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June 11, 2004


We are relativists at heart. And I sadly include myself in that camp.

Yeah, but what if having pictures of Bush-approved torture policies circulating on DVDs in the tribal area of Pakistan isn't actually good for the U.S.?

The math doesn't work, frankly.

I thought it was pretty clear that abuses went far beyond Al Qaeda prisoners.

I understand that my government may need to do Things I'd Rather Not Know Aoubt -- but the quid pro quo for looking the other way is that the government tightly controls those Things.

This stuff got WAY out of control.

Annoying typos corrected

"Rumseld himself"

Au contraire, mon frere.

* Program Note: The role of Gary Farber will be played by asdf for this thread.

I don't care if the liberals get traction from this I just want the courts and prosecutors to do there job and the rest will work itself out.
Liberals don't need traction if the administration is cutting off its own feet.

I concur that we need to keep the focus on Iraq detainees (where Bush has said from the beginning that the Geneva Conventions fully applied - we are an occupying power by admission and by UN resolution (last summer)).

The questions still are:

- are/were there just a few bad apples in Iraq prisons (MP or MI or both), or were the armed forces implementing guidance or direction received from above?

- what guidance/orders were distributed by DoD to the Iraq commanders regarding interrogation, and did this guidance have approval from Bush?

- what relationship did DoD policy have to the DoJ Working Group memos, the DoD memos, and the WH Memos from the Counselor to the President?

One would have to be a believer in miracles to believe that the various memos didn't result in some guidance/orders from DoD to the Iraq commanders, and that the DoD guidance/orders didn't result in the abuses and torture committed in the detainment facilities.

Program Note: The role of Gary Farber will be played by asdf for this thread.

Thanks, Farber nee' ADSF. ;-)

How 'bout: "many annoying typos corrected."

I would like to believe that this is still a country that considers itself above torture. Isn't that what this war was supposed to be about - the forces of righteousness and freedom on one side and the forces of rampaging Islamofascism on the other? And no, we're not just torturing terrorists and insurgents, we're torturing people we pull in off the street, people that might know people that might know people, relatives of relatives. This is so far into the realm of the unconscionable it staggers the mind that anyone's even discussing who gets more traction off torture. For the love of god, it's torture.

Just a note about the prevelance of abuse: I regularily read three Iraqi blogs -- Healing Iraq, Salem Pax, and Riverbend. Of those three, one's house was raided last year by US troops, who stole from them, one related a story in March of this year (before the scandal broke) of a woman falsely informed on by a neighbour who was then tortured in Abu Ghraib, and implied that others were raped, and one had a cousin murdered by US troops (thrown off a bridge and drowned).

Now, it may just be coincidence, but I think that if this is treated as a random sample of Iraqis, there seems to be a lot of abuses going on.


luve your handle. I just finished re-reading 1984 after a break of many years.

I read it again to get myself mentally equipped to deal with this torture hideousness by BushCo.

I heartily recommend it to all as we sort thru the next few months.

One wonders whether the face ratcage made it on to Rumsfeld's approved interrogation techniques.

(parenthetically, someone needs a blog called "newspeak")

The fact that many prisoners were released after being tortured deeply undermines the 'These are the Baddies. They deserve torture' defense. Never mind that torture is a moral measure of the torturer, not the victim.

A Constitutional law perspective:

Arguments That Make You Ashamed to be a Lawyer

Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale Law School

"The stench of corruption permeates the pages of this report. Legal minds, blinded by ideology, and seduced by power, have willingly done the Administration's dirtiest work-- apologizing for torture and justifying violations of the most basic human rights. They have mangled the law and distorted the Constitution, manipulating legal sources to maximize power and minimize accountability. It is the sort of legal reasoning that twists law to destroy the Rule of Law. It is the sort of legal reasoning that brings shame on our nation and our people. It is the sort of legal reasoning that makes me ashamed to be a lawyer."


While you're correcting the typos, might as well spell Sy Hersh's name right.

Funny how often it ends up as Hersch.

"How 'bout: "many annoying typos corrected."

No, the popcorn is good.

We are not all relativists at heart. I, for instance, am not. And the only reason I am so much as tempted to care whether the Democrats get any traction out of this is that I regard Bush as an unmitigated disaster for this country; in any normal Republican administration, I'd just be sick at heart. But then, in any normal Republican administration this would never have happened. I hope.

The Republicans have gotten a lot of mileage out of the idea that they are stronger on values than the Democrats. I have never thought that this was true, but surely being willing to countenance torture, at least as long as it doesn't inflict pain equivalent to losing an organ or death, should help to dispel this idea. Likewise, the Republicans have benefitted from being seen as more patriotic. How one can square this with the argument that the President has the power to set aside the laws, not to mention their lying to Congress, outing undercover CIA agents for political gain, and so forth is beyond me. Since they have already falsified many of their other selling points -- fiscal responsibility, freedom from government interference (Jose Padilla, anyone?), economic competence, strengthening the armed forces -- it's hard for me to see what exactly is motivating the people who still support them. The Republican principles I used to respect have all been thrown out the window.

But none of this matters compared to the shame they have brought on our country.

hilzoy, I just got back from self-imposed exile and the commentary's been a bit freeform in my absence, so I'll cut you some slack: I won't tolerate blanket attacks like the one that you just made. I am a Republican, and will continue to be one, so if you don't want to include me in your complaints then kindly make sure that your language is sufficiently precise to exclude me. If you did want to so include me, please indicate it now so that I can save us all some valuable time and just ban you for violations of the Posting Rules.

And - this is now a general observation, btw - no, I decline to be either debated or mollified about this. Negative comments against (for example) the current administration are not subject to sanction; none of them post here. Negative comments that can be reasonably seen as being personalized are Off. Limits. If this is unacceptable, well, it's a big Internet.


PS: All of this goes for people who want to make blanket attacks against the Democrats, too. And I'm about to get to the sheep commentary, never you fear.

Sorry -- I intended to refer to the party and its leadership, not to any and all of its registered members. It is, of course, not you who has brought shame on this country, but our current administration, and I'm sorry if that wasn't clear.

Thank you for your prompt clarification of your position; I am gratified (but not surprised) to see that no personal animus was intended, and you are of course welcome to continue to post here. We here at ObWi have mined at least one of your comments into an actual post; can't squander that kind of resource unduly. :)

Josh White at WaPo continues poring over those leaked documents: according to which several of the coercive tactics seen in the videos and photos were explicitly authorized by Gen. Ricardo Sanchez:

The caveat: leaked files & unnamed sources, but I'd say it's fairly damning. Didn't Gen. Sanchez recently retire?

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