Balkinization  

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Common Article 3 and the Non-Unitary Executive Branch

Marty Lederman

The President's Executive Order last week -- ostensibly construing our obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, including the absolute prohibition on "cruel treatment and torture" -- conspicuously and intentionally failed to prohibit the CIA's "enhanced" interrogation techniques, including stress positions, prolonged isolation and/or sleep deprivation, and threats of harm to the detainee and his family. Vague reports suggest that waterboarding and hypothermia are now out-of-bounds, but the President would not even confirm that much.

This interpretation of our treaty obligations is so transparently implausible that even Robert Turner, who has defended almost all of the Administration's aggressive legal arguments in the conflict against Al Qaeda, today forcefully dissented from this mangling of the Geneva Conventions. Together with President Reagan's appointed Marine Corps commandant P.X. Kelley, Turner writes:
It is clear to us that the language in the executive order cannot even arguably be reconciled with America's clear duty under Common Article 3 to treat all detainees humanely and to avoid any acts of violence against their person. . . . The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm's way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously "interpret" key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. . . . In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: "It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side." Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.
To the same effect, at the Senate Judiciary hearing this week, Senator Durbin urged the Attorney General to consider the ramifications of the Executive Order for armed conflicts in the future -- in particular, for the well-being of the numerous U.S. personnel who are not entited to POW protections. He asked the AG, in particular, whether it would be legal for a foreign government to subject nonuniformed U.S. personnel to five particular interrogation techniques -- "painful stress positions, threatening detainees with dogs, forced nudity, waterboarding and mock execution."

This was our Attorney General's shameful non-response:

"Senator, you're asking me to answer a question which, I think, may provide insight into activities that the CIA may be involved with in the future. . . . [I]t would depend on circumstances, quite frankly."

Thank goodness the Attorney General speaks "only" for the President and Vice President, and not for the entire Executive branch. In questions following a hearing last summer, Senator Durbin asked the each of the Judge Advocates General of the military services the same question about the application of Common Article 3 to such interrogation techniques. The JAGs -- Navy Rear Admiral Bruce MacDonald; Army Major General Scott Black; Marine Brigadier General Kevin Sandkuhler; and Air Force Major General Jack Rives -- have now submitted their answers, which are just a bit less equivocal, and quite a bit shorter, than the responses of the Attorney General, the President, and Mike McConnell:

QUESTION: Are those five techniques consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions?

ANSWER (from each of the JAGs): "No."

Q: Are they unlawful?

A: Yes.

Comments:

Are these treatments humane? No.

If you attempted some of these techniques (exposure, stress positions, waterboarding(if that could be adapted)) with a dog, you could be arrested for cruelty to animals. Apparently, those who support these techniques feel that we should treat our captives as worse than dogs.

Definitely a GC violation.
 

One added note. In my humble opinion, the former General and his colleague missed one important point in their letter. In addition to putting U.S. service members at risk, I think this interpretation puts U.S. civilians at risk.

How do we think Iran will interrogate the next group of academics that they seize on suspicion of acts contrary to Iran's national security? Let's remember that many of those captured in the war on terror (especially early on) were civilians *suspected* of being tied to terrorist activities or groups. Some were...some weren't.

We lose the ability to cry foul or place international presure on other countries that vindictively or recklessly use these techniques when we dilute humane treatment standards in this fashion. I realize that this purports to be a definitive interpretation of only CA3, but I believe that there are certainly broader and more dangerous implications as to what consitutes "humane treatment" in national security matters.

Even more concerning to me is the possibility that Iran could treat our folks *better* and gain a small bit of moral superiority. It boggles the mind to think of a government like that of Iran as being more compliant with international law than the U.S. is.

I forget. How did we reconcile this this with our obligations under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture. Did we say something like that treaty only applied to how a nation treats its own citizens and legal residents?
 

jdehnsmail asked: How did we reconcile this this with our obligations under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture.

I believe the GC creates broader protections than the Convention Against Tortue (at least, as the US has implemented that treaty). The Admin argues that its interrogation tactics do not rise to the level of torture (although they do involve humiliating, demeaning and cruel treatment, which violate the GC). In ratifying the CAT, the Senate stated that it interprets the CAT's prohibition on cruel or inhuman treatment in terms of constitutional standards. In the 1950s, the Supreme Court held that interrogation tactics run afoul of the 5th A only if the tactics "shock the conscience." (sorry, I do not remember the name of the case.) The Admin argues that what shocks the conscience depends on the context of the interrogation--in a national security context (say, the infamous "ticking bomb" scenario), there is greater leeway for use of tactics that would otherwise shock the conscience.

I believe that's it, but the Admin may have offered other justifications as well.
 

Thanks for the assist Adam. I was familiar with the CAT understanding. I was unaware of its artful application to this issue. I think CA3 and the CAT provide essentially the same level of legal protection no matter how we have previously interpreted or applied them (though I suspect there was very little difference on Sept. 10, 2001 and that the understanding was only intended to exempt constitutionally permissible domestic criminal investigation and punishment). I also note that in some of the JAG material referenced in this post there is repeated reference to the lawfulness of using stress positions depending on whether they are "used to cause" "severe" pain. Is this an implicit specific intent requirement? I wonder who decides what constitutes "severe" as pain thresholds vary by person and their current medical conditions.

As for my earlier post, I clearly did not take typing (or bother proofing).
 

Kelly and Turner correctly note that GC3 bars (1) acts of "violence to life and person," "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment," and "inhumane treatment" against any prisoner whether or not they are extended POW rights.

(This makes Senator Durbin's questions about whether CIA techniques would be legal against those extended POW rights is irrelevant. Unlawful enemy combatants are not extended GC POW rights and instead fall into the default category of any prisoner.)

None of the disclosed CIA interrogation techniques constitute "violence to life or person," which means violent physical injury or death.

None of the the disclosed CIA interrogation techniques constitute "humiliating and degrading treatment," which is things like forced stripping for the purposes of humiliating the prisoner or being paraded in front of cameras. The JAG Answer 4 linked above discusses this. This is the type of thing that happened as Abu Ghraib and was prosecuted.

Finally, the term "humane treatment" in the GC has no objective legal meaning. Rather, it is completely subjective term which has a different meaning for every person and is thus too vague to be a enforceable legal requirement.

You will notice that the questions put by Senator Durbin concerning whether various techniques are "humane" all ask for the respondent's "personal opinion." In my personal opinion, these techniques are not inhumane. Neither one of our personal opinions are based on any sort of objective standard and, thus, cannot form a standard for criminal prosecution.

What concerns Messrs Kelly, Turner and the JAGC is that the enemy will not extend GC POW rights to our soldiers if we do not extend GC POW rights to their captured terrorists. However, this quid pro quo has always been wishful thinking as the Koreans, Vietnamese and now al Qaeda have never extended GC rights to our troops. Indeed, al Qaeda tortures our troops to death. Thus the utilitarian argument which informs these personal opinions as to what is and is not "humane" does not have merit.

Rather, the utilitarian argument informing what is "humane" should be the necessity to stop al Qaeda from committing monstrous war crimes against civilians and our captured troops. While we should not adopt the al Qaeda war crimes, I have no problem at all interpreting the current law to allow every permissible tool against al Qaeda. To me, what is "humane" in an interrogation of KSM to stop more al Qaeda mass murders is everything short of torture.
 

fraud guy:

If you attempted some of these techniques (exposure, stress positions, waterboarding(if that could be adapted)) with a dog,...

"[E]xposure ... with a dog" has already been used (see the Abu Ghraib photos). I think that "... on a dog" may be a clearer way of phrasing your intent.

Cheers,
 

"Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an individual's liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day, they strengthen its spirit and its strength and allow it to overcome its difficulties."
 

We always suspected, but now it's confirmed:

["Bart" DePalma]: Finally, the term "humane treatment" in the GC has no objective legal meaning. Rather, it is completely subjective term which has a different meaning for every person and is thus too vague to be a enforceable legal requirement.

"Bart" DePalma just doesn't know what "humane treatment" is....

"Situational ethics", here we come....

Cheers,
 

BdP:
I have no problem at all interpreting the current law to allow every permissible tool against al Qaeda. To me, what is "humane" in an interrogation of KSM to stop more al Qaeda mass murders is everything short of torture.


And as I pointed out, these "humane" treatments could be prosecuted as cruelty to animals. Just to confirm, you consider a certain class of humans to be less than animals, as they are subject to treatment that is illegal when conducted on animals. That is not stopping short of torture, that is embracing it. That is saying to be better than them, we have to be worse than them, or at least embrace what they do for our own tactics.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

Rather, the utilitarian argument informing what is "humane" should be the necessity to stop al Qaeda from committing monstrous war crimes against civilians and our captured troops. While we should not adopt the al Qaeda war crimes, I have no problem at all interpreting the current law to allow every permissible tool against al Qaeda. To me, what is "humane" in an interrogation of KSM to stop more al Qaeda mass murders is everything short of torture.

Shorter "Bart": Torture and even murder may be "humane" if that's what it takes....

Cheers,
 

"Messrs" ?

Is bart slurring Military Men with the french connection? These hopelessly naive waifs. Don't they understand that America is at War with Terror and we must stop at nothing to defeat Terror and secure our Freedom?

What about those other frogs PX Kelley and Robert Turner? Pussies!

Bart, it is clear that America stands in a moment of danger...it's time for you and your tiny dick to terrorize terror and dispense ruthless, merciless justice on all those who oppose us... you have been deputized, immunized and satirized...you must prevail...the Unitary Executive is counting on you...Your mission is to sodomize the JAG corp into submission... they must prove themselves to be loyal Bushies or face your tiny wrath... feel free to inflict yourself on their friends and family... rely on heresy...but above all you must show no mercy...
 

To me, what is "humane" in an interrogation of KSM to stop more al Qaeda mass murders is everything short of torture.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:53 PM


Baghdad, you're not fooling anyone. You have already admitted that you would kill helpless prisoners. There's virtually no doubt about whether you would torture helpless prisoners.
 

"willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency."

is the administration claiming that because they are using degradation, like threatening with dogs and nudity and mock executions, for the purposes of eliciting information and not for the purposes of humiliation that it is okay, but when it occurred at abu ghraib it was wrong because the mps were doing it as pranks?
 

Arne: "Situational ethics", here we come....

We've been there ever since Dershowitz started pushing "the ticking time bomb" and Cheney the "1% solution." The only funny part is that a certain class of self-styled "black-and-white ideologues" can spout situational ethics like this while proclaiming themselves moral absolutists. Denial, repression, cognitive dissonance: whatever it is, it's a fascinating pathology to observe.
 

Arne: "Situational ethics", here we come....

This is not a matter of situational ethics, but rather the lack of an objective definition of what is permitted and not permitted.
 

Bart: ...what is permitted and not permitted.

::yawn:: Another feeble attempt at moving the goal posts. Permitted by whom? God? Kills us all eventually (at least in this world; who can say of the next?) Law? You'll cherry pick which law and what interpretation thereof to support the work of our PNAC overlords. And, yes, Bart, if you make your moral choices strictly on legalistic analysis, you are de facto engaging in situational ethics. Your reasoning skills are so scant I wonder how you ever passed the Bar; it's a real credit to whichever cram system you used.
 

Robert,

The funny part about Dershowitz is that in his book, "The Genesis of Justice", he shows how the concept of justice in the Old Testament evolves from vindictive (the expulsion from Eden, the Flood) to retributive (eye for an eye) to moderate, with the Ten Commandments. If you carry the concept forward to the New Testament, you get the two commandments; apparently, in his desire for torture warrents, he wants to take us back to an earlier time.
 

"Bart" DePalma clarifies the situation:

[Arne]: "Situational ethics", here we come....

This is not a matter of situational ethics, but rather the lack of an objective definition of what is permitted and not permitted.


Not so much a shorter "Bart", but rather a less disingenuous "Bart": "Because there's no 'objective definition' of 'humane treatment', whatever I say goes, goes...."

No, "Bart", I think I had it right the first time.

Cheers,
 

Fraud Guy: in his desire for torture warrents, [Dershowitz] wants to take us back to an earlier time.

Amen, and "gimme that ol' time religion". Not!

As for me, I still try to stick by "What is hateful to thee, do not do to another" first, followed by "Brighten the corner where you live." The opportunity costs of trying to improve on that simple system are just too high for me.

Peace.
 

Robert:

Since you apparently do not know, the practice of law is all about what is and is not permitted under law.

I leave what God would permit to theologians and what should be morally permitted in utopia to philosophers.
 

Bart: ...the practice of law is all about what is and is not permitted under law.

No point in even crafting a reply, as what I wrote four posts up-thread still holds: "Permitted by whom? God? Kills us all eventually (at least in this world; who can say of the next?) Law? You'll cherry pick which law and what interpretation thereof to support the work of our PNAC overlords. And, yes, Bart, if you make your moral choices strictly on legalistic analysis, you are de facto engaging in situational ethics. Your reasoning skills are so scant I wonder how you ever passed the Bar; it's a real credit to whichever cram system you used.

Bye the way, troll-boy, still no answers for "The Causal" I see. Just gonna tuck tail and hope you never see them again? It's probably your best bet. You're not good for much more than pointless tautology like the above.
 

Robert,

Don't you mean that Troll Time Religion?

Bart clearly places safety over liberty and thus deserves neither.

Fortunately, I think we are seeing signs that the surge against Trolls here in America is working.

The ranks of Bart's cohorts are thinning while their wails become shriller and shriller... soon they will lack all cover and be fully exposed for the twisted pathetic souls they are... piously declaring high Christian values of torture, fear mongering and power lust...

Consider this,

"that evangelical support for Israel is largely based on "End Times" theology is largely irrelevant to the Israeli politicians who share the goal of expanding settlements into the West Bank and a military strike on Iran, but it is anything but irrelevant to the rank-and-file members and even one former House Majority Leader.

Blumenthal opens the video by interviewing Tom Delay, who when asked how much the "Second Coming" plays into his support for Israel, says, "obviously, it's what I live for, I hope it comes tomorrow."

Delay closed by saying, "we have to be connected to Israel to enjoy the second coming."

Herr Busch is another one of these a)feebleminded simpletons or b)disingenuous power whores take your pick.

There will be an American Rapture when these lying, torturing, spying, thieving, power grabbing and, yes, WHORING, excuses for statesman are removed from office.

Lucky for Bart he won't be tried as the fascist enabler he is.
 

Garth,

Although it didn't occur, I do enjoy the Avant News prognostication on what (would) happen during the last Bush SOTU address:

http://www.avantnews.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=330
 

Finally, the term "humane treatment" in the GC has no objective legal meaning. Rather, it is completely subjective term which has a different meaning for every person and is thus too vague to be a enforceable legal requirement.

First off, I am not an attorney, and somebody correct me if I am wrong, but are not all statutes and treaties littered with vague terms? Don't lawyers argue every day over what constitutes a "vehicle" or what "negligence" really means, or how "assault" is different from "battery," etc? Surely there is not a God-given definition of "humane," indeed, there are no such objective definitions for any term for that matter.

However, legally speaking, I am more than willing to bet that the term has been defined/refined through the challenging of statutes that use the term and the body of case law surrounding those judgments. Further, one can examine the context of the drafting of the GC--what did the drafters intend for the term to mean? How did the Senate subcommittee assess the GC when they were ratified? Did discussion of the term arise in committee and how did the committee decide?

By your logic, any and all definitions are possible. If the term has no objective definition beyond that which the president proscribes, "humane" could be taken to mean the exact opposite of how the term is used outside of the context of the GC. But this is silly, because if the president is granted these powers of arbitrary redefinition, the judiciary is irrelevant because the president can always redefine the terms of a given statute to fit his will and the legislature is irrelevant because the president can misconstrue any statute to fit his agenda by redefining the terms.

Since he's already shown a willingness to enter the bizarre world where "humane" treatment includes secret rendition to countries which use torture, stress positions, waterboarding, attaching electrodes to prisoners and threatening to and/or actually shocking them, etc. Are we one step away from the president redefining "violence" to mean speaking out against the leader or failing to support the leader's policy with requisite verve? If "humane" is so easily redefined (indeed, there are people out there actively supporting the president's power of arbitrary redefinition, as indicated by the post I quoted from) what is to stop the slow slide to dictatorship? This is what I really don't understand about the "Unitary Executive" model: what is the benefit for anyone, save for the president and his close friends, of a dictatorship? How can anyone believe this to be in their own best interest, let alone champion it? Isn't it such an obviously dangerous path to take?
 

[Robert Link, to "Bart"]: Bye the way, troll-boy, still no answers for "The Causal" I see. Just gonna tuck tail and hope you never see them again? It's probably your best bet. You're not good for much more than pointless tautology like the above.

You gotta get in line, Robert. Lots of other people (both here and on Greenwald's blog, and prolly elsewhere as well) have their requests of "Bart" in before this (and I think you have a prior one as well). "Bart" 'likes to keep 'em waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ... and hopes they ferget'.

At least he's given us a good, albeit unintentional, glimpse of his character on this thread. And that one answer makes up for a multitude of others left dangling.

Cheers,

Cheers,
 

How can anyone believe this to be in their own best interest, let alone champion it?

I'm going to have to go with terror. People that believe these kinds of things are honestly terrified.

Clearly, in some quarters, the terrorists have won the propaganda war. Here's a few diacritics you can use to identify someone who has surrendered to the terrorists:

1. They believe that the terrorists are all-powerful and infinite. "They'll set up the new Caliphate in Kabul/Baghdad/Havana and spread out from there. They could strike on our home soil at any moment. We must be vigilant. Wait...you hear something? Oh never mind, it was the cat."

2. They believe what the terrorists say. "OBL thought the Clinton Administration was weak and laughed about it on a video. Therefore, the Clinton Administration was weak."

3. They believe that the only way to fight the terrorists is through comparable methods (aka "proving the Maoists right," see Peru vs. Shining Path). "Anything short of torture is okay as long as we do it to them and not us, as long as us includes me and not you."

4. They believe that one strong leader is preferable to any sort of consensus or cooperation, be it in Washington or the international fora. "Thank God GWB is our President!" "My way or the highway (to heaven)!"

Of course, since terrorists are the enemies of freedom (in fact, I've heard they hate us for just that very thing), every time an American adopts these terrified lines of thinking and promotes brutality, the enemy wins a little more ground.

Of course, there are a thousand other factors involved, and partisanship no doubt plays a large part in such things, but the particularly vocal ones seem to be honestly terrified--true victims of terrorism that, sadly, could have avoided their fate had they only approached things rationally.

;)
 

The indefatigable Bart ... every head JAG says they violate Geneva, but why should we listen to THEM?
 

Anderson,

Hmm, experts who know the law, and the circumstances. My guess is Bart will say that the military must take its lead from the civilian government.

Unless, of course, the civilians are Democrats; then they should listen to the opinions of the military.

Unless, of course, it leads to unconvicted foreigners being subjected to treatment that is degrading to animals, in which case he is for it, whomever supports it.
 

PMS_Chicago:

Not that you are going to think this is "rational" but I am not terrified to die at all. The enemy does not have to be "all-powerful and infinite" to kill a couple million Americans though. I am concerned about is protecting those lives. You, not so much.
 

I am concerned about is protecting those lives. You, not so much.

Au contraire, mon frere. I just think lives are better protected through intelligent defense than through arrogant belligerence.

And if you think the terrorists are going to kill a couple million people in America, then, yes, you ARE terrified, and the terrorists have succeeded. That is, after all, one of the primary goals of using terror as a political weapon: force the state opponent to become so repressive as to ruin its international credibility and erode its popular support.

There are two primary approaches that a populace can take in response. They can elect to go along with the state's repression, thus doggedly maintaining popular support (or stiff upper lip, if you prefer) in the face of hostility. Or, they can insist that the state does NOT become repressive, so that neither popular support nor international credibility is lost. To me, that seems like the ideal option, but it is dependent upon the state actually responding to the requests of its citizens. Obviously, there are gradations in between those positions and along different axes, but I think it works as an heuristic.

I don't see how we win by supporting the state regardless of what liberties they strip. Sure, we get to stick it to the terrorists, but not as much as we stick it to ourselves.
 

Wow, even the hard-boiled wingnuts have broken with Bart on this one.

It's nice to see that there are still men of honor within the conservative movement who believe in our nation's moral values and don't resort to disgusting arguments like "the word 'humane' is too vague to have any meaning."
 

Steve:

Wow, even the hard-boiled wingnuts have broken with Bart on this one.

These are braver and wiser men than "Bart" and Charles. See PMS_Chicago's commentary above, and this from the article:

"To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America's losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam -- where we both proudly served twice -- America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections."

Cheers,
 

PMS_Chicago:

Back on topic, however, your idea of "intelligent defense" precludes the option of using torture even if that could save a couple million lives. I don't think planning for the worse-case scenario necessarily means I am "terrified" or that the terrorists have succeeded. You don't think IF they manage to obtain nukes and kill a million Americans that would qualify as a "success" for them? It sure would top 9/11.
 

Arne Langsetmo:

Perhaps you missed where FDR locked up all those Japanese-Americans? Or, Truman dropping TWO nukes on civilians? At least Bush has not done that yet ; )
 

P.S. al-Qaeda seems just a bit more likely to end up killing MILLIONS OF AMERICANS than the Viet Cong guerrillas were.
 

P.S. al-Qaeda seems just a bit more likely to end up killing MILLIONS OF AMERICANS than the Viet Cong guerrillas were.

# posted by Charles : 12:54 PM


Why? What does Al Qaeda gain by killing a million Americans?
 

You mean, other than 1 million less "infidels" Bartbuster? Are you seriously proposing that bin Ladin (or, no one else in al Qaeda, assuming he's dead) do NOT want to top 9/11?
 

Charles:

Perhaps you missed where FDR locked up all those Japanese-Americans? Or, Truman dropping TWO nukes on civilians? At least Bush has not done that yet ; )

IOW, no. Did you have a point, or are you just drinking early?

Cheers,
 

Charles demonstrates PMS_Chicago's thesis:

P.S. al-Qaeda seems just a bit more likely to end up killing MILLIONS OF AMERICANS than the Viet Cong guerrillas were.

Go change your undies. You're stinking up the place.

Cheers,
 

You mean, other than 1 million less "infidels" Bartbuster? Are you seriously proposing that bin Ladin (or, no one else in al Qaeda, assuming he's dead) do NOT want to top 9/11?

# posted by Charles : 1:27 PM


I didn't propose anything, I asked you what you think they would gain. If killing infidels is the goal, there are plenty of those in his own corner of the world. What exactly does Al Qaeda gain by killing a million Americans?

In fact, if you give it some thought, you might even be able to figure out why that is the LAST thing Bin Laden wants to see happen right now.
 

Arne:

YOU are the one agreeing with REPUBLICANS no less: "Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan . . .". THAT was my "point" in rebuttal with the Japanese-American internment camps, Hironshima and Nagasaki. Past generations of Americans have luckily understood they needed to do what it took to win the war. Sadly, we are faced with a different generation leading the U.S. Congress today.
 

Fine, Bartbuster, you keep thinking that bin Laden does NOT want to kill American infidels. Have fun jumping off the cliff, just don't take the rest of us down with you.
 

Past generations of Americans have luckily understood they needed to do what it took to win the war. Sadly, we are faced with a different generation leading the U.S. Congress today.

# posted by Charles : 1:34 PM


Internment camps had nothing to do with winning the war. Neither did the bombing of innocent civilians.
 

Fine, Bartbuster, you keep thinking that bin Laden does NOT want to kill American infidels. Have fun jumping off the cliff, just don't take the rest of us down with you.

# posted by Charles : 1:36 PM


I never said he doesn't want to kill Americans. I said he doesn't want to launch an attack that kills a million, or so. If you weren't too terrified to be able to think rationally, you might be able to figure out why.
 

Oh, that's right, war criminal Harry Truman should have invaded the Japanese mainland and lost all those American lives instead. Good call, chump.
 

Bartbuster:

Remember, Charles is not afraid of dying, but he is not in Iraq right now; instead, he is fearlessly confronting us on this board with his bravery.
 

That's right, FRAUD Guy, I am confronting you and your kind here on-line, as well as with my campaign donations and volunteering, because of the sad generation leading the U.S. Congress today. As always, YMMV.
 

Oh, that's right, war criminal Harry Truman should have invaded the Japanese mainland and lost all those American lives instead. Good call, chump.

# posted by Charles : 1:44 PM


The bombs did not win the war. They helped end the war, but even that is open to debate. There is good reason to believe that the Soviet invasion of Manchuria played a greater role in Hirohito's decision to end the war.
 

Fine, Bartbuster, then it's "open to debate" that bin Laden wants to to launch an attack that kills a million, or so, Americans. Later.
 

Fine, Bartbuster, then it's "open to debate" that bin Laden wants to to launch an attack that kills a million, or so, Americans. Later.

# posted by Charles : 1:56 PM


Not really. You haven't provided a reason that we can debate.

"Because" isn't really a reason.

And "because we're infidels" doesn't explain why he'd come here instead of just killing the infidels over there. I'm sure there are enough infidels there to keep him busy for a long, long time.
 

That's right, FRAUD Guy, I am confronting you and your kind here on-line, as well as with my campaign donations and volunteering, because of the sad generation leading the U.S. Congress today. As always, YMMV.

What's with the YMMV? Haven't seen that before.

And "my kind"? Don't trip over your sheet; it's showing. The last time I heard that was someone talking about doing something about minorities moving into the neighborhood. I politely advised them not to bring that up again.

I actually agree on the sad generation part--33 years ago, Cheney and Bush would have been impeached, with an assist by their own party. Actually, of all the cabinet officials I have seen, only the Sec. Ed might have survived the mass impeachment. We need fresh blood in Congress, of both parties, and throw in a few new parties to keep them from becoming a joined at the donation hip monolithic block again.
 

Oh, please, I could care less about the color of your skin -- I dispise Conyers as much as I do Schumer -- obviously, we don't agree because the "sad generation" I am referring to are the surrender-monkey DEMOCRATS in Congress in comparison to the DEMOCRATS who won WWII. At least I thought it was "obvious".
 

I am referring to are the surrender-monkey DEMOCRATS in Congress in comparison to the DEMOCRATS who won WWII. At least I thought it was "obvious".

# posted by Charles : 2:41 PM


Most Americans now oppose your idiotic war. Feel free to leave if you don't like the direction this country is going.
 

You'll have to declare me a terrorist and send me to Gitmo before I leave.
 

You'll have to declare me a terrorist and send me to Gitmo before I leave.

# posted by Charles : 2:47 PM


With any luck Hillary will use the precedent set by Dumbya to do just that.
 

Charles,

I thought it was obvious from my comment that I am not a member of a minority race (yet) in this country, but that your response to me implied that I am, and that I am somehow different or lesser because I am of "my kind" and not "your kind". At least I thought it was obvious, but to someone moving at levels so much higher than I am, it must have been overlooked because you would never think of denigrating someone because of race, creed, or political affiliation.
 

Actually, charles, you are already a terrorist; i.e. someone who uses or tries to induce terror in order to achieve political ends. Your ranting about jihadist boogeymen, who have made greater strides under this administration than under any previous one, has made them stronger. How does it feel to be an enabler of terror?
 

PMS_Chicago:

Back on topic, however, your idea of "intelligent defense" precludes the option of using torture even if that could save a couple million lives. I don't think planning for the worse-case scenario necessarily means I am "terrified" or that the terrorists have succeeded. You don't think IF they manage to obtain nukes and kill a million Americans that would qualify as a "success" for them? It sure would top 9/11.


The problem is not that people in the government are planning for a worst-case scenario where torture might be the sole method to get the information needed to save a million lives. The problem is that the government has ALREADY allowed torture (and "torture light") to occur on its watch in the absence of any real life worst-case scenario, and has steadfastly refused to outlaw certain interrogation methods in order to maintain an aura of legality around its past actions.

As for precluding the option, yes, I think if the administration turned its zeal for defending the use of torture and enhanced interrogation methods to addressing deficiencies in human intelligence, border security, and detection technologies, then torture would become recognizably obsolete as a method of "protection."

We should be as reluctant to restrict the application of our ideals as we would be to risk the lives of our population. Contrary to the rhetoric of authoritarians, it's not an either-or decision.
 

PMS_Chicago,

Exactly it. If we would actually approach our national defense rationally (as opposed to corporately or politically), we could both follow the law and protect ourselves.

Thank you for your well stated post.
 

Charles:

YOU are the one agreeing with REPUBLICANS no less: "Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan . . .". THAT was my "point" in rebuttal with the Japanese-American internment camps, Hironshima and Nagasaki. Past generations of Americans have luckily understood they needed to do what it took to win the war. Sadly, we are faced with a different generation leading the U.S. Congress today.

Ummm, both the bombings of Hiroshma and Nagasaki and the internment of the Japanese-Americans have both been hotly disputed ever since. Read "The Building of the Atomic Bomb" and "Dark Sun", by RIchard Rhodes, for just one facet of the former; good books as well and you might learn sumptin'). As for the latter, pretty much everyone except Malkin and a coterie of RW wingnuts thinks the internment of the Japanese-Americans was a 'very bad idea' (so much so that Congress has apologised to them). Objectively, the internment of the Japanese-Americans did not help the war effort, and may well have hurt it even if to some it much have 'seemed like a good idea at the time' in some few folks opinion.

I don't think these military men are talking about these two eposide (and in fact, I'm certain they aren't); they are talking about the more mundane rules of engagement and policies that they specifically describe.

You're just tossing in "red herrings" here -- in particular, because certainly not I, and probably not these military men in the case of the Japanese-American internment, supported these policies.

Cheers,
 

bartbuster:

The bombs did not win the war. They helped end the war, but even that is open to debate. There is good reason to believe that the Soviet invasion of Manchuria played a greater role in Hirohito's decision to end the war....

... and possibly in the U.S. decision to use the bomb. ;-)

Cheers,
 

... and possibly in the U.S. decision to use the bomb. ;-)

Cheers,

# posted by Arne Langsetmo : 3:23 PM


True, but he probably would have done it anyways.

And in his defense, he really didn't have much choice at that point. If the public found out we had a weapon that could end the war, and he chose not to use it, Truman would have been impeached, or worse.
 

Fraud Guy:

As I said, I could care less about the color of your skin -- I made no implications about you in that regard at all -- I have never denigrated anyone based on race or creed. We'll have to agree to disagree as to whether I'm a "terrorist" though.

PMS_Chicago:

Hypothetically, though, I am curious what your response would be if it were indeed an "either-or" decision: you are the President who has to authorize the torture of one known terrorist or a couple million Americans are killed -- which one do you pick? If we can't even agree on that scenario, how are we going to work out any of the other details?
 

bartbuster:

And in his defense, he really didn't have much choice at that point. If the public found out we had a weapon that could end the war, and he chose not to use it, Truman would have been impeached, or worse.

There were other alternatives to just sitting on it. Some of the scientists had proposed a "demo" shot rather than actually targeting cities (one risk here was if that hadn't worked, but after Alomagordo, that really didn't pertain).

Cheers,
 

Charles,

Your hypothetical is laughable.

You would suppose a "ticking time bomb".

You would suppose one captured suspect that you "know" (apparently through mind reading, which would obviate the need for interrogation) knows how to stop the bomb.

You "know" that they will break under torture, even though they know if they hold out long enough (under most such scenarios, such as that during the Republican debate, about 24 hours), or if they give enough false information, that the attack will be successful, giving them immense reasons to lie or falsely "break".

You "know" that the information gained will be sufficient, and the plot not changed by other terror team members, to pinpoint the attack.

You "know" that you have methods to defuse the attack once it is pinpointed.

Charles, your hypothetical is so out there, that it deserves no further comment.

And you never replied what YMMV stands for.

And you are apparently still to far above me to get my point re "my kind". Apparently I am in the gutter because I like it up there.
 

Charles:

Hypothetically, though, I am curious what your response would be if it were indeed an "either-or" decision: you are the President who has to authorize the torture of one known terrorist or a couple million Americans are killed -- which one do you pick? If we can't even agree on that scenario, how are we going to work out any of the other details?...

I dealt with that (and the stoopidity of basing law on extreme [and usually conterfactual] hypotheticals) a long time ago.

Cheers,
 

Yep, the "hypothetical" President knows all of that, but don't worry, Fraud Guy, you aren't the first person to refuse to answer.

YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary.

Have a nice weekend.
 

And you never replied what YMMV stands for.

YMMV == "Your mileage may vary".

A useful tool when faced with the proliferation of acronyms on teh internets.

Telecommunications is notorious for acronyms; if you don't know 'em all, you're lost at sea.

They insist that "TDMA" means "time-division multiple access". I'm of the considered opinion that it means "too d*mn many acronyms".

Cheers,
 

There were other alternatives to just sitting on it. Some of the scientists had proposed a "demo" shot rather than actually targeting cities (one risk here was if that hadn't worked, but after Alomagordo, that really didn't pertain).

Cheers,

# posted by Arne Langsetmo : 5:05 PM


There were problems with the demo idea. You lose the shock value. What if it fails? What if they're not impressed enough to surrender? This was a very real possibility, and even the bombs that were used may not have been the tipping point for the end of the war.

In the end, Truman was in a really tough spot. Given what had happened on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, it would have been very difficult to explain a decision not to use the bomb. It would have been even more difficuly if he had used one in a demo, and the Japanese decided to fight on anyways. He would have just pissed away a multi-billion dollar weapon for nothing.
 

PMS_Chicago:

You've now heard the opinions from your Secretary of State and Attorney General on the matter. What's your answer? The clock is ticking . . .
 

TICK, TOCK, TICK, TOCK
 

PMS_Chicago:

Hypothetically, though, I am curious what your response would be if it were indeed an "either-or" decision: you are the President who has to authorize the torture of one known terrorist or a couple million Americans are killed -- which one do you pick? If we can't even agree on that scenario, how are we going to work out any of the other details?


Charles, I think it's a ridiculous hypothetical. Try to flesh it out with characters and information as the President would have them, and you'll see how silly the very idea is. Can you really imagine a scenario where the President has only one option--torture someone--to prevent, say, a nuclear attack?

Lemme see if I can...

INT: DAY --- OVAL OFFICE

PRESIDENT PMS_CHICAGO enters the room, and his advisers stand up to greet him.

PMS_CHICAGO (brushing off their handshakes): Okay, that's enough adulation for one meeting. What's the word on this nuke in LA?

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY ROB AWESOME: It's definitely going to go off unless we torture some guy.

PMS_CHICAGO: Whoa, whoa, whoa. What?!

ROB AWESOME: Yeah, I know it sounds bizarre...

PMS_CHICAGO: (interrupting) Bizarre? It sounds insane! How did...what did...frankly, I'm speechless here. What have you got, Mac?

SEC. OF DEFENSE MAC MATADOR: We know there's a terrorist cell in place in Los Angeles, ready to set off a nuke.

PMS_CHICAGO: Then stop them.

MAC MATADOR: Um, we can't, sir.

PMS_CHICAGO: Why not?

MAC MATADOR: Well, we lost track of our targets as they...

ROB AWESOME (interrupting): I think what Mac is trying to say, Mr. President, is that we need to torture some guy to find out where they are.

PMS_CHICAGO: I thought you said they were in Los Angeles.

ROB AWESOME: Oh, they totally are, Mr. President. But L.A. is a big city. Lots of neighborhoods, with streets and houses and parks and stuff.

PMS_CHICAGO: I know what a city is, Rob. Now, you mean to tell me that you know they're in Los Angeles, but you don't know where exactly?

ROB AWESOME: We lost them after they left the airport.

PMS_CHICAGO: Why'd you let them leave the airport?

ROB AWESOME: We wanted to see where they were going.

PMS_CHICAGO (rubbing forehead as if suffering from a migraine): Right, okay, Mac, tell me why we lost them.

MAC MATADOR: It was a smoggy day, sir.

PMS_CHICAGO: Hold on, so you knew that this attack was imminent, but you failed to act on the information and allowed them to get away?

MAC MATADOR: We thought we'd get more information by letting them meet up with connections and then check the wiretaps of suspected terrorists in the city for chatter to see where they went.

PMS_CHICAGO: So you knew who was coming and more or less where they were going, but you didn't stop them.

MAC MATADOR: No, sir.

PMS_CHICAGO: And this guy you want to torture has the information we need?

MAC MATADOR: We think so, sir.

PMS_CHICAGO: Okay, you think so or you know so?

MAC MATADOR hesitates, rubbing his chin.

ROB AWESOME: We're 100% sure he has information we can use, Mr. President.

PMS_CHICAGO: And there's no other way we could get it?

ROB AWESOME: Nope, none.

PMS_CHICAGO: Other than, say, doing your job and tracking known threats and dealing with them before they go critical?

ROB AWESOME: (averting eyes) The only thing we can do is torture some guy, sir. It's the only option. And hey, if he doesn't have any information about THIS attack, I'm sure he'll have information about some other attack.

PMS_CHICAGO: What?!

ROB AWESOME: (smiling) Trust me. The average CIA agent can't last more than 20 seconds of waterboarding before he starts talking.

NSA BARBARA SMITH: There's just one little problem with that idea, sir.

PMS_CHICAGO: Only one? I'm sorry. Please go ahead, Barbara.

BARBARA SMITH: Torture will get the detainee to talk, but it doesn't guarantee that what he says will be actionable information. In fact, almost all of our studies show that false confession and inaccurate recollection are the best we can hope for.

PMS_CHICAGO: Crap. What's the point of torturing some guy if he isn't going to tell me exactly what I want to know right now while the bomb is still ticking?

ROB AWESOME: Fun?

(All of the advisers turn and stare at Rob Awesome.)

What? I'm just sayin'...

PMS_CHICAGO shakes his head in disgust and turns to face Barbara Smith.

PMS_CHICAGO: You know, Barbara, if I had appointed more sensible people like you, I wouldn't be in this horrible, and absolutely impossible, scenario.
 

SCENE TWO: EXT. (Split Screen) DRIVEWAY OUTSIDE THE WEST WING:

Agent JACK BAUER drives through the gate, screeching to a halt outside the Oval Office and runs inside, bursting through the doors.

JACK BAUER: Mr. President! I can confirm that the terrorist knows how to stop the bomb and it is set to go off in less than one hour. Every time I've tortured him in the past, however, he's given me the accurate information that I've needed to avert a disaster. I know which button to push. As we speak, I have a dozen bomb squads stationed around the city just waiting for my call as to their location. I'm going to ask you just once for your authorization, sir.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Ah, see, now you're the one fighting fiction with fiction. :)

PMS_CHICAGO: Well, Mr. Bauer, I'm glad you barged into my office like that. Unfortunately, the detainee is in Prague, and that's a bit more than an hour's flight, so I'm going to have to go with Plan B: use my DoD-invented Time Machine 3000 (tm) and do what's necessary to prevent the situation, rather than letting it fester to the point of possibility.
 

JACK BAUER: Like I said, sir, I was only going to ask you once . . .

(Jack reaches into his jacket and pulls out a gun)

. . . someone get me the Vice President.
 

Charles,
Your scenario is utterly and completely absurd. It's akin to saying: "If space aliens were about to invade and destroy the planet and the only way you could stave them off was by pushing a button and obliterating all of mankind, save for yourself, would you do it?" The hypothetical is absurd; it is not only so statistically unlikely an event as to be almost impossible, but even under the conditions of the stated hypothetical, the possible choices lead to catastrophic consequences. In your hypothetical (which simply cannot occur as stated--see Fraud Guy's analysis above) the situation is the same: an impossible hypothetical in which the consequences of the actions available not only do not lead to a favorable outcome, save for by a "fantasy" solution which is impossible (see Fraud Guy again), but any available actions do not resolve the central problem of the hypothetical. Thus, the hypothetical is an essentially worthless intellectual exercise; it makes for a strong rhetorical point, because so few will immediately see it (rightfully) as absurd, but that does not make it valid.

The better question is: ought policy decisions to be based on absurd hypotheticals with essentially zero probability? The Cheney "1%" doctrine says that we should base policy on the absurd and that is the path the administration has taken. However, the main weaknesses of the "1%" doctrine are 1) it is absurd because the hypotheticals upon which it is based are absurd; and 2) 1% is a fantastically large overestimation of the probability of such a hypothetical actually happening! Your own hypothetical has a probability of occurring that is somewhere very very close to zero; it is probably as close to zero as my alien space invader hypothetical, maybe even more unlikely.
 

Keith:

To answer YOUR hypothetical question, no, I would not destroy all of mankind. See how easy that was? Care to answer MY hypothetical question now?
 

Charles:

SCENE TWO: EXT. (Split Screen) DRIVEWAY OUTSIDE THE WEST WING:

Agent JACK BAUER drives through the gate, screeching to a halt outside the Oval Office and runs inside, bursting through the doors.

JACK BAUER: Mr. President! I can confirm that the terrorist knows how to stop the bomb and it is set to go off in less than one hour. Every time I've tortured him in the past, however, he's given me the accurate information that I've needed to avert a disaster. I know which button to push. As we speak, I have a dozen bomb squads stationed around the city just waiting for my call as to their location. I'm going to ask you just once for your authorization, sir.


This is satire, I assume. Or did Charles just start drinking reeeaaallllyy early for the weekend?....

Marty and Jack: Better trolls, please?

Cheers,
 

Charles is also upset that Democrats are opposed to the use of Magic Pixie Dust on detainees, EVEN IF MAGIC PIXIE DUST COULD SAVE TEN MILLION LIVES.

Experts in the interrogation say that Magic Pixie Dust is not in fact an effective means of interrogation, that it produces unreliable results at best, and that the use of Magic Pixie Dust is prohibited by international treaties; but Charles KNOWS Magic Pixie Dust, in a way that the rest of us do not, and we should therefore listen to him.

--What Charles doesn't understand is why, when "Magic Pixie Dust" in the above is replaced by "torture," he looks just as silly.
 

Arne:

It's not satire; neither is it my fault that my character has to address all of Fraud Guy's concerns in under 30 seconds of dialogue. I don't drink however. Can you answer my original hypothetical question now?
 

Does anyone else know whether an "R" visa Type B1/Class 82 qualify as a "permanent resident" visa?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f4/Atta-Visa.jpg
 

Charles:

It's not satire; ...

Oh. That's sad then.

... neither is it my fault that my character has to address all of Fraud Guy's concerns in under 30 seconds of dialogue....

Yes, it is. If you couldn't say anything cogent or coherent, you should just have kept your yap shut. That was your choice.

... I don't drink however....

Oh. That's even sadder still, then.

... Can you answer my original hypothetical question now?

Yes. Will I? No. See my comments and link above about hypotheticals.

Cheers,
 

Arne:

You are obviously under no obligation to answer. Have a great week nonetheless.
 

"President" PMS_Chicago:

Are you still around?
 

He can run faster than Severus Snape confronted with shampoo.
Agen Judi Online Terpercaya
 

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