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May 20, 2005

Comments

Discouraging. Maddening. Embarrassing.

Only skimmed the article -- what's the status of the Army's investigation/prosecution?

Slarti, I would really recommend that you find the time to read this piece all the way though (stomach-churning though it may be) - it is an excellent piece of reportage, and exposes one of the, IMO, most disgusting and disgraceful examples of American abusiveness since Abu Ghraib.
Sadly, I am sure it will get the usual "so what?" treatment from the usual commenters: anyone want to take a bet on how long it takes Tacitus (or one of his Clone Army) to pop up and sneer at anyone who expresses their
displeasure at this particular revelation?

Did anyone catch that one of the men who died under torture by the US-American army was someone they knew perfectly well was innocent? Lovely. Maybe we should just change the country's name to Oceania and be done with it. (I just finished reading the article. I am angry and disgusted, not the least of which at myself for living in a country with a military that does such things and a populace that supports and even cheers it when it does. Maybe in a few days I'll be calmer and be able to think rationally about it and make sure that I don't insult people gratuitously, but I can't right now. So I apologize if I am insulting anyone gratuitously in the mean time.)

Some thing stand out. The people in charge of interrogating were not trained interrogators. The people in charge of interrogating believed that the Geneva Conventions didn't apply. The people in charge of interrogating were later deployed to Abu Ghraib, to do more interrogating.
The report said it found probable cause to charge 27 people; only 7 have been charged so far.
It's horrible. It's like some B-grade prison/war horror movie or something.
There has to be justice for this.

Anderson pointed this out on Matt Yglesias' thread -- it is the first time an interrogator has explicitly cited the administration's comments on the Geneva Conventions as justifying abuse of prisoners:


Nor were the rules of engagement very clear. The platoon had the standard interrogations guide, Army Field Manual 34-52, and an order from the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to treat prisoners "humanely," and when possible, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But with President Bush's final determination in February 2002 that the Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that Taliban fighters would not be accorded the rights of prisoners of war, the interrogators believed they "could deviate slightly from the rules," said one of the Utah reservists, Sgt. James A. Leahy.

Oh, good, I've been waiting all day for someone (could it be, Katherine?) to tell me whether this is the first direct link between one of our torturing personnel and the White House's "Geneva, how quaint" policy:

Nor were the rules of engagement very clear. The platoon had the standard interrogations guide, Army Field Manual 34-52, and an order from the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to treat prisoners "humanely," and when possible, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But with President Bush's final determination in February 2002 that the Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that Taliban fighters would not be accorded the rights of prisoners of war, the interrogators believed they "could deviate slightly from the rules," said one of the Utah reservists, Sgt. James A. Leahy.

"There was the Geneva Conventions for enemy prisoners of war, but nothing for terrorists," Sergeant Leahy told Army investigators. And the detainees, senior intelligence officers said, were to be considered terrorists until proved otherwise.

These "senior intel officers" are the ones I want to hear more about.

Slarti, I would really recommend that you find the time to read this piece all the way though

Oh, I will, but I'm busy closing out one job so I can start working on another. And I've got a date with the wife tonight, so probably tomorrow.

Oops, Jeremy is more on top of me than I am today (simultaneous commenting). I'm not certain this is the 1st time, but I think I'd recall this "missing link" if I'd seen it earlier.

Something I'm not clear on: I know a lot of this happened in 2002, but when did the Army come up with the report (that was leaked to the NY Times)?

And I want to know who those senior inteligence oficers are as well.

Sorry to step on your toes, Anderson. I am also very interested to hear more about this.

As I've said for too many years now, bring them all home. Let these particular sadists try and kill the women in their lives or bring weapons into their workplaces so we can properly put them in the prisons or mental health facilities they belong in. They are criminals who will perpetrate crimes wherever they go so let's not ship these very disturbed people to other lands ever again.

Let's see.

A. "Just a few bad apples."

B. "An isolated incident."

C. "The incident is under investigation."

D. "No worse than a fraternity hazing."

E. "No worse than the training we give our troops."

F. "The NYT shouldn't be printing this, because it will inflame anti-American sentiment."

G. "Not the Administration's fault."

Does that cover it? Or will we be hearing more imaginitive excuses?

Oh, and if you want to see something else depressing, look where some of the Tacitus bloggers are arguing that "we" (mere citizens of the republic) had no need to hear about this story in the first place.

Representative government: who needs it?

Oh, and if you want to see something else depressing, look where some of the Tacitus bloggers are arguing that "we" (mere citizens of the republic) had no need to hear about this story in the first place.

Followed by the usual "this is not important", "you're omitting" and "misrepresenting" arguments, with a dose of ad hominem thrown in. Funny how the omissions and misrepresentations are never named.

This part puzzles me:
"The whole situation is unfair," Sgt. Selena M. Salcedo, a former Bagram interrogator who was charged with assaulting Dilawar, dereliction of duty and lying to investigators, said in a telephone interview. "It's all going to come out when everything is said and done."

This is just speculation, but I wonder if she is (thinking of) passing the buck upward.

You guys really should see what Charles Johnson has said about this. He's taken recent warblogger rhetoric to its natural end and declared my friends and family to be "the enemy," and no different than Islamic terrorists to his racist pals. Anyone who ever quotes that guy approvingly again can do all sorts of things to themselves not allowed under the posting rules or most state laws.

That's what I guessed, Votermom. What else can she & the others do? (Which is why the self-serving aspect of Sgt. Leahy's blaming the White House can't be overlooked, in deciding whether the retreat from Geneva was a real cause of what happened.)

It should be passed upward though. The officers in charge are supposed to be, well, in charge, aren't they?

Oh, heads should roll from bestarred shoulders, no doubt; it probably won't happen, unless they find a reserve 1-star like Karpinski to make the fall guy (extra points when the fall guy's a girl). Officers protect other officers; it's like your big-city police dep't.

But it's been hard to argue command responsibility up as far as Rumsfeld & Bush. We've been forced to argue that statements like "Geneva is too quaint" created what Patti Smith calls an atmosphere where anything's allowed.

Now we have at least one soldier saying, hey, the President said these guys weren't entitled to the usual protections, and we took that to mean we could get creative without fear of contradiction. Let's see if this goes anywhere or gets squelched.

You can bet this is all over the Middle East press. Also today there were "Americans, go home" rallies by Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq. Granted the rallies had about 6000 participants out of a population of, I think, 29 million, but still....

This isn't by any means a "so what," but what will it take to open the minds of people who made all those excuses Bernard Yomtov so ably lists above?

It was obvious from the first that the actions at Abu Ghraib were at least tacitly approved. The CD full of photographs was being passed around by soldiers like a trophy -- that's how the whole story eventually came to light.

People who believe they are committing crimes usually do not carefully preserve evidence of the crimes and pass it around to their buddies.

The administration should just come out and admit that torture is a policy. Plenty of their supporters already have indicated they approve the idea.

Oh my God.

I mean, it's not as though the idea that we're torturing people is novel, after Abu Ghraib, but the details are so horrible.

This is my country, of which I want to be proud.

Body and Soul has had lengthy diatribes on this sort of thing before so, sadly, I'm not in the slightest bit shocked by this any more.

On which note, Jeanne has a new post on this very incident. And her previous post, on other abuses of detainees (including details on Quran abuses), is worth reading too.

I don't know what to make of this. A flurry of cliche's rush forward: war is hell, wrong place wrong time, the guilty will be punished, a few bad apples, and on and on, but they mollify only until some detail of the accounts resurfaces, and then I'm sobbing:

They were later visited by Mr. Dilawar's parents, who begged them to explain what had happened to their son. But the men said they could not bring themselves to recount the details.

"I told them he had a bed," said Mr. Parkhudin. "I said the Americans were very nice because he had a heart problem."

I mean, my God...for just one moment imagine this shy, 22-year-old was someone you love...what would you demand as justice?

"This is my country, of which I want to be proud."

I would too. But right now I'm not. Right now I'm deeply ashamed of it.

Finally, we are getting some more details on the Bush administration policy of torture.

What percentage of prisoners are we torturing now. Are we up to 1% yet? Since we know its more than a few bad apples and that its not isolated why can't they do better than 1%?

I know our boys and girls can do better than that. We should encourage them as much as possible to implement U.S. policy. Whether official or unofficial.

But I still can't explain why we can't break that 1% barrier if the patterns of abuse are so prevalent.

Somewhere someone is really dropping the ball.

Maybe, Bush needs to make the policies even more lax if his real goal is to inflame the Moslem world and wage a holy war.

Maybe it's just gross incomptence and everyone hasn't read the torture memo yet.

"This isn't by any means a "so what," but what will it take to open the minds of people who made all those excuses Bernard Yomtov so ably lists above?

In a word, ral - nothing. To the sort of minds that have reflexively come up with dismissals and excusals for any and all abuses by US military personnel - and the list Bernard Y. cited could quite easily be expanded - the very fact that "Our Boys (and now, Girls, too)" are involved, and in a war situation, and in the service of the United States on a mission that very many Americans truly believe in; will be enough to close off their critical facility.
That abuses like those at Bagram and Abu Ghraib are, as hilzoy points out, a disgraceful stain on "our country" are almost an irrelevancy: No one wants to think that their nation (especially one founded on the noblest principles of the Enlightment) can ever do wrong, or be wrong - and the immediate reaction of most citizens is far more likely to be like those Bernard listed.
Not, IMO, something to be proud of.

123concrete: did you actually read the article?

It all makes Nazi Germany easier to understand, from the perspective of the mensch on the street.

Officers protect other officers; it's like your big-city police dep't.

One of the really good things about the U.S. military is that this ain't necessarily so. In fact, sometimes they arguably push command responsibility too far in the other direction. This example is unrelated but informative (there was a better story in the Times a few days ago, but I couldn't find it just now and fear it's disappeared behind the firewall).

Anderson: Oh, and if you want to see something else depressing, look where some of the Tacitus bloggers are arguing that "we" (mere citizens of the republic) had no need to hear about this story in the first place.

Understandably. People who oppose torture might not have been willing to vote for Bush had they realised they were voting for a pro-torture administration.

Hilzoy,

Yes and it's revolting. I just am not going to hate my country because it is not perfect. Holding and individual or country to the level of perfection is silly in my opinion.

But which of the flag wavers here who love their country has taken the time to applaud the army for this investigation.

No one. But everyone took the time to be ashamed. But not proud that we live in a counrty where our army actually cares about punishing this kind of behavior.

It all makes Nazi Germany easier to understand, from the perspective of the mensch on the street

I was just telling someone I work with about the article, and he said "Well, what can you do? You could make yourself crazy if you keep reading about it all" (referring to torture as well as all the deaths of the war). "You could become an activist but you'd give up a lot to do that."

And he has a point. He voted for Kerry, he's a regular guy with a mortgage and kids. What can he do, really, except hope that the country comes to it's senses?

Still, the worst thing to do would be to ignore the story completely, right?

It's hard not to despair of the world.

Awful.

You know, it's funny that the same people who find it perfectly logical to attribute some responsibility to Bill Clinton for 9/11 because of his response to the Embassy Bombings and Cole Bombing have no trouble exonerating Bush/Yoo/Gonzales for this sort of thing.

123concrete: But which of the flag wavers here who love their country has taken the time to applaud the army for this investigation.

Why is applause necessary for carrying out the bare legal minimum required - while the delay in doing so undoubtedly led to similar/worse atrocities at Abu Ghraib? Why didn't the army take the investigation sufficiently seriously to ensure that none of the interrogators under investigation for the homicides and other atrocities at Bagram Airbase got anywhere near helpless prisoners until they had been cleared - instead of sending them to Abu Ghraib to do more of the same?

Hilzoy,

"Bush had they realised they were voting for a pro-torture administration."

See I'm not crazy. This is a pro-torture administration and we can't even get more than 1% of our prisoners tortured.

How pathetic is that?

I'm willing to accpept that maybe it is hard to find people who are willing to torture. But, by now if our soldiers haven't heard and seen via G. Bay and Abu Ghraib that the administration is pro-torture, then I say we collect money and send Jesurgislac over to the Middle East to let them know what a crappy job they are doing.

This pro-torture administration has to do better. I think they need someone like Jesurgislac to help them spread their message of torture to the troops.

123, no one is asking you to hate your country. I certainly don't. This story illustrates what happens when you unmoor people from the restraints of law.

It's fine that the thing is being investigated, but I think there's plenty of sentiment that the investigation will stop at the little guys, and not reach the people who allowed, with winks, nods, and dehumanizing rhetoric, the people who did this to think that they were doing what they were supposed to do.

123: I don't hate my country either. That's one of the reasons I do hate this story so much.

I applaud the army investigators. I do not applaud those responsible for failing to train our interrogators adequately, assigning them to Abu Ghraib after people had died on their watch, reporting the deaths as due to 'natural causes', or deciding not to prosecute most of those the investigation said there was probable cause to prosecute.

Do I get to go back to grieving now?

Charley,

"You know, it's funny that the same people who find it perfectly logical to attribute some responsibility to Bill Clinton for 9/11 because of his response to the Embassy Bombings and Cole Bombing have no trouble exonerating Bush/Yoo/Gonzales for this sort of thing."

I disagree. There is plenty of blame to go around for everyone for all of these events. I think what confuses you is that you confuse those who don't hate Bush with those who do.

See I can acknowledge that the administration could have done a better job with prisoners upfront. I can also acknowledge Clinton could have had a better response to the instances you mention. What I an not willing to do is crucify or hate either.

123concrete, you know it would be a lot more convincing if you came up with some concrete arguments why you believe the Bush administration is not pro-torture, rather than just attacking me for suggesting that it is.

I assume that since you yourself are convinced the Bush administration is not pro-torture, you have reasons for thinking so.

And may I say, I much prefer an opponent who is convinced that torture is bad and therefore the Bush administration does not support it, to someone who accepts that the Bush administration is pro-torture but it's okay, because only "enemies" are tortured. The former is a position that can be respectably defended*: the latter is... unspeakable.

*Not believably: there is too much evidence against the Bush administration. But respectably.

123, I'm not looking for you to acknowledge that mistakes were made -- although I appreciate your doing so -- I want the administration to acknowledge it.

It doesn't have anything to do with hating the country or hating Bush. I want us to win the war with AQ, and don't think torturing taxi drivers to death is going to do it. I don't think the Admin making excuses is going to do it. I don't think blaming underlings who thought they were doing what they were supposed to be doing is going to do it. I understand that the Admin, and a great many of its supporters, are afraid that openly acknowledging error is a show of weakness. That in their view the most important quality we show is Resolution.

With this I simply cannot agree. Resolution is important, but Justice is more important. That means acknowledging that the whole "gloves off" strategy was a mistake, the whole Gitmo thing is a collosal blunder, and that the war has to be waged in a manner consistent with our values (as we articulate then, rather than as we live them).

What I really fear is that Yoo and the rest of the gang might stumble across this and not get 123's sarcsam. "Hell, that's what I've been saying all along!"

One of the really good things about the U.S. military is that this ain't necessarily so. In fact, sometimes they arguably push command responsibility too far in the other direction.

I very much look forward to DaveL's being proved 100% right in this matter.

As for "applauding the investigation," I would applaud even more an Army that didn't let such things happen in the first place. And the time to applaud the investigation is when & if it assigns blame where it's due, or confines blame to a few grunts, despite evidence that higher-ups knew all about it & shrugged it off.

Nothing my Army does can make me hate my country. It can make me hate the [...]'s who are leading my country into evil, George W. Bush being prominent among them.

Jesurgislac,

It's just ashame that we can't get that all damning wink and nod on video. How is the administration supposed to defend itself when the standard is a wink and a nod. Since, I haven't seen that video I can only doubt it's existence. Since, I have been in the military and never got the torture memo I will doubt it's existence.

With our advanced military training and technology it only makes sense that we would torture a taxi cab driver. I guess your right. How could that not be official policy?

My proof would be that people who commit acts of torture are going to jail. My proof would be that the army is fixing the problem. Now it may not be enough for you and others that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield aren't in jail but I am okay with the army putting the soldiers who break the law in jail.

But, I'll be the first to admit that in this new kind of war. Torture is not a make or break issue for me.

As soon as we can get torture out of our jails completely. As soon as we can get rid of all police men who abuse prisoners then we will live in a perfect society. I think we can accomplish that in the next 10,000 years or so.

Is anyone here arguing that the military is not working hard to fix these kinds of problems? Just wondering.

Is anyone here arguing that the military is not working hard to fix these kinds of problems?

Define "working hard".

Votermon,

Why don't you define it for me so I can see your starting point.

Lt. General Sanchez authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army’s own standards. Sanchez reports to a general who reports to Rumsfeld. Was Sanchez punished? No. There's speculation that he was not promoted because of this, but he continues to command in a different assignment.

Is anyone here arguing that the military is not working hard to fix these kinds of problems? Just wondering.

Yes, we've heard the "it's hard work" line. Much as I appreciate hard work, results matter more. The military is dragging its feet on this.

Is anyone here arguing that the military is not working hard to fix these kinds of problems?

The torturers in the Bagram case are charged with, at worst so far, "involuntary manslaughter."

I think if the worst offenders were court-martialed, lined up against a wall and shot by firing squad, there would be a lot less torture by enlisted men & women in future.

I think if the officers who tolerated this activity were broken from the ranks & sentenced to 30- or 40-year prison terms, there would be a lot less toleration of torture by officers in future.

That is what an Army that honestly despised torture and torturers would be doing, IMHO. Opponents of capital punishment are free to substitute "life at hard labor" for shooting in the above.

But, I'll be the first to admit that in this new kind of war. Torture is not a make or break issue for me.

How sad.

I very much look forward to DaveL's being proved 100% right in this matter.

For the record, I don't really expect to see much command responsibility for these incidents. My point was only that the military, left to its own devices, is often perfectly willing to punish its own. I don't expect the military to be left to its own devices here, because the responsibility goes too far up the chain of command.

A right wing reaction to this article?

Podhertz at the Corner, as quoted and then critiqued by flit:

"The New York Times continues the bizarre act of carrying Newsweek's water in the wake of the false Koran-desecration story (which I write about this morning here). The paper's lead story is a lurid account of the vicious treatment of two Afghan prisoners by U.S. soldiers -- events that occurred in December 2002 and for which seven servicemen have been properly punished. Let me repeat that: December 2002. That's two and a half years ago. Every detail published by the Times comes from a report done by the U.S. military, which did the investigating and the punishing. The publication of this piece this week is an effort not to get at the truth, not to praise the military establishment for rooting out the evil being done, but to make the point that the United States is engaged in despicable conduct as it fights the war on terror. In the name of covering the behinds of media colleagues, all is fair in hate and war."

Instapundit linked approvingly, with the addendum: "Something you probably won't hear from Wolcott and Atrios... If the news media policed themselves as well as the military does, Newsweek wouldn't be in this kind of trouble."

Well, no you probably won't hear it from them, in fact, because it's not true. * * * So far, only the seven soldiers have been charged, including four last week. No one has been convicted in either death.

Maybe right-wingers just naturally believe that accusation equals guilt.

The article is horrific -- yet this type of right wing looniness in response just seems all too common. And it is amazing that it has taken two years to levy charges -- it is not as if the perpetrators and the facts were hard to determine. Maybe they had to turn a witness with promises of leniency and that ate up some time, but I doubt it.

Anarch,

Yes, how sad. Somehow I manage in my small little grinch of a heart to be more sympathetic to children getting caught in the crossfire than prisoners/adults getting tortured.

Somehow I am willing to overlook the mistakes that inevitibly are made during war regardless of who is ultimately responsible in order to soldier on and fight the actual war.

Yes, how sad. If only we had stopped waging any war in which there was torture on our side. We would be so much better of today.

Somehow I manage in my small little grinch of a heart to be more sympathetic to children getting caught in the crossfire than prisoners/adults getting tortured.

"To death." Tortured to death. Just in case you forgot.

It's OK, though, Anarch -- the torture is for the children. Christ, I remember when we used to make fun of people for using that line.

"Somehow I manage in my small little grinch of a heart to be more sympathetic to children getting caught in the crossfire than prisoners/adults getting tortured."

Then you must really be upset over the bombings in Iraq, which, as Roberts et al documented, resulted in a large number of deaths, mostly among women and children. No?

dmbeaster,

By all means let's expedite these kind of cases. Who cares about a thorough investigation?

Let's apply that same logic Hussein while we are at it. The whole world knows he's a mass murder. Let's hang 'em high tomorrow. You're okay with that aren't you. What's really to discuss in his case?

I'm sure that if any mistakes are made you won't have a problem with the person possibly getting off.

I should clarify that in the above post I was talking about the US arial bombings, not the suicide bombings currently common in Iraq. The suicide bombings, while horrific in themselves, don't seem to have had quite the public health impact that the US bombings did.

Dianne,

Yes, it is upsetting. Let's don't forget that innocent people have died in Afghanistan also.

And let's don't forget the WTC while we are at it. You do remember the WTC don't you.

And let's don't forget the people that Husein and his family have murdered and raped.

You feel for them don't you?

Even if you want to use the Lancet figure of 100K, even though it has been disavowed by the U.N.

Numerically speaking the dictator Bush seems to be better for Iraq than the Hussein family.

We can agree on that right?

123: Is there any reason -- any at all -- why you might think that anyone here has forgotten 9/11? Or doesn't care about Saddam and his victims? I, at least, think that the fact that we are torturing people makes future attacks more likely, not less.

It's really, really tiresome to have people impugning our concern for no reason whatsoever. So let's try it in reverse:

123 --

Yes, it is upsetting. Let's don't forget that innocent people have died in Darfur also.

And let's don't forget the Black Death while we are at it. You do remember the Black Death don't you.

And let's don't forget the people that Stalin murdered and raped.

You feel for them don't you?

-- To ask you these questions of you, and to ask whether you care about Darfur, the Black Death, and Stalin's victims, makes exactly as much sense as asking the kinds of questions you've asked us.

"And let's don't forget the WTC while we are at it. You do remember the WTC don't you."

Ah, but the people who worked in the WTC were adults. There may have been a few children visiting, but most of the people there were adults and you just established that torturing innocent adults to death is ok in your world view. Personally, I don't think that the WTC attacks were ok, even if few children were killed in them, but perhaps I am influenced by having lived down the street from them at the time of the attack and worked in the ER that day. Yes, I remember the WTC and I don't wish the same destruction on anyone, no matter what their nationality. Nor do I see the WTC attacks as an excuse for bad behavior on the part of my country. I do not admire the Taliban or al Qaeda and I have no desire for my government to take up their methods or morals. Oh, and speaking of the WTC attacks, you do remember how many Iraqis were involved in them, right? None.

"Numerically speaking the dictator Bush seems to be better for Iraq than the Hussein family."

Well, no. The number 100,000 was the number of EXCESS deaths, over the number of deaths seen in a similar time period in the last years of the Hussein regime. Even if one uses the absolute lowest number of 8000, that is still 8000 more than Hussein killed in the same period. Additionally, that is not including the deaths in Fallujah.

I'm curious about this UN repudiation of the Roberts paper. I've never heard of it before. Can you give cites?

The rack was in fashion,
The plagues were my passion,
Each day held a new joy in store

Ah, those were the good old days!

Yes, how sad. Somehow I manage in my small little grinch of a heart to be more sympathetic to children getting caught in the crossfire than prisoners/adults getting tortured.

First, since when were we talking about "children getting caught in the crossfire"? What children? What crossfire? What non sequitur?

Second, since when does "I'm more sympathetic to X than Y" translate into "I have no sympathy for Y"?* False binarism again. I'm perfectly OK with having sympathy for children generically being caught in the crossfire while at the same time having sympathy for the victims of horrific abuse and violence at the hands of our Armed Forces while at the same time having sympathy for the men and women of our Armed Forces who've been put into a horribly untenable position by their (at best) careless and heedless superiors. And I don't even feel a need to impose an artificial linear ordering on this caring so that I can talk about caring "more" or "less".

Third, Phil wasn't quite correct in his amendment of your remarks. The correct statement would have been:

...than prisoners/adults/innocents getting tortured to death.

A slightly different statement, I think.

* To be fair, you haven't explicitly said that you don't care about the victims of the torture; then again, you've referred to them several times without evincing the slightest shred of sympathy.

Somehow I am willing to overlook the mistakes that inevitibly are made during war regardless of who is ultimately responsible in order to soldier on and fight the actual war.

Since when has abuse and torturing-unto-death been an "inevitible" mistake? Since when has failure of subordinates to adhere to basic standards of human rights -- as exemplified either in the Geneva Conventions or the USCMJ -- been excusable for their superior officers?

Let's apply that same logic Hussein while we are at it. The whole world knows he's a mass murder. Let's hang 'em high tomorrow. You're okay with that aren't you. What's really to discuss in his case?

If that had actually been the case made against Saddam, I might well have supported it. Given that it wasn't, though -- and how could it have been, since we were his staunchest supporters through some of his worst atrocities? -- it's irrelevant.

And with that, enough. I'm going to recommend we all just walk away from this "tarbaby", folks. [Thanks, rilkefan and sidereal, for that one.] I quite literally don't see any way to win this argument, nor do I see any purpose in further use pursuing it. What use are the tools of reason against an empathetic void?

Let's apply that same logic Hussein while we are at it. The whole world knows he's a mass murder. Let's hang 'em high tomorrow. You're okay with that aren't you. What's really to discuss in his case?

Wait, wait, wait . . . you supported the invasion of Iraq -- at least I assume you did -- which means you probably had no problem with the possibility of Hussein being killed as a result of military action (nor did I), but now when it gives you the opportunity to claim a moral high ground, you're going to make a pretense towards desiring restraint in Hussein's case?

Do you know what the word "chutzpah" means?

I second Anarch, by the way. To Coventry with this one.

Hilzoy,

May I suggest you direct your comments to Dianne and Anarch. Anarch feels sad for me because torture is not a make or break it issue for me. I'm not sure why he feels sad for me because of that. I don't feel sad for him that Clinton didn't do a better job at preventing 9/11 and save 1000's of lives in so doing. Dianne says:

"Then you must really be upset over the bombings in Iraq, which, as Roberts et al documented, resulted in a large number of deaths, mostly among women and children. No?"

And while you are at it Hilzoy maybe you can police your own...

"established that torturing innocent adults to death is ok in your world view."

Can you show me where i said this?

As a matter of fact I stated to you directly:

"Yes and it's revolting."

But, I guess its okay with you if Dianne twists my words. I see the deal now.


Dianne,

I was referring to the total number that Hussien has killed during his tenure as President of Iraq versus the dictator Bush's time as emperor of Iraq.

123concrete asks whether the military is "working hard" to resolve these cases. The military is composed of different groups with different interests, and, most importantly, different motivations, so the question does not really make sense. I think the CIC investigators who wrote the 2000 page report sincerely want a prosecution and have done their best and I applaud them, just like I applaud the soldiers who went to them with their complaints in the first place.

However, the CIC investigators are not prosecutors. They make reccomendations, and so far, many of those reccomendations have not been acted upon. Most of the people that CIC suggested be chaged have not been charged. If the army was serious about this, I think we would more people charged with more serious crimes.

In addition, the CIC investigation happened because a soldier complained. It was not triggered automatically after soldiers murdered two men for no apparent reason. There was a major institutional failure, and the people responsible for institutional failures are high ranking officers. Even though they didn't personally torture anyone, a reasonable person in their position would be expected to know how lax discipline in their organization was and how many detainees were getting tortured.

Let's compare this case to what happened at My Lai. American soldiers committed horrible atrocities there, but a few brave ones tried to stop the killing. An Army investigative team worked extremely hard to produce a thourough detailed report that recommended that many soldiers and officers be prosecuted. Surprise, surprise though! Out of 25 men the Army tried to prosecute, only a few were tried and there was only one conviction. The army general investigating the whole affair concluded that the Army had succeeded in whitewashing My Lai allowing responsible officers to, quite literally, get away with murder.

The point of this historical digression is that lots of people in the Army can do incredible work to see that justice is done, but that doesn't mean that justice will be done, both because of circumstances outside of their control and because the good guys simply don't control all the shots in the Army.

The military worked very hard in the My Lai case, but justice was not done. I see no reason why things should be different now.

123concrete, if American soldiers picked up a taxi driver outside of an American base in the US that had just been attacked and then tortured and murdered him even though the only evidence they was that a mobster fingered him, what do you think the reaction would be? Do you think it would take the army 2+ years to file charges? Do you think they would only charge people with involuntary manslaughter? What if it wasn't a taxi driver but a blue eyed, blond coed at the local community college? Do you really think the army would behave in the same way?

123: "Somehow I manage in my small little grinch of a heart to be more sympathetic to children getting caught in the crossfire than prisoners/adults getting tortured."

I took this to mean that you felt it was more or less ok if adults got tortured. If that isn't correct, I apologize. Does that mean that you don't think that torturing innocent taxi drivers is ok, even if they are Afghani?

common Sense,

Great post!

"The point of this historical digression is that lots of people in the Army can do incredible work to see that justice is done, but that doesn't mean that justice will be done, both because of circumstances outside of their control and because the good guys simply don't control all the shots in the Army."

And yes it could take 2+ years. I would say cases like this always take longer than what they should. Aren't we all amazed at how long some cases take to prosecute?

Anarch,

"To be fair, you haven't explicitly said that you don't care about the victims of the torture; then again, you've referred to them several times without evincing the slightest shred of sympathy"

As a matter of fact I stated Hilzoy:

"Yes and it's revolting."


I'll just assume you overlooked that in all the posts. No need to apologize.

Dianne,

"Does that mean that you don't think that torturing innocent taxi drivers is ok, even if they are Afghani?"

The fact that you even bother to ask that question makes my point that your assumptions aren't grounded in reality. (For me it does atleast.) That's the reason that I have been framing my posts in such an absurd way.

See many posters here start off so far on the left with an assumption that is absurd. Then I just feed the silliness. You fall for it. And I find that telling. You are validating for me that your assumptons are absurd. Thanks.


Now the best response on the thread was this:

What I really fear is that Yoo and the rest of the gang might stumble across this and not get 123's sarcsam. "Hell, that's what I've been saying all along!"

Posted by: carpeicthus | May 20, 2005 04:39 PM


I'll just assume you overlooked that in all the posts. No need to apologize.

On the contrary, I did overlook that remark and so I do need to apologize: you have, in fact, evinced the slightest shred of sympathy.

Anarch,

Well then let me do my best to humbly accept it.

Have a nice day! ; -)

Eh, I'm with Anarch and Phil: stay away from the tarbaby.

Phil,

Huh?

" but now when it gives you the opportunity to claim a moral high ground, you're going to make a pretense towards desiring restraint in Hussein's case?"

I'm okay with bombing him to death, hanging, life in prision... wait here comes a biggie... letting the Iraqis themselves decide. All those options are accepatable in my book.

123concrete aka tarbaby:

By all means let's expedite these kind of cases. Who cares about a thorough investigation?

Please inform yourself before mouthing off -- from the linked article (page 2):

With most of the legal action pending, the story of abuses at Bagram remains incomplete. But documents and interviews reveal a striking disparity between the findings of Army investigators and what military officials said in the aftermath of the deaths. [emphasis added]

Military spokesmen maintained that both men had died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides. Two months after those autopsies, the American commander in Afghanistan, then-Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, said he had no indication that abuse by soldiers had contributed to the two deaths. The methods used at Bagram, he said, were "in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques."

It's taken so long because too many others in the military were willing to cover up the outrage.

"I second Anarch, by the way. To Coventry with this one."

Keep in mind that if you say "I think you're an a**," even after being warned by a blog-owner, you won't be banned, and you can continue to post as you like. You can also freely tell him to come over for his "ass-wiping," as per established precedent.

Although I, myself, recommend standard Usenet procedure for trolls (other than that one can't killfile on the web -- alas!!).

Gary,

And the other day when you were coming up with an idea for a signature to add to your posts I refrained from expressing my thoughts on what might make a good signature for you.

; -)

123concrete, I don't think that Saddam's bad behaviour makes it ok to torture an innocent cab driver at all, much less torture an innocent cab driver to death. If anything the analogy works the opposite way from how you seem to be using it.

If it was ok to destroy Saddam's regime because it was dangerous and because it tortured people indiscriminately, why would it be a good thing for the US to begin torturing people? If the routine use of torture is bad and is worthy of censure, our own country ought not begin to do it. Right? If torturing people on a regular basis is a sign of an evil country, wouldn't it be bad to begin torturing people? And even if you think torturing Al-Qaeda members might be ok, shouldn't it be really really disturbing that at least one (of the more than one) people we tortured tortured to death was almost certainly an innocent cab driver. Even if the other guy was an Al Qaeda leader, and even if torture of Al Qaeda members is ok (neither of which I am asserting is true) is a demonstrated 50% chance of torturing an innocent person to death really defensible?

I understand that any legitmate punishment or interrogation technique will have an error rate. I am a supporter of the death penalty and fully understand that some innocent person at some point will get executed. But a 50% error rate? I wouldn't be at all comfortable with that. If we are keeping it in the tenths of a percent that is one thing. 1/2 is a different world entirely.

Seb,

", I don't think that Saddam's bad behaviour makes it ok to torture an innocent cab driver at all, much less torture an innocent cab driver to death."

Nor do I. Which is why I stated previously in the thread that it was a bad thing.

Someone made a comment about it taking a long time to prosecute these guys. I was only pointing out that the same can be said of Hussein's case. I was only making the point that everyone seems okay with Hussein's case taking 2+ years. I'm not sure why one we should be surprised this one might also.

I'm just as willing to give these guys time for a defense/investigation as I am Hussein.

But, I'll be the first to admit that in this new kind of war. Torture is not a make or break issue for me.

I have no further words for someone who has abdicated their humanity so.

Oh Catsy,

Am I really so inhumane because my whole perspective of the WOT is not seen through the lens of torture?

If so does that mean that you believe we should no longer prosecute the WOT because people have been wrongly tortured and killed?

I can't believe you would be so callous towards the lives of the WTC victims that you are willing to stop the WOT due to this issue. That would be truly disrespectful of our dead. I can't believe that you would abdicate your your responsibility towards them.

What other response could there possibly be than stopping the WOT if it is the only issue for you? We couldn't possibly proceed despite setbacks could we?

No, you're inhumane because you indicate that you don't really give a rip about a little torture here and there as long as the "War on Terror" (whatever that's supposed to mean) is going as it should (whatever that's supposed to mean.

And with that, I shall join the shunning.

123concrete: I would ask you, with respect, to please stop telling people they don't care about the victims of 9/11, and so forth. For some of us, this is a topic that we feel deeply about. Some of us may have lost friends or family there. Please don't say things like this just to score points.

Torture is a make or break issue for me. But what it makes or breaks is not my willingness to proceed with the War on Terror; it's my willingness to support our current President.

I would also ask you to think about one thing: your preferred mode of discourse seems to be to put words in the mouths of your opponents and then ridicule them. Consider why it is that you are the only person who actually expresses the views you object to. No one would so much as bring them up if you did not. And consider the possibility that that's because the only people who hold them are in your mind.

I can't believe you would be so callous towards the lives of the WTC victims that you are willing to stop the WOT due to this issue. That would be truly disrespectful of our dead. I can't believe that you would abdicate your your responsibility towards them.

I thought for a moment that there was no manner of pusillanimous bleating from you that could entice me to respond further. I was wrong. That you are capable of accusing me of callousness towards the WTC victims simply because I find monstrous those with a cavalier attitude towards torture perpetrated in their name... not only is it beyond the pale, it is possibly one of the most vile and calumnous attempts to exploit 9/11 that I have ever heard. Listen to yourself. Just listen.

I can't believe that you would abdicate your your responsibility towards them.

My responsibility to what? To support the torture of innocent people in order to advance the so-called (and mis-named) "war on terror"? You equate calls for zero tolerance of torture and human rights abuses for our military with stopping our efforts to stop terrorists? If you regard torture and a disregard for human rights as indispensible tools in that struggle, then you have your answer as to why I consider you not inhuman, but subhuman.

There is no "war on terror", only an ill-conceived, open-ended, unwinnable, and incompetently handled attempt to put a stop to terrorism. It will never be "won" so long as it is conducted by people who are simply too ignorant to realize that you cannot "win" a war against a tactic. It will not be "won" by people who think that "winning" a war against monstrous tactics can be done by adopting equally monstrous tactics and sinking to the level of their enemy.

You think /I/ am being callous towards the lives of the WTC victims? Anatomically impossible suggestion. You and those of like mind do far more to desecrate their memory by exploting it to justify torture and demonize those who think the lofty ideals of our nation--so oft-cited and seldom-embodied by this administration--still mean something.

What other response could there possibly be than stopping the WOT if it is the only issue for you? We couldn't possibly proceed despite setbacks could we?

If you cannot conceive of any options other than either turning a blind eye to torture or ceasing all efforts to track down terrorists, then I am profoundly grateful that you are not making policy for this country.

I have nothing further to say to the likes of you.

Slarti
How are the efforts to figure out how to use the innards of the blog interface? An anxious commentariat is watching and waiting...

Hilzoy,

I guess you missed the part where it was determined that I have sacrificed my humanity because I am not going to go against the administration because of the torture issue.

Is that not relevant to you?

And now I am being accused of

"justify torture"

When I directly told you earlier that it was horrible and that the people should be punished.


So when someone says that I lack humanity that's okay to you. But, when I say someone doesn't care about that victims of the WOT that's bad. Doesn't that strike you as just a little bit hypocritical?

Let's not forget subhuman also

Let's not forget subhuman also

Stop it right now 123. Just stop it.

123concrete: there is a rule against disrupting conversation for its own sake. I think your comment about not caring about the victims of 9/11, combined with your repeated sallies against straw men of your own devising, counts as breaking this rule. I do not really think that the fact that someone else said that your rather cavalier attitude towards torture constituted the forfeiture of your humanity is uncivil, as a reply to your repeated posts. I am, however, willing to be overruled on this.

Moreover, I was just off reading other stuff, and thanks to the miracles of tabbed browsing, while I was doing this I checked your IP addresses, at least some of them (I could not possibly have checked them all.) Either you and a bunch of friends are sharing computers, or you are not just 123concrete, but also Tinker, smlook, Blue, TommyC (who, if memory serves, was leaving never to return), wwc, tim, timw, greg, toolittletime, gaylon, abc, abc-me, eww, johnny_comelately, joe-joe, insting, seebee, TwoTon, timw, tripleplay, ttl, MNN, and mnp. No doubt I could have found more, but I got bored.

So I have to apologize to the right. I had the following secret thought: there are lots of conservative commenters here that I really like and respect -- DaveC, for instance. But there seemed to be a lot of right-wing commenters who were, well, let's just say not in that group. It was disproportionate, and I didn't know what to make of it. But now that I know that they're all either the same person or a group swapping computers, I no longer have to have that unpleasant thought.

And crionna in the respect group, of course. I forgot to add the obvious last bit to my post: I'm now going to ban as many of your IP addresses as I can. You may appeal, as per the appeals process described at the link on the upper right.

The banned "You", of course, being the hydra-headed 123concrete.

"abc,"

Aha! Possibly just a coincidence, but a troll of more or less identical flavor going by "abc123" has been around a number of blogs before. I can't exclude, of course, the possibility that people of like mind are equally imaginative in their choice of nom de comment.

Let's not forget subhuman also

crionna: Stop it right now 123. Just stop it.

In fairness, it was I who called him subhuman for his stance on torture.

I have no apologies for this, although I do realize it is a breach of the posting rules and accept any consequences that result. I know I've been on edge lately with those I perceive as being habitually dishonest or supportive of things I find abominable.

Oh, Catsy, did you? I thought that was just a reference to 'forfeited humanity'. Well then: consider yourself warned. Next time you feel on edge, just think with joy of the over 25 IP addresses I have just banned. (I;m sure I didn't get them all; I got bored at a certain point.)

/me sprays troll-be-gone(tm)

"smlook" was the guy I couldn't think of the other day when I asked 123concrete if he was StanLS. I figured him for a sock; I just couldn't figure out who had his hand in the puppethead. Many thanks to Sherlock Hilzoy!

Naw, SlanLS was great, and I very much regret his departure. (I was thinking of him the other day, when I was researching Uzbekistan, and there was all this stuff in Russian.) Stan, if you're reading this, hi!

"(I;m sure I didn't get them all; I got bored at a certain point.)"

Although it's easy enough to get a new ID, one thing most trolls (or bad writers) never realize is how distinctive their style is. This is by way of being a tip on looking out in the future, although one also needs to be careful to check on the IPs, and not assume. Which is also to say "thanks, Hilzoy," for picking up on the IPs. (Although I'm still cranky that it's now precedent that asking someone to "come by" for an "ass-wipe," or saying, after being warned, that "I think [you] are an a**" doesn't get one banned; but, hey, it's not my blog.)

Gary: I think I missed the 'I think you are an ass' one. I didn't go ballistic in re asswipes because, iirc, someone else had brought that particular topic up first, and so I just did a sort of generalized warning.

"Gary: I think I missed the 'I think you are an ass' one."

I specifically asked for blog-owner attention to it in three (possibly four?) separate comments on two (possibly three?) different threads, over the past two days.

"I didn't go ballistic in re asswipes because, iirc, someone else had brought that particular topic up first, and so I just did a sort of generalized warning."

Yeah, it was one of his next two or so comments after that that he declared "I think you are an a**" to me, which is why I brought it up so many times.

(He did use the asterisks, to be clear, but I, at least, don't see that as greatly ameliorating.) However, I didn't e-mail, since I've been being allergic to e-mail again of late. But what's done is done.

Incidentally, your Atomz search function is broken; it might need to have some archived pages entered manually, I've found in past experience, and that made it hunky-dory. A bit of a pain, to be sure, but worth it for the benefit (although since in this case, it wouldn't be my pain, perhaps not for y'all, to be sure).

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