare five, ten lives. The arithmetic is easy; isn't it? Ten for one. Well, ten is much bigger than one, so that's a no-brainer (so to speak). Or at the very least, you'd think that the RW in the U.S., so hot on Dubya's "utilitarian" logic, would let us harvest organs from the recently deceased without permission. Now that would be an easy call for those of such a moral ethic. And blastocysts? We have too many already. Why not use them, if they can save a life? But the breadth of the "utilitarian" argument seems to encompass the "specifics" at hand and no more; kind of like Dubya v. Gore, 'good for this case and this case only'.

Hmmm. Where have I read this before?

Did Raskolnikov's first name start with a "B"?
 

Mark Field:

Thanks for the comment.

FWIW, "Bart" won't answer my post above, particularly the bolded portion (and sorry for the shouting, folks).

He is of the childish impression that if he doesn't "see" something, it doesn't exist. And thus he can safely ignore any threats to his RWA worldview. No thought necessary. No effort required. Just the freqent purchase of Depends.

And that's my last on this in this thread. Let "Bart" prove me wrong of my perceptive assessment.

Cheers,
 

Hullabaloo's Digby has this excellent comment up at CAF that echoes some of what I have tried to express in my own comments here.

See: http://commonsense.ourfuture.org/unleashing_beast

At the end of her post, she links to this equally excellent column by a man who has experienced torture first hand:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/17/AR2005121700018.html
 

Robert Cook's links clickified:

commonsense.ourfuture.org article

www.washingtonpost.com article

Cheers,
 

Thank you, Arne. I don't know how to do that.
 

Digby: To some extent civilization is nothing more than leashing the beast within. When you go to the dark side, no matter what the motives, you run a terrible risk of destroying yourself in the process. I worry about the men and women who are engaging in this torture regime. This is dangerous to their psyches. But this is true on a larger sociological scale as well.

In case you have missed this reality, war is all about partially unleashing the beast within us to kill and lay waste to the enemy.

digby and I dare say nearly every single poster here have very little concept of, nevertheless any experience with real life war.

If the idea of 35 seconds of panic damages digby's psyche, imagine what seeing a child wandering in a daze down a street bleeding to death with her arm blown off by a suicide bomber would do to her delicate psyche...

Or a fellow soldier shrieking because the red hit bomb shrapnel in his body is scorching him...

Or an agonized, mortally wounded enemy fighter who begs you to kill him...

However, we would not want to injure our national psyche by inflicting a moment or two of panic on two terrorist leaders to gain the information needed to stop the slaughter which is war.

Heavens no!
 

However, we would not want to injure our national psyche by inflicting a moment or two of panic on two terrorist leaders to gain the information needed to stop the slaughter which is war.

Baghdad, there has been no bigger cheerleader than you for the slaughter that you idiots started in Iraq.

Interestingly, there also has been no one better at finding excuses to avoid getting his ass into the fight.
 

Bart,

Your description of some of war's horrors are hardly unknown, even to those of us who have no first hand experience of them. However, rather than point to these horrors to show how "insignificant" a "few seconds of panic" are by comparison, I would say these horrors are all the more reason we should NEVER GO TO WAR, unless absolutely necessary.

AND IT'S ALMOST NEVER NECESSARY.

Certainly, our invasion of Iraq was not necessary, and neither was our invasion of Afghanistan, and despite Bush's lies, he did not resort to war in either case as a last choice, but as his first choice. In fact, there was no need to make a choice: there was no peril to us from either country...Bush and the neocons fabricated a peril simply to justify a war (in Iraq)they had wanted and planned for years.

Please, Bart, give us some more visceral descriptions of the travesties of war, so we can be ever more reminded of what monsters Bush, Cheney, et al truly are, what despicable war criminals they are, how deserving they are of prosecution not only for their making torture official policy but even more for their mass murder and maiming of so many thousands of human beings, and for the misery they have unleased for those who have not already been tortured and killed but who must face the deprivations and violence of a land we have destroyed.

Now, I notice you also ignore the article by the Russian man who was subjected to torture while imprisoned by the Soviets. Funny, his description of the forced feeding he endured sounds awfully similar to what we have done to a number of our captives in Guantanamo who also were engaged in hunger strikes. It sounds a bit more gruesome than a mere "few seconds of panic."

You also ignore all discussion of the ramifications of torture...what it does to its victims (emotional and psychological devastation in many cases, aside from whatever phsycial injuries may be incurred), as well as what it does to its inflictors. You ignore it because there is no argument against it, no dismissing it as a mere "few seconds of panic."
 

Rambo speaks:

In case you have missed this reality, war is all about partially unleashing the beast within us to kill and lay waste to the enemy.

No. War is waiting for the incoming 90% of the time, and wondering if your name is on it.

In Hollywood, the enemy, equipped with enough AK-47s to arm a small country, manages to miss Rambo with every single bullet, almost as if by magic, as he calmly draws a bead on the biggest, baddest meanie of 'em all, and decides who's to live and who's to die today.

"Video War" vets shot to hell the poor buggers on the Highway of Death, and thought themselves blooded ... and "the beast within us [...] unleashed."

Four thousand (give or take a few) dead now. I'd bet that most of them didn't feel "the beast within us unleashed" as their blood and brains drained into the sand. How many of the "enemy" (the dreaded and thankfully dispatched "al Qaeda ........... <*sotto voce> in Iraq")? Everyone knows that "body counts" are where it's at. We kill maybe tens of thousands of them and hold it up as victory, because "we've got the numbers". "Trends" and "numbers" are where it's at in Washington; the monthly body count distilled to one sterile figure. Hell, it worked that way in Vietnam, and Rambo's only problem there was we just didn't kill enough of the slant-eyed buggers.

Who won WWII (a scene of much more carnage and sanguinity than anyone in our generation has ever seen)? Well, the grunts and the jarheads set up the stage, but really, the person that "won" that war was Marshall.

Where's our latter-day Marshall? Some trite Sovietologist with a penchant for lying and a nature of being too easy to please (someone)? Even the vaunted Powell dirtied himself and has disappeared in his shame.

What's wonderful about torture nowadays is that it leaves no marks on the outside. Those dead souls that it has scarred, wandering around in the post-orgasmic haze, can look like businessmen, students, hell, even lawyers. The brain itself has no nerve endings; no pain receptors. If your cranium is torn open, you could scoop out the goo with your hands and not feel a thing. Their psyche has been seared so well, and so permanently, that they don't even know they're crippled for life. And they'll go home to their wives and children.....

Cheers,

P.S.: Rambo maintains his silence in the face of challenge; stoic, just doing his duty for the party. He will prevail, that's how those movies all end....
 

Robert Cook:

FYI:

<a href="http://whatyouwantlinked.com">What you want shown as blue clicky text</a>

HTH.

Cheers,
 

Robert Cook:

Now, I notice you also ignore the article by the Russian man who was subjected to torture while imprisoned by the Soviets. Funny, his description of the forced feeding he endured sounds awfully similar to what we have done to a number of our captives in Guantanamo who also were engaged in hunger strikes. It sounds a bit more gruesome than a mere "few seconds of panic."

I commented about the Guantanamo feedings here and here.

Thanks for the Bukovsky link; it really brings it home. I'll add that to my blog article.

Cheers,
 

Bart, even you must know you're full of shit in this post.

WTF does the legalization of torture have to do with the unfortunate (and at one time wholely preventable) carnage caused by suicide bombers in Baghdad? Nothing.

WTF does the legalization of torture have to do with some unfortunate grunt holding his guts in in Falluga after a bomb attack? Nothing.

WTF does the legalization of torture have to do with giving a coup de grace to an injured enemy soldier on a battlefield? Nothing.

This is pure blustering red herring Bart. If I had some crackers and a beer, I'd eat this post for lunch.

Yeah, Bart, war is hell. We all admit it. And we all know the kind of psychic damage it wreaks on its participants. But that's not the point of the debates on this blog, is it? The debates on this blog are about the domestic battle over torture and the President's desire to legalize it. The debates on this blog are about whether, as a nation, we want to adopt a policy of intentional, clinical brutalization and degradation of other human beings. The debates on this blog are about whether our nation should renounce the bold, revolutionary values that underly our Constitution and shrink back into a cold and fearful utilitarianism.

Damaged soldiers do not make a damaged nation, Bart, but damaged laws almost certainly do. And that is what we're debating here.
 

And that is what we're debating here.

# posted by Everett Volk : 11:22 AM


Baghdad Bart isn't here to debate anything. He's using this blog to spread rightwingnut propaganda.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Robert:

While your willingness not to go to war against the enemy is consistent with your unwillingness to waterboard the enemy, this will not keep the enemy from warring against you and yours.

Everett:

I am addressing digby's naive comments about how the nation is somehow traumatized by waterboarding two mass murderers to shorten a war.

The point which you are doing best to avoid is that the everyday slaughterhouse that is war is far worse than 35 seconds of waterboarding. Consequently, if you can shorten the slaughter by inflicting 35 seconds of waterboarding, most reasonable people would do so.

arne:

BD: digby and I dare say nearly every single poster here have very little concept of, nevertheless any experience with real life war.

No. War is waiting for the incoming 90% of the time, and wondering if your name is on it.


I could not have asked for a better example of ignorance on this subject that your cliched comment. Your knowledge about the Iraq war obviously comes from watching too many WWII movies.

Booby traps followed by small arms fire are what our troops need to be concerned about fighting al Qaeda.

Anyway, we have beaten this subject to death. Time to move on.
 

Anyway, we have beaten this subject to death. Time to move on.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:20 PM


The only thing that got beat to death here was your despicable attempt to justify torture.
 

While your willingness not to go to war against the enemy is consistent with your unwillingness to waterboard the enemy, this will not keep the enemy from warring against you and yours.

Iraq didn't attack us, numbnuts, you morons attacked Iraq.
 

"digby and I dare say nearly every single poster here have very little concept of, nevertheless any experience with real life war."

I wonder what those 28 retired generals know about war that Bart doesn't.

"As retired military leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces, we write to express our strong support for Section 327 of the Conference Report on the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, H.R. 2082. Section 327 would require intelligence agents of the U.S. government to adhere to the standards of prisoner treatment and interrogation contained in the U.S. Army Field Manual on Human Collector Operations (the Army Field Manual)."

Military Leaders: Ignore Bush Veto Threat, Ban Waterboarding

Admiral Turner is also a former Director of the CIA.
 

Bart writes:
In case you have missed this reality, war is all about partially unleashing the beast within us to kill and lay waste to the enemy.

Well, if you somehow subscribe to a dramatized view of war, that would be certainly one way to describe it.

Arne:
No. War is waiting for the incoming 90% of the time, and wondering if your name is on it.

Bart:

I could not have asked for a better example of ignorance on this subject that your cliched comment.


Your earlier presentation of "reality" was much more cliched. And much more dramatic. I mean really - "beast within us" - that's supposedly not cliched?

You definitely win the "best first line in a novel" prize. Or at least, first prize in the "my interpretation and opinions matter the most" prize.

However, given the readiness with which you resort to the handy advantage of double standards alone (not to mention totally ignoring things and making things up), your war accounts just can't be taken at face value. Normally, the thoughts of someone with that experience would have real value, but not with the incessant dramatic agenda-driven track record.
 

"While your willingness not to go to war against the enemy is consistent with your unwillingness to waterboard the enemy, this will not keep the enemy from warring against you and yours."

I see Bartbuster already made my point for me, if a little more impolitely than I would.

Who are the aggressors in our current war? We are.

Neither Saddam Hussein nor the Taliban advanced or even threatened any force against us. We helped the Taliban gain power in Afghanistan, as we also supported Hussein and considered him a useful ally...until we decided he wasn't. Hussein in particular was always eager to avoid fighting us, and any talk of his being a threat to us--either in capability or desire--was pure lies, propaganda put forth to justify our illegal attack on Iraq.

Yes, there are people out there in the world who harbor ill will toward us and who wish to do violence against us; when those people are nation states and they have attacked us or they have declared war on us or an attack by them against us is imminent, we may justifiably respond with military force. Otherwise not.

When those who wish to do us harm are stateless individuals or terror cells, launching an invasion of a country is neither appropriate, nor legal, nor useful. In those cases, careful intelligence and police work is the only way to go.

Tell me: since 1945, when have we ever needed to invade another country or launch military force against another country?

If you answer anything other than "never," you're either lying or seriously deluded.

For that matter, prior to 1941, when did we really need to launch military strikes against other countries?

I'd also argue: never.

As Marine Major General Smedly Butler famously declared, "War is a racket." He recognized that wars are largely instances where the United States uses the military to help it obtain real estate.

I don't know, Bart; maybe you're really a true believer. Maybe you really believe the hogwash our leaders tell us to get us to acquiesce to their wars of acquisition, to their imperialist ambitions and lusts. If so, your entire life is based on lies.
 

Or, to put it a little more charitably, as the Firesign Theater famously declared:

"Everything you know is wrong!"
 

steveh46 said...

"digby and I dare say nearly every single poster here have very little concept of, nevertheless any experience with real life war."

I wonder what those 28 retired generals know about war that Bart doesn't.


Unlike digby and those of like delicate minds, these particular generals are not concerned that the nation is suffering from some sort of spiritual trauma because the CIA waterboarded two terrorists.

Rather, the military position is that if we treat enemy prisoners according to the GC, maybe some day our enemies will treat our men and women with the same courtesy. Unfortunately, this is largely wishful thinking. None of our enemies over the past two generations have done so, the last being the Germans during WWII. al Qaeda has beaten and burned to death every US soldier it has captured.
 

bitswapper said...
Bart writes:

In case you have missed this reality, war is all about partially unleashing the beast within us to kill and lay waste to the enemy.

Your earlier presentation of "reality" was much more cliched. And much more dramatic. I mean really - "beast within us" - that's supposedly not cliched? You definitely win the "best first line in a novel" prize...


I cannot claim " "beast within us" for myself. I was rather sarcastically using digby's own attempt at purple prose to ridicule her proposition. The phrase "kill and lay waste to the enemy" is mine.

... your war accounts just can't be taken at face value.

I never said that these were my personal war accounts. I simply gave you some common products of our current war as an example. I could have used far worse examples, but then again why? Nearly all the results of war are worse than waterboarding, which is my point.
 

In short, Baghdad Bart thinks we should act more like Al Qaeda.
 

Bart writes:
I never said that these were my personal war accounts. I simply gave you some common products of our current war as an example. I could have used far worse examples, but then again why? Nearly all the results of war are worse than waterboarding, which is my point.


No argument there. I have to question, though, if that a thing isn't as bad as war somehow makes it easier to accept. Doesn't that set a rather low bar, morally speaking?
 

Bart wrote: "Unlike digby and those of like delicate minds, these particular generals are not concerned that the nation is suffering from some sort of spiritual trauma because the CIA waterboarded two terrorists."

You are wrong and morally obtuse. You would allow our worst enemies to determine our moral values. These particular generals wrote, "In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect.... Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary... Employing interrogation methods that violate the Field Manual is not only unnecessary, but poses enormous risks. These methods generate information of dubious value, reliance upon which can lead to disastrous consequences. Moreover, revelation of the use of such techniques does immense damage to the reputation and moral authority of the United States essential to our efforts to combat terrorism."

Bart, you would surrender our values. The generals, who know far more than you, would not.
 

IC Rambo still hasn't addressed my other comments. But this colloquy deserves some examination:

["Bart"]: digby and I dare say nearly every single poster here have very little concept of, nevertheless any experience with real life war.

[Arne]: No. War is waiting for the incoming 90% of the time, and wondering if your name is on it.

["Bart"]: I could not have asked for a better example of ignorance on this subject that your cliched comment. Your knowledge about the Iraq war obviously comes from watching too many WWII movies.


No. But I can tell you that I've seen the documentaries of the grunts heading for the beach in Normandy, their faces long, their eyes fearful, and their hands crossing their chests. I have seen the clips of the jarheads heading for the withering fire on the sands of Pacific isles, knowing that one in ten (a "decimation" in Roman military parlance) wasn't going to make it. Many don't talk about it afterwards. And those that do say pretty much the same thing.

None of them are Rambo, "unleashing the beast within" and coming out with bayonets clenched in their teeth shouting vile epithets at the unseen enemy as they unleash a fusillade of .223 fire (every bullet of which hits). They're mostly frightened boys, about to do the job they've been (well) trained to do. And you can ask them about it and they'll tell you. You can read books about their experiences; some have written it down. "Rambo", they're not.

I've also seen armchair 'warriors', sitting around and playing (and replaying) a surveillance-targeting video of some guy in Iraq, getting out of his car, moving away, then back, then away, and then the blinding flashes on the IR screen of the Gatling gun, blowing this green blur -- what was his name? ... who was he ... did he have a wife and children? ... was that green blur an enemy, or just a broken down car? -- into so many pieces that you'd need a cheesecloth to hold what was left of him. And the guys watching this video yukking it up. Just as we as a collective nation watched the antiseptic tapes of those famous "smart bombs" in GWI, zeroing in on that bridge, that building, or that vehicle, and many of us cheering this amasing feat like a hit on the incoming alien craft in a video game.

That's why GWI was the "video war". It was over practically before it started, all the 'good stuff' on video. Much rejoicing all around. Only a few outfits printed pictures of the rotting bodies alongside of the Highway of Death, the Iraqi soldiers just another Children's Crusade, a sacrifice to the baby incubators of Kuwait done with endless precision and detachment. That was "Bart"'s war; a mismatch and an embarrassment to those left alive (Saddam, and even some of the ones that pulled the triggers). Life was cheap.

We found out afterwards that the Bradleys were vulnerable from the back ... because we inflicted about as many battlefield casualties on ourself as the erstwhile "enemy" did, shooting our Bradleys in the rear. We were, there, our own worst enemy. This was not war.

Some were revulsed by the GWI "turkey shoot". Rambo here was "unleashing the beast within" himself.

I will grant you that some soldiers do go for the "Rambo" approach (or that nature was in them to begin with). But most don't; even the volunteers. And polls will show that. The grunts and their families have waved g'bye to Rambo and "Bart" and Dubya. They value (and mourn) their buddies, even when "Bart"'s utilitarianism won't; it's just the "cost of doing business" for him ... just more ethereal green blobs on a screen.

Now to GWII (or, more accurately, the invasion of Iraq, which "unleash[es] the beast within" our Rambo here as well, at least on paper):

["Bart"]: Booby traps followed by small arms fire are what our troops need to be concerned about fighting al Qaeda.

Quite true. And driving down a street, wondering about that pile of garbage, and the "incoming" if and when it happens to blow... Is it any wonder that the trigger fingers are itchy? What is puzzling, though, is that the mercs seem to have the greatest need for speed and the itchiest trigger fingers. Have the "Rambo" VCR cassettes all worn out down at the Blackwater barracks cum brothels? Did they forget that they're invulnerable, or have they all just "unleash[ed] the beast within"?

As I said above. I don't think that I was the one that got it wrong. Rambo doesn't worry about "incoming" because it all misses him. He's "unleash[ed] the beast within", and is out to kill as many of the gook... -- uh, sorry, "sand n*ggers"/"Ay-rabs"/"IslamoFascists" as he can. That's his raison d'etre, and it's -- to tell the truth -- what makes him feel alive and consequential. I've heard tell in stories from Vietnam that the Rambo types (and in particular REMFs) were the ones voted most likely to get fragged. That's war, when you get right down to it.

Cliches, "Bart"? You're the master.

Cheers,
 

bitswapper said...

Bart writes: Nearly all the results of war are worse than waterboarding, which is my point.

No argument there. I have to question, though, if that a thing isn't as bad as war somehow makes it easier to accept. Doesn't that set a rather low bar, morally speaking?


Very little of the moral code which exists during peace exists during war

The default rule of war is that you kill the enemy on sight. This would be considered murder when we are at peace.

Anything less than being killed on sight is a privilege given to the enemy during war. Waterboarding is far less.
 

If the idea of 35 seconds of panic damages digby's psyche, imagine what seeing a child wandering in a daze down a street bleeding to death with her arm blown off by a suicide bomber would do to her delicate psyche...

Or a fellow soldier shrieking because the red hit bomb shrapnel in his body is scorching him...

Or an agonized, mortally wounded enemy fighter who begs you to kill him...


If you'll pardon my saying, so what?

It is permissible in combat for soldiers in combat to blow each other's arms off, or to throw grenades that pierce the flesh with red hot shrapnel, or to inflict wounds so painful that the stricken fighter begs to be killed. (Although I wish such a prospect would make us think twice before going to war instead of treating it as an exercise in chest-thumping).

But to do the same thing to a captive at one's mercy would pass the threshhold of "intentional infliction of severe pain" that even you regard as impermissible torture. So, let's face it, soldiers suffer and inflict things in combat that they would never be allowed to do to a captive, even the worst war criminal. (The same applies, incidentally, to your argument that "long time standing" can't be so bad because it is no worse than what you did during the Gulf War).

In short, your argument that waterboarding is not as bad as combat is a non sequitor.
 

Says our Rambo:

Very little of the moral code which exists during peace exists during war....

"... which makes it very -- umm, 'conventient' -- for us to be 'at war'. An excuse from morals makes all things possible, and frees us from both account ... and thought."

Rambo's not a Cris'shun, concerned with blastocysts. He's a nihilist. Imagine that. But it goes with the territory of right-wing authoritarianism (along with a profound disdain for facts).

Cheers,

P.S.: Our brave Rambo continues to evade the many objections to his spouting, chief amongst which is the obvious one that illegality doens't prevent anyone from torturing, any more than the prohibitions on murder relieves us of all homocides. But, no doubt it's easier (if not quite so brave) to torture when you have the blessings of your own 'Inquisition'. Any 'sins' you might commit in so doing are forgiven in advance. Quite the racket, I'd say.

Cheers,
 

Bart writes:
Very little of the moral code which exists during peace exists during war


That sounds like morality of convenience. Honestly, its not morality at all. War is immoral. People do immoral things. Its the reason they abandon morals, and the haste with which the do it that reveals their moral strength.

... The default rule of war is that you kill the enemy on sight. This would be considered murder when we are at peace.


I can't obviously disagree with such an artificial dichotomy. However, by blurring and shifting what an enemy is and what war is, the "W" admin has made the job of the soldier something part soldier and part police officer - much different than your portrayal. They no longer have such a simple distinction to make - just kill every enemy in sight. Rather, they must act like police officers, and discriminate, often individual by individual in a group, who the enemy is. And, because of those blurred lines, they can no longer afford the simplicity of merely killing everyone they think is the enemy.

Now they find they must work with those who a short time ago took aim at them if they are to achieve their objectives. In fact, everything about what is happening in Iraq is just the opposite of your description. While its clear who some of the enemy are, its also something of a moving target, since its clearly not restricted to AQ. Current allies can become blood enemies intermingled with the innocent populace in the space of a single assassination.

This a different kind of conflict. The once simple distinctions, like kill all the enemy in sight, are no longer sufficient and no such luxury can be afforded. The enemy are among the innocent, and no matter how wrong that is, that is the way it it. Does a military planning infrastructure accustomed to blanking out first square kilometers, then cities, then neighborhoods, then buildings, then rooms deal with appending individual terrorists among the innocent? Yes its wrong, but that's also the way it is.

By trying to solve a political problem with military resources, "W" has played soldiers into a situation their role doesn't fit by the definition you give (which I'm not disagreeing with as such - W's conflict is not that kind of war).

Honestly what you're describing as war sounds nothing like Iraq.
 

I meant "apprehending" not appending in the above posting.
 

"The default rule of war is that you kill the enemy on sight. This would be considered murder when we are at peace.

Anything less than being killed on sight is a privilege given to the enemy during war. Waterboarding is far less."


Bart, this is comparing apples and oranges. When the topic of discussion is "torture" or "enhanced interrogation," we're well out of the battlefield context.

Yes, armed combat is nasty business. But how does that inform a discussion of what is appropriate when an enemy combatant is captured, disarmed, and locked up?
 

Post a Comment

Home