« Iraq: What The Media Don't Tell Us | Main | Why We Should Stay in Iraq »

August 18, 2005

Comments

"What we did was so bad that no one can be allowed to know, judge."

Also, cue the Medium Lobster, saying that we need to classify the entire war:

Given the number of riots, the amount of violence, and the attacks by insurgents that appear to have erupted since the dawn of the war, it's clear that something has to be done to stop news of the conflict from getting out to crazed terrorists, who, becoming so excitable about the prospect of American torture, might well become livid if they learned of the US's involvement in preventively invading a muslim country and killing thousands there in a massively botched occupation.

Paraphrasing from Yes, Minister:

The Official Secrets Act isn't there to protect secrets. It's there to protect officials.

I wrote right after Abu Ghraib that "if only censorship and self-censorship stand between us and what Islamic extremists say about us—-well, God help us."

If it is true that:

1) releasing photographs of Americans torturing prisoners endangers American soldiers' lives

it must also true that:

2) the fact that Americans have tortured prisoners endangers American soldiers' lives

And yet there are many, many people who argue the first while refusing to acknowledge the second.

"The ACLU (and amici)'s brief"

Noting disapproval of the Latin/punctuation before Gary does...

Forgive me if I'm the last person on earth to have this thought, but ...

what about keeping the photos/videos classified, at least for the nonce, but releasing an exact transcription of the acts and statements in the photos/videos?

That way, we know exactly what's in them, but without the admittedly inflammatory effect of actual photos.

I assume that plaintiffs would have to be involved in the preparation in order to assure a fair transcription.

releasing an exact transcription of the acts and statements in the photos/videos

A picture is worth a thousand words. People will not believe any of this happened without photos.

A picture is worth a thousand words. People will not believe any of this happened without photos.

In the United States...

...overseas, the popular imagination fills in the blanks in the darkest way imaginable of the horrors of Abu Ghraib et al.

I don't think that will work.

The judge said [the photographs and videos] would be the "best evidence" in the debate about the treatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners.

"There is another dimension to a picture that is of much greater moment and immediacy" than a document, Judge Hellerstein said in court.

The reason a description is less inflammatory than a photograph is that it contains less information.

That way, we know exactly what's in them, but without the admittedly inflammatory effect of actual photos.

but we won't know. the descriptions will be:

    Photograph #AG-C7-081803 This photograph depicts three soldiers interrogating a male prisoner. The prisoner is resisting.

Cleek, that's why I wanted the plaintiffs to have to approve any transcription.

I certainly take the point that the transcription will be less damning emotionally ... it's a genuine attempt at a compromise position, which means giving up something. The main point of getting the transcript is just to have the facts on record, so that anyone who says "we didn't do X to anyone" can be refuted.

True, the American people who don't care about such things will continue not to care. But would photos make any difference? If the already-released photos didn't change anyone's mind, then what will new photos, pixillated so's not to show the awful details, do?

If the already-released photos didn't change anyone's mind, then what will new photos, pixillated so's not to show the awful details, do?

Drip, drip, that's what. The more hard, photographic evidence on record, the harder it is for the blinkered Bush supporters to deny the nature of what's happened.

Catsy, I have my doubts. My secretary was telling me yesterday that she didn't really care about whatever we did to those Iraqi prisoners, "because of what they did to us on 9/11." This is a brighter-than-average legal secretary, not to mention a fervent Pentecostal.

Photos of prisoners sodomizing each other while interrogators applaud are not going to change that mindset.

True, the American people who don't care about such things will continue not to care. But would photos make any difference?

Considering the history of photojournalism in, for example, the Vietnam war, I would say yes, the photos would make some difference. There were accusations of torture from reputable sources for quite a while before the first set of Abu Ghraib photos came out, little attention was paid to them until the pictures surfaced.

They don't have to change her mind. The initial photographs had an effect. People who defend Guantanamo, the torture memos, waterboarding, rendition--most of them still will make a pro forma denunciation of Abu Ghraib. It's the combination of seeing a photograph of what actually is done instead of a description that be ignored and distorted into "using the air conditioner and playing Christina Aguilera", and the fact that since our press sucks, many, many, many more people will actually see the photos than read any of the reports. You say that the description will put the facts on the record, but the necessary facts are ALREADY on the record. That doesn't mean they are actually known and acknowledged. Nothing I have written on rendition wasn't publicly reported somewhere before I wrote it, but it wasn't all in one place and most of the facts were only known by a tiny handful of people.

Anyway, even if none of that were true, the ACLU cannot allow this legal argument to succeed. This is an exception that could swallow FOIA.

Well, I hope y'all are right, but at this point I think we would need a photo of Bush at the scene ... and PowerLine would have definitive "proof," 30 minutes later, that it was Photoshopped.

It's like the recent book on bullshit (*not* a posting violation, but a technical philosophical term!): people don't want facts, they just want their worldviews reinforced, their "past made more endurable" as Nietzsche put it. Facts that fail to conform to the worldview will be explained away.

Andrew,

no offense, but your secretary is scary.

She *is* scary, but she must not be terribly unusual, given Bush's re-election. She has a calendar of him in her cubicle.

(It's a firm; I don't hire these folks. Besides, she's an excellent secretary.)

If the original Abu Ghraib photos weren't enough to land the hot-potato of accountability squarely at the feet (and on the desks) of Bush, Rumsfeld & Gonzales, is anyone here naive enough to believe more photos will do the trick? Was that the problem with the original set? Not enough instances/evidence?

Seems to me that while many Americans mouth "The Horror!" about this situation, in the dark hearts of most they just don't really give much of a rip what we do or to whom. Or at least not enough to demand any substantive change at any level.

Sad to say, but seems the case.

Obviously, the photos should be released. I just wish I were optimist enough to believe their publication would have a net positive effect.

I know that the great tragedies of history often fascinate men with approaching horror. Paralyzed, they cannot make up their minds to do anything but wait. So they wait, and one day the Gorgon devours them. But I should like to convince you that the spell can be broken, that there is only an illusion of impotence, that strength of heart, intelligence, and courage are enough to stop fate and sometimes reverse it. One merely has to will this, not blindly, but with a firm and reasoned will.

People are too readily resigned to fatality. They are too ready to believe that, after all, nothing but bloodshed makes history progress and that the stronger always progresses at the expense of the weaker. Such fatality exists perhaps. But man's task is not to accept it or to bow to its laws.

--Albert Camus (yes, him again) "Appeal for a Civilian Truce." He lived through much, much worse than this, of course, but that only strengthens his argument.

xanax--

"I just wish I were optimist enough to believe their publication would have a net positive effect."

The positives of *this* release versus the negatives of *this* release? I agree it would take a lot of optimism.

But the hilzoy/Katherine argument, as I understand it, is weighing the negatives of *this* release (which may be substantial), against the negatives of the *non*-release of possible future atrocities. If the precedent is set that possible violence is grounds for suppression, then (as K said), FOIA is gone. The next Imperial president can just say that if the details of his bribes are made public, his brown-shirts will riot, so we have to keep it hushed up.

To get the math to come out anywhere in the positive realm on this exchange, you have to take the long view. Like Ben Franklin's:

"A republic, if you can keep it".

The hope, specifically, is that it changes public opinion just enough to give a few more politicians the courage to try to do something about this, in a serious and sustained way.

There is the potential for a positive feedback mechanism between press coverage, polticians' actions, and public opinion. Right now things are a bit stuck--though perhaps less so than they were six months ago--and so we simply have to push and kick at them until they unstick. I don't know if it's going to work, but it might, and I see no alternative. We can't wait for the war to end, this time; it may not happen.

"one picture is worth ten thousand words". Yesterday the Times did a front page story on the unrest,a euphemism,in Iraq. Among other delights they mentioned the discomforting practice of kidnapping someone and as a attention getting gesture sending the victim's eyeballs to the family. this guaranteed two things;payment to the kidnappers and a cancellation of the evenings theatre tickets. Maybe we can get pictures of something like that and then continue to drum up outrage against Bush,everyone in the know knows he told Lyndie whatshername to do her naughty deeds. It's not that people don't care,it's that they care less,there being other things in life than electing Hillary Clinton to the WH in'08,and no,they will not be able to squeeze those hips thru any doorway,she'll have to take up residence in the Mall.

Tad & Katherine:

As I said in my post: Obviously, the photos should be released.

Our government should never have the right or claim the privilege of hiding this evidence of policy in action (and clearly the abuses at AG & Gitmo ARE the result of policy) from the American people.

Regardless of the cost.

What saddens and scares me more than anything is that I believe the attitude of Anderson's secretary ("(she) was telling me yesterday that she didn't really care about whatever we did to those Iraqi prisoners") is far, far more prevalent than any of us care to admit.

Still, Katherine, I totally agree: "push and kick at them until they unstick."

Seems to me that while many Americans mouth "The Horror!" about this situation, in the dark hearts of most they just don't really give much of a rip what we do or to whom.

And therein lies the rub. I'm sure those same many Americans were wondering why in the world someone would inflict 9/11 on us. Those Americans will be wondering the same thing when an Iraqi blows up Americans in the future, "What did we do?" they will wonder.

And in fact I am being charitable, they will wonder "Why do they hate us, we've never done anything to them."

johnt--

hey, there, john. I'm assuming you're the same one I used to chat with some times at Left2Right. Hope you are well.

I think I see the core of your point there. You feel that people on the left are showing skewed priorities--reacting with outrage at one set of abuses, while turning a blind eye (oh dear) to other abuses.

Just wanted to say--I bet you could get a good discussion about this going, but you'll probably have better luck if you don't try to start too many rabbits at once. You know, torture's one issue. Hillary is a different one. I'm against both of them for different reasons. But discussion works better when it's focused.

Well, thanks for the "for different reasons," Tad!

yeah, well, had we but thread enough, and time, as rilkefan might say.

No, Ugh, it'll be "Why do they hate us, after everything we've done for them."

The very question Giblets asks!

Now that I think about it, I've never seen Giblets and my secretary in the same room together ...

And right on cue, here comes johnt to recycle yet another tired flavor of torture apologia--this time, it's the laughably stupid suggestion that we shouldn't complain about the crimes our government commits when there are terrorists/communists/bunnies in Iraq/NKorea/Sunnydale doing worse. And he even throws in a grade school-level slam on Hillary in the process! Such wit. We are awed.

I have no illusions that we will gain any traction with him by explaining yet again why his is a stupid and nonsensical argument, but just for the benefit of any lurkers who might be confused or swayed by his blather: we shout louder about our government's abuses than those of the terrorists for several reasons.

1) We--Democrats, that is, and a thankfully growing number of Republicans--set a higher bar of behavior for our elected officials than we do for terrorists.

2) We didn't elect the terrorists, and they don't represent us. Bush is the President of the United States, and the crimes committed in the name of our country sting far more than the crimes committed against it.

3) We have limited to no ability to shame the terrorists or persuade them to please stop cutting off people's heads. When our elected officials do wrong, we have both the ability and the duty as citizens to hold them accountable for it.

Or to put it another way: I have a cat and a four-year-old son. Once in a blue moon, the cat shits on the carpet. This annoys me, but I don't make a big deal out of it, I just clean up the mess--he's a cat, and cats occasionally drop a turd in the wrong place.

My four-year-old, however, is a potty trained human being. He has never shit the carpet, but if he were to do so, "the cat does it more" would not be an acceptable excuse. It seems a no-brainer that one would hold a little boy to a higher standard of behavior than a cat, and make a much bigger deal out of a boy taking a crap on the floor than a pet. But apparently some people think--and I use the term loosely--that it makes perfect sense to expect better behavior out of a terrorist than out of our government. Go figure--I guess they took the wrong lesson from the Reagan administration.

Katherine,

a bit off-topic, but anyway:

What do you make of the government's arguments in the Arar case?

hmm, the nyt article is behind the pay wall already. My main source is http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/20/20717/1.html, but that's in German.

bigger deal out of a boy taking a crap on the floor than a pet.

I think it really depends on how much the cat craps. ; -)

For example, if the cat craps every day and the kid once per month. I'm not sure how upset I would be with the 4 year old.

Or if I had thousands of prisoners and less than 1% were abused. I'm not sure how upset I would be. I'm not sure I would call it a systemic problem. If I was systematically abusing them that might be a different issue for me. And the type of abuse would have a big impact on me.

Even if the cat shit on the prisoner everyday I'm not sure that I would be upset by that. However if the prisoner's shit was removed orally I would find that pretty revolting.


Tad Brennan, You're probably,no certainly,the only one worth responding to here, What are you doing in this vomitorium? I have my reasons but on second thought don't explain yours. First,let me compliment you on your statement re DaveC,on one of the myriad previous horrors that like cancer pervade this hellhole. As always you show your fairness but I better stop or they'll ban you from this site,guilt by association you know. No Tad, I'm not confusing issues or losing focus,not unless someone is bold enough to say that partisanship has nothing to do with an neverending concern with how we treat prisoners coupled with a fixation for blaming Bush for murder in Iraq such as i outlined above. I may anticipate protestations of balance and a equilibrium of both concern and outrage but sadly this manifestation of evenhandedness comes only after someone calls the posters on what is so painfully evident. And if it is partisan then why not Mrs Clinton? Where else does itlead except to elections and the frontrunner of the Democratic Party? If I comment on something you said; we hardly have an imperial Presidency and if stormtroops are to be used they're being used awfully late in the game,2nd term,lame duck and all that. See you on a saner site come Sept. where you will distinguish yourself and I will clean the stables.

Hi Mom!

johnt--

"See you on a saner site come Sept. where you will distinguish yourself and I will clean the stables."

you mean you're going to fire up your own blog? Maybe www.theAugeanStableBoy.com? Well, we can all look forward to it.

Yeah, I think Bush has been too imperial, it's true, but the point of my comment is that there may be worse to come, and that's something for Republicans to worry about just as much as Democrats.

(In fact, on my earlier comment I had considered writing "what about when President Sheehan says that the details of her bribery etc...," just to make the point that Republicans should worry about the shoe being on the other foot one of these days. But I worried about starting too many hares with *that* one, too...)

So--yeah, thanks for the character reference and all. And when you start that new blog, make sure to post the URL over here somewhere.

DNFTT

Johnt:
Just a friendly suggestion:
if you are going to troll ObWings (as is, of course, your right in a Free Blogosphere), could you at least TRY to ratchet up the coherence-level of your posts?
Or has the "cancer pervad[ing] this hellhole" metastacised to the point that this is the best you can manage?
*Sigh*
I'm going back to Tacitus - at l;east there the sneering and snark makes vague sense!

xanax, there is something positive that the release of the new images/videos might do: spur support for McCain's and Graham's amendments to the defense spending bill. Depends on how slowly the wheels of appeals grind, and how quickly things move after Labor Day when the Senate comes back into session.

For alla y'all worried about blowback from release of the videos (as opposed to the torture itself), Jim Henley has a proposal for a compromise. I was ready to take the deal, with one important modification.

comes johnt to recycle yet another tired flavor of torture apologia--this time,...

i'm glad someone understod what he was saying. to me it was like it's like Dennis Miller's magnetic poetry - maybe he knew what he was saying, but i ain't got time to learn the secret code.

"hmm, the nyt article is behind the pay wall already."

How to get to old NY Times articles (sometimes). HTH.

Or if I had thousands of prisoners and less than 1% were abused. I'm not sure how upset I would be. I'm not sure I would call it a systemic problem.

I'm not sure where you get the 1% figure. I presume that you are working from a figure that corresponds to disciplinary actions.

Suppose I was to tell you that in my experience driving a certain stretch of interstate, nearly everyone speeds, and I see someone pulled over pretty much every time I drive by. But hundreds of cars speed by for each one that gets a ticket. Let's say half of one percent of the speeders gets a ticket, and 95% speeds.

Measuring objective compliance with the law by disciplinary action would tell you that only .475% of drivers are speeding.

As to whether or not something is systemic, it may depend on something other than numbers. Suppose you start a program of randomly arresting people at sports events -- many different sports -- and you kill all the lawyers. Lawyers are under 1% of the adult population. Could one think maybe there's something systemic going on?

DDR: Or if I had thousands of prisoners and less than 1% were abused. I'm not sure how upset I would be.

Richard Speck killed less than 1% of the nurses in the US in 1966. Using your logic, why did everyone get so upset about it? If it's happening to less than 1%, it's not important.

Of course, using Earth logic, there are several other flaws in this argument, not least that we actually have no idea how many prisoners have been tortured by US soldiers, with the approval and support of their superiors: but to my mind, the only decent answer, whatever the figure, is: too many.

NYTIMES: U.S. Defends Detentions in Airports. A summary of the Government's arguments in the Arar case.

From the Arar article shinypenny linked to:

Legally, she said, anyone who presents a foreign passport at an American airport, even to make a connecting flight to another country, is seeking admission to the United States. If the government decides that the passenger is an "inadmissible alien," he remains legally outside the United States - and outside the reach of the Constitution - even if he is being held in a Brooklyn jail.

Even if they are wrongly or illegally designated inadmissible, the government's papers say, such aliens have at most a right against "gross physical abuse."

Land of the free, home of the brave, except for certain Brooklyn jails. Oh and no rights except against "gross physical abuse," regular old physical abuse is just fine and dandy.

Even if they are wrongly or illegally designated inadmissible, the government's papers say, such aliens have at most a right against "gross physical abuse."

This seems like a Catch-22. If the govt finds that you are not admissible to the US, then you are "legally outside the United States" regardless of your physical location. And even if that finding was incorrect or illegal you are outside America as far as the govt is concerned.

So just by the action of presenting your passport at JFK (and bear in mind that US citizens do this as well as foreigners), you expose yourself to the whimsy of the US govt to decide whether it should be bound by its laws and founding documents in dealing with you.

Jesurgislac: Of course, using Earth logic,

If we are going to put that stringent of a requirement on our analysis then perhaps you should compare apples to apples. You are trying to equate the act of a serial killer to one invloving prisoners detained during a time of war. Not really the same things last time I checked in on planet earth.

Unless of course, you are using that lighter than air kind of Earth logic which may be the case. Maybe with off planet logic your comparison makes sense.

but to my mind, the only decent answer, whatever the figure, is: too many.

Yes, the old pefection standard. As an American let me just go ahead an apologize for our country and citizens not being perfect. I don't want to make too many personal references, but do you apply that standard to everyone or just the U.S.?

I should warn you that you will be consistently disappointed with that standard. You might save yourself some grief if you make your standard something more practical. "The US should have a better record of torture of prisoners than most countries in the history of the world. The US should be in the top 10."

That is not a statement of fact. Just a statement of a realistic standard in an impefect world.

DDR: As an American let me just go ahead an apologize for our country and citizens not being perfect.

Now you're setting up a straw man.

I did not accuse the US or its citizens of "not being perfect". The issue at hand is US soldiers torturing prisoners, with the approval and support of those above them. You appear to be insoucient about this so long as the proportion prisoners tortured by US soldiers does not go above 1% of the total (an estimate you have no means of proving): an attitude I find absurd, which absurdity I attempted to illustrate.

Jesurgislac:The issue at hand is US soldiers torturing prisoners, with the approval and support of those above them.

If you say that is your issue then okay. Now backup your claim. By, "above them" I assume you mean the Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld cabal. Please feel free to provide proof that they approve of this behaviour. Cause I can provide proof the people who torture are getting punished by them.

Jesurgislac: You appear to be insoucient about this so long as the proportion prisoners tortured by US soldiers does not go above 1% of the total (an estimate you have no means of proving): an attitude I find absurd, which absurdity I attempted to illustrate.

Speaking of strawmen. I assume you meant "insouciant"? I would define my feelings as practical. Prison is a tough place and alot of bad things happen there. In our own US prison system we have the very same problems as Abu Ghraib. It is not my expectation that we be better during a time of war, but atleast close to how we are in our civilian prisons.

As far as I can tell we have met that standard.

Please feel free to provide proof that they approve of this behaviour.

Certainly. There have been no mass prosecutions. (Fewer than a dozen soldiers have been prosecuted for torture: and we know that far more soldiers are guilty of torture.) As Katherine points out above, one way to defuse the Abu Ghraib pictures would have been to release them piecemeal as the soldiers torturing prisoners in these pictures were being prosecuted for their crimes. But the soldiers haven't been prosecuted: and nor have those above them in the hierarchy.

And by "those above them" I mean everyone above the soldiers who actually in per in the military hierarchy who was aware that prisoners were being tortured and did nothing.

Cause I can provide proof the people who torture are getting punished by them.

Can you? How? Given that the mass of photographs have not been released, what proof can you provide that every single soldier for whom there is photographic evidence of torture has been prosecuted for their crimes? Presumably you are aware of a series of court-martials of soldiers who appear in these unreleased Abu Ghraib photographs being charged with torture: and court-martials of their superior officers who - at least - failed to prevent their subordinates from torturing prisoners.

Speaking of strawmen. I assume you meant "insouciant"?

Thanks for correcting my spelling: but a spelling mistake is not a straw man.


Prison is a tough place and alot of bad things happen there. In our own US prison system we have the very same problems as Abu Ghraib. It is not my expectation that we be better during a time of war, but atleast close to how we are in our civilian prisons.

And that bad things happen in US prisons is also completely unacceptable. That particular line of reasoning simply shows that far too many people have come to implicitly condone horrific conditions for convicted criminals--whatever the US constitution might say.

It's probably worth noting that most people in the US who are in prison have had trial and had their guilt adjudicated. Iraq, not so much. So the parallels you (DDR) are drawing are, as you probably know, crap.

But what's a little rape for information between friends?

Jesurgislac,

It was the attitude that you attributed to me that was the strawman. Isn't that similar to what you said I did to you?

and we know that far more soldiers are guilty of torture

Could you please define far more? 10, 20 100 or a 1,000?

Fewer than a dozen soldiers have been prosecuted for torture

So we are prosecuting? It seems your standard of perfection is slipping back in.

And by "those above them" I mean everyone above the soldiers who actually in per in the military hierarchy who was aware that prisoners were being tortured and did nothing.

Do you have proof of this? Please cite. It looks to me that the people who committed these acts have been prosected or are in the process. Isn't that all you are asking for?

what proof can you provide that every single soldier for whom there is photographic evidence of torture has been prosecuted for their crimes?

I can provide proof that we are working on prosecuting those who have committed a crime. You claim your standard is not perfection, but you sure act like it is.

Jackmoron:simply shows that far too many people have come to implicitly condone horrific conditions for convicted criminals--whatever the US constitution might say.

I would have to disagree. I would say it indicates that we are human and when we find mistakes or abuses we work to correct them.

SCT:So the parallels you (DDR) are drawing are, as you probably know, crap.

So what parallels do you suggest?


I can provide proof that we are working on prosecuting those who have committed a crime.

No, you can't. You cannot prove that every single soldier shown torturing prisoners in the Abu Ghraib photographs that you have not been allowed to see is being prosecuted. Can you? You can't prove it, because you haven't been allowed to know who they are - only that they exist.

It looks to me that the people who committed these acts have been prosected or are in the process.

How can it look that way to you? Are you just ignoring these photographs because your government tells you you're not allowed to see them?

Further, we know that prisoners have been tortured in Guantanamo Bay and in Bagram Airbase: and we know that the superior officers responsible are not being prosecuted, nor are they in the process.

I guess I am just really confused Jesurgislac. On one hand you say:

Fewer than a dozen soldiers have been prosecuted for torture

So I really didn't feel a need to provide any examples since we seem to agree that action is taking place.

And I say:

DDR:I can provide proof that we are working on prosecuting those who have committed a crime.


And you say:

No, you can't. You cannot prove that every single soldier shown torturing prisoners in the Abu Ghraib photographs that you have not been allowed to see is being prosecuted. Can you?

Let me revise my statement. Jesurgislac can provide proof that we working on prosecuting those who have committed a crime.

And for G Bay:

A military investigation of interrogations at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, found no torture occurred, but one high-value al Qaeda operative was subjected to “abusive and degrading treatment” when he was forced to wear a brassiere, do dog tricks and stay awake for 20 hours a day.

“We looked at this very, very carefully — no torture occurred,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt testified yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Detention and interrogation operations across the board … looking through all the evidence that we could, were safe, secure and humane.”

Even democratic sentators support that statment now. You aren't calling them Bush lackies too are you?

Sorry, but this conversation is a joke.

DDR: Sorry, but this conversation is a joke.

I agree. If you want to believe that because the military investigated themselves and discovered they weren't guilty of torture, that this means that no torture occurred, there really is no point continuing this conversation.

But it's too sad and terrible for me to call it a joke.

Now this is an example of a strawman:

military investigated themselves and discovered they weren't guilty of torture, that this means that no torture occurred,

Please show me where I stated that. We both agreed according to your post that some torture took place and people were punished. We both also seem to agree that the process is ongoing.

The joke was your ability to make up statements from thin air.

DDR, I already agreed that this conversation wasn't worth continuing, and, unlike you, I meant it.

Ha Ha... as you continue it.

Here's a few names of people we know haven't been prosecuted or even (as far as anyone knows from press releases and court documents) seriously investigated:

Geoffrey Miller
Ricardo Sanchez
any military intelligence personnel at Abu Ghraib
any CIA officer at Abu Ghraib

In addition, Afghani prisoners were killed at (among others) Bagram airbase, Asadabad airbase, and the "salt pit" near Kabul. Again, despite evidence that policies of torture and violent prisoner abuse existed at all of these places, the actual killers have only been charged with assault. And no-one in the chain of command has been investigated or charged.

And that's not even getting into Guantanamo.

The Weekend Australian newspaper reports that elite Australian troops are training for withstanding interrogation. They're being stripped naked, blindfolded and threatened with savage dogs. They are also being threatened with sexual abuse. The paper reports they are being prepared to face enemies that don't follow the Geneva Convention. First thing that came to my mind were that these were American methods of interogation. Perhaps our relationship is more strained than I thought!

Or if I had thousands of prisoners and less than 1% were abused. I'm not sure how upset I would be.

To a reasonable degree of accuracy, 9/11 killed 0.001% of the American population. What's the big deal, yo?

And without police beatings, the American military may miss crucial intelligence. On July 18 a person suspected of being an insurgent, who American troops believe was beaten by the police, led soldiers to a stockpile of more than 1,000 mortar rounds, 450 rocket-propelled grenades and 27 surface-to-air missiles.

Captain VanAntwerp told the chief that under the American military's rules, troops could not have beaten information out of the suspect, captured with two others. "If we had had the three guys that your guys captured, we would not have that weapons cache right now," he said.

He says the police force's most immediate problem is a tendency to fire weapons wildly for no reason.

From the http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/17/international/middleeast/17mosul.html?hp=&pagewanted=print>newspaper of record.

So, the people committing torture in Iraq claim they only do it because torture is effective.

What else would you expect them to say, CMatt?

Anarch: To a reasonable degree of accuracy, 9/11 killed 0.001% of the American population. What's the big deal, yo?

Let me see if I understand your comparison. I'm sitting in my office at work. A plane is hijacked and flown into my office building.

I'm captured in the middle of a war as I take up arms to fight.

You got me. I guess I really shouldn't care. Thanks for making it clear to me that prisoners taken during war and people on the way to work as being equal.

Thanks for making it clear to me that prisoners taken during war and people on the way to work as being equal.

One would have hoped that I'd have shown you that the moral stature of a policy is not necessarily well-measured by percentages, but hey, it's your dime.

And if I had made a comment about the morality of torture I could find your comment relevant. But, I didn't. I was speaking to holding one to an unattainable level of perfection. Which isn't realistic.

DDR: Or if I had thousands of prisoners and less than 1% were abused. I'm not sure how upset I would be. I'm not sure I would call it a systemic problem. If I was systematically abusing them that might be a different issue for me. And the type of abuse would have a big impact on me.

We have laws in the US about driving drunk. Is there a systemic problem with the police force because some policemen don't enforce the law? Is there a systemic problem with the police force because some people drive drunk?

Maybe. I would argue the statistics have an impact on your opinion. If 20% of the police force is found to be looking the other way. You might wonder what the heck is going on at the station. Or if 20% of the people on the rode are found to be drunk.

However, if only a small number of police are not doing their job or only 1% of the people on the road are found driving under the influence it might have an impact on your opinion of the police. You might hate that it happens, but the fact that either situation occurs does not necessarily mean there is a problem with the policemen or the policy. Most likely we would all conclude they the police and the drunk drivers are human.

None of which has anything to do with the morality of driving drunk or being a bad cop.

(Unless of course Bush was the police chief. Then we would conclude that the statistics are all a bunch of lies and that he told the officers to look the other way and bought the booz for the drunks driving down the road.)


In our own US prison system we have the very same problems as Abu Ghraib.

You're talking about the conduct of guards? Cite please.

A military investigation of interrogations at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, found no torture occurred, but one high-value al Qaeda operative was subjected to “abusive and degrading treatment” when he was forced to wear a brassiere, do dog tricks and stay awake for 20 hours a day.

“We looked at this very, very carefully — no torture occurred,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt testified yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Detention and interrogation operations across the board … looking through all the evidence that we could, were safe, secure and humane.”

I don't know what they looked at. I don't know what they investigated. Did they interview all the prisoners? Suppose that the answer to that is no, and what they did was (a) review the written records and (b) talk to the interrogators. How much confidence do you have in that investigation?

Watch for the statements about conduct in Afghanistan, though. Like whether prisoners now in Guantanamo were tortured -- or abused short of torture -- in Bagram or Kandahar before going to Guantanamo. To the prisoner, it hardly matters at which facility they were beaten senseless, hung from the ceiling, etc.

I'm captured in the middle of a war as I take up arms to fight.

You know that this description is inapplicable for a whole lot of the people there, right?

* * * * *

I don't expect perfection either. I do expect accountability, and I expect that where there are policies that are the cause of problems, that accountability runs higher up the chain than just the ordinary guys executing what they think is the policy. What do I mean? First, the maintenance of ghost prisoners. This is approved at the highest levels. If it wasn't, they'd have been made corporeal by now -- or whatever the de-ghost verb is. Deciding that the GC, and therefore most of the training, is inapplicable, without creating a definite standard with which to replace it, and taking the time to train to the new standard. Defining torture in a way that no serious person accepts. Asserting that servicepeople need not worry that what they're told to do would subject them to discipline under the UCMJ, because the President can suspend the UCMJ.

How many trials have taken place in the 14 months since the US Supreme Court ordered that civil cases may go forward. No, I'm not looking for perfection (i.e., 500+). Although, perfection (0) has been acheived.

OK, the clock can't be turned back, and we can't have a do-over of 2002-03. There's no reason to pretend that what went on in 2002-03 didn't happen, though, and it seems to me that it is worse for us all, in the long run to try to do so: whether by suppressing the photographs, keeping the accounts of treatment of prisoners we're still holding classified, or calling those who've been released liars. (BTW, I think the government is getting off pretty http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/opinions/2005/Robertson/2005-CV-497~15:4:20~8-19-2005-a.pdf>easy (pdf) here, but understand why Judge Robertson is taking this tack.)

DDR, I'd be interested in your view of the treatment to which http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/opinions/2005/Lamberth/1997-CV-975~13:34:10~7-26-2005-a.pdf>these (pdf) men were subjected by Libya during their 105 day incarceration. They were awarded $9 million each.

I just got a mass email from a Republican friend and thought I should share it here. Interesting example of the conspiratorial mindset.

Once again Charlie Daniels speaks his feelings and once again he is right on the money. Charlie needs to be writing for a major news magazine.

The Straight Scoop from Charlie Daniels

I've just returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Naval Air Station base where we did three shows for the troops and toured several locations around the post visiting with some of the finest military personnel on planet earth. The kids seemed to really enjoy the shows and especially liked "This Ain't No Rag, It's A Flag" and "In America". We had a great time with them.

We saw Camp X-Ray, where the Taliban detainees are being held only from a distance, but I picked up a lot of what's going on there from talking with a lot of different people.

The truth of the matter is that this operation is under a microscope. The Red Cross has an on site presence there and watches everything that goes on very closely. The media is not telling you the whole truth about what's going on over there. The truth is that these scum bags are not only being treated humanely, but they are probably better off healthwise and medically than they've ever been in their lives. They are fed well, able to take showers and receive state of the art medical care. And have their own Moslem chaplain. I saw several of them in a field hospital ward where they were being treated in a state of the art medical facility.

Now let's talk about the way they treat our people. First of all, they have to be watched constantly. These people are committed and wanton murderers who are willing to die just to kill someone else. One of the doctors told me that when they had Taliban in the hospital the staff had to really be careful with needles, pens and anything else which could possibly be used as a weapon. They also throw their excrement and urine on the troops who are guarding them. And our guys and gals have shown great restraint in not retaliating. We are spending over a million dollars a day maintaining and guarding these nasty killers and anyone who wants to see them brought to the U.S.A. for trial is either out of their heads or a lawyer looking for money and notoriety. Or both.

I wish that the media and the Red Cross and all the rest of the people who are so worried about these criminals would realize that this is not a troop of errant Boy Scouts. These are killers of the worst kind. They don't need protection from us, we need protection from them. If you don't get anything else out of this soapbox, please try to realize that when you see news coverage much of the time you're not getting the whole story, but an account filtered through a liberal mindset with an agenda.

We have two fights on our hands, the war against terror and the one against the loudmouthed lawyers and left wing media who would sap the strength from the American public by making us believe that we're losing the war or doing something wrong in fighting it. Remember these are the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein's Republican guard was going to be an all but invincible enemy and that our smart bombs and other weapons were not really as good as the military said that they were.

They also took up for Bill Clinton while he was cavorting around the Oval office with Monica Lewinsky while the terrorists were gaining strength and bombing our Embassies and dragging the bodies of dead American heroes around the dusty streets of Somalia. It's a shame that we can't have an unbiased media who would just report the truth and let us make up our own minds.

Here I must commend Fox News for presenting both sides much better than the other networks. They are leaving the other cable networks in the dust. People like being told the truth.

Our military not only needs but deserves our support. Let's give it to them.

The next time you read a media account about the bad treatment of the Taliban in Cuba, remember what I told you. Been there done that.

Footnote: I got an e-mail from a rather irate first cousin of mine the other day who has a daughter who's a lawyer and she seemed to think that I was painting all lawyers with the same brush. Please understand that I'm not doing that at all. That would be like saying that all musicians were drug addicts. There are a lot of good and honest attorneys out there. I happen to have one of them. But it seems that they never get any airtime. It's always the radicals who get their opinions heard, who fight the idea of the military tribunals and cite The Constitution and the integrity of America as their source of jus tifying their opinions. Well, first of all The Constitution says "We the people of the United States", it doesn't mention any other country.

And secondly as far as integrity is concerned, I don't think some of these folks would know integrity if it bit them in the posterior.

What do you think? God Bless America.

Charlie Daniels

P.S. send this to everyone you can...the truth needs to be told. THE REASON A DOG HAS SO MANY FRIENDS IS THAT HE WAGS HIS TAIL - NOT HIS TONGUE

What do you think?

They all started laughin and I felt kinda sick and I knew I better think of something pretty quick so I just reached out and kicked old green teeth right in the knee. Now he let out a yell that'd curl yer hair but before he could move I grabbed me a chair and said "Now watch him Folks cause he's a fairly dangerous man! You may not know it but this man is a spy. He's a undercover agent for the FBI and he's been sent down here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan!"

He was still bent over holdin on to his knee but everybody else was looking and listening to me and I laid it on thicker and heavier as I went: "He's a friend of them long haired, hippy-type, pinko fags! I betchya he's even got a commie flag tacked up on the wall inside of his garage. He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys. He may look dumb but that's just a disguise, he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage. Would you believe this man has gone as far as tearing Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars, and he voted for George McGovern for President."

They started lookin real suspicious at him, he jumped up and said "Now just wait a minute Jim. You know he's lying I been living here all of my life. I'm a faithful follower of Brother John Birch and I belong to the Antioch Baptist Church. And I aint even got a garage, you can call home and ask my wife!"

Well, writing a whole post as a country song is something I wouldn't dare attempt.

Also, John Thullen has">http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/01/a_challenge_to_.html">has a garage.

Didn't this blog have timestamps? Is this another "typepad taketh away"?

I just can't figure out what this means:

THE REASON A DOG HAS SO MANY FRIENDS IS THAT HE WAGS HIS TAIL - NOT HIS TONGUE

Dogs have more friends than country singers? What he suggesting that people without tails do? Doesn't this counsel exactly the opposite of the foregoing sentence: send this email to everyone you can?

Frank: I just got a mass email from a Republican friend and thought I should share it here. Interesting example of the conspiratorial mindset.

I think DDR is already giving us that example, in living technicolor...

Jesurgislac: I think DDR is already giving us that example, in living technicolor...

That's funny coming from someone who can't stop spouting the Bush lied refrain. I'm willing to bet you believe in alot more conspiracy theories than I do.

Let me start for you...

It was all about the oil.
It was all about Halliburton.
Bush new there was no WMD.
Bush did it for revenge for his father.
Bush new about 9/11.

It's ironic to hear someone on left talking accusing another of believing in conspiracy theories.

DDR: That's funny coming from someone who can't stop spouting the Bush lied refrain.

What, you don't believe people should be so crass as to point out when the President of the United States lies to Congress, to the UN, and to the people of the US, to justify a war of aggression against a state that presents no threat to the US?

I'd ask you why you believe that when the President of the US lies the country into war, people shouldn't ever mention that he lied, but I have already heard so many people explain so many times their rationale for objecting to people pointing out Bush's lies, that I fear your answer could do nothing but bore me if I asked the question.

rilkefan: as CharleyCarp would be the first to tell you, had I myself not actually been the first, the post he made is comprised of the last part of the lyrics of "Uneasy Rider," a song written by a younger and less-wingnutty Charlie Daniels.

Sad to think that ol' CD went from being a musician who recorded with Bob Dylan and George Harrison (on the same track) to the narrow-minded yahoo he is today.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad