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January 05, 2005

Comments

I was praying that now that the election is over, there was going to be a moratorium on people on the right giving advice to the Democrats. Silly me.

When will addressing the torture memos cease being an "anti-Bush" activity?

When he finally disavows them?

Sure, politicizing the "torture debate" (such as it is) will be a bad idea

A bad idea? Why and for whom?

BTW, I just realized I have no idea what you meant by a phrase in your post. What is the "ultraLeft"'s position and who is espousing it?

What is the "ultraLeft"'s position and who is espousing it?

Am I denied every tool in the rhetorical toolbox? As a working defintion, the UltraLeft can be defined on this issue as those who demand that unlawful combatants be given the protections of the Geneva Convention applicable to POWs.

Incidentally, y'all realize that I'm on your side on this, right? If a famer wants to join an angry mob, don't prevent him just 'cause his pitchfork don't look like yours. Or something like that.

OT, but I'm on a mission to make up new colloquialisms. Here's one that I nearly used in a brief, before realizing that it made no sense whatsoever: "Plaintiff's argument puts the horse before the hay."

The following isn't exactly a colloquialism, but it did appear in one of my briefs -- in a context that made sense -- and I'm unjustifiably proud of it:

"Tangential discourses on existential wrongdoing, however, do not support A____’s RICO and fraud claims against W____ or its alleged predecessor."

von: Am I denied every tool in the rhetorical toolbox?

Only when I can't figure out what you mean :)

Incidentally, y'all realize that I'm on your side on this, right? If a famer wants to join an angry mob, don't prevent him just 'cause his pitchfork don't look like yours. Or something like that

Sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel like you were being persecuted here. I generally agreed with the substance of your post, it's just that one phrase which -- pace rhetorical toolboxes and all that good stuff -- could've meant a myriad of different things, some of them none too flattering. Rather than leap on the offensive, though (especially given I've been rather tetchy this morning), I thought I'd request a clarification. 'sgood?

A bad idea? Why and for whom?

Good question.

If I read Glenn's post correctly, he says that if Democrats bring up the torture memos, they'll be accused of being "soft on terrorists." Well, they're already being accused of that. Dems just lost the 2004 election -- now is the best time to bring up torture. Little to lose and a lot to gain.

Strategically, I'd think it should be included the democrats' 2006 campaign wedge issues. Right up there with Social Security. Did your senator/congressman support torture? Did he vote to gut Social Security?

Maybe I should sign up somewhere as a slogan writer ...

Strategically, I'd think it should be included the democrats' 2006 campaign wedge issues.

Indeed. I'm a little surprised that Kerry spent a lot more time shining light on his Vietnam service than on this. Maybe he thought the average centrist didn't really care about such things.

If I read Glenn's post correctly, he says that if Democrats bring up the torture memos, they'll be accused of being "soft on terrorists."

I got the same impression. Think about what he and Limbaugh ("it's just frat-house hazing"), whom he cites, are saying: that the Republicans are eager to characterize objections to torture as being "soft on terrorism." (Note to the police: the generalization is Reynolds' and his correspondents', not mine) They are prepared to defend what has been written and done.

Now Reynolds' reaction to this is first to claim that he opposes torture, but then to go on to criticize not Republicans, but Democrats on the matter. For partisanship no less. Scum.

how...we should treat potentially very dangerous people who do not fall readily within the laws of war.

In a word: professionally.

I can't recommend highly enough this interview with Michael Koubi, an Isreali interrogator.

Despite Palestinian accusations to the contrary, Mr. Koubi said Israeli interrogators use only "very low levels" of physical coercion - "two slaps in one interrogation, or to shake him, but not very strongly, or to put a cover on his head to scare him."

The excesses uncovered at Abu Ghraib prison most likely occurred, he added, because the conditions for effective interrogation had not been established.

I don't want to judge the Americans. In Gaza we have one security person for every 1,000 people. In Iraq they have one for every 100,000. They have no information or intelligence on their detainees.

Information is the beginning of interrogation, and if there is none, if there is no language between you and the detainee, sometimes you will use more power. That I presume is what happened in Abu Ghraib.

If Israelis committed similar violations in their long struggle with the Palestinians, Mr. Koubi said, it was an unacceptable aberration.

Sometimes it has happened, but very seldom, and in these cases the interrogators were thrown out of the organization. I have no need for those methods. I use only psychology, head to head.

All these Americans more worried that Bush's popularity might suffer a hit if Gonzales gets asked some tough questions than they are about the virus his efforts have apparently injected into our armed forces, really, really need to spend some quiet time contemplating their priorities.

Scum.

The ball, Bernard. Be the ball.

"and I'm not in a mood to weaken Bush much before the no-holds-barred debate over Social Security reform" ...von

"really, really need to spend some quiet time contemplating their priorities." ...Edward

After DeLay's bible reading, and the Texas games being played to keep him from indictment (retroactive legalization of crimes), and the proposal of lifetime rendition of suspected terrorists without trial....

and the recent reaffirmation of posting rules, I suspect I need to absent myself from felicity awhile. Weak impulse control.

Bob,

My comment was directed at Reynolds, not von. Von has stated clearly what his priorities are here.

"Incidentally, y'all realize that I'm on your side on this, right? If a famer wants to join an angry mob, don't prevent him just 'cause his pitchfork don't look like yours. Or something like that."

If I may strain your analogy to the breaking point: Consider the farmer who joins the angry mob with a wooden pitchfork and demands the same things they do, but he doesn't want to be associated with them. So he simultaneously decries them for their freakish and offensive wooden pitchforks which look, naturally, exactly like his.

Indicative perhaps, of someone so used to flinging bidirectional poxes that he or she has become used to leaning on them as a legitimizing device and has forgotten that some times one house or the other is, in fact, correct, and there's no good in crapping on the mob while you shout with them.

There probably is an UltraLeft that demands that we give the suspects touch therapy or grind them up and feed them to hungry cows or something, but taking the numerous people who don't want to make an AD out of someone who sanctioned executive use of torture and shoving them under that banner for allegorical balancing purposes just plain isn't nice.

Despite Palestinian accusations to the contrary, Mr. Koubi said Israeli interrogators use only "very low levels" of physical coercion

Wasn't there a case when Philippine police tortured a suspected terrorist who wouldn't talk, then threatened to turn him over to the Mossad, so he talked. Googling ... there it is, and there. Rather ironic, if it turns out they would have give him gentler treatment than he was already getting. And as the second article points out, threats turned out to be more effective than torture anyway.

Appointing someone to be attorney general who was involved in producing legal memorandums appearing to justify torture (which shows complete disregard for the United States’ history in abiding by international law during wartime) shows profoundly poor judgment. Bush’s popularity should take a hit given the fact that the existence of those memorandums is old news in the public realm.

The debate should be now.

'sgood?

'sgood by me. May have over-reacted a bit; in a bit of a snit with opposing counsel at the moment.

Sidereal --

Don't get me wrong; I'm in the mob. I agree that no one should be tortured (it's depressing to have to actually write that). I also agree that some sort of review is good policy -- the risks associated with holding folks (even bad folks) solely at the whim of an executive are too severe to justify the practice. But a significant part of the mob of which I am a part goes further -- untenably further -- to advocate protections I don't agree with.

It's not "a pox on both yr houses." It's a coalition, so to speak, of the willing.

Don't forget Poland.

1. Reynolds is shameless. I hoped it would end after the election, but no.

2. You're welcome in my angry mob anytime von. Just try not to pox me too often.

3. I have gone from 60% to 90% sure that another target of extraordinary rendition has turned up at Guantanamo Bay. Other Guantanamo detainees have alleged that he was tortured in Egypt and denied medical treatment for his injuries in Guantanamo as an interrogation tactic. I'm currently trying to persuade Dana Priest to write a story on it, and I don't want to in any way diminish the temptation of breaking a story for her, so I don't want to go into more detail than that.

LJ is right; InstaCracker doesn't have the Dems' best interests in mind. It's all about protecting his Dear Leader.

If the GOP wants to accuse Dems of being soft on terrorism--let them. Meekly acquiescing to GOP demands isn't going to benefit us in the least.

Let's remember what these 'torture memos' actually advocated. They basically were designed to protect this appointed administration from prosecution as a result of government-sponsored torture. This was done by defining down torture to exclude all physical abuse which did not lead to death, major organ failure, and/or permanent incapacity.

This means niceties as sexual assault, rape, beatings, and whatever twisted practices sadists can dream up are protected practices.

"My comment was directed at Reynolds, not von. Von has stated clearly what his priorities are here."

If I retargeted your clause and missed, the fault lies with the archer not the arrow. Observers closer to the target are better able to determine the accuracy; I am too far down range.

The post is exceptionally clear on the subject of torture; impassioned and righteous. My mistake if I was interpreted to say anything else. I was ...upset by this:

"the UltraLeft can be defined on this issue as those who demand that unlawful combatants be given the protections of the Geneva Convention applicable to POWs."

I hope this issue is not quite this settled. The general distinction is between soldiers and criminals, in other words the vast majority of hostiles without uniforms should be subject to civilian criminal law. The tiny exception in the convention (which should be read with the relevant Hague sections in mind) should not be used to send every 16-yr-old who takes a potshot at US troops to lifetime detention in a non-American country without benefit of trial.

I do not consider my position "Ultra-left"


Scum.


The ball, Bernard. Be the ball.

But I don't like being bounced up and down, or kicked, or hit with a bat.

Do you mean play the ball? OK. But I thought (and think) that, regardless of attitudes to Gonzales' confirmation, the conservatives here felt that torture is reprehensible, that it is worthwhile to explore the issue during his hearings, and that they did not view this as an opportunity to tar Democrats as "soft on terrorism," but rather as an opportunity to try to stop the abuses.

So I didn't feel any great need to argue those points here. What I did feel a need to do was to characterize Reynolds, Limbaugh, and those GOP'ers they describe who do plan to take this approach. I think my characterization is accurate.

On the latest Social Security thread I wrote that I don't trust the Congress to produce a fair plan. Maybe it's a stretch, but I think this is related, as is the ethics situation. I think that those in control of Congress today are seriously sleazy, and may do real damage to the country.

If being against torture is "anti-Bush," sign me the hell up.

I get you, Bob McManus, and agree to an extent -- one of the reasons why I favor judicial review of detainee status. What I do not want, however, is excessive judicial involvement in the war-fighting effort.

What I did feel a need to do was to characterize Reynolds, Limbaugh, and those GOP'ers they describe who do plan to take this approach.

So, by extension, you are scum. Since you're talking about someone who's talking about someone who's going to take this approach. Whatever "this approach" is.

But wait, that didn't really get me anywhere, did it, because, by extension, I too am scum.

More directly, point is Reynolds isn't doing anything that might warrant your characterization.

"More directly, point is Reynolds isn't doing anything that might warrant your characterization."

Oh, but he really is and has. As someone who is only too familiar with this issue and Reynolds' entire approach to it--since Abu Ghraib, he has been nothing short of sickening.

More directly, point is Reynolds isn't doing anything that might warrant your characterization.

Reynolds spends more time on criticizing the Democrats for their potential response to the issue than criticizing the Administration for making it an issue in the first place. I don't know that I'd go so far as calling him scum, but given Reynolds' history I have a hard time taking his criticism as a sincere effort to effectively oppose torture.

One should not forget InstaCracker is a law professor at, as James Wolcott calls it, WayBack U. As such, one would think a law professor might at least express some reservations about torture instead of trying to protect the GOP agenda.

Oh, James Walcott, there's an admirable source of opinion.

Oh, but he really is and has. As someone who is only too familiar with this issue and Reynolds' entire approach to it--since Abu Ghraib, he has been nothing short of sickening.

Examples would be nice. I have the counterexamples, so don't bother with those.

(For instance, try doing a google site search. (you type in "site:www.instapundit.com" and then whatever search terms you want.) There are 0 references to the Arar case, and I know for a fact he has heard of it on account of email correspondence. The only reference to extraordinary rendition is a link to a post of mine about an example of it under the Clinton administration--again, I emailed him saying that it was a much bigger problem now, providing documentation of this, etc. I know he read it, because he responded to it. After multiple searches using various names, I can find 0 references to the OLC "torture memo". I can find 0 references to proven mistreatment of immigrants at detention facilities by the DOJ, as compared to 42 sarcastic references to "more crushing of dissent!" mocking concerns about the civil liberties' record of the Ashcroft Justice Department.

As for Abu Ghraib itself, an overwhelming % of his posts on the subject are complaints about Democrats' and liberals' and the press's overreaction to it and politicization of the issue. (I actually tallied this at one point--we got into a bit of a tiff last summer-- but I decided it was too petty/boring/stalker-y to actually post and I've lost the numbers.)

He's really not worthy of your efforts to defend him.)

p.s. I don't see a need to discuss this further. I think citing examples ad infinitum would just bore everyone else here and they're readily available via google. If you've been reading him all along and have no problem with it...well. You're nothing like him, and that's what matters. Believe what you want to believe. I'd been actively upset ever since May of 2004 that I wrote for a site that blogrolled him in a way that made it look as if I might have endorsed the choice, and apparently I'm still sort about it.

I am best off not reading Reynolds' site, as it not only does not convince me, and not only makes me think less of him, but makes me think a tiny bit worse of everyone who defends or apologizes for him. And I had stopped reading him, but then von showed up with his pitchfork, and....

I wouldn't use the word "scum" myself; I reserve that world for truly awful people and I doubt Reynolds qualifies. Anyway it violates the old cliche about writing--"show, don't tell". But he's an influential public figure, not a poster here.

I have the counterexamples, so don't bother with those.

Counterexamples? And you condone torture, as well? Pretty much a renaissance man, aren't you? I'm guessing about 1525 AD.

Apropos, James Wolcott has a timely blog entry.

"Counterexamples? And you condone torture, as well? Pretty much a renaissance man, aren't you? I'm guessing about 1525 AD."

Jadegold: This? Is ridiculous. Slarti does not condone torture. He has stated so repeatedly and without qualification. I know you are a regular poster here so you really ought to know this. And I am so, so very tired of seeing you turn every other discussion into a personal attack, often completely unjustified, of one of the conservative posters or commenters here. I really hated being told how to enforce the posting rules as a moderator and I won't do it now but let me just say--you should thank Slarti and the other current moderators for being a lot more easygoing and reluctant to ban people than I would be.

Everyone else: Oy. Sorry. I seem to be having a belated Festivus celebration all of a sudden. This concludes the "Airing of Grievances", and I forfeit the feats of strength to go do something productive.

Jadegold: what Katherine said.

I mean: about Slarti and torture, not about implicit threats of banning.

Katherine:

If your reference upthread re: a repeat rendition to Egypt is about Mamdouh Habib, and it might be, I commend to you, and whatever journos you're talking to, the brief filed today in his case. (No. 02-1130 in the DDC, for those with PACER accounts). The treatment described is horrendous. And the government's conduct -- even now -- egregious.

I don't disagree completely with your comment to Jadegold re: his/hers to Slart, but you might just take a minute to re-read each of Slart's posts on this thread. Not exactly invitations to substantive discussion.

not Habib, no, but that would be very very useful for my paper. sorry to be so cryptic. muchas gracias. but I don't have pacer....is there any other way of getting it?

More directly, point is Reynolds isn't doing anything that might warrant your characterization.

Reynolds is arguing that Democrats shouldn't raise the issue in the context of the Gonzales hearings because that would be "anti-Bush" and would "ratify" what has happened.

His entire post is an effort to show that if the subject is raised it will prevent serious discussion of torture because the issue will become "politicized." (As though it's somehow unfair to hold the Bush Administration responsible for its misdeeds).

In effect, he is saying that if it is raised, and torture continues, it will be the Democrats' fault for raising it. He says not one word in criticism of the Administration. I'd say he's earned some scorn.

Jadegold: This? Is ridiculous. Slarti does not condone torture. He has stated so repeatedly and without qualification

Relax. Slart stated I considered James Wolcott an admirable source of opinion when I mentioned Wolcott's reference of U of TN as "Wayback U."

If he wishes to put words in my mouth, he really shouldn't be too exercised when I do likewise.

Of course, should we really believe Slart opposes torture? I don't ask facetiously. Presumably, Slart heard the news about Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Gitmo and other garden spots before he pulled the lever for Dear Leader. There seems to be many conservative commenters in this forum who will defend conservatism/GOP but assert they don't believe in or abhor in many of the issues central to the conservative/GOP base.

You want to ban me, K? Go ahead. Write an impassioned email.

"Presumably, Slart heard the news about Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Gitmo and other garden spots before he pulled the lever for Dear Leader."

You are dancing dangerously close to the line. I presume you understand the connotations of "Dear Leader" references.

In other notes, one of my favorite military writers, Porphyrogenitus, has a good post on the subject here

You want to ban me, K? Go ahead. Write an impassioned email.

Dude, slamming Katherine of all people isn't exactly going to win you any friends here. But then I kinda suspect you know that already.

I will write no such email. Didn't I say Festivus was over? They do a perfectly good job enforcing the rules, better than any site I read regularly--and it's especially difficult with an ideological mix. As I said, I'm simply less easygoing/more impatient....

as far as more substantive matters:

For any of those interested, I can't find a copy of the legal documents CharleyCarp is describing but here is a news story about them. The allegations are graphic and horrible though not surprising based on what was already known about the case

The story alludes to a possibility that Habib would be sent back to Egypt, presumably permanently, and says that his lawyers will seek an injunction against this. I was ready to throw something when I read that. This article was somewhat reassuring--it states that

"The United States has advised the Howard Government that it will not agree to release Australian terrorism suspect Mamdouh Habib into the custody of Egyptian authorities....[The Australian government] says US officials have advised it that Habib will not be released to Egypt as he is already listed for trial by a military commission."
That is dated November 22, 2004. I don't know whether his lawyers are erring on the side of caution, or whether they have reason to believe the U.S. will break that promise to the Australian government. We were far from honest with Canada about the Arar's case, so I'm not 100% reassured.

I'm sorry I've been somewhat remiss in writing about this. There's just too much right now to keep up with it all.

Dude, slamming Katherine of all people isn't exactly going to win you any friends here. But then I kinda suspect you know that already.

Believe me, it's no slam. It's an invitation to do as she threatened; if she wishes to throw her semi-official weight around, I can't stop her.

Actually, I think most Americans do condone torture for people who are terrorists. Call me whatever you want... Accuse me of stooping to their level. But, if it saves lives I don't really care much what happens to them.

I think this is losing issue for the Dem's. It really isn't the average American that has made so much over this issue.

Of course, should we really believe Slart opposes torture? I don't ask facetiously. Presumably, Slart heard the news about Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Gitmo and other garden spots before he pulled the lever for Dear Leader.

Didn't Slart write letters about it to his congressperson? Or am I mixing things up?

Von:
one of the reasons why I favor judicial review of detainee status. What I do not want, however, is excessive judicial involvement in the war-fighting effort.

I thought that is why the rule was that in case of doubt POW status should be given.

IMHO, since knowledgeble sources all seem to agree that physical abuse and torture do not give better result (au contraire) applying it nevertheless seems to be fueled by revenge more than necessity.

Actually, I think most Americans do condone torture for people who are terrorists. Call me whatever you want... Accuse me of stooping to their level. But, if it saves lives I don't really care much what happens to them.

See? This is honesty. As much as I disagree with Tommy and his position (including the jab that Dems aren't 'average' Americans or that average Americans don't care about torture), it is infinitely preferable to the posturing comments I often see on issues conservatives would rather not defend.

"I thought that is why the rule was that in case of doubt POW status should be given."

Yes, but not all cases where POW status is denied imply that there is doubt about the POW status. For example, if a soldier dresses as a civilian, feigns injury and attempts to infiltrate a hospital--clearly not a POW. No judicial review necessary.

Yes, but not all cases where POW status is denied imply that there is doubt about the POW status. For example, if a soldier dresses as a civilian, feigns injury and attempts to infiltrate a hospital--clearly not a POW. No judicial review necessary.

How do you know he or she is a soldier?

First of all, having just gotten up (morning), let me say to Jadegold that you need to cool off a bit.

However, I want to also point out that there seems to be a notion that I can't quite get my head around and that is that these blog conversations are self contained and points made in one shouldn't ever be taken outside to another. If you look at the thread immediately below this one, we can see relatively impassioned defenses separating republicans from DeLay. Edward's attempt to point out the boo-boo of aid (now hopefully past) is greeted with an assertion that this is an ipso facto assertion of of unthinking hatred of the president. We even had a Decemberthread where a list of statements about maintaining social security as it is represents an 'an abnegation of intellectual thought in the face of some other irresistable force.'

As I said, I think Jadegold's passion often gets the better of his/her ability to logically lay out arguments. But after being treated to this kind of rhetoric on _Social Security_, it is sad, but understandable, that to find that chickens do come home to roost.

I certainly prefer tommy to Reynolds, but not to Slarti or Sebastian.

Tommy, I have three responses:

1) What if they're not terrorists? There are many cases where we know for a fact that they were not.

2) What if it doesn't save lives? There seems to be a very strong consensus in the military that it doesn't. Even if it produces good information (and the evidence suggests it does not), and does not lead to increased recruiting for the insurgency (and the evidence suggests it does), and does not lead to mistreatment of U.S. troops (this is less clear to me when we're fighting Zarqawi, but not totally clear as so many people who are so much more knowledgable than me believe it does contribute to abuse of U.S. prisoners), and does not radicalize its victims (and all the evidence suggests that it does; the most spectacular example of this is Ayman al-Zawahiri) you still have the issue that it incentivizes insurgents and terrorists to fight to the death rather than surrender.

3) Even if it is not morally repugnant enough for you to categorically oppose it, isn't it morally repugnant enough to demand good evidence that we will not torture the innocent and that torture will actually prevent more American deaths than it causes?

Right now, it's not even close to 50-50 on either question. There is good evidence that a significant percentage of the Guantanamo detainees, a majority of the Abu Ghraib detainees, and several of the people tortured under the policy of "extraordinary rendition" were innocent. It's not possible to establish a causal relationship between the Abu Ghraib abuse and the growth of the insurgency in Iraq, but--it certainly hasn't helped anything. The military has stated that they have gotten better intelligence from Abu Ghraib since they stopped the abuse and established some descipline. I could go on.

3) as far as whether it's a winning issue--we don't know. Most people do not know all the facts, as most of the press dropped the story after Abu Ghraib and the Democrats, and especially their presidential candidates, were afraid to raise the issue. I suspect that most people do not want to know if or believe that the administration condones torture--but if confronted with the evidence, including the evidence that innocent Muslims have been tortured and the utter lack of evidence that it has saved American lives, I think most people are decent. I may be wrong but I'm not prepared to concede this one until we know for sure it's politically hopeless, and we're very far from that.

And Sebastian, I think the main reason we get so exercised on Geneva is not because most of us (on either side) have a clear understanding of exactly what the treaty says or how it should be legally interpreted, as this: you have always very wisely stated that whatever the rules are about prisoner treatment, in practice people will go beyond the bounds of those rules. Well, how much they go beyond those rules depends on how specific those rules are and how they are interpreted and how well they are enforced. In Geneva, and the U.C.M.J., we have a set of specific, enforceable rules on prisoner treatment that did a decent job preventing abuse. The Torture Convention and Torture Statute, while they clearly protects everyone, are a lot vaguer and less effective. It says "thou shalt not torture" but it does not give a clear means of enforcing that prohibition like Geneva does. And the OLC memos did the best they can to interpret away the prohibition on torture itself.

If you are going to decide that Geneva's rules should not be applied to the current conflict, either for reasons of textual interpretation or reasons of national security, you are going to come up with something equally thorough and effective to replace it and make sure we do not imprison innocent people forever or torture anyone. This, they haven't done. They have done the opposite at every turn.

That's why the left clings to Geneva with such fervor, and why Gonzalez' declaration that it was "quaint" was so dismaying.

(I would call it a Burkean conservative argument, but I'm a poser poli sci major who's never read Burke, so I'm not totally sure if it is.)

this is a test

But I think the effort to turn this into an anti-Bush political issue is a serious mistake, and the most likely outcome will be, in essence, the ratification of torture (with today's hype becoming tomorrow's reality) and a political defeat for the Democrats.

Do you have any idea how that sounds to a non-American?
Just asking politely?

It seems as if you´re still not really dealing with torture/abuse because it´s morally wrong (and not reliable besides).

(I admit that I only read Obsidian Wings now and then but I want to except Katherine from any critisicm mentioned. :) )

It sounds as if you´re dealing with torture/abuse as an entirely domestic (political) matter.
Republicans against Democrats...
At least if InstaPundit is right.
You Americans "might" ratificate torture because Democrats made a political issue out of it.
Even worse, an anti-Bush issue...
Blah, blah...

Sorry for questioning it.
But it happened during the first Bush43 administration.
And not just a few bad apples in Abu Ghraib.
It happened in Afghanistan, Iraq and probably Guantanamo too. I won´t even mention people who got shipped off to countries with less hesitation about torture.

Torture and murder/manslaughter happened.
(Murder/manslaughter thankfully only in a few cases as far as we know.)

It´s up to you Americans.
If you want to view it as just a domestic political battle, it´s up to you, of course.
But make no mistake, the world, and we Old Europeans :) are watching too.

If you don´t debate it now with Gonzalez nominated as the new AG, then when would be the right time to debate it?

And let´s not forget the news reports from yesterday. Plans to imprison people indefinitly even if the evidence wasn´t even enough for a military tribunal.
Who is deciding about that?

Look, taken together, that makes me uneasy.
There might be cases where the threat of torture might- just might - be justified.

(http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/000637.php)
Here’s one real-life example.
In 2002, Magnus Gäfgen kidnapped 11 year old Jakob von Metzler, demanding ransom from Metzler’s father, a rich Frankfurt banker. Gäfgen was quickly caught, and told the police he had hidden the boy, though he wouldn’t say where. The police raced to find Metzler before he died of asphyxiation, exposure or starvation. Frustrated by Gäfgen’s persistent refusal to reveal the boy’s hiding place, Frankfurt’s deputy police chief Wolfgang Daschner instructed his men to ’inflict pain, but not injury’ on Gäfgen to coerce him to talk.

What Gäfgen hadn’t told the police was that he killed the boy shortly after abducting him, and all they would eventually find at the hiding place (in a lake) was his dead body in a plastic sack. (He did reveal this fact shortly after learning he might be in for a bit of whacking-about.) Gäfgen has since been convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In Germany, a term of life normally can mean as little as 15 years, but because the court ruled that Gäfgen’s guilt was ’especially grave’ (besonders schwer), he will be ineligible for parole. That’s that for Gäfgen, then, and I’m sure all of us can join in saying ’good riddance’.

What "A Fistful of Euros" didn´t mention that Daschner wrote his orders of "inflicting pain, but not injury" down. And turned himself in once the body of the dead boy was found.
He recognized that his orders weren´t part of our ordinary law.

His punishment?

"As the Süddeutsche reports (in German, alas), the State Court in Frankfurt has now found Daschner guilty. His punishment, though, is mild indeed.

Daschner was sentenced to a Geldstrafe, or ’monetary punishment’. (Note that a Geldstrafe is a criminal penalty that may be imposed only upon conviction; it is not a mere fine). And the court made Daschner’s penalty subject to probation; if he keeps his nose clean (as there is every reason to think he will), he will not in fact have to pay. The amount of the punishment is €10,800 (or, under the complicated German system, 90 daily units at €120 per day, the amount of each daily unit being set in accordance with the defendant’s income). The choice of 90 daily units is important. Had it been more (in normal circumstances, it can be up to 360), Daschner would thereafter have had the status of a Vorbestrafter, an ’ex-con’. At 90 days, he won’t.

Daschner’s defence had, understandably, pleaded for a verdict of ’not guilty’. Even the prosecution, however, had asked the court to impose only a monetary punishment (though they’d asked for more than twice as much), and had requested that the penalty be on probation, on the grounds of the ’massively mitigating circumstances’ in this case.

See?
There might be instances where torture - in our eyes - is "acceptable". But still, after that, we should answer to our courts.
(Even if it´s not a public court in case of terror cases.)
Just to emphasize the point that torture isn´t something ordinary.

I believe the USA has crossed that border in the past.

Detlef

Jade,

"average Americans don't care about torture"

I should have used the word most... because I do think most Americans really aren't that concerned with the welfare of terrorists. Whether they are Republicans or Democrats. It won't resonate with middle America.

Katherine

"1) What if they're not terrorists? There are many cases where we know for a fact that they were not."

Mistakes are made even in our own judicial system. If one was taken wandering the country side of Afghanistan I find it hard to believe that they didn't hear about 9/11. If they stayed in Afghanistan that's there own fault. I'd be willing to grant that more Afghani's were taken by mistake than foreigners. The whole world knew the U.S. was coming to take thos bastards out. I am willing to err on the side of caution in their case.


"2) What if it doesn't save lives?"

I'm willing to give some leeway. I think it is a deterrance.

"3) Even if it is not morally repugnant enough for you to categorically oppose it, isn't it morally repugnant enough to demand good evidence that we will not torture the innocent and that torture will actually prevent more American deaths than it causes."

I find many people who are so upset about this issue morally repugnant. Even some of your own comments here. I've been reading for awhile just haven't posted. We all have morals that we give different priorities to. Many of your own posts seem like you care more about the terrorists than your fellow Americans. I'm not saying that's true. I'm just saying that we all interpret things differently. I am only claiming that this is a losing issue for Dem's because most Americans thing the bastards deserve what ever they get.

In your world perspective you see their innocence. I certainly don't see it that way.

"Most people do not know all the facts"

You don't think most people know all the facts. I disagree. Your comment sounds arrogant. Which doesn't sit well with middle-America either.

I f

And let´s not forget the news reports from yesterday. Plans to imprison people indefinitly even if the evidence wasn´t even enough for a military tribunal.
Who is deciding about that?

A few months ago I read an article about the role of Dutch government in dealing with Dutch prisoners in other countries. In it they said (as a side remark, not important to the article) that almost all Dutch people plead guilty in the US - even if they didn't agree - because their punishments would be much more severe if they lost the lengthy and expensive courtcase and they didn't dare the risc.

As I said, it was a side remark and I have not looked into it, so I don't really know how much of it is true. But it did not strike me as unbelievable rubbish, which is kind of scary if you think about it (I have been to the States lots of times, I don't have an American Boogyman Perception).

So what a terrible threat can this be.... "you confess to what we want to hear, or we will lock you up for ever without anybody knowing about it, without anybody visiting you, at the mercy of me and my buddies here"...

Well, you certainly are honest, tommy. I don't think either of us will convince the other; I will just hope you're quite wrong about how most Americans think.

Dutchmarbel, I would guess that's an exaggeration but the plea bargain system is subject to abuse, particularly when combined with overworked/underpaid appointed counsel for poor defendants, and particularly particularly when you're talking about non-citizens (including legal permanent residents) whose attorneys know nothing about our immigration laws.

In the Maher Arar case, the more I read about it, the more I am convinced that he was not only innocent, but deported almost entirely on the basis of Abdullah Almalki's and Ahmad El-Maati's coerced confessions. So, yeah. Not good.

I presume you understand the connotations of "Dear Leader" references.

Um...about the same as the connotations of the "fellow travellers" references that get thrown about here on a regular basis, correct? Will you speak up about those too, next time you see them?

Funny you should mention that, Felix: I am working on a post involving that very term ('fellow traveller') ...

Dutchmarbel, I would guess that's an exaggeration

I hope so, as I said I have no idea and I have not looked it up. Might be hard to look up wether there have been Dutch folk that actually went to court...

Anyway, not an issue now: I only used it to show that the threat of indefinite imprisonment can be misused very badly. Indeed, they can lead to coerced confessions not only convicting the victim but also other people if they want the victim to confess to knowing bad guys.

*it* can lead to (the threat can lead to), not "they".

"I will just hope you're quite wrong about how most Americans think."

I think the election answered that question. I can't see many American's supporting constitional rights or even applying the Geneva convention to terrorists.

I think the election answered that question. I can't see many American's supporting constitional rights or even applying the Geneva convention to terrorists.

Those were in the GOP platform? How the hell did I miss that?

here's a poll.

I think the election answered that question. I can't see many American's supporting constitional rights or even applying the Geneva convention to terrorists.

Well, the silver lining is that 49% of Americans (if we include Nader voters in our total) support constitutional rights and dare to apply to Geneva convention to terrorists. Now, if we can just convince 60,000 or so people in Ohio, we are set.

No fair using data, Katherine.

felix:
the "fellow travellers" references that get thrown about here on a regular basis,

If "here" means ObsidianWings, I'm curious to know what your definition of "regular basis" is.

tommy
I think the election answered that question.

Feh. Elections don't answer any questions except "who won?" A vote for candidate X doesn't mean you agree with everything candidate X says or does.

Interesting post, tommy.

You're saying "many Americans" don't know, or care, that the prisoners violated in Abu Ghraib were - as even the military that imprisoned them said - not terrorists?

You're saying "many Americans" don't know, or care, that torture - as even professional interrogators say - is a useless interrogation technique? That "many Americans" just like the idea of raping people, beating them, and bludgeoning them to death?

So, tommy, are you're saying that "many Americans" are proudly ignorant and indiscriminately sadistic?

tommy wrote:

Jade,

"average Americans don't care about torture"

I should have used the word most... because I do think most Americans really aren't that concerned with the welfare of terrorists. Whether they are Republicans or Democrats. It won't resonate with middle America.

Okay, just define for me who exactly is a terrorist!
IIRC some of the people released from Guantanamo in 2004 were teens and old, really old people.

Katherine

"1) What if they're not terrorists? There are many cases where we know for a fact that they were not."

Mistakes are made even in our own judicial system. If one was taken wandering the country side of Afghanistan I find it hard to believe that they didn't hear about 9/11. If they stayed in Afghanistan that's there own fault. I'd be willing to grant that more Afghani's were taken by mistake than foreigners. The whole world knew the U.S. was coming to take thos bastards out. I am willing to err on the side of caution in their case.

It´s nice to hear an American that "mistakes are made even in your judicial system".
(I trust everyone sentenced to death in the USA will feel relieved hearing that. :) )
Do you guarantee that sometime in the future you and me won´t be included in some of those "mistakes"?

I might add that that your comment ONLY covered Afghanistan. You said nothing whatsoever about Iraq.
Given the fact that your troops don´t understand Arabic languages and can´t read them too I suspect that "you" arrested a lot of people simply because you didnt´understand their language.

You might want to take a look at:
http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/

Some excerpts from the "The Economist":

There is only one traffic law in Ramadi these days: when Americans approach, Iraqis scatter. Horns blaring, brakes screaming, the midday traffic skids to the side of the road as a line of Humvee jeeps ferrying American marines rolls the wrong way up the main street. Every vehicle, that is, except one beat-up old taxi. Its elderly driver, flapping his outstretched hand, seems, amazingly, to be trying to turn the convoy back. Gun turrets swivel and lock on to him, as a hefty marine sergeant leaps into the road, levels an assault rifle at his turbanned head, and screams: “Back this bitch up, motherfucker!”

The old man should have read the bilingual notices that American soldiers tack to their rear bumpers in Iraq: “Keep 50m or deadly force will be applied”. In Ramadi, the capital of central Anbar province, where 17 suicide-bombs struck American forces during the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan in the autumn, the marines are jumpy. Sometimes, they say, they fire on vehicles encroaching within 30 metres, sometimes they fire at 20 metres: “If anyone gets too close to us we fucking waste them,” says a bullish lieutenant. “It's kind of a shame, because it means we've killed a lot of innocent people.”

And not all of them were in cars. Since discovering that roadside bombs, known as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), can be triggered by mobile telephones, marines say they shoot at any Iraqi they see handling a phone near a bomb-blast. Bystanders to an insurgent ambush are also liable to be killed. Sometimes, the marines say they hide near the body of a dead insurgent and kill whoever comes to collect it. According to the marine lieutenant: “It gets to a point where you can't wait to see guys with guns, so you start shooting everybody...It gets to a point where you don't mind the bad stuff you do.”

...

Since September 1st, when the battalion's 800 men were deployed to Ramadi, they have killed 400-500 people, according to one of their senior officers. A more precise estimate is impossible, because the marines rarely see their attackers. When fired upon, they retaliate by blitzing whichever buildings they think the fire is coming from: charred shells now line Ramadi's main streets. “Sometimes it works in the insurgents' favour,” admits Rick Sims, a chief warrant officer. “Because by the time we've shot up the neighbourhood, then the guys have torn up a few houses, they're four blocks away, and we just end up pissing off the locals.”

These brutal actions are what the marines have been trained for. They are superb fighters, among the best infantrymen of the most formidable force ever assembled. They are courteous—at least to their friends—and courageous. Long will this correspondent remember the coolness with which one teenage marine flicked away his cigarette and then the safety-catch on his rifle, as a sniper's bullet zipped overhead. Since arriving in Ramadi, some 20 marines have been killed and 160 wounded by suicide bombs and IEDs, in ambushes and by mortars. Many were on their second seven-month tour of Iraq and, after a seven-month break to retrain and refit, can expect to spend next Christmas there too. Yet their morale was high.

...

Yet armies can be good at war-fighting or good at peacekeeping but rarely good at both. And when America's well-drilled and well-fed fighters attempt subtler tasks than killing people, problems arise. At peacekeeping, peace-enforcing or policing, call it what you will, they are often inept. Even the best of them seem ignorant of the people whose land they are occupying —unsurprisingly, perhaps, when practically no American fighters speak Arabic. And, typically, the marine battalion in Ramadi has only four translators. Often American troops despair of their Iraqi interlocutors, observing that they “are not like Americans”. American marines and GIs frequently display contempt for Iraqis, civilian or official. Thus the 18-year-old Texan soldier in Mosul who, confronted by jeering schoolchildren, shot canisters of buckshot at them from his grenade-launcher. “It's not good, dude, it could be fatal, but you gotta do it,” he explained. Or the marines in Ramadi who, on a search for insurgents, kicked in the doors of houses at random, in order to scream, in English, at trembling middle-aged women within: “Where's your black mask?” and “Bitch, where's the guns?” In one of these houses was a small plastic Christmas tree, decorated with silver tinsel. “That tells us the people here are OK,” said Corporal Robert Joyce.

According to army literature, American soldiers should deliver the following message before searching a house: “We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we must search your house to make sure you are safe from anti-Iraqi forces [AIF].” In fact, many Iraqis are probably more scared of American troops than of insurgents.

Whether or not the insurgency is fuelled by American clumsiness, it has deepened and spread almost every month since the occupation began. In mid-2003, Donald Rumsfeld, America's defence secretary, felt able to dismiss the insurgents as “a few dead-enders”. Shortly after, official estimates put their number at 5,000 men, including many foreign Islamic extremists. That figure has been revised to 20,000, including perhaps 2,000 foreigners, not counting the thousands of hostile fighters American and British troops have killed; these are the crudest of estimates.

With insurgents reported to be dispensing criminal justice and levying taxes, some American officers say they run a “parallel administration”. Last month in Mosul, insurgents are reported to have beheaded three professional kidnappers and to have manned road checkpoints dressed in stolen police uniforms. In Tal Afar, farther west, insurgents imposed a 25% cut in the price of meat.

American military-intelligence officers admit their assessments are often little better than guesses. They have but a hazy idea of when and by whom the insurgency was planned, how many dedicated fighters and foreign fighters it involves, who they are, or how much support they command. The scores of terrorists who have blown themselves up in Iraq over the past year are invariably said to be foreign fanatics. But this has almost never been proved.

In bold contrast to his masters in Washington, General George W. Casey Jr, the commander-in-chief of coalition forces in Iraq, credits foreigners with a minimal role in the insurgency. Of over 2,000 men detained during the fighting in Fallujah, fewer than 30 turned out to be non-Iraqi. In Ramadi, the marines have detained a smaller number of foreigners, including a 25-year-old Briton two weeks ago, who claimed to be pursuing “peace work” but whose hands were coated with explosives. Pleased to find an enemy who understood English, marines say they queued up to taunt him; one told him he would be gang-raped in Abu Ghraib.

...

"Thus harried, American commanders have abandoned the pretence of winning the love of Iraqis ahead of the scheduled vote. “Our broad intent is to keep pressure on the insurgents as we head into elections,” says General Casey. “This is not about winning hearts and minds; we're not going to do that here in Iraq. It's about giving Iraqis the opportunity to govern themselves.”


"2) What if it doesn't save lives?"

I'm willing to give some leeway. I think it is a deterrance.

That´s a peculiar kind of message.
In short, you´re saying that you don´t have any facts but as long as people are killed somewhere else you´ll give it some leeway?
Did I get you right?
And I fail to see how that should work as some kind of deterrance.
Kill innocents and you´re much more likely to infuriate former onlookers.


"3) Even if it is not morally repugnant enough for you to categorically oppose it, isn't it morally repugnant enough to demand good evidence that we will not torture the innocent and that torture will actually prevent more American deaths than it causes."

I find many people who are so upset about this issue morally repugnant. Even some of your own comments here. I've been reading for awhile just haven't posted. We all have morals that we give different priorities to. Many of your own posts seem like you care more about the terrorists than your fellow Americans. I'm not saying that's true. I'm just saying that we all interpret things differently. I am only claiming that this is a losing issue for Dem's because most Americans thing the bastards deserve what ever they get.

In your world perspective you see their innocence. I certainly don't see it that way.

That´s crap! Nonsense!
Do I need to remind you of the thousands of people who were released from Abu Ghraib anbd Guantanamo AFTER the pictures were published?

Uhh, and maybe I should remind you of some part of your American laws (and constitution)...
Maybe you´ve heard about them before?
"Innocent until proven (and convicted) guilty?"
Does that ring a bell...?

Arrest and convict the "bastards"!
Heh I´ll applaud and cheer you on!!!
(Especially once you catch Osama Bin Laden.
You know, the mastermind behind 9/11.
Although I assume you Americans aren´t that
interested in him...)

"Most people do not know all the facts"

You don't think most people know all the facts. I disagree. Your comment sounds arrogant. Which doesn't sit well with middle-America either.

Well, reading your post has proven to me that YOU don´t know all of the facts. Even worse, you haven´t thought through all of the facts and the implications.

I readily admit that I´m not sire of anything.
You however seem pretty convinced of your opinion.
Like "Many of your own posts seem like you care more about the terrorists than your fellow Americans".

Perhaps you should rethink your own opinions before you start critcizing others?

Detlef

one of the saddest ledes in American history:

Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales is promising senators that he will abide by treaties prohibiting the torture of prisoners, despite deriding the restraints as relics in 2002.

Well, so long as we have his word...

If "here" means ObsidianWings, I'm curious to know what your definition of "regular basis" is.

Often enough that both you and Sebastian have participated in threads where it was used without finding it remarkable, though others found it to be so.

The single most interesting thing about the poll: there is a bigger partisan gap on whether torture occurs "as a matter of policy" than on whether it's acceptable.

"most Republicans, 55 percent, say physical abuse is acceptable in some cases; so do about half of independents, but 38 percent of Democrats. About four in 10 Republicans and independents say torture is acceptable in some cases, while fewer Democrats, 27 percent, agree."

So the partisan differential on whether it's ever acceptable: 17 points on abuse, 13 points on torture.

"Among Republicans, who are more apt to think positively of the Bush administration, 36 percent think the government tortures people; among Democrats, who are less favorably inclined, this rises to 63 percent. (It's 52 percent among independents.)

There's also a difference, but a less striking one, on physical abuse: Majorities in all three groups think the government does it as a matter of policy, including 73 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans."

So the partisan differential on whether it occurs: 15 points on abuse (a little less than, but comparable to the gap on whether it's ever acceptable), 27 points on torture (more than twice as large than the gap on whether it's ever acceptable.)

I once would have thought this means it's clearly to our advantage to raise the issue. I don't think that anymore. To a large extent people will believe what they want to believe--Fox News and talk radio will take care of that--and resent us as much for saying this is happening as saying that it's wrong.

I'm surprised that people were so cynical about the government even back then--and that might indicate that while they disapprove of torture it's not a motivating issue. But I think that would be incorrect. Speculating in the abstract that the government tortures people is simply not the same as knowing all the details, seeing the pictures, and all the rest. This wasn't always a priority issue for me. This poll was taken immediately after Abu Ghraib, but even so....

There is a large gender gap. 26% of men but only 8% of women think that electric shocks are sometimes acceptable. 29% of men but only 14% of women think that waterboarding is sometimes acceptable. 23% of men but only 15% of women think that threatening relatives is sometimes acceptable. When asked generally about torture, 44% of men but only 27% of women think that torture is sometimes acceptable.

There is also a racial gap, which does not surprise me, and an age gap, which surprises and disturbs me. 44% of adults under thirty say that torture is sometimes acceptable, while 23% of senior citizens do.

Assuming that under-30s divide along the same gender lines as the general population (I don't know whether this is a good assumption but I don't have a better one), this would seem to suggest that a majority of men under 30 believe that torture is sometimes acceptable.

Of course, this is one poll, at one point in time, with one set of questions, with a 3% margin of error and a much larger margin of error within demographic groups. So take all this with a grain of salt.

Here are the other relevant poll questions I've found:

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling the issue of the apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers?"

5/20-23/04: 36% approve, 57% disapprove
5/5-6/04: 48% approve, 35% disapprove"

"Do you think the apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers represents a few isolated incidents, or do you think it's more widespread than that?"

5/20-23/04: 60% isolated, 38% widespread
5/5-6/04: 62% isolated, 31% widespread

"Do you think the U.S. soldiers involved were acting on their own or following orders?"

5/20-23/04: 40% on their own, 54% following orders

""Do you think what American soldiers did to prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad amounts to torture, or do you think it was abuse, but not torture?"

29% torture, 60% abuse, 5% both (volunteered), 2% neither (volunteered).

"What's your own personal reaction to the apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners? Would you say you're not concerned; concerned but not upset; upset but not angry; or angry?:
5/20-23/04: 12% not concerned, 30% concerned but not upset, 27% upset but not angry, 31% angry.
5/5-6/04: 7% not concerned, 39% concerned but not upset, 27% upset but not angry, 24% angry.

(that is the single question in these polls that makes me feel most pessimistic.)

Here's a more complete set of polls.

I'm willing to give some leeway. I think it [torture] is a deterrance.

Indeed. The torture at Abu Ghraib, among other places, has been a most effective tool in deterring Iraqi terrorists.

Or maybe not: Official Says 30,000 Terrorists in Iraq.

One last observation after scrolling through all the polls: either the ABC used a very different sample from the other polls, or belief that the U.S. government tortures people as a matter of policy is quite different from the belief that George W. Bush, or even Donald Rumsfeld, orders or condones torture as a matter of policy.

Detlef,

And reading your post has proven to me that you are obnoxious and rude. And don't really deserve any kind of response. I don't really care what you think.

I didn't say that Katherine was arrogant, I only said it sounded that way. And hey, guess what? You sound pretty darned arrogant yourself. Telling me I haven't thought through the issues. Maybe, you can enlighten me Wise One.

Maybe, you shouldn't misquote people! I said:

"Many of your own posts seem like you care more about the terrorists than your fellow Americans. I'm not saying that's true."

Go jump in a lake. I have thought through the issues as much as anyone.


"Okay, just define for me who exactly is a terrorist!"

People who try to blend in with the population and target unarmed civilians.

"Do you guarantee that sometime in the future you and me won´t be included in some of those "mistakes"?"

I guarantee you that Iwon't be included in those mistakes. You, I'm not so sure about.

"Given the fact that your troops don´t understand Arabic languages"

Our military uses interpreters.

"In short, you´re saying that you don´t have any facts but as long as people are killed somewhere else you´ll give it some leeway?"

No, I didn't say that. I do have facts. I would call them tours of duty actually in the M.E.

Katherine,

I'm not sure how much faith we can put in any polls these days... whether they validate my position or not. Wasn't Kerry supposed to win the election based on polls?

Joel,

Do you believe they all just started hating America? Are we not all familiar with the many many cases of terrorism pre-Bush and pre 9/11.

Often enough that both you and Sebastian have participated in threads where it was used without finding it remarkable, though others found it to be so.

Oh, please. Google shows only 5 uses of the term on this site altogether, and of those, only one (from 9 months ago) could conceivably have the liberal-demonizing connotation you're referring to, although the person who used it denied that he meant it that way. I don't see how that qualifies as "regular basis." And are you saying that anyone who commented on that thread who didn't specifically object to the use of that term therefore finds its use "unremarkable"?

Von nice post and yes Von, we should not only have the debate but a vote on the overall topic.

And are you saying that anyone who commented on that thread who didn't specifically object to the use of that term therefore finds its use "unremarkable"?

Are you saying that you found it remarkable but did not remark upon it when the remarking was good? If so, consider this a long lost opportunity regained. Sebastian may feel free to remark at will also, if he finds the term remarkable.

I suspect the remarkability of both terms under discussion varies directly with the perceived ideological distance between the user of the term and the potential remarker.

In the face of your extensive and invaluable research, I will retract my claim of a "regular basis" and replace it with a claim of an "occasional basis".

Actually, I think most Americans do condone torture for people who are terrorists. Call me whatever you want... Accuse me of stooping to their level. But, if it saves lives I don't really care much what happens to them.

Tommy, IIRC there's been about seven thousand foreigners arrested in the States on terrorism-related charges.

Four of those have gone to court. NOT four thousand, but four.

Do the words "innocent until proven guilty" have any meaning whatsoever for you?

Actually, you need to punch in the different spellings of fellow travellers/travelers/traveler to get all the occurances. I think the total is 10 threads altogether, but that only points to thread where the phrase occurs, not number of occurances. I'd also point out that "Dear Leader" only gets five hits, but because Sebastian uses it to call out Jadegold, it occurs 5 times in this thread, so it's not certain how many times it has been used or fellow travelers/llers/er has been.

I shamelessly expose my ignorance:
What does "fellow traveler" refer to?
(And "Dear Leader" is a fuhrer reference, right?)

VM: Actually, my "Dear Leader" reference was to Kim Il Jong.

The term "fellow traveller" was used during the McCarthy-era to describe those suspected of being Commies aor commie-sympathizers.

Actually, fellow traveller refers to those who were not communists, but were sympathetic to communist aims. Often used as a smear against those on the left, especially during the McCarthy era. I think it came from the fact that 'sputnik' means fellow traveller, but I'm not sure, and they may have named the satellite Sputnik to make fun of the fact that the West was obsessed with the concept of fellow travellers, especially in the run-up to WWII. This rather distasteful link outlines the meaning with the kind of garbage that I believe felixrayman (rightly IMO) objects to.

I thought Dear Leader was a reference to Kim Il Jong, the guy with the wacky hair in Pyongyang.

I believe felixrayman (rightly IMO) objects to.

Rightly objects to it in general, but it's never (or virtually never, depending on how one interprets that one instance) been used as a smear on this blog, which is why I questioned his statement. Even his correction to "occasionally" hardly describes the frequency accurately, although it's a step in the right direction.

As for felix's other statements, I don't see much point in continuing the discussion, so consider this my last comment on the matter.

Thanks for the explanations.

I guarantee you that I won't be included in those mistakes.

As long as you don't point $15 lasers at airplanes, I guess ...

we should not only have the debate but a vote on the overall topic.

Some of us already did.

"If so, consider this a long lost opportunity regained. Sebastian may feel free to remark at will also, if he finds the term remarkable."

Normally I find it just as effective to ignore the use of medium-level offensive rhetoric in an effort to not 'feed the trolls' who seem to desire emotional attention which is why I typically don't respond to felixrayman. But while we are going through a process to clarify the posting rules, I will. Personally I don't like using the term fellow traveler outside of a very specific context. I found that on Tacitus.org the term often got thrown around in a context that I found unhelpful. Though it theoretically has a meaning which includes association of a non-Communist variety, its historic connotations are such that I think it is inappropriate to use it unless you intend to evoke those connotations. That said, the term alone wouldn't normally get you banned.

Dear Leader isn't nearly as ambiguous. It nearly always has both Communist and despotic meanings. That said, the term alone wouldn't normally get you banned. In this particular case, I would suggest it functions as a death by a thousand cuts type of event, especially since Jadegold used it immediately after being warned about tone. Even then it triggered merely another warning, which suggests that perhaps I am more of a softie than I had previously thought.

Normally I find it just as effective to ignore the use of medium-level offensive rhetoric in an effort to not 'feed the trolls' who seem to desire emotional attention which is why I typically don't respond to felixrayman.

You know, Sebastian, that should get you a yellow card. If you want to talk about posting rules as related to Jadegold, talk about Jadegold, if you want to complain about felixrayman, talk about him and say specifically what the problem is. There offenses are separate and I don't appreciate your attempt to group them together. I would also note that you stood silent when one poster berated another poster who obviously was using English as a Second Language. If that's being a softie, I don't find it all that admirable.

Timmy, the nearly gold-standard WSJ eds say: the Democratic position, Mr. Gonzales shouldn’t be afraid to say, amounts to a form of unilateral disarmament that is likely to do far more harm to civil liberties than anything even imagined so far.

Detlef --

You realize I'm criticizing Reynolds, right?

All others -- sorry; no time for a response (Dutchmarble -- I adopt Sebastian's responses).

All others -- sorry; no time for a response (Dutchmarble -- I adopt Sebastian's responses).

Sebastian responded to me...?? Here??? Or do yo adopt his responses to me in general ;-) ?

(I now have to go and check all threads of course)

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