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February 21, 2006

Comments

thankyou so much Hilzoy. I was attempting to send you an e-mail asking if you had read this article (e-mail wouldn't send GRRRR) and there it was.
As I was reading it I was so angry I had tears running down my cheeks. Does this not fit in with your last post re congressional oversight? [ I ask becasue I and Aussie and don't understand your systems very well.(have learnt heaps since visiting this sight)]
Why are the people of the US so accepting of this? Are they so truly afraid that they think that losing the liberites you enjoy and the morally high standing in the world community are worth saving even just one life from a terror attack?

Debbie(aussie): I think it's all of a piece, yes. As to why people accept it: partly, I think, lots of people don't pay attention to politics, and the media here is doing (imho) a terrible job of letting them know what's happening. Partly, people (for some reason) credit Republicans with being more patriotic, and so are both more inclined to think that a Republican can't be doing something opposed to our values, and also that if he is, it must be for a good reason. (I think this is wearing a bit thin, though.) And partly because conservatives like, say, Rush Limbaugh have done a good job of painting criticism of America as a form of America-hating, and thus people are both reluctant to accept such criticism and eager to leap to the conclusion that when someone opposes, say, the stuff at Abu Ghraib, that person must be a Bush-hating America-hating liberal, or something.

Which is, as I said, unfair to all the serious conservatives who were appalled by this. I mean, Mora is hardly a liberal, but I suspect that some of the more craven right-wing blogs will try to make him out to be one.

Thanks again Hilzoy. How do you go about changing the minds and hearts of the American people?
Re Mora being painted as liberal. I too imagine it will happen. I have watched with some humour it happen to Andrew Sullivan. And read about the others accused of same.
For the record I would have called myself a democrat if I was a US citizen, but I wonder if they are losing all sense of what is real and important.

Excellent use of the "Pony" formulation.

And Hilzoy, you are indeed correct in saying making an argument about executive powers without referencing Youngstown is shoddy lawyering. I might go so far as to call it malpractice, (at least if I did it...)

But whatever credibility Yoo ever had with me was lost when Orin Kerr made this catch.

Glad you caught this, well-covered.

It is only a question, not a criticism, but from what I have read, Mora appears not to have engaged in the follow-up and follow-thru an issue of this importance might have deserved. There is also an apparent naivete and trust I find disturbing. I need to read and think this thru.

But for now Mora looks like more than a hero.

One small quibble in an excellent post, and not truly to your work:

"Mora was a well-liked and successful figure at the Pentagon. Born in Boston in 1952, he is the son of a Hungarian mother, Klara, and a Cuban father, Lidio, both of whom left behind Communist regimes for America."

May I get a license for the patent on his dad's time machine?

Hilzoy, first of all I hope you will be able to connect while you are gone. I don't know if I can give up smoking and reading your posts at the same time.

To comment on your response to Debbie. Americans, I believe, have short attention spans and are caught up in whatever is right in front of them at the moment.

This administration, as you rightfully point out, when the facts are presented which may make them look bad, tends to attack the messenger, and that becomes the story Americans see.

I think the point in the campaign of 2004 that made sure Bush would win was right after the debate in which Bush denied ever saying he didn't really care about UBL.

During that same debate is when Kerry carefully and sensitively brought up Cheney's daughter being a lesbian. Although her lifestyle had been openly discussed previously, the media was awash with how horrible Kerry was in bringing it up, and totally avoided covering Bush's mis-statement.

Misdirection is this administration's forte, and has been the same with regard to the torture allegations. Whether it be a few bad apples, or inappropriately released, or the leaking of information that is damaging to our security, they avoid the real subject at hand, and unfortunately, the media has been complicit in this.

Mora appears not to have engaged in the follow-up and follow-thru an issue of this importance might have deserved.

Reading the article, I suppose Bob is talking about Mora's going on vacation & assuming that things would be rectified now that he'd drawn attention to the problem.

I can give him a pass on that. I wouldn't expect the Navy's general counsel to automatically assume there was a conspiracy to violate every law on the books regarding cruelty to prisoners. He certainly seems to have awoken to that possibility after he got back & found that nothing had changed.

See his memo:

I began to wonder whether the adoption of the coercive interrogation techniques might not have been the product of simple oversight, as I had thought, but perhaps a policy consciously adopted -- albeit through mistaken analysis -- and enjoying at least some support within the Pentagon bureaucracy.
Indeed.

Regarding:


There are a lot of problems with secrecy and the suppression of internal dissent, and one of them is that if you either muzzle or hide things from people who are likely to disagree with you, you're much more likely to make bad decisions. When you allow people to argue for different points of view before a position is adopted, and expect them to fall in line only afterwards, you're much more likely to hear good objections to the policy you start out supporting, or to think of possible consequences you hadn't thought of; and thus you're much more likely to reject that policy if, on reflection, it turns out not to be such a good idea. But if you exclude people who disagree with you from policy deliberations, or keep them in the dark entirely, you're much more likely to end up making ill-considered, and sometimes disastrous, choices.

Another is that the only way things get out is through leaks. People find the only way to affect policy is to leak the particularly bad parts in hopes that outsiders will be able to pressure the administration in ways internal critics can't.

I don't know if I can give up smoking and reading your posts at the same time.

Perhaps to support you, hilzoy should only post contingent on you quitting smoking :^) In order to help you on your way, I've put up a habits good and bad thread at HoCB

But about the Mayers article, it depresses me to no end that google news only has 130 articles (and a larger number than usual seem to be overseas) Too sad for words.

lj, that would be sufficient motivation.
Today is day 4.

I'll visit the other thread tonight. That's my HoCB time.

@Dantheman: Read the article. There's no time machine involved.

Re Mora being painted as a liberal: Good luck to all concerned who try that tack. I knew Alberto in college. He was deeply conservative, socially and politically. Nothing in his career path since graduation has given any reason to think he has changed. Enrolling at Swarthmore College was probably the most "liberal" act of Mora's life.

I was completely unsurprised to learn two years ago that Mora was one of the most vocal opponents of the torture policy inside the military. His belief in the deepest values and ideals of this country shone through all the arguments he had with his left-wing and liberal friends back in the early 1970s. It was impossible not to respect his intellectual integrity.

Nell: interesting, though (from what I've read of him) not surprising. And john miller: good luck ;)

Mora is a hero, no doubt, but also more than a little naive. Patriotic individuals responsible for the torture policy? I don't think so, unless one thinks the torturers in other countries are also patriots.

Fukuyama the Liberal

Sorry for going off-topic, but I have done worse, and I didn't want to bury this at the end of a dead thread below. Michael Signer of Democracy Arsenal uses the Fukuyama essay to develop a very pretty General Theory of Bushian Incompetence as Ideological Blindness that is a must read. Neat because it blossoms into a universal demolition of conservatism/libertarianism.

Not that I necessarily agree, but the four words that must not be spoken will not be spoken.

Patriotic individuals responsible for the torture policy? I don't think so, unless one thinks the torturers in other countries are also patriots.

What kind of comment is this?

Someone can be patriotic and be a complete scumbag. Patriotism doesn't actually mean anything, except enthusiasm for the country you live in.

Re Mora being painted as a liberal: Good luck to all concerned who try that tack.

He opposes the President. What more needs to be proven?

Someone can be patriotic and be a complete scumbag.

"Last refuge of the scoundrel" and such, right?

Bob, that's a fantastic link, thanks.

I second pooh. thanks for that, bob. However, I would point out that this argument that Fukuyama (and others) are merely misguided goes against your sometimes expressed idea that this is not a bug, but a feature. (though I realize that some of that may simply be exasperation bubbling over)

I also think that the accusation that Fukuyama has misanalyzed things is probably to him a much harsher criticism than accusing him of hypocrisy.

"...argument that Fukuyama (and others) are merely misguided goes against your sometimes expressed idea that this is not a bug"

I was just linking, I do not necessarily agree with Signer's read of Fukuyama. I thought hilzoy might like it. The "mistrust of governance" as explanatory device is not completely new to FF, I have seen it here.

I also think it shows why FF is a beltway player, in that he does a very good job of repairing some bridges in the Foreign Policy establishment with this misplaced idealism meme.

I have read about seven long posts with comment threads and the article is stimulating a lot of conversation. Many simply say Fukuyama is CYA and salvaging a reputation after a debacle. Some say FF has undergone a paradigm shift from Hegelian Idealism to Marxist Materialism. Some say he was half-and-half all along.

Cryptic Ned said--

What kind of comment is this?

Someone can be patriotic and be a complete scumbag. Patriotism doesn't actually mean anything, except enthusiasm for the country you live in.

My answer--

Well, it was a more polite comment than yours, for starters. You could disagree with what you think I'm saying without being a jerk about it. I tend to agree with you about what patriotism often means in practice, but Mora was using it to mean something like "honorable men, but misguided, who mistakenly think torture is the way to protect Americans." I tend to think that torturers in general tell themselves that they have good motives, but in truth, they love power.

As for FF, I read the article and was disgusted, but not surprised, to see the usual meme that always appears when Beltway types and would-be Beltway types discuss US foreign policy--the "Wilsonian idealists who want to spread democracy" vs. the "Kissingerian realists who wish to engage in the pragmatic promotion of American interests." Yeah, and what about "the imperialists who endorse ruthless policies and cloak them in noble-sounding rhetoric"? Somehow these people never seem to be mentioned in the genteel pages of the New York Times.

Mora can't be trusted by the Left because he went to work for Wart-Mal.

This is where the conservative wing needs to defeat the Republican wing. Djerejian wrote on the topic as well. Conservative pissed offedness is also why Bush is having such a hard time on the UAE port deal. This is what happens when a president loses certain presumptions and benefits of the doubt.

Mora can't be trusted by the Left because he went to work for Wart-Mal.

Given the discussion of ad-homs in the Darfur thread, doncha think a smiley might be in order after this?

This is what happens when a president loses certain presumptions and benefits of the doubt.

Rather: this is what happens when a president deliberately sets out to alienate a large chunk of the populace, then proceeds to continue this alienation into the fervent core of his supporters. IOW, he wouldn't be in nearly so much trouble if he had any (political) friends left outside the Republican base.

"Conservative pissed offness" about Guantanamo? As far as the House or Senate goes, there's precious little of it. Even the alleged moderates won't vote for subpoenas of the OLC memos--they do vote to throw away the key to the courthouse, which will effectively ban the detainees' only way of communicating about their treatment to the outside world. (The Red Cross can talk to prisoners, but isn't allowed to tell anyone else what the prisoners say.) Graham and Kyl recently filed an amicus brief arguing that they meant to strip habeas away from pending lawsuits too.

Ordinary conservatives who are pissed off need to make this issue enough of a priority are going to have to hold their nose and vote democratic in the midterms--that's the only way things will change.

"'Conservative pissed offness' about Guantanamo?"

No, Charles obviously is referring to the ports issue. I know this because that's what he said.

"Conservative pissed offedness is also why Bush is having such a hard time on the UAE port deal."

I don't see where Charles said a thing about "'Conservative pissed offness' about Guantanamo."

the "this, the "also", and the link to a Belgravia Dispatch post on Mora led me to think he meant both.

the "this, the "also", and the link to a Belgravia Dispatch post on Mora led me to think he meant both.
In fairness, Charles is bad enough, as a rule, with his antecedents, and wording, that it's often hard to tell what he's referring to.

On the other hand, the Djerejian piece is perfectly good, as he often or usually is:

But from comments left at blogs and general insouciance on the issue I think we've lost a good swath of the party, call it the Hannity-Coulter wing, who are happy to give the 'ragheads' their due and joke on about panties like rank fools. We need to reclaim our party from these ignorant primitives, if at all possible, but the task will not be easy--as even opinion 'leaders' (what passes for them, these days) get all giggly about torture at places like NRO (there is also, of course, the fear resulting from 9/11, tinged with Islamophobia and suspicion of the 'other', that has amply facilitated the de-humanization of Middle Easterners and South Asians so as to facilitate the cheer-leading of their mistreatment).

[...]

Dirty pool happens and tough bureaucratic battling is par with the course in Washington. But this is different. This is purposefully, methodically dishonest. This uses people, via charades and make-belief theater, crudely and insultingly. This does smack, as Larry Wilkerson has stated, of "cabal" like behavior.

Etc.

However, my read is that Charles clearly should have had a paragraph break between "as well" and "Conservative," to indicate separate observations. I could be completely wrong, but I'll bet a penny I'm not.

(This sort of thing is why punctuation and care about writing matters, I note as usual.)

On the other hand, Katherine, let me back up and observe that you were probably quite right that when Charles wrote "This is where the conservative wing needs to defeat the Republican wing," that he did, somehow, seem to be drawing some sort of dichotomy between the Good Conservatives on torture and the Bad Republicans.

I think you were right and I was wrong about that. That he could find such a dichotomy was too bizare an interpretation for me to imagine, but it does look like he was trying to suggest that. Beats me, if you ask me to try to make further sense out of that.

I mean, I can certainly understand Charles and folks like him wanting to believe in such a dichotomy, but I have trouble seeing how it lines up with any reality on the ground as regards some identity between "conservatives" and "people who oppose torture," and between "Republicans" and "people who are fine with torture." [scratches head, which Gary does frequently enough you'd think he had lice, which he doesn't]

Among the many virtues of the article is that it provides in one place a strong basis for dismissing the "there was never a torture policy" argument still so prevalent among Bush supporters. Indeed, although I'm no lawyer, I could probably convict the vice president, the vice president's chief of staff, the DOG general counsel and Paul Wolfowitz of Geneva violations, plus violations of assorted U.S. statutes including but not limited to authorizing torture and lying to U.S. officials, on the basis of the memos and on-the-record comments in this article alone.

And if I were a real lawyer, I bet I could do even better than that.

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