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November 19, 2005


But didn't Georgie tell me the US doesn't do torture -- its just bad apples?


Hil- calling attention to this makes you a loser-defeatist. Just thought I'd say.

I remember saying when it was first reported by Jane Mayer that the al-Libbi case was the perfect little parable about everything that was wrong with the Bush administration's war. Little did I know how perfect--Mayer reported that he had confessed under torture in Egypt, been cited in Powell's UN speech, and later recanted. I didn't know then that he was waterboarded in US custody, that both the DIA and CIA disbelieved his testimony months before Powell used it in front of the UN.

Well, actually, he's only half the parable--the Arar case, which demonstrates torture leading to false information leading to the torture an innocent person, is the other half.

I saw the TV news coverage of this while visting my boyfriend's mom. I have very little exposure to the MSM, so it was an interesting experience for me. I triedn to gage how a person who routinely watches TV news would react, but I really can'ttell. Paul's mom ignored it (she's deaf) and her visitng nurse registered no reaction. I got the impression from the way the story was presented that the CIA was using torture against vey bad, evil, scarey people who had to be tortured--the news story did not make it clear that people were confessing to thingsd they didn't do. It was not clear from the presentatioon that the CIAguys were objecting to the agency's tactics.
It is very frightening to me how poorly stories like this are covered.

Orin Kerr at Volokh has posted this news as well.

Read the comments if you have a strong stomach.

I was just coming over here to mention the Volokh comments. I was going to jump in, but couldn't figure out what I could possibly say to them.

I was reading a comment over at Volokh's to the effect of not caring about KSM but worrying about a slippery slope. A very conservative thought entered my mind, like a earwig. There was a discussion at unfogged about whether virtue was divisible, whether one could sustain nine virtues while abandoning one. The consensus was that Aristotle said no.

I guess the point here is that the abandonment of standards, practices, rules in one area of behavior creates a general corruption that shows up in an unrelated activity. Torture leads to contractor corruption, deficit spending, cronyism.

Ah, bob, but which is cause and which effect?

I took a stab at reading the comments over there, too. It's not news that there are people who are willing to justify torture. These arguments flared in the comments on Political Animal back when the Abu Ghraib photographs were first published.

So far, anyway, at least President Bush still feels compelled to proclaim that "we do not torture." Alas, one can't say the same for Dick Cheney.

"Ah, bob, but which is cause and which effect?"

Deficit spending, judicial activism, and late-term abortions leading inexorably to torture? Conservatives might like that analysis.

But as I understand, and I may have misspoken in my last comment, in virtue ethics there is no cause-and-effect, no slippery slopes, no prioritization of the virtues, no partial corruption. You are in grace or in sin, virtuous or wholly corrupt.

Most of us are wholly corrupt, most of the time.

There are some very interesting questions here. What this article basically says is that one of the most important sources mentioned in Powell's UN speach, al Libbi, provided the information used in the speech only after being tortured by Americans.

Any half-way intelligent person would know that this means that the information is likely to be false. Did Colin Powell know that the information he presented was obtained through torture? If not, who decided to filter out that detail? How about Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld?

Using information extracted by torture to justify a war, without telling anyone that the information was extracted by torture, and thus much less reliable than it would otherwise appear, is a crime.

This cries out for a real investigation.

"Most of us are wholly corrupt, most of the time."

Others of us just dream.

They also knew in advance that Libi was probably not telling the truth. At least, the CIA and the DIA had both said so. I don't know if Powell knew.

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