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March 14, 2005

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» Three Things To Read Today from Discourse.net
Three blog postings you should read if you care about freedom or justice:Obsidian Wings on HR 952, a bill that would ban ‘extraordinary rendition’Lyle Denniston at the SCOTUS Blog describing the government’s application to keep Padill... [Read More]

» Time bombs and torture bills from Body and Soul
In the continuing quest to bring a semblance of sanity back into the system, there are three posts you must read today. First, Kieran Healy discusses the ways we [Read More]

» The U.S. Should Not Send People Abroad To Be Tortured from Opiniatrety
(nor should we torture anyone ourselves, but one thing at a time) Hilzoy posts on a bill that deserves everyone's support. The Poor Man makes a rude point about who doesn't support this bill, but Hilzoy is still right: Everyone... [Read More]

» Kudos to the Co-Sponsors of HR 952 from Bloodless Coup
Keeping with the theme of prisoner abuse noted below, Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings provides us with information about Congressman Ed Markey's bill to end extraordinary rendition. I am very happy to see that my congressman, Alan Mollohan, is among the... [Read More]

» Extraordinary Rendition from Political Animal
EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION....In the annals of "no shit" moments, this lede has to be somewhere in the top ten:The system the CIA relies on to ensure that the suspected terrorists it transfers to other countries will not be tortured has been... [Read More]

» H.R. 952 from Begging To Differ
The stated purpose of the bill introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA): To prohibit the transfer or return of persons by the United States, for the purpose of detention, interrogation, trial, or otherwise, to countries where torture or other inhuman... [Read More]

» Support The Ban on "Extraordinary Rendition" from Indiana Democratic Club
A national issue with not much of a tie to Indiana, but one important enough to post here (especially given Rep. Souder's apparent approval of torture). From Obsidian Wings: Edward Markey has introduced a bill, H. R. 952, that would outlaw extrao... [Read More]

Comments

I should have noted in the post that Rep. Markey has written an editorial about extraordinary rendition here. (HT Katherine). And of course there's Sebastian's wonderful post here.

I do have one question. How would this have impacted our ability to stop Osama bin Laden (if Clinton had pushed the issue with the Saudis when Sudan kicked ObL out) in the 90s if this bill was enacted.

I'm against torture (as it doesn't work) but I'm all for aggresive interrogation. Thus, I'm looking for a rider to the bill as to what and what does not constitute torture. That is my support depends upon your definition of torture (intent and permanent damage would be the key drivers).

BTW, the WSJ brought the issue of "Extraordinary Rendition" to its readers in the mid-90s (just need to get the historical time line right).

"BTW, the WSJ brought the issue of 'Extraordinary Rendition' to its readers in the mid-90s (just need to get the historical time line right)."

Which issue, Timmy? Date? Cite? Quote? (I suspect they didn't put it in inital caps for no apparent reason, but am otherwise perfectly prepared to believe this happened, and thus, being interested in reading said article, would like specifics; it's not as if there would be much point to asserting such an article exists if said article can't be found.)

Done, hilzoy, and written out longhand.

[musing] Despite being addicted to blogs, this is only the second time I've written my representives. The first time was before I got addicted to blogs. I wrote to urge my representatives not to give Pres. Bush a blank-check authorization to use force against Iraq. That didn't turn out quite as I'd expected; maybe it soured me on writing to Washington... Let's see how this one goes. [/musing]

Gary, I remember the article here is the rendition from the New Yorker

In 1995, Scheuer said, American agents proposed the rendition program to Egypt, making clear that it had the resources to track, capture, and transport terrorist suspects globally—including access to a small fleet of aircraft. Egypt embraced the idea. “What was clever was that some of the senior people in Al Qaeda were Egyptian,” Scheuer said. “It served American purposes to get these people arrested, and Egyptian purposes to get these people back, where they could be interrogated.” Technically, U.S. law requires the C.I.A. to seek “assurances” from foreign governments that rendered suspects won’t be tortured. Scheuer told me that this was done, but he was “not sure” if any documents confirming the arrangement were signed.

A series of spectacular covert operations followed from this secret pact. On September 13, 1995, U.S. agents helped kidnap Talaat Fouad Qassem, one of Egypt’s most wanted terrorists, in Croatia. Qassem had fled to Europe after being linked by Egypt to the assassination of Sadat; he had been sentenced to death in absentia. Croatian police seized Qassem in Zagreb and handed him over to U.S. agents, who interrogated him aboard a ship cruising the Adriatic Sea and then took him back to Egypt. Once there, Qassem disappeared. There is no record that he was put on trial. Hossam el-Hamalawy, an Egyptian journalist who covers human-rights issues, said, “We believe he was executed.”

A more elaborate operation was staged in Tirana, Albania, in the summer of 1998. According to the Wall Street Journal, the C.I.A. provided the Albanian intelligence service with equipment to wiretap the phones of suspected Muslim militants. Tapes of the conversations were translated into English, and U.S. agents discovered that they contained lengthy discussions with Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy. The U.S. pressured Egypt for assistance; in June, Egypt issued an arrest warrant for Shawki Salama Attiya, one of the militants. Over the next few months, according to the Journal, Albanian security forces, working with U.S. agents, killed one suspect and captured Attiya and four others. These men were bound, blindfolded, and taken to an abandoned airbase, then flown by jet to Cairo for interrogation. Attiya later alleged that he suffered electrical shocks to his genitals, was hung from his limbs, and was kept in a cell in filthy water up to his knees. Two other suspects, who had been sentenced to death in absentia, were hanged.

Gary, I couldn't find the actual article.

1. U.S. statute already defines torture. As far as what specific interrogation techniques do and do not meet that definition, the administration refuses to publicly release that information; they say it would provide terrorists with too much information about our interrogation procedures.

2. The Wall St. Journal did write one of the earliest articles I know of on this subject but it was in 2001 about a rendition that happened in 1998. (That's not, obviously, the official link but the text is accurate.)The practice did start in the mid-1990s, but all the reports I've seen have been post 9/11.

3. There may be a Senate version soon. As I doubt Hastert will allow a vote on the House version without a lot of public pressure, this would be pretty key.

4. I would not expect any Congressional investigation. Not under this Congress.

While I appreciate the historical commentary, this is not, in fact, a post about whose fault extraordinary rendition is, but about what we can do to prevent it happening again.

The practice did start in the mid-1990s, but all the reports I've seen have been post 9/11.

I wonder why. As for the current U.S. statute, I just want it incorporated into the proposed legislation. Simply reflects, that torture meme here at Wings (and other media outlets) have confused the issue.

but about what we can do to prevent it happening again

Well more facilities like Gitmo wouldn't be a bad start along with the Courts sticking to their knitting.

Timmy: the bill does contain the definitions of torture from various laws and treaties to which we are signatories. I'm not sure why this is confusing, but no doubt I'm missing something. The link to the bill is in the original post, if you want to check out the text.

Jackmormon: thanks.

Simply reflects, that torture meme here at Wings (and other media outlets) have confused the issue.

You keep saying this and it never ceases to be a crock of donkey dung. The issue is pretty much as clear-cut as it can be: the definitions are in place, the guidelines are available to read if you want them. The only people "muddying the isssue" are those who are umming and ahhing about hypothetical situations in which we don't have existing guidelines to refer to. Since we do, your entire objection is a non-issue.

I'm not sure why this is confusing, but no doubt I'm missing something.

Given the overall conversation here at Wings on the subject of torture, no doubt is absolutely correct.

As I suspected, Article 2 Section 2 of the Bill does not correctly state the current statute on torture. Thus, I would have to oppose the Bill as it misstates the current statute on torture.

The issue is pretty much as clear-cut as it can be:

actually, it is a poor cut and paste job

the definitions are in place,

not the current definitions

the guidelines are available to read if you want them.

see cut and paste job comment above. It is a very poorly constructed bill, a political hatchet job is the best description.

TtWD: "As I suspected, Article 2 Section 2 of the Bill does not correctly state the current statute on torture."

Oddly, the bill has no article 2, section 2. It does have Section 2, which has a subjeading 2, but that doesn't cite any US statute at all, just the Convention on Torture.

Perhaps it is just me, but I think Timmy's 11:15 insult of hilzoy is a new low, even for him. Going after a commentator is one thing, but insulting hilzoy (and by extension, the rest of the ObWi hosts) plumbs new found depths.

No, the low is still when he compared hilzoy to Walter Duranty. He presumably wants the U.S. torture statute definition in 2340A:

"(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality"

so that Egypt and Syria can make the same bad faith arguments as the Bybee memo about "specific intent." Like, "I didn't WANT him to get PTSD, I just wanted to terrify him enough to confess" & "I didn't WANT to shock him, I just wanted to make him talk."

But it would be stupid for Markey to phrase the bill that way, because we're talking about torture in Syria, Egypt, and Uzbekistan. Those countries are not bound by the U.S. criminal code's prohibition on torture; they are all, believe it or not, parties to the Convention Against Torture. So we go with the definition that is legally binding there, and that is the CAT.

Since there is just no disputing that those countries practice torture under any definition of the word, and since the bill empowers the Secretary of State to determine which countries routinely torture prisoners, this has no practical impact on the legal effect of the bill. But I'm sure Timmy will come up with another excuse in 5, 4, 3, 2...

Hilzoy, and Katherine, thanks so much. In raising the bleak subject of torture, it's good to have something specific and fairly immediate that gives it a context, and that gives an opportunity for people to do something that might make a difference.

liberal japonicus: Perhaps it is just me, but I think Timmy's 11:15 insult of hilzoy is a new low, even for him.

Timmy was referring to Hilzoy? I assumed his comment at 11:15 was self-directed. He's the only person it could possibly refer to.

Moving on (sorry for the above comment: so long as the ObWing collective allow Timmy to continue here without reproof, the best thing we can do is ignore his non-contributions to serious discussions) I will link to this post from my journal, and urge others to write in support of this bill.

Thanks to Katherine and Hilzoy.

"a list of countries where there are substantial grounds for believing that torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment is commonly used in the detention of or interrogation of individuals."

when the State department sends the letter to the US, which address do they use ? could they save postage and just deliver it to themselves ?

Jes said:

so long as the ObWing collective allow Timmy to continue here without reproof

and LJ said:

Going after a commentator is one thing, but insulting hilzoy (and by extension, the rest of the ObWi hosts) plumbs new found depths.

but when you look at the whole history of this very discussion, you will find comments like

Katherine is a far far better person than I, yet I think spreads her compassion too widely. I disapprove of the company she keeps, and sincerely believe that anyone congratulating Moe Lane on his upcoming nuptials is enabling torture

by bob macmanus found here on a Crooked Timber thread, that I believe caused Moe to leave ObWi, the blog he started.

This topic really has poisioned the discussion here before. I think Timmy's comments are actually pretty mild in comparison.

"by bob macmanus found here on a Crooked Timber thread, that I believe caused Moe to leave ObWi, the blog he started."

Umm, only one "a". Boy am I powerful, do you think I can get Reynolds and Trevino to retire with an off-blog nastiness? Said something even nastier to Holsclaw at CT, yet he remains. I don't know why Moe left, tho he himself said a haiku thread descending ino bickering was the final straw.

I can perhaps not excuse, but explain that comment by saying I had higher expectations for Moe Lane than some others at Tac & Red State, and felt a personal disappointment. I thought Moe a nice guy with mistaken politics. Perhaps invective is not a good way to reach people, but Katherine has not been very effective with reason & comity. Torture and rendition persist. I want it stopped.

I say many things on other blogs I would not say here. Or at Tacitus, should I try to register there and should they accept me as a commenter...both of which are doubtful. Rules is rules. I don't think I am pretending to be a big fan of Republicans, I simply try to control my temper and rhetoric.

The Medium Lobster says it best:

"America must cast a wider net over the Arab world, building bigger and better facilities - camps, if you will - in which we can detain and torture as many terrorists as possible, limiting its targets to terrorists, suspected terrorists, associates of suspected terrorists, associates of associates of suspected terrorists, family members of associates of associates of suspected terrorists, and people with names very close to those of terrorists, suspected terrorists, associates of suspected terrorists, associates of associates of suspected terrorists, and family members of associates of associates of suspected terrorists. This would be a massive, international effort to stamp out evil, the likes of which has not been seen since the time of World War II, and while America has already begun to cooperate with other nations to achieve multilateral torture over the last few years, the project should be expanded greatly, as the full number of possible terrorists could be as high as one billion."

Bob McManus: I can perhaps not excuse, but explain that comment by saying I had higher expectations for Moe Lane than some others at Tac & Red State, and felt a personal disappointment. I thought Moe a nice guy with mistaken politics.

Me too.

Perhaps invective is not a good way to reach people, but Katherine has not been very effective with reason & comity. Torture and rendition persist. I want it stopped.

Me too.

I was under the impression that Tacitus thought I was solely responsible for Moe leaving ObWing: it's news to me that apparently you share the (dis)credit in right-wing circles. Boy, are we powerful.

Feel free to both share the blame if it makes you feel good.

I thought Moe a nice guy with mistaken politics.

Moe is an exceptionally nice guy with politics you disagree with. What you think or feel does not establish truth, it only establishes what you think or feel. His politics are not a mistake; they are well considered and thoughtfully arrived at, and there were no errors or omissions in how he arrived at his views.

and there were no errors or omissions in how he arrived at his views

Well, that's going a bit overboard, and I think Moe would agree that he's just as prone to error as anyone else. Or at least, no less so than the best of us, which is still well into nonzero territory.

Sebastian: Feel free to both share the blame if it makes you feel good.

It doesn't, as it happens. Done's done: I miss Moe: can I still be snarky about the gossip that apparently goes on around Moe deciding to leave?

Macallan: His politics are not a mistake; they are well considered and thoughtfully arrived at, and there were no errors or omissions in how he arrived at his views.

*shrug* He thought (last time we discussed this!) that the torture that the Bush administration is responsible for, from extraordinary rendition to Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples, or just bureaucratic error. That may have been a "well considered and thoughtfully arrived at" conclusion, but it involved his taking a large number of errors and omissions on board as if they were facts. (It also involved his disregarding entirely as just caused by anti-Bush bias Katherine's well-researched and thoughtful series of posts labelled Maher Arar.)

I disagreed with him profoundly on many counts, not least on this last, but I liked him considerably, and it still irks me that on torture, Sebastian Holsclaw and I are actually politically closer than Moe Lane is to either of us.

(Or was. I haven't encountered Moe Lane online since he left ObWing: I have no idea what his current politics are, or his views on torture: I simply recall what was the sorest point for me about Bush supporters I personally liked - that much as I liked them, they were endorsing a pro-torture administration.)

Well, that's going a bit overboard, and I think Moe would agree that he's just as prone to error as anyone else. Or at least, no less so than the best of us, which is still well into nonzero territory.

That was the point actually. Neither Bob Mc nor Jes are in any position to deem someone else's politics "mistaken".

"That was the point actually. Neither Bob Mc nor Jes are in any position to deem someone else's politics "mistaken"."

Excuse, but how exactly am I to characterize someone's political position or belief, if it is in opposition to my own? Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians and Episcopalians each believe the others are in some level of detail of belief "mistaken". "Willful disobedience and rebellion" seems unlikely or unusual, and "ignorance" is insulting.

And by your own argument, calling it a matter of taste or instinct or conditioning would not apply to Moe(or yourself.)

What position do I need to be in to be able to say that support of the bankruptcy bill is "mistaken?"


What Bob said was "I think>/i> his politics are mistaken." Don't we all think, at some level, that we're right and our political opponents are wrong? I mean, otherwise it's pure relativism. Certainly you've felt free to tell people they were wrong without an "I think" qualification.

As for Moe, I don't think he dismissed it; I think he required a standard of proof that was simply impossible to meet without subpoena power. I found this frustrating, and was known to get quite pissy about it. I don't know what role this played in his leaving. I really hope not, but beyond apologizing for it to him I don't know what to say.

Bob--an obscure blogger just isn't going to stop this, no matter what their rhetorical approach. It will take an act of Congress, an independent investigation with supboena power, or sustained media attention. With Republicans in the majority, you're going to need some of them to cross party lines, and for that to happen you need--not so much comity as credibility. You're asking them to believe something they don't want to believe; they won't unless they trust you to accurately set forth the facts & analyze them fairly.

Inflammatory rhetoric has its uses too, but it's not what I'm good at, and I don't have enough of a megaphone for my inflammatory rhetoric to have any discernable effect. But if I put together the known facts into a single story in a way that other people haven't--maybe that will have a discernable effect. That's the hope, anyway.

"Neither Bob Mc nor Jes are in any position to deem someone else's politics "mistaken"."

Oh. Or was this simply a subtle violation of the posting rules?

italics off

What position do I need to be in to be able to say that support of the bankruptcy bill is "mistaken?"

I suppose saying, "an arrogant one" wouldn't be considered a helpful observation.

"I suppose saying, "an arrogant one" wouldn't be considered a helpful observation."

You might be surprised. Point taken.

It's arrogant to believe that people who support things that you don't are mistaken? Huh. That's one way of looking at it, I suppose. A wrong way, but a way nevertheless.

I'm loathe to continue this discussion since it is distracting from the point of the post, but I really can't let:

"Katherine is a far far better person than I, yet I think spreads her compassion too widely. I disapprove of the company she keeps, and sincerely believe that anyone congratulating Moe Lane on his upcoming nuptials is enabling torture"

be characterized as a mere statement that you believe someone is mistaken. It isn't fairly summarized as that, and if you think it is you are sorely mistaken ("I think" intentionaly not included). That is a personal attack and a rather vicious one at that.

"That is a personal attack and a rather vicious one at that."

Parse it carefully, Sebastian. Who is it an attack on?

"I disapprove of the company she keeps, and sincerely believe that anyone congratulating Moe Lane on his upcoming nuptials is enabling torture"

Not to make a light of a serious subject, but how the heck does saying, 'Way to go dude, you're getting married!' enable torture?

If everyone said, 'I spit on you and your bride as I denounce your petty nuptials Moe!' ...would that disable torture?

"Parse it carefully, Sebastian. Who is it an attack on?"

It is a mild attack on Katherine and a really ugly attack on Moe. It suggests that Katherine is a generally good person, but Moe is so bad that his evil sticks like a taint to her.

Did I miss anything?

A proper and complete response might violate some posting rules.

I am on record at many blogs as believing that non-fraternization is a possibly useful political tool, especially as a means of alerting decent moderates and independents to the seriousness of their political choices.

There was a context, a period after Abu Ghraib and before the election when many Bush supporters were reassessing their positions, and deciding how important the various revelations were to their continued support of the Bush administration.

I, with a post not far in viciousness from that one, publicly took leave of this site and Tacitus (tho with less fanfare at Tacitus). Perhaps it was arrogant, but it was a purposeful sacrifice, to demonstrate how seriously I took the issue. Perhaps it was useless, and hurt me than anyone else. Actually, that is probable.

If you want to think it malicious, the surface gives you support.

No one's allowed to spit on my bride, but if I was enabling torture, it would make moral sense to spit on me in any context.

I'm deeply appreciative of Katherine's ability to be dispassionate, factual, and fair about a horrifying, distressing, emotional subject. I disagree with Bob; I think she's been very effective in getting people to face facts about U.S. torture and abuse. A lot more effective than Bob, in fact, though I understand where the anger comes from, and share it. It's just not helpful.

I'm deeply unappreciative of every bit of space that is taken up here responsing to trollish comments (hilzoy's 'future focus' comment should have been plenty), and rehashing grievances that are only tangentially related to the thread.

Macallan, do you support the Markey bill? If not, what are your substantive argument against it? Or was the link to Michael Scheuer's op-ed meant to say that your arguments are exactly his?

Macallan, do you support the Markey bill?

Haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Or was the link to Michael Scheuer's op-ed meant to say that your arguments are exactly his?

It was a response to a request for a cite.

"but Moe is so bad that his evil sticks like a taint to her."

That is nowhere in the text. "...enabling torture" qualifies "...congratulating...". Please do no attribute words or thoughts to me that are not substantiated.

If Harkey's bill should somehow pass, what happens with the Saudi and other Arab detainees at Guantanomo? We couldn't send them back to their home countries, since this would be defined as torture. Domestic prosecution might be a little hard since you be trying to subpoena witnesses from the Hindu Kush. I don't think there's a lot of third countries lining up for them. So detention for life? Or go the other way? Grant them asylum here? Green cards?

Bob, there is a difference between not explicitly stated and unsubstantiated. I stand by my analysis of your incredibly nasty comment.

Hilzoy, I apologize that this is taking over your thread, but I am very sick of the nasty innuendo game which has been getting increasingly frequent at ObsidianWings. Saying nasty things by innuendo is not the same as failing to say nasty things. You don't get to play deniability games with it just because you said it by innuendo. And I am specifically calling out Jesurgislac, Bob Mcmanus and Timmy the Wonder Dog on repeated uses of the technique. It isn't contributing anything to the conversations on this board, and as seen on this thread and others it can distract attention from talking about important issues.

"and as seen on this thread and others it can distract attention"

Am I to be banned for something not said on this blog? Am I to be blamed for "hijacking a thread" for responding to a direct named attack? DaveC quoted me, and I responded. It could have stopped there, but for Macallan and Sebastian joining in.

Is this getting really weird?

rd: If Harkey's bill should somehow pass, what happens with the Saudi and other Arab detainees at Guantanomo?

I know this may be a radical notion, rd, but how about this?

If there is evidence against these people that means they can be prosecuted in a court in the US, bring them to the US and prosecute them there.

If there is no such evidence, free them, with right of passage to any country they wish to go to that will accept them.

We can also talk about what compensation is owed to them for the years of illegal detention and torture.

As long as were spitting, we could curse Saddam's moustache too. [/feeble attempt at humor]

Back before Abu Ghraib broke, but after Iraq was already looking somewhat bleak, I had a very sharp political discussion with my oldest friend. When we parted I said something like "we'll always be friends," but apart from a brief continued argument via e-mail I haven't communicated with him since.

Politics seems to have become very ugly of late. We live in a time where the real effects of political decisions have become stark and vivid (at least for me). If we are to make our way out of this darkness, I think we have to make allowance for heightened emotions and perhaps intemperate language, yet strive to communicate clearly and honestly.

Anyway, I'm just sharing this in what I hope others will take to be a spirit of friendship and respect.

Oh, I sent a letter to my representative. Thanks for prodding me to do so.

I was defending Bob's statement that he believes Moe to be mistaken in his political views--as I said, we all think we're right and our political opponents aren't, and it's not particularly arrogant to say so.

I don't want to defend the CT comment, I think it's lousy political strategy as well as quite unfair to Moe, but it was made months ago on another weblog and Bob isn't the one who re-posted it.

I just talked to someone at Human Rights Watch & gave them permission to use the factual section of my paper as a baseline for a longer report on rendition. It'll be quite a while before they finish it--they're planning to conduct interviews with former prisoners & do all sorts of research that I don't have the capacity to do. And who knows what impact their report will have in the press, on Congress, or on the administration--but it's something.

Yemenis Transfer from Guantanamo Blocked

Read somewhere today that half of the detainees are to be transferred out.

I honestly don't see any sane decent way out of this predicament.

Glad to hear they will be picking up on it Katherine. It seems funny that they are using you as a resource rather than the reverse. :)

"Yemenis Transfer from Guantanamo Blocked

Read somewhere today that half of the detainees are to be transferred out.

I honestly don't see any sane decent way out of this predicament."

Handle it like a "deferral of removal" case under U.S. immigration law.
--They can choose to take their chances in their own country if they like.
--If they don't want to, but if we can prove to an independent decisionmaker that it's less likely than not that they'll be tortured, fine.
--If we can't, they get deferral of removal, but they do not get any legal rights to come to the U.S. mainland.
--If there is another country that will accept them & will not torture them, we should release them there subject to reasonable measures to guarantee our security. If some rogue state, equivalent to Taliban-era Afghanistan, will accept them because they want to train them to wage terrorist attacks against the U.S., I don't think we're obligated to send them there.
--If there is no place to send them to because of C.A.T. considerations, and we can show that they're a flight risk or a danger to the U.S., we can continue to detain them until a solution is found.

Markey's bill was written before the Guantanamo issue became totally apparent, so it's not entirely clear, but I think it could allow for this approach. If not I'm sure it could be modified slightly & he'd be willing to do that.

I am not overly worried about this bill passing without taking into account the U.S.'s legitimate security concerns, considering that it needs either the President's signature or 2/3 of the House and Senate to become law. I am very worried that it may simply never be allowed to come to a vote in the House, no matter how perfectly Markey drafts it. So if you support the overall thrust and have specific concerns about its application, I would err on the side of supporting it. You could of course note your concerns in your letter to your rep.

Macallan, since the cite requested was for a Wall Street Journal article dating from the 1990s on the topic of rendition, I hope you'll forgive my misunderstanding the point of your link.

No one was seeking evidence that the Clinton administration conducted the practice, something that Gary, Katherine, hilzoy, and others here have acknowledged. I believe the question was when did the practice first receive media coverage. Until other articles come to light, I'm proceeding on the basis of Katherine's findings so far: the practice of rendition became public knowledge only after September 11, 2001.

It is quite possible that some people at the Center for Constitutional Rights, or Amnesty International, or Human Rights First were aware of and objecting to the practice before January 2001. I'd be interested to know more about that. I remember writing letters objecting to provisions in the Clinton anti-terrorism bill when it was before Congress, at the behest of civil liberties organizations, but I can't remember any mention of the rendition issue. That doesn't mean there was none -- back in the leisurely dark ages pre-web, I relied on newsletters and magazines for alerts, and read a hundredth of what I now take in on the subject.

you could also handle it as an extradition case. That might actually make more sense, and Markey's bill does specifically allow for that.

In general, the pre-9/11 laws don't deal perfectly with the terrorist threat but they're not useless either. Much better to modify them carefully than to start throwing them away.

Some points to add to Jesurgislac's on rendition which is, as I recall, the actual topic of this thread.

There are a couple of examples of renditions cited above. One is apparently an Egyptian citizen, convicted in an Egyptian court (albeit in absentia). He was arrested by Croatian authorities, who turned him over to Americans, who then turned him over to Egypt. Another is a man of unspecified nationality subject of an arrest warrant issued by Egypt. He was arrested by Albanians, who turned him over to Americans, who then turned him over to Egypt.

It seems to me we have a couple of different tangles involved, legal and moral.

On the one hand, where do you draw the line between rendition and extradition? Qassem was an Egyptian citizen convicted by an Egyptian court. Attiya may or may not have been an Egyptian citizen, indicted by an Egyptian court. We can go around and around on the validity of Egyptian jurisprudence, but that's opening up yet another can of worms. Egypt does have the legal right to request extradition of their wanted criminals, just as we do (and some of us get a little irked ourselves when US extradition requests aren't honored). Whether Egypt has extradition agreements with Albania and/or Croatia is relevant, and the US playing middleman is dubious at best, but those two examples may have been 'kosher' legally. What definitely wouldn't be legally okay is the US grabbing people on sovereign foreign soil (note: not wartime Afghanistan or Iraq) and/or handing them over to some country with no legal claim on them. How often that's the case, I simply don't know.

There's also the moral dimension. I believe torture is not as effective as its proponents make it out, but neither is it as ineffective as its detractors claim. In some cases, it probably works, and when nothing else will. That said, deliberately causing extreme suffering to a fellow human being (even a really rotten one) is an extreme measure morally, even more so when he's at your mercy, and should be treated as such. I've said it before on other blogs, and no doubt I'll be saying it again. If a person arrogates to himself the decision that the good to be gained from torturing a prisoner outweighs the considerable bad, then he needs to take responsibility for that. Doing it at one remove by dropping the prisoner at the Cairo Stop 'n' Shock just makes him a hypocritical coward.

I'll probably get flamed six ways from Sunday by both the never-works-never-justified and the all's-fair side, but there you are.

"The hearing, scheduled for March 24, will also assess the possibility the Yemeni detainees might be tortured or detained indefinitely if moved to Yemen or to another country." ...from the Reuter's article bold added

"--If they don't want to, but if we can prove to an independent decisionmaker that it's less likely than not that they'll be tortured, fine."

Is the indefinite detention threat covered under the Markey Bill, or just torture? Until they have an internationally monitored status, they will always be under threat of mistreatment.

"In general, the pre-9/11 laws don't deal perfectly with the terrorist threat but they're not useless either. Much better to modify them carefully than to start throwing them away."

Those laws, and the idea of following the rule of law, seemed to suit us well enough with the first WTC incident and Tim McVeigh.

This should not be a liberal or conservative issue; it's an issue that concerns all Americans as Americans.

Should be and are are two different things, as the Poor Man points out. According to his post the bill was co-sponsored by 32 Democrats, 1 Independent, and no Republicans.

It's now 52 Dems-1 Independent-0 Republicans.

Sebastian, interesting concept this "Extraordinary Rendition" particullarly why a Democratic Administration turned to it. If you are going to ban Extraordinary Rendition you better solve the issue (parameters to deal with individuals who are at war with America) at hand first. As this bill fails to resolve that outstanding issue, I would oppose it.

Moe is nice person. Moe's politics are well reasoned, even when I disagreed with him. Eddie, Hilzoy and Von fit nicely into Moe's category.

We don't "render" the important terrorist suspects anymore. We send them to secret CIA jails instead. For the lower level sorts, there's also Guantanamo. The military tribunal rules just aren't that onerous; a little due process won't kill us. Anyway, even if they're eventually released, it takes long enough that there's an opportunity to interrogate people. There's also the inventive use of material witness detentions, and detentions under the immigration laws. All of these solutions have their problems. But they certainly exist, and all are preferable to rendition. We are doing renditions because we can, and because for all the disclaimers, some people in the administration obviously believe that torture works.

We send them to secret CIA jails instead. For the lower level sorts, there's also Guantanamo.

Katherine, are you suggesting a trade off? Because I missed the above details in the House Bill.

Timmy the Wonder Dog: Sebastian, interesting concept this "Extraordinary Rendition" particullarly why a Democratic Administration turned to it.

Let us recall the political atmosphere of the late 1990's. Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House. "Wag the Dog." The "pinprick" strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan. The impeachment.

They are currently U.S. policy so apparently the administration is confident that they're legal, and Markey's bill would do nothing to make them illegal. For a more systematic approach explicitly authorizing needed interrogation powers, Jane Harman's intelligence bill seems very good.

(I'm not hoping to convince Timmy, just trying to prevent him from misleading anyone genuinely concerned about this issue.)

They are currently U.S. policy so apparently the administration is confident that they're legal, and Markey's bill would do nothing to make them illegal. For a more systematic approach explicitly authorizing needed interrogation powers, Jane Harman's intelligence bill seems very good.

Just put them all in the same bill, now Katherine would you support the bill?

I'm against "Extraordinary Rendition" (I don't believe torture is a useful tool in extracting information and reliance on third parties, well) but I want a process in place explicitly legislating aggressive interrogation and detention outside of our current legal system.

ral, so are you saying that the Clinton Admin was solely driven by politics?

ral
ignore the threadjack, especially when the post's author specificially wrote that

While I appreciate the historical commentary, this is not, in fact, a post about whose fault extraordinary rendition is, but about what we can do to prevent it happening again.

Besides, it's not like he's taking on board anything you write.

what we can do to prevent it happening again

My point exactly! Thanks for bringing it up again.

"but I want a process in place explicitly legislating aggressive interrogation and detention outside of our current legal system."

Additionally, I presume, outside of any international legal system or NGO supervision. I fail to see the necessity. If we come across Osama, what needs be done may be done, and pardons granted afterwards. The only reason to build a legal justification would be in order to justify a widespread process of picking up "possible" suspects and sources of information, and reducing liability in the certainty of injustices.

I fail to see the necessity.

If in fact that is true, why bring up the issue of pardons. I prefer process over a wing and prayer; I believe, when given the opportunity, the Congress should play a role in our national security. Just call me, "old fashioned" in that general construct.

Bob: I fail to see the necessity.

To avoid being forced to prosecute Bush & Co as war criminals, I should think. So much of what Bush & Co have done has been illegal under international law, and only shakily legal (if that) in the US (aside from the US being bound to obey international treaties to which it is a signatory). Whereas if the US passes a law making torture and extraordinary rendition legal, that will likely confuse the issue sufficiently that Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al, can escape prosecution so long as they never leave the US.

It would depend, of course, on what the specific provisions said...Timmy, you know and I know that Markey's bill has very little chance of ever seeing a vote, let alone passing. To act as if you'd like to support it, but are helpless until Markey assuages your fears--if the Bush administration wants a bill authorizing their interrogation policies they can get one. It will stand a much better chance of passing than Markey's bills. But they would rather there be no bill, because it would either reveal publicly the sorts of things that are going on, or it would prevent them from doing whatever the hell they want. That's not why you oppose Markey's bill. You know what extraordinary rendition is, you know this bill is the only chance of stopping it and a very, very very slim chance at that, you know it will do nothing to shut down Guantanamo or the CIA jails, you know there is no danger of Congress shutting them down, you know that if Bush wanted explicit Congressional authorization he probably only needs to ask. Come on. If you support sending prisoners to Egypt and Syria, be honest about it. If not, oppose it. But this insincere posturing is a waste of your time and mine.

One thing everyone should note: when you artificially narrow the definition of torture so you can abuse terrorism suspects--you end up also hurting people who are not terrorists and have never even been suspected of terrorism. For example:

By late 2001, the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is run by the Justice Department, had ruled in several such cases that indefinite detention in Haiti was torture under the law, halting the deportations. But in 2002, narrower definitions took hold, said Lori A. Nessel, a legal scholar at Seton Hall University who has tracked the shifting immigration decisions.

Professor Nessel, who also directs the university's Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, was one of several scholars who said there was a sudden convergence between a longer-standing domestic agenda of quicker deportation of illegal immigrants and 'criminal aliens,' and the administration's resolve to 'take the gloves off' in seeking intelligence that could prevent terrorist attacks. She said it not only affected ex-convicts, but women fleeing harm based on their sex, like genital cutting, rape and domestic violence, who often do not fit asylum categories.

Among those denied protection, for example, was Takky Zubeda, a woman who had fled from Congo to New York after being raped by the soldiers who decapitated her father and brother. But in 2003, Ms. Zubeda won an appeal to the Third Circuit appellate court, which rejected a 'specific intent'
requirement.

Look, there are two problems here, and everyone is getting excited over the first but ignoring the second.

Problem 1: We want to interrogate a suspect using torture, but we don't want to do the torture ourselves. So we pack him off to Egypt or Syria to interrogate him for us. That seems wrong.

But in all your haste to condemn Problem 1, you're forgetting that Markey's bill would cause Problem 2:

Problem 2: We catch someone like Mohammed Atta, who is right in the middle of planning the next terrorist attack. But we can't prove it -- all we have on him are some minor immigration violations, a few suspicious money transfers, the fact that he once took flying lessons, and the fact that he was seen hanging out with other suspicious types.

Now what do we do with that suspect? We don't have anything to prosecute him for. We can't ship him to Guantanamo -- liberals oppose that. We can't detain him indefinitely -- liberals oppose that. And if Markey's bill passed, we wouldn't even be able ship him back to the custody of the police in his own home country -- because, after all, they might be cut of the same vicious cloth that he is.

So what the hell are we supposed to do with suspected terrorists? Wait until they fly into the Sears Tower, and then say, "Well, the guy may be dead now, but at least we know he's guilty."

"Liberals" may disapprove of all sorts of things that would still be legal if Markey's bill passes. Holding the person as a material witness, for instance.

Our disapproval of the various stuff you mention stems from this odd idea that if the government does not have enough evidence to indict -- which requires less that proof beyond a reasonable doubt -- we shouldn't go around throwing people in jail. If you think the evidentiary requirements for an indictment are too strict, urge a change and get it passed. That's what the rule of law is all about.

But our disapproval of extraordinary rendition ought to be a lot less controversial, since there are lots of ways to hold people that don't involve shipping them off to be tortured.

Bush was asked about this at a press conference today.

Q Mr. President, can you explain why you’ve approved of and expanded the practice of what’s called rendition, of transferring individuals out of U.S. custody to countries where human rights groups and your own State Department say torture is common for people under custody?

THE PRESIDENT: The post-9/11 world, the United States must make sure we protect our people and our friends from attack. That was the charge we have been given. And one way to do so is to arrest people and send them back to their country of origin with the promise that they won’t be tortured. That’s the promise we receive. This country does not believe in torture. We do believe in protecting ourselves. We don’t believe in torture.

And—Q As Commander-in-Chief—

THE PRESIDENT: Sorry, what—make Roberts feel terrible.

Q That’s all right.

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, you shouldn’t make—Q It doesn’t bother me at all. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Elisabeth.
Q As Commander-in-Chief, what is it that Uzbekistan can do in interrogating an individual that the United States can’t?

THE PRESIDENT: We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured when we render a person back to their home country.”

An actual follow up question! Good for Elisabeth. There are several more I could suggest: aren't some of these people citizens of Canada, Australia and Germany? Does the fact that they're all getting tortured anyway lead you to doubt Egpyt and Syria's assurances? Would you trust Saddam Hussein's promise not to torture a prisoner? What did you do when some of these detainees turned up in Guantanamo with severe injuries that they claimed were the result of torture in Egpyt? Why was a federal prosecutor cracking a joke about one detainee--an accused terrorist, but also a U.S. citizen--no longer having any fingernails? Why aren't we cooperating in Canada's inquiry into the Arar case?

There is a face-saving solution for Bush: He can claim that we believed Egypt’s and Syria’s and Uzbekistan’s assurances in good faith, but when to our shock and chagrin 80-100% of prisoners ended up getting tortured anyway, we realized that their word wasn’t enough.

"Problem 2: We catch someone like Mohammed Atta, who is right in the middle of planning the next terrorist attack. But we can't prove it -- all we have on him are some minor immigration violations, a few suspicious money transfers, the fact that he once took flying lessons, and the fact that he was seen hanging out with other suspicious types.

Now what do we do with that suspect? We don't have anything to prosecute him for. We can't ship him to Guantanamo -- liberals oppose that."

It never stopped you before. And if there's eventually some sort of genuine due process before a military tribunal or court martial I don't oppose it.

"We can't detain him indefinitely -- liberals oppose that."

It never stopped you before. And if you're talking about detention of a suspected terrorist until we can find a way to remove him that will not lead to him being tortured, I don't oppose it. We already have immigration law procedures for this situation; it's called "deferral of removal" under the Convention Against Torture. That was already legal on 9/10/01 and I don't oppose it at all as long as indefinite detention is reserved for people who we have good reason to believe are truly dangerous.

If you're talking about good faith use of the material witness program, I don't oppose it.

You are either totally ignorant of U.S. law and policy on interrogations, or making disingenous excuses for torture, or so eager to excuse Bush that it leads you to make believe things about U.S. law and policy on interrogations that are blatantly false, or make very, very stupid logical mistakes (i.e. saying that we "can't do something" because "liberals oppose it.")

I don't oppose having a way to interrogate Mohammed Atta or imprison him before having the complete basis of a criminal case against him. You are arguing with a straw man. But even if I did want Guantanamo shut down completely, the CIA jails closed, the use of the material witness program ended, the immigration laws re-written to allow terrorists to walk free--my misguided desires would have NO EFFECT AT ALL on what the FBI or CIA could do if they captured the next Mohammed Atta.

You're "tough" enough to support policies that we know have led to the torture of innocent people, but not tough enough to honestly admit it.

"So what the hell are we supposed to do with suspected terrorists?" ...functional

"I don't oppose it at all as long as indefinite detention is reserved for people who we have good reason to believe are truly dangerous." ....katherine

Honest to God, after my 11:32 exchange with Timmy, I sat for an hour thinking on this. If we have custody of an al-Qaeda member committed to doing us harm but with no other reason to hold him, what should we do?

Holding him for twenty years just sticks in my craw. I do see the problem, and I think it a more important and dangerous dilemma than torture but also more difficult. I am not confused or undecided, but the balancing and building of arguments is taking a long time.

I guess I just have core values and prejudices that are hard to rationally examine.

When you're talking about deferral of removal: it's a situation in which the suspect not entitled to be in the U.S. asks not to be sent somewhere he'll be tortured, knowing he'll almost certainly be detained here if he succeeds. That changes the calculus a bit.

It is a harder question, but I've always thought if you're getting the easy questions wrong you fix those first. In the torture debate people who want to discuss the "hard questions" are very often trying to distract us from the easy questions starting us right in the face.

Note: When I said, "we can't do that -- liberals oppose it," what I meant was not literal. What I meant was that according to liberals, we shouldn't detain people, etc.

The point is, what do liberals think we're supposed to do with suspected terrorists? You express some support for indefinite detentions, but how can you have missed the fact that many liberals thought it was a horrible violation of civil rights that a few hundred people after 9/11 were detained for immigration violations? Or the outcries when someone is detained as a "material witness"? If you allow indefinite detention, you aren't a liberal on that point.

As for whether all of this stuff happens anyway: Yes, it does. Bad stuff happens. But prisoner abuse also happens anyway no matter what the law says -- and guess what, it happens in American prisons to American prisoners all the time. (Prisoner abuse wasn't even remotely an invention of the Bush administration.) And torture happens too, no matter what guarantees you think you have. So use your own logic here: If we can only deport people if we can guarantee that their home country won't have them tortured, we will hardly ever be able to deport people. No matter what guarantees we supposedly receive from Saudi Arabia or Syria, torture might happen regardless. After all, suspected terrorists tend to come from countries that (surprise, surprise) aren't the epitome of civilization.

So what do we do with people who aren't (yet) guilty of anything, and who aren't (yet) a witness to anything that is prosecutable? By definition, we can't prosecute them, but according to the usual liberal position, we can't detain them or deport them either. So what do we do? Just sit around and wait to see if they pull off a terrorist attack?

It's a genuinely tough question, as mcmanus points out, and it won't disappear just by making ad hominem attacks on the questioner.

Functional: So what do we do with people who aren't (yet) guilty of anything, and who aren't (yet) a witness to anything that is prosecutable?

So how do we know these people are dangerous? Did the psychics from Minority Report tell us?

Seriously, if there is a legitimate suspicion, let's see some evidence. Just pointing to the hole where the World Trade Center used to be and saying "trust us" isn't good enough. In fact, more often than not, it's not even as polite as "trust us," it's more like "none of your d**n business."

I have no doubt that some of the people we are holding are really threats. I also believe that there's evidence to so indicate. If it's so secret that revealing it would damage security, set up something like the FISA court.

We have to have a process that we can trust. Otherwise, the danger of abuse is too great.

"If we can only deport people if we can guarantee that their home country won't have them tortured, we will hardly ever be able to deport people. "

We can deport people if it is less likely than not that they will be tortured. If it is more likely than not, and they are dangerous terrorists, then we can detain them until we work out an arrangement for their deportation that makes it less likely than not that they will be tortured. This is the position of the current immigration laws & I don't really have a problem with it.

Or, we could send them to Guantanamo, question them without torturing them, and bring them before a military tribunal or court martial that provides genuine due process. This, I also don't have a problem with. I am typical of many liberals in this regard. I don't think you have any idea what we really think or what the current laws allow.

All of this is an interesting discussion but it's totally irrelevant to the question of whether or not to support Markey's bill. If you were giving all of it as a reason to oppose Markey's bill, I stand by my characterization. If not, I apologize for the misunderstanding but you might express yourself more clearly in the future.

I support Markey's bill IF it means, "The United States can't deliberately have someone else interrogate our own suspects by use of torture." I'm against it if it means, "The United States can't deport a suspected Saudi Arabian terrorist, even if we just want to get rid of him and have nothing more to do with his case."

So what do we do with people who aren't (yet) guilty of anything, and who aren't (yet) a witness to anything that is prosecutable?

Torture them, of course. Duh.

", "The United States can't deliberately have someone else interrogate our own suspects by use of torture." I'm against it if it means, "The United States can't deport a suspected Saudi Arabian terrorist, even if we just want to get rid of him and have nothing more to do with his case."

Just to be clear, in most cases these people are not being send from the U.S.; they are being more or less kidnapped from third countries. In many cases they are citizens of Western countries like Germany, Australia and Canada, and they only remain citizens of Syria and Egypt because those countries don't allow you to renounce your citizenship if you were born there, even if you moved away when you were two years old. In every case that I know of, we suggest questions for their interrogators and get reports of their results. In several cases they've been sent to Egypt from Guantanamo, or sent to Guantanamo from Egypt. And CIA agents have told reporters that the idea is "we don't kick the sh*t out of them; we send them to another country so they can kick the sh*t out of them."

The bill leaves untouched our normal extradition and immigration laws, and our policies in Guantanamo and secret CIA facilities overseas.

Timmy, you know and I know that Markey's bill has very little chance of ever seeing a vote, let alone passing. To act as if you'd like to support it

Katherine, as I've clearly pointed out, I don't support the bill as constructed. I don't like "Extraordinary Rendition", I don't support it and I've illustrated the reasons why. When "Extraordinary Rendition" was introduced the previous admin was searching for a solution. I've outlined what I would like incorporated into the bill (gitmo, aggresive interrogation et al) as my solution to forgo "Extraordinary Rendition".

Now, Katherine would you support the bill I describe.

I would support a bill which compelled Timmy to use question marks where grammatically appropriate.

Question marks, what are they?

Question marks, what are they?

A winnar, it's you. :D

Did it hurt?

Did it hurt?

Only when I chuckle.

I can't support a bill that doesn't exist Timmy; it would depend heavily on what it said. I've answered your questions. You can continue to tell yourself you oppose rendition but this bill is unworkable if it makes you feel better.

Hilzoy--maybe it's not as doomed an effort we think. Markey knows what he's doing: you use the bill to drive the story, and you use the story to drive support for the bill.

He proposed an amendment today to the supplemental defense appropriations bill that prohibited the use of funds for activities that violate the Convention Against Torture. It's pretty much a symbolic vote--the Pentagon doesn't make earmarks for "violations of the Convention Against Torture", and this bill doesn't apply to the CIA. But Markey made it crystal clear that he was talking about rendition:

Throughout United States history, we have been the world's moral and political leader. One of the things that really strengthened our hand at Nuremberg was that in turn the Germans could not make a case that we had engaged in the kind of human rights violations that the Nazis had engaged in. It made the trials at Nuremberg a moral statement about the United States and our view of the way in which war should be conducted.

This debate that we are having is intended on ensuring that we restate that commitment. We cannot have Uzbekistan, we cannot have Syria dictating what the
standards are for our country. We cannot take prisoners within our control, put them on planes, and have them flown to other countries where whatever standards exist in that country dictate whether or not and what kind of torture will be engaged in.

The statement which we are making today on the floor will be to once again reassert this Congress' complete commitment to the Convention against Torture. I think it is important at this time that we once again make this point because the rest of the world looks to us as the moral leader and it is important for us in act as well as in word to uphold that standard

The amendment passed, 420-2. 3 other Congressmen voted "present".

I'd also note that Durbin's amendment banning the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners by the United States has passed on a near-unanimous voice vote, twice. When Congress is forced to go on the record on this issue, when they cannot pretend that they are voting about any question other than whether or not to legalize torture, the votes come out very differently than when they are voting on subpoenas that they can claim or politically motivated or on a hidden provision in a bill that's thousands of pages long.

So Markey got the Congress on record opposing extraordinary rendition, including many of the Congressman who voted to legalize it last fall. And Dana Priest mentioned this in her latest story on the subject:

"The House voted 420 to 2 yesterday to prohibit the use of supplemental appropriations to support actions that contravene anti-torture statutes. The measure's co-author, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), singled out renditions, saying "diplomatic assurances not to torture are not credible, and the administration knows it."

Priest also has more details on just how worthless those assurances are. It's really worth reading the whole thing.

This is a scandal, staring us right in the face. This is not a few bad apples. We have an excellent idea of what is going on, and I just refuse to accept that we can't do anything about it.

(thanks to praktike for sending me Markey's speech.)

Katherine: me neither. That's why I write these things. I probably spent too much time around reasonable and idealistic people at an impressionable age, but I have this odd idea that if all of us who feel this way truly try, something good will come of it.

Also, my grandmother used to say: it is not worthy of humanity to give up. And I take that as my motto. Well, one of my mottos. There are too many good ones.

Here's another, which I first heard from my other grandmother, and only later realized sort of twists the original a bit, but I prefer her version:

"When the forts of folly fall
Find my body by the wall."

Does it ever amuse you that we liberals are supposed to be the moral relativists, or is finding that funny a sort of ethicist's quirk?

Here's the difference, I think: liberals tend to have faith in the ideal or the goal--truth, justice, human rights, democracy--and the process by which you seek that goal--the Fourteenth Amendment & judicial review, the scientific method, journalism--but doubt the ability of any single person or group of people to achieve it. Conservatives tend to doubt the existence of the ideal or the goal or the usefulness of the method, and have much more faith in a particular person or a particular country or a particular religion than liberals do. The confident statement that God is on our side, versus the less certain hope that we are on God's side; the idea we're a freedom-loving, decent, law-abiding country so we can feel free to suspend the Geneva conventions, versus the idea that we have to abide by the Geneva conventions to live up to our heritage as a freedom-loving, decent, law-abiding country.

You could view it as an enlightenment v. faith thing. You could also view it as a different attitude towards your faith or your history: do you view it as a license, or as an obligation?

Simply put Katherine since we are talking about a hypothetical, as you previously stated, you can support but decided not to. From your previous statements, you have been against Gitmo, CIA prisons in foreign lands and aggressive interrogation.

So we come down to the issue which faced the Clinton Admin, what would you do in their situation. Incorporate that answer into the current bill and maybe it will have an opportunity to pass.

Katherine, as for your observations on liberals and conservatives, have you been asleep for the last three years? Truth, justice, human rights, democracy are you missing what is going on in the Middle East.

I believe liberals want to rely solely on engagement starting with a guy named Wallace in the 40s. I believe Wallace was wrong, Katherine what do you think?

On the Fourteenth Amendment & judicial review, I would like the Amendment to be enforced as written. Scalia has some recent comments on the role of judges and the Constitution, you ought to read it. It might just expand your horizons and the views are certainly in the mainstream.

Legislation by the courts I continue to miss that article in the Constitution. Katherine, why don't liberals trust the people any more?

I answered your questions quite clearly before. You are brave enough to be an apologist for torture; you are not brave enough to admit it. It's cowardly and pathetic. I'll not respond to you again; you are a walking violation of one of the posting rules. "Don't disrupt or destroy meaningful conversation for its own sake"--that's all you do on this site and all you have ever done. I literally can't thing of a single post you have made that has done anything but that. I understand the reluctance to enforce that rule, as it's inherently subjective, and will do my best simply to ignore your posts from now on.

You are brave enough to be an apologist for torture; you are not brave enough to admit it. It's cowardly and pathetic

Katherine, you struggle with reatlity whereas I do not.

I'll not respond to you again; you are a walking violation of one of the posting rules.

You hide behind the posting rules because you can't answer the questions posted to you, pathetic is my response.

"Don't disrupt or destroy meaningful conversation for its own sake"

The points I've raised are meaningful, you just don't like the construct.

I literally can't thing of a single post you have made that has done anything but that. I understand the reluctance to enforce that rule, as it's inherently subjective, and will do my best simply to ignore your posts from now on.

Katherine, not only are you weak in your responce but you are a hypocrite in your response. You fail to answer straitforward questions put to you, you live in your world and someday reality will set in.

Bye, Timmy.

I thought a lot about whether to ban you pending appeal, since in my opinion Katherine was out of line as well. But on reflection, I am OK with having a minor double standard when dealing with people who have consistently contributed to the site as compared to people who have not. For the record, the grounds for banning are both incivility and consistently disrupting meaningful conversation for its own sake. That, and the still unretracted Duranty comparison.

Not that I get a vote, but I suggest allowing TtWD to post on other threads assuming somewhat better behavior - or more of the same behavior plus more ignoring him from those he annoys. 'Nuff said.

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