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March 03, 2006

Comments

Face it: torture works. Maybe you'd rather make sure thet terrorists' "rights" were the priority here, but the White House would rather make sure that you were safe. I guess they've got different priorities.

Thank you, but I was safe already. How many Americans have died in terrorist attacks in the last decade?

Now, if torture could protect me from dying in a car crash, I might reconsider. That's a real risk.

That's twice recently I copied a link to bring here and found you beat me to it.

Yes. The amendment works as intended and predicted. And no comment from McCain's office. I guess I really have very little I feel like saying. I am, for once, beyond rant.

The judge isn't happy (though as the Uighur case shows that's not any kind of guarantee of anything)--from the same article, responding to the government's affidavits.

"Kessler noted with irritation that Hood and Hooker made largely general claims about the group of detainees on the hunger strike in defending the switch to the new force-feeding procedures used on Bawazir.

"I know it's a sad day when a federal judge has to ask a DOJ attorney this, but I'm asking you -- why should I believe them?" Kessler asked Justice Department attorney Terry Henry.

"[W]hy should I believe them?"

Does anyone outside of Bush's undying 39-and dropping-% believe anything anyone in his Administration says?

I'm glad at least one judge knows horse hockey when it's presented to him, fresh and steaming; but even if he rules against the Bushists in every particular, we all know they'll just ignore it.

God only knows what's happening at Bagram.

"Face it: torture works."

Leonidas: Explain this to me.

I want to hear how you can possibly argue this. I also want to hear how it helps the United States. I want to know how it helps our low approval by other countries in the world. I want to know how use of torture won't ignite more hatred from the family members, friends, or even the tortured themselves-- and result in more terrorist attacks against the United States. I want to know when the United States has stooped so low to fight its own people about the use of torture. Last time I checked we have won wars by taking POWs.

Bob wrote:
I guess I really have very little I feel like saying. I am, for once, beyond rant.

That you don't say I told you so speaks volumes about your restraint. I hate to be so blackly cynical, but it's going to take more that this, probably at least a number of them dying. And even then, that might just raise attention to this. Page 4 in the Post, in the Times under the title of "Detainee Seeks Court Action", 187 stories in all compared with 2,600 for the Jessica Simpson breakup.

I'm sure that these links have been posted before, but here here and here. Again, it's not new news to the majority of you, but note the dates.

I imagine we will reach a state where the Japanese death penalty will be used as a model. Prisoners will be isolated from each other, no notification until after the execution, if at all. Perhaps it will develop into the kabuki like perfection of the Japanese version (free reg. required, but very much worth it)

Even now, though, Mitsui muses about the strange beauty of the death chamber, that secret theater of polished floors and tasteful lighting. The condemned man enters blindfolded. “Why do they prepare such a beautiful place, but the prisoner is not able to see?” he wondered in our interview, then answered his own question: “Maybe it is for the benefit of the witnesses—to make them feel calmer.”

Intricate Helix: "Face it: torture works."

Leonidas: Explain this to me.

Judging by his previous comments on other threads, Leonidas is a troll here for a stirring. Better to ignore it than feed it.

"Face it: torture works."

Taking Leonidas's premise as a given for the purpose of argument, why am I supposed to feel safer that the government is using cruel methods to try to force-feed a terrorist rather than letting him starve to death?

Because, Phil, if he dies, he's gotten to do something that he chooses to do. The whole point is to demonstrate to everyone that the government gets to decide when you live and when you die. Your desires are immaterial.

(2nd person pronoun should be thought of as impersonal)

If I swing much further in hilzoy's direction than I do in Leonidas' direction, does that make me a Big Liberal? If so, I'll even buy the teeshirt.

Even if torture did work, I'd look at Leonidas' apparently eager embrace of the practice with at least one eyebrow raised.

Freedom tastes best when it's force fed.

"If we don't keep the terrorists from starving themselves to death, then the terrorists have w . . . wait, what?!"

Gotta run, the Two Minutes' Hate is coming up.

Actually, I think in a way that torture does work for this administration.

Not in the sense of providing information that helps protect us. That is a highly suspect proposition.

However, it does project the image of a real man doing everything in his power to protect this country, and not being squeamish about a little blood, etc.

The same thing with the NSA issue.

It separates Bush and Co from the wussy liberals who are terrorist sympathizers.

Image is everything to this crowd. Actual performance is irrelevant.

If I swing much further in hilzoy's direction than I do in Leonidas' direction, does that make me a Big Liberal? If so, I'll even buy the teeshirt.

If there's one thing that I truly resent about this administration, it's that the last six years have gotten me branded as a 'liberal' for arguing principles I thought were conservative. Heh.

Even if torture did work, I'd look at Leonidas' apparently eager embrace of the practice with at least one eyebrow raised.

That's one of the things that really, really unsettles me about many of the defenders of the practice. While many often give lip service to the idea that it's a "last resort", their idea of exhausting all other possibilities seems to be very, very limited. It makes one wonder whether they were simply waiting for an excuse to pull out the popcorn and cheer for the disemboweling.

That scum feel shame. Not in this universe. Also, who are the "lawyers" who argue for these obscene offenses against God and man?

They better hope no Spanish judge takes an interest in their "contribution" to the Wah on Terrah.

" It makes one wonder whether they were simply waiting for an excuse to pull out the popcorn and cheer for the disemboweling."

Like those sports stadia in Aghanistan under the Taliban, where thousands would show up to watch women being executed for "indecency." They'd cheer like it was the best thing ever.

Or here in the US, back when executions were public, and the public turned out in droves to watch. They could buy refreshments and souvenirs, too.

There's always - always - some segment of any population that gets off on seeing others suffer and die. It's not a political thing; it's a sick human thing. It's just our lousy luck to have a bunch of really sick bastards in power - and the fact that they're in power allows the other sick humans who like the same sick sh*t to come out of the woodwork and cheer them on.

If there's one thing that I truly resent about this administration, it's that the last six years have gotten me branded as a 'liberal' for arguing principles I thought were conservative.

Word.

I'm highly offended that Leonidas takes as his moniker one of the great Spartan rulers/generals of all time. led the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae. But perhaps he did not know that and instead was aping the Belgian chocolate brand. Probably the one w/ the soft, creamy interior?

"I'm highly offended that Leonidas takes as his moniker one of the great Spartan rulers/generals of all time"

Possibly just another subtle promotional spammer:

300

It sickens me that it is no longer hyperbole to place this administration in the same moral company as Saddam, Stalin, and Mao. The differences in the value they place on human rights and lives are ones of degree, not kind. That they (presumably) think they are doing this in the service of "freedom" and "national security" is no defense: most monsters throughout history have felt the same sense of noble purpose while they strip others of their humanity.

These people should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, their ideologies and arguments discredited so thoroughly that the whole world knows that America has repudiated what they wrought. It is a tragedy that we will be lucky if we even manage impeachment.

Slarti: what would make you a liberal would be to embrace something like my views on universal health care. Agreeing with me on torture, especially in the absence of anything remotely resembling support for Leonidas' empirical claims, just makes you a decent person. And that's not a partisan question. At least, it shouldn't be.

Actually Leonidas is just guilty of sytax errors. Catsy on the other hand...well. Torture does not work, the threat of torture might work to some degree, but there seem to be other pursuasive measures, far short of classic torture, those that induce various degrees discomfort, that, at least according to Hollywood, produce effective results. I learned most of that here. Thanks.

I see this is one of those irregular nouns:

1. They use torture.
2. We use other persuasive measures that induce various degrees discomfort that produce effective results.

Torture does not work, the threat of torture might work to some degree, but there seem to be other pursuasive measures, far short of classic torture, those that induce various degrees discomfort, that, at least according to Hollywood, produce effective results.

I might humbly suggest that you watch less 24.

I watch 24, but I don't mistake it for real life. On TV, the only people that Jack Bauer ever tortures are the bad guys (in my limited experience; I'm a 24 newbie). In reasl life, we just don't know. And just to show you that I'm really not all that decent a person, I wouldn't say I'm against all torture in all situations at all times. I'm just against it as a general measure to get people to tell what they know. It should be used as infrequently and with as much attention to ensuing fallout as, say, nuclear weapons.

We Should Be Better Than This

I am.

but i have no control over the actions of those who claim to represent me.

If it's not torture, then the government lawyers should agree to be used in a live demonstration of the exact same procedures, before the judge.
The parameters would be that the lawyers would pose as terrorist suspects in the same venue, and the Gitmo wardens would not be informed otherwise. Live satellite feed via hidden camera.
Better yet, send Sen. Graham.

Jes and I unintentionally agree with what she wrote.

I wouldn't say I'm against all torture in all situations at all times.

I know it's probably unnecessary nitpicking, but how would you, Slartibartfast, phrase the piece of legislation that would allow for torture in certain situations.

Devil. Details. Etc.

This is just so terribly sad, and enraging, and awful.

I wish I had some idea what to do.

And just to show you that I'm really not all that decent a person, I wouldn't say I'm against all torture in all situations at all times. I'm just against it as a general measure to get people to tell what they know. It should be used as infrequently and with as much attention to ensuing fallout as, say, nuclear weapons.

No, actually, on this we agree. While torture is a monstrous thing and is largely unreliable, there will inevitably be that one "ticking bomb" scenario in which an otherwise decent person concludes that breaking the other guy's fingers is the only way to prevent the deaths of millions. Should he do it? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps he will save those millions, and likely we'll never know.

But he should still be prosecuted for doing what he did, savior or not, and he should know going into it that by torturing another human being he is throwing his life away because he believes it is necessary to avert a greater harm. This country might survive becoming a people who condone torture, but America will not.

Clearly, there are some serious PR problems with certain interrogation methods. But that doesn't mean they don't work as interrogation methods. At a certain point, we can't let the opinions of the rest of the world dictate to our leader the methods they use to keep us safe. If we let Europe decide what was right or wrong for our foreign policy, we never would have gone into Afghantistan, let alone Iraq.

I know it's probably unnecessary nitpicking, but how would you, Slartibartfast, phrase the piece of legislation that would allow for torture in certain situations.

I wouldn't. If there's ever a situation that, in my opinion, torture was a remedy for...well, that's what Presidential pardons are for.

Catsy really hit on it.

There may be times when violating a law is necessary or deemed approrpiate by the person doing the action. That, however, does not condone the action and the person doing so must be prepared to accept the consequences.

In the scenario above, a conviction may or may not result, but the person who did the torturing, or who ordered it, should be willing to accept responsibility for and judgement of that action.

"If we let Europe decide what was right or wrong for our foreign policy, we never would have gone into Afghantistan, let alone Iraq."

Intersting comment since most European countries went with us into Afghanistan and are still there.

Not feeding the troll, just pointing out some trolls don't know what they are talking about.

Leonidas: who brought Europe into this? As far as I'm concerned, it's about how I expect my country to behave.

And given the number of professional interrogators who are on record as saying that torture generally doesn't work (unless by "work" you mean: get someone to tell you what they think you want to hear), could you provide some support for your claim that it does work, in anything but truly exceptional circumstances?

I don't know enough to say that it doesn't ever work, and I don't know whether I'd rule it out completely. But I would not make it legal: here I'm with Slarti, and rely on the Presidential pardon power. (Does that make me a conservative?) (Grin)

Leo: It must be kind of obvious, but no amount of torture will "work" when applied to someone who doesn't know anything.

Unless by "work" you mean satisfaction of bloodlust.

There seems to be a recurring theme developing, but let me just posit this: If the consensus is torture is to be "illegal with a wink", then you're leaving it to the judgement of those in the field, and what might strike some individuals as a vital and compelling reason might not actually, you know, be a vital and compelling reason. And the damage is done. And it could be done repeatedly even if just to err on the side of caution. And it foments a culture that the law "doesn't really count".

Slippery slopes.

It's probably ineffective to, after making an argument, point out the various logical fallacies contained in that argument.

In case any of that was directed toward me, pointing out where I said anything at all resembling "illegal with a wink" might have been a good idea. If not, disregard.

When the President is George W. Bush, saying that torture should be a matter for Presidential pardon just means that Bush will be rubber-stamping an awful lot of pardons.

I'm not suggesting just winking either. I propose putting torture in exactly the same category as, say, bank robbery. Being a philosopher, I can always think up bizarre examples, and thus I can think of examples in which robbing a bank would be necessary to e.g. save the planet. In that case, I think that the robber should be pardoned, and I expect s/he would be. That's not the same as saying that bank robbery should be illegal in a winking sort of way.

I welcome anyone suggesting that I advocate torture being "illegal with a wink". Really. I need the laugh.

Just ponderin' everyone. Don't take it so personally.

Jes, would this be the real President George W. Bush; or that imaginary Shmoo that you refer to from time to time?

And oh, DNFTT

Clearly, there are some serious PR problems with certain interrogation methods

someone shoot me if i ever confuse PR with morals.

Visit the poorman:
http://www.thepoorman.net/2006/03/03/response-to-tigerhawk-2/

An excerpt:

So please don’t write a big long post pointing out times in the past when you said torture is bad, because that doesn’t cut it. All it is going to do is make me feel very, very sleepy, and so I’m going to have to have another cup of coffee, and if I have another cup of coffee before I get some food in my stomach … well, it’s not going to be a pretty picture for anyone involved. What is really going to put me in my place is if someone - say, for example, you - actually decides that the Bush policy of extralegal, unaccountable torture is worth getting upset about, perhaps even more deserving of disapprobation than Ward Churchill getting tenure, Al Gore’s views on visa policy, Michael Moore’s waistline, or whatever else the leading lights of today’s denatured conservatism think everyone should be gnashing their teeth about this week. (Or last week.) Because right now, America tortures people. You live in a country where the President has declared an effectively permanent state of war, and can, and does, as a matter of policy, and on a global scale, engage in torture. Morally, practically, spiritually, profoundly: this is wrong. It is worth being upset about. It is worth overlooking the use of literary devices you don’t agree with. It is worth forgiving minor policy disagreements. It is even worth telling people you otherwise agree with that, when they defend, excuse, or minimize the situation, they are wrong - morally, practically, spiritually, profoundly, even - and they, through deed or inaction, disgrace America. Because they do. And if you did it, you’d probably be more polite than me. And they might even listen. And then, eventually, this might change. And then I’d be completely busted, and I’d have to start berating you about, I don’t know, marginal tax rates, and uh, workplace harrassment lawsuits, and all those other things I’m told I care so deeply about, instead of about the corruption of the soul of my country. Please let me live with that shame instead.

exactly what john miller said.
precisely. verbatim.

well, what the poorman said, anyway.

exactly...

I wish it had been me. Alas, my ability to write in such a manner is akin to my ability to sing like Frank Sinatra.

... written in a manner to appear to actually say something, when in fact, I'm not so sure it does. Have certain persons been abused. They have. Have the abusers been brought to light and punished. Yes. Have we condoned torture? Maybe. Have the torturers been brought to light and punished? Depends. I'm not so sure I know they have. Sounds unlikely the poorman's accusations are so rampant and yet so unrevealed - in this time and place. I see more banana waving chest pounding in poormans rant than in what he is accusing of others.

Second the poor man, as quopted by john miller. This brings to mind the threads here from last year on Amnesty International's use of the word "gulag".

This brings to mind the threads here from last year on Amnesty International's use of the word "gulag".

do the Moral Limbo! lower! lower! set the bar lower! if you touch the ground, you're Stalin!

Being a philosopher, I can always think up bizarre examples

I love it! This should not be omitted from any definition of the profession.

Blogbudsman: Have the abusers been brought to light and punished.

No, they have not. "Brought to light", in some cases, yes: punished lightly, in some cases, yes: but if you mean as a general case, no.

Ah, Leonidas has outdone himself:

This is precisely why we should be considering an anti-sedition law, as a columnist at Town Hall recently suggested.

Whee!

Whee, because I couldn't think of a posting-rules-compliant response. Maybe later, when my jaw returns to its original, upright and locked position.

What are you saying, jes, an eye for an eye? It could be done - we have our ways.

"Like those sports stadia in Aghanistan under the Taliban, where thousands would show up to watch women being executed for 'indecency.' They'd cheer like it was the best thing ever."

According to all my reading, while some voluntarily, perhaps eagerly, went to those stadia, or to similar gatherings in Saudi Arabia or Iran or Nigeria or elsewhere, many had/have to be forced to attend by the government/Taliban/Taliban-like. It's important to remember that, I think.

When the President is George W. Bush, saying that torture should be a matter for Presidential pardon just means that Bush will be rubber-stamping an awful lot of pardons.

Maybe he can borrow that letter-signing machine from Rumsfeld.

My reception of Fox disappeared last year, so I dunno from anything after the middle of last year's season of 24, and my grasp of former seasons has always been a bit shakey (I tended to watch while reading, and thus tended to miss crucial moments and start losing full awareness of plot threads), but as I recall, the Secretary of Defense's son gets tortured at a point where he is guilty of being only an unknowing dupe, and the torture allowed the "good guys" to learn nothing. That he later did turn up to be a helpful unknowing fool useful to the "bad guys" might mean that he "deserved" to be tortured, perhaps, but I don't recall that it was useful. However, I could be entirely misremember and confusing the plot, so take this with a sack of salt.

"And just to show you that I'm really not all that decent a person, I wouldn't say I'm against all torture in all situations at all times."

An awful lot of people who are against torture as a standard practice or the legalization of torture might or do agree that in the event of that Great Hypothetical, the equivalent of having the Bad Guy You Know To Be Guilty in custody with the Clock Ticking so that the Weapon Of Mass Destruction is only hours away!, that possibly some beating on abuse on the Bad Guy might be justified. But if that were the case, as has been long discussed, and it worked, either a) the Brave Government Person willing to do the torture/beating could be pardoned; or b) be willing to nobly accept punishment, suffering for having done the wrong/right thing for the right reasons just as a soldier might voluntarily take a would, or even give up their life, in the pursuit of their duty.

So one can "support" that level of torture/abuse, in theory -- especially given that the likelihood of such a clear case actually taking place in reality is about nil -- at best, the stakes are apt to be far lower, and the situation far more ambiguous, and the guilt/knowledge of the detained person also far more unknown and ambiguous, and thus the Rightness of the decision to cross the line vastly less certain -- while still being, both in theory and practice in the real world, quite thoroughly opposed to the practice or normalization or legalization or accepted-in-policy-and-practice of torture. Certainly, if that's what you mean, you're hardly alone in opposing torture, but not absolutely 100%, but merely 99.99%. That's good enough for my conscience to be there, anyway.

"If the consensus is torture is to be "illegal with a wink", then you're leaving it to the judgement of those in the field, and what might strike some individuals as a vital and compelling reason might not actually, you know, be a vital and compelling reason."

You're always leaving actions to the judgement of those in the field. That's because they're in the field. Absent having robot or remote-controlled agents, how could it be otherwise?

That's more or less what I had in mind, Gary. If we could get the great Script Writer in The Sky to clue us in to who the real badguys are (as the Lesser Script Writers In The Fox have done with Messr Bauer), and approximately what they're up to, maybe we could apply the Persuader with much more accuracy and effectiveness. But of course, TGSWITS could simply let us know where the Ticking Bomb is so we could get to it sooner and save the Persuader for another day. Yeah, I know: that doesn't make for good ratings.

Cheney shooting his hunting buddy; THAT there is ratings.

You're always leaving actions to the judgement of those in the field.

Sure. But they have rules, guidelines and laws that are supposed to guide their actions.

If the working atmosphere is such that it is understood the aforementioned can ignored, even if only for extraordinary circumstances, then they will be, I think. Inevitably for circumstances that are less than extraordinary.

As with many things this admin, torture gives the appearance of 'going the extra mile' while actually doing just the opposite. It's counterproductive, but it requires no heavy lifitng.

Something about the whole thing makes me think of Lady MacBeth - there's this spot, a stain if you will, that just won't go away...

"Something about the whole thing makes me think of Lady MacBeth - there's this spot, a stain if you will, that just won't go away..."

Who will rid me of this meddlesome terrorist? -> Who will question this dangerous terrorist?

Spartikus: "If the working atmosphere is such that it is understood the aforementioned can ignored, even if only for extraordinary circumstances, then they will be, I think. Inevitably for circumstances that are less than extraordinary."

I think we're now talking about rather subtle shades of atmosphere. Joking and winking about what one can get away with is one thing, but it's only meaningful if one can, indeed, "get away with" doing the ostensibly forbidden act; that's not what's being talked about when we're talking about either a) the abusing agent being punished; or b) being pardoned for having actually been in that one-in-a-million arguably justified position.

What you're talking about is the sort of "oh, yeah, sure, cops don't beat suspects" line you would have heard from cops in big American cities (and small towns, too) in the 1960s and earlier (not that that's entirely gone away, of course, since then, but it's at least gone a bit more underground and a bit less endemic). These are different things. But I think the rhetorical confusion arose here with the introduction of the "wink" locution, which was introduced here -- "illegal with a wink" -- by, hey, spartikus, so basically you're arguing with yourself, I'm afraid. No one else has discussed winking.

by, hey, spartikus, so basically you're arguing with yourself, I'm afraid. No one else has discussed winking.

Sure again. Like I said, I was just pondering. The responses various people gave made their positions clear. I am hereby officially ceasing this angle of pondering.

Time apparently has Qhatani's interrogation log from Gittmo:

Here.

Haven't read it yet.

Oh, and he recants because he claims he was tortured (I apologize if y'all've covered this).

"Who will rid me of this meddlesome terrorist? -> Who will question this dangerous terrorist?"

Actually, the "Beckett" approach to al-Sadr might not have been the worst idea, but one can make a far better case for that both in moral and practical terms than for abusive practices on captives.

"Actually, the "Beckett" approach to al-Sadr might not have been the worst idea"

I kinda trust Sistani on this, who at least twice has protected Sadr. Apparently the position Sadr holds is open, no one better than Sadr (for Sistani's purposes) is available, and whatever might replace Sadr is worse. Otherwise Sadr would indeed be gone. Or Sistani needs Sadr to fend off Hakim/SCIRI.

Sadr is a thug and a killer, but somehow I see him as a more stabilizing agent than Hakim.

Somebody needs to draw a chart.

Sorry, I should have included "in 2004-5" somewhere in there.

blogbudsman: What are you saying, jes, an eye for an eye? It could be done - we have our ways.

The specific instance I happened to be thinking of, Blogbuds, was one I recently wrote about on my livejournal: an Iraqi PoW, Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush, was killed on 26th November 2003, sixteen days after he had surrendered himself to US custody to secure the release of four of his sons, who had been taken hostage to "persuade" him to surrender. Mowhoush's body was dumped at a hospital, badly bruised and burned. To the best of my knowledge, no one was charged with the crime of hostage-taking, nor were most of the people (Iraqi nationals supervised by CIA agents, apparently) who tortured him charged with any crime. The American soldier who actually killed him, however, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, who "slid a sleeping bag over Mowhoush's head and rolled him from his back and to his stomach while asking questions" and then "sat on Mowhoush's chest and placed his hands over the general's mouth", was charged with a crime, and tried, and convicted - the highest-ranking officer to be convicted of the torture or death of any prisoner of the US.

On 23rd January, the jury ruled that Welshofer must "forfeit $6,000 of his salary over the next four months, receive a formal reprimand and spend 60 days restricted to his home, office and church." The initial sentence included a dishonorable discharge, but apparently the jury were persuaded to show mercy on the grounds that Welshofer had nearly served his 20 years and would lose his pension and medical benefits if he were discharged now.

We hardly ever agree, but we have.

Does this mean the universe is about to explode?

"Apparently the position Sadr holds is open, no one better than Sadr (for Sistani's purposes) is available, and whatever might replace Sadr is worse. Otherwise Sadr would indeed be gone."

There are an awful lot of assumptions there.

"Sadr is a thug and a killer, but somehow I see him as a more stabilizing agent than Hakim."

All I can say is that I don't feel at this time that I have remotely enough information to judge.

Qhatani's interrogation transcript log is actually here. The prior URL was for a brief article about it.

bb: Have the abusers been brought to light and punished. Yes.

No, they have not. Over a hundred prisoners have died in U.S. custody, 27 were considered worthy of being treated as homicides by the military. Only eight of those tortured to death have had perpetrators go through any sort of trial, and the longest term of punishment meted out so far has been five months.

Torture is policy in this administration, not an aberration, as the recent Jane Mayer piece on Alberto Mora's and others' efforts to stop it shows.

The generals and colonels who transmitted and oversaw this policy have refused to take responsibility for it. Geoffrey Miller, who brought the torture policy from Guantanamo to Iraq, sits in the Pentagon with all his stars intact, and recently did the military equivalent of 'taking the fifth'. Until he is charged, we are not even close to restoring the doctrine of command responsibility.

Until Donald Rumsfeld is in a prison for war crimes, we will not as a nation have sufficiently repudiated this horrific policy.

"All I can say is that I don't feel at this time that I have remotely enough information to judge."

You might look at Hakim's federalist ambitions during the Constitution negotiations and imagine the implications and consequences. You might look at not only the Sunni objections to that federalist agenda but Sadr's. You might use your judgement that an attempt to create an independent Basra area with rights to the oil revenues might be destabilizing. You might think the the SCIRI use of the Interior Ministry as death squads would delegitimize the gov't. And other stuff.

Or you might withhold judgement, avoid risks, and never look a fool. Not my yob.

Everything that you say that's negative about Hakim, Bob, I agree with you about. But it's unclear to me that this makes Sadr more stabilizing, or that Sistani has any sort of positive views of Sadr.

I manage to look like a fool a sufficient number of times for my taste, though; making implications as to why I hold the opinions I do is possibly a tad unnecessary. If you want to feel brave and commend yourself for doing so, you can probably manage to do so without bringing me into it, if you might be so kind.

"But it's unclear to me that this makes Sadr more stabilizing, or that Sistani has any sort of positive views of Sadr."

Well, Sistani has always at least claimed to want to include the Sunnis in a future Iraq. Sadr, whether in agreement, in his own interests, or in attempt to ingratiate himself with Sistani or Sistani's constituency, has practiced the outreach more than some other Shia clerics/leaders. There was the food etc citizen caravan during the first seige of Fallujah that I think Sadr assisted or partly inspired. Sadr has also cooperated with D'awa which has ties to Sistani.

In addition, as I said, Sistani has apparently saved Sadr twice. The second, the breaking of the seige in Najaf when Sistani, was at some personal political risk to Sistani, as Iraqis died when surrounding the shrine. Besides PO'ing the Americans and Allawi. In current politics, if Sadr played any role in the Jaafari trip to Turkey, it may be a smart but risky move to scare the Kurds into a more active centrist role. Sadr has shown good political skills and talents, which Sistani would recognize as important to a unified Iraq.

Finally, I suspect Sadr has a committment to Sharia, to trans-national Shia solidarity, and to Sistani's fatwa about the role of the clerics in Islamic democracies (at some risk to Sadr's friendship with Iran) that Sistani finds sympatico.

I tire of marshalling evidence and arguments. It is not my style. You know this stuff, anyway.

Gary, if you are gonna challenge me, as you did at 7:48, I am going to respond.

The problem I have with evidence and arguments is, for example, that every assertion in the 10:33 comment could be required to have a link and elaboration. And so on. "Cite please" just becomes a distraction.

"Gary, if you are gonna challenge me, as you did at 7:48, I am going to respond."

"Challenge you"? Bob, I gave an opinion, or pretty much a non-opinion, about an issue. I said squat about you.

I wrote: "All I can say is that I don't feel at this time that I have remotely enough information to judge."

Why that becomes a personal "challenge" to you, well, not for me to know. But it would really be very nice if you could manage to not take it as such, given that, you know, it's not remotely.

All I'm saying is that it might be nice if when I say something about an issue, you didn't reply with a comment about me, the person. It's completely unnecessary, and it tends to discourage my interest in commenting about things you say, although for all I know, that would please you (though I would hope not; I really have no idea, though).

"'Cite please' just becomes a distraction."

And yet I didn't ask you for one. Possibly you might also be able to just respond to what I say to you, rather than to everything or anything I've ever said at any time and place to anyone ever?

What a load of bullshit. So the guy was starving himself and they force-fed him. Oh the humanity.

Do you people ever step back and realize how boneheadedly idiotic you are?

a: the posting rules prohibit profanity.

And it's not just the force-feeding, it's the knowledge that whatever they do to the detainees, there is no legal recourse.

"All I can say is that I don't feel at this time that I have remotely enough information to judge."

Bull, Gary. What, you are radically uninformed about Iraq and the Middle East and went out of your way to tell us so? In the context of the first statement:

"There are an awful lot of assumptions there."

Is it completely unreasonable to read an implied criticism? Where do you get away with this stuff? Is it the current strategy to portray yourself as victim and myself as paranoid? Well, I am paranoid, but that doesn't mean you commented merely to admit your humility.

And again, I have three substantial comments, you have three personal comments. You often seem to turn substantial discussions into discussions of character and personality. If you have a substantial disagreement, reply substantially or not at all.

Is bob on the right side of those profanity rules or what? (Are you paying attention a?)
Now about that purported "boneheaded idiocy" that would seem to come even closer to another infraction typically inforced by slarti (who likes to cheer himself up by referring to himself as a conservative): the ad hominem.
Observez "Bull". So the safe ground must be "bones" or perhaps "b.i."
And it is atleast a litmus test for McCain: man or mouse.

"All I can say is that I don't feel at this time that I have remotely enough information to judge."

Bull, Gary.

Uh, okay, you know my opinions and feelings better than I do, I guess.
"There are an awful lot of assumptions there."

Is it completely unreasonable to read an implied criticism?

Pretty much. You're privileged to make as many assumptions as you like, and you may also have considerably more, or at least different, information than I do.

In any case, if you take that sort of remark as some sort of un-called-for personal attack, it's probably really not a good idea for me to comment on anything you say.

"You often seem to turn substantial discussions into discussions of character and personality."

Yes, that was my point, that substantive comments about issues, such as Sadr and Sistanti, from me get responses from you about me, the person, instead. Such as in this thread. I have no idea why, but since this has been going on for some months now, with no visible reason (I mean, to the point where you've several times responded to comments I've made that have nothing whatever to do with you as if they were responses to you), I guess I should give up hoping this will stop. A darn shame, because you're an interesting guy, and we have quite a bit in common; I have absolutely no idea what the cause of this dynamic is (curious that you introduce the word "paranoid" into the discussion, and manage, remarkably, to accuse me of accusing you of it; how very meta-meta), but since it's no fun, and there doesn't seem to be anything at all I can do about it besides give up commenting on anything you say, I guess I'll have to try that; much to my regret and sorrow. Please let me know if another, more pleasant, option develops. Really. Thanks.

"Yes, that was my point, that substantive comments about issues, such as Sadr and Sistanti"

7:48

"There are an awful lot of assumptions there."

"All I can say is that I don't feel at this time that I have remotely enough information to judge."

Those are not substantive responses, but clearly ad hominems. If there is substance about Sadr and Sistani contained in them, in your 7:48 comments, please help me find them.

bob mcmanus: Is it completely unreasonable to read an implied criticism? Where do you get away with this stuff?

Because it becomes too much trouble to argue with Gary, bob. Engaging in an argument with Gary - especially when he's asked a leading question and then doesn't want to admit it - will inevitably lead to a thread being Farbered. Simplest solution: don't respond to Gary. Ever. At all. No matter what.

I am sorry I helped a thread devolve. In expiation and more on-topic:

Guantanamo Names Released ...via TalkLeft

On court order, in a gross document dump requiring much sifting, but it is something. I hope the contempt the administration shows to the courts comes back to them.

And even better news:

For a Friend

Virginia Postrel is giving a kidney to a friend. Lucky friend, and lucky Postrel, if you know what I mean, and if luck has anything to do with it.

Look here

10,725 people were killed in this one building alone.

DaveC, I've always felt that "We're not as bad as Saddam Hussein - he tortured more people than we did!" is much of an argument.

Er, correction (PIMP):

"is not much of an argument".

I dunno Jes, I for one liked Jim Henley's suggestion that we add "still 71% better than Saddam" to the declairation of independance. It lets everyone know where we stand. Especially if we could get the number to automaticly update itself.

DaveC:

Look here

10,725 people were killed in this one building alone.

No, look here. Over 1.1 million people were killed in those buildings.

What's that, you ask what the relevance of this is to this thread? Beats me, just like the relevance of the non-sequitur it's in reply to. Apparently the topic suddenly switched to Famous Buildings Where Mass Murder Has Happened.

It's perhaps a lot like suddenly shouting "look, Halley's Comet," and pointing, in the middle of a conversation, when you desperately want to change the topic.

DaveC- I read that post. It was moving, those Kurds really went through hell. I'm not so good at the linky, but there is a fun firedog lake post here: http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2006_02_26_firedoglake_archive.html#114148305714944460

its based on a Glen Greenwald post with a little more information and a little less red meat here: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/03/bill-frist-threatens-to-re-structure.html

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