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September 29, 2004


Thank you.

I read the actual text of the bill(link here. Warning: Giant, 500+ page PDF. The relevant sections are 3032 and 3033, on pages 213-17.) It's worse than I thought. Terrorism suspects seem to be excluded from the deportation provisions of the Convention Against Torture entirely, even if they could do the impossible and prove by clear and convincing evidence that they would face torture.

Everyone else who is challenging their deportation (the legal term is "removal") to a country where they're in danger of torture under the Convention Against Torture must prove that by "clear and convincing evidence."

If it's an ordinary deportation there is some judicial review, but judges are not supposed to review the constitutionality of the regulations. (I don't know if they can strip jurisdiction like this. But they have more freedom to do that in immigration laws than in other laws.)

This is very, very bad. The Convention Against Torture is the strongest legal protection that immigrants in danger of persecution have, the only one that courts can really enforce against the executive branch. This weakens it for every immigrant--asylum seekers, legal permanent residents who moved to the U.S. at age 5 convicted of drug possession, everyone.

Excellent post.

This and the two previous posts make me wish Moe's asteroid would conk me right in the forehead.

Linked. Thank you so much for posting this.

I'll write about it on RedState. Give me a day.

Sebastian--I really, really appreciate that.

Let me know if you have any factual or legal questions. That goes for anyone, and especially anyone right-of-center, who's considering posting on this issue but has some doubts--please feel free to email me. ([email protected])

"Katherine the Sorely Missed asked me to post this. The rest is hers, though I second it.

This is probably the most important post I've ever written. Certainly it is the most urgent."

Peculiar syntax. Apparently the second paragraph is from Katherine, though there is no note by grammar, indication, spacing, or otherwise than abstraction from the prior paragraph.

My own post is to say that if Katherine wants to post "the most important post I've ever written..." she really should bother to do so. I can't imagine why she shouldn't. I don't understand why she declared she was going to stop blogging, when it was obvious she was going to keep blogging, and indeed, she kept blogging. So now she's still blogging, so, y'know, maybe she should keep blogging.

It's just a thought. Maybe this pretense helps her psychologically somehow, which is possible, and I'm not privy to that sort of thing.

I just wish she'd take up blogging again, since she's blogging again.

Because she's a great blogger.

So do something you're great at, Katherine. Limit it as you wish. Whatever it takes. Just blog.

Learn to integrate blogging into life, in however limited fashion. It's useful. It's good. Just do it.

The pretense limits the quantity to the point where I can manage a job search, a thesis, graduating law school, etc. I'm a horrendous procrastinator and I'm particularly swamped right now.*

That's the purpose, and it seems to work: this way I only post the one thing a month that's urgent instead of my daily ramblings. That said, it is very silly, and if I end up posting follow ups it will probably become too silly even for me. In that case I'll get a password again instead of harassing the rest of OW to post for me.

*the clerkship application process goes poorly, so I have to find a plan B, which involves many many involved fellowship applications. Also the House Republicans, on top of everything else, are really making it difficult to write a paper proposal on this subject.

Thank you, Katherine, for bringing this issue to our attention.

I've blogged on it, and asked a whole bunch of folks to take action. Some of them already have, myself included.

The media angle is an important one here. If I had any contacts in the media, I'd push this to them as hard as I could.


Thanks for this Katherine.

I've written my Congressman and will write my journalist friends.

Keep up the good fight!

Glad to see you're back.

Great post, which I'm also passing along.

I served in the Army Security Agency, did years monitoring Korean Communists from my mountaintop just south of the DMZ.

I agree, right out that torture is a sad and shameful situation, force, choice.

You and I come from, are products of, a law-abiding citizenry in a nation based on obedience to just laws, for all citizens. The points you raise are particularly valuable to humans with the moral and spiritual maturity to appreciate the value of submitting to a higher reality than MY conscience.

So you and I can perceive a dilemma: IF America's enemies have publicly and privately espoused a stand against American law; IF they have, by word and deed, over a period of years, demonstrated that they are not at all inclined to obey American law, respect American values (of self-determination, individual responsibility, the equality of men and women, human rights, etc); and have, in truth, publicly proclaimed their burning desire to 1)subjugate ALL Western nations under Shari'a Law and/or 2)kill the Satan-loving, licentious non-believers BECAUSE the non-believers have no rights to life, liberty OR the pursuit of happiness...

THEN it follows that these few, these extreme-true-believers, ready to die in order to KILL YOU and YOUR LOVED ONES, perceive America's laws and procedures as WAYS TO EXPLOIT American WEAKNESS, and return to killing Americans.

Torture: IF I thought this is a thin-entering wedge, to be turned against Americans BY Americans later, I would be absolutely against EVER approving ANY use of it.

Americans, however, have voluntarily dis-banded after EVERY modern military effort, and returned home to become once again citizens, no longer soldiers, no longer killers.

Americans have, further, shown a remarkable resilience to the call of torture, and it is outside the pale for the huge, overwhelming majority of Americans, maybe 99%?

And Americans in the field have a very good record of capturing people ACTIVELY INVOLVED in terrorist activities (see Saddam Hussein's capture, due to American analysts like -blush- ME. But I did it in Korea).

So what I'm asking is this: IF you knew that a few hours of excruciating nail-pulling or verbal abuse would result in a known terrorist revealing information which immediately is applicable to protecting the lives of Americans, would YOU allow it under those strict conditions?

I've set up a difficult moral decision, but I do believe this acceptance of extant realities is the motive for Americans trying to protect Americans at the expense of Iraqi and other captured-in-the-field terrorists (alleged humans).

I'm interested in your response, Ma'am.

Dr Kerry Dean

Allow me:

"Americans, however, have voluntarily dis-banded after EVERY modern military effort, and returned home to become once again citizens, no longer soldiers, no longer killers."

Past results are no guarantee of future performance.

"So what I'm asking is this: IF you knew that a few hours of excruciating nail-pulling or verbal abuse would result in a known terrorist revealing information which immediately is applicable to protecting the lives of Americans, would YOU allow it under those strict conditions?"

Define "known terrorist." Does that descriptor apply to convicted terrorists only? What about "enemy combatants?" Most importantly, who decides who these "known terrorists" are? The Administration whose Secretary of Education called the NEA "a bunch of terrorists"?

Dr. Dean

I won't speak for Katherine, who's infinitely better informed on such matters than I am, but this is not an accurate assessment of the issue:

So what I'm asking is this: IF you knew that a few hours of excruciating nail-pulling or verbal abuse would result in a known terrorist revealing information which immediately is applicable to protecting the lives of Americans, would YOU allow it under those strict conditions?

I doubt you'd find many Americans or others crying over verbal abuse directed at bin Laden, but this proposal is seeking legalization for practices which have been used against arguably innocent people. To put it another way

So what I'm asking is this: IF you knew that a few hours of excruciating nail-pulling or verbal abuse would result in an innocent person confessing to anything at all to make it stop, would YOU allow it under any conditions?

Until you can say yes to the this, or have some magic way of knowing who is or is not a terrorists, your first question remains irrelevant.

On the efficacy of torture

Yesterday morning there was an interview with a Canadian journalist. It is a fascinating interview, and a dismaying one. You can listen to it all here, but in sum: the journalist, in a story that in most respects could have come out of WWII or WWI or Kipling, together with his interpreter, ended up in the hands of the partisans, not the troops they were expecting to meet. They managed to convince the rebel leader they were legit - but before they were released, the Emir was killed in a shelling and all their documents were lost. They spent the next days being a problem to their captors, who passed them from one group to another, not knowing what to do wiht them, and torturing them to find out who they were. But they were unable to prove or disprove that the two were either enemy spies or in fact journalists.

Then someone had the bright idea of googling, and found that yes, the gentleman in question was on the internet, and was indeed who he claimed to be, and they were released. (This is where it differs from Kipling, though it was foreshadowed by Hergé decades ago.)

Our intelligence efforts, if they can be called that, at Gitmo and in Iraq are a joke from Dis.

Torture yields useless information. Aristotle pointed this out in his advice for DIY court cases, in a time when it was routine and legal to do so, when torture was SOP in the court systems of the ancient world. Torture yields no context, no meaning, and no way of verifying itself.

What it *is* good for discouraging the very idea of resistance, lest you be taken away in the Black Ravens, to reappear never, or lacking imporant body parts, pour encourager les autres. The principle use of torture is terrorizing others into submission,

Up to a point.

Then it becomes good for inspiring further resistance.

Where and when that tipping point comes, and when it is possible to pull back from that brink - is something you only find out when it's too late. But it was probably too late in April, and is certainly too late now.

Carradine raises the 'ticking bomb' scenario in an attempt to justify torture. But I'd challenge anyone to produce a single instance where the use of torture has produced the dramatic result of preventing an attack or some other incident.

Moreover, Carradine seems not to have heard of PTSD or other psychological health issues associated with the stresses and horrors of combats. Imagine what damage could be created by allowing our military to become involved with torture--a practice that requires the systemic dehumanization of others.

BTW, I'm somewhat surprised a vet would seemingly advocate torture.

Dr. Dean wrote:

"I've set up a difficult moral decision, but I do believe this acceptance of extant realities is the motive for Americans trying to protect Americans at the expense of Iraqi and other captured in-the-field terrorists (alleged humans).

If their humanity is merely alleged, then you haven't set up a "difficult moral decision". It's a slam-dunk. Let the torture commence.

He also wrote:

"Torture: If I thought this a thin-entering wedge, to be turned against Americans BY Americans later, I would be absolutely against EVER approving ANY use of it."

I have no reason to doubt your word. However, if I believe (however irrationally) the words of certain members of a certain Party and certain enablers on the radio and on the Internet to be a rhetorical foreshadowing of the thin-entering wedge you refer to, then I am faced with a moral dilemma as well.

I don't want to go there. Neither do you.

Thank you.

Can we get a list of the co-sponsors? If my representative is one of them, I'll want to tailor my missive accordingly.

Dr. Dean asks:
"So what I'm asking is this: IF you knew that a few hours of excruciating nail-pulling or verbal abuse would result in a known terrorist revealing information which immediately is applicable to protecting the lives of Americans, would YOU allow it under those strict conditions?"

According to Amnesty International, they have no evidence that torture has ever produced information that has saved lives. Dr. Dean, please give us one such example. Torture has been used for millenia. If it has any value, surely you can come up with one example?

To Dr. Dean:
Re: Lessons from the use of tortue in Algeria.

I think that the viewing of American laws as a weakness that allows terrorists to thrive is one of the most dangerous ideas this country has faced. Remember the entire foundation of democratic rule is summed up in the phrase "We are a nation of laws, not of men". It is the sanctity of the individual against the government, the presumption of innocence, that gives power to the people. If these ideas are our downfall, then democratic experiment that is the USA will fail and it will be proven that it is folly to try democracy in the world. I will not jump at the chance to pull the nature of the country down - killing it for certain - I like our chances better the way we work now.

From all that I've been able to read about torture, I can not view it as some importantly powerful tool. It seems to be the most self-defeating way to go about a strategy of security a victory. For torture to be applied in a way that is compatible with our own foundation would require evidence, trials, review. Torture destroys the presumption of innocence - and this bill seems to target that directly - all done in the dark. That is my major problem with it. It is corrosive, and a government that uses the PATRIOT act to prosecute software piracy exhibits the facts about govenment that everyone has observed, power, once granted, does what it will.

The use of torture by the French in Algeria is often cited as an example of productive torture. However, that is a very shallow reading of what happened. i.e. France came out OK so torture was OK. This is from memory of a few months ago - but I'll give it my best shot.

The French set up "terror warrants" in Algeria in order to gather intellegence. Thus any use of torture had to be OK'd by a judge. In review, torture warrants grew from a few hunderd to a few thousand in the span of only two years. Thus, even in a system of judical restraint that was supposed to limit the application of torture to only the most serious cases, the limitation was unsuccessful. Torture became the prime intellegence tool and several important figures in the anti-French forces were able to use this fixation to rid the movement of more moderate influences and keep investigators tied up torturing non-players. It has been acknowledged by those involved that routine investigative work went undone because it became the commonly held belief that torture was the fastest and best option.

Addtionally, upon return to France, a good number of the torturers were unable to successfully integrate back into soceity because of the pschological damage torture also inflicts on the torturer.

This is why the question you posed must continue to be answered in the negative. People have neither the infallibility this torture law implies, nor is the utility of torture what people belive it must be.

Can Dr. Kerry Dean cite ANY evidence that torture actually works (except, of course, in old movies)?

Recent reporting is that MORE useful intelligence is now being obtained from Iraqi captives, since the prison scandal put a stop to the shenanigans. The carrot is working.

The question is utterly irrelevant. This issue is not being discussed in a freshman philosophy class. It's the Congress of the US. The hypothetical conditions - omniscience and lack of alternatives - can never arise, so whatever one's answer, it is no argument in favor of this monstrous legislation.

I think this is a great bill! I suspect Ann Coulter of being a terrorist, and if this bill passes we can ship her off to Uzbekistan for a few rounds of rape and torture! I am certain that it was with this very thought in mind that the bill was proposed in the first place.

Linked. I'm sure you know, but you've been linked on the agonist ( http://scoop.agonist.org )

Just in case.

Has anyone tried to get this to fark.com or /. ?

thanks digitalprimate!

fark.com has it up already...I know because we're getting tons of hits from there.

Some clarifications:

1) The provision is not a rider to the 9/11 Bill. It is in the text of the bill.

2) It would help to refer to the title and number of the bill at the beginnging of your letter, e.g.:
"I am writing in opposition to Sections 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10, the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004," on pages 213-217 of the bill."

3) Here is a direct link to the relevant text. It might be helpful to include that if you email your Congressman.

4) It would also help to explicitly mention that Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts is planning to introduce an amendment, and that you support Markey's amendment.

5) here is the list of cosponsors:
"Mr. HASTERT (for himself, Mr. DELAY, Mr. BLUNT, Ms. PRYCE of Ohio, Mr. HOEKSTRA, Mr. HUNTER, Mr. YOUNG of Florida, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Mr. HYDE, Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia, Mr. OXLEY, Mr. DREIER, Mr. COX, Mr. THOMAS, Mr. NUSSLE, Mr. BOEHNER, and Mr. SMITH of New Jersey"

Sorry, that link just died too. Here is how to look up the relevant text of the bill:

1. Go to 3. scroll down to Section 3032, and click on the link.

Criminy, sorry about that.

Let me try again:
1. Follow this link.
2. Type in "HR 10" in the bill number search box. This will give you a linked table of contents.
3. Scroll down to Section 3032, and click on the link.

I confess, torture is bugbear of mine, and I didn't link to this, I went to the effort to write my own rant.

If anyone cares to read it, I've posted it at http://www.livejournal.com/users/pecunium/53188.html?nc=1>Cold Fury and Rage

We need to see that the truth gets out there.

I'll go and link to the conversation here in my comments, and in some other places.


So what I'm asking is this: IF you knew that a few hours of excruciating nail-pulling or verbal abuse would result in a known terrorist revealing information which immediately is applicable to protecting the lives of Americans, would YOU allow it under those strict conditions?

Ah, the old ticking timebomb dilemma. An interesting exercise for a college freshman philosophy class along with the bomb shelter dilemma but meaningless in real life. If there is one proven case in the history of mankind where torture has stopped a "ticking timebomb", I would like to see it.

Torture may produce useful intelligence from time to time but it is less productive than non-coercive methods of interrogation because with torture the victim will eventually tell the torturer what he wants to hear, whether it is true or not. So it is most effective for propaganda purposes; to break down the victim and have him confess to a laundry list of crimes to prove the nobility of the torturer's cause. It has no other use. Someone once said that "the purpose of torture is torture".

Also, there is the issue of reciprocity. One reason the military is so fond of the Geneva Conventions is that it provides a safety net to our soldiers. If we abandon it, our soldiers are less likely to be treated well if captured. One only needs to look at the vast differences in treatment of Western European and Russian POWs by the Germans in World War II to see the practical effect of this. I realize there other factors at play and it was much more complicated, but the breakdown of the Geneva rules was part of the cause of the absolute viciousness of the war on the eastern front in World War II.

For what it's worth, Markey's original bill is also known as H.R. 4674. If your representative was one of the cosponsors you might wish to send a thank-you.

If you want to write your Congressperson, it helps to know the bill number. It's H.R. 4674.

Dr Kerry Dean:

Allow me, as an interrogator, not so long returned from Iraq, with friends who were/are still there and in/were in Afghanistan (among them the author of, "The Interrogators, which book I now commend to you, in light of the questions you are asking) to answer the quesetion:

IF you knew that a few hours of excruciating nail-pulling...

Not only no, but hell no. First, it doesn't work (and I've gone on, at length on the subject at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/>Washington Monthly, http://www.nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/> Electrolite, in my blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/pecunium/53188.html?view=147140#t147140> Pecunium and anywhere else I encounter the pernicious doctrine that torture is a useful tool.

Even, in the rare case, a victim gives up truthful information, the validity is suspect, and as much time as it would have taken to get it from him otherwise is need to verify it. If torture is used as a standard tool then we get a cycle of positive feedback where the torturer leads the victim to the answers he's trying to confirm.

or verbal abuse would result in a known terrorist revealing information which immediately is applicable to protecting the lives of Americans, would YOU allow it under those strict conditions?

Depends on how you define verbal abuse. FM 34-52 (Field Interrogation) has a lot of ways to convince a source to talk... yelling, and belittling, and mocking, and all sort of, "abuse," are legal. The question become not so much what, as how. I can't legally (or morally, or doctrinally, or even effectively) threaten to kill someone. I can, however, make him think telling me the truth is the best way to see to it that no one else does.

As for this, Americans, however, have voluntarily dis-banded after EVERY modern military effort, and returned home to become once again citizens, no longer soldiers, no longer killers. balderdash.

Those of us who have killed, are killers. We may not feel any great guilt, but we are changed (we have, as those in th Civil War put it, seen the elephant, and will never be the same again: pulling the trigger ourselves isn't the only way to join that club)

It may not scar us, may not make us less worthwhile as human beings, but killing in the heat of the fight, even in a coldly calculating way, is different from taking a helpless prisoner and beating him, burning him, doing damage which stops short of, "organ failure or death," to quote the Administration.

That sort of thing, where the other guy is not only not an immediate threat, but completely helpless debases those who practise it.

Torture has always been a strange thing... the inquisition had a host of safeguards, to see to it that it was the very last of resorts, and required that those who had been tortured allocute to their offenses, when the fear of the rack was reduced (problematically it was always in the background, waiting to be reapplied). It is amazing how many confessed heretics recanted.

And the Church had the comfort of being certain they were saving an immortal soul. If they were wrong, God would accept the blameless who died from branding, or dunking, or ropes, or the cuts and lashes, and forgive those who were so zealous in His defense.

I, devout as I am, can't take that comfort. I certainly can't (and won't) demand that so facile a view be imposed on others.

Those who torture come to see other people as less than human, which is the opposite of the scars we see in those conflicted about killing... the are bothered by the humanity they sense in those they've slain. They also know that had the moment been a trifle different, they would be the corpse. It makes a difference. No one can, honestly, believe they might be in the victims chair... that isn't random, it isn't a dichotomy of power which arises from fate... no it is the other guy who gets tortured, because "I" the torturer will it to be so.

I'll stop ranting now... suffice it to say, that from years of experience, we differ.


Just called my Representative (Hoekstra). Here is the link that will get you all the info you need on the House of Representatives including the text of all the bills.

So, if my representative (Deborah Pryce) is a cosponsor, does it make any difference if I write to her?


First of all, it is conceivable that she is not aware of every detail of the bill or their implications, and is just trying to get her name on the 9/11 Commission Bill.

Second of all, it's good for representatives to know that their constituents are watching these things, and care about the outcome. It's not impossible to cosponsor a bill and vote for an amendment to a bill. It's unlikely, but I think it's worth the effort.

The ticking time-bomb hypothetical, which is (a) still a hypothetical, and (b) was covered ad infinitum when the original memos came out, doesn't have anything to do with this bill. Don't fall for the false conditions the pro-torture crowd keeps imposing.

The time required to get the suspected terrorist to the subcontracted torturing country even with the minimum process suggested (i.e., can the nominal bad guy prove he would be tortured) will be longer than any theoretical ticking time bomb would last. If you've got the time to really convene even a kangaraoo court, you've got the time to interrogate the guy without pulling his fingernails out.

In my letter to Mike Doyle I told him to urge other Congressmen on both sides of the aisle to support the measure.


I think it is crucially important that you contact her. She should know what she is endorsing, and what her constituents think of it.

I wrote to my Representative because of this post.

I also did some digging into the actual bill for cites, if anyone's interested.

And here's an idea for you folks that have close congressional races in your district. Make sure to include in your letter that this issue will be the deciding factor on who you'll be voting for. If the polling is even close where you live, plug that idea as hard as you can. That will get people's attention.

Also, if you're going to stand against 3032 and 3033, you might as well toss in 3031, as it lays the foundation to impliment 3032 and 3033. Get the entire chapter tossed out on it's ear.

Others have covered Dr Dean's reiteration of the "Ticking Time Bomb" scenario with a welcoming abundance of enthusiasm for debunking the tired rhetoric. There is no need, therefore, for me to go over old ground.

I would, however, like to pick up on a point which I think has been overlooked.

"THEN it follows that these few, these extreme-true-believers, ready to die in order to KILL YOU and YOUR LOVED ONES, perceive America's laws and procedures as WAYS TO EXPLOIT American WEAKNESS, and return to killing Americans.


And Americans in the field have a very good record of capturing people ACTIVELY INVOLVED in terrorist activities (see Saddam Hussein's capture, due to American analysts like -blush- ME. But I did it in Korea)."

To my observation, the moral certainty of the assertion here rests on an unfounded and unacceptable assumption: that whoever we capture and torture is guilty of the crimes they have been accused of. The US may well have a habit of picking up the right people, but we also know for a fact you got the wrong ones in Iraq as well. And you tortured them. In fact, you were wrong more than you were right.

The case mentioned in Katherine's OP, that of Maher Arar, was, as has already been stated, fundamentally misguided. After all that noncing about on the edge of international law, you sent the wrong man to Syria to be tortured. He was not one of "these extreme true believers". You gained no benefit from your actions, and in fact your moral standing in the world has sunk as a result of your actions. Far from being the beacon of democracy and freedom that your country should be to the citizens of the various dictatorships around the world, they see your government indulging in the same behaviour as their regimes. If we want to be the shining city on a hill -- and I include in this not just America, but Britain and all the other liberal democracies in the world -- then we must accept that our iniquities are also exposed to scrutiny. We must not, therefore, in any sense classify our failures as "necessary" and seek to justify them to others. Every dictator from Castro to Stalin has done that. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT. And if we aren't, we damn well need to take this system out root and branch and put in a better one, because we should be.

So the moral dilemma presented by Dr Dean falls at another set of hurdles. Given that we are not dealing with omniscience and pre-knowledge of guilt, and that we are, in fact, dealing with what is close to the polar opposite of infallibility -- a human political system with a verifiable track record of being wrong more than it is right -- one must not see the situation in terms of one or two hours of torture to a human who would knowingly kill Americans just for being Americans, but rather in terms of hundreds of hours of torturing many innocent humans, with one terrorist buried in there somewhere, possibly, or possibly not. We can "justify" the torture of the guilty, but in doing so in real life we implicitly justify also the torture of innocents. This I will not do.

Hypothetical "what if" scenarios can be useful thought experiments, but their limitations must be recognised. If you introduce so many assumptions that the hypothetical has no similarity to any real life practical situation, any conclusions drawn from debating it become worthless in informing moral decisions in the real world. If you must add "IF this and IF that and IF the other" to a proposal before right minded people will accept it, the proposal in its raw state is rejected. IF cake were made of poisoned puppies I would probably not eat cake. As it is, cake is not made of poisoned puppies, and my grandmother does not have wheels and is not a taxicab, licensed or otherwise.

If we in the democratic west allow torture, even, in fact in my view especially if we hide it from sight in this way and pretend that we are not really guilty of it, then we have lost a fight more ancient and bitterly fought than the war against terrorism or communism or anarchism; the fight against the evil in our own societies. That fight is more important than any war fought on foreign soil, because if we lose it, all the soldiers who fought in Germany and France and Korea and Iraq really have died for nothing.

Here's a some art to go along with your thoughts. It is a photomasic of Donald Rumsfeld made up of images from Abu Ghraib. It's part of a series of photomasics I like to call "What are These Men Made of?".


As I write this more trackbacks than comments! Well done, Katherine.

If our Congresspeople are not cosponsors of the bill (and, as near as I can tell, voted against it), is it worth drawing this to their attention? If so, what would be the appropriate way?

I'm crying as I type this. After 4 years of the worst administration in US history, I thought I was numb to the hourly outrages that the Republicans launch. This is so beyond the pale, however, that this is the first time I've ever written my congresscritter. I told him (Mr. Becerra, of the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles) that he had to vote against this.

And how totally not surprising to see that utter piece of human filth David Dreirer listed as a co-sponsor. I live pretty much adjacent to his district and I'm going to do everything I can to help him get kicked to the curb in November.

Check it out -- this story is in tomorrow's Washinton Post:
Yay for Katherine!

Page A-1 of the Washington Post by the best daily news reporter we have, Dana Priest:

The provision, human rights advocates said, contradicts pledges President Bush made after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal erupted this spring that the United States would stand behind the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Hastert spokesman John Feehery said the Justice Department "really wants and supports" the provision.

Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said, "We can't comment on any specific provision, but we support those provisions that will better secure our borders and protect the American people from terrorists."

If the D.O.J. supports this, this will really be an uphill battle. Please write your representative if you haven't already.

I did email Dana Priest but I'm 99.9% sure she already knew about this and had done most of her reporting on this subject by the time she read my email.

Quick question. In Dana Priest's last graf, she mentions two Reps that voted against H.R. 10 being moved to the floor. "Only two members of the intelligence committee -- LaHood and Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) -- voted against the measure." Anyone have any idea on what, if anything, they said before or after the final committee vote? Maybe we could use that as souce material for some talking points about this. Handy for calling into radio shows and writing letters to the editor.

I have a rough draft for one to both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News sketched out in Word, but I'd like something from the ones who stood up and said "No" on the committee floor if I can get it.

If I may make just one comment supporting that of Terry Karney...

I work with "Chief Wiggles" an Army Interrogator who worked with a group of Iraqi Generals during his time in Iraq. He would agree wholeheartedly with Terry Karney about the uselessness of torture. He finds even the thought of torture abhorrent.


I hope it's okay--and if not, let me know and I'll remove the post--but I felt this was so crucially important that I posted it exactly, word for word, as you posted it here, with a link and full credit of course. It's about darn time that we progressive bloggers get something this important, and I want to do everything I can to spread the info. Keep up the good work!

I've never posted anything before... but in response to this all I can say is...No. No. No. Not to save my life. Not in my name and not in the name of my country. If we as individuals, or as a country, exist for any purpose it is to stand in opposition to this... I wax incoherent...weep in sorrow...and mutter in shrill rage...alas, America.

Excellent post. Your work on Maher Arar was very moving--and this is totally infuriating. I wrote a flash fiction piece after reading this post (linked to you but I didn't see it in the trackbacks). Here's the opening grafs:

You're walking to your car as you get off work—late, but finally caught up at last. The parking lot is dark, empty. As you fiddle for the right key, a charcoal grey cargo van pulls up alongside you. The windowless door slides open; two men in fatigues get out. One calls your name. You answer, confused, and the second man grabs your right wrist, twists it around your back, and slams you against your car. Your left arm grabbed and pinned, the tell-tale pinch of a plastic twist-tie against your wrists, and you are jerked backwards and pulled into the van. The door closes, and you are gone.

Your family calls your cell phone, but you never answer. In the morning, the police inspect your abandoned car: keys on the ground where you dropped them, no sign of a robbery, no signs at all. As they worry and wait for a ransom demand that will never come, you are taught the meaning of extraordinary rendition.

(more at the homepage link)
Keep it up, Katherine. We need people like at a time like this.


I'm assuming you know this site, but just in case:


you're linked to on the media coverage page.


You'll be pleased to know that I am in Drier's district, and told him I (who, despite a mixed voting record, have been a registered republican for the past 18 years) can't, and won't vote for him, if he doesn't vote to remove these passages, and if, despite his efforts, they remain; if he votes for the bill.

Since he actually has a slight fight on his hands this might have some affect.

Plunge: I might know that Chief.


I wish all the bleeding hearts could live in some other nation other than the United States for a short time and then see what they have to say about the way things are handled in this great country we live in, it is just like Judge Roy Bean used to say, they are guilty of something and by the way if you did not know he was known as the hanging judge.

I wish all the bleeding hearts could live in some other nation other than the United States for a short time...

London for three months, Philippines for six months, Australia for four years and Hong Kong for 7-19 years depending on exactly how one counts it. What's your point?

To echo anarch: France for six months, Sweden for six months, Israel for a year, Turkey for a few months, Germany ditto, decent chunks of time in Mexico, Greece, Egypt, and a bunch of other countries. Oddly enough, none of this has altered my opposition to torture in the slightest. Actually, it was only strengthened by meeting people who had been tortured for no good reason (by which I don't mean to suggest that there ever is a reason that would justify torture, but that some of the people I have met were first tortured at ages like eleven and twelve, when it's hard to see how there could be a reason that anyone could possibly think justified torture.)

So what is it that I should have learned from my travels, but didn't?

This proposed use of torture against suspected terrorists is especially frightening considering we have an administration that feels it's okay to declare American citizens, arrested in the USA, to be "enemy combatants" and hold them without charges being laid against them or access to a lawyer, for years.


One day a rabbit was walking near the forest when he saw all the animals rushing out of it.

"What's the matter," the rabbit asked a passing bear.

"Haven't you heard?" the bear replied. "The KGB is catching and castrating all the camels."

"I have nothing to fear then," the rabbit said. "I'm not a camel."

"Yes?" the bear answered. "Try to prove it after they've caught and castrated you."

This blog could be interesting. I don't know because I can only see a 1 inch strip at the side of the screen 'arreste in the USA' 'KGB is catching and castrating' - mmm , on the other hand I wonder why people are linking here.
Let's hope other blogs make their blog viewable in all browsers? not just the insecure, not standards-based IE6.

Let's hope other blogs make their blog viewable in all browsers? not just the insecure, not standards-based IE6.

Just for the record: No problem at all with Opera (7.54)

Fine in Safari

John, I use IE6, and I occasionally have that problem when I'm trying to access a debate from the "recent comments" links on the right-hand side. I find the solution is to click on the link to the post/thread from the main page.

Been a while since I was called a bleeding heart (been a longer while since I was called a reactionary pig though... which was amusing when I had long hair, and the conservatives ruled me out on looks, and the liberals for content... I steering more to the middle, but the country has drifted, and I stayed much the same. I digress).

I've lived in Korea. Been in Ukriane, Iraq, Kuwait.

I have friends who've lived in Germany (back when there were two) Saudi, Jordan, China (and her comments, from a trip ending in June were enlightening. She had more obvious intrusions (she had her internet cut off, one branch of a shared line; but only her branch, because [she is certain] of what she was googling... so she tested it, and it happened again, but she said the level of freedom in conversation, in attitue was better than it was here. There were things one couldn't read, or write, but nothing one couldn't talk about, and here she sees a lot of self-censorship), Israel S. Africa (before and after the end of Apartheid) Czechoslovakia, Russsia, and I forget the rest.

None of that makes an iota of difference.

1: If we are going to hold ouselves out, as a city on a hill, we damned well better be that shining city.

2: Like it or not, we have staked that claim, and if we show ourselves to be no better than Lybia, or Syria, or the former USSR, everyone who has drawn hope that a stable country, of, for and by, the people; loses that. Because we, who have the greatest esperience at it, who draw from the longest tradition of it, are pissing it away... throwing out our essential liberties for a passing sense of security. We are failing ourselves, and that is failing them.

3: To quote from the Bible, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the world, and lose his soul."


I phrased a piece of that poorly.... If one can call a tour of duty in a combat zone (entering Iraq on 02 April, 2004, and working in HumInt near An Najaf, Baghdad, Tikrit, and 2/3rd of the way from Trikrit to Mosul, living, then I haven't been to Iraq, I've lived there.

It's worse now, in so many ways, than it was before we arrived.

Just my two-cents on that.


I'd count the UK political message as spam too. And what's up with Google comment-spamming?

Now I look at it, I think Dr Funk is spamming, too, and so is AZUOGBAwhatever.

Extrordinary rendition is a major problem I'll admit but think about this. If you where the leader of a free country that is guilty of torturing free people what would you do? Would you let the people you tortured go to tell the world your deed?
After 9/11 most people will blame the goverment for anything! My point being is: is U.S. gov realy the ones to blame?

There's also no one taking responsibility for eliminating spam while Hilzoy is away.

Eliminate it?? Why? It's the only fresh content we're getting at the moment.

I'm sure there's a gesture for sticking my tongue out.

I'm also sure that Slart, Von, Charles, and Sebastian, don't read this stuff.

Which is the problem I complain about. This is a largely abandoned site.

If a spammer can do this, and no one is on guard, the site is abandoned.

Slart, Sebastian, Von, Charles, Hilzoy, and Edward, can demonstrate otherwise.

I'll wait.

And a mere half hour after you post, we oblige.

The thing about free ice cream is it's free. Expecting it free and delivered in a timely fashion is a bit unreasonable.

Mere!? That wasn't a half hour, that was 32 minutes! *ducks*

"Expecting it free and delivered in a timely fashion is a bit unreasonable."

When was it we said we were reasonable?

Mine's a Dublin Mudslide, thanks. I expect it delivered in a timely fashion, but I'll make whoever delivers it a nice cup of tea.

What is it about legalizing torture that appeals to spammers?

Don't they realize what we'd like to do to them if it was legal?

And I never got my Dublin Mudslide.

What can a registered nurse in florida do to I don't even know what the question is

And I never got my Dublin Mudslide.

I mailed you one, but it got stuck in the dead-letter office and, apparently, began to emit a rather offensive smell, at which time it was classified as a biohazard and disposed of by a crack team of Homeland Security bioweapons experts.

Hopefully things will turn out a bit different next time, and maybe we'll chip in for a cooler and some dry ice. But that costs money, and rather takes away from the freeness of it all.

Why is it that spammers love torture threads?

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