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May 28, 2009

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Speaking of torture, according to retired Major General Anthondy Taguba, the reason Obama opted against releasing the most recent photos of torture at Abu Ghraib is because they contained images of "sexual abuse" - "torture, abuse, rape and every indecency."

USA! USA!

The title of this post actually comes, originally anyway, from Justice Brandeis' dissent in Whitney v. California. But I'm sure the commenter on Worthington's site is happy to take the credit.

Actually, the commenter credits Brandeis. But I was inspired by the commenter, and since I'm no Maureen Dowd, I gave proper credit - I figured Brandeis gets his props from the commenter.

"(post title borrowed from a commenter on Worthington's site)"

Man gets engaged, and immediately his work ethic goes straight to [email protected] Is this the sort of phoning-it-in effort we should expect from now on?

;-/

Just kidding. Congrats, since I missed the boat on the earlier thread.

On the substance of the post, yes there does seem to be a contradiction between "Gitmo isn't hurting us" and "ZOMG you can't release the photos". I believe the relevant phrase is "what do you have to hide if you haven't done anything wrong?" - secrecy in this case creates a presumption of wrongdoing. Keeping the photos secret just makes Gitmo and the other facilities look more and more like Room 101. Letting people imagine what was happening there in the absence of hard evidence is not, I think, helping matters. All the more reason to close it down now. But Bagram looks to be worse and we haven't even begun to deal with it yet.

"But Bagram looks to be worse and we haven't even begun to deal with it yet."

one gulag at a time, grasshopper.

Eric: a large number of inmates detained a Gitmo (perhaps a majority) were not involved in terrorist activities at all

"Perhaps"??

Six hundred-plus have been released. Even on the provably incorrect assumption that all the remaining 240-whatever have been involved in terrorist activities, that's a pretty distinct minority.

one gulag at a time, grasshopper.

Because certainly the political calculus of the U.S. president and his party must outweigh the lives of thousands of Afghans and other Muslims.

"one gulag at a time, grasshopper."

So Obama = Nikita Krushchev to Cheney's Stalin?

Um, the rest of my comment was to read:

I agree.

and

Thanks TLTIABQ.

Because certainly the political calculus of the U.S. president and his party must outweigh the lives of thousands of Afghans and other Muslims.

I'm 99.9% sure cleek was being sarcastic.

Thanks for this post, Eric, Don't let my taking exception to weasel-language make you or anyone think I don't very much appreciate it.

Especially welcome is the link to Andy Worthington, whose work is not as well known as it should be. Please, ObWi readers, follow the link and read the post and comments.

For those who won't, AW's last comment makes the crucial point for the moment we're in:

[there is] an extreme reluctance to really take on board the fact that, in the demonstration of unfettered executive power that was sought and realized by Cheney and Addington, guilt and innocence were irrelevant, and what was of particular importance was simply the President’s “right” to break the law however he saw fit.
That — like the steady flow of revelations that prisoners were tortured to provide information that could be used to justify the invasion of Iraq — seems to me to be forbidden territory for most of the media, presumably because it paints such an unflinchingly grim demonstration of the crimes of the Bush administration. But, like the embarrassment and the mistaken fearmongering, it’s all going to have to come out eventually.

Forbidden territory for Obama and Holder and the advocates of not "looking backward" as well as most of the media.

Nell,

I was being a bit cautious and equivocal in my language, and as such, I welcome people to suss out the numbers. I've got thicker skin regardless.

Because certainly the political calculus of the U.S. president and his party must outweigh the lives of thousands of Afghans and other Muslims.

yes. welcome to reality.

I'm 99.9% sure cleek was being sarcastic.

and i'm 99.94% sure you're right!

"and i'm 99.94% sure you're right!"

But in order for that to be meaningfull, we need a control group comparison. If for example it turns out that cleek's comments are 99.98% sarcasm, but this one is only 99.94% sarcastic, then it is actually less sarcastic than average, and hence deserving of censure. I think a full fledged ANOVA is required here.

I think a full fledged ANOVA is required here

first person to use the phrase "groupwise heteroskedasticity" gets a swift kick in the junk.

Use mental floss to cut down on kurtosis.

Be advised, troll in the room. Got it screen printed on the back of my jacket so there is no confusion. Let’s talk. Bar tender – a round please. Thank you.

Pictures – what do you have to hide? Well, nothing really – if Abu Ghraib didn’t cast dispersion on every American, there couldn’t be much more to reveal. Point maybe? And the impact of art is amazing on this planet. Thousands of words can be written with little or no impact – but publish one picture… What is it with us humans? So mark me in agreement for not releasing the pictures. (dad blamed right wing extremist!)

And cleek was certainly being sarcastic – except in Cook County, he may very well be correct. I hate it when that happens.

My real reason for the troll visit was my typical train of consciousness perusing about Gitmo. Allow me a little roll playing here. I’m a mean, nasty, extreme Islamic terrorist bent on ridding the planet of the infidel rapist Westerners with the ultimate goal of assassinating the Burger King (I hate that guy). I’m recruiting mindless peasants who have no clue of much of anything except I seem to easily be able to convince them they are better off dead – them, not me – get it? At some point they inexplicably get cold feet and wonder what on earth is in store for them if they get captured and are prevented their glorious right to die and do the virgin thing. What do I say?? – no worries mate. Because, everyone now knows that what American’s consider torture is just creature discomforts in a environment where creature discomforts are actually considered comfortable. Yeah, waterboarding is scary, but you won’t drown (sorry, no virgins). And the other interrogation techniques are relatively laughable. (I know, not I Peoria, but certainly by girl-child-mutilation standards). And the conditions at Gitmo? Are you kidding me – we’re talking Club Med here. The only drawback is that some of these morons are actually trying to get captured. Imagine that.

Another beer guys? No? Keep in touch.

So let me see if I have this straight: The person who was going to blow themselves up in a fiery conflagration is going to back out because...America might torture him/her if captured.

But now that they know there is no torture if captured, they'll go ahead and blow themselves up.

Better trolls please.

Now I'm confused Eric (but of course you know that) - what on earth would make Gitmo such a tool for recruiting? Why would it have any impact at all?? If it makes us more like them, what's the big deal. No Eric, I'm a damn good troll.

"Now I'm confused Eric (but of course you know that) - what on earth would make Gitmo such a tool for recruiting?"

Confused indeed.

As Petraue, Mullen, Gates and Jones point out: torture and indefinite unlawful detention of Muslims radicalizes other Muslims. Makes them angry. Makes them want to attack America in retribution.

Same way Catholics in Northern Ireland were radicalized by heavy-handed Brit tactics.

Such is the way of the world.

Shouldn't confuse you so.

"No Eric, I'm a damn good troll"

Mediocre at best.

"Allow me a little roll playing here."

Onion or Kaiser?

"Now I'm confused Eric (but of course you know that) - what on earth would make Gitmo such a tool for recruiting?"

The fact that you have to ask that question displays a basic lack of understanding of human nature. Think back to the days after 9/11 and the reaction in this country. Answering your own question should be pretty easy.

I heard that the new defense budget has a $9.7 billion program to buy magic rocks to protect us from tigers.

$9.7 billion is a bargain.

"I heard that the new defense budget has a $9.7 billion program to buy magic rocks to protect us from tigers."

Apparently, the test results were better than those for Star Wars.

On the contrary, Star Wars was highly successful.

what on earth would make Gitmo such a tool for recruiting?

Gitmo provides to many Muslims the (correct) belief that some Americans have tortured innocent Muslims, and also that many Americans don't worry about this and are quite happy with torturing Muslims who might or might not be terrorists.

How would you feel if Ruritania started abducting and torturing Americans? Would you as a previously peaceful American maybe start to feel that you wanted to revenge yourself on Ruritania, harm their citizens, become an extremist, in other words? Or can't you understand how someone could possibly be radicalised by seeing people like them brutally mistreated?

"what American’s consider torture is just creature discomforts in a environment where creature discomforts are actually considered comfortable. "

What a blindingly stupid thing to say.

"Another beer guys? No?"

No.

DNFTT, unless it's pie.

Gitmo makes Muslims unhappy. What’s their excuse for the previous century or two. Quit! That’s like accusing me of turning you into a liberal. And John, Gitmo is a reaction to 9/11…so doesn’t that involve Muslims somewhat into creating the source of their own anger. Some, a very small some, Americans may have in fact tortured Muslims – a number that pales by the way to the number of Muslims who have tortured Muslims. We should be ranked considerably above them, dontchathink? (Yeah, right!) And russell, blindingly stupid? Really! Maybe flip, but not entirely inaccurate. You need a beer. Sorry cleek, just bait for you masters. A mediocre troll...I'll take that as a backhanded complement. Thanks guys.

cleek, since the troll, as usual, totally ignores anything of substance, I shall no longer feed.

Sorry John, Onion. Now, am I back in your good graces. And thats DNFTMT to you.

"Gitmo makes Muslims unhappy. What’s their excuse for the previous century or two."

Let me make it simple for stupid (KISS baby!): Of course there would be some terrorists that would exist and join up even without torture.

But we want to:

1. Limit that amount, not increase it (genius, I know); and

2. Limit the amount of sympathy, funding and assistance that those militants receive from the wider population.

If you can't see how torturing and imprisoning innocent Muslims unlawfully could screw with #1 and #2, then you need more than a beer.

That lesson was free. Next time, I'll email you my billable rate. And it ain't pretty.

Some, a very small some, Muslims murdered Americans on 9/11 and throughout 2001 – a number that pales by the way to the number of Americans who killed Americans that year.

Yet we invaded Iraq to kill innocent Muslims using 9/11 as a premise. After invading Afghanistan.

They should be ranked considerably above us, dontchathink?

Willem Buiter, Financial Times:

The right and legal thing to do would be to take all the prisoners to the US, charge those who can be charged and release those who cannot be charged. Those who can be sent back to their countries of origin without endangering their safety can be sent back. The rest should be allowed to stay in the US (the principle in question is: ‘you break it, you own it’). Those charged then should be tried in a proper US court, not one of the kangaroo quasi-military tribunals created by Bush and Cheney. If convicted, they should serve their time, or pay with their lives, as the case may be. If acquitted they should be released. That is the rule of law. It is also the right and moral thing to do.

With Bush and Cheney, one often had the sense that they did not know what was wrong and what was right. Obama clearly knows the difference, but knowingly chooses the wrong option: video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor [I see the better way and approve it, but I follow the worse way]. The physical safety and security of the American people should not be the first and overriding concern of the US president. Preserving our freedom, as set out in the Bill of Rights, is.

@cleek:

Because certainly the political calculus of the U.S. president and his party must outweigh the lives of thousands of Afghans and other Muslims.

yes. welcome to consensual reality.

Fixed.

As much as "pragmatic centerists" like you and your enabler allies in the media and political class would like us to believe otherwise, the idea that brown people overseas must suffer and die so Obama might possibly be able to advance his agenda with slightly less resistance is not an immutable natural truth. That it is widely accepted as such is the result of your ilk working tirelessly to narrow the realm of acceptable discourse (with the full support of those to your right) to the point where Obama's refusal to behave in a uniformly moral manner regarding foreign policy will be accepted as "sensible, realistic pragmatism". However, even if it's conventional wisdom that anyone wanting to see Obama put morality above advancing his domestic agenda is ignorant, naive, treacherous (either to the "Left" or the nation, depending on context), and/or simply an intractable DFH... that by no means makes it "reality".

Magistra:

According to Gwynne Dyer, the inventors of urban guerrilla terrorism aimed specifically to provoke panic and over-reaction from the authorities, which would then discredit them in the eyes of the population, and he quotes several of the guerrillas who originated the technique. If so, the scandals at Abu Ghraib handed the Salafist jihad a greater victory than they could possibly have hoped.

When it comes to answering the torture advocates, I think we need a two-prong approach. On one hand, we need to emphasize the horror of the deeds themselves. On the other, we need to bring home to people who see the victims of this torture as an out-group (scary brown people, etc.) the harm this does to the American soul. Americans who will say the "enemy" deserved what they got at Abu7 Ghraib might flinch at the phrase "socialist torture porn".

I'm with Sam, up at the top. Brandeis deserves a direct mention; it's his quote. If you want to give the commentator credit for thinking of it, that's good too. But just to cite it here to the commentator (especially with no direct link!) is misleading.

Also, not all terrorists are suicide bombers. The usual ones prefer to stay alive to fight another day. And I think it is reasonable to assume that only a minority is motivated by the alleged heavenly reward instead of simple old-fashioned secular anger.
---
Btw, it's a popular misconception that only women were targeted as witches. The farther north one looks the higher the percentage of men among the victims (in Scandinavia and the Baltics iirc about/up to 80%). And up there there was far less confusion about 'heretic or witch' than in Central Europe, so the equation (Male AND burned = heretic) AND (Female AND burned = witch) = true doesn't fit.

And I think it is reasonable to assume that only a minority is motivated by the alleged heavenly reward instead of simple old-fashioned secular anger.

...and despair, mustn't forget fatalistic despair. For the suicide bombers, anyway.

Erik, have you applied for a spot at DOJ? You could espouse your incredibly thoughtful and infallible logic, not pay income tax, reap the rewards of unbridled power and spend hours harvesting inane arguments against anything you don't agree with; or what you're told to disagree with. I suggest you not put much in writing and watch the emails. Billable hours - you're kidding right. But of course, I'M stupid. Maybe a spot in Cook County would be more appropriate.

Blogsbudman, with all due respect, Eric's somewhat snide comment you remark upon here was perfectly reasonable given your inane, poorly conceived, lazy trolling. If you want a better quality of riposte, try putting at least a small measure of effort into your initial thrust.

Those who mud wrestle rarely fall upward.

"Those who mud wrestle rarely fall upward."

Nuff said.

Have some pie, on me.

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